Poetry | Where I'm From

by Lali Pizarro

I am from my mother’s tired hands as they comb through the knots in my frizzy, tangled,
“brillo pad” hair that she still swears I’ll grow to love one day.
I am from the white girls in 8th grade who introduced me to the flat iron and insisted, “boys like it better straight.”
I am from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella starring Brandy and Whitney
Houston—the only version I was allowed to watch as a kid.
I am from the discomfort I felt in first grade when I found out from a boy in school that
“Cinderella isn’t black.”
I am from the booming chants of “si se puede” that rang out at my first protest when I
was six years old.
I am from the police officer who harassed my father on our way home, after filling the
streets of San Jose with our call for justice.
I am from my Abuela’s broken English and “mija, you’re ugly when you cry,” “never
love a man more than he loves you,” and “you better graduate before I die.”
I am from my Tias when they scold my mother for not teaching me to speak Spanish
better.
I am from my father’s intellect and passion for learning and knowledge.
I am from the teacher who kicked me and two black kids out of biology class because he
couldn’t pronounce our names.
I am from the hoops—three inches in diameter—that my sister gave me when I moved,
stating, “you can’t go live with all the white people without your first pair of brown girl
hoops.”
I am from the embarrassment I felt when a girl in my first college theatre class looked at
me and proclaimed, “the bigger the hoop the bigger the hoe, right?”
I am from Tenochtitlan—Citlali, a resilient Aztec warrior.
I am from the boy in 7th grade who called me “Cit down on it” and the girl on my soccer
team who told me that it’d be “easier for everyone” if I spelled my name L-O-L-L-Y.
I am from the hours I spent wondering who “everyone” was.
I am from my sister’s resilience in the face of sexual assault.
I am from the mean private school girls who said she deserved it.
I am from Mexico City and Aguas Calientes, Michuacan and Cuernavaca.
I am from the streets of Inglewood, the hood where mama grew up.
I am from Santa Clara, California—the whitest suburb in the bay.
I am from Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.
I am from the Trump sign on my neighbor’s lawn.
I am from the struggles of my parents, my abuelos, my tios, my sister, my familia.
I am from the immense privilege and embarrassment of riches they have provided me.
I am from Latinas.
I am from white girls.
I am from Chicanas.