Denzel’s Melody, DACA dance & Disappearing Dad

An immigrant story of trauma and love

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Melody Lumbang-Stevens holding her newborn son Denzel Mendoza. Photo courtesy Mendoza.

“I said, ‘OK, why don’t you talk to your son?’ The only thing I heard from Denzel [was] ‘What!?’ And then he cried, and then we cried.”

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Denzel Mendoza and his mom Melody Lumbang-Stevens. Photo courtesy Mendoza.

“I am as American as apple pie,” Mendoza says. “The only thing that separates me is a piece of paper.”

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Photo courtesy of Mendoza.
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Mendoza with another GRAMMY-winning Portland jazz artist, Esperanza Spalding. Photo courtesy Mendoza.

“Ooo hoo hoo,” Mendoza paused, shaking his head. “Eddie. Eduardo. You Casanova. I don’t talk to him. And that makes me real sad. I feel erased from his life, and I’m erasing his from mine.”

“I keep on telling them, you are not illegal, you are not. And then I keep on reminding them, don’t do bad things.”

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Sometimes the rake replaces the trombone. Photo courtesy of Mendoza.

“Denzel and [his sister] Gabi [Gabrielle], I keep on telling them, You are not illegal. You didn’t come here as illegal, you come here with the proper paper, that’s why we’re not worried about it.

We are all poor due to the broken social safety net in the United States, the world’s richest nation. Portfolio, bio, contact: ThacherSchmid.com

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