Culture

When My Mother Married My Father, Her White Family Excluded Us, But My Dad’s Latino Family Rallied To Support Us In Good Times And Bad

Jose and Teresa Chavarria

Growing up, I remember placing my hand against my dad’s much darker skin. Our skin tones were always very different. People would say I looked more like my mother but I think they were just seeing the same white complexion. I didn’t have my dad’s deep brown skin or his jet black hair but I had his eyes and his way of looking at the world.

More than once while growing up, I had friends point out the difference between the two of us. While my mom had a mix of white European backgrounds, my dad had Mexican, Indigenous, and Spanish blood flowing through his veins. Her light skinned, slender form contrasted his dark and rotund one. However, I’ve never met two people who were more complimentary of each other than my parents.

In the 1980’s interracial marriage was still against societal norms in South Texas.

Jose and Teresa Chavarria

My parents married in a small church in Highlands, Texas during Holy Week. They were joined in celebration by my dad’s large Latinx family. On the other hand, my mom’s family wasn’t so eager to be there. The only reason they attended was that my dad provided their wedding clothes and personally drove them to the church. They didn’t support my mom’s decision to marry someone brown.

My dad’s family was happy to welcome my mom. Still, their welcome came with some trepidation. When they announced their engagement, my grandmother solemnly asked my father if this is what he really wanted. This was not a rejection of my mom but my grandmother’s concern about the ugliness that they would face as an interracial couple.

Officially, interracial marriage was legalized across the United States in 1967.

The decision to legalize came after the landmark Loving vs Virginia case. The Supreme Court found that the laws banning interracial marriage violated the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Though it was now legal, it wasn’t exactly popular at the time. South Texas was slow to adopt any kind of sweeping social change, especially if it was mandated by Washington DC. To put this into perspective, look at how desegregation was approached in the area.

Brown Vs the Board of Education reached its historic mandate in 1957. When my dad and his siblings were going to school in the late ’60s and early 70’s their school district had only just begun the process of desegregation. My father would tell me stories of being bussed to the “white schools” to fulfill the 1957 mandate. When he and my mother married in 1985, the city was still very segregated.

Though it was legalized 10 years after desegregation, interracial marriage had just as much trouble being accepted by conservative Texans.

Jose and Teresa Chavarria

Though Texas has a diverse population, outside of its major metropolitan areas, it’s still socially conservative. Texas is also part of the Evangelical Protestant Bible Belt and is home to close to ten million Catholics, Protestants, Methodists and Baptists.

The state’s religious breakdown is very relevant when we talk about interracial marriage. Historically, many religions practiced in the U.S. disavow mixed marriages. For example, the Christian Bible is often cited as a reason against the mixing of the races. However, there’s no actual text that prohibits interracial marriage. Both Deuteronomy 7:1-6 and 2 Corinthians 6:14 urge the Israelites not to intermarry with the Canaanites.

That passage in Deuteronomy reads:

“Neither shalt thou make marriages with them [Canaanites]; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.”

On the surface, this might look like a case against interracial marriages. Nevertheless, it isn’t as the Israelites and Canaanites were of the same ethnic group. The argument here refers to the difference in tribe and religious observations as reasons not to intermarry. Still, though there is no text to back this up, many continue to use religion to argue against mixed marriages.

Another reason why interracial marriage is opposed is something I have lots of experience with.

Jose and Teresa Chavarria

One of the social objections to interracial marriage has to do with the offspring of these marriages. Interracial children come from several different cultures. A common worry is that these children will never fully belong to any. Similarly, objectors claim that these children will be shunned by their respective cultures for being mixed.

This has been a major arguement as recently as 2009. Louisiana Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell was exposed for refuseing to officiate interracial marriage. It was his opinion that these marriages do not last long. Additionally, he claimed he didn’t want the kids of mixed marriages to suffer unduly.

In a 2009 interview with the Associated Press, Bardwell said:

“I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way. There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage. I think those children suffer and I won’t help put them through it.”

I can honestly say that Bardwell is absolutely wrong in his thinking.

