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“Xicana/o encounters with diverse Native knowledge allowed Xicanas/os to arrive (or continue to be in process of arriving) to their own sacred bundles and places of knowledge. When Xicanas/os came to these traditions, memory was opened up for Indigenous people; memory can be the most powerful building block. The revival of Indigenous identity proliferated amongst the youth in the Chicano community and represented a spirit and a return to spiritual ways. A community that was once told that they did not belong was now claiming a place on this continent.”

Jennie “Quiahuicoatl Meztli” Luna

This is a testimonio of my identity politics, to my critical consciousness, and to my own struggle(s)—which has been very difficult considering my privilege and what that means and looks like. Being a white-cis-passing, heterosexual, de-Indigenized Xicano male has been an interesting picture for my own identity and experiences. As a Raza student, McNair Scholar, La Gente writer, Mechista, and—what I would like to believe—an activist for agitating, destabilizing, and deconstructing european (westernized) knowledge, institutions, and ideology, my journey to this foundation and position speaks to my navigation in higher education.

As I first entered the colonial academic institution of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as a transfer student, I was working under a completely different type of framework as a young self-identified Mexicano. As a punk kid in South Gate in the outskirts of South East Los Angeles who worked very hard at Los Angeles Southwest College (LASC) motivated by a desire to subvert the academy, I was a radical—but not entirely. I had books on Marxist thinkers; I delved into the fiery pits of anarchist theory and practice; I looked toward a poststructuralist way of philosophy, theory, and paradigm—which meant reading thinkers like Foucault, Deleuze, and Derrida. As you can see, I worked under a very european and westernized framework, which did not recognize nor nuance my positionality as a Mexicano in United States society.

I didn’t know nor understand the Raza struggle entirely at LASC, which was a predominately Black and Brown college. When I took the only course on Mexican-American history, I began my introduction and acknowledgement to my Raza’s historical (and contemporary) struggle for liberation and self-determination—I was opened up to new, but always mine, epistemologies and groundings.

But this was only a small taste; it was one I wouldn’t feel completely until UCLA.

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Author Kristian Vasquez, right, at San Diego’s Chicano Park.

What caused a spark in my Spirit and made me excited at the time was the student organization Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MEChA), which I learned about in the Mexican-American history class from watching the documentary Chicano! History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement. I slowly started to identify simply as a Chicano; at the time, I understood this identity to be an extension of being Mexicano. Upon transferring into UCLA, I knew I had to learn and understand who I was, but my journey toward a cohesive but complex identity would only be complicated further.

To put things into perspective: as I attended MEChA’s Transfer Raza Day (TRD) yield event, I was amazed at the community of Raza students on campus. Hosted by Monica Hurtado and Braulio Valaguez, these two individuals led a motivated committee of other Raza students and successfully put together a memorable day. Although I arrived late, receiving an award from Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) the morning of, I still enjoyed the day and was blown away from the keynote speaker José González, a Tucson, Arizona educator who advocated for Ethnic Studies. He opened my eyes to many things concerning my culture, my people, and what education meant for our Gente. One of my takeaways was the idea of blossoming Browness, or asserting your Browness and your culture so much that people are forced to see it; my own identity was renegotiated after this day.

Because I was an Academic Advancement Program (AAP) student, I was able to attend their Transfer Summer Program (TSP) in 2016. As a part of the Chicana/o cohort, I was exposed to many new people with ancestral and community knowledges, and my classes challenged me to think and be critical on a level I was never exposed to. This came with radical reconceptions, re-articulations, and reconstructions of the knowledge base I drew from, adopting a more solid Chicanx epistemology and framework. I was more exposed to things I never experienced growing up, and to have this little family for what it was at the time was beautiful.

As I navigated UCLA, I found myself becoming more and more involved. I joined MEChA de UCLA and would later be voted into the position of Chicana/o Studies Co-Coordinator with my fellow Mechista and Compañera, Maritza Geronimo. I enjoyed the knowledge I would build with my Compañerxs at MEChA meetings and through the direct knowledges of my fellow Mechistas.

