letter to the editor: A dark day in my sun city
As a student at the University of Arizona, Tucson is where I live, but it’s not my home. I was born and raised in the kind-hearted city of El Paso, Texas, Or as we call it, “The Sun City.” That’s exactly what it is, a sunny city. It is a city where the people were known to be kind and respectful, where the neighborhoods were safe for children to play outside and our unique culture flourished because of our acceptance of one another. El Paso is the epitome of acceptance.
I’m a Mexican American who grew up in the Sun City where I never felt discriminated against. I’ve never had to worry that I would be harmed due to the color of my skin or that someone could hate me because of where my ancestors came from. Like any city, crimes happen every once in a while, but never one that would deeply scar its residents as the one that happened on Aug. 3.
I went home for a quick family visit on Saturday, Aug. 3. I wanted to see my family before I started the fall semester and got too busy with school work to get away. As we arrived to my grandmother’s house, we began to unpack and get settled. My father realized he had forgotten a pair of golfing shorts and asked me if I wanted to go shopping with him. I replied “sure, let me just change,” as I was still wearing worn-out travel clothes.
As I was changing, I get a news alert on my phone. “Emergency Alert: Active shooter in Cielo Vista area. All El Paso City/County residents are asked to seek shelter,” it read. I thought it was a mistake, there was no way this kind of violence was happening in the Sun City. I re-read it a few more times before it hit me that I should turn on the news. As I began to watch I yelled for my father to come take a look. I let him know we weren’t going anywhere. As we sat with the rest of the family to watch this tragedy unfold on the news, I couldn’t help but cry. I knew the world could get ugly, but I never thought it would reach my city.
This man murdered innocent lives because of his racist beliefs. He knew to travel to our city because of its majority Latino population. I am lucky my family or friends weren’t in the area during the time of the massacre. I won’t rehash the details of the shooting, that’s not why I’m writing this. I want everyone to know that even though he left us with huge holes in our hearts, he didn’t kill El Paso’s spirit.
It’s the Sun City’s spirit that sent everyone who wasn’t involved in the shooting to reach out and help in anyway they could. Blood was needed for the victims of the massacre and within the hour, hundreds of people, including my father and I, lined up at the blood donation centers. So many people showed up to donate that a lot of us were told to come back the next day. Food donations were being given to the families of the victims. El Pasoans stepped up when help was needed. This city will still be known for its kind heart, but now it will also be known for its strength.
If we want change to happen, however, we need to make it happen. Let your voice be heard, and go out and vote! Thoughts and prayers are nice, but they’re just that. They won’t ignite change, and they certainly won’t put an end to this violence.
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