where i’m from

Illustration by Alvaro Hernandez

i’m from the blisters and the

calluses on the immigrants’ feet;

the long-life dream of a life

where dreams and aspirations

i’m from a family whose origin

is within the graffiti stained walls

of the murder capital of the world

i’m from the hot sun and the lush

green trees – 

where my dreams and adventures 

are found within every leaf 

i’m the skin color of the Pipil 

and the tongue of the Spanish

i’m the black and white 


on my great-grandmother’s wall

some faces known, 

                                        some unknown

the hums of my ancestors,

the lost dialects

the never-ending passion

for the never-ending struggle


i am from those families who have seen war

blood and rifles in the hands of children –

children with no future and no hopes except

maybe one in the United States,

where individuals lose their identity


                                                                                                 and sense of belonging

when standing before the white man.

those who crossed borders and borders and borders

with nothing but a dream to improve their own lives

and the lives of their children,

marking the ground they walk on with dignity

as their past life in their home country 

decimates to dust,

as they enter a world of long days 

under the burning sun

drenched in sweat from the vegetables fields

inhaling toxic chemicals one breath at a time

in order to feed their families;

the tired hands sweeping and cleaning and




losing strength.

i’m from those individuals

who have given up everything for their families,

who only want their children to make those dreams that 

were so far away in the homeland

into a reality.

i’m from la gente that

carry the beauty and grace of their 


as the word home becomes foreign and far away,

as the struggle to decipher words and sounds of a 

new language increases with difficulty,

as if looking at alphabet soup.

i’m the heartbeat of mothers and fathers

willing to walk through deserts 

          (endless deserts) 

to provide their families with survival

          (with a future)

and my heart aches 

for those whose identity is torn between

aquí y allá – 

for those whose skin is kissed more by the sun

for those not welcomed in the land their parents believed promised 

a world of endless success,

a world of safety.

every waking breath

is a need for survival,

leaving behind everything they know

and not looking back.

the universe belongs to us.


To view this article in its full designed glory, head over to our Issuu to view our Fall 2020 Boundaries Issue!

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.

and the face of God opens

                 and the face of God opens

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over the passive blue sky
the bloody heat of fantastic LA

Ser Yoseline

Ser Yoseline es una cosa tan linda
Ser Yoseline quiere decir que soy amada,
Rodeada de familia
Ser familia es tener una tortilla en mano,
Mi plato lleno de huevo y chorizo.
Ser Yoseline es tener mi abuela a mi lado,
Que piensa que me voy a morir de hambre.
“Otra tortilla, mija? Estás bien pachita.”
Jaja. Okay abuelita. Pero solamente una.
Chente, Selena, y Paquita son amigos de nuestra familia,
Siempre dispuestos a limpiar a mi lado

Ser Yoseline es un orgullo
Es ser una estudiante, una Bruin.
Ser Yoseline es una cosa tan íntima
Soy mi mamá, mi papá
Mis abuelas, mis hermanas
Es ser trabajadora
Para mí
Y, más importante,
Para mi familia.

Ser Yoseline es muy diferente de ser Jocelyn.

To be Jocelyn is exhausting
Angering and unfulfilling.
To be Jocelyn is to feel white-washed,
To question all my heritage has taught me.
Soy salvadoreña? Or am I Hispanic?

To be Jocelyn is to question my place at a prestigious university
I’m just another brown face,
Burdened with justifying my achievements.
I wear the sweater because I come here,
But you don’t believe me.

To be Jocelyn is to be a model minority,
To be “special” and “deserving,”
Unlike the “others.”


Ser Yoseline es bonito
To be Jocelyn is frustrating,
But important.
To be me,

Is to be both.



I was created by a woman

Who suffered through third

grade not knowing a word of English

And by a man who fell off

his parent’s car port trying to shoot

his cousin with a plastic gun–

A five-year old cowboy


I grew up with Ella and Miles,

And Radio Disney

I grew up dancing to Andean music

In patterned wool fabric shawls

Tasting the cinnamon in Arroz

Con leche, eating Juicy Salteñas

And tater tots with kadjupy

I grew up playing dress up with

white girls and eating cupcakes

At their birthday parties

And then my own


America, I never had a quinceañera

Or have gone to my Mother’s native

Land or have learned to speak Spanish


You taught me to be afraid of dark-skinned girls

who looked at me, unsure of whether I looked like them

Or not

You taught me to forget about my “ethnic” background

Until Jessica Hernández

said she liked my bathing suit

In her thick Mexican-American accent


America, you have given me privilege

to feel comfortable in who I am

to be a strong, confident, young individual


So why do I feel rejected, paralyzed

More and more with every passing year?

Why do I feel flattered and infuriated

When I am asked What are you?

When I visit my dad’s side of the family and

My mom and I are the darkest ones

When I visit my mom’s side of family

And I am laughed at discretely for my “California” accent

And my Gringa looks?


Why did a black boy tell me to go back to Mexico in sixth

Grade? Why are there never any pictures of multi-ethnic

Families on billboards?

Why is it that you steal my voice and

Confidence when I walk

Into a classroom of only white and asian students?


Why is it that I am racist?


Oh, and America?

Can you please look in

Your Holy Bible and prove to me

That Jesus was white?

If so, do you think he would love

Me as much as you claim he loves you?