Website created for Oral Histories of the Inland Empire (2018).

LIZVETTE

BACKGROUND

Lizvette was born in Michoacán, Mexico, and, at eight years old, she came to the United States. She had adult responsibilities at a very young age and faced discrimination for the way she looked and bullied for the way she was dressed. Now, she is a mother and a daughter. She has been married for over twenty years with the same man and has three kids. Lizvette works as a bilingual instructional aide and loves what she does.

Well, I was born in Michoacán and I had a single mom. My dad left my mom me when I was born so it was six of us so with my mom we were 7 seven in total. I remember being really poor that we had no electricity, tablas [flat piece of wood] for beds, dirt floors. I didn’t know we were poor I felt like we were just normal over there my mom would make me dresses all the time. Even though we were poor I remember it being really fun and peaceful.


Growing up with not having a father it was like nothing to me, he didn’t care about me so why should I care about a person who doesn’t care about me. I didn’t care sometimes it's…Ima be honest sometimes it’s better not to know who your freakin’ parents are because they can be asses (Lizvette laughs and says, “I can care less”).


My experience on crossing the border went like, well. We were twelve in the whole family, so we were the younger ones, so when one my older brothers went to visit us, and he saw our living conditions were, like, terrible and felt really bad for my mom and for all of us. So, he wanted to bring us over here with him and to pues have a better life.


So I was eight and my little brother was still in diapers and my little sister was like two or three but I remember everything because I was like what nine or eight when we first cross the border we were in a van with like twenty of us packed inside the van and the man that was driving—the coyote, I guess—he was under the influence or on drugs or I don’t know. I remember hearing the police siren that they stopped us and he did not want to stop, so he continued driving and everybody inside the van cause my brother was inside with us, too, they were all like, “Stop already! We already got caught. We can’t cross the border. We need to stop.” So he continued driving and he hit like curb and we flipped like two times in the van so a whole bunch of people went to the hospital. We were hospitalized, my mom was hospitalized. After she got out we were put into a detention center for like two months that was practically jail for us but it was like a family detention center, and then we were released or bailed into the country for a couple of months, but then we got deported, so we had to sign papers that we voluntarily are leaving the country. 


And after we tried again to cross the border, and this time it was a different way. We did it the different way, and, yeah, we crossed it, but it was the worst experience because I would see my mom cry every day because she never knew what a jail was. She never imagined we were going to be at a place like this in a position like that. When you are young I felt like it wasn’t my fault and it was not her fault because she was just following her older son, and she regretted taking that risk and coming. Oh my god, I remember seeing her cry, “Why did I come? I should have just stayed over there, look at all my kids!” And we were all separated, so she was devastated ‘cause no matter how our situation was we were always together, it was not easy.


The first city my family and I had arrived was Fontana and stayed there for like, I’ll say, for like six months living with my brother and sister in-law. It is not easy living with family members because once you are there, people are like, oh my god, it’s a whole family and you know. We felt like we were barging in, we felt like intruders and not with my brother but the sister in-law side. It's always the other side, but my brother was like he’s the one that brought us over here but it is painful when you are little and living with other people and they’re just like “please leave like we are tired of your ..just leave” but yeah it is not easy. Then we were, like, I was like ten.(Lizvette tears up) 


Themo my older brother bought us a portable so we can stay there and that was all he could have afford because he was like what fiftteen, and he was already a dad, so that’s why I respect him because that’s what he did for us. I mean not even your own family, your own dad, does that for you and somebody else does it for you. That’s like, for me, that is respect. One-hundred percent. Because he didn’t have the right to do it. He shouldn’t have. I mean, it wasn’t his responsibility and he took it upon himself  and that’s why I had no complaints. I mean he was always rough but I understand why because he told me once, “I didn’t choose this.” 


So, I did what I could to help my mom and it's true, so we moved to that place, and he would pay three hundred a month and I hated the freakin’ going to school. It was so difficult to me at Rancho Cucamonga. There wasn't a lot of Mexicans, and there was a lot of language barriers. It was so difficult because of the way people would judge you by the way you dressed. “Esta pobre Mexican girl.” For me, when I first seen a black kid in my eyes I was like, Oh my god! because I never saw that, I was never exposed to that. I just seen you’re brown or you are white. His name was Jimmy. I never forgot his name. Then, I got used to and was like, well, I guess there's more colors, but I wasn't exposed to that.  


I didn't like the school because the bullying. They were jerks because the way you dress.  I was wearing whatever my mom made because she would make my dresses, so you can imagine (Lizvette laughs). It was not nice.