This Is the Face of the Reconquista | Sojourners

This Is the Face of the Reconquista

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Demographically, socially, and culturally, the reconquista (re-conquest) of the Southwest United States by Mexican immigrants is well underway.

– Samuel P. Huntington

The first cast in the ochre light of the dawning sun is a morning prayer, filled with hope and faith that ceremonies sought in earnest will feed the soul. I reel dutifully, waiting for a faint tap on the end of my line. My father stands at the front of the boat, scanning for ripples on the water in the low light. “Wachale!” he exclaims in joking Spanglish as he reels in the first largemouth of the day. Two Mexican-Americans bass fishing in Texas. This is the face of the Reconquista.

My father used to walk the plowed line of the future border fence at the end of his street on the way to school in the late 1960s in El Paso, Texas. His father was born in Mexico and as a boy lived in a railroad cart that was given to the family in lieu of a better salary and a raise. Money was tight and he had to stop attending school after the fifth grade because the family could not afford the fees. Late into his life, his father would still lament his inability to continue his education. His grandson would earn a Ph.D. This is the face of the Reconquista.

My maternal grandmother never went to school. When there was money to pay the school fees, they always went to her brother. She learned math by helping her father with the family stand. She learned to read and to this day reads her Bible daily. As her nine children left her house, she protected them with prayers and bendiciones. This is the face of the Reconquista.

I see a girl at a college party. We are drawn to each other. We discuss literature before we leave for winter break. While we are apart, I readTess of the D’Urbervilles on her suggestion and she reads Rain of Gold by Victor Villaseñor on mine. Years later, when we are married, we have to decide whose copy of Love in the Time of Cholera we will keep. Her hardback sits on our shelf. This is the face of the Reconquista.

My father-in-law teases me about my Subaru “sport-wagon.” He wants to buy a “sport-sedan.” We are two fathers and the only thing sporty about us is the description of our cars. This is the face of the Reconquista.

My son and daughter love their Mimi and Papa. They love their Coco and the Wita (short for abuelita). They love their Grandma. They love their Tia Elyza and Uncle Sanjay. They live in a world of contrasts without the burdens of contradictions.

They see the brown shades of their father’s hand against the white skin of their mother’s as they walk holding hands, fingers entwined. My daughter may notice the hues of her and her brother’s skin. He will see the blue of his sister’s eyes and the amber of his own set against mirrors and selfies.

They are too young to have heard how the words Mexican and American have used against one another. In their lives, they have been combined into one. The contours of their lives cross boundaries. The hard lines of difference and the borders of the past have not formed walls of divisions for them.

This is the face of the Reconquista.