Criminalization

You criminalize brown bodies
for working long days in the sun.

“Foco a Foco” my mother says
no longer does she see the sun rise
or the sun set.

She leaves for work early in the morning when the porch light is still on.
The cool morning air and the dew on the roses are her good mornings

and she is greeted by the very same porch light in the evening.
hungry mouths and dirty dishes are her “welcome home”.

You criminalize my father’s broken English
make fun of his accent and his mispronounced words
and yet your favorite thing to put in your mouth is Mexican food.
No one makes fun of you for pronouncing enchiladas all bland,
so why do you gotta poke fun at my dad?

You tell brown folks “Go back to Mexico!”

assuming Latin America isn’t diverse

but God forbid I call you gringo

You criminalize my people for being
too dark,
too hispanic,
too this,
too that
Did you ever stop to wonder why you’re
too unwelcoming,
too judgmental,
too inhumane,
too… racist?

 

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Your Existence is Radical

Did you know your existence is radical?
Do you know that colonized minds don’t know what to do with your thoughts
when you speak up and demand for the rights of your gente?
Did you know that when you refuse to comply to the norms society has established, the earth trembles because you are trying to change her,
for better.

Did you know?

Many have tried to silence you
or worse, they try to demonize you
on TV, when you shout, they say you are
too disruptive and angry and you feel too much.
Many have tried to colonize your mind
because your ideas are scary, because
they shake up the very foundation of this nation:
Corruption, inequality, the pursuit of happiness – but only for those who are rich and privileged

“Pick yourself up by the bootstraps” they tell you
Knowing very well that ours are tattered and worn and need mending too many times.
But you, brown girl, you picked yourself up by these so-called bootstraps and when they ripped on you,
You mended them with the love of your parents, with the support of your friends, with the sweat from your skin as you worked to get ahead.
Each time they’d ripped, someone helped you mend them along the way
and you, you never gave up.

So they were shocked when you made it out of their plan
of the school to prison pipeline.
They were surprised when you demanded scholarships and federal aid because you earned it.
They trembled at your feet when you told them
“No more, para mi gente voy a luchar y continuar”

They tried to pull a quick one on you, but you,
brown girl, you knew too well the tricks they would play
so you became sly as a fox and schooled them at their own game.

You brown girl, who carries the roots of your gente.
You, brown girl, who watches mami y papi work long hours
in the fields
or in construction
or as maids who get mistreated.
Jobs nobody wants because they are above them 

You, brown girl, who got told her features were too ugly
growing up
and yet,
Kylie Jenner wants your hoops, your lips, your curves, your hairstyles, your culture without giving credit.
You, brown girl, whose lunch was ridiculed and called gross because they couldn’t handle the spice,
and yet,
they want your family recipes now
so they can sell them at fifteen bucks a pop
and insult your dishes by “toning them down”

Your existence is radical because NO ONE wants to give you credit for the trends you set
and yet,
you come up with hashtags and trends every week.
Your existence is radical because no one wants to acknowledge the diplomas you earn, for the change you are gonna make.
Your existence is radical because when they told you,
You can’t,
you showed them you COULD.
You are radical, brown girl
You are radical because they are afraid of the change you’re trying to bring to this world
Because you won’t sit still when they tell you no.

Never stop dreaming, brown girl, never stop chasing your dreams
Never settle for what others want, go live the life you have imagined
Because this is what they don’t want from you
keep voicing yourself and accomplishing your goals.

An Accomplishment

You’d think a brown girl would amount to
nothing.
You’d think a brown girl wouldn’t have dreams of
higher education and scholarships.

Society conditions you to think that we could never
amount to anything.

Society conditions us to drop out of high school
It conditions us to think college is too hard
if we even make it that far.

Society told me that I couldn’t graduate from
a four year institution.
It told me I didn’t belong when I walked to class,
because all I saw were white faces in the crowd.
It told me to get out when I heard classmates say
racist words, or when they confused me for the
“other Latina” in the classroom.

When they spoke about money,
I had $0.09 to my name.
Their spring breaks consisted of Cabo and Puerto Vallarta
Yet they shouted “Build that Wall”
four months ago.

Society told me I couldn’t
so I did.

I graduated from a university that didn’t care about me
I wasn’t brown enough for their pamphlets
so they never featured me in anything

I graduated from a university that said
“We’ll let you in, but we won’t help you once you’re here”

I graduated from this university who didn’t give a shit
about me or my brown peers.

They told us we couldn’t make it
so we showed them we could.

Finals

The click-clack of my keyboard has given me anxiety
One thousand words have been typed,
One thousand dreadful more to go
or more…

My father says he likes it when I type,
Te ves como toda una profesional
detras de la computadora

He grabs my hands – contrasting colors
against one another.
He holds my hands and I notice a new callous that
was not there before.
12-hour shifts and bosses who think he is
ignorante
because he cannot speak their
language
with perfect precision.

I understand why he likes it when I type,
My hands are so smooth against his own.
Manos de niña educada.
He pats my hands,
and I can see the tiredness in his eyes
because he rises before the sun
and the porch light turning on is
his sunset and welcome home.

He lets my hands go,
allowing me to continue my work.

One thousand more words to go
Maybe even more, just for you