SOMOS Spring 2019

Page 1

Spring 2019


Table of Contents 6

my tongue

Raele Fourkiller


La Niña del Sol

Marie-Anne Barrón



Sarah Martínez



Sami Faustino



Sami Faustino



Sami Faustino



Marie-Anne Barrón


When Alcohol Consumes

Eunice Gonzalez-Sierra



Ana Marx


Dept. of Homeland Insecurity

Shelly Nieto


Joan Sebastian

Eunice Gonzalez-Sierra


Mama Bruja

Cat Huang


Behind you, Before you...

Daniela Acarapi Mendoza


Abanico Viejo

Jayson Rodriguez


Our Hands

Orli Juarez


The White Neighbourhood

Neven Bell


Being Black in America

Paige Robinson


Oda a mis Pantuflas

Natasha Bansal


Revolutionary Love

Maryori Conde †

Letter from the Editors Dear reader, This edition of SOMOS is special in many ways. An essential part of the history of SOMOS has been renewal, a symbolic rendering of the aliveness and heterogeneity of our cultures. This semester, you can see this in our new layout and our far reach into new communities. To tie it all together, we called on students to submit pieces surrounding the themes of Indigeneity and Race, and we received literary and visual art pieces that speak to the impact our families and communities have on us, whether through good experiences or bad. This is the first time we publish a graphic short-text, more visual art pieces from RISD students than ever before, and literary and visual contributions from Providence high school students, the winners and honorees of our first juried competition in collaboration with The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS). Also with their help and that of the Sawyer Seminar Series, we have invited Mexican queer poet and scholar CĂŠsar CaĂąedo to read at our release party. Finally, we pay tribute to the memory of Maryori Conde, an all-time contributor of SOMOS and a wonderful human being. Co-founder of the Latinx Program House and of the Central American United Students Association (CAUSA), Maryori was central to the strengthening of the Latin American community at Brown. And beyond her accomplishments, she was always a brilliant, kind, and caring person and poet. We hope that you enjoy these beautiful and introspective art pieces. They sing to empowerment and resilience. They sing to personal myths and generational stories. And, more clearly, they sing to the ever presence of the emotional strength that art can achieve. Warmly, The SOMOS Team

The Team Ayleen Sánchez Alan Mendoza Sosa Manuel Ávalos

Co-editor-in-chief Co-editor-in-chief & Layout Senior Portuguese Editor

Eliany Domínguez

Senior Spanish Editor

Daniel Duarte Perdomo

Senior Spanish Editor

Leslie Benavides

Spanish Editor

Jimmy Ryan Richmond

English Editor

Teresa Conchas

English Editor

Special thanks to Lauren Deal from The Sawyer Seminar and to Matthew Dwelle from the Hispanic Studies DUG for their tireless work and support for this edition

my tongue

Raelee Fourkiller

My tongue was ripped from my mouth My father’s first Stomped on, crushed, decimated Don't speak that indian way We lost our knowledge, intricacies of life, connections No knowing songs for mourning I would have sung till my throat burned for all the pain i’ve felt Yet i only have twenty-six letters and rules to describe homonyms And a vocabulary to articulate theft When my own mouth is unfamiliar to sounds cultivated over a thousand years I hurt when i struggle how to remember to say i am aniyunwiya I felt angry with him He never told me How to say goodbye, our last name, clan, i love you – He had to say goodbye to his identity, his way of life When he was a child of five He entered into the world of the men with heavy boots and black souls Indians must forget The fifties must have been hard For a boy that knew dirt roads and tsalagi Knew gardens, the trees he passed, the fire and shellshakers Forget your language Replace with the three r’s Forget your songs Replace with the gospel Forget your medicine Replace with the bottle Forget your clan Replace with the blonde lady Suppress your feelings 6

Fight our war Leave who you are, the ones who walked before Red, white, and blue - the only way to be true Rip out your tongue, give yourself to the American Dream I find no anger in my heart sadness, grief She is there - lovely, she is beautiful, unwavering she replicates the power of him, the ones before, and after To come To speak One stitch across - nvgidihi One down - edoda One left - wado To the right - gvgeyui Mended and stitched with our tongue I am her


