la cucaracha

“sometimes the beauty of my people is so thick and intricate. i spend days trying to undo my eyes so i can sleep.” ― Nayyirah Waheed

the second toe

I was told today that when your second toe is longer than your big toe, it means you contain an assertive personality.

I guess it is time to let the larger world know – to all my friends and family that I have not been able to see in the frenzy that has become my life – that I am moving soon back to my country. I want to share with you a little bit of myself, now.

The summer after my first year in college was one of the most bizarre. I decided to stay in Massachusetts and gain an idea of who I was apart from what the previous 19 years had defined for me. I got a job working in cute little Rockport, MA, an unfinished room in downtown Beverly (literally had no ceiling or floor!), and made myself mac n cheese for dinner in my rice maker every night.

That same summer, Sandev and I became close friends. And our consistently-growing friendship has been a source of strength and joy since.

I learned to become financially independent, and a little more fiscally proficient. I also learned that friendship came in so many different forms. From, walking to Stop and Shop for watermelon slices on the 4th of July – to long phone conversations with loved ones as I claimed my space around Gordon College campus at dusk.

I began to understand that God was beyond the confidence of our statements. I began to learn that disappointment was human, and God was not dependent on whether failure or success existed.

Today, I remembered the bizarre feeling that came from hiding in my room and letting the ACLU know that it was safe for them to call my number back. I remembered how afraid I was- and how in so many ways, my bones still remember and tremble from that fear at times. And today, talking to a dear friend about the shapes anger and disappointment take in our lives, remembering how these were words I did not know could shape my mouth into one simple phrase: I need your help.

The summer wrapped up, and the fall came with another difficult semester that melted into wonderful memories of community. The Office of Community Engagement at Gordon, spearheaded by Val and Katie brought iron and fire to my understanding of being.
I learned about Appleton Farms, and I made weekly trips that fall for cider donuts.
Mark S. and his Creative Writing class provided oxygen that I could choose to breathe from on a weekly basis to scratch words that came before me to verbalize who I was becoming. I still don’t know who that is… but I still feel the crisp morning our class spent at the farm in my breathing.

It’s been three ish years since then. With more details and events than I would want to fit into this post. But I am making a decision that resembles the nature of those last few weeks of my second semester at Gordon.

I am moving back to Mexico.

With three suitcases and a cat, I am going back to my country. Knowing only that I am not that into being a lawyer for now.

A common projection for me over the last few days, is an underlying pressure to explain why I would leave the U.S. In many ways, I see this as the start of my career. I’ve been writing and exploring my classes through the lens of my language, my people, and my countries. And, that first summer after my freshman year in college, I told Sandev on the rooftop of a building – I am going to Mexico after I finish it out here.

I don’t have much of a plan, except to aggressively send my C.V. to everywhere; walk around the University and seek out literature professors; go to museums; eat so much of the food that my stomach was made for… And most importantly right now, be with my family.

Currently in transition, with both my aggressively tall second toes jutting out of my sandals, and my cat on my shoulders, I am raw and aching. I am sad, and I am excited. I am tired, very very tired… But as I keep telling myself,

I have to believe that the same grace, excitement, and oxygen I would extend to others, I am extending to myself. And this assertion, is the hardest of all.

With memory written on my back, and hope growing on my fingertips, and with regret of not having enough time to hold those I love and saysee you later, I am pulling my suitcases up and continue to walk forward one hour at a time.

 

 

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A Review of Recent North Shore’s Netcast Pastor’s Reality TV Show

Netcast Pastor Matt Chewning released his reality TV show this last month, where he delves into conversations that are considered rare conversations held in evangelical circles. His message through this tv show is to connect with the “greater culture” and inspire his sermons based on the conversations he holds with people in the North Shore of MA area that do not attend his church. The first three episodes of the show revolve around the topic of sex. The release of culturally- centered evangelical messages tucked within an interaction with what seems like the local community, is a powerful and innovative means to reach a growing community of inquisitive and doubtful individuals towards the institution of the evangelical church. Matt Chewning makes a point of communicating that his hope is that the greater church realizes that the church needs to adapt to the fluidity of culture, to understand what the questions of the culture (or whomever this encompasses) are, and deliver the same messages that have predominantly controlled the context by which conservative evangelical speakers at the pulpit have taught since the 90s.

