The Words of Melissa I. M. Torres

i couldn’t sleep last night thinking about how a white guy actually drove 9 hours to the border specifically to kill mexicans. as shocked as i feel, it’s nothing new. so, a few more thoughts:

1. he’s a terrorist. stop with the mental health assumptions. white supremacy is not a chemical imbalance and massacring minorities is not a psychotic episode. quit adding to the erroneous stigma that people living with mental health issues are violent and homicidal.
2. everyone saying not to use this as an opportunity to discuss politics or that it’s too soon needs to shut up with that useless and ignorant diversion. terrorism is a political act of violence and naming it while fighting for justice is the ONLY way to counter it.
3. the terrorist said we’re invading texas. we are indigenous to this land regardless of your manmade colonial borders. this IS our land.
4. border towns and the people from there are binational – whether for work or play on both sides, or because our families, cultures, childhoods, and ancestors span both sides. this attack also impacts juárez, a border town with a painful recent history of violence, and family members there.
5. el paso was deemed one of the safest cities in the u.s., even with its interconnectedness with juárez. the white terrorist drove 9 hours to go kill its residents. this was not el paso or its people. this was not mexicans being violent.
6. some injured did not seek help for fear of f’ing immigrant status. some dead, dying, or injured could not have family at their side for fear of f’ing immigrant status. these are victims, yet some banal classification of persons continues to criminalize their mere existence. and, yes, your politics endorse or refuse this daily reality of millions whether you think so or not.
7. 45 AND abbott are both responsible. 45 riles up his racist, second amendment illiterate supporters with asinine build-the-wall rhetoric while abbott literally shames texas residents for not supporting the nra and buying enough guns. their thoughts and prayers are violence.
8. being from the opposite end of the texas border, i wanted to hate el paso when i was working there the past two years. i fell in love with it. fronteriza es fronteriza. el chuco will rise from this.

i took this photo in el paso two years ago on a work trip. i loved it because it reminded me of our community, culture, and my border home. and even though it is a memorial to our people’s strength, i won’t say “el paso strong” because the message now shouldn’t be the expectation of resilience from brown, indigenous, border, and mostly lower/working class communities. we’ve been dehumanized and killed by white supremacy along our border lands since this country was invaded. WE WERE ALREADY F’ING RESILIENT. WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN STRONG. the message now is breaking down the systemic oppression endorsed by this government and fighting for justice for the ones actually making this country great – because our lands were great to begin with.