Jose and Teresa Chavarria

A little over 35 years ago, my parents met, dated and fell in love. They had me — their oldest daughter — 13 months after they tied the knot. My little sister joined the family 18 months later. She and I have never felt unloved.

We were raised with my dad’s side of the family. As such, we grew up with quinceañeras, authentic Tex-Mex and my grandma’s telenovelas filling our childhoods. While we were lighter in complexion than my fully Latinx cousins, we were no different.

My mom didn’t have the same sort of family support my dad did. Long before their wedding, her relatives were family in name and name only. However, she loved my dad with all her heart. That included his culture.

My mom had no exposure to Latinx culture before my dad — she didn’t even have any Hispanic friends at the time. Still, she embraced my dad’s family and heritage; learning Spanish words, cooking Mexican food and teaching her children about our culture.

While my parents found acceptance from his Latinx family, not everyone was as accepting.

Jose and Teresa Chavarria

Unlike the questions I got from childhood friends, some microaggressions were meant to genuinely hurt my parents. In their neighborhood and, later, when they moved to Houston, my parents didn’t face discrimination or harassment. It was outside these safe places that they experienced bigotry.

My mom has told me stories of times when she and my dad were stared at; sneered at even. Traveling through the small towns of South Texas, my parents’ relationship was sometimes treated with hostility and, other times, like an oddity.

There is a particular story my mom has shared about this. When she and my dad were newlyweds, they went to eat at a cafeteria-type diner. Walking in, dad was immediately aware that he was the only person of color in the restaurant. My mom explained that all eyes were on them the entire time they ate. They were treated as some sort of sideshow while they were there. As my dad put it, they should have sold tickets.

This isn’t the first or the last time my parents would be made to feel abnormal because of their marriage. I remember once they had glamour shot-esque pictures taken of themselves. The photographer applied a filter that completely washed out my dad’s complexion. Totally infuriated, my dad pointed out to the photographer that they made him look like a white man instead of a Latino. It was fixed eventually but the damage was done.

There are other bolder attacks and countless microaggressions but my parents paid most of them little mind. After all, they were together and happy.

Additionally, they were welcomed by my dad’s community and that meant a lot. When my dad died 33 years after they joined in marriage, it’s my dad’s Latinx family and community who rallied to support my mom, my sister and me in our grief.

My parents’ love created that world; one where my sister and I can always find welcoming and love. All the glaring bigotry in the world can’t take that from us.

A Father And Daughter Were Separated By U.S. Immigration Only To Reunite On Her Deathbed

Things That Matter

A Father And Daughter Were Separated By U.S. Immigration Only To Reunite On Her Deathbed

Adhy Savala / Unsplash

It is with unrelenting sadness that we report the death of Heydi Gámez García, 13, who took her life after her father’s asylum request was denied for the third time. Heydi’s father, Manuel Gámez, sent her to the U.S. after his father was gunned down by MS-13 for refusing to pay a “war tax” to the gang. He didn’t expect that Heydi would be granted asylum, but that he would be deported.

Manuel certainly didn’t envision that his goodbye hug and kiss four years ago would be the last time he would hug and kiss his daughter while she was still alive.

The Gámaz family was broken by MS-13 and failed again by the U.S. immigration system.

Credit: @amy_baker22 / Twitter

Heydi’s mother walked out on her and her dad when she was less than two months old. By the time Heydi was a year old, Manuel left for New York as an undocumented immigrant to make money to send back home. After his father was killed by MS-13, and his mother’s health started failing, he worried about who would care for Heydi and his younger sister, Zoila.

Manuel’s sister was granted asylum and cared for Heydi in his absence in New York.

Credit: @holliewolfen / Twitter

A year after his father’s death, he sent Heydi, Zoila and his brother to the U.S. Heydi and Zoila were granted asylum. Heydi learned English within a year and started teaching her father, via phone calls, how to correctly pronounce English words. They spoke every day, always asking when he’d come.

After two failed attempts to gain asylum, Heydi lost hope for being reunited and started cutting herself.

