Some LatinX are born with a veil, and others, like myself, develop one as we migrate from our birth countries to our new home country. We are gifted with a second-sight in an American world that yields us an extra consciousness. It's a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness—an American, a LatinX; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two ideals at war in one brown body whose dogged strength keeps it from being torn asunder. I will raise my veil, so that you can faintly see my deeper recesses, the passion of my human sorrow, and the struggle of my greater souls. So that for this one instance it becomes possible for a person to be both a LatinX and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by others, without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in our face. Below you will find my story:
SCARS OF EXILE
President Eisenhower authorized Operation Success in 1954. The CIA successfully organized the overthrow of a democratically elected president in Guatemala creating political instability y una guerra civil que duró 36 años. The main target of the civil war was the genocide of the indigenous population. By the 1980s, todos empezaron a ver hacia el norte and mass migration started from Guatemala to the US. The Sanctuary Movement was created as a religious and political campaign all over Mexico and the US to provide an Underground Railroad y de esta manera ayudar a toda la gente who were escaping death squads, military oppression, violence y lo que nunca falta—la pobreza. In 1988 a Coyote drifted my mother and me across Mexico. ¡Apúrense! Darkness. ¡Sigan caminando! The smell. ¡Chingada madre! The rats. ¡Que se apuren! The excrement. La jaula de oro—The AmericanDream. The sewage tunnels dumped us in San Isidro. La Migra arrested us: stripped us of our clothes, a routine check for drugs, a mug shot, fingerprints archived, another full body search, and a health screening. My father bailed us out. Un total de mil dólares. When we missed our court hearing we started our lives as undocumented people in Los Angeles.
1995. Soñando en Inglés.
I was educated in English and spoke Español at home. President Clinton, during his 1995 State of the Union speech said, "We are a nation of immigrants.” For my birthdays we celebrated with piñatas. “But we are also a Nation of laws.” For Halloween I dressed up as Superman, the Power Rangers and las Tortugas Ninja. “It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop it." I was a nine-year-old when two INS agents walked my family to their cubicle. The Immigration Enforcement Improvement Act of 1995 enacted to aggressively secure borders and speed the deportation of “illegal aliens,” took us by the hand to continue walking us hacia el norte del sueño que soñó. One agent offered my US-born brother a cookie as the other told my father, ‘your wife and your oldest son have ten days to leave the country voluntarily or be deported right now’. The ten days we had in the US became eight... six... We sold everything. Ni camas teníamos. Four. My father decided to stay in the US mientras las lágrimas suicidas no dejaban de fluir. Two. My mother, brother and I began our exile. One. We were in Guatemala, en un país donde no teníamos nada.
1999. Ala Puchica.
It took four years for my mother and I to get a pardon letter from Los Estados Unidos. I thought to myself—I was finally going back home. By then Guatemala City had changed me. I had undergone a new acculturation—a reverse assimilation into the Guatemalteco culture. I became accustomed to el voseo, el uso del uste, los jocotes, los frijoles colados, a comer granizadas, a los zompopos, a jugar cincos y fut en la calle, pero en un abrir y cerrar de ojos I found myself living in Forest Grove, Oregon. It didn’t feel like I had returned home. I was a stranger in a new land, and this new land was rejecting me for how I spoke, how I looked, y por mis tradiciones culturales. My new life in Oregon tried to re-assimilate me, but I was resisting—ya no me iban a reconfigurar tan fácilmente. My double consciousness was made up of el Guatemalteco and the American. Esas dos culturas se mantenían en un choque, un duelo a muerte to see which one would dominate my identity. It was a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness—an American, a Guatemalteco; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two ideals at war in one brown body whose dogged strength keeps it from being torn asunder.
2019. Chicano Power.
Yo tenia 22 años when I finally understood the purpose of my double consciousness. It took me six more years to be able to share my past in a way where others could faintly see beyond the color of my skin and listen beyond the sound of my accent—in hopes I’m judged by the content of my soul. Now I have a double self, a Mestiza consciousness, a transnational identity created by the deportation delirium of a nation that sees banishment as punishment; of a nation that upholds citizenship as membership to certain inalienable rights while denying others their humanity because of non-citizenship. Una doctrina más de príncipes de trapo que titiritean the open veins of Latin America. The manacles forged from the ignorance of White-Supremacist-Capitalist-Patriarchy seem strong, and yet unknowingly bring with it the destruction of la frontera de cristal because the heavy blisters on my hands will write the chronicles of the unknown Americans to set them free at last.