I am very interested in the new tactics for making messages that are very obviously being rejected by what Chewning calls the young twenty-year-olds; the purpose is so these same messages take on a “popular” rhetoric as a means to persuade this age demographic to maintain the roles and practices of how and who to be in order to represent what the institution of the church has deemed as moral. Chewning’s messages embedded in the first three episodes of his TV show promote the maintenance of roles of the binary hierarchy of sexual identity that have been aligned through ancient patriarchal readings of Biblical text, which have also been dangerously intertwined with who a morally correct participant of society is.

The rhetoric of Matt Chewning is misleading. It contains so many contradictions that all point to the clear messages to the larger community. Chewning admits his belief that as a generalized concept, all men are highly sexual and it’s evident that all women are highly sexualized. By placing himself on a walkway at a public park on the North Shore, with a large sign that draws anyone to have a conversation regarding anything under the larger theme of “sex”, he holds interviews with some four or five individuals. Only one of the two women shown are given a pseudo-productive screen time, as compared to the time spent with the men that he hosts at the booth; this young girl obviously represents a sexual orientation that differs from the presumed heterosexual lifestyle that is believed that all should follow, therefore given a focal attention in the show to make a pointed argument against the fluidity of sexuality so forbidden in the church. As a TV show that is broadcasted and promoted as a dialogue and conversation starter for the greater community, the message made through the interview with this young girl negates any openness for learning and conversation that had been previously communicated. Chewning asks the young girl to explain how she arrived to her sexual orientation, and she responded beautifully by describing the need and search for intimacy that we all share, “… everyone craves intimacy and affection… I wanted someone to text me in the morning to ask how I’m doing”. She expounds her orientation by sharing that for her, this can be shared with any gender.

Chewning’s response to her is eerily patriarchal. He persuades the young girl to depart from her sexuality through the promotion and attention to her physical beauty. He tells her, “You’re beautiful… why is [your sexuality] so tied to your identity?”. He demeans the fullness of her identity as being a spiritual, emotional, and sexual, and autonomous being. The rhetorical message is that her sexuality is not a part of her specific identity because it is not aligned with his own viewpoint. Her sexuality cannot be considered a valid feature of her identity. However, every other individual that makes an appearance on the TV show identifies as heterosexual, and there’s a clear mark of celebration of their sexual identities.

In the second episode of the show, Chewning plays match-maker. He promotes the institution of heterosexual marriage by connecting a woman from his congregation with a stranger they encounter on the street, and financing their first date. In this venture to find out what men want out of relationships with men, and what it would take for this woman to “lock down” a man for marriage relies on holding two very dichotomous interviews. Stark comparisons are made between the first man who is interviewed: he represents the non-committal man who just wants to have “fun”, no attention is drawn towards his value of hoping to provide financial stability to the right woman in this future. He is contrasted with the desirable man who wants to “settle down” and “make a family”. The message in this image here is clear: there is only one way to be a morally upright individual. And this is done through the heterosexual and gender-binary relationship.

In the final episode, we are invited to a profound conversation that Chewning and his wife, Beth, share on a walk together. He boasts to the viewer about their intimate relationship and the privileges that they have been blessed with on the North Shore. Beth communicates to him a painful point for her in their relationship. She often feels less included and heard than strangers that Chewning invites into their home. She confesses that she doesn’t believe that this inequality will change between them, but does make him aware of that it is a present reality that she is sensitive and aware of. His response is puzzling because he appeases her by stating that he should really change this relational dynamic because he, “cannot stand when she’s angry” and desires to come home to a happy wife. When Chewning listens to a woman on this TV show, he promotes the availability of women to bend to the voices of men. Furthermore, anything he does to better the relationship that he has with his wife depends on his quality of life. Whether or not his response to his wife was meant as a joke, it negates the whole conversation of sex, because sex begins with honoring ourselves and others.

