Childhood Innocence

This morning, Lucas explored my face in a way he hadn’t before, small hand fixed firmly on my chin, rotating my head first this way, then that, illuminated by the muted dawn filtering softly through the window blinds. After this inspection, he ran his fingers along my ears, cupping each sequentially, first one, then the other.

Thinking back on it now, I can’t stop associating this moment with the movie E.T., with the dim impression of some scene whose details I can’t actually recall, with the sense of being small and wondering at the magic of the movie without realizing its critique of the fear and persecution of difference, the oppression of Other. We talk about childhood innocence without acknowledging how privileged a thing that is, how precious, how precarious.

Family values. Childhood innocence. Earlier this week, a ten-month-old died as the raft transporting the family across the Rio Grande failed.

Family values. Childhood innocence. Children make it into the States only to be separated from their families by an administration who speaks of using DNA tests to catch “fake families” instead of its plans for family reunification. An administration built on an ever-shrinking and ever-whitening definition of what constitutes a “family,” when anyone willing to provide for a child during these crossings is family, DNA be damned.

The beacon of freedom lights the shithole shelters into which these children are unceremoniously thrust. The land of opportunity is one of hielerasand perreras, where those in kennels wait without hope for salvation, for the arrival of a relative now too terrified by ICE to leave the house. We are fucking these kids up, their parents, their families, their friends, ourselves, we are fucking it up.

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