Friday, February 10, 2006

Una Identidad Sin Fronteras

I have been in a very pensive mood lately. I'm sure it has to do with the confluence of events in my online and offline lives that has served to make me aware of who I am as a person and what path I am currently stumbling down.

Every day when I look in the bathroom mirror as I try to shake off the grogginess of the sleepless night, I see in my eyes a young adult whose story stretches longer than the short amount of time I've been on this earth. I feel as though I have inherited a cultural legacy that must be carried on through my actions; one that speaks of peace making, assistance to my fellow humans, a responsibility to Mother Earth, and the humility to recognize that I will live a fuller life if I use my ears more than my mouth.

This whole introverted cycle began on Segundo de Febrero, when I took the time to continue my education about the history of my people, los Xicanos. Far too many of us turn a blind eye to the events and social climate that has defined who we are today. While I recognize that we are a diverse group ideologically, there are many things that weave us together that don't get the attention they deserve.

The fact is, we're different.

Note that I did not say "better" or "privileged". That tired accusation has been successful in silencing the spirit of our people every time we start to shake the earth with our solidarity to one another. As Xicanos, our history in this country is one that transcends man-made borders and societal norms. We are a people of dual languages and dual cultures, always in a conflict that makes us choose between an assimilated "American" identity (how is that defined, by the way) and the one that connects us to our ancestors.

My generation of Xicanos is at great risk of snuffing out the flame that burns within. Far too many of us have lost one of the greatest gifts that unites us to our past: the Spanish language. I am one of them, but am trying to reclaim that lost education by study and practice.

We lose our footing when we forget that it took many generations of blood, sweat and tears for some of our people to be able to enjoy the prosperity of the present day. I say some, because it is clear that many of us are still struggling in this European-based system of society. The proof is in the soaring number of high school drop outs and the disproportionate percentage of Xicanos incarcerated in the United States.

Responsibility rests on everyone's shoulders. There are some forces in this world that wish to silence our spirit; those who snicker and spit at a bilingual society, or those who hunt human beings for sport because they are concerned with the "browning of America."

As Xicanos we have to be willing to take the bull by the cuernos and work hard for successful and fulfilling lives. We have to recognize, though, that it is our responsibility to move forward in a way that not only allows us to prosper, but also respects and values our ancestry. That includes resisting the temptation to deny the opportunity to others who are coming everyday looking for the same promise that perhaps was being sought by our parents, or grandparents, or great-grandparents, etc.

This reality, this struggle, is not something we can hide from. It will always be there as long as the face staring us back in the mirror is painted with the color of the tierra.

Crossposted at ePluribus Media's Community Site

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