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Kristian Vasquez and Compañera Maritza Geronimo.

Through much exposure and deliberate discovery, I was able to begin a coherent idea of Chicanismo and what that meant today. With my Compañera Maritza, I was able to have critical discourse and conversation of these topics. We started our journey to defining what it meant to us: we looked at Chicana/o authors and close read their works, almost like studying Mexica codices. And I knew this political ideology wasn’t something rooted in Mexicanidad, but understanding pan-Indigeneity. It transcended and transgressed borders and nations; Chicanismo, or rather Xicanisma, would stress this importance.

Navigating through Campbell hall, studying in the Young Research Library, and finding comfort in the Student Activities Center at UCLA, I would face a very active student role. And the activist part of that role entailed me working toward self-determination and liberation of my Raza community. This also meant challenges I was perhaps not completely ready for. But I had the support of my fellow Mechistas and a student-initiated retention project by MEChA (Calmecac) to keep me moving forward.

Although only being at UCLA for a summer integration-program and completing a very rigorous and difficult Fall quarter, I had developed my own identity in a strong, but incomplete, sense. Here is a poem I wrote, which was a part of the zine project of my Intro Chicana/o Studies course, titled “La Muerte: Para Mis Antepasados de Anahuac/México”:

I AM THE PRODUCT OF COLONIALISM. As such, my voice speaks from passion, de la muerte: the living.

I walk on colonized lands—of precious, beautiful lands disrupted by the product of the white man’s capitalist mode of production. I breathe the air from machines that spit smoke, polluting the only tierra we call home. My lungs are made from modernity, from progress.

I don’t know the language of my ancestors, and I struggle to use and talk my colonizers lengua—so reluctant to speak what dominated, to speak what ordered genocide, to speak what erased what would be my culture.

I see Aztlán as a metaphor for redemption, of retribution, of wanting a spiritual home. Somewhere in what is considered México, my history, my family, my Raza, they were killed, tortured, callously conquered and told they were not human: they needed to be put straight. This is historical fact and it is painful.

I walk the streets of South Gate, my hometown, a once dominantly white community. I feel the presence of a memory, of a people not from my own blood, but people who ate from these lands, who worshiped these lands, and now we occupy—not by choice, but by legacies of colonialisms.

I was criticized once for claiming hecho en México, as if what is now California didn’t once belong to México—of course this being after the first wave of colonization by the Spanish conquistadores.

La Muerte: they survive in my blood, masked by the color of my white skin: a constant reminder that I’m in a colonized body, in a raped body, in a tortured, ambivalent body. My browness, my indigeneity, lives only through my veins, mi alma.

I once screamed in community college: Yo soy Chicano! The fucking political remains! Resistance lives in my blood! Revolution runs through my tongue! And those days were met with a silence from my own family, my friends.

Para la muerte: I see you, feel you, want to learn more from you.

And just like this piece, they live in fragments inside me, in history, in memory. But I will live for them: to remember and to resist—to fight in my life for their memory, for those still here, and those lost forever in the cosmos.

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Kristian Vasquez at San Diego’s Chicano Park.

In the poem above, I express an understanding of myself as a Native individual who, through colonialism, was subject to an erasure of an Indigenous past. It wasn’t until I discovered a very important Indigenous scholar who opened my eyes to a new understanding of this way of knowing. Being introduced to Dr. Jennie Luna’s work, by the Chair of MEChA de UCLA, Natalia Toscano, I was able to read and reflect on what she terms Xicana Indígena. This identity and term recognizes the need and imperative toward reclaiming Indigenismo through political and critical consciousness, as it is said in Nahuatl, not spanish, challenging constructions of language. It is also defined as being a Native to these lands and being a diaspora people coming into the United States, and those who stayed during conquest, the events of 1848 (the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo). It is a radical but necessary evolution of what Chicano was built on.

Xicana Indígena is also female-centered, highlighting female energies within our spirituality; it seeks to understand women and spirituality, looking for a return to dual-dualities outside of the european framework of binaries. As a collective identity, it is a radical reconfiguration of the initial identity of Chicano. This precious knowledge came to me as a radical restructuring of ideas and practices.

