Acclaimed author Laura Esquivel (Like Water for Chocolate) originally wrote this for the Stop Hate Dump Trump campaign and posted it in Spanish on her Facebook page as a response to Donald Trump's now infamous Cinco de Mayo tweet. It has been reposted with permission on Vivala. Find out more about Laura at Lauraesquivel.com.
How could I explain what a taco is to you, Mr. Trump? Maybe I’d have to start by explaining what a tortilla is, or better yet, what a corncob is. Beginning with how corn is planted, how it’s harvested, how it makes its way to our tables. Corn is a sacred food in our cultures. It is believed to have been a gift from Quetzalcoatl to men for our sustenance (I’m sorry, I might be going too fast, do you even know who I’m talking about?) It’s okay. Never mind. The point is; corn is the base of our diet. We cook it in many different ways, all of them very nutritious and tasty. Immigrant farmers and day laborers — those you seem to despise so much — know how to plant it, harvest it, and bring it to their table to be shared in an act of reciprocity to the earth’s enormous generosity.
How can I explain this in simple terms . . .
what generosity is. Suffice it to say, I’m certain that an immigrant who
has been forced to leave his lands behind and put his life in danger to
cross the border wouldn’t hesitate for a second to offer you a real taco if you
were starving — if they found you in the street, penniless, homeless, jobless,
and without friends. Because he knows firsthand the profound grief that a human
experiences under those circumstances, and he would try to alleviate your
situation. He would even do so without expecting anything in return, although
I’m also sure that you might find a way to thank him. Or maybe you wouldn’t
even know how to react.
How can I explain to you the gratitude that surges from one’s heart after receiving help? Maybe the ones best suited to explain this to you through their own experiences would be the South Americans (not Hispanics) who cross Mexico on “The Beast” [a network of freight trains that immigrants use to get from southern to northern Mexico on their way to the U.S. border] and that are fed by “Las Patronas," those admirable Mexican women who cook for them. Do you know what I’m talking about? Do you know of this train or of those women? Do you even know what hunger is? What about necessity? Abuse? Discrimination? The pain caused by watching someone starve to death? The profound injustice of an economic system that creates poor people only to mock them? I would venture to guess that you don’t. You know nothing about this, just like you know nothing about so many other things.
I’ll leave you now, but before I go I just want to explain that the Cinco de Mayo is not even an official holiday in Mexico, and that I hope someday you’ll be offered a real taco.
Translation by Jordi Castells