ANDY - January 15th, 2020
Nancy: I am sitting across the table from Andy. Andy: Andrea Valdes Valdes. Two last names. Um , my mom calls me Andrea when she’s angry.
Nancy: And could you state your pronouns, Andy: For sure. So, my pronouns are she/her and I lived in Mexico until I was 16. Then, my dad works for this motor company called Nemak, and they were like, ‘Hey, we want you to move to Detroit, Michigan, so that you can develop like this whole new area.’ And my dad was like, ’ oh, what if I don’t want to?’ And they’re like, 'oh, if you don’t want to you’re fired. So you kind of don’t have a choice.’ And my dad was just like 'right, guess we’re moving to Michigan.’ Nancy: What year is this? Andy: So that is 2013. So on July 8, we arrived in Michigan, and we just started our lives in the United States, which was really scary. I did know English beforehand. I was in a bilingual school. But my English was definitely not a good American English. It was very heavily accented. I made a lot of grammatical errors. I was having a really hard time listening to what people were saying. Especially in school and the Michigan accent, they mumble everything. Nancy: Really? Andy: Yeah, they’re just like, I’m like, excuse me. What are you saying? And they’d play movies. I always had to be like, 'Hey, can you turn on closed captioning? I don’t know what’s going on.’ Then I moved to Minnesota for school in 2016. Summer of 2016. Nancy: And have you returned back home? Andy: To Mexico? A couple times. I returned in 2014, '15, and then '17. But I haven’t been back since. I know I should go back because I have family there, but we’ve never been really that close before. Nancy: Like extended family? Andy: Yeah, like my, my grandparents and my cousins and my uncles and stuff like that. But we were never really that close. So I don’t feel that urgency to go back and like reconnect, which might be kind of sad, but it’s just the reality.
Nancy: Okay, talking about Mexico. So let’s talk about borders. And how it can change the definition of home? Can you describe what a world without borders would be like for a person of Mexican descent? What would the world be like for you, if there were no borders? This is 2020. January 15, 2020.
Andy: So, like political borders like geographical or just like any kind of border?
Nancy: Okay, I love that you asked me what that means because borders are a social construct.
Nancy: And typically their function is to establish territory and distinction, and difference, but it also can confine and restrict and make people immobile and disempowered. So thinking, kind of queering of the definition of borders are in a world where the Mexican-US border doesn’t exist anymore. We’re just the northern hemisphere. What would that be like for someone like you right now?
"I'M FROM MICHIGAN," AND THEY'RE LIKE, "OH, REALLY? WHERE ARE YOU REALLY FROM?"
"I FEEL LIKE IF I DIDN'T HAVE TO GO THROUGH CUSTOMS AND HAVE TO DO ALL THIS SECURITY THING TO JUST GO BACK TO VISIT FAMILY I FEEL LIKE I WOULD DO IT MORE OFTEN. LIKE I WOULDN'T FEEL THAT WALL."
Andy: think that first of all, I would have less fear. There’s always that fear of : What if we get sent back? What if something happens and, I have a green card now, but what if something happens and it gets revoked and I have to go back to my hometown? And I’m not able to come back up or even just that distinction of like “Oh yeah, I’m from Mexico. I’m not from this country,” is always alienating in every sense of the word. It just feels like a very punctuated difference between me and other people that are originally from the US, or even from this state. Like, the state borders are also like, “Oh, where are you from?” “I’m from Michigan,” and they’re like “Oh, really? Where are you really from?” Like, I don’t know. You look like you might not like me if I told you that I’m from Mexico, you know? So that would be number one: less fear. I would also be able to move more freely. I feel like if I didn’t have to go through customs and have to do all this security thing to just go back to visit family I feel like I would do it more often. Like I wouldn’t feel that wall.