But the work of recognizing this term, its advocates, and its development is minimal. So we take on the spanish renditions of Xicano/a/@/x. I say I am Xicano, but being part of the Xicana Indígena people is something to be raised into our Raza collective consciousness. We must recognize our Indigeneity from wherever our Raza comes from in this hemisphere, including: El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, and beyond.

The future is Indigenous, and when we acknowledge how close our communities really are, the process of consciousness will be pushed forward. The path toward Xicana Indígena is an opening to a new and expanded notion of what our veteranos y veteranas of the Chicano Movement set in motion. We are agents of change; to revolutionize our political identity is to recognize our processes of liberation. As a new generation it is our job to decolonize spaces which do not recognize us, and this starts with reading, having discourse, and searching through what UCLA scholar Maylei Blackwell termed “retrofitted memory,” in her book ¡Chicana Power! Contested Histories of Feminism in the Chicano Movement. Our revolution will be guided by our spiritual reclamation.

Identity as a complicated, complex, and nuanced experience can be opened up by introducing new concepts and experiences. As a series, I will locate those critical resources for mi Gente to start thinking about these important conversations.

Let my testimonio be the start: this is the Xinachtli series.



Author’s note: I chose not to capitalize “european” nor “spanish” because of power dynamics situated by westernized doctrines of language construction. In effect, I am contesting their power over capitalization, capitalizing instead words like: “Native,” “Indígena,” and “Raza.”

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Navigating UCLA sin nuestras Madres (a series): -Xillona Pero Xingona?: Un Amor Sin Fronteras-

We walked onto the UCLA campus for the first time: juntas. My mom’s eyes wander but she stays put, too afraid to explore, so I pull her along. I know what she’s feeling because I feel it too: do I belong here? But I stay quiet and pretend to be overly excited: her anxiety eases.

“Mira Ma, hay que tomarnos una foto allí.”

We pose in front of a huge UCLA sign. Esa es mi madre bien sonriente, bien chingona.

We then go from workshop to workshop, all in English, as if to remind us that this is not meant for us. Pero estoy acostumbrada, so I quietly translate in my mom’s ears, sometimes too engaged in what is being said that I forget to catch her up to speed. My mom smiles and nods her head as the speaker continues.

It is the end of Bruin Welcome Day and as we stand by Janss Steps my mom looks at me: “Ay mija que bonito esta la escuela, me da orgullo. Yo también me tengo que poner las pilas, que mensa soy que no puedo ni entender lo que hablan.”

My heart breaks. Ma, que no sabes que tu inteligencia is not measured by your inability to speak English. Your brain flourishes with knowledge: respeto, amor, sinceridad. Things all these people you call professional lack. Ma que no ves que la educación que tu me diste es la única razón que estoy aquí.

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Now I am halfway through my first quarter at UCLA and feel the distance growing between us. I do not want it to happen, mi corazón se sostiene pero no es suficiente.

I called my mom to ask about what she thinks of me attending UCLA and how it has affected our relationship. She laughs:“Pues ya no me hablas. Eso es lo que más siento, que ya no tienes tiempo. Pero me acostumbro y se que es porque estás estudiando. Son cosas de la vida, los hijos no son para siempre. Pero pues veo que ya estás muy ocupada,” she says sarcastically.

I know she is kidding, but she is right. I do not call her enough. It is not that I forget, it’s that most days I am hurting so much due to school that I feel like hearing your voice would only increase my pain. It would make me want to run back home to my safe space: to you.

I laugh as I ask if she misses me:

“No como no. Todos los días, pero ya no lloro,” she says as her voice cracks.

I miss her. I miss her so much sometimes no se que hacer. Extraño llegar a casa, y ver tu cara después de un dia largo. Abrazarte para recuperar las pilas. I need you most days mom, pero no te puedo decir sin preocuparte mas de lo que ya estas.

“Tambien me paso pensando en ti, si comes, si estás fuera tarde, es que tienes que comer ok Maritza. Estás estudiando mucho y necesitas las fuerzas.”