Credit: @holliewolfen / Twitter

He never wanted to make promises he couldn’t keep, like being there for her quinceañera. Heydi watched her classmates complain about their parents’ visiting their school and fell into a depression. In December, she was brought to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation after cutting her wrist at school. She was seeing a therapist until two months before her suicide.

“Please forgive me for failing you,” Manuel wants to tell his daughter.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be there… I never meant to leave you,” he says to her. Heydi was Manuel’s only child. Heydi’s aunt is coping with impossible guilt. She told CNN, “I was supposed to be protecting her. I would never send her to Honduras. But I never thought something bad would happen to her here.”

Manuel was released on a two week ‘humanitarian’ visit to release Heydi from life support.

Credit: @holliewolfen / Twitter

He finally got to hold her hand and comfort her as she left this life behind. “We love you,” he whispered to her. “Don’t leave us.”

The last thing Heydi told anyone was that she lost hope in being reunited with her father.

Credit: @MaryJaneKnows / Twitter

She was crying as she told her aunt that she feels hopeless and that one day, she’ll become a lawyer to help her dad’s case. She then said she wanted to be alone and was found two hours later in a closet. She didn’t leave a note.

She was declared brain dead a week later at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in Queens.

Dr. Charles Schleien told CNN that she was in a “neurologically devastated state” upon arrival with “no hope for recovery.” He went on to disclose that the Gámaz family “chose to turn tragedy into the gift of life. Heydi is an organ donor and her final act will be to save others.”

The mental health impacts of family separation at our borders can only be told one story at a time.

Credit: @apbenven / Twitter

It is the only empathic way to relate to the emotional scars of our community. Every story is important. Every life lost to policies that don’t incorporate the most visceral human desires, like growing up with your father by your side, is one life too many. 

What on earth are we doing?

Credit: @JoeGould50 / Twitter

How can anyone go about business as usual? How do we humanize brown-skinned people to every voter and decision-maker? The only way we know how is to continually voice your concerns to your representatives and create space for these stories. Don’t look away. The grief of the Gámaz family is all of our grief. 

A Manuel, you did not fail your daughter. We all did. We are so sorry.

[Video] A Venezuelan Woman Is Sharing The Story Of Her Mother’s Tragic Death Through A Magically Hypnotic And Dark Act

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[Video] A Venezuelan Woman Is Sharing The Story Of Her Mother’s Tragic Death Through A Magically Hypnotic And Dark Act

daniadiaz.com

Women are magic — particularly Dania Díaz, who brought judges and audience members of “Spain’s Got Talent” to their feet with her entrancing card tricks that also told a heart-rending story.

The Venezuelan native, who had only been living in Spain for a few months before auditioning for the talent show, captivated viewers everywhere. The 28-year-old cleverly shared her story, from being a child in South America who lost her mother, to first discovering and falling in love with magic, to leaving her beloved country in the midst of a crisis to follow her dreams, through a deck of cards, wowing the audience, and at times bringing them to tears, with her incredible presentation.

Díaz shared her story of heart-ache through a magic trick on “Spain’s Got Talent.”

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Lo que hace esta chica emociona a todos! 😱😍

Posted by Lo Mejor De La Red on Wednesday, January 9, 2019

“I’m Dania, I’m a magician and I’m from Venezuela,” she says in Spanish while starting her show shuffling cards. 

“Venezuela is a very big country with more than 30 million inhabitants. 31,529,000 to be precise,” enthralling the previously confused audience as she lays out the cards 3,1, 5, 2 and 9.

Díaz, who continues to wow as she describes Venezuela’s sizable waterfalls through her deck, then begins to share her story. She has two brothers, Daniel and Leo, and was raised in a single-parent home.

“My mother was the queen of the house,” she says, pulling out a queen, “and my father, my father was not very present. In fact, I was happy to see him three or four times a month,” sliding his king card away from the queen.

But that’s not the saddest part of Díaz’s story. The magician reveals that at age 10, her mother suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.