La Niña del Sol Marie-Anne Barrón

A love letter to the sun: Your rays touch every end of the Earth, and your absence is noticed by all. The clouds cry a lot when you hide, as if they, too, feel your heartbreaking absence. When you return and grace us with your illuminating rays, we rejoice. Your light possesses the power to permeate skin and leaf and revitalize. Your warmth fuels hearts. That’s why people fear you. Your love is unapologetic and transformative, and they don’t know how to appreciate your grandeur. For a while, I was scared too, in case I found out that loving you loudly would burn. I thought tanning could somehow make me less beautiful, because I had never considered that a physical change I could see on myself could be good. What if in tanning I become someone unknown, someone new? Lately, I’ve been staring in the mirror a lot. I think I’ve already learned how to become someone new. The Aztecs were right to call themselves the People of the Sun, because you are the ultimate giver of life. You are passionate and effusive and change the lives of everyone you meet. People pay to make it look like you worked your magic on their skin and others buy lamps to replicate your joyous laughter. Every fiber of your spirit fights for our well-being and reminds us that the most passionate act is not sex, but unconditional love. Your name is not Huitzilopochtli, but mamá. Con amor, La niña del sol


[race_ethnicity] Sarah Martínez

[race] □ White □ Black or African American □ Asian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander □ American Indian or Alaska Native □ Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander Do I mark ‘white?’ Ticonderoga pencil tip-tapping against a plywood desk. I am none of the above, but I speak English and my face is fairskinned and my classmates point to the slight almond shape of my eyes and declare me Asian. But I have brown hair, brown eyes, and my arms and legs are darker than most of my peers’, and aren’t my parents always complaining about white people? I am certainly not Chinese, as my confused classmates insist. I know I am neither black nor Native American nor of any Pacific heritage. Teacher is flipping the page, droning over the various procedures of the standardized test; I bubble in “White” with the poor dexterity of a six year old. [ethnicity] Hispanic/Latino. I don’t read any further. I know this one is mine. The Sister peers over my shoulder and frowns as I fumble with the page; the scantron won’t read that, she mutters at my haphazard scribble. She tells me to erase and redo the bubble. I want to ask what is ethnicity, and what is Hispanic/Latino and which one am I, and was “White” the correct answer? What would happen if I only marked [ethnicity]? But the test is starting soon, and the Sister is lecturing again about the importance of our good scores for the reputation and funding of our Catholic school. [race/ethnicity] Ticonderoga pencil scritch-scratching against a divet in the plywood. I wish my hands matched my face. Or maybe that my face matched my hands. Or maybe neither. I wish I matched. 9



Sami Faustino

The hands of the creator are the most worked. My Abuelito’s hands have a story hidden in each wrinkle. Reminds him of the time he was forced to work for his uncle, the blacksmith, …During this time too many dark memories he wishes to forget... Only 7. Carried an anvil. That’s why his body looks so frail now. I naturally have skinny arms Where are those bruises from? Age

I worry every night That he’ll forget the stories he tells me I worry every night That I’ll forget the stories he tells me One of my favorites was the one about the time he drew a horse in the dirt with a stick when he was only 7. The other man didn’t believe he drew it so he grabbed the chalk. They were all amazed by his Spanish conquistador riding a horse. The hands of the creator are the most worked He says I got his hands

Cowboys (left). Sami Faustino. Digital Illustration.


Abuelito. Sami Faustino.


Calaillies (right). Sami Faustino. Digital Illustration.


Marie-Anne Barrón

I have too often broken myself into pieces to explain myself and my love. I have spoken of my tongue as a dancer fluent in two languages, sometimes tripping as she jumps between them. I have spoken of my nose as a reminder of my grandmother and our heritage, secret stories of our past neither of us knows and neither of us can forget. I can keep breaking myself up like Jesus broke bread continuously, to feed everyone who asks, but I am not for your consumption. I used to think I was bread, but then found out I was girl. My body gives life in a different way, and I know you would not recognize it. I write of the Women Who Dare—to preserve their stories. I wait patiently for buds of hope to blossom and water them until they finally do. I do not break myself up anymore (not for explanations, not for love). I cherish my wholeness. It is in this full state I am able to pour my love for others, because a broken potwill never fill and a pot that leaks cannot control where her love goes. They made that adage about spilled milk because spilled love causes many tears. Both nourish, but it’s not like both know how to heal hurt hearts. In art history we learned of art forms that put together things we thought were broken. Kintsugi asks me to fill the cracks in my ceramic with stories of my past: the Easter eggs my mom and I used to paint when I was little as we tried to assimilate, the way I was switched into an English-speaking classroom before many of my peers in attempt to erase my accent affirming to others what my skin seems to declare for them, the special definition of “parents” I use that I do not try to hide but still find many people do not understand.


