“My Chicana sounds like ‘mami,’ sounds like ‘girl, you talk too fast, you must be running from something. Is it… is it la migra?’ Sounds like, ‘Say lil’ mama, could you call me papi tonight?’”
That’s how poet Cristina Martinez begins her powerful spoken word poem “Chicana,” which was shared on Write About Now Poetry Aug. 16.
Throughout her performance, Martinez calls out people – namely men ― who reduce her to hyper-sexualized stereotypes, breathlessly recounting the things she’s heard them say about Mexicans and Mexican-American women.
“[I] overheard a conversation between two adult males, the question was, what do you call a man who can’t handle a Latina, a Chicana or anybody brown for that matter? His answer: weak. As if I’m something that needs to be dealt with,” she recites. “As if all I have been bred to embody is disaster. As if all my culture can offer you is a frozen buzz with salt, sometimes sugar, around the rim and a headache thereafter, brain-freeze.”
The talented poet goes on to explain how, in her experience, some of the same people who fetishize Chicanas and indulge in their culture also reject their relatives ― much like they rejected her father.
Martinez let it be known in her poem that she won’t stand for it. She concludes her performance with a powerful, emotionally charged message:
“[My father] works harder than any man I ever met, so forgive me… forgive me ‘mami’ when I do not submit to a man who only half-assed does half the shit my father, my father has proven to me that I’m worthy of.”