Learn with me.
You stare directly at us, brown eyes and long eyelashes, wearing your standard-issue U.S. Army camouflage. Your photo circulates on social media, but the message has changed since I first heard your name in April.
Back then, we wanted them to find you.
Salma Hayek shared your photo,
demanding answers from the military.
It took two months for them to find you.
Now, we demand a Congressional investigation, and a shutdown of Fort Hood.
Latino civil rights organizations shout:
Justice for Vanessa Guillen!
Military recruiters out of schools!
Students, don’t enlist!
A teacher friend remembers you as a Cesar Chavez High School student, and writes,
You embodied all of us trying to get out of the hood and make something of ourselves.
You put on the uniform to serve and protect but I wish that you would have been better served and protected.
I don’t know you, and yet I do.
I cried, for the life and dreams and light taken from this world, out there at Fort Hood.
You liked to post pictures of pregnant women, and couples in love, revealing your romantic desire to one day have kids and a husband of your own.
I cried for your family and your community in Houston, grieving this unimaginable loss.
I’ve read the report.
And I cried for the many young Latinos who join the military,
giving so much of themselves to a system that chews them up and spits them out.
I thought of X, who regrets ever enlisting.
He says he never experienced as much racism as he did when he joined the military.
I thought of Y, who goes to therapy for the PTSD he brought back from the Middle East. He waits months for appointments and lives with the knowledge that his particular assignment places him at high risk for developing cancer.
I cried for the countless women,
who face harassment and abuse
by a system that silences them.
I cried for me.
This blog is not an official Department of State website. The views and information presented are the DA Participant's own and do not represent the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Semester Research Program, the U.S. Department of State, or IREX.