The American fabric woven by smiles of joy. #immigration

You never know what is trapped inside a smile…it can be a mystery. I am not sure why my new friend did not want to smile for the camera, but she definitely did not lack the ability to smile.

Most people have a perception of poverty based on the outside looking in. Do we as white privileged individuals really know what poverty looks like, feels like, and sounds like? All we know is that it is different from our normal, different in a way shaped by the socio-economic conventions of our human consciousness.

When I visited my new friends house, I was struck by how different our lives must be. I see the dirt floors in the children’s bedrooms. I smell the odor of particle board that provide make shift walls, shelter and protection from the outside world. I feel the need to do more with less, but less can sometimes be more?!

It is a beautiful evening after an unusually hot winter afternoon in one of the Colonias outside of McAllen, Texas. Your can see the painted sky in the background as the horizon is filled from the smoke of a fire in the side yard. The sun will set soon, and there are no real door locks keeping people from entering their home.

It is my understanding that “The Valley” is the poorest area of the country contrasted by a fast growing population from Central America and Mexico. People are looking for a better life. So what does better really mean? Safer than the country they are fleeing? More job opportunities? What is so much “better”?

As US Citizens, we have been conditioned with this ego-centric notion that “we” are better. That demeanor has provided an attractive narrative for those who seek that “American Dream.” I smile at night giving thanks, gratitude for the opportunity to provide a safe place for my family to sleep. I sit here in my cozy chair, with my soft blanket typing my thoughts…happy, feeling safe.

My friend smiles, her heart filled with joy because she is safer than before. Her life is better than before. Her family stands with her, showing their smiles, feeling safe and joyful for the house behind them. Their “American Dream” might differ from mine, but our smiles are just the same. We both seek joy, contentment, and the opportunity for a larger piece of the United State of America’s pie. Her smile, my smile make up the very fabric of this United States of America we call home.

We should all feel her joy, even if she tries to hide her smile from the camera.

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