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Open Letter From An Immigrant's Granddaughter

A young woman who recognizes her privilege and heritage

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Open Letter From An Immigrant's Granddaughter

This is the most controversial statement that I will make on social media. It is also the only one I plan to share. Make of it what you would like.

To the woman I helped this morning:

I saw the disgusted side glance that you gave to the Mexican immigrant who was standing next to you. You know, the one who was of small stature, dark skinned, and Spanish speaking. I also saw you uncomfortably sidestep away from him, even though there were already 4 feet between you. I saw you clench your handbag nearer to your body. I witnessed your body language become increasingly defensive as he continued his conversation in Spanish. You seemed offended by the odd winding, swirling, and purring sounds that formed his words. How dare he receive the same services as you in a language that he can fully comprehend. You were nearly too uncomfortable to continue with our conversation.

Despite your prejudice, you were polite to me. Polite to the tall, thin, white young woman, with the white last name. The white young woman who could understand every word of that other foreign conversation.

Does that part surprise you?

Then you should be made aware of something. I am "lucky" (I guess you would call it) not to have inherited my grandmother's Mexican name, "Pacheco." This is only because she is a woman and took her white husband's Irish name, "Hogan." My last name is now "Lutz," because of my own marriage. I am also "lucky" to have these white features, due to my mixed Spanish (European), Irish, and NorteƱa heritage. I can't help but wonder how you would have behaved toward me, had one or both of these things not been true.

During our encounter, it never occurred to you that one of the most loved women in my life is an immigrant who once spoke only Spanish. Who endured these same looks and comments from people like yourself. Who worked hard in the US for the past 48 years to provide for her family, and build the life that we have.

To witness your reaction to the immigrant beside you, and to know that my appearance and name saved me from your judgment, left me physically nauseated.

A photo of the writer and her grandmother

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