Culture

8 Confessions Of Someone Who Doesn’t Speak Perfect Spanish

Poet Noel Quiñones tackled the complex questions and feelings of non-Spanish speaking Latinxs in his poem “8 Confessions of My Tongue”. He touches on everything from filling yourself with false hope until you’re discovered to the lingering feeling that you’ve let your parents down and the confusion when you realize that they won’t teach you.

1. False comfort as you try your best to speak a tongue you don’t quite grasp.

Write About Now / YouTube
CREDIT: Write About Now / YouTube

“You expected the waterfall, the spit that crossed the ocean; the syllable-suffocating dance and it is a dance,” Noel Quiñones says. “This moving, weaving, searching, turning your back on what you can never keep up with. I contain so much sad, brown mouth that I can’t even pronounce Quiñones without a stranger examining the air it took to learn it.”

2. The little lie we tell ourselves as we memorize Spanish songs without knowing the meaning.

Write About Now / YouTube
CREDIT: Write About Now / YouTube

“But I’m always the last one to yell ‘Wepa,'” Quiñones admits. “Forever late to my own identity.”

3. Experiencing the negativity from fellow Latinxs who do speak Spanish.

Write About Now / YouTube
CREDIT: Write About Now / YouTube

“They whisper of my fraud on the block and in the classroom,” Quiñones laments. “But all I have are these two false skins stitched into a name.”

4. That feeling when you rely on Google Translate to prove yourself.

Write About Now / YouTube
CREDIT: Write About Now / YouTube

Whether writing in Spanish for a poem or when texting a Spanish-speaking relative, there’s this moment of despair when you have to use translation software to make sure you got it right.

5. There’s always a despairing feeling when you fake your “mother tongue.”

Write About Now / YouTube
CREDIT: Write About Now / YouTube

“Where I touch the shore and it accepts me,” Quiñones says. “Where my grandmother wasn’t spit on every day for not knowing English.”

6. The feeling of desperately trying to teach yourself using words you hear from friends and family even though they never taught you.

Write About Now / YouTube
CREDIT: Write About Now / YouTube

“My skin, always mistaken for home,” Quiñones tells the crowd. “My name, an invitation to strangers who say, ‘Your parents should have taught you.’ But my parents say it’s my fault.”

7. Being told that you should be able to feel when you use ‘para’ instead of ‘por.’

Write About Now / YouTube
CREDIT: Write About Now / YouTube

Because, in English “for” is “for” is “for”.

8. The overall feeling that your lack of Spanish is a betrayal to your parents.

Write About Now / YouTube
CREDIT: Write About Now / YouTube

“A stutter beneath a foreign accent mark; a transcontinental thing stuck in it’s own ocean,” Quiñones explains. “And, so, I flood Quiñones onto my mother’s lap. ‘Qué vergüenza,’ she says. ‘Now you don’t belong… anywhere.'”

Check out the full video and poem below!


READ: Watch A Tejano Explain What It Means To Be A Mexican Man In Texas

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An Activist Read A Poem Criticizing Inhumane Immigration Policies And ICE Arrested Him Two Days Later Now His Community Is Standing Behind Him

Things That Matter

An Activist Read A Poem Criticizing Inhumane Immigration Policies And ICE Arrested Him Two Days Later Now His Community Is Standing Behind Him

ACLU of Southern California / YouTube / Free Jose Bello / Facebook

José Bello came to the U.S. when he was just three years old. In 2018, he was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) only to be released on bond after his community raised $10,000 for his freedom. After his experience in an immigrant detention center, he wrote a poem critical of U.S. immigration policy, titled “Dear America.” Bello read that poem at a public forum at the Kern County Board of Supervisors in May. 

Less than 36 hours later, he was rearrested by ICE and taken back to the Mesa Verde detention center. THE ACLU has filed a petition in the San Francisco district court claiming his rearrest is a violation of first amendment rights. Two months later, he’s still in Mesa Verde detention center, and no decision has been made by his judge.

José Bello is a student at Bakersfield College, a farmer, and a father.

Credit: ACLU of Southern California / YouTube

Here’s a taste of his poem:

“Dear America,

Our administration has failed.
They passed laws against our people,
Took away our rights and our freedom,
and still expect to be hailed?
Chaless!

Dear America,

You and your administration cause fear,
fear through Separation.
Instead of building trust with our people, do y’all prefer this racial tension?

