Have you ever seen the movie, “Spanglish”?
It’s currently on Netflix and if you have not seen it, I highly recommend it.
The movie is about a girl applying to college and she writes an essay to Princeton about her mom, whom she considers being the most influential person she knows. The story follows her mom, a woman who doesn’t know English figuring out living in America with her young daughter on top of working for a wealthy, white family. The Clasky’s.
The movie is funny, heart-wrenching, intuitive, and truly endearing from start to finish.
There’s a parallel and battle of two worlds.
Rich and poor.
Slender fit and curvy strong.
American and Mexican.
Sure those differences are evident. But it goes even deeper. Much, much deeper.
The differences of two daughters in the movie and the mothers who are raising them. On one hand, you have the American woman (Deborah Clasky, played by Tea Leoni) who belittles her daughter, excludes her, chastises, and disconnects from her. And then you have the Mexican woman (Flor Moreno, played by Paz Vega) who empowers her daughter, uplifts her, fights for her, and passionately protects her.
There are so many parts of the movie that are difficult to watch and times you want to scream, mostly at the American woman! Like, girlfriend is cray cray. Lol. There are also times that Flor is in the wrong, too. Neither is perfect and both are trying to do what they feel is right for themselves and their families. Both Deborah and Flor deeply love their people.
However, Flor is the one I walk away from the film consistently wanting to be more like.
And guess what? She doesn’t speak English. She is a single mother. She barely has enough money to make rent.
Want to know what else this incredible movie character is?
She is an illegal immigrant.
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but illegal immigrants have been mentioned on the news one or maybe two times in the last few months. In response, we as a nation have a lot of words on the subject. We all have those friends on Facebook with nasty responses who say things like, “What about those of us paying taxes, don’t we matter?” Well yes, thank you for your taxes, but please also thank the countless undocumented workers who pay billions in taxes each year. And do not even get me started on those who think it’s okay to separate children from their parents at the border. Or do get me started, at your own risk.
I am not here to categorize any people group. I’m not even here to say that every single person coming to America is a good person, that would clearly be naive.
What I hope you hear is that this fictional story of a woman named Flor is much like the many Mexicans dreaming of a better life here in the states.
How many Mexican mamas simply want the best for their babies? How many are finding decent schools for their children to go to? How many are trying to flee domestic violence? How many want to make an honest living, and do everything the right or best way possible?
And yet how many of them live in deep fear? How many worry night after night about staying or going? They see the news too and are terrified. Just listen to our Hispanic friends as they say, “My family and I always have it in our minds that if we leave the house, they’ll grab us again.”-(Eric Ramirez from Guatemala)
So if you have not yet seen this movie, please watch it. Watch it for the laughs, the tears, the sweetness of it, and the message. For the entangling of culture & language. Of the strength, compassion, integrity, fire, and love of one Mexican woman, mother/daughter bonds and be encouraged. Let us be the ones who seek to fight for this kind of woman and her babies.
To learn the language.
To share in meals.
To educate them.
To assist them.
To protect them.
To equip them.
To welcome them.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
-The New Colossus, Statue of Liberty poem, English.
“Dadme tus cansados, tus pobres,
Tus masas amontonadas gimiendo por respirar libres,
Los despreciados de tus congestionadas costas.
Enviadme a estos, los desposeidos, basura de la tempestad.
Levanto mi lámpara al lado de la puerta dorada!”
-The New Colossus, Spanish.