I am a 38-year-old Chicanosaurus living in New York City.
My most recent interaction with kids was watching Stranger Things on Netlfix a few months ago. I don’t have any, don’t know any, and most definitely don’t know what’s happening in their little minds.
That’s why I was so moved when my cousin’s wife passed a long a note from her 7-year-old sweet pea, Lyra Torres, addressed to to the Latina teenage activist and national inspiration Emma González. Apparently, Lyra had seen a clip of people being critical of Emma and wanted to let her know that she was loved. My task was to somehow get the letter to Emma.
Parkland, Florida, is a long way from Brooklyn, but the internet had come through for me a few times before and I was hoping it would come through for me again. I consulted my Lalo Alcaraz (patron saint of bearded Chicanos) political cartoon calendar for inspiration, blessed myself with tap water since there are no Catholic churches near my pad, then constructed a tweet and hit send hoping this little Latina in training might just have her “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” moment except with a social justice twist.
— Jeronimo Saldaña (@JeronimoSaldana) March 28, 2018
Pues, it pinche worked! As of this morning, my tweet has been retweeted over 3,900 times and liked more that 20,000 times. And, oh yeah, Emma’s response was pure magic. If Lyra’s note had put tears in my eyes, Emma’s reply had me bawling.
Emma wrote: “You can be whoever you want to be Lyra, but one of the best people in the world that you can be no matter how old you are is Yourself ❤❤ I’m honored to know you even this small bit Miss Torres ?”
You can be whoever you want to be Lyra, but one of the best people in the world that you can be no matter how old you are is Yourself ❤❤ I’m honored to know you even this small bit Miss Torres ? https://t.co/YEARutmD1P
— Emma González (@Emma4Change) March 29, 2018
There have been more than a thousand responses, the overwhelming majority of which express support and admiration for both Emma and Lyra. Many of the tweets are from folks between 30 and 70 years of age who share Lyra’s desire to be like Emma when they grow up and others tell Lyra that she is their hero for standing up for Emma. There were a handful of negative comments, but as my Tío Paco used to say, “Pendejos. Meh!”
As far as I’m concerned, Emma, Lyra, and the millions of other Latina mujeres who have been organizing our communities since before organizing was a concept are my heroes. Lyra’s dad and I were raised by fierce immigrant women who taught us strength through compassion, the importance of fighting for your community, and doing it all with a sense of humor.
I hope that my fellow vatos out there will see Emma’s leadership as an opportunity to check our privileges and support the work of the brilliant mujeres already leading our communities so that all of the Lyra’s of the world will be able to become the Emmas they are meant to be.
Jerónimo Saldaña tweets from @JeronimoSaldana.