Mi Familia. Mi orgullo. Nuestra historia.

Soy Indio y Euro, soy mestizo, soy Latino. I am the conqueror and the conquered, I am the field and the worker and the hungry consumer; I am all these things, but my heritage is and will always be la lucha. And that is why I am here many days. For mi gente are still in the fields. It is not a thing of the past.

AND SO BEGINS “HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH.” As I said to an amiga on Twitter esta mañana, I better post on it or they will come and take my name away. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to feel for a month. I celebrate Latino Heritage Month every month. I celebrate mi Mexicanidad every day, tu sabes? Hell yeah! So what of this month? This month that includes “Columbus Day” of all things? This 15th to 15th “month” that derives its name from the Nixon Administration’s labeling of “Hispanic”? No se.

Mi abuelo was a campesino who worked the fields and died doing so, felled by diabetes (which runs in the bloodline of many Mexicans). He and mi abuelita (fist up for Lucha Quintana!) worked the fields and my bloodline runs all across the borders, like a river of time and a nature-bestowed rite of passage. Mi familia’s sweat and blood runs through the crisp veins of your lettuce, through the meat of your tomatoes, shines bright in the gem-heart of your grapes; our music and tears and laughter are in the hot wind, and our quiet and joyful connection with el mundo, con la tierra, pools in the cool waters for thousands of years here.

Today, mi familia is in politics, has made art that stands in Califas to New York, has written books in your library and book store, teach in schools some of your children attend, has made history, and are passionate bloguer@s to be found online. Mi familia sees our name on signs and rivers and stone and buildings and it is in a language that was spoken here ever since the King and Queen’s minions acted on dreams of felling Indians.  

Soy Indio y Euro, soy mestizo, soy Latino. I am the conqueror and the conquered, I am the field and the worker and the hungry consumer; I am all these things, but my heritage is and will always be la lucha. And that is why I am here many days. For mi gente are still in the fields. It is not a thing of the past. I do not work the fields, though I spent over a decade working labor, on roofs, in the soil, in factories, and with a hammer. I have since gone to pricey schools (that are crushing me with debt) and am grateful that I live a pretty comfortable life in that I make art for a living. Not comfortable financially. But I owe this comfort to mi familia and their sweat and their sueños, all of them. It is on their shoulders I stand. The border hoppers, the ship stowaways, the dreamers, the do-ers. We came here looking for autonomy, looking for sustenance, wanting to live free and have pride in who we are. 

And I do. And we do.

Understand: my heritage includes those who are still not free, who are still being exploited, still sweating from dawn to dusk, invisible to many and under the yoke of the conqueror who makes the laws still, makes the rules still, sucks up the labor and sweat and monies of weakened and long-exploited populations to build her empire higher.

And I now live in the empire. 

But don’t you think for un momento that I do not, también, live in the fields, in the slaughterhouse, in the factories, in the desert. This is my heritage, and there is no looking away. La lucha continua. Until there is justice for all.
 


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11 Comments

  1. Alli esta el punto. These so called holidays and dias de feriado gloss over the realities of our histories, where we have come from , where we are now and how we moved from point a to point b and how they are connected. 30 days to contemplate over 500 years of complicated painful realities that reverberate in our daily lives now.

  2. Joanna says:

    Thank you for your words. As part of my job at a not-quite-as-pricey-but-still-too-expensive school, I will be called on to explain some of these things to people in the coming weeks, and I’ll make sure to tell them to come here.

  3. kyledeb says:

    Oh man, this gave me chills, Nezua. Sometimes I don’t have time to read, but this brought me back to when I first discovered The Unapologetic Mexican.

  4. sparkle says:

    the closing sentences really resonated with me! we are our ancestors as much as we are ourselves. i appreciate and respect your acknowledgment of the continuum. unapologetically, even.

  5. nezua says:

    gracias amigas y amigos. you help me write every paragraph.

  6. T says:

    Got here from waiting 2 speak. Good ish!

  7. [...] Hispanic Heritage Month/Latino Heritage Month – What it Means to Me | The Unapologetic Mexican "Understand: my heritage includes those who are still not free, who are still being exploited, still sweating from dawn to dusk, invisible to many and under the yoke of the conqueror who makes the laws still, makes the rules still, sucks up the labor and sweat and monies of weakened and long-exploited populations to build her empire higher. [...]

  8. sweetleaf says:

    thank you for what you recognize, and especially express so beautifully. yes the entanglement of yours, mine, and ours. the ours have it. it is an everyday affair and has to be recognized as such. respect, regard, realize,…thanx for passing it on, in the way you do.

  9. turtlebella says:

    I don’t really have any words. Just feelings and sensations. Good ones, mind you, but ones that make me weep también, sabes? Thanks, nezua.

  10. Janet Soto says:

    Thanx for an enlighting post. This, like turtlebella said, gave me “feelings and sensations” that have been flourishing since I now live in our Mexico lindo y querido (for academic reasons) after experiencing the clash of my lifetime americanisms and the mexicanisms i was never really exposed to. Because of that, last nite, in the grito ceremony I proudly screamed Viva Mexico!

  11. nezua says:

    thank you my friends. good to be riding con ustedes. :)

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