Words by John Paul Brammer.
The Mexican knows the world works in cycles. Our goodbyes are circular, not punctuated. I hold this tradition close as I say goodbye to my Abuela in La Iglesia de Nuestra Guadalupe in Wichita Falls, Texas.
In a matter of weeks, I lose the woman who watched over me as a child, and, it seems, the country I grew up in. Perhaps it was never mine to begin with. The events of the past year or so have made that perfectly clear. But there is, nonetheless, a pre state and post state about the America I stand in today, after the election. It’s difficult to articulate, what I had in the pre that I lost in the post, but in the hole it left behind swells fear, anger.
To be Chicano in this country is to navigate a pervasive American sentiment: “We don’t want you here.”
To be Chicano in this country is to navigate a pervasive American sentiment: “We don’t want you here.” It manifests in desires to make English the national language, in the grumbling about the hassle of having to hear “press two para Español,” and, even more dubiously, in how little we are paid compared to our white counterparts. Except, we were born here, so we have nowhere to go.
Our fears, the fears of my family, about the election are likely different from the fears of the immigrant, undocumented or not. But the fear is certainly still there. In the world of Trump, “Mexican” is a target. We saw that in his treatment of Judge Curiel, whom Trump dubbed biased simply for being of Mexican descent. We are well aware of what the future holds for us. Mal tiempo.
I feel uncomfortably vulnerable, naked to attack—They have everything. What will they do when they can do whatever they want?”
There is mourning everywhere. I wasn’t done mourning my Abuela when I had to mourn the loss of my peace of mind. Today, I feel uncomfortably vulnerable, naked to attack—They have everything. The presidency. The Senate. The House. Soon, they’ll likely have the Supreme Court. What will they do when they can do whatever they want?
Somos semillas—We are seeds. It’s become a popular saying in Mexico in the face of oppression. After the normalistas, students who were critical of the government, were murdered and buried in a mass grave, those who took up their cause used it as a rallying cry. Where they bury us, more of us will sprout up. This is a deeply Mexican view of life and death: the two, intricately linked. Death creates life. Life feeds into death. A circle, not a line, without binaries and without borders.
In times of pain like these, when it seems everything is falling apart and beyond repair, it is this Mexican philosophy that I inherited from my Abuela that keeps me going.
Where they bury us, more of us will sprout up. “
Turbulence is an inevitable fact of life in a universe that is always moving. Here, in the throes of it, we understandably feel anxiety before the uncertainty. The future of our people is unsure. But, we have a history of successful resistance to look back on, a legacy of endurance. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors who fought. The future generation will stand on ours.
We have a history of successful resistance to look back on, a legacy of endurance. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors who fought. The future generation will stand on ours.
I already see it happening. This election is waking people up. There is a new energy in our gente, and that’s how wildfires work—burning everything down, but releasing the seeds from the dead, enriching the soil where the new will grow. In what’s to come, I see so much green, and I know that while I have much work to do, I have nothing to be afraid of in the grand scheme of things.
This is how I nurture myself today. I immerse myself in the work of cultivating the good things to come. I believe they are many, and that you and I and everyone have a role in caring for them and shaping them, and that this is as good a reason as any to feel excited–Even on days like today.
There was not a more caring gardener than your grandmother. Her home was a reflection of the seeds she planted and I hope she enjoyed watching it grow, and as one of the saplings who fell into her nurturing care I can only hope that the shade I cast will honor her memory.