I have been going through this strange feeling of wanting to go home to my mom forever, but then realizing that I have to keep hustlin’ at this institution for her. Recently at a La Gente meeting I shared with a group of Mujeres that I had been missing my mom and wanted to write a piece about: 1) How higher education affected mother-daughter relationships and 2) How these Mujeres were now navigating UCLA without their madres.

I did not expect what was to follow: all the Mujeres collectively sighed and nodded their heads. Soon each of them started sharing a little of how they had been coping with the physical and emotional distance from their mothers. I then asked if they would like to participate in my article: they agreed with full enthusiasm.

So I begin by opening up a little about my experience and will continue this series by looking at different Mujeres’ stories as they share how they are navigating UCLA sin sus madres.

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La Bienvenida a California

¡Bienvenidos a California!


¡Bienvenidos al ardiente lirio!

¡Qué surreal! ¡Que genial! ¿Estaré dormido?

Maquilladas en su vientre triunfan las letras luminosas

ahogadas en luz tierna, tierna luz, deletreando

H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D, filmando en suspenso y drama y ¡acción!


Y estilando alboroto fino, mientras súbitamente

palpita la gran divinidad; el sueño americano

soltando un himno melódico e hipnótico

desde los fondos del universo subliminal.


La joyería exhibiéndose en el rio rubí y la

orquestra de cameras exclamando… ¡clic-clic-clic!

¡Hay! ¡Hay! ¡Casi Quedo Ciego por la inspiración relumbrante!

Simultáneamente, brilla el glamour de falacias, de sueños

de “Oscares” y “Grammies” que buscan dueños.


¡Bienvenidos al luciente cristal!

Sus lágrimas risueñas acarician las venas sonrientes

acomodadas por su sabana estrellada de luces relajantes.

Su espejo divino extendiendo su invitación a su imperio indefinido

salado, azulado, irresistible, monumental, majestoso.


¡Qué frescura! ¡Qué libertad!

El rey viento soplando brisa aerodinámica corriendo entre la V,

mientras la burbujeante espuma de su yacusi topa entre las piernas mansitas.

En su cintura fina, en su Mina de Oro, siente masajes cuando los chiquitines

emocionados intenta de ingeniar a Atlantis.


¡California Tesoro Extraordinario!


¡Bienvenidos al horizonte lozano!

Relajante aguacate verde, tierno coco blanco, agradable

mango amarillito, un clima con saliva pero que no muerde,

ni reseca, ni quema, ni congela.


Gracioso es zambullirse con el Omega-3

o esquiar las pirámides verdes afinadas por su sabiduría.

La diversidad goteando elegancia y captivando la nostalgia en sus zonas

culturales. ¡Viva Ciudad México! ¡Viva Ciudad China! ¡Viva Ciudad Corea!

Explosivas de color, creando mundos bienaventurados

y aspiraciones infinitas de felicidad inolvidable.


¡Bienvenidos al portón intelectual!

¡A la tierra fértil botando besos!

Abriendo sus puertas encandiladas al

universitario del saber multimillonario

que aprecia el arcoíris bruñido de voces autónomos

Socráticas, Einstenios, y Quijotescas.


¡California Tesoro Extraordinario!


¡Bienvenidos al estado dorado!

Adorado, adecuado, gloriado, iluminado,

con diamantes reflejando de su

dorada columna bañada en serotonina.

Fuegos pirotécnicos brillando en la negra

oscuridad, borrando a la depresiva y gris soledad.


¡California! ¡Gran Líder de la Nación!

Tu dulce sonrisa tejiendo un manto de memorias inmaculadas.

¡Tú riza caramelizada! ¡Oh Dios! ¡Tú riza caramelizada! Soltando una cariñosa

melodía orgullosa. Caminas entre la mañana bella como un lucero detallando

con humor festivo que suaviza el rojo interior puro y palpitante.


