El Mango Entero #7
Featuring Latinidad & Jimmy Butler
Hello good people,
Welcome to El Mango Entero. If you’re new here, bienvenidos. I hope you’ll consider subscribing and staying here. This newsletter is a space to reflect. Often, I’ll share a poem or other artwork that’s been on my mind. Hopefully, you’ll join me in that process of reflection and clarification.
This past Saturday I participated on a panel for Latinx Heritage Month called “A Lilting Line of Lyrical Alliteration” hosted by the Latinx Heritage Month Book Fest. Also on the panel were Aida Salazar, Lysz Flo, Jasminne Mendez, and Yesika Salgado. The panel was moderated by Adriana M. Martínez Figueroa.
The second question that Adriana asked the panel was how does your identity help shape the things that you write about. I wanted to take a second to answer the question here since I’m not satisfied with the answer I gave during the panel.
We have to be clear about what we mean when we say Latinidad. Because it’s Latinx Heritage Month corporate brands of all sizes are adding a little horchata to whatever they are offering. They love Latinidad as long as it’s a product they can package and sell. They love conchas and reggaeton, but don’t want to reckon with the people who make the culture. We know that coronavirus has had a devastating impact on Latinx people in the United States. Why? Because Latinx people are often essential workers, which in our paradoxical country also means least paid and most disposable. We know that our siblings in Latin American countries live with the threat of American intervention hanging over them, which is another way of saying they live with the threat of American political, military, and/or financial attack.
We might get a Latinx president one day, but it won’t mean anything if their policies are not towards liberation. We are aiding in our own destruction if we allow Latinidad to be a capitalist identity.
When I say Latinidad, I’m not talking about guacamole. I mean my mom can’t vote even though she’s lived in this country for 30 years. I mean my undocumented people can’t vote even though they live here. I mean my cousins in México don’t have a say in American policies even though they have to live with the consequences. I mean my people in Puerto Rico can’t vote even though they’re citizens. I mean my parents got laid off. I mean my brother works in a factory. I mean that’s not a coincidence. I mean all the señoras that make every Mexican corner store feel like home. I mean fuck guacamole. And fuck piñatas. And fuck all the ways our culture is sold while denying our people’s peoplehood.
Latinidad is bullshit if it’s just the cultural artifacts and not pro-black, pro-queer, pro-migrant. Why? Because Latinidad is bullshit if it’s just a 20% discount at Macy’s or a special pupusa burger at Burger King. Let Latinidad be about the safety and liberation of all of our people and not just about the beer you drink.
Note: This section is going to look a little bit different from now on because I’m tired of posting the same books every week. It’s true. I read and move so slow these days. I don’t feel bad about it, but I don’t need more reasons to shame myself. Instead, I’m going to be posting 5 things.
If Any of the above conversation resonated with you and you are interested in thinking about Latinidad as a way to fight for political liberation, I suggest getting involved with Mijente.
Julissa Arce is interviewing Laura E Gomez about her new book “Inventing Latinos” and I am so excited for the conversation. More HERE.
Jimmy Butler is 4 wins away from an NBA Championship. HEAT IN SIX.
Here’s a little feel good throwback for your Monday.
“GWENDOLYN BROOKS: "Well, in the 'Chicago Picasso,' first of all, I was asked to write a poem by the mayor of Chicago about that statue, and I hadn't seen it. I had only seen pictures of it, and the pictures looked very foolish, with those two little eyes and the long nose. And I don't know a great deal about art myself; I haven't studied it. So I really didn't feel qualified to discuss what Picasso was doing or had intended to do. So I decided to handle the situation from the standpoint of how most of us who are not art fanciers or well educated in things artistic respond to just the word art, that it's not a huggable thing, as I said here: 'Does man love Art? Man visits Art.' ... And we visit it, we pay special, nice, precise little calls on it. But those of us who have not grown up with or to it perhaps squirm a little in its presence. We feel that something is required of us that perhaps we aren't altogether able to give. And it's just a way of saying, 'Art hurts.' Art is not an old shoe; it's something that you have to work in the presence of.”
BONUS: GO WHITE SOX
Thank you for reading this. Thank you for sharing this if you shared it. As always, you can drop me a line via email or in the comments and I’ll get back to you. Let’s keep fighting.