I say this, neither to evoke anti-American sentiments nor to pander Mexican nationalist politics. I say this as a fact. We are not in diaspora.
Yet, however strong our roots to this land, I cannot dismiss the fact that the artificial border that cuts through it, also cuts through our sense of belonging, our sense of memory and our sense of truth. On the two hundred year anniversary of Mexican Independence, I offer this, a non-comprehensive, senseless beading of longing, of resistance and of hope:
As I prepare to participate in celebrations and commemorations of Mexican Independence, I am reminded of the complexities and visceral silliness of it all. It would appear nonsensical to celebrate the independence of a people who have yet to experience freedom, much less liberation.
I am reminded of those of us living on this side of the make-believe line drawn across the desert. I am reminded of those of us who cannot return out of fear of not being able to cross again. I am reminded of those who are trapped on that side, navigating the pain of a country ravaged by global imperialism.
I am reminded of the “Drug War” incessantly competing to rival the death toll of the U.S. war on Afghanistan. I am reminded of the relentless starvation of U.S. consumerism that feeds off narcotics and bodies alike. I am reminded of the oblivious and self-serving manner in which the all-consuming American dares call this a “Mexican problem.”
I am reminded of the undocumented workers who died in the World Trade Center and who will never be accounted for. Those who this country will never recognize for its immigration policies establish them as nonexistent. I am reminded of the nation-states from which they come also rejecting their existence.
I am reminded of the women of Juárez, those whose lives are capitalized on even by the best intentioned of Chicana and Chicano scholars. Of a bloodthirsty MAC Cosmetics attempting to capture a wider market by capitalizing on the fatalities of these mujeres.
I am reminded of families who are forced daily to leave their children at the mercy of a vicious public education system that systematically beats the language, memory and values out of them. I am reminded of Ms. Nelson and the pedagogical whip with which she attempted to eradicate my own language, my memory, and my values.
I am reminded of those who risk everything in search of a basic sense of survival for their children and elders. Those who do not seek the farce of the “American Dream,” only the opportunity to provide for their families and communities. Those who are hunted by grotesque vigilantes whose sick audacity justifies their own existence on a land that never welcomed them.
I am reminded of students who are left in limbo, in a purgatory forged by U.S. immigration policies. I am reminded of how privileged my life has been, that I have attended multiple universities without immigration status standing in my way. I am reminded of the need to meditate on how my access is built on my sistren being unable to attend a university of their choice, to access financial aid, to pay in-state tuition, to graduate, to secure a job upon graduation.
I am reminded of how easily we forget our own indigeneity and the wisdom that what roots our memory and our bodies to this land, is not of Spanish origin. I am reminded of the insistence that our belonging is tied to our “Hispanicism,” forgetting that this was the genesis of our loss of memory.
I am reminded of political candidates boasting over the fact that their children do not look like us.
I am reminded of Hernán Cortez, James K. Polk, Janice Kay Brewer and countless merciless leaders who pander to the deepest, most vulgar and inhumane of their followers’ fear. I am reminded of how anti-Mexicanism is an ancient tradition. I am reminded of Cortez’ landing, la Revolución Mexicana, la Batalla de Puebla, the Treaty of Miguel Hidalgo, the Gadsden Purchase, Manifest Destiny, Prop 187, Prop 227, SB 1070, HB 2281. I am reminded of the anti-Mexican movements waiting on the horizon.
On the Bicentennial of Mexican Independence, I am reminded that we are still here. I am reminded that despite the infectious white supremacy that permeates both the U.S. and México, we shall overcome. I am reminded that this is not the beginning, nor the continuation of a two hundred year old shout in Dolores, Hidalgo. I am reminded that freedom and liberation is not what we leave for the next generations to find, but what we must begin to embody today.