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No solo me vine a reencontrar con mis personas favoritas en esta ciudad, sino que #Venezuela me sigue regalando amigos 🇻🇪 En 2018 conocí a #PattyCardozo una #GuaraEnEspaña, ella me seguía desde mucho antes de migrar a España y yo empecé a hacerlo justo cuando llegué, un día lleno de dudas me senté con ella y creo que fui uno de los tantos venezolanos que han hecho sesión con ella, admiro su proyecto de migracoaching porque atiende el tema emocional, pues no se trata de meter cosas en la maleta, sino de meter tu vida y tus afectos, apenas regresé coincidimos, y como si fueramos amigos de años, sin planificarlo mucho, todo se dio para volver a reirnos juntos. No se pierdan su proyecto en 👉🏼 @patty_cardozo 👜 En 2018 también conocí el talento de #DaniaDiaz que como muchos supimos de ella cuando se viralizó su participación en #SpainGotTalent, era #LaMagaVenezolana que nos sacó una lagrimita de alegría con su destreza en las cartas, con ese momentazo se ganó un lugar en mi #ConteoLos100Del2018 e incluso pasó a la segunda ronda del Top 25 elegido por el público. Llena de proyectos, esta lista para llenar a España con su magia, y si #DePuntoFijoPalMundo, no le pierdan pista como @daniadiaz1 ♣️ Que felicidad verlas emprendiendo, ellas como muchas más, demuestran que las mujeres venezolanas siempre resuelven, aquí nadie quiere que le regalen nada, solo necesitamos la oportunidad de demostrar lo que somos 👊🏼 #VenezolanosEnMadrid #AhoraQuienBajaALaSraDeAhi #ApreciationPostAlTumbaoDeDania

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“Our lives were never the same again. Mine took a 180-degree turn. I think of her 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” she said, effortlessly drawing those numbers from her deck as she spoke.

It wasn’t until the-then child discovered magic that she found happiness again. One day, while watching television,  she saw a magician appear on a program. “My heart jumped for joy. I had fallen in love,” she said, tugging a hearts. 

Díaz has been a practicing magician for the last eight years. She immigrated to Spain, like many who leave Latin America, for an opportunity to fully realize her dreams.

“I came to Spain in search of a future, a future that in my country I could not have anymore. And even though I knew that many things awaited me along the way, what I did not expect was to fall in love: to love its culture, its food, and its people,” she said, flipping her cards to suddenly reveal words and images that illustrated what she was sharing.

The illusionist, who prompted laughter from the astonished crowd when she shared the two countries’ different vernacular, ended her demonstration with some inspiration.

“Despite all these differences, there is something we have in common, and that is that everyone in the world is in search for a dream,” she said, flipping cards to reveal related hand-drawn images. “No matter how chaotic your life is at this moment, I invite you to have a little patience, because little by little your life will take order, everything will have a meaning. I’m telling you, this story has taken me here.”

Díaz’s show left both the audience and some judges in tears. They all stood up in applause chanting “golden pass, golden pass.” She did, indeed, receive the pass and was sent into the semifinal of the auditions.

The performer, who now has more than 110 thousand followers on Instagram, is known around Latin America for her charismatic story-telling magic. In addition to her starlight audition, she has won awards, like the FLASOMA prize, given to her by the Latin American Federation of Magical Societies, as well as rewards from Chile, Colombia, Venezuela and the National Congress of Spain.

Díaz, who has performed in 11 countries, travels the world, bringing astonishment to thousands through her feel-good tricks. 

And she has shown for everyone. According to Díaz’s website, she does performances for families, which includes an interactive experience mixing magic, music, and stories that inspire viewers to laugh and dream; for adults, where she reads minds and swallows balloons; and even for business settings, which could be catered to the mission of the corporations. 

For those magic-lovers who are unable to see her live, Díaz also shows some of her mind-boggling tricks on her YouTube channel and on Instagram.

In one of her latest stunts, she takes on the viral bottle cap challenge, removing the top of a bottle without ever touching its lid. In another, she makes a wildly big coin appear, disappear and reappear in her hand.

After watching her magical short clips, you’ll understand why hundreds of thousands of people from across the world are stunned by the Venezuelan maga.

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