This is where the evolution of a Xicana begins……
La Tepuza, Michoacan MeChico.
My great-grandmother once sat with me and told me one of her childhood stories. She recalled a time of war when women were taken by the soldiers against their will. Their ages didn’t matter at all. My Abuelita Chiquita said her and others would enter the clay ovens and taint their skins with the cenisas; the ashes. This would camouflage them under the dark skies, allowing them to evade their predators. My Abuelita Chiquita never mentioned being a captive or a victim of the abusive soldiers. As she became an adolescent she married my great grand-father who was wealthy in land. As time went by my great-grandfather was murdered, leaving my great-grandmother in charge of all his goods. His multiple crop fields, the home in the city, the ranch, the bee’s, and the animals, these were the goods he left my Abuelita Chiquita!
My great-grandmother nurtured the soil with love and dedication. Her seeds successfully sprouted into great business. The corn, the wheat, and other crops were not the end of her investments. At Abuelita Chiquita’s my uncle, her assistant, cared for the animals as well as for the crops. In those years women didn’t survive without a man, they weren’t educated enough—those years truly were a man’s world—and knowing that my Abuelita Chiquita survived the commerce world, just leans my soul towards admiration. My great-grandmother was known to be a warrior of her generation. She was not one that gave up on success; she was determined to get it, one way or another.
As generations pass, my mother was born. Her heartbeat ran with the wind. She was determined to exceed her mother’s poverty and violent past. Her stomach ached for a meal, her brain was eager to expand beyond her genetic intellect, her toes curled up in her school shoes, reminding her of the painful agony she would try to escape. On her way to school she could not bear the pain, eager to succeed, she removed what most caused her physical pain that day, her shoes! That wasn’t going to stop her from going to school, neither was humiliation! Years passed by and her mother, my grandmother, needed her to assume responsibility for her younger siblings. Because of this obligation my mother never made it past the 5th or 6th grade. Determined to get an education, she enrolled in medical assistant courses, in her home land of Michoacan, Mechico. These courses were not free but were quite easy to access. My mother explained to me that she wasn’t required to pay until certification day. This allowed her to gain some skills that later would earn her a decent pay. My mother was able to get a job as a medical assistant for someone close to the family without official recognition. This didn’t go so well for my mother I supposed, because she didn’t stop there!
Time moved on, and my mother became a single parent—this was something that was looked down upon in MeChico—because of old traditional ways. Once married! Good or bad! You either remained that way or lived up to the consequences. Her mother wasn’t supportive towards her situation—it was as she had been condemned for sin. My grand-mother mistreated her often, and my mother was determined to live a better life. Time passed and my mother decided to come to the U.S, as an undocumented immigrant. She did not know what to expect but all she could think of was a better future for her first born and herself. She was all alone here in the U.S. and depended on others for survival. It didn’t go so well for her in the beginning but that would soon change.
My mother was hired by a college professor who had been widowed and left with four young boys. He was in need of a loving caring nanny. This offer is what changed her life! The professor petitioned to “legalize” my mother, making her a resident of the United States. My mother was able to explore new opportunities here in the U.S. Sometime after, I was born! My father is out of the picture. My mom always told me the professor was very caring towards us. He practically adopted me as his own. This man was right there next to me throughout the years. He is still part of my life and continues to impact me with his love and kindness. Thanks to him my mother and I were out of harm’s way. I lived my first few years in his home. He baptized me and always made me feel like I was his little girl. He spoiled me! I was his little girl! This is from where my love grows. His home was my safe haven—it was a musical symphony! From classical to rock and roll, it was all music that nurtured my soul. It would be my Nino’s love that would save me from the poison that I would acquire in my journey towards love.
My mother’s sister, the one born after her, is my second mother. Emotionally she is always there to make me reason. She lives six to eight hours away from me but all it takes is a phone call. My tía has been a role model to me since I can remember. She was always nice, loving and fair between my siblings and I and her children, unlike one of my other aunts, who always seemed to be looking for a moment to reveal her evil ways! To this day my tía still continues to be such a role model. She is the first woman to go to a Christian College and receive a degree as a Pastor. It might not seem like a big deal, but she had a goal and she achieved it! My aunt today owns a house that she was able to obtain on her own without her husband. Not only that, but she drives a nice car and three of her children have started college. Her youngest child Roxy graduated high school with honors and went directly to Irvine State University. Between my cousins and me, there has always been a respect and brotherly love. I’m always amazed to see who they are, and who they are to become.
See! My aunt did many things right! Not only did she aspire to raise her household with good morals and respect. She also prospered and reached her goal here in the U.S. She went to school, bought a house, runs a church, drives a nice car, and reinforced the importance of education to her children. I really think I always follow in her footsteps—she’s one woman who always helps me strengthen my emotions and goals. She’s like my therapist! And the greatest part of it all: I trust her and know she has lived a familiar life to mine. My aunt is one person in my family that removes the emptiness I feel inside. She is that person who accepts me for who I am, whether I am right or wrong! She has disagreed with me many times but yet never leaves me absent of her love. I always tell her that I will never say I am alone because I know I can count on her love and support.
Even though I have my mother and siblings in my life, we are not close. I have always felt not welcomed in my own home: my sister hates me so much, she has always felt better than me—at least she wants to be. It’s really sad that I don’t get to enjoy the bond between siblings because of whatever reasons. All I know is that I will always love them all, even when they cannot love me back. As for my mother, she always gave me love, but emotionally she always abandoned me. She’s hurt me in so many ways especially caring more for her brother who sexually abused my sister and me. She protected him making me feel like it was all my fault………….
From the womb to the kitchen, from the kitchen directly to the fields, this is many Mechican women’s story, our history! I have witnessed it myself! I lived it! This is not all based on what my great grandmother shared with me. This is a well lived reality of women who had the strength to overcome their family’s oppression. At times our Culture’s ways can become crushing towards our own goals. They can hurt our growth process and lead us into a stagnant path. My story is focused on the “rebellious” acts woman in my family took in order to exceed the woman before them. What they don’t see right now is that we all share something in common—we are the “black sheep” of the family. We are the women of courage who have stood our ground in search of freedom. We have fought for woman’s self-value, and continue to break many cycles.
Today as I walk forward and achieve many changes in the mental structure that was forced upon me, from generations ago, I look back to my past—my history—breaking many of the chains that drag me down. Chains of heart ache, chains of pain, traumatic chains, chains that tell me I am not worthy of such goals. Every time I look back, I pick up one of these women’s battles. We have been in a fight against our culture, and against those who do not understand our culture, the outsiders. We are the survivors that have fought our revolutionary oppressors, standing our ground not only for ourselves, but for all women in general! From MeChico to California this is the evolution of a Xicana!