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University Life Café

woman laying in hammock


My skin is like tanning leather

like peanut butter

like copper

like milked coffee.


Three days it takes for me to become Mexican

and I find myself rebelling against White girls that beg for skin like mine

but turn their noses up at "Hispanic, is that the right word?" boys.

I've only loved Mexican boys.

But the one I've loved the most laughs and calls me White

like I should be ashamed and excluded

that my Spanish is too formal

that I don't know what it means to be Brown.


I don't have to grow up in poverty-

and I've only been called a "spic" once after I left home

because someone thought it would offend me

after this "pretty little señorita" pissed him off-

to know what it means.


My mother raised us not to be wasteful

to pick up our stuff

particular reason

being spanked

being slapped

because she thinks I did wrong.

To keep me humble.

To keep me in my place.

I empty the dishwasher because I feel like it 'cause we all like a clean kitchen only happy when the kitchen's clean.

"Pick up your shoes, you have three pairs out here!"

Yes, I have shoes.

My mother is the reason I do three different loads of laundry for myself every other week.

My mother is the reason I am compelled to make my bed perfect every morning.

My mother is the reason I always clean my plate.

My mother is reason I never crave "Mexican" food


Taco Bell


not even Los Cuates.


Only her sopa that I wish I had the privileged to eat everyday.

My mother is the reason I can smell enchiladas a mile away.

My mother is the reason hotel maids always smile at me because I don't think Spanish is the dirty language of the poor- while the White girls bitch for clean towels and wait impatiently for made beds- and lament to them that "soy mitad" only.

My mother is the reason I send hand written thankyous and birthday cards

every birthday

every Christmas


whenever I get anything

father's day.

My mother is the reason I work hard...like it's always been in my blood.

And I have problems with my head.

And I have problems with my weight.

And I write in cursive.

And I love my sisters.

And pretend to have friends but keep mostly to myself.

And if I could I would take a nap every afternoon.

Just like her.

My mother makes me Mexican.

Yes, we all have my father's last name but what it really means to be one of us, is the same as being Brown.