Where others may see cracks, I see only love. It is what I was taught. To give away pieces of yourself until finally, there is nothing left. This is how women in my family have existed for a long time. I know. I’ve watched them. And though I believe nobody is wiser than my Mami or my Tata, I believe this is the one place I have them beat. We three are all learning to put ourselves together again and to know our worth. It was never in our pieces but in our completeness.


When Alcohol Consumes Eunice Gonzalez-Sierra

when your father consumes alcohol ask him where it hurts where the wound is how he hides it so well ask him if the alcohol helps even when you know it doesn’t when your father consumes alcohol take away his keys take away his wallet take away his phone take away his mouth it reminds you that words can hurt as much as the blows can when your father consumes alcohol hold him so he doesn’t fall even if it hurts even if his hand is too strong for your delicate skin your delicate wrist your delicate heart hold him even if he’s falling apart. when your father consumes alcohol take him to the house even if he refuses even if he yells take him to the house even if that’s not where home is. when your father consumes alcohol remind yourself machismo feeds on it 16

feeds on pain more it’s not always his fault that patriarchy didn’t teach him how to love right when your father consumes take the bottle away close it up, remind it: that it is not the boss like el patron claims to be remind it: it is just a cheap imitation of mezcal it wasn’t made from home, with the hands of your people with the drive of your people when your father tells you he loves you, kisses your cheek hard enough to leave a bruise remind yourself: he taught you about tough love even if it hurt you always learned when you begin to resemble your father ask him to forgive you to forgive himself for making you this way remember it doesn’t hurt like it once did. when alcohol consumes your father ask it to leave to rid itself of his body to seek refuge in another pained soul it can’t take this one not anymore you’ve worked too hard for it to win.


Crossings Ana Marx

In 2018 alone more than 50,000 children under the age of 18 known as unaccompanied minors made the journey alone from their home countries (most from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala) and crossed the US Mexico border. Many were escaping violence and poverty in their home countries and hoping to be reunited with family members or family friends in the US. Over the past two years, Ana (one of the co-directors of this film) has been working at Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island (one of RI’s two Refugee Resettlement Agencies) to help provide legal, health, and educational advocacy for these minors and their families. She has read through countless case notes and “intake assessment forms”-- interviews that detail the crossing journey done by immigration authorities and counselors upon the minor's apprehension at the border. The crossing stories of these children are extracted, translated, abridged, clinicalized, and recorded by immigration authorities as part of the system which tracks and illegalizes their bodies and their presence on this land. This short film is an intervention into the “official narrative” of these intake stories. By playing with legibility and subjectivity through the use of subtitles and voiceover (in English, Spanish, and Quiché), this experimental film hopes to decolonize and reclaim an “official” crossing narrative.


Department of Homeland Insecurity Shelly Nieto


Joan Sebastian Eunice Gonzalez-Sierra

This poem is about Joan Sebastian, and how he loved his women, more than one, more than once. How he crept into them, with his words, with his melodies, the way poetry disguises patriarchy, the way patriarchy disguises pain. The way he hypnotized his women to love him, but hate each other, just like she hates me. This poem is about the way you crept into me, with your words, with your laughter, hypnotizing me to hate you more, because I know better. This poem is about Joan Sebastian, and how he loved his women, in secret, behind closed doors, in whispers, leaving traces of himself in them always having to love what he created, 8 children, with 5 widows mourning the love of a love that couldn’t stay, that didn’t want to. This poem is about you and how you crept into me, clandestine, unplanned rendezvous, leaving traces of you in my palms, how 12am memorized your name, your voice, your lips; your 12am first, my 12am later, all while she slept: dreaming about you, 22

dreaming of you, committing. This poem is about me and how I let your name slip out of my mother’s mouth, slip out of my wrist how I fell victim to your charm, how I painted murals of your words all over my room, and now I’ve been left to tear down my walls, to welcome someone new, someone with a will to stay. This poem is about Maribel Guardia; and how she remained strong, how she continued to make art, despite his absence. This poem is about the women you hurt, in the process of trying to find your worth, the ones who found strength in your departure, the ones who found inspiration in the space you left, empty. you’re no longer here, I don’t find you in my palms, I’ve stopped looking. In the fall, you planted yourself in me, I’ve watered myself instead shed light on myself with my own brightness, and now I’ve grown. It’s Spring now and I refuse to take you flowers. It’s Spring now I do hope you rest in peace, this time, I refuse to visit your grave, I refuse to look for you in my insides, beating.