Lirio, cristal, intelectual, California tesoro extraordinario

California, tesoro, cristal, intelectual, lozano, dorado,

California, tesoro, intelectual, dorado, lozano

lozano, dorado, tesoro

tesoro, dorado



Daddy Smiles

I picked up daddy smiles at the local supermarket

I am the pinto bean daughter shoveling for a bag in between all the clattering carts

and the women picking vegetables and the babies stationed

plastic bags swishing, hands picking, eyes observing for flaws


Daddy you elbow through the people for that one dollar fix

You search for the women in the white apron who shovels the oven fresh bread of your delights

sign reads: PAN CALIENTE


You pack and seal the exuding bread,

What an art it is

How delicately your thunderous hands move

What a shock it is

For those hands live on the imprinted walls of mama’s home

And live fixed in my eyes like warning signs

He moves to and fro


What an unruly place for such an exchange,

For the warmth of the father burns, burns, and suffocates like the perspiring bread at the mercy of your terrible brown fingers.

The only warmth I have known came in grocery bags packed by your vision daddy

walks to a cart among the potatoes


There is mama contemplating the meats!

You find me debating the potatoes, you find me in my quiet gaze….

y cambiamos sonrisas a medias.

no words spoken


Among aisles and aisles of pre-packed angry disillusions

Mama and I come to and fro to this daily routine

You conspire your wicked disguise as you push through the meats, the dairy, and the canned aisles of your neatly tangled rage.

There is Mama!  Cashier register rings


But there you are for the peaches,

Oh those mangoes who deliciously lie for you!

A daughter’s curtsey rages inside me as you crucify the moment with your tobacco breath, “adios mija.”

….at the local supermarket I pick up my daddy smiles.

Time elapsed two minutes


La creación de Xibalba

Tienta la tierra y acuéstate en ella y siente su vibración. Si acercas tu oreja a la tierra húmeda del atardecer escucharas un zumbido, algo distante, casi insignificante. En las entrañas de la tierra donde ningún alma viviente a llegado, vive un ser. Un ser agobiado, atormentado y solitario. Apenas si es oíble, apenas si es perceptible, su llanto terrible.

Cada noche solloza el creador de Xibalba, el dueño de un dominio de espíritus. Llegan ahi las almas perdidas, las almas que están olvidadas. Él se llama, Amotlein. Pero no siempre fue el dueño de Xibalba.

Amotlein una vez vivió entre nosotros. Un ser simple y algo distante. Cada día se levantaba dando gracias a los Dioses por el milagro constante del nuevo amanecer. Pudiera decirse que él era el ciudadano ejemplar, el más cuerdo y sensato del Anáhuac. Pero ningún hombre es eterno, ningún hombre es incorruptible.

Un atardecer se bañaba en el Lago de las Aguas Puras, que queda en una remota tierra escondida por una persiana de montañas y bosques, cuando sintió que alguien lo observaba, que alguien lo espiaba. Como ya estaba oscureciendo, Amotlein se vistió con prisa y cogio su tilma emprendiendo su camino hacia su choza humilde. Al dar el primer paso Amotlein se quedó tieso.

“No me temas,” le dijo una voz profunda, algo ronca, pero dulce al igual.

Enfrente de Amotlein había una mujer de pelo largo, liso y algo rojiso. Sus ojos eran grandes, cafés como el cacao. Y su piel radiante con tinte de olivo. De ella emitía una esencia dulce de flores silvestres, y su cara se iluminaba con la resonancia de un fuego ardiente.

“Me llamo, Nochtli,” le dijo la mujer de pasiones.

Amotlein se quedó con ojos abiertos, de búho alertado. Ella se acerca a él. Amotlein se quedo inmóvil, su mirada perdiéndose en ella, entrando en un transe en que él ya nunca pudo zafarse. Tomo sus manos y los dos se metieron al Lago de las Aguas Limpias. Ahí consumieron su pasión. Tentando y reconociendo cada parte de su ser. Fue tanto su amor y lujuria que las aguas empezaron a burbujear en un hervor tormentoso.

Al despertar Amotlein se encontró rodeado de lodo, en un cráter profundo. Profundo como un lago. En él emergió una sed profunda, un deseo insaciable de sentir el calor de ese amor volátil. Queria él amar y ser amado. Queria hundirse una vez mas en el cuerpo de Nochtli. Ser acariciado por suave y tenue olor. Desde ese dia Amotlein traía una dama a lo que una vez fue el Lago de las Aguas Puras, gozandosela. Pero nadie lograba saciar esa sed que tenia por la mujer de la mirada de fuego.

