Deliana Garcia

As Interviewed By Isabel Held, March 2017

Deliana Garcia Transcript

My name is Deliana Garcia. And my title is director of international projects for the Migrant Clinicians Network. Really what it means is that I get to represent a whole group of healthcare providers who are taking care of migrants as their patients, and either work between health centers to make sure they can stay in care, or I talk to other countries to say someone's coming back to your country and they're going to need care, and how do we put that in motion. I have the best job in the whole world.

I'm old enough to have grown up in Texas as a woman of Mexican descent, to have experienced lots of episodes of racism. Which -- would they be termed discrimination in that I didn't get something that I would have wanted. For example, being allowed into school or being allowed into a movie theater. Those were much fewer when I was young. I think what's truly the case is that the discrimination has come in the way I've been spoken to, and in the way I have disrespected essentially by somebody else who felt like they were in a position to withhold respect and acknowledgement.

It goes all the way from, I can remember being in a grocery store, like a little 7-11 place behind school, and I was trying to get something. I don't know if I jostled this young guy, or he jostled me, but he turned around and said, "Dirty Mexican." It had not really happened to me that way before, and I got so angry that I just shoved him really hard on the chest, up and out and he fell into a Coke case. Then I walked off, but I was so rattled, and so emotional about that experience that it was a long time before I felt like I could go in and wasn't afraid that someone was going to walk up to me any place that I went.

Were you with your parents?

No, I was by myself. It was after school, and it was a little store that was behind my school, and I had just gone to get something before I waited for the bus.

Do you think there's any link between your personal experiences with discrimination and the work that you've chosen to do?

Absolutely, because I don't think I thought about it. In other words, I didn't actively decide that I would do this work because other people are discriminated against, or I've been discriminated against, but I think as I do my work and I see the power that I can have to represent -- because I'm well-spoken and I'm well-educated, and I'm relatively fearless in my willingness to jump in to any situation -- that I see that then I can kind of step forward and bring up with me other folks who haven't had the education, and don't have the skill for communication, or just haven't had the experience. They need to watch somebody do it, and then they're going to get it, and they're going to be able to do it themselves.