In Adrianne Aron’s “Like a Snake,” an American is surprised to learn that the man she meets in a poor rural village that doesn’t even have electricity has two sons going to Mission High School in San Francisco. But is it really a surprise?
“Like a Snake” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.
Find The Golden Door
Everybody stops to listen: Broken glass rattling in tin barrels? An explosion of ice cubes?
Hail battering cars in the parking lot?
A huge commotion on the outskirts of San Salvador at nightfall. A pupusa vendor stops turning her masa from one palm to the other. She dabs her fingers in water, wipes them on her oversized tee-shirt, and shakes her head: “Loros!”
She’s right. It’s the angry screeching of a thousand homeless parrots scolding two rolling bulldozers that are paving the way for Westinghouse and Wendy’s. The corporations are having a party where the parrots used to have a forest.
A shopping mall? In this poor country where more than half the population lives in poverty?
I shake my head, too.
—from “Like a Snake” in The Golden Door by Adrianne Aron
Adrianne Aron writes both fiction and non-fiction, with social justice as a persistent theme. Her writings have been published in a number of literary journals and anthologies, and have been awarded prizes by Able Muse, New Millennium Writings, Women on Writing, the Jack London and San Francisco Writers’ Conferences, and the California Writers Association. Human Rights and Wrongs: Reluctant Heroes Fight Tyranny, her essay collection about refugee asylum seekers, won the Sunshot Nonfiction Award and was published by Sunshot in 2018. She is the translator, from the Spanish, of essays by Ignacio Martín-Baró (Writings for a Liberation Psychology, Harvard University Press) and of Mario Benedetti’s play, titled in English Pedro and the Captain (Cadmus Editions). She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is at work on a novel, but continues to spend a little time with her “day job” as a liberation psychologist. She possesses a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz.