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Para Mi Hermane

/ Alex King De Cantu

Poetry — 2 min reading time

No. 4


I still struggle to embrace the reality

that my café-con-leche-with-extra-leche-ass self

has ancestors in México.

Somewhere in Nuevo León

in the place a third of my last name comes from

they are there.

Mis antepasades.

Wanted dead and alive

by a woman who might never get to meet them.

Due to fear

apprehension

and not knowing who specifically they are

beyond the hazy memories of a man who chose assimilation.

Because for all twenty-three years of my life

I have been taught

silently

that anything less than 100% purity negates my authenticity.

Putting milk in the coffee transmutes it into not-coffee

faster than the holiest of padres

transubstantiates a cracker into sacred flesh.

I know that I will be branded a gringa for some time.

Maybe my whole life.

But I want to change that.

I want to know more about the language my mother was barred from as a child

than food orders and pleasantries.

Because Spanish was the language of “other people”

I had to learn to be content with hearing it

as an echo through the cramped halls of an underfunded school instead.

I want to know more about the music that consecrated the quinceañera I never had

than an ode to wealthy field workers, set in grainy 2000s cellulose.

Because watching a Los Tigres Del Norte music video in history class

doesn’t make up for losing a whole chapter of family scrapbooks.

I want to know more about who I am

than the eternally Californian white girl with a spice tolerance.

Because hell, my nose still runs like a waterfall

after wolfing down a bolillo con queso y jalapeño.

I know that I could have started all of this long ago,

the day hola first left my lips to mingle with the dusty air of an elementary school trailer.

That in certain company, every r I fail to roll will earn me the scorn of a dozen mal ojo.

But acquiescing to that scorn, to every thought of “just be white” that nips at my brain

would only be a disservice to the people that have fought and cried and bled

to bring me into the world.

So I refuse to stop embracing my history,

and I refuse to deny reality any longer.

¡Soy chicana y no lo negaré más!

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