Why I’m Going to Philadelphia

Being a Delegate to DNC

I wore an A-shaped sky blue skirt and a lighter blue top—both garments expertly made by my mother who, when not teaching physics or chemistry at a local high school, moonlighted as my personal seamstress. A red pair of shoes with white socks and a string of red beads around my neck completed in my 8-year old mind a perfectly coordinated outfit. As every morning, my mother braided my long hair into a ponytail and I was sent off to school just a few minutes walk away from where we lived.

It was a day like any other except that instead of regular classes we were participating in civil defense training. Teachers distributed to each child a gas mask and a civil defense kit with a peculiar assortment of items, from which I only recognized soap. We were instructed to put the masks on and march orderly to the school basement to protect ourselves from a pretend biological, chemical, or nuclear attack brought upon us by the enemy. The United States of America was the enemy that as far as I knew was about to use lethal force to kill my schoolmates, my entire family, and me. I was sure that there was no way the ill-fitting mask that I was wearing would have protected me against anything. It was the smallest size available but it still did not fit my small head tightly. Sitting in the damp shelter for what seemed like eternity terrified me. I was scared as only an 8-year old child can be. While knowing that this was just an exercise, I was sure that the threat of war and complete destruction was imminent or else what was the purpose of the training? I did not understand the geopolitical distribution of power of that era or why such a big country like the United States hated us—the children in a small town so far away. It was the greatest fear I recall experiencing as a child and I felt helpless.

Thirty years later I became that enemy. I’m now part of the most powerful country in the world and with the rest of the voters I decide if children on the other side of the planet will go to sleep terrified of what we may do to them. I became a US citizen in 2007 because I could not stand the idea of living in a country and not having the ability to vote, with the hope that my vote can lessen the terror we inflict on children and their families in countries we, Americans, know nothing about. I got involved in local politics and now serve on the Flagstaff City Council because I feel fortunate to have had the chance and the freedom to step up to help those impacted by social and economic injustice. And while I fight locally for a higher minimum wage to lift working people from poverty, not for a second do I forget that we have to do everything possible to create a future where others can peacefully organize to correct injustices in their own countries. No child anywhere in the world should be terrified of the United States. We are a nation of immigrants and we can’t forget that we have the responsibility to use power wisely. We ought to end our military interventions that do very little for peace but serve only the economic interests of the military-industrial complex.

This is why I am a pledged delegate for Bernie Sanders and going to the DNC: to fight for a political platform that commits the future commander in chief to not just end the wars but advance peace. No more sanitized wars, no more drones, no more terrified children chased out of their homes, no more refugees dying at sea, no more empty promises. Peace is patriotic. This is not the time to give up. This is the time to push forward a political agenda that will make the United States a friend and not the enemy in the eyes of children across the globe.