Gina M, (Raw-G artistic name), 32, Oakland, CA, Born Guadalajara, Mexico
I learned English from listening to hip-hop when I first came to live with my sister in California in 1999. I’d always been passionate about this kind of music. I started writing poetry in Mexico when I was 12, and by 15, I was turning my poems to raps. I didn’t realize that hip-hop was a culture but I knew it spoke to outsiders like me. I could be different and creative and a part of something bigger than myself, like a voice for women’s equality and racial tolerance. I was a founding member of Guadalajara’s all-women pioneering hip-hop crew, Mujeres Trabajando.
I came to the States to give my unborn son a better life. I had nothing but my son Hugo and my dream to pursue a career in hip-hop. At first I tried to get my GED on my own because I had no time for school while working anywhere I could. Finding a living-wage job was hard because I was undocumented and actually finalizing my GED still seems elusive.
As an artist, I like to think that my work has no borders but I certainly can’t travel without documentation. I can’t even visit my family in Mexico. I can’t go back, not now anyway. I wasn’t able to finish the process of applying for deferred action because I didn’t have all the required documentation. I’m also afraid of becoming too exposed in the application process because I’m not sure that President Obama’s actions will remain the law. I may qualify for DAPA if it ever makes it out of the courts, but first I must have more faith in the system – a belief that applying and putting myself out there won’t jeopardize my already precarious status. I couldn’t bear to be separated from my son.
My career will depend on my music becoming better known but this too comes with the knowledge that such exposure may get me deported. I’m too impatient and too ambitious to wait for government permission to live my life. I’m a fighter and a doer. While I work on my career, I also work for social justice and immigration reform in my community.
I must stay in the U.S. for my son. He’s the reason I came in the first place, to provide for him. I earn my way and take nothing from anyone. My son is also an artist. He dropped his first album at 14 and he works as an MC and produces videos. I have taught him to appreciate life, to achieve, to push himself toward his goals. I remind him of how I came from nothing and how I’ve never given up. I now have my own studio and my own company. My first album, Esperanza, came out this past July and I maintain greater economic stability through my work for an entertainment company. My son and my music are my life. I’m a poet and I hope to make the world a better place through my songs.