Shortly before Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, the U.S. economy took a nosedive. A few months later, I separated and then divorced, after two years of marriage counseling and a personal and professional downward spiral prompted by the recession. Shortly after that, I became a single mother on food stamps. That is, the kind of mother that Mitt Romney indirectly or directly blamed for the random acts of violence in our country in recent months. I became the kind of mother that some dismiss as having “taken advantage of welfare.”
Well, in a matter of months, with a titanic effort and dogged determination on my part, I reinvented myself and made the leap from print to digital media, which spurred professional success and personal satisfaction. First as a freelance writer, my career of choice, then as managing editor at an online publication, and finally, as editor in chief of Mamiverse.
As soon as I was able to feed my kids again out of my own pocket, I stopped the Welfare help. I will always be grateful for it, not only because it helped me get back on my feet, but because in the end, it was also my right as a taxpayer. If you are an unemployed hard working professional, knowing your kids have food on the table helps you keep your focus and move forward. I would know.
Read Related: From Middle Class to Food Stamps, a Latina Mom’s Tale
So, under Obama’s first term I thrived. I know this is not the case for everyone. But as a bicultural U.S. citizen born and raised mainly abroad, I have found in my adulthood that America continues to be the land of opportunity. Last night, when Barack Obama pronounced these words, I cried:
It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.
I was moved to tears recalling different moments of my struggle and how every day I continue to forge ahead so I can give my kids a better chance at education, healthcare and success. I wept thinking how the Latino vote, mine included, helped us to be able to listen to such an empowering speech. I cried knowing that the rest of the world, my family included, also depended on our vote, and would be affected by the outcome of this election.
I don’t usually discuss politics on social media or online, but this is an historic moment. The U.S.’s first African American president is getting four more years, and was reelected during the toughest economic period of our time. And he was reelected by the minorities he cited above, including, I’m sure, some of the rich.
One thing I carry in my bicultural DNA is that it’s not all about personal gain, and self-serving advancement. Obama’s words last night resonated with me:
We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states.
I believe the winners in this election are the voters, and also women, Latinos, African Americans, DREAM Act kids, mothers, daughters, families… Of course this doesn’t end here, and I can only hope—because hope is what’s always kept me going through the many tough times in life—that in the next four years, we will all pull together and continue to make our voices heard, no matter what.
One thing is certain. It’s all over the news that the Latino vote, the minority vote, kept Obama in the White House. We’ve got his back and now it’s time for him to show us that he’s got ours.