Oppressed.”

A theme runs through his poem, touching on family separation.

Credit: @MVLiberation / Twitter

He speaks to all Americans when he says:

“Dear Americans,

You might be asking yourself, “What’s the whole point of repeating these facts?”
Well I am here to let you know, we want to feel safe, whether we’re Brown, Asian or Black.
We don’t want your jobs. We don’t want your money. Were here to work hard, pay taxes and study!”

Chillingly, two days before he was separated from his baby, he said, “We will never be apart, chiquito.”

Credit: ACLU of Southern California / YouTube

“The fight has begun.
“We will never be apart chiquito,” is what I promised my son.
Y’all can try to justify your actions. Try to make excuses.
The bottom line here is that at the end, the people always triumph and the government loses.”

A GoFundMe set up for Bellos says that he received a DUI under “shady circumstances.”

Credit: ACLU of Southern California / YouTube

He essentially forfeited his rights without knowing it, resulting in a no contest charge. He hasn’t had a drink since and has been doing community service work as part of his plea. Bello has been compliant in paying all his fines and attended all his hearings.

There is no other known reason to detain him except in retaliation to his public criticism of the system.

Credit: ACLU of Southern California / YouTube

The ACLU’s filing is entirely predicated on the close succession of the two events being the reason for his arrest, saying it “strongly indicates that ICE acted in retaliation against Mr. Bello for his speech expressing views against the agency’s actions.”

The fear is that the move will chill immigrant activists from speaking out at a time when ICE’s unchecked power and aggression is escalating.

Credit: Free Jose Bello / Facebook

Still, Bello is writing poetry from the confines of Mesa Verde. This time, he’s simply asking, “why?”

Meanwhile, Judge Kim is weighing her decision after Bello finally had his court hearing July 15th.

Credit: Free Jose Bello / Facebook

That’s two whole months after he was arrested. Two months away from his child. Judge Kim could take anywhere from two days to a month to make her decision. 

There is a movement is in motion to #FreeJoseBello.

Credit: Free Jose Bello / Facebook

Jose Bello is a crucial member of the immigrant community in San Francisco. He’s organized a lobbying workshop for his college’s club Latinos Unidos Por Educación. He led and organized an immigrant caravan drive, to help ensure no child went without clean clothes or food. 

You can help by donating to Bello’s GoFundMe to help make his unjustly high $50,000 bond to be reunited with his son.

Credit: Free Jose Bello / Facebook

The ACLU has said the $50,000 bond is “hugely unjust” since Bello is a student who makes just $20,000 a year. The GoFundMe has only raised $2,375 at the time of this publication. #FreeJoseBello.

Watch his full poem below.

READ: A Honduran Teens Says An Officer Groped Her Breast And Touched Her Between Her Legs In Front Of Officers

Here Are 9 LGBTQ+ Poets Who Will Speak To Your Soul

Culture

Here Are 9 LGBTQ+ Poets Who Will Speak To Your Soul

It’s Pride month and we all celebrate in different ways. Some of us feel our best when we pick up a protest sign and march against the homophobes in office. Others of us take four tequila shots before dropping the drab clothes that burden us and take to the streets in a rainbow flag cape. Others still, pour the hearts out in prose and poetry. 
However you plan to express yourself, you can take part in queer Latinx expressions in the quiet moments before the parades. Here’s the best of the best out there today.

1. Rafael Campo

CREDIT: “Rafael Campo” Digital Image. Poets.org. 15 June 2018.

Cubano Rafael Campo isn’t just a poet. He’s also a doctor at Harvard Medical School, which leads him to describe himself as a “a mutt, a mongrel, a kind of happy monster.” His work aims to take ownership over the sanitized medical jargon that affects people in the deepest, most personal ways.

from The Changing Face of AIDS:  V. Elegy for the AIDS Virus

by Rafael Campo

CREDIT: Rafael Campo

Campo’s primary care practice serves mostly Latinos, LGBTQ+ people and people with HIV. This man, this myth, this legend, actually “prescribes” poetry and leads poetry workshops for patients.

2. Sonia Guiñansaca

CREDIT: @soniag / Instagram

Sonia Guiñansaca is an Ecuadorian, now New York City transplant, poet and activist. They have performed their work at The Met, The Nuyorican Poets Cafe (which we all should be at right now), and more. That means migration, climate justice, queer/femme identity and the role of art in social movements has reached the mainstream.