The conclusion is simple, this TV show is not counter-cultural, and does not engage with any questions of relevance regarding sexuality, human perversion developed through the objectification of the body, emotional abuse, or the concept of honoring one another. Matt Chewning is actually afraid of holding conversations that are difficult to bring up in the church. Any lack of fear is demonstrated through his consistency in maintaining the evangelical race to homogenize the world. These episodes are only promotional messages that have been in our ears since the puritan days, and placed at the forefront of evangelicalism in the 1990s by the purity movement. All messages revolving around the sexual needs and vices of heterosexual men, and including women only as the emotional caretakers and the responsible ones for advancing the traditional nuclear family. The show affirms the objectification of the female as a means for the male’s personal fulfillment of emotional intimacy and “morally-driven” sexual needs. As for women, their sexuality is a response to the presence of man, and her value and sense of being are identified as being the benefactor of emotional intimacy and a bodily contact for the male. Anyone else that falls outside of this binary, controlled, and moralistic approach to relationships is denied a place in the monologue; the rise of any sense of conflict for the heterosexual evangelical male is only welcomed to the point where it can be negated and reformed for the continuation of the hegemonic and heterosexual practice.

All in all- this TV show is scary, and non-progressive. By that I mean, there’s no movement present here– I only see retraction into dark times and rhetorical propaganda of hegemonic control. AKA fear and control: infamously the two historical Achilles’s heels of the church institution — but I didn’t come here to say that quite yet.

To see this show, here’s the link: https://www.google.com/amp/amp.www.complex.com/pop-culture/2017/02/what-happens-when-millenials-stop-going-to-church

There is a way of passing away from the personal, a dying that makes one plural – Rumi

It’s been less than a week, and I feel my bones. I dreamt once that there was a vine growing around my spine, tightening its grip and the thorns were beautiful. Bones feeling open, and it’s as if they can touch those thorns and create a new pain- openness to growth. 

I did not feel deserving of the opportunity to be here; even so, everyone helped me to love this space and call it a home for me before arrival. Now arrived, only recently unpacked– walking home in a city that holds different accents and smells I sometimes want to avoid is terrifying. But, the growing emotions- the stubbornness to reply only in my americanmexican-French when the Parisians smell my nationality and speak to me in English instead. Courage, perhaps. 

Nobody likes travel blogs. But the last time I wrote here I experienced an awakening and a beauty of communal grief and courage to share a piece of my narrative. So I wanted to tell you about

How my laundry stayed in the washer for two days and I still wore them 

How nobody  takes American Express and I’ve been adopted by beautiful friends here that buy me dumplings and coffee

That I’ve fallen asleep reading and crying, whether triggered by each other or at separate times…

That there were words I dreamt for myself the last time I wrote, and fears I expressed before I wrote: of breathing thunder and forgiveness, of fearing memory. These, now a prayer 

To grow intuition and knowledge, to grow in love and openness, to forgive 

An Open Letter to Administration

I can’t sleep sometimes, I cry and I cry because the pain doesn’t have words. It will not find peace; my body has a memory that I wish it didn’t. But my skin still remembers when you told me that sometimes men and women desire sex after they have prayed together.
I close my eyes when I look into the mirror. Your faces appear there sometimes: not his. You didn’t reach my spirit, but you haunt it. You hated me for sitting in your offices; you hated me for not knowing what to do. You hated me for my sin. My sin, for you, was that my body was naked and he saw my body, and my finger did not have a band. There was a band around my mouth, around no; there was a band on my tongue because all you could ask me was why I had gotten in the shower with him that night after he forced me into his apartment. You did not hear me tell you that he raped me in that shower. You did not hear me tell you that he would not let me get dressed under his blankets, and that I was afraid I’d never be able to leave that room. You did not hear his words that morning saying, I’m sorry- I can usually control myself at night because I know how my body works, but not in the mornings. You did not hear my fear, my fear, my fear that my voice would never be heard.

That is your sin. All you did was leave me naked in that room, made me tell you over and over and over and over again that I was naked naked naked naked and you never heard me say

No, no, no, no- stop. And the silence, the band I endured on my tongue, on my mouth for months. For months until he came to my home, he came to my home and threw my wallet and keys into his car and made me drive with him. And he took me to his home and tore my clothes off and raped me. And all I could think was that, this was my fucking fault and nobody will ever believe because my voice stopped being mine that night in November.

And you kept taking it away, and I hope you carry the guilt of turning the other cheek. I hope your own skin continues to carry the memory that you betrayed the truth, and my own skin will never forget the infinite pain you have caused me. You betrayed the women, the students that you are paid to defend. You made me repeat myself over and over and over again; you made him keep abusing me over and over and over again. He pinned me down all those times, he never listened, I died that night in November. And you pinned me down, stripped me of any dignity in your eyes. And you will carry those days that you violated my rights, and hated me for bringing you a truth that you chose to demean.

And I will not tell you who I am today, because I hope the memory in your conscience is the only voice you hear from me again. I will never again repeat to you the violence that he caused me and that you caused me. You violated my rights; you attempted to violate my dignity and my personhood.

May you never forget this. And I have promised myself to never keep silent again. My story will be known, and I will no longer keep this in the memory of my skin, of my eyes, of my mind, my spirit, my body. I will not stop speaking.

Where are the Women?

There is a piece written by the poet and mystic, Rabia al Basri titled, Reality, and she is speaking about being in the presence of a god– and the line that is most poignant for me as I am awakening to the reality of woman blotted out in the presence of man is this,

How can you describe the true form of Something
In whose presence you are blotted out?
And in whose being you still exist?

I have known the world through the eyes of man. My father’s work was alive within my mother; my grandmother is still shamed for leaving my grandfather in order to reclaim her personhood; my aunts’ smiles hang from the fingers of their husbands; and I have understood the history of mankind, the fight against injustice, and the pride for my country through the words from the men around me that had voice to teach. Nobody asked where the women were. If my mother were sick in bed, the maid would be the one to put the tortillas, beans, and rice on the table for my father when he came home to have his lunch. I never knew to question why my history textbooks and my literature texts held no memory of the women that fought simultaneously with the men depicted within. Why was it that I sat alongside my Abuela, my mother, and my aunts, at the same table as my father and my grandfather and none of us would talk with our mouths and with our hands about the opinions in politics like them? We are observers of a world dominated by men; we are poorly represented in government, and rarely represented in family, but exist as adjuncts of the hands of man that wield their power to speak.

To unfold the dynamics of power, it is necessary to look into the lives and the corners that we often deem irrelevant. One can look at the power structure within the home of the family to test the representation of the woman. My father left my family, and with him, the legal status of my mother was retracted. Under the screams of crisis, the women were called in to pray over my mother that a new husband would come into her life; that god would become her new husband. I had nightmares for three years that a blonde-haired white man would not let me into my mother’s bedroom. My sister and I were prayed over; that our knees would remain closed by god our new father, that our futures would remain pure. My brother was prayed into the family, inducted as the new man of the house; prayed over that god would bring him a man that could walk next to him, and lead him in the right ways. My brother spent three years falling asleep on the side where my father used to sleep, waiting. I told my therapist that my father was going to come back and that he was going to pay for our health insurance again. I was convinced that we were only living in another family’s basement temporarily—that my mom kept a fifth plate in the microwave, because otherwise, our home would continue to deflate without his presence.

An unmarried mother is told that god will straighten her life when she puts her values in line; when she marries the man she is living with, god will honor her life and surely multiply her resources. Single women earn less money than single men. Single moms receive fewer benefits than single dads. The door of our home, the door of our country, the door that dictates our comings and goings are for the woman to find presence, stature, dignity, and the right to life by all men. A woman is woman because of the men that stabilize her body, her health, her home, her finances, her children, and her ability to love and be loved. The term feminism has never scared me, and to be a feminist means to place the spheres and spaces we are a part of under our criticism. It means that we question why we believe the things we believe, and why we do the things we do. And it is the responsibility to make sense of this space that gender occupies and look at the tiniest details in this sphere of the tensions between the masculine and the feminized.

