The new kid in school was put into the underachieving classroom. She sat bored but obedient for a few weeks until she was transferred to a more challenging atmosphere. But the sweet and smart light-skinned Latina did not fit in. She did what any person fearing exclusion does: she began assimilating into the mainstream that surrounded her. She identified as white, she forgot her native tongue by refusing to speak it, she added blonde highlights to her dark brown hair. Those who did not actually know her believed that she was white and between the ages of seven and sixteen, I was also convinced.
I spent a vast amount of time erasing and distorting experiences because I did not want to accept my multicultural background as my reality. Shame clouded many of my thoughts because all that I knew at a time was that Mexican men were trash who abandoned their daughters or who whistled perverse calls down streets and through open car windows. I was scared of cops because I knew they could take my parents away for being different. I resented my mom and dad because they did not understand nor wanted to understand American customs. Regardless of my attempts to bury Hispanic culture, I could only avoid my reflection for so long.
The first jottings on paper were apologies. I was sorry for ever wanting to be a shade lighter, a shade less dynamic. The rancor that filled my blood was slowly washed out with each ‘sorry’ I wrote. It is with writing that I realized I could not escape from this world and find myself in a fictional reality nor could I make sense of the world made up of particles of confusion and the unknown; however, I could plug my individual lense into this outlet and observe the remarkability in being different. The act of writing helps me live through traumas I want to overcome. It is a platform on which I can stand to revisit angels lost and remember the deepest love I have felt.
I do not grasp onto the constituents of a meaningful existence but rather hold them in an open palm for those who are curious to see, read, and interpret. Too many voices belong to birds with at least one wing impaired. They want to share their melodies with the wind but cannot fly high enough to be heard. I have tended to my wounds with words, and for this reason, I want to climb to the tops of mountains and share myself. I want those with broken wings to see that it is possible to build themselves up, but I do not want to speak for them because that would not be changing anything. It is important for a person to write a history of their own rather than have it told by someone who was not around to live it. I write as an ode to the light-skinned brown girl who forgot her beauty but never will again.
When the task of writing grows inevitably arduous—and seemingly thankless—we must remember why we started. Inspired by George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Why I Write,” this introspective project highlights our motives for writing. Share your story and join the conversation. Live events are produced throughout the diverse cities of Orange County and feature author readings from curated essay submissions.
- Write a 500-word essay explaining why you write.
- Submit via Submittable.
The 1888 Podcast Network is a curated collection of educational and entertaining podcasts. Each program is designed to provide a unique platform for industry innovators to share stories about art, literature, music, history, science, or technology.