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My boyfriend and I were long distance while I was in grad school. He is from Mexico but was doing a post-doc. He flew in to drive home with me for Christmas. On our way we stopped in a little ice cream shop off the beaten path in rural Kansas. The woman checking him out was so rude to him, correcting his pronunciation of “pecans,” which even native speakers say differently. She wouldn’t look him in the eye. She had a disgusted look on her face. A few minutes later I decided to buy chocolate for my grandma. This time, the same woman was kind and friendly. I was so upset, disgusted, and pissed off. He was, sadly, more used to it and said that it was probably because she didn’t know any better and had never been exposed to other cultures. Ignorance is not an excuse. Kansas has MANY Mexicans working there, many hidden from plain sight. He has gone from a Masters student who could speak little English to writing his dissertation for his Ph.D. in English, and now works every day to better protect our environment and wildlife in this country. He has lived in the U.S. legally for 14 years now, but the controversy and stereotypes created by immigration issues still follow him. He has a thick skin, but if we have kids and they are judged by their race it will break my heart. I hope our country moves forward in being open minded and accepting of every human being, seeing their soul and not judging by what they look like.

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