Take for example, the tortillas laid on the table for my father’s lunch. Those tortillas were handmade by the ladies at the market, and it is a store owned by a man. A stack of tortillas cost no more than 2 dollars. This is the same price that the women receive as their pay per hour, if they manage to sell the number of stacks expected by the owner. This man purchases the ingredients to make these tortillas from the manager of a cornfield and farm. In this farm, there are barracks for men and women. The men cut the corn husks, the women work a 12- hour day shucking the husks and preparing the corn to be packaged, shipped, and delivered- whether it’s locally, nationally, or internationally. The conditions within the barracks are deplorable—and the abuse that the women receive from the managers of the farm and fields in order to maintain the order of the power hierarchy is inhumane to say the least. In the bites of our tacos, of our enchiladas, of the corn in our soups and salads, are the hands and the sweat that are treated as machines—but as machines, that if they fail, they will not be fixed or helped, but beaten down for their inability to perform at the quality level the managers expect them to reach every hour, and every day. Here is a look into the politics behind one bite at the table: the same table where my father’s work, health, and wellbeing are the priority of the family.

We actively forget that we are part of this abusive hierarchy. A hierarchy that depends on women remembering that they are the caves that hold men’s future, and their world of opportunity. Through the criticism of the forces that drive our world into its successes or its failures, we shift our paradigm from actively forgetting to actively analyzing. Justice, then, becomes the analysis of the hierarchy of gender: from the lofty levels of political and social affairs, to the tortillas on the table.

Feminism is asking where the woman is and who she is: is woman a breath in the work of man, is woman the sum of space- a means to an end? My mother believes that choosing to abandon her career, as a lawyer, is the best means for the creation of home and for taking care of her husband and her children. We believe that home, husband, and children thrive when the woman is fully present here. Man’s presence is vital because he supports the family financially, but he is also expected to rise within the hierarchy of the masculinized world of power. The woman is the home that is expected to create the best space for man and family to inhabit. She is nutrition, a clean space, an environment for child rearing, and the scented candle for man after his long day at work. We do not ask where the women are, because we know that women are where we need them to be.

Mami, why aren’t women in history?
Well, Marianthy, we stand behind the men-
we’re not seen, but we are the ones that get
things done.

            I remember my mother telling me this one day during the years that I was home schooled. I remember loving when the mother in My Big Fat Greek Wedding explained to her daughter that, maybe the man was the head of the household, but the woman was the neck. I build myself as the neck, and the language that I use to position myself in relation to men is, I am behind you.

            In 1910, Mexico entered into what would turn into a decade of civil unrest and major armed struggles. What began with an uprising led by Francisco Madero against Porfirio Díaz to dismantle the established order of power, turned into a very complex and multi-sided civil war. This conflict was one of the most important sociopolitical conflicts in Mexican history, as it led to reformation in social organization. Some of the major individuals involved in the struggles, battles, and intellectually reforming the structures of Mexico were Pancho Villa, Venustiano Carranza, Emiliano Zapata, and the Catholic Church—all of which are male. When studying this part of Mexican history, women live in infamy as the camp followers. And though they carried bullets across their chest and were some of the best shots within battle, they are still glorified as the sustaining mirages for the struggle of the men. We consistently miss the role of women in political and social movements as we pass them by blotting them out in the presence of man, and maintain their existence within the struggle of man. Feminism is seeing the obsession with femininity, and acknowledging the hand pressing to squeeze out the female in me. Feminism is the refusal for the continuation of our castration, where we are expected to continue in our subordination. We miss woman because she is swallowed up, not considered as an entity of her own.

On October of 2014, Mexico was overturned as a response of the disappearance of 43 students from a town called Ayotzinapa, all of which were men. The whole country responded in protest to a crime that meant a loss to so many families and a whole community, but this became a beacon that represented the nation-wide problem where around 45,000 people disappear a year. This crisis caught the nation’s attention because it was the disappearance of 43 male students. Their identity as students underlined over and over again. No matter that mothers, wives, daughters, and female students, embody the greater part of the 45,000 disappeared persons a year. Ayotzinapa is a male tragedy. In order to make the point that something extreme has happened, we picture the weeping mother of one of the 43 students. She is nothing to us but the symbol of the national crisis, a means to move us over her disappeared son. I am not minimizing the pain and chaos that these families are experiencing. Rather, I am detailing this crisis and looking at it from a feminist perspective: we miss the women. If it is a national crisis it is a conflict spearheaded by a group of men. And the women that continue to vanish from our streets, from homes, from schools; they are a loss, but not our loss. We only respond when it is a male tragedy.

