AM


by Enrique García, from the collection Tortoise Boy Says

We are descendants of the sun;
we spit fire from our tongue
and dance over lava beats.

African drums in the possession of
chained hands playing chained chants;
this is the passion the lava heats:

African slaves sent to
Veracruz, Tabasco, Quintana Roo,
mixed their spices with the native sugarcane.
Henceforth the term:
Afro-Mexican.

Father of mine, embraced
yet ashamed, had no idea
of such richness held in
background, or rather,
black-brown.

He had crossed the border
with feet that did not know
Africa, but when the costal
drum rhythms tangled in
his short afro,
el jarabe y meringue
twisted from his hips.

As generations of the corn husk
covering la masa del maíz,

He and I are a part of this diaspora.
He and I are a part of this exodus.

Brown skin, cooked well
or done over; toasted,
roasted, burnt—
but the way my mother
puts it:

Sun-kissed blemished skin,
adapted from all this is pure,
all that is beauty in their eyes.

But, living in such a nation where
brown should not be black, and
black should not be brown,

I could honestly believe
brown is the color of decay,
brown is the color of ignorance,
and brown is the color of shit.

But, believing that my roots are
the root of poverty, despair and sin,
in its own way is poverty, despair
and sin.

If anything
like Black is beautiful,
like Black is pure.
Brown is a mixture.
Brown is elegant.

Brown is beauty rising over
white-skinned negligence.

Without brown hands,
green tomatoes, red tomatoes,
and orange oranges would
stay forever seeds.

Without brown lands,
this nation is starved from
its history.

I know the children
of the third root are to
one day replant the trees
shackled and forgotten.

I am a descendent of the sun;
I spit fire from my tongue
and dance over lava beats.
Moor drums in my heartbeat;
Aztec choreographs in my movements,
I am where the moon and sky align!
I am where the sun meets the horizon!

I am,
Afro-Mexican.