Saturday, February 16, 2013

I'm bringing Mexi back

We've all crossed some sort of border or edge in our lives. I've crossed state borders, the Mexican border, and international borders. But there is one border that crossed me hundreds of years before I was born. It is the American border. Like many families in the Southwest, one side of my family found themselves citizens of Mexico when they went to bed and Americanos when they awoke one morning in 1848. I guess you could say The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is my primordial Declaration of Independence even though it was signed seventy-two years later. Towards the end of the Mexican-American War, Mexico entered into negotiations with the United States for settlement boundaries to be established between the neighboring countries resulting in the birth of the Mexican-American.

I am American. I am Mexican. I am Arizonan and New Mexican. I am Mexican-American but you can call me Yuppie Chicana. Part of my family comes from New Mexico, Las Cruces if I remember correctly. They were not one of the original Spanish families with land rights that date back to the 1700's, or at least I don't think they were. Truthfully a piece of paper stamped with a Spanish seal could never establish or solidify my rights to this tierra anymore than my thick brown locks, square back and narrow hips. To me, these traits allow me to identify with the Aztec, the Apaches, the Spanish, and most of all the Mexican within me. In other words, I am a native of the Southwest.

When my spouse and I first moved to New Mexico from Arizona, unfortunately for me, I did the one thing considered a cardinal sin in New Mexico. I referred to someone as being of Mexican descent instead of Spanish lineage. Most Hispanics in New Mexico are fiercely proud of their Spanish heritage even if they've been here for hundreds of years. It's a beautiful phenomenon that I've come to call "el conocimiento Nuevo Mexicano."

New Mexicans are some of the kindest and sweetest people on earth. I hold a very special place in my heart for all New Mexicans especially my Hispanic hermanos and hermanas but step aside Justin Timberlake because I'm bringing Mexi back.

It is time to add back that missing ingredient to "el conocimiento Nuevo Mexicano." It is time to bring Mexi back and stop pretending our blood lines contain no influence from Mexico. Gone are the days when teachers slapped rulers across a child's hand for speaking Spanish in school.

The truth is New Mexicans, most of us are a beautiful combination of European and Indian. Is it a coincidence that the New Mexico state seal is a combination of the Mexican flag and the United State's national emblem, the bald eagle? I think not. Did the tamale that we love so much at Christmas originate in Spain? I think not. Mesoamerica was enjoying them long before the conquistadores ever arrived. We don't have to hide our Mexican heritage anymore.

Mexico definitely gets a bad rap in films and in the media for its poverty, corruption and drug violence but don't think that as Americans we are above such problems. Just turn on your local news for a humbling reality check. But no amount of dark Hollywood films, narco violence or bad press will ever change the love I have for the vast area that was once old Mexico and that which is New Mexico.

So the next time you're asked the state question, "red or green," I say why choose? Try a little of both. And what color do you get when you combine red and green, you ask? You guessed it, brown.

I don't know about you, but this Yuppie Chicana is proud to be brown!

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