High School Juried Competition First Prize Daniela Acarapi Mendoza Poetry Jayson Rodriguez Poetry

& Visual Art Orli Juarez Poetry

Honorary Mention Neven Bell Visual

Art Paige Robinson Poetry Natasha Bansal Poetry

Behind you, Before you, Around you, Within you Daniela Acarapi Mendoza

Without saying goodbye, she was one of the rare ones. She left me wondering: Who is she to herself? Knocking on the door of her nine-year-old self, Always half-welcomed, Never loved. I think I heard her whisper “I don’t belong.” I am where she comes from. I am where she said she belongs to after she left. She was blinded, of course, but she knew me very well. I caught her singing and dancing “El ultimo amanecer.” I watched her enjoying my cuisine. Fricase, humintas, anticuchos and cunapes... I knew silpancho was her favorite. The blindfold was thick but my colors and texture seemed to hurt her. Is it a sin to love? Little did she know, her blindfold would fall. And as she walked past the airport gates, Convinced that she was on a summer vacation. When she realized she was far away from me, She decided to lie to her 15-year-old self. For months in cold blood, she lied while trying to forget me, but Her heart woke her crying last night. And even though I was still right beside her, Her self-comforting lies trapped her reason And, according to her, I was nowhere to be found. My yelling national pride became music, My cultural whispers in her native language became peace, And eventually, when she learned that I was oceans away, She knew that the light of my love was still inside her. After all these years, I was surprised by how, When and where she decided to let me in. 34

My memories consumed her, And the silent promise of eternity together again Kept her aching for her past. Biting my tongue, wanting to tell her: “I told you so,” Trying not to yell that I knew she would want me back. How can anybody be so selfish? I caused the blinded fool to be incapable to live without me, without her country. Instead of telling her to come back to me, I stayed quiet and made sure she knows That I’ll always be present within her. Both of us were fooled by love. She knew she could be anything in the world, But deep down, her heart also knew very well the land where it beat for the first time.


Abanico Viejo Jayson Rodriguez

“Vamos a mimir, mi negro’’ dijo mami. she takes me to the bedroom where my brother lies on his king-size bed. she slowly lays me under the layers of frisas y me da un beso. she walks away like an angelito who has just blessed me. the door closes shut. the room is silent. y despues I hear a storm of voices come from the living room. están hablando de una deuda de casa. están peleando. it seems like that’s all they talk about these days. so I know exactly what’s going on. me levanto and I turn the switch on a machine that blows air and lullabies never told. the same machine that you turn to en los días del verano cuando el sol te está picando the same machine that mami turns on cuando ella está cocinando. the same machine that somehow makes everything disappear. the same machine that holds me in its arms when my parents can’t. fills me so full that it tells me it loves me and will always be here for me. it almost sounds like my parents. almost. camino with my warm feet back to my bed and feel cold wind and floor frost beneath me. I tuck myself back in como el niño grande I prepared myself to be and I feel as el abanico viejo kisses me goodnight. just like my mom did. but it somehow does it better than my mom ever could. better than my mom ever would. “Vamos a mimir’’ dijo el abanico. “Te llevo para las tierras de sueño, mi niño bello. donde no hay deudas y te amarás para siempre.’’


Our Hands Orli Juarez

I see hands that have been through trial Through pressure, through pain I see hands, cracked from the cold From working too hard I see the hands of my father, And the struggles that made him stronger I see humility, and sacrifice That only comes from few Trampled over, forgotten, How often this happens A country that’s supposed to accept But I don’t see that here, not yet What I see is the hands Of your sons and your daughters Hands that have been through much Hands that held on And were held by those that love them Perfect, beautiful hands Pure, untouched hands Young, hopeful hands not yet exposed To the world around them, the hardships Those hands that didn’t know fear Didn’t know pain Didn’t know struggle But as those little hands Grew into big hands And that hope of a future seemed lost But those hands would grow to be resilient To silence the voices saying no To stand up To be strong To have courage To hope Those hands would hold yours, Would hold children of their own Those hands would hold hope 38

Those hands would hold peace Those hands would hold on If only you’d let them But the color of those hands is what seems to bother you Concern you Those hands just don’t fit the mold You say those hands are lower Less than You want those hands tucked away Locked up Sent back where they came from You’re afraid You’re worried Of change, of disruption But one day you’ll see You’ll stand there Alone, and afraid, and worried You’ll see them rise up From the ashes, from the dirt They’ll take you by surprise It’ll come as such a great shock When really, They were right under your nose Those hands reached out, But you didn’t reach out That’s nobody’s fault but your own You’ll see these hands See these scars you once called dirty Those hands will hold on And hold the world And you’ll be left in the dust


