My mom and I usually stay seated at the table after eating. We usually talk and show each other things in our phones. The other day my mom saw a video about racism.
“No puedo creer que sigamos hablando de racismo en 2019.” She said while showing me the video.
“Seguimos viendo racismo por que no tenemos la conversación como nación para acabar con el problema.” I answered trying to choose my words wisely. “Mira nuestra familia, mi tío sigue usando “indio” como insulto.”
“Sí pero es por que tu tío es un cerrado.” She quickly responded.
“No, el problema no es el. Tenemos que cambiar las ideas y la forma que pensamos para…”
“Fijate que conmigo no han sido tan racistas.” She interrupted.
I couldn’t help but laugh, “ay ma, pues si mirate. Tienes la piel blanca y el pelo casi güero. Eres passing como dicen aquí.” I pointed at her arm trying to make her see my point.
“No, si si han sido racistas, nomás me escuchan hablar me voltean los ojos porque se frustran que no hablo bien el inglés,” she protested.
“Okay, pero no puedes comparar como te tratan a ti a como tratan a gente más morena.” She was done with me. I always try to bring awareness on the colorism that exists in our family and culture. It is a long and hard battle I am willing to take on that makes my family frustrated with me and always just end up calling me, “la rara.”
Going to the doctor in South Tucson is like going to the doctor in México, but cleaner. Everyone speaks Spanish. Señoras speaking on the phone loudly with no care in the world. Others are “pray whispering” as I like to call it. You can hear them, but you can’t understand what they are saying. Everyone judging everyone. Giving those metiche looks to everyone that comes in and comes out. There is always someone platicando with the receptionist.
There was this señora specifically laughing and talking loudly on the phone. “Si el que no corre vuela,” she said. It’s been a while since I have heard that suing so I laughed a little. “Tiene más salidas que el freeway,” she yelled. Now that is something that really made me laugh out loud. I have never heard that before and it reminded me of what my dad used to tell my mom. He would say, “tienes más salidas que un cargo viejo.” The señoras saying is the Mexican American version of the same dicho.
When I’m finally called I go in with the male nurse and he takes my measurements. He starts asking me the conventional questions, but also makes platica along the way. He starts telling me that he is a DACA student. He tells me how much he wants to be a doctor, but he does not even know if he will be able to get his DACA renewed. He was not depressed about it though. He was very charismatic and optimistic. He was funny, I hope and wish he is able to be a doctor and he is able to get residency status. When he finished asking me all the questions, he sent me to another room to wait for my primary doctor.
On the weekend of the Mexican independence last year I got the opportunity to go to Mexico and experience el grito in my family’s hometown Imuris, Sonora. I went with my grandparents and my sister. We got there really early to get good parking. My sister bought churros and a coctel de elote. My nana and I bought a coctel de elote as well. There was traditional Mexican music playing. While we waited for the time the president did the grito I told my sister how our family used to celebrate this day when I was small. I told her that when I was little, el grito used to be my favorite holiday after Christmas of course. I would be really excited by all the fireworks and I knew that after the holiday, every store in town would sale fireworks. It was a celebration that every member of my family took a part of. We did not have any special meals prepared, what would happen is that everyone would get ready in the afternoon and we would go to the plaza at night. There would be a lot of people already there because we always got there late at night. We would park in a tia’s house that lives really close to the plaza. We would sit on strangers’ cars that would park in the streets surrounding the plaza. We would buy chucheria in the Michoacana and wait for the president to start the grito. My cousins and I would ask our parents to buy us the light toys street vendors would have. Every year I got a different toy to entertain myself. I would not hear what the president would say, I was more interested in the fireworks. The ceremony would start, the grito would be given and the castle would light up. At one point the torito would go out and people would run away from it. The torito was a guy with a bull’s head shape custom filled with fireworks. Of course, this was not safe, it would run in between the crowd with the fireworks on, so at one point it was removed from the festivity. All of this I told my sister while we were waiting for the president to say el grito de Dolores. Then, the presidential speech started. There is always a speech that says what the current administration in the town has been doing. At one point a secretary talked as well and congratulated the current municipal president because of how it is not easy to take charge of a town in debt. I got annoyed at how much he praised the president, I guess he wanted a raise. Finally, when the speeches ended a woman said a small speech that reminded me about what I learned about Agustin Iturbide and what he wanted for Mexico. She said that the only church of Mexico was the Catholic church, it is something that I have not experienced before or maybe I never paid enough attention. Then the president said the “official” grito, at one point he choked a little while saying it and everyone laughed. It made me think about how humorous Mexicans are, we laugh at mistakes. I think it is something that categorizes us. It was funny because several people said hi to my nana, it remined me of how really small towns work. Everyone knows each other, specially each other’s gossip. After the grito, the castle made of fireworks was turned on. This and the fireworks are the real reasons why I go to el grito. As the fireworks in the castle burned, you could see a picture of Hidalgo at the top. Then on the sides the fireworks said VIVA MEXICO. At the very top of the castle the corona was released once all the other fireworks burned. I told my sister that it would freak me out so much when the corona would fly above our heads when I was small. It would never land on anyone though. Right after the castle ended, the big fireworks started. My neck started hurting from looking up, but I was really happy and proud of my heritage and my roots. No matter how bad the country is, every year people still feel patriotic and go out and celebrate the day of independence.
