“I don’t think I have rebelled against Latina culture. I have rebelled against those who try to make me warm tortillas for my brothers when they can warm them for themselves, I have rebelled against a patriarchal religion. I rebel against small mindedness in all ways and in every situation but those things are not an intrinsic part of Latina culture and I will fight tooth and nail against anyone who tries to make me feel like I’m less Xicana for not embracing the small-mindedness.” - Alice Bag, interview on 1/23/12
[The poem I read for the Exist and Resist: Decolonize Your Everything event in Fresno, Califaz]
fresno is a word in spanish. is the name of this place. is an ash tree that is outlawed like i was outlawed until i was sixteen trading my green alien skin for a green alien card.
my man and i have ghost memories of 1987 and 1988 of our baby selves being birthed to mexican mothers on mexican soil in ‘88 i came in a car in '89 he came in a car we crossed an open wound now our baby selves are ghosts with an unquenchable thirst transplants with thick roots reaching reaching to suck water from new soil
now we are native to street corners. slanging oranges and roses. we hold our ground in dark foodmaxx parking lots in a raider’s starter jacket and black beanie counting out a dozen tamales, de pollo o de puerco? from a red cooler in a shopping cart counting out change in spanish, an english thank you nodding nodding thank you
we step into anthropology museums on yokut land and look at yokut woven baskets behind glass and look down at the carpet beneath our feet separating us from the old earth.
i found my stones to hurl
by watching my mother i learned how beautiful dignity makes a woman.
by watching my father i learned that if you have enough for you, you have enough to share.
i watch the savila growing in a small pink pot in front of the only sunny window in my apartment. she is growing so fast that i am shy around her.
i watch a white girl in my english class, speaking with the authority of all of history, claiming: “all of this ethnic literature is making me uncomfortable.” my resistance is sharp words, yes, but so is the hand gripping the side of a cold desk that does not slap the spit out of her mouth. that, too, is my resistance.
you see, i never thought to kill the white man. never thought to send them packing on the mayflower, la niña, la pinta, la santa maria. never even thought to threaten them out of our side of town. to kick them out of my party. and this, too, has become part of my resistance.
you see resistance is not to be questioned. movement is to be expected. we have always walked these lands as explorers, pilgrims, scientists, slaves, poets, merchants, mothers, warriors in curious step or a forced migration. we have fought in all of their wars picked every crop, changed every diaper, washed every dish and from between the cracks in the floorboards we have found…
our existence is inherited. our resistance is inevitable. my poetry is OURS.
The term Chicano was originally used as a derogatory label for the sons and daughters of Mexican migrants. Some prefer to spell the word “Chicano” as “Xicano”. This new generation of Mexican Americans were singled out by people on both sides of the border in whose view these Mexican Americans were not “American”, yet they were not “Mexican”, either. In the 1960s “Chicano” was accepted as a symbol of self-determination and ethnic pride.
“all my mijas bang on me but they don’t understand / "LaLa we ain’t seein u u always wit ur man…” / they say he aint no good 4 me / is this really where i wanna b /“so y’s he in yo life”/ i dunno but he works it rt!“