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What do we inherent beyond our skin? 

The most widely recognized inheritance of Mexican identity lies in the possession of a 125 x 88mm dark green booklet, embellished with the golden emblem of an Eagle and a snake. If you’re lucky—or unlucky—enough to inherit this booklet, it means people will immediately assume you’ve also inherited a fluency in Spanish, and that you were wholly or partially born and raised within the geographical borders that outline present day Mexico. These are among the nicer things someone will assume. A longer more extensive list might include:

 

In the eyes of others, if you don't inherit most of the labels mentioned above, you are not perceived as Mexican; and if you are, you're considered different. This attitude is a symptom of the West carefully constructed by Anglo-Americans in the 1800s as a means to oppress the black and indigenous peoples. Where does the architect of this image stand? Who are they in the eyes of others?

In a modern context, they refer to themselves as Americans.  The most widely recognized validation of American identity hinges on the inheritance of an American accent, and an assumption that you’ll also inherit a loud and self-righteous nature. Unfortunately, most of the accompanying assumptions aren't nice. 

 

You are one or the other. The system is not coded to operate within. It is a perfectly curated mental trap that starts the moment you fill in a small bubble on a census sheet or click on a box online.

 

And what about those who are neither/or Mexican and American? Those who inherited an American accent, but tan skin and a fiery temper? Or none of the passports? What have they inherited in the eyes of the binary? They have inherited the label and one or many of the various cultures of  “dispossession/la kolombia/mestizaje”

 

My personal connection to this question runs demigrant. My body is a border subject straddled between both of these worlds whose identity planes intersect allowing no place for a binary identity.

 

By labeling myself as dispossessed, I claim that which I possess or inherit; specifically, an ability to trace a connection between my body and territories-   my body and land, my body and the earth, my body and national politics, my body as a terrain in which to re-root- and cumbia rebajadas as a sort of future ancestral dance that contains the complexity and interweaving of my identities in its lyrics. It provides a space for me to dance as an act of dis-identification - a process that allows for the deconstruction of a dualistic logic: the here and the there, the civilized and the barbarian, the modern and the traditional, the local and the migrant. El conocido y el desconocido.

 

I carry these inheritances into new lands as an act of reclaiming my entitlement to exist in new grounds. The border and its crossings are central to the social, cultural, and aesthetic characteristics that are woven into the voices of my dispossession and vital characters in my artistic responses: Part 1: ***, Part 2: Lejania, and Constellations

Mexicans inherit

  1. Tan skin

  2. A fiery temper

  3. A love of tequila and spice

  4. A natural sense of rhythm

  5. Resourcefulness.

 

Or is it laziness?

 

Mexicans inherit

  1. Poverty

  2. Illiteracy

  3. A life of crime

  4. And family members who are drug dealers, gang bangers, and whores.

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Americans inherit

  1. White skin

  2. A love of guns

  3. Junk food

  4. Football

  5. A civilized temper

 

Or is it nobility?

 

Americans inherit

  1. Wealth

  2. Intelligence

  3. A life of stability

  4. Family members who are polite, respectable, and attractive.

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5. Certain categorizations of the’ Mexican race’ such as “whores, drug dealers and gang bangers” come from Arnold De Leon’s study of Anglo American attitudes towards Mexicans in Texas between 1821-1900’s. All other characteristics listed have been attributed to me and family and friends by others in real life.

6. I use the term Americans as it is colloquially used among people in the United States to refer to themselves. In a Latin American context, there are specific terms such as “estado unidense” and “yanqui” to refer to people from the states. This is because there are 34 other countries that are found within the Americas whose people also consider and refer to themselves as Americans.

7. Some of the categorizations of the ‘American Race’ are stereotypes that my non-American friends and family hold and others are stereotypes I've  encountered in international spaces.

8. In this research, I examine the concepts of dispossession, mestizaje, and La Kolombia. There are instances where I use these terms interchangeably, as synonymous for each other. However, it's essential to emphasize that they each carry historical significance associated with different time periods and communities in Latin America. I employ these three specific terms primarily because I believe they have relevance, although not exclusively, to communities residing along the US-Mexican border.

9. I specifically use the term “territories” to acknowledge the violence in the  ownership of land. The term territories in this context also refers to political and transational spheres. 

10. The term "future ancestral dance" refers to a type of dance that combines traditional or ancestral elements with contemporary or future-oriented aspects. It often involves the re imagining, reinterpretation, or evolution of traditional dance forms, rituals, or cultural practices in a way that connects them to the present and future. 

11. Tanslates to “The known and the unknown”

12. I use the term deconstruct in a Derridian sense. I engage in a critical examination of the dualistic language we use when discussing identity – the 'I am's' and the 'I am not's.' I hope to expose and challenge the hierarchies that this language creates, firstly, by pointing out how the terms within these opposing pairs depend on each other.

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