I have always seen my mom as independent, but that does not mean she did everything on her own. When my parents divorced, my uncles stepped in and helped my mom when she needed them. My nana and my tata also stepped in and helped us as much as they could. We moved a lot when I was growing up. My family would help us move our stuff when we moved from Tucson back to Imuris. We filled my uncle’s truck with stuff and it was twice as tall with all the things we put in it. There were ropes holding everything together. We also filled my nana’s car with stuff and my mom’s car. I was in 4th grade at the time and it was Winter break. I had not learned anything in school because I was placed in a class with a teacher who did not speak Spanish. I felt pretty dumb the six months we lived here. The kids would make fun of me for not speaking English and I did not have any friends. Going back to Imuris was not ideal, but it was better than keep on failing in school and my mom working extensively for a pay that was not livable. My nana and tata took care of my sister and I growing up. They would pick us up from school and they would always be watching Caso Cerrado in the sala while my sister and I did our homework. I will never forget how much our family has helped us throughout the years and even though we get mad with each other sometimes, we know we will always have each other’s backs.
Picture taken on Tata’s birthday. My tio Javier is the only one missing. From left to right the ones standing up are tio Popo, tio Ramon, Nina, mom and sitting down is my tata and nana.
The beaches in the Us are not the same as Mexican beaches. Maybe it is my nostalgia since I grew up going to Mexican beaches in Sonora. My family used to go to San Carlos almost every single summer. I have a lot of happy memories at the jaguar hotel and at the beach. The hotel had like three pools with different depths. I would spend almost all day at the pool. I remember one time I opened my eyes in the pool for so long that I was starting to see blurry. Thus was years before I started wearing glasses. Everything that was white was blinding to my eyes. There was a workshop to paint different figures. I, of course chose to paint a dog that looked like a Cocker Spaniel. I painted all of it brown because I wanted It to be realistic. A girl that sat next to me chose to paint a Dalmatian, but instead of painting the dots black she painted them of different colors. There were some gringos at the workshop. A white lady said mockingly, “I guess she likes brown,” while overlooking my Cocker Spaniel. I was pissed, I felt like she was judging what I was doing and it seemed like she said it in English so I wouldn’t understand. I was more pissed at the fact I did not know how to respond to her. Pinchi gringa. I loved going to San Carlos. A couple years back I went for the first time to and American beach. I went to Venice and Santa Monica Beach with a couple of friends. It was full of people from all over the place. With the lifeguard houses just like in the movies. Something was missing though. The music! No one was playing music. In Méxican beaches everyone has music on. There was no one drinking, that I saw. The water was really cold. It was way too boring. I am thankful I got to see it and experience it, but I would much rather prefer going to a Mexican beach. The thing that was similar in both places was the vendors. There was Mexican vendors selling fruit in Santa Monica beach just like in Mexican beaches.
Mi hermana y yo somos muy groseras. Somos contestonas y decimos malas palabras. Esto se nos hizo muy claro cuando fuimos a Aconchi con familiares del lado de mi nana materna. Ellos nos hicieron saber lo disgustados que estaban con nuestro comportamiento. Estuve muy avergonzada los días siguientes y reflexioné en nuestra forma de ser y como tratamos a nuestra nana que fue lo que más sorprendió a nuestros familiares. Mi nana es una persona que le gusta presionar los botones de la gente. Tiene un carácter muy fuerte y se le tiene que tener paciencia. Mi hermana y yo no tenemos tal paciencia y le contestamos cuando nos hace enojar. Mi hermana jugando y de cariño le dice “pinchi viejita.” Nuestros parientes se nos quedaban viendo como si le hubiéramos cortado un dedo a mi nana y lo hubiéramos tirado al río. Una vez llegué a la conclusión de que la forma en que mi hermana y yo actuamos está mal, le dije que deberíamos de cambiar. Mi hermana dijo que le importaba muy poco lo que nuestros parientes pensaran. Lo seguí reflexionando por los siguientes días. Mi nina le habló a todos del viaje y que tan sorprendida estaba con mi primo. Que es muy bien educado, no dice malas palabras y muy servicial. Yo me quedé pensando, “sí, también es racista.” Una vez tuve ese pensamiento, me impactó lo normalizado que es en México ser racista. No podía dejar de pensar que, sí, mi hermana y yo seremos groseras y contestonas pero al menos no pensamos que ser Moreno es feo. No creemos que tener los ojos azules o verdes hace a una persona mucho más atractiva. No somos racistas contra los africano americanos ni pensamos menos de los indígenas. Mi primo, al que mi nina admira admitió ser racista. Otros primos e escuchado usar “indio” como ofensa. Pero como todo esto es normalizado en México, no hay problema. La verdad, no quiero defenderme al compararme con otros hábitos negativos. Yo sé que debo de tenerle más paciencia a mi nana y debo de ser más respetuosa. También sé que no debería de decir malas palabras. Lo único que trato de hacer es que se den cuenta de sus prioridades en que es considerado respeto. No me miren con inferioridad al decir malas palabras cuando ustedes son racistas.
Picture of my sister and I in Arizpe Sonora, México.