If you find yourself in El Paso, driving down I-10 from either direction, you can’t miss it—a 30-foot tall golden obelisk called the “Grand Candela” standing in the Walmart parking lot memorializing last years’ tragedy on the border. 23 lives lost. Children as young as 2 months old, to older folx, some of whom walked over from Ciudad Juarez for their weekly grocery shopping. No one ever saw it coming. Even with an entire year’s passing, it weighs on our hearts.
Three states, two countries, El Paso, Las Cruces and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico have always existed as one. When one community is affected, we are all affected. And today, we all remember, together, that the motive behind the tragedy, is still as lively as last year and spans back to the birth of this country.
When our BIPOC communities and our ancestors, who were murdered, lynched, and enslaved, our colonizers also stripped us of our lands and culture. We built this country for them, and they wrote us out of their Constitution. Running from Mother England only to build a mirror, with an uglier reflection. And we’re reminded every day with racists living across the street from us and running our country.
Even in New Mexico, avowed racist like Cowboys for Trump, New Mexico Civil Guard, Proud Boys and so many others parade around with their pride and their weapons of hate, they don’t see their privilege. Even if they all run in the same circles, like the blind leading the blind, they don’t see the amount of hurt in the waves of protesters chanting in the streets, “we can’t breathe” as George Floyd’s last words reflect an entire race, an entire past of people who have never been able to breathe freely.
When we read these domestic terrorists’ manifestos, Facebook posts, and Tweets, and we hear you tell us to go back to “where we came from,” we aren’t only hurt, we’re angry and motivated. This current wave of progress we see, is one that scares every white supremacist and every person who turns a blind eye to America’s racist history because this movement is one that will make real changes. One day, we will truly be the land of the free. Our country, one day, will be the land that accepts and respects the tired, poor and hungry, and will have governments that reflect us and our needs.
But today, as we all remember those 23 lives lost along with every other BIPOC ancestor lost before and on this day, we must wipe our tears, confront racism wherever it is and honor all lives lost while working to change laws so all communities facing this trauma can heal together.