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by Maria Briseno, Breastfeeding Peer Counselor
First, I was born in Mexico. I was seven months old when I was brought to the United States. My parents and I became residents under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, signed into law by Ronald Reagan. As the only daughter and only one born in Mexico, my parents wanted to achieve the American Dream.
Voting is our right, our voice and our opportunity to elect officials in office. Voting gives me an opportunity to fight for my parents’ rights and their struggle.
Since I was raised in Chicago, it’s hard to know life as a Mexican or life in Mexico. Yes, I visited Mexico and have family there, but it’s not the same. I was raised to think American and be all you can be. No, I was not allowed to serve the army. It’s what I was taught in my house. My father was proud of his first-born daughter and afraid of what will be my future. Education, independence and employment was all I heard from him. Let me just say that my brothers call me feminist, full of pride. I don’t agree. I advocate for my parents, those who can’t speak the language or know their rights. It’s important to register to vote. Research the candidates. Most candidates do not know the Latino struggle, our culture.
I work in my community. I’m known as the boob/chichi lady in my community. My first encounter is while they’re pregnant. I ask their decision on feeding method, and educate them on breastfeeding. I have learned that lifestyle, work, culture and society affects their decision. This is where it becomes interesting. I reveal the truth on formula and true parenting. We figure out breastfeeding in their daily life. As they become comfortable and trust me, they explains their struggle on why milk supply is low. A mother once shared she had three kids, husband was deported to Mexico; she lives with friends and can’t provide for her kids. It’s very heartbreaking to know that statistics will judge her for not breastfeeding, but she’s depressed for losing her husband and figuring out how to get a job.
It was a privilege to vote for the first African-American President. It gave Latinos hope. It was part of history that the Latino voters came out to support a minority. Parents, children, and adults had hoped USA was the land of the free. Now, a minority child can aspire to be more than a musician or an athlete. Now, he can be a President. My gente (people) need a candidate to know their struggle. Registering to vote lets the candidates know Latinos are here.
We have a voice, a culture and a story.
HealthConnect One is committed to sharing a variety of perspectives on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and early parenting, and we deeply appreciate each guest for sharing her/his own experience.
For more on National Voter Registration Day, click here.