The 2016 presidential election has provided a platform for racist, xenophobic, and anti-immigration ideology to enter the mainstream. While it is always imperative that we speak up for humanity, it is especially pressing now as remarks about building walls at the Mexican border and banning Muslim entry make their way onto cable news.
And now one pop star, Camila Cabello of the fab vocal group, Fifth Harmony, has written a must-read essay sharing the harrowing journey she and her family went through as Cuban immigrants.
The essay, published on PopSugar, explicitly references Donald Trump, while solely focusing on the strength and courage of her parents as they navigated (and overcame) an immigration system and a cruel society that was against them.
And as noted by Mic, Cabello’s narrative is especially important because it points out that even if an immigrant follows all of the time-consuming government policies and acquires all of the proper legal documentation — they still risk death (specifically in the case of her father) and still face poverty.
Camila, who was born in Havana, Cuba to Cuban and Mexican parents, left for the United States with her mother when she was 7-years-old on a 36-hour bus ride. Her father eventually met them in the States. The singer, now 19, explains how her mother — a successful architect in Cuba — had to give up her career when she crossed the border:
“My mom was a very good architect in Cuba, but when she came to America none of the degrees she earned in Cuba counted, so to make enough to keep us fed and put me into school she began stacking shoes in Marshalls and going to school at night to take courses in English, all while taking me to and from school and helping me with my homework all by herself, alone in a strange country… “
Through luck, hard work, and determination, Cabello’s mother was able to eventually resume her architecture career — a drive that inspired Camila to pursue her own music dreams.
Camila also detailed the heartbreak faced by families — especially children — when borders keep them separated:
“My papá came over from Mexico a year and a half later — I had a little calendar in my room counting down the days — because he couldn’t stand being away from us.”
Camila details how her family — and all immigrants — rely on their “hunger” (physically and metaphorically) to attain the life and goals that are so far from their reach:
“I am so proud to be Cuban-Mexican. This country was built on immigrants. People who were brave enough to start over. How strong we are to leave behind everything we know in hopes of something better. We are not fearless, we just have dreams bigger than our fears.”
You absolutely must read her full essay, and we are so grateful to be able to learn from her life experience.