CHICAGO – The illustrator and teacher of Mexican descent, Victoria Alvarez, has a 12-year-old girl showing little children how much fear and anxiety the undocumented suffer over their possible deportation in her comic “Rosita Gets Scared.”
“Stories of the undocumented and deported are in the news every day, with a vocabulary that only adults understand,” EFE was told by Vicko, as her friends and fans call her.
Children “interpret what they see in their own way,” so the cartoonist wants to teach them to understand reality “through the eyes of Rosita,” a girl who one day sees a neighbor seized to be deported.
That “really odd” circumstance gets Rosita thinking, and she begins to fear for the future of her home, where her single mom is her only support.
Rosita tells in the cartoon that she saw some unknown persons coming to where she lives.
“They looked like cops, but I’m not sure,” she says, while in another picture she hears something and opens the door “to hear it better,” only to have her mom slam the door immediately to get her out of danger.
“Mr. Vidal is my downstairs neighbor, I look through the window and see that some weird people are taking him away,” says the girl as she describes, without knowing it, an arrest by immigration agents.
In the story, Rosita’s mother doesn’t let her go out in the street for two weeks out of fear, which leads the girl to ask the reader: “And you, what gets you scared?”
Vicko says “there are many Rositas” in Chicago where she lives, and in Dallas, where she was born.
“We often don’t realize we’re passing fear onto the children by telling them not to tell anyone they don’t have papers, and to be careful with cops or with people who come banging on the door,” she added.
The comic writer said her original intention was to write a book about fear in general, as a continuation of her first comic, “Scholar Gets Angry,” but she finally decided to focus on the fear of deportation as an educational tool.
This book, written for youngsters between ages 9-12, is “designed as a pedagogical instrument for the social, emotional and culturally relevant teaching of all children, but particularly for undocumented children or those who have undocumented members in the family,” the publisher said.
So the book is subtitled: “A comic and activity book to help immigrant children talk about fear.”
Though her parents now have their papers, Vicko explained that she has cousins her age who have not been able to regularize their immigration status, so that fear of deportation and separation is something latent in her family, as it is for the families of millions of undocumented immigrants who live in this country.