Sunday, June 26, 2016

Happy Muddy Rivers of Divine Blood: La persona, unida, jamás será vencida...



It's an interesting dilemma. To different people, I'm different things. I am MANY things, so this of course makes sense. But I am still always ME. It is doubly confusing when to the same person I am, for instance, 'Mexican' when it pleases them; yet if it proves a different point, I am 'white' when it pleases them. It is here where I happily bear the mudblood pejoratives of the children of the New World. I am mestizo. I am half blooded. I am a proud child of miscegenation, born of the love of my amazing parents.

Mixed race. Mixed raízes.

Rene Hugo Arceo, 2001 'Mestizo'
It is interesting when I am not Chicano enough for Chicanos and Mexicans, or hear 'since when are you not fully white?' questions when my 'passing white' skin confuses people when they find out I have as much indigenous and Spanish blood as I do British and Scottish. I have a strange privilege that spans spectrums of race, highlighted by my light skin and polyglot cultural experience. And I would not change any of my inheritances for anything.  Glory and honor to all the Dead. I will not forsake one part of me for another, even if others demand it. We can be the medicine for our blood in that way. We are who we are, always.

I am a child of many cultures, ethnicities and more. Mudbloods unite. Children of the New World, we have multiple inheritances. And my ancestors are beautiful and strong, cross oceans and continents. What may have been war in the past gives way to a unification in me. I do not mean this as an over-simplification of race, ethnicity or politic. I do however joyously celebrate that I am a happy "muddy" river of divine blood. Fight for the happy flowing of all, for the ocean refuses no river.* Let me be a whole inheritance of thousands, a river flowing steadily to the ocean of these times.

Two important things, to be clear. Firstly, there is systematic oppression and presumption based on skin color. I would be a fool to disregard the privilege of my light skin. But I will not allow anyone to erase the many bloods I have inside me, those cultural bonds I have to both sides of my ancestry, just because it is convenient for them, their politics, or they can't fathom that some of us are more than one thing. Not just ancestrally, but in our present bodies and identities. Secondly, blood does not make culture. I identify as half-chicano because of the family, food, music, religion and upbringing I had. Not because DNA 'proves' it.

Judging someone's native cultural fluency based on presumptive cultural access through skin color? It gets tricky. Light-skinned privilege is a thing. Telling me I shouldn't identify as Mexican-American, or European-American based on my skin or genes... hmmm. Ni modo.

That I, as a light skinned half-breed (although Mexicans like most 'hispanics' are not considered a 'race' and let's not talk about which bubble to fill in on a census), have spent most of my life perfectly at home in both LA Mexican/ Chicano culture with all our food, music, religious expressions- AND the Euro-descended traditions of my father's family with all the "Americanisms"? This is my life. 

May the Dead of Mexico be strong and honored. May the Dead of Spain be strong and honored. May the blood of the First Nations be strong and honored. May the blood of the England be strong and honored. May the blood of Scotland be strong and honored. May the blood of Ireland be strong and honored. May all the bloods that made me, expressed and unexpressed in the rivers of my veins, be strong and honored. Back to the first blood and the first bones. All my relations.

La persona, unida, jamás será vencida... **


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* 'An ocean refuses no river' is a line from a Sheila Chandra song: 'Ever So Lonely/Eyes/Ocean'. While I imagine this triptych to be about a lover, in writing this, in remembering in this line, it has expanded, and it seems that self-love, self-acceptance of our myriad mudblood selves, is paramount.

** 
The person, united, will never be defeated, with apologies to Quilapayún. Commonly you hear 'El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido' or 'la raza unida, nunca jamás vencida' or some approximation.  


1 comment:

  1. Walking the pathways between two worlds-two cultures can be a perilous journey, but can often open the doors to insights and forge new roads and ways of seeing and being. Thank you for sharing this Jesse

    Pa'lante

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