Thursday, August 18, 2005
One of the images on my collage of muses is this "Mexifornia" driver license. When I first saw it--about a year ago--I just brushed it off as more ignorant fluff. But the image stayed with me. The politics behind the image are obvious. All you need to know is that image originated in Califas. Still don't get it? Okay, some people think "illegal" aliens are taking over California. Overwhelming the schools, the hospitals, etc. Some people don't even want "illegals" or their children in the school system, or receiving any entitlement benefits. Suffer the little children indeed. This image surfaced when some politicians wanted to offer driver licenses to "illegals." Got it?
I printed out this image and tacked it to my wall. The X-as-signature struck a cord with me. In fact, it hurt me. How dare someone imply stupidity as a trait of my gente. Or even worse: the X-as-signature implied an inability to speak out. Intellectually, I knew this just wasn't true. My gente have always spoken out, and defended themselves. Dolores Huerta. Alianza Hispano-Americano. Juanita de Downieville. Corridos.
I had to do something with the hurt. So I took out my notebook. I wanted to give a voice to that X. But I didn't want to create minority Saints. All knowing brown people without flaws. My first efforts were trite, and didactic. So I continued to write and eventually three voices emerged. Two belonged to "illegal" aliens, and one to a border patrol agent. Needless to say, I was surprised by the agent's arrival. LOL. A sonnet-like form for each voice also began to emerge. All of sudden, the poems were done. Or so I thought. I sent them off to one of my friends, and he pointed out some weak things in the third poem. So I rewrote and rewrote until the poem felt finished.
I titled the sequence "Border Triptych" and dedicated it to one of my favorite writers, Gloria Anzaldúa. Click here to read the poems. I think I accomplished what I set out to do. The speakers in these poems feel real to me. The speakers are not minority Saints. They are flawed. They are brave. They are human.
That X-as-signature no longer haunts me.