I didn’t start to question my identity until my first year of college. Before that I thought I was an American citizen attending kindergarten in Ciudad Juarez. Then in third grade I realized that I was Mexican when I crossed the border to attend Houston Elementary School in El Paso. The first day of school a classmate asked me in Spanish – not English – why I was wearing black polished shoes. I remember I looked around and saw that all the other boys and girls were wearing sporty tennis shoes.
MIMBRES, N.M. — We like to label people outside ourselves and our inner circle of family and friends in neat, non-overlapping categories. This is an us v. them exercise. In order to accomplish our goal, we have to ignore the fluidity and subtlety of identity. We crash through all sorts of logic gates, mixing skin color or other visible personal characteristics with birthplace, language, religion, education and social class, citizenship. Fine distinctions are unnecessary when we are busy lumping people.
EL PASO — It sounded like a fiesta, but between the laughter and loud chatter the group of some 80 Latina women examined the existential questions of identity and women’s rights. Organized here recently by Wise Latina International the women, who live on the U.S.-Mexico border, were challenged to identify, debate and find solutions to the challenges of maintaining self worth and contributing to their communities in the face of obstacles such as getting a good education and creating a productive life for themselves and their families. Two summits at the El Paso downtown library over two weeks specifically addressed and developed an agenda for a Latina Women’s conference here scheduled for the spring of 2014. The first summit hosted approximately 70 local women from diverse walks of life. The second summit attracted over 80 women.
50 LIBROS/ 50 BOOKS: Mujeres y sus historias.
to Cheryl Howard,
who shares tea, stories, books, yarn, life
Before my friend Cheryl moved to Mimbres I used to visit her every Friday, we had sweet tea and long conversations. It was probably on one of those afternoons when I told her about the book I wanted to write. “See, it will be about a girl that this and that… and I want to create this and that” (sorry, I am saving the secrets of my work in progress!). Anyway, days or weeks later Cheryl gave my son this book and said: tell your mom to read it.