Neven Bell

Being Black in America Paige Robinson

Being Black in America has never been that great Because the beauty in our skin is what holds our fate. For the beauty we behold we are hated and judged And when we fight back are bodies are filled with slugs. Over the years we’ve been stripped of our pride Many of us have fallen, many of us have died. At first they took our clothes, our food and put us in chains Now they shoot us and take our hearts, kidneys and brains. Discriminated against because they think we’re all thugs Harassed on a daily because we “look” like we sell drugs. No, we don’t ever actually have to do something wrong In america you can get killed for being Black and singing a song. Never auditioned but we all fit the part In America it’s all about your skin, not your heart. Now you know what must feel amazing! Waking up white You never have to worry about randomly losing your life. You could do what you want, kill a couple people if you will! And you’ll never see the inside of a cell, you can stay home and chill. Doesn’t that sound grand Not dying by a racist man’s hand. What can you do, stare up in the air? And pray for your life to a man that’s not there. America has never been great But only time will show your fate.


Oda a mis Pantuflas Natasha Bansal

Cada día mis pies se encuentran con el suelo duro En el invierno todos los pasos me dan dolor Después de un día largo, tu eres mi salvador Que suaves Vellosas Lisas Lujosas Me siento que estoy caminando en las nubes No tengo ninguna preocupación en el mundo Soy una nueva persona cuando estoy contigo Estoy vivo Con tus colores brillantes Y tú interior espléndido Eres precioso Cada paso es caricia Mis pies besan el suelo Tú me llevas por la vida con esperanza Tú me proteges de la realidad dura Tú me apoyas el peso Tú levantas mi carga Tú me consuelas Tú me relevas Tú me calmas Yo puedo hacer todo Hacer cualquier cosa Contigo


Rest in Power Maryori. Jieyi Cai. Digital Illustration.

Revolutionary Love Maryori Conde

A friend told me, “A revolution is successful if it stems from love” It has stayed with me since If you think for a second what your demands stem from, is it love or anger? When you close your eyes what does this revolution’s success look like for you? When you think of the system, does your heart break? When you graduate who does this revolution benefit? My sister is 12 years old She speaks Spanglish as an official language Eats pupusas with her hands While listening to 1D in the background If you ask her where she comes from She says El Salvador Even though she was born in Downtown L.A. She gets frustrated with herself when she mispronounces a word in English But even more when it’s in Spanish When our dad goes to El Salvador She always asks if she can join She dreams of being a Marine Biologist Because dolphins are “So cute!” When I left to college she said “You have to be strong okay, So no more crying” She tells my mom, every time my mom cries because I’m far away That I’ll be back “Ma, it’s just eight months and three more years But she’ll be back” She’s so sure of it She calms my mom down Does she know I’m forever attached to L.A. and El Salvador? Does she know that this is our inherent duty? To come back. To not forget? Does she know we don’t have the privilege 45

to be individualistic, even if some act like we do? She’ll be back I hear her every time I write a demand Every time I clean up after my classmates at BuDS Every time I am in M.E.Ch.A She’ll be back Am I going to be back mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally? What am I doing here so I can go back? What do I have to fight here so I can go back to her to my mom to Los Angeles to El Salvador When I close my eyes and the revolution is won I see My sister speaking Spanglish proudly in the university learning about herself as a low-income first-generation Salvadoran Woman and being respected as a low-income first-generation Salvadoran Woman I see her being proud of her Latinidad I see her finding classes that teach her how to deal with the duality of being a U.S.-born Latina with white privilege I see her finding classes that teach her how to support her communities no matter the concentration She won’t have to decide between prosperity and her community I see her going to sleep in her dorm Never wondering if she’s smart enough for Brown Or wondering if she belongs I see her sleeping soundly because one day she’ll be back She’ll sleep soundly because of our demands Because of our heartbreak and tears Because of our unpaid labor She’ll sleep soundly because we made it possible for her to stop being brainwashed by the system 46

for her to always have her communities in her heart and mind She’ll sleep soundly because we made it possible for her to be a fearless student-activist She’ll sleep soundly because her dreams will echo the demands of 1968 1975 1988 and 2015 that’ll trickle down to her heart and hands She’ll sleep soundly because the lullabies of Gloria Anzaldúa Audre Lorde Claribel Alegria Sandra Cisneros Claudia Jones will sing her to sleep


Type set digitally using InDesign by the SOMOS Team at Brown University. Titles are set in Bookmania Semibold 12 and body text in Minion Pro Regular 10. April 2019.

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