10/28/17 Session #2

“To survive the Borderlands

you must live sin fronteras

be a crossroads.”-  Gloria Anzaldua

On this chilly Saturday a few days before Halloween and dia de los muertos we met for a more relaxed session to spend more time allowing youth to get to know each other. As we go further into our programming a certain degree of trust and respect is needs to develop to ensure emotional safety and confidentiality as we begin to learn more about our family history and experiences. We read two poems,  To Live in the Borderlands by Gloria Anzaldua and Ending Poem by  Aurora Levins Morales and Rosario Morales. All Latina poets who express their feeling of ambiguity as they navigate life through two cultures, the ones they are living in and the ones they came from. We are challenged to hold and cross these two very different worlds in our everyday lives never feeling like we are “enough of” or validated by.

An example during discussion was when I shared how at times I never felt “Latina” enough and embarrassed my mother chose not to teach me Spanish. Growing up my mother explained to me that we “live in America” so my priority is to learn English. This often made me feel left out till this day and left with feelings of inadequacy because I have to carefully choose how to communicate with others rather than naturally joining in on some chisme. As I got older my mom explained to me how happy she was that I grew up loving to read and stay in school because she struggled as a kid in school with due to the language barrier and made her hate education. After I shared that, another student exclaimed “wow, I thought I was the only one, I never heard anyone say that before.”

The poems reflection of living between two worlds inspired me invite students to celebrate dia de los muertos, which highlights this notion duality between life and death. Many in the U.S seem to simply dia de los muertos as another type of “Halloween” celebrated by Mexican and Latinx cultures. We wanted to spend time learning more about what this celebration really means and how it honors our ancestors. From the first Brown in Chicago group, one of our culminating projects was to create a large altar to honor our passed loved ones and to highlight members of our family that first migrated to the U.S. This alter includes pictures, trinkets, candles, flowers and hand painted sugar skulls. We spend over an hour listening to salsa and adding pictures, more skulls and little notes of intention and cleaning the altar as we joined new ancestors to our LSNA familia.

We ended the meeting early to walk over and support Faces of Logan Square, a free 2-day community festival that supported local artesanas to sell beautiful pieces of jewelry, clothing and other creations that are handmade. We ended our meeting with the chance to watch indigenous folklorico dancers perform.



Mi mamá y yo

Mi mamá

Arrived to Los Angeles, California with her two sisters and mother. My grandmother sold their home and belongings to pay for a coyote,so they can reunite with my grandfather who worked as a Bracero.

After settling and arranging their next trip, they began their journey to Chicago, Illinois.

My grandmother rented a small apartment for five people in La Villita on the south side.

Mi mamá found a job at a factory in Edgewater. She commuted everyday to and from work for almost two hours for a low wage and no benefits.At the young age of 18, she was work more than eight hours for six days a week.
Mi mamá wanted to go back home. I ask her, what do you miss about home? She says, “todo”.

“Ni de aquí, ni de alla”. So where do I go? I’m too Mexican for the United States, and too “American” for México. This inner conflict has been heard countless times that the authenticity of it seems to diminishes. However, the pain is very real.
I am not looking to fit in.
I am searching for the peace my ancestors did not find.




“When I am unveiled
this time, I dazzle
the mouth. Crown the tongue.
Cradle the sob of waterfalls &
summon every child. Ven
aquí, todos. Escuchame,
finally. Pull me from
the deadest root & watch
it ripen in the good air.
Blessings to all parts of earth
whom are forgotten. Blessings
to the splintered leaves, the dark
stars, the sunken branch. Here
is the calling forth, the new
beginning. Yes, I am old
& debuting fresh wind; yes,
I am young with the pulse
of raucous citizens –
recycled poem, shred of
warrior past – I am the hollered
rush of the Rio Grande, the
feet caught between two
lands. I am the omitted
passage; the forbidden water,
the hieroglyph, the non-border.
Walk me along your name until
I become you, niño de los indios,
de los árboles, del cielo. Yo olvido
nada. & my memory is yours, too.
A ver. Tus manos son los mismos
a miyo. I am closer to you than
even death. Mirame, resurrected
in Coyolxauhqui fractured pieces.
I measure the length of legends.
I swim with ancient grace.
I am a red string around
the ankle of history,
holding together my children
in my splendid mouth.”
-Ariana Brown

Soy el fruto de la lengua prohibida
El fruto de los espíritus olvidados, y de los rostros sin cara
Mi sangre no es azul pero es la sangre de los héroes de nuestra tierra
Sangre mexica, mexicana, y americana corre por mis venas
Soy la magia morena en el aire que intoxica a los colonialistas
Soy la pesadilla del opresor, el recuerdo vivo que los persigue día y noche
Soy de mi madre, y abuelita
Soy de mujeres xingonas y luchadoras
Soy de su sudor y sufrimiento pero también de sus sonrisas y carcajadas
Soy el puente que conecta mis raíces con el reflejo en el espejo en el amanecer
Soy magia morena
-Arely Barrera