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Saturday, October 1, 2011

At the eve of another election season, I am relieved to have one less thing to worry about.

I Take My Name Back, Dick Nixon.

I had a name for who I am in the arms of my mother, Mexicana.
And then my name changed to teen. I looked for me on American Bandstand,
but I couldn't find anyone there who looked like me, or my sister and brothers.

I wandered for some miles til I got to Woodstock, where I became a hippie.
My mother thought I looked funny.

Then I came to where I thought was home, when I became Chicana.
My mother couldn't stop laughing.

To simplify, I lived in Mexico, where I learned I wasn't Mexican,
but Americana.

Went back to the states where I read in the magazines
Others had taken to naming me, too.
Dick Nixon named me Hispanic.
This sounded to my young mind like a mental condition
for people of indeterminate origin or equality.
I knew that didn't meant me.

I've been labelled Latin American, Spanish, Mexican, Mexican American.
Lately, the lovely word, Latina, which sounds musical and happy.
I think that cranky, tired, turned-around and distracted describes me better.

Today, I'm a voter.
I've decided that my identity is mine to define,
Even as others persist in their labels.

Countries and governments are important, I know,
My citizenship is something of great value
(think of that long line of soldiers and sailors in my own family)
But labels, no words, are not as important as my worth.
My name and my purpose are mine to define.

A name or a label says nothing of
Why a person lives.

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