Feminism is folding the tortilla in my hand and living fully engaged with the world around me. The two lines above Rabia Al Basri’s poem that I begun this essay with, go as follows,

The one who tastes, knows;

the one who explains, lies.

Like a prayer, I have explained to myself since my dad left that I did not need a man to survive. Then, I explained that, I don’t need a man to be defined– then, I don’t need a man to understand, to believe, to do anything. This in itself is not a lie, but a room to heal so that I could recognize that my feet had the ability to walk out, and taste the beast within me. The term, feminism, I have learned to be a source of life. It is all moving, changing, shaping, and cannot die. And this is because the world of men has attempted to isolate women- heads above necks and the history of mankind- but our narratives continue. We look for words to express the systems that contain and make us; and when we taste our world, we become feminists.

In reflecting on borders, identity, belonging … And the politics of citizenship. 

You came from a mother and a father that loved you very much. Your mother made up responses for you when she didn’t know the answer to your questions. Your father was never taller than you, even when you were five years old, because he spoke a language that made you feel like his head could never be above yours. Your grandmother didn’t speak to your sister for the first three years of her life because she was cinnamon colored, and nobody said anything: so nobody told you that was racist. Anyways, racism was a textbook term between blacks and whites in America, and your white Mexican grandmother could deny the presence of people darker than her because her face and her skin were beautiful. And you, green-eyed, light haired—the one stopped on the streets of Mexico for hands to be run through your curly hair and skin and skin and skin…  
So when you were seven years old, you denied color its existence. And you passed from one country to the next because your skin was as white as your first American friend in the heart of North Carolina, Jordan and your grandmother loved you. When you first moved to Mexico City, you spent nights crying yourself to sleep because you missed the changing seasons, missed the friends that asked you why you didn’t have an accent, and missed English laying comfortably on your mind. Your sister was bitter at you because you had a name whose erres rolled just as comfortably in any language. One day she bit the skin on your forearm so hard, it left a purple crescent. You threw her down the stairs.

“Mami, I need bathroom. Why is officer angry with us? Mami, my pee wants to come out!” If we had been in the car, we would have laughed, because Bebé made funny sentences with his three years of age. But Mami’s hands were trembling, and her brows were pushing the skin between them to form an “N”. “The officer just went to make sure where the bathroom is so we won’t get lost when he gives us directions to get there,” she couldn’t look down into his eyes. She said too many words for Bebé, his index finger was twisting his blond curls trying to make sense of what she was saying. I didn’t understand, either. Why would a police officer separate us from Daddy? He didn’t know Bebé needed to use the bathroom. He asked to pee after he left. Why did the officer storm out when Mami told him we were just like him? Why did she whisper to us that if he’d only been given love as a child, he wouldn’t be afraid: what was he afraid of? My ankles were falling asleep, but when Mami had moved, the officer had yelled at her and tears made her head look swollen. I didn’t want him to yell at me. So instead, I played tic-tac-toe with myself in my head and swallowed every time I crossed out a square. I was shifting to get closer to my mom’s chair when he yanked the door open and tortured us by violently jiggling the loose silver doorknob on his way in. He pounced towards my mother and stopped centimeters from her nose. She swallowed. Bebé began to cry; his hand had been trapped between the officer’s knee and my mother’s. Bebé will still not tell me to this day what the officer said to our mother. But maybe it’s because we were both too aware of his piss running down my mother’s exposed legs and reaching the officer’s black military boots. I looked up to see my mother’s swollen head decompress as tears streamed down her face- but she never looked away from the officer, even while he killed her with his eyes.

