Updated: Feb 20, 2019

by Lupe A. Flores

(Video performance can be seen here)

Waves of fatigue overcome my body

As I think about liberation

Make claims for open borders

Speak out against nativist legislation

Then snap back to my reality

Snap back to daily life by the Río Grande

Where my siblings

nieces nephews

primos primas

tíos tías

my grandmother

and myself

Are surveilled daily by the state

Harassed by its border guards

Where, during an early morning commute to work,

A blue-eyed, brown skin agent questions my existence

In broken Spanish with American nativist undertones

As his buddies pin me between their fist and the wall

Between their Brigadier pistols and the door

Where, at dawn off the shoulder of Military Highway,

Two State Troopers yell to my face that I must be or know “the enemy”

Yell to my face to get used to their presence

Yell to my face this is now normal

Where, one evening on the levee roads,

A brown skin rinche tells me

There is no other way

In a high-traffic zone

In a riverspace

They must identify, map out, secure

That they know has been in my family for generations

A space where lineage is reason for suspicion

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was only the beginning

Of how my abolitionist and contrabandista ancestors

Made burlas of white laws and resisted the border

Of how migration became a “criminalized dark anxiety”1

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was only the beginning

Of how the meandering Río Grande

Concretized into border walls in backyards

Of its transformation from fluid waters to rigid boundaries

Waves of rage and grief overcome my body

As I question my existence

My settler-colonialist lineage

My indigenous heritage usurped

And think about liberation

The anti-migration sentiment and desconocimientos2 festering

inside state and non-state agent bodies that look like mine

How can we dismantle the border

This wall behind my home

When white folk and

Brown and Black raza lift it up

Love its weight on their backs?

How do we move forward from here?

First Published in Poems and Numbers: http://poemsandnumbers.com/borderwall…

Lupe A. Flores, a queerfemme nepantlerx, was raised in a rancho near the Río Grande. They write between academic and creative prose to document coyotaje and border militarization in the RGV through their bodily proximity to the río, it’s policing and the irregular border crossings they’ve observed since childhood and into their graduate studies. Lupe’s published in Anthropology News, Allegra Lab: Anthropology, Law, Art, World; Río Bravo: A Journal of the Borderlands and openDemocracy: Free Thinking for the World.


1-For an analysis of how border policing is experienced beyond the border and has increasingly relied on the racial profiling of brown non-citizens and citizens alike, fueled by legislation and practiced in everyday policing of communities of color in the United States, see Latinx anthropologist Gilberto Rosas’ essay, “The Border Thickens: In-Securing Communities After IRCA,” in International Migration 54 (2), 2016.

2-Chicana feminist autohistorian-theorist Gloria Anzaldúa defined desconocimiento as: “To not see is to be in a state of desconocimiento. Desconocimiento is the state of not knowing, either by willful intention, that is by setting out to remain ignorant, by refusing to know or not know or not knowing by default, by expediency. Desconocimiento is an ignorance that damages, betrays trust, and destroys. It fosters miscommunication with irreversible harmful effects.” (Anzaldúa, “Queer Conocimientos,”)!

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