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I am from….
A poem written by Tamara Trujillo reflecting on her identity and roots.
I am from foods that fed large families on small budgets, school lunches in the cafeteria, cherry pie for Thanksgiving, y posole on Christmas Eve.
I am from Barbies, one Cabbage Patch doll, a Walk-man y tambien, bolillos, bultos, corridos y chisme.
I am from a lifestyle of privilege, but with constant reminders of where I come from. Home was a middle class neighborhood facing overpriced homes and hiding run-down shacks. Summers were spent in a small town visiting grandparents who spoke Spanish at home, remembering that my parents were not allowed to speak their native tongue in school, and now it is a language barely understood by me.
I am from grandparents whose names English speakers butcher and change to better fit their tongues, parents who taught us to be chameleons and blend in with our background seamlessly. I am from the elite, talented and respected, as well as those who have been abandoned, abused and rejected.
I am from an educated father who identified as Chicano in college, but found it was easier to be Hispanic in the professional world. My mother insisted that we celebrate our Spanish colonizers’ bloodline, but favored my Indigenous great-grandmother, who was taken from the reservation as an infant, severing ties to our Navajo ancestry. How does one identify with a story that is no longer yours to tell?
I am from an openly racist grandfather who I loved dearly but challenged daily. I am from strong women who spoke loudly and stood tall at 5’1’’ to fight for others. I am from intolerance, but tolerant, from abusers but am a pacificist, from broken spirits, but am now whole.
I am from “If you want something, find a way to get it,” “don’t spit in the wind,” and “speak up for what you believe in.” I am from cumbias, the jitterbug, ABBA, Al Hurricane and Vicente Fernandez...y volver.
And I am from compassion, empathy and breaking cycles. Lessons learned are both from and in spite of those who have come before me. I am from free will, taking responsibility and no excuses.
I am Chicana. My families have lived in the San Luis Valley for many generations. We are the Mestizo. The border crossed us. I am the struggles, sacrifices, and hard work of those I honor, as well as the orgullo, humilidad y amor of those who will continue our legacy.
Kitchen Table History, Even When We’re at Different TablesWhile our holidays this year may be physically distant, we can still find ways—via phone or Zoom—to connect through reminiscing and stories. This actually feels even more important this year if you know elders who are isolating and alone.