“You do not need to lay hands on me,” my mother said in Spanish to him. This made him jump back and run out the door. “When we get to Austin, you can jump on the hotel beds,” she said to us shortly after the slammed door pulled the bitter taste of vomit into my throat. I wanted us to turn around and go back to Mexico. I didn’t want to hear anyone hold the rounded syllables of English in their cheeks. I wanted the officer to tell us we could not pass into the United States, even if he used my mother’s excuse of: because I said so. There is no welcome in shame, and I was ashamed of my blue passport that my father kept in his pocket for me. The blue passport that brought us here; anyways we were only driving through the border because I missed the love that my young hands had received in North Carolina. Now I wanted to peel my skin off and let it run down the Rio Grande. The officer never looked at my brother or me, because we had blue passports, said my mother. She whispered this under her exhausted breathing after my father had pulled over so he could hold her hair back as she puked all over the Texan dirt and her shoes, and dress, and all over my father’s skin.

Today I understand that the officer was ashamed because he could not respond to her in the same language that had loved and given birth to them. He wanted her skin to hate him and keep the border intact. If he could have, he would have taken my mother’s white skin into his hands to make it his own.

Abuela’s house had a large landing, with dusty sofas where she sat to sow, the pictures of her blue-eyed, blonde, and smiling mother, and images of herself when she was crowned princess of her town. You had paused at the top of the stairs with your hands behind your back, twisted fingers around white paper dolls- a loving gift from your grandmother. Your sister had run after you, her large eyelashes pointed her brown eyes at you. You looked at your sister, her skin- her skin glistened. You were fighting over the white paper dolls your Abuela had given you to decide how to share with your sister. She pulled at one of your curls, and leaned to leave a crescent bite mark on your forearm. So you took her forehead in your hand, and threw her down the stairs. Her erres became sobs as she cried out your name. Blood dyed her skin darker- and your grandmother denied the pain you caused her.

This is how you walk.

Do not sway your arms too much. But do not keep them at your side. Do no pierce your right ear like others do. When you speak to men, do not use inflection. When you speak to a man, drop your voice lower and do not smile. Do not stare. If you blink, make sure it is only done less than three times in one minute. Do not let your speech end with vocal fry. When you dress in the morning, do not wear bright colors or patterns. When you dress in the morning, do not wear sweatpants.

When speaking to a woman, do not pick up on her mannerisms. Do not be too comfortable with her, but look like you know what you’re doing.
Grow a beard and keep it clean, but do not trim or shape too much. Do not shave your unibrow but do not let it grow. When your mother dies, do not shed tears. Let others’ tears soak your shoulder. When you drive, make sure to lean back and keep one hand on top of the steering wheel. When you look at your nails, do not extend your hand with your palm facing outward.

Do not laugh unless absolutely necessary. Do not end your texts with “lol”s or punctuation.
Never order a salad when you go out to eat. If you are making dinner, never use the oven. Always use the stove top (or better yet, the grill). Do not sing unless in church. When at a party, pretend you do not like to dance. Do not place your hands on your hips. Press them on a woman’s.
When you hear a racist joke, this is how you laugh.
When you hear a comical joke, this is how you laugh.
When you antagonize a boy, this is how you laugh.
When you call a girl a bitch, this is how you laugh.

When your mother calls and you are in a crowded room, do not answer.
When your father calls and you are in a crowded room, announce that he is calling and answer it in another room.
The only time you should write on paper is when filling out checks or checking off to-do lists. Drink your coffee hot and black. When another man orders a cappuccino, smirk.
Never roll your eyes. Do not eat too many vegetables. Announce your love of bacon on a weekly basis. When you announce something, throw your voice around the room to drown out the other speakers. When doing laundry, only use unscented detergent.
Pay a woman to do your laundry.
Use deodorant in steel-colored packaging.
When you’re walking, scratch your balls.  
– Bryan Imke

for data collection, please state your race

whiteness

the bad taste into your mouth, and you disengage; the comfort to rest, privilege.

it’s the people that have to work twice or thrice as hard:

If I am at a Christian college, protesting the mistreatment of individuals who identify with a sexuality other than heterosexuality
If I am at a Christian college, and I am mujer, and I spell my name thrice for you, and my studies suffer – the response does not become

I see what you are saying

my words are discounted because – how could I disengage from my invitation to higher education?

