Disclaimer: Possible trigger warning- please skip ahead to the list of El Paso fundraisers to skip my description of Saturday August 3rd in El Paso.... I was not present, my family and I are safe.
It is hard to put into words the devastation we felt as a community after Saturday morning... My sister called me and woke me up at 11 AM to make sure myself and my parents weren't around the mall... the mall we had grown up at, the mall where my sister and mother had both worked, with the Dillard's where we'd get our fancy dresses... the Hot Topic I'd hang out in as a middle schooler, where we were gonna see the movie "Yesterday"... where my parents had just been refrigerator shopping, by the Walmart my aunt was planning to stop by that afternoon.
We sat eating at La Malinche- my parents favorite weekend breakfast spot... and waited for the news to unfold. The staff turned the volume up on the TV, and small groups would gather around to see what news had emerged... Was he from here? Surely not- but SURELY he was a he.... he couldn't be Mexican... he couldn't be an immigrant- I hope to god he's not an immigrant.
More news- he was a white man, 21, from Dallas. Of course he was a white man... of course he wasn't from El Paso- one of the safest cities in America.... but why did he come here? He wrote a manifesto quoting Trump and his ideas... calling us "invaders"- right before invading my home town, the neighborhood I grew up in, an elderly couple my dad grew up next to, babies and their mothers, little girls selling horchata fundraising for their soccer team, MY people- invading US with a weapon of war. The racists aren't dinosaurs we can wait to die out... they are young men- a new generation of Nazi's and concentration camps.
We waited all day for more news- watching the horror unfold before our eyes. Was everyone in our family accounted for? Friends? A relative was working at the mall- she was safe. Thank God. Businesses all over town shut down... 22 people were dead. I was so lucky to have spent all day and night with my family- watching the news unfold from our living room TV- I couldn't get my mind off the many El Pasoans- my brothers and sisters- who were spending those moments in the hospital praying their loved ones would survive, those thousands of people who were there, those who couldn't find their loved ones, those already in mourning. And this man was still breathing under the same sky that he committed his racist massacre... where I struggled to sleep. Anyone who knows me knows how very proud I am not only to be Mexican American, but to be from El Paso... this was an attack on our very identity, on each of our souls, our blood, our roots.
But El Paso is Strong. Our people are resilient. Our people can not be silenced. Our congress woman Veronica Escobar spoke at a vigil Sunday night- she said we are all a family- and she is absolutely correct. El Paso has always been a family, my family, my home. We come together in a fierce and awe-inspiring way... we honor the 22 people taken from their families Saturday and their memories, and their survivors- together. Fighting to be sure our voices are heard, and that we take care of each other and those hurting the most right now.
Like a family-We are in this together. We will help each other. We Will Heal TOGETHER. EL PASO STRONG POR VIDA.