Tanta fue la obsesión, que cada noche lloraba en lo que una vez fue el Lago de las Aguas Puras. Sus lágrimas cristalinas llenaron el lago hasta que se desbordó, inundando el bosque cercano.

Los pájaros fueron los primeros en huir, y después siguieron algunos jaguares, ranas, y monos. No todos los animales tuvieron la suerte de salvarse y murieron ahogados en el lamento de las aguas torrenciales. Después Amotlein golpeó el suelo con sus puños llenos de angustia, provocando un terremoto que cuarteo la tierra inundada que lo rodeaba; dejándolo en una isla enorme y solitaria. Su llanto cesó y ninguna lágrima le brotó de sus ojos achicopalados. Estaba seco. Habia llorado todo el agua en él, pero su alma no dejaba de pensar en la tierna Nochtli.

El fuego de su corazón, que la añoraba, le prendió fuego a su cuerpo. Amontlein se achicharro, su piel humeando, desprendiéndose de su cuerpo pedazo por pedazo. Los ojos gelatinosos se le derritieron. Y el cabello en polvo quedó. Casi nada quedó de Amotlein, solo quedó su esqueleto vibrante, vivo y animado por la llama de la pasión.

Una vez más hirvieron las aguas y se volatizaron. Después el fuego intenso secó y agrietó la tierra. La tierra ahora tenía la misma sed de Amotlein. Lo único que sobrevivió, lo único que creció del voraz incendio y de la gran sequía, fueron los nopales con tunas. Amotlein tomo la fruta del nopal y se espino, pero disfruto de su carne dulce. Por fin sacio su alma. Para ese entonces ya era muy tarde, pues Xibalba ya se había creado y en él un rey se habia encontrado.

Desértico, árido, desolado,
Es el alma del mal amado.




Ink spills the thread, spreading





I could blink

and it would be gone


Hear that

clear ringing? A tone crisp enough

to pierce the film that keeps us clean in-

side. Birds call, but not like this. In

body ready

to move, to pounce

an eye on the lines, the trace of my soul


Look into it, reading my mind.


Where did the summer go and why did it lie

By telling the minty taste to turn sour?

2013-07-28 11.03.35

2013-07-28 11.03.35


Crumbs dissolve on my tongue like

Té with Tía Alina in the low sun.

Inside, the gooey filling brings me

to the apple pies mama stopped making

after I turned eleven.

Still in my mouth, the chalkiness

takes me back to Cochabamba mornings,

listening to the chattering voices and wheezing cars

as the crowded city invades my ears.

I swallow the remainder, but the taste lingers,

Wanting to stay for good.

Ahjussi, I Too Am an American

karina blog

This past summer, I was able to attend Yonsei University in South Korea. Although my Korean is limited, I was able to converse with native Korean speakers while exploring the country. While I was there, older Koreans were more open to asking me questions about myself and willing to share their perspectives. On my way back to the airport to return home, I had an interesting conversation with the taxi driver who was a middle aged man also known as an Ahjussi in Korea. After he heard I could speak Korean, kept asking me questions about my ethnic and cultural background. Although his comments were not always appropriate, I could tell he was being genuine and was really confused.


Ahjussi, I too am an American





I Live In America

No I don’t have BLUE eyes

No I didn’t dye my hair, it’s BROWN  

Yes my hair is curly

Please don’t touch it.


I’m also MEXICAN

No I’m not from Mexico

No I don’t speak Mexican

I speak Spanish


No I’m not from Spain

I’m Mexican American




it’s not Mexican it’s Spanish…


…it’s also not Korean but 한국어 {Hangul}


Ahjussi, We Minorities are Americans too

Submission: Connected to Two Lands

By Victor A. Roldán

Connected by birth and the great American promise: dirt.

I am connected to two lands.

