Wednesday, June 17, 2015

That Was Then; This is Now

I write this in anticipation of World Refugee Day, June 20th. 

I would like you to read the stories of refugees today, interwoven with my own tale of a better yesterday. I would like you to think hard, and to make changes to this existing system, a detrimental, unsparing blistering network that systematizes inhumanity and greed, and makes it the status quo. 

How can this be right?

La playa, Cuba © Dinorah Fores

A few weeks ago, my daughter got into one of those nostalgic conversations with me trying to recall the long ago; she wanted to find out about her distant past, where she came from. That meant, of course, she needed to know more about where I began: my past as a refugee child. She knew I was born in Cuba; she remembered my dad had been a lawyer; she understood he had become a professor at Fordham University in New York. 

But beyond that, she did not know much about my past. 

To her, my father had never been some figure escaping political repression; he was just grampa. In turn, I was not some present day adjunct faculty or human rights activist working to end family detention or the imprisonment of innocent women and children, or a nonconformist shaped by the events of her past. 

To my young daughter, I was just plain ol' mom. 

So that evening, cuddled into our respective couches over the miles and telephone connections, my daughter asked me to disentangle my story from the cobwebs of memory, so that I had to think about my father, my mother, my siblings. I remembered our story of immigration back then, in the 60s, and I mused at how different that story was from the tale of Japanese internment, or how different that seemed, too, from the nightmare we hear from refugee families now.