February 29, 2016. Happy Leap Year. It’ll be March tomorrow, and I’m not doing very well on my New Year’s Resolutions. I keep putting everything off for tomorrow. Tomorrow always comes… and goes.
One of the New Year’s Resolutions I made was to read more, read more writers of color, read more non-fiction. Submerge myself in their words, and their worlds –in order to make a little more sense of mine. So, before March ends, I decided to begin re-reading and this time, finishing, “Borderlands/ La Frontera: The New Mestiza” by Gloria Anzaldúa.
Below is something I wrote for one of my literature classes in college (bear with me, this was my 2013 self, first quarter at UC Santa Cruz, exploring a whole new environment). The assignment was to rewrite Anzaldúa’s poem “To Live in the Borderlands” in our own experience, voice and code. So here’s to learning more and more about myself, where I come from, and where I should go next… and here’s to you learning something about me:
“To Live in the Borderlands Means You…”
aren’t entitled to your spunk, to that umf, to the orgullo in yourself
you’re not mexicana, or catracha, that doesn’t matter now –you’re one of them
eres del otro lado, you think you’re all that?
but you’ll never be good enough, oh hell no, you won’t
you’re just a mutt
‘To live in the U.S. means knowing’
that you’ll never go visit your fellow catrachos y catrachas
they got no wi-fi, no Starbucks, so what’s the fucking point?
but you don’t visit because of that non-existent relationship con tu papa
you like your abuelos from your mother’s side more
screw Honduras, you’re just proud of your Mexican roots, huh?
but not even that, you fetishize whiteness
‘Cuando vives en la frontera’
you’re the odd one out, your skin is too brown
you’re 5ever trying too hard to fit in, to be accepted
you were born here, but this isn’t your country
so close yet so far.
pero dale gracias a tu mama que cruzo
‘Living in the U.S. means you’
are just another brown face in school used to show this so-called “diversity”
you think you belong there? look around, puros gabachos
man, you’re lucky to have them –they’re not lucky to have you
but you’re grateful anyway
lo haces porque tu mama se cruzo
‘Living in the U.S. means you fight hard to’
make your ‘ama proud, it’s all to repay her back
find your calling and be outstanding, if they let you.
live up to their standards and exceed them
not fall into their pre-conceived notions of you
but damn, you can’t help the Mexicana in you, can you?
‘In the U.S.’
you’ll receive endless opportunities, like O-M-G
you’ll trade in your Spanish for some valley girl talk
you’ll trade in the chanclas your abuela sent you, for some Uggs
you’ll trade in your arroz y frijoles, for some Chipotle
you’ll trade in your 15 de Septiembre, for their 4th of July
‘To survive the Borderlands’
you must fight like hell to stay true to your gente
shove those frijoles down their throats
prove them wrong, those gabachos
you’re here for a reason, no les tengas miedo
y dale gracias a tu mama que cruzo