America Runs on Immigrants

by Sonia Guiñansaca

CREDIT: “IMG_3595.JPG” Digital Image. Sonia Guinasaca. 15 June 2018.

Sonia was born in Ecuador and migrated to NYC to be reunited with their parents when they were 5 years old. Their experience as an undocumented immigrant seeps through their writing in rich, gut-wrenching and powerful punches.

3. Ruben Quesada

CREDIT: “RQ April 2018.jpg” Digital Image. Ruben Quesada. 15 June 2018.

Quesada grew up in South Central Los Angeles and is now the co-founder of Stories & Queer among many other publications. Reading love poems written from the perspective of your gender.

Last Photograph of My Parents

by Ruben Quesada

CREDIT: Ruben Quesada

If we could all paint a picture como esa, how much more complete could we feel? By we, I mean me.

4. Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

CREDIT: @sadqueer4life / Twitter

Espinoza is a trans woman living in California. Follow her on Twitter @sadqueer4life for some of the sassiest, homo tweets on the interwebz.

This Is What Makes Us Worlds

by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

CREDIT: Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

Our love eats the deadly sounds men make when they see how much magic we have away from them.

Just had to say it again for the people in the back.

It Is Important To Be Something

by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

CREDIT: Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

You don’t know Espinoza’s work if you don’t know this one. Being a trans person of color puts you at more risk than almost anyone in America and we need to

5. Denice Frohman

CREDIT: @denicefrohman / Instagram

Denice is a born and raised, queer af, New Yorican who has been bringing her work to the world since she can remember. She’s passionate about working with young writers and was even Program Director at The Philly Youth Poetry Movement. 

“Dear Straight People”

by Denice Frohman

CREDIT: Button Poetry / YouTube

Sorry, fam, you really need to hear her work in slam mode. Listen to “Accents,” and try to watch it with your mom if you can.

6. Natalie Diaz

CREDIT: “Natalie Diaz” Digital Image. Poets.org. 15 June 2018.

Born in Fort Mojave Indian Village in California, Natalie Diaz is Mojave, queer, and talented af. Like a true queer badass, Diaz went to college on a full athletic scholarship for basketball and traveled through Europe and Asia before returning for her MFA.

Grief Work

by Natalie Diaz

CREDIT: Natalie Diaz

The last breaks my heart like a clay jar of wine. It’s so easy to relate to this feeling of finally coming to terms with the full picture of your sexuality. It’s silk and silt, and it’s so, so good.

7. Nancy Lorenza Green

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. La Bloga. 16 June 2018.

Nancy Lorenza Green is an Afro-Chicana writer, musician and speaker. Her music is dedicated to her ancestors and the indigenous peoples of Mexico.

Queer

by Nancy Lorenza Green

CREDIT: Nancy Lorenza Green

Don’t you love when religious people, friends, your parents tell you they love you, but don’t “get in my face about it.” It being the queer. Hey, hi, hola todo el mundo, I am who I am, and I love who I am.

8. Liliana Valenzuela

CREDIT: Untitled. Digital Image. Liliana Valenzuela. 16 June 2018.

Liliana was born and raised in Mexico City and has spent much of her life conducting award winning translations of the works of Sandra Cisneros, Julia Alvarez, and others.

Fairy Dust

by Liliana Valenzuela

CREDIT: Liliana Valenzuela

If you don’t own Latinas: An Anthology of Struggles & Protests in 21st Century USA, released on the one year anniversary of the Women’s March in 2018. Her work was featured in the LGBTQ Struggles for Human Rights chapter.

9. Christopher Soto “Loma”

CREDIT: Loma. Digital Image. Remezcla. 16 June 2018.

Queer punk and prison abolitionist, Loma’s been busy cofounding the Undocupoets Campaign. They recently graduated with an MFA from NYU and has a forthcoming book called Sad Girl Poems.

Rework

by Christopher Soto

CREDIT: Christopher Soto

Oof. I’m sobbing. I’m not worthy of putting words on this page. Reread that again and let it marinate.

Want More? Get the first ever anthology of Queer Poets of Color.

CREDIT: @denicefrohman / Instagram

You can find it on Amazon, and I’d tell you all about it, but I’m still waiting on that 2-Day free shipping. 😉 Happy Pride!