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1st Place Nonfiction 2017 Summer Contest Where does a young man find his place in the world when he bounces between two points of being (“At home, we were Mexican interpretations of Americans; in school, we were American interpretations of Mexicans.”)? Although the Japanese graphic novel seems like the most unlikely comfort zone, this writer (and perpetual outsider) finds his kin in the anti-heroes and weirdoes of manga literature. Written with an unapologetic edgy tone, this essay builds its own linguistic and artistic landscapes in order to illustrate the nuances of Latinx identities. Stylistically rich and refreshingly unconventional, this essay is both intelligent critique of culture and education, and a grateful nod to those rebellious adolescents whose badge of honor was not fitting in. Rigoberto González

On Playing Yu-Gi-Oh as a Nerdy, Brown Kid in Houston Reyes Ramirez

I went to a middle and high school smack dab in Texan, white suburbia, like dudes asking girls out to homecoming with mums as intricate as peacock tails, dragging from a girl’s shoulder to the ground with bells, whistles, teddy bears, ribbons, picture frames, clocks, etc. white. Those same schools banned headwear to make sure the Black and Mexican-American kids couldn’t flex that they were in gangs or some shit and forced girls to leave school for the day if their fingertips went past their skirts. Meanwhile, a Mexican-American youth in a nearby high school would be beaten to an inch of his life, sodomized with a pipe, showered in bleach, and left to die in some ditch by his fellow, neo-Nazi schoolmates for allegedly attempting to kiss a white girl on the cheek; he survived the attack but would later commit suicide by launching himself off the side of a cruise ship. His name was David Ritcheson. So it goes. Que dios lo bendiga. What I’m saying is that as a brown kid in this environment, you try to find a community which will accept you so you can survive the bullshit that is a Texas public education school. My community at the time was composed of: two mixed White/Mexican-Americans (whom I’ll call Ryan and Ross, as they did have white-boy names), two straight-up Mexican-American brothers (Fernando and Miguel), one Honduran-American (Juan, the darkest skinned and most scrawny but surely, the smartest of us all), and myself, a mixed Mexican/Salvadoran-American (whom I’ll still call Reyes). My community was composed of many at its inception with white kids, a black kid, a Jewish kid, (all male, obviously) etc. But time worked its magic and they all found other communities where they fit in better. That is, after all, the greatest lesson of a public-school education: that people wander from one community to the next until they find the one that will give them the love they want; some will rot in communities they think are giving them that love Blue Mesa Review | 16

Blue Mesa Review Issue 36  
Blue Mesa Review Issue 36