Tierra Méxicana. Chicano eyes, drawn south, forever south.

Mi corazón swells with affection and instinctual reflection.

Tierra de mis abuelos, flesh of Tonantzin, once so rich with sustenance, the gift of Quetzalcoatl.

Cemanahuatl, brown is her sunkissed flesh.

Brown, that differentiates me from them, like truth from “his-story” and roots of antiquity from the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

I am connected to two, connected by blood, the lineage of the dog and birth’s promise of dirt to cover my brown face.

México, mi corazón, trampled by boots of greed and carved by mentiras and the knife of defeat. America, land of the rich, land of shattered dreams and that blood stained promise of dirt.

I am connected to two lands.

America, you tell me I was born free, even as you have built, and build, so many towering walls around me…yet, I look to barrio soil and at this very hour there grows a Mexican flower.

Hija mia, Mexicatl, princesa, Chichimecatl, who cries out loud and proud for Brown Power!

México, you give me truth and pride.

America, you give me promise.

I am connected to two lands. I am undefeated with the growth of that Mexican flower.

Grand Central Market

Te recuerdas de nuestro barrio, mijo?
Ahora, este es tu barrio.
Y es muy diferente al mío.
Dime que te recuerdas de nuestro barrio, mijo, por favor.
Te recuerdas?

I don’t, Apá.

No te recuerdas de Doña Linda? La tamalera?
En su carrito de compras, brillando en el sol
Como sus dientes de plata?
Su piel morena, marcada por el sol
Cada hora de trabajo evidente en su piel
En su voz ronca, por los gritos de cada mañana
En sus pies hinchados, por caminar doce horas al día?

Tamales de puerco y pollo y dulce
Champurrado, también.
Solamente un dollar.

Te recuerdas, mijo?
Dime que te recuerdas.

I don’t, Apá.

No te recuerdas de Don Ángel? El hombre de negocios? El trancero?
El que vendía joyería fuera de su camioneta, puerta a puerta?
Su camisa blanca, estirada sobre su barriga, y amarilla de sudor?
Su cabello fino y grasoso?
Su cara roja, traicionando sus mentiras?

Collares de cobre y pintados de oro.
Collares que resultan en salpullido.
El cuello pálido de tu mama,
Rojo y cubierto en ronchas dolorosas.

Te recuerdas, mijo?
Dime que te recuerdas.

I don’t, Apá.

No te recuerdas de la familia Fernández?
Los de la tienda de liquor?
Don Mario y la Señora Araceli?
Sus hijas Marcela, María, y Mónica?
Su hijo Manuel?

Los seis trabajando todos los días.
Vendiendo en su tienda de liquor.
Cerveza y vino,
Tomatillos y limones,
Leche y cereal.

Mario y Araceli dando ordenes
Que caen en oídos sordos.
María y Mónica chismeando
Detrás de la caja registradora,
Manuel y Marcela en el piso, jugando a la lucha libre.
Y el carnicero, el Señor Omar.

Te recuerdas, mijo?
Dime que te recuerdas.

I don’t, Apá.

No te recuerdas del Mercado Central?
De nuestros desayunos ahí,
Cada domingo después de misa?
Del restaurancito de Doña Inés?
Donde servían —

I remember, Apá!

Si, mijo?!

Yes, Apa! Grand Central Market!
Eggslut and gluten free pizza,
Kale smoothies and green juices,
Foreign cheese and fresh smoked salmon!


Come on, Apá! Grand Central Market!
Down the street from Planet Fitness,
Where feet burn against yoga mats.

Two blocks down from Starbucks!

Grand Central Market, Apá!
Right by the Urban Outfitters!
You know the place, Apá!
The Outfitters used to be the local church!

Three blocks up from the other Starbucks,
And six blocks from the Starbucks on 12th St.!
Come on, Apá! You know the Starbucks!

Apá, you know Grand Central Market!
………………………………………… Right?!

Conocía al Mercado Central,
Pero ahora no.


Mi barrio ya no es el tuyo, hijo

Mi barrio y tu neighborhood,
Son muy diferentes.
Son different.

Tenía razón, hijo.