Antonia’s American Girls
My nine-year old sister doesn’t look like me. In certain photos, there’s a glimpse of me in her eyes or in her hands but for the most part, we are opposites. She has light porcelain skin, an attribute that I’ve never seen on myself — or anyone we’re related to. My hair is dark, almost black, and unruly much to my mother’s dismay. My sister’s hair is not as dark, not as unruly. I’ve never been tall; she’s tall for her age.
Like many nine-year old girls, my sister’s favorite toys are her American Girl Dolls. She has three of them along with many outfits and accessories. She brushes their hair and spins them around. She gives them life and personality. My parents and I were born in Colombia, but my sister was born in Delray Beach, Florida. She’s a product of America’s public school system, of its television, of its music. In her own way, my sister is her own American Girl.
She’s my American Girl. And she notices things. I remember when she was in first grade and she came home to tell us that, “Blacks and whites used to be separated but I looked around and I think they still are.”
The morning after the election, my sister woke up earlier than usual. Her excitement to hear that Hillary Clinton would be her new president was its own alarm clock. She saw her as a maternal figure. I’m sure if you were to ask any child whom they’d want in the White House, they would probably think of their mother first. I’m not a child and I would still probably still think of my mom first.
There will not be a mom in the White House anytime soon.
I’m glad I wasn’t there to see her cry and I’m also glad that she wasn’t here to see me cry.
My sister had heard about Trump and his comments against immigrants. She was filled with fear. Fear that our grandmother in Colombia wouldn’t be able to visit us anymore. Fear that she would be treated differently. Of course, my mom told her not to worry because she is an American just like everyone else and that no one was going to do anything to her. But Antonia said, “No, mommy. I am not American.”
At nine years old, Antonia felt displaced in the only country she’s ever known. I want to tell Antonia that on that early morning, she wasn’t crying by herself. She was only one of the many girls who were crying all over this nation.
In these next few years, Antonia will realize that being an American Girl isn’t perfect like the pristine, expensive dolls in her closet. More importantly, it is not easy. But she is not alone. That’s why there’s a wide range of American Girl dolls because what makes us different is what makes us American.