Luz Maria

My name is Luz Maria. I am a woman, a mother, a teacher, and also a Mexican. I was born in Mexico City, lived there until age 5, and then moved to Houston, Texas. It was supposed to be just for two years, but we stayed.

My girls — they are 13, 11, and 7 and they are, in my head, half-Mexican and half-American. Their dad was born in Anchorage, Alaska. But I am raising my girls to be bilingual and bi-cultural. I want them to know my Mexican culture and also their American culture. I only speak to them in Spanish. I’m trying to make them strong, to be strong women, to stand up for themselves.

I take them to Mexico. We go and live with my nephew in his house. We ride the Metro; we ride the bus; we walk. We go to different parts of Mexico. We go to Teotihuacan. It’s my favorite place outside Mexico City because, to me, that’s where my Aztec people are, and I am part Aztec on my grandmother’s side. Her parents were part of the Yaqui tribe.

I’m trying to teach my girls how to be Chingonas, in other words. And to raise each other up, not to ever put each other down. There’s enough of that! I tell them: “You have to be strong! You have to be loving! And you have to be honest.” So it’s a lot of work — raising three girls!

Are you taking them with you to the March?

Yes! After the election happened, I went to this meeting for educators, and they talked about that: What can we do ourselves? And I have decided that I’m going to start taking my girls to different meetings, events, volunteer positions. Because my mom did that.

My mom did public relations for the Girl Scouts, for the Catholic Diocese of Houston. She volunteered with immigration lawyers, and you know as a single parent with three kids she had to take me because she couldn’t leave me home alone. I would say she dragged me to these meetings, and I’m glad she did!

When Wendy Davis was doing the filibuster, I took all three of my girls and I told them, “This woman is fighting for our rights as women, our reproductive rights.”

In 2013, Texas State Senator Wendy Davis filibustered against abortion restrictions for eleven hours. Thousands of Texas women went to the Texas Capitol in solidarity with Davis. Photo Credit: DALLAS MORNING NEWS/CORBIS

And I told them, “It’s your body, and no one should EVER tell you what you can and can’t do with it. It’s your decision; it’s your body.” So, yeah, I will be taking them.

What will you tell them about why they are there?

After the election, the oldest, she was pissed and she put on social media something horrific. And we told her to take it down because there was a lot of cursing on it. But I told her, “I understand why you wrote all that — because it sounded like something I would have written.” You know, there were a lot of fucks! You could see she was very angry that this man — no, he’s not even a man, he’s a thing — won the election.

And my middle daughter — she started crying. The next day she asked, “Did Hillary win?” And we said “no,” and she just started crying …. [cries].

I don’t know — I haven’t asked her exactly why it was so hard for her that Hillary lost. Apparently, she heard things through friends about what happens if that thing wins. She said she was afraid that we were going to get bombed, like Syria. And we told her, “No, that’s not going to happen.” As an 11-year-old who is very deep in her thoughts and understands life and death — no wonder she started crying. She thought we were going to get bombed — like, with nuclear bombs. And we told her, “There’s a lot of people in Washington who will not allow that to happen.”

Do you feel confident of that?

Um [laughs], I originally — about 10 months ago — told my husband we gotta go, we gotta move; we gotta get out of the country! Start looking at your job. Where do you have offices? Do you have offices in Canada? Do you have offices in Europe? Please start looking.

“No, no, no no,” my husband said. “He’s not going to be nominated as the Republican candidate.”

I definitely just want to leave the country, but I know that’s not an answer. I’m just trying to educate my girls to stay strong and fight for their rights as human beings. And give love! And don’t be angry! Well, we’ll be angry, but let’s turn that anger into something productive, something positive that will help make the change.

What do you hope that the Women’s March will achieve?

Originally I wanted to go to Washington, D.C., but after talking to a friend, I decided to protest by going to Mexico City to see my family. Because he’s talked about my people being rapists and murderers, and we’re not! There are some of them, of course, just like in any country. But you can’t call me that. So I will do the March here [Austin], and I will take my girls.

Vamos a hacer chingonas!

You know another friend of mine, she said, “Oh, all these protests! I’m not doing any of that. That’s not going to change anything.” And she has a point. But as a woman we have to speak up. I don’t know what it can change, but it will show that we’re not going to put up with this. No! We’re going to speak up; we’re going to fight.

Because I’ve got three young girls who can’t vote yet. So I’m doing it for them; I’m doing it for me; I’m doing it for all the women. We‘ve got to support each other, help each other out — us women.

And I love how our men — I love how my husband, when I told him I wanted to go the March, he didn’t ask any questions about how much it would cost or logistics. He just said: “Go! I was thinking about going, too.” I love that he is feeling the same thing I’m feeling. He gets it.

With all the racism that is coming out of the woodwork — people showing their true colors. You know we’ve been together since 1993, and I don’t think he understood completely how I took racism against me many times. I have always felt people looking at us kind of weird. Right? Here comes a Mexican with this white man. And I feel that he never understood it. We’d be at a restaurant and I’d be the only minority — besides the staff who’s waiting on us or the kitchen people. And he thought I was crazy, but you know what — I feel it. I sense it. Because I’m a dark-skinned Mexican.

I feel like this past 18 months he has seen all the ugliness and racists that have come of the woodwork. He’s seeing it the way I’ve seen it.

So I don’t know what change [the March] will do, but it will just show that we’re going to fight — that we’re ready. I’m not giving up! I don’t know if that’s my Aztec blood, but I’m ready to fight!

In so many countries, you’ve got to fight for human rights. In India, you gotta fight for that. In Mexico you gotta fight for that. Well, now even in the U.S. of A., you gotta fight for that!

How have your students been since the election, Luz?

I’m not really in the classroom anymore, but I heard horrific things about the students after the election. My kid was crying her head off. Other kids were crying on the way to school. Some of our Muslim refugee families: scared, crying. They didn’t want to let go of their moms because they were afraid they were never going to see them again.

The fact that this son of a bitch has put FEAR in our BABIES — fear that they’re not going to see their friends anymore because their friends are brown and they’re not. That’s just horrible.

What kind of a fucking president puts fear like that in kids? That’s not a president; that’s an evil monster — from the view of kids. Kids are scared of monsters!

That’s what has bothered me the most — that babies are scared they’re never going to see their mothers again if they go to school; that kids are afraid of getting bombed.

The United States of America should not have a president like that!

(Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted by telephone, transcribed, and edited for length.)

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