It happened in the borderland, in El Paso.
At a Starbucks on the Northeast of El Paso, I saw this woman, older and white, walk up to these three young Latina women. They apparently worked in some clinic by the scrubs they wore. And they chatted about their work as if they were in their own private breakroom, or three long lost friends who had reconnected in one’s living room.
I was sitting in the far corner and I could every word, every phrase of theirs from the other side in a mid-afternoon coffee shop. There were few patrons, so these three young woman who spoke animatedly, very fast and super loud – in Spanish – could manage to dominate the space and “disturb the peace.” I agree that we all need to be courteous in a public space; it irks me like many others when people are unusually boisterous in places that are meant to be quiet. Yes, these are public places but decorum needs to be maintained for everyone.
Now, back to the older lady. I had noticed earlier that she was sitting next to them and trying to read a book while enjoying her beverage. And if I could hear them from across the room, she certainly was being bombarded with their conversation. I didn’t think much of it prior, but after what happened I could see it. I was on my computer when through the corner of my eye, I saw her slowly stand, collect her book, and walk up to the three women. And this is what she said, verbatim: “You all are very loud; you need to talk softly.” To which, over the protests of two of the women, one replied,” Sorry, we don’t mean to…” I thought that was a conciliatory gesture, but the lady was not satisfied. She said: “You all shouldn’t be speaking in a language that’s not from here.” Yes, she said that. She was deciding for all of us – “proper Americans,” I suppose – how folks are to behave and to speak.
In my 19 years of living here, I have to admit that I have never encountered anyone being publicly admonished for expressing themselves in the way that they wanted in the borderland. When I arrived here from Boston, it was readily apparent that to be a fronterizo means recognizing that borders survive and prosper on the edges; there may be geographic barriers but nations always bleed into each other through familial cultural outreaches. Yes, there is a natural boundary here – the river and now, the fences and border patrol – but once, this was one land. Many people have families on both sides of the border, and usually identify as Mexicans, Latinos and Hispanics, and Whites, Anglos and Americans. Derogatory terms like pochos and fresas abound! Peppered versions of English and Spanish travel the border along with a constant flow of people and goods. It is thus not surprising that, besides English, we hear Spanish all over our city – more in some parts of the city than others. Here, Mariachi and Rock music blare from clubs. Along with beer, Tequila and Jack Daniels do thirst quenching over hamburger or taco.
I was watching this altercation with bemusement when her last state statement was a trampling of these young women’s rights – even my rights – to be themselves and feel free as this country promises its residents. And you know what, I had to intervene: “It’s not your damn business what language they speak in, lady,” I said. All she did, as she stomped out of Starbucks, was wave a defiant hand with a muttering sound that bordered between her sense of superiority and her guilt. Trump may have enabled this behavior but he is destined to be a footnote in history. Our borderland will preserve and grow where two countries always manage to live as one.
– Amit Gosh, El Paso, TX
I would like to kindly thank The Van Horn Advocate for the wonderful article on my husband. As you mentioned, Cuco was known for his love of and concern for his family, friends, and especially his plants. However, it goes beyond that. His love for the Lord was one that we all learned to admire and have tried to emulate.
He served the Lord with all his heart and his soul. He was never one to shirk his responsibilities or obligations when it came to matters of the church. Cuco did his duties from the heart and I never heard him complain in performing his “ministries”. I know I am probably going on too much, but he had physical ailments that may have kept him from doing these, but it never stopped him. You could find him on Sundays with the choir or in a quinceñeras or weddings; diligently, quietly, and humbly praising the Lord in his own way.
He will be missed indeed, but to us, he will always be in our hearts. The way he affected so many in his own loving ways is a true testament of what your article was about. The roots and seeds he planted in our hearts and in the parks across town will sprout and bloom and bring joy for many years to come. My family will certainly garner the benefits of his labors.
My family and I want to thank judge Carlos Urias, Mayor Glenn Humphries, County Commissioners, Council Members, City and County workers for the plaque in honor of Cuco Corrales.
Lastly, we would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to our community for the love and support that has been shown. Also, thank you again for the coverage of the memorial. I hope that it will bring the fondest of memories to all as it will to us.
-Martha & family