And the powerful become the oppressed when a voice tries to withdraw from the structure of civility.

My voice becomes ungrateful of the space I had to talk- it could have been well utilized space by someone else.

I choose white when my college asks, for statistical purposes, for my race. Because white has become the expectation for everyone to work the Sabbath, because you have already earned your way to remaining in peace.

You will not listen to me.

You will not listen to me.

Like the voices of the women that were molested by the Duggar boy, you will not listen. Because there is power in muting the injustice of the individual, and power is what we crave the most in this world. We bellow for the opportunity to fall in love, because love as we’ve come to digest and inherit by the vocabulary we’ve been taught, presents us with the power to control who it is that acknowledges our life. We desire the power to advance and establish the autonomy of growth for our families; we are formed by the power to maintain hierarchies, and have the power to fight for the lower levels of those hierarchies. And to maintain this knowledge, is the power to keep those individuals at the bottom, from only having the possibility of a power to dream of advancing, without the freedom to advance.

You and I will find no fault in the part that you play in this, nor fallacy in the way you think, because the very backbone of being a part of this cycle is the power to avoid struggle—and this avoidance prevents the development of intuition. Instead, you persuade your neighbor by making them feel something and you die a martyr or a saint because you’ve brought salvation to your table and my table. We acknowledge pain, and our rhetoric is to make you and me feel it. And trauma saves us, because we are taken out of listening to the very struggle that brought power before us. Salvation being the evangelization of any school of thought and, or belief that you believe has the power to maintain control and your arrogance so you can find yourself in the other and nourish a sense of being known for your pain. Your voice never really gets across, and this does let you see yourself in the other because you’ve traumatized them with you pain and struck them with the ignorance of calling forth the presence of voice.

So, what is it that wakes us up to the Sunday morning of resurrection? Because we are still asleep. The end of power is not the answer– we cannot end it as a fact anyways.

But we have no development in the capacity to perceive predator and prey: to confess that you and me can be both, and to confess that often we are one or the other. And this is what can separate the individual who cannot perceive power as the source of most ideas and yearnings and the individual who acknowledges power and listens to it—listens in order to act towards honor: the honor of voice in a person and its honoring by a listening that transcends the sense of hearing. May you feel your hands tingle with the possibility to advance in mutuality, because you fight to gain vision and integrity through the growth of your intuition. May you understand that you have the power to leave, to leave a place, part from a person with honor, leave the predator and extend your hands to the gift of growing. May you know that power is controlling, but it can also be nourished into an empowering way of being alive and waking up from its control.

Inherit this, a life of attentiveness and waking up. Become aware that in trauma, in power, in silence, in oppression—you, you, you and me, we have voice.

But you may still, not listen.

cinco de mayo and other such myths…

You’re getting ready to buy that pack of cerveza Corona, slice limes and wonder why lemons would come in green, ready to celebrate Cinco de Mayo–

Mexico is party and big sombreros, crunchy tacos, and chunky salsa. Mexico is sancodaymayo.

Your friends come over, cilantro sticks to the door frames, and Pitbull is on full blast- you celebrate with a piñata. And maybe the sangria that you made with frozen fruit and sprite spills on your green and red outfit.

Between bites of store-bought “guac” and corn chips, you remind your friends to fund you. This is a great opportunity to explain your heart for the people of Mexico. Your pronunciation of the x flows into the hard jota of the spanish you learned in middle school. You talk about shining light in a city that is called to be reminded of the freedom they have in Christ; you were given a word from god to sit with them (nobody questions if Mexicans do anything but sit).

And in Mexico, May 5th is a holiday, but it’s as relevant to Mexico as President’s Day is to the U.S. It’s the annual remembrance of a battle won against the French in the mid 1800s, and only primarily celebrated in the state of Puebla. Independence Day is in September-

Y Mexico, Mexico lindo y querido…

You’ll never be in it as long as the god you listen to cannot tell you more than
“go and reclaim the nations” and the only darkness you see is past your own hands.