Perhaps it was a dream she thought. Perhaps if she pinched herself, she would wake up. But she didn’t want to wake up. She wanted to stay in this dream world where she was proud of her heritage.
Where she had never turned her back on her people and it was OK to be brown/marrón . Where brown meant she was strong and connected to the earth, not dirty and untrustworthy, not a mosca.
She wanted to stay in this dream world where she hadn’t given up learning Spanish as a second language, even though her ancestors had spoken Español as a first language for generations. In this dream world, her parents hadn’t decided that she didn’t need to learn it.
In this dream world, she hadn’t connected poorness with brownness (since poor is bad and dangerous, brown is bad and dangerous).
In this dream world, she hadn’t adopted the newscaster tone, absent of accent.
In her dream world, she wasn’t ashamed of the food she loved; rice, beans, tortillas, tamales were plenty and sacred.
In this dream world, she hadn’t laughed at the superstitions, legends, and history, nor had she denied them. La Llorona, El Cucuy, and La Lechuza, stories that her tíos would tell her late at night around a bright and terrifying fire, were still fresh in her mind.
In this dream world, she hadn’t set herself as the “good Mexican” and drawn a line in the sand.
But dreams never last.
Her eyes opened and she saw the truth. In her quest to better herself and become a perfect American, citizen, and woman, she had lost something precious. She had foolishly thought “better” meant not poor, not different, not Mexicano. Her “success” had meant her people’s failure. And she was ashamed.
Her daddy, a righteous and abusive man, once said after she had broken a window, “Your sorry doesn’t do anything.”
The emptiness in her chest ached and she knew she had to get it back, whatever it was. The question though, was how?