“This basket of Mexican candy reminds me of my grandmother who we called Mama Nena. She was like a second mother to me. She lived in Mexico and we lived in Texas. We crossed the border all the time. To me Mexico and the US were like sisters. The border did not exist in my family or my culture and in my community. She would sometimes stay with us in the states for a couple weeks. One of these times she brought this basket of Mexican candy. I was probably 9. She said ‘I brought you this Mexican candy, but you can’t eat it. You are going to sell it. You are going to learn what it is like to make your own money. Feel what it is like to work and buy yourself something and not depend on your parents or anyone else. Build something for yourself. It’s up to you how you want to sell it. You can go door to door or take it to school, but you have to sell it in a week.’

I was only this third grader and said, ‘Okay, I’ll figure it out Mama Nena!’ And so I did. I made some money at the end of the week, it wasn’t a lot, but she took me to a store (I’m sure she pitched in) and I bought a little purse. It was the first time in my life I tasted independence I hadn’t before. It was really special because it wasn’t about the money but it also was. For the first time in my life I saw the connection between independence, autonomy and finance. That was really powerful to me. Now I look back and think about her and her life. She was so anomalous. She really was ahead of her time. She wa a single mother and a nurse who worked the night shift. She was independent, but that independence is fraught. It is admirable but also difficult - being a single mother of 5 children in Mexico when that was so frowned upon. Working at night and then figuring it out during the day. Now I look back and I’m like, Damn Mama Nena! You were a real one! So when I look at this basket of candies it reminds me of her.”