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Thursday, November 19, 2015

we were no longer people

We would never be the things we had wanted to be: doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers. No school for us, even though our visas were school visas. We knew we did not have the money for school to begin with, but we had applied for school visas because they were the only way out. 
Instead of going to school, we worked. Our Social Security cards said Valid for work only with INS authorization, but we gritted our teeth and broke the law and worked; what else could we do? What could we have done? What could anybody have done? And because we were breaking the law, we dropped our heads in shame; we had never broken any laws before. We dropped our heads because we were no longer people; we were illegals. 
When they debated what to do with illegals, we stopped breathing, stopped laughing, stopped everything, and listened. We heard; exporting America, broken borders, war on the middle class, invasion, deportation, illegals, illegals, illegals. We bit our tongues till we tasted blood, sat tensely on one butt cheek, afraid to sit on both because how can you sit properly when you don't know about your tomorrow? 
And because we were illegal and afraid to be discovered we kept to ourselves, stuck to our kind and shied away from those who were not like us. We did not know what they would think about us, what they would do about us. We did not want their wrath, we did not want their curiosity, we did not want any attention. We did not meet stares and we avoided gazes. We hid our real names, gave false ones when asked. We built mountains between us and them, we dug rivers, we planted thorns -- we had paid so much to be in America and we did not want to lose it all.
-NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names