Racism & it's antidote: Cafe Mayapan & dialogue

Trip Start Nov 25, 2006
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Flag of United States  , Texas
Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lunch conversation with BJ and Ozzie made me glad we returned to be Border after a summer in the Midwest. These two Mexican-Americans--leaders in education and in business, now retired--
shared openly and emotionally about their experiences of a lifetime in the US, including the racist attacks that still hurt decades later. Here's just one story, told by a U.S. citizen who remembers accompanying his mom across the International Bridge after buying groceries in Juarez:

"...we would stand in line for a long time waiting our turn to approach the immigration and customs inspectors. The inspectors, all "gringos" in those days, would take their sweet time during and inbetween inspections. On more than one occasion...the inspector would ask my mother what was in the big bag. My mother would answer that it was "pan" (bread). The "gringo" would grab the bag, squeeze it repeatedly from top to bottom, thereby mashing the "pan" before telling her "ya basta" and ordering us to go ahead and cross into the U.S." At this point in the story, Ozzie choked on emotion...these many years later his pain can still summon unbidden tears.

The two spoke openly of the prejudice they've experienced, channeling their hurt and anger into energy for good. Similarly, the women of Mujer Obera, who operate the restaurant where we lunched, provide alternative employment to women in the textile industry. The building was beautifully decorated and hosts a fair trade store, providing an outlet for Mexican co-ops.
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