Wednesday, January 07, 2009

So I was taught -- Poem by Mia Hernandez

So I was taught that my Island is beautiful
Rich in culture, its food and music full of life and fire

That we have waterfalls, rainforests, mango and platano trees…ah, and the coqui

That we are a unique people
Proud and strong
Full of fight
Brave warriors

That our island is only 100 miles long and 40 miles wide of…beauty

So I was taught

I remember running through the dirt roads and backyards of family members as I vacation each and every summer

I remember the aroma of Abuelitas cafecito
The aroma that would pull me by my nose and drag me into the house
For a taste of its richness

Mmmmmmmmmmm, café yaucono con leche

I remember her yuca, yautia, malanga and bacalao dishes made with love and delicately put together con un poguito de arroz blanco y tocino

I remember running free
Arms stretched out
The sun shining in my face
Sitting under a palm tree
Swinging in a maca

Just free

So I thought I was taught

That this was mine
It was for me
Because after all I am a Boricua and this is where my family is
My island, my home
All 100 miles long and 40 miles wide

So I thought

It belonged to my Abuelita and Abuelito that worked so hard for it, planting and painting and sowing and cutting and building and working

And……

I learned that all this time I was a squatter on my own Island

I learned about Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Christopher Columbus and his three little ships
But I never studied anything about Betances, Jose de Diego or Julia de Burgos

Never even heard of Pedro Albizu Campos

I ran through the dirt roads of Puerto Rico
Lay on the hammock and chased lizards
Thinking it was all mine...for me
Thinking that this must be paradise because this is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen

I was taught and I believed
Could I possibly be?
A victim of psychological propaganda?
Me?

I learned that we are NOT allowed to govern ourselves,
We are NOT allowed to decide for ourselves,
We are NOT allowed to protect our own interests

I learned that I was NOT allowed because I was subservient to the interests of the country that dominates me.

I was not taught to be politically independent

I was taught that if Puerto Rico were to be independent
We as a people would starve and eventually sink right into the middle of the ocean

I am afraid
Afraid they will buy up all the land
Tear down my Abuelitas house
Knock down all the trees
Take over all the mountains
With No where for us to go we are …dumped, rushed and pushed out

I am afraid as I look at the experience of the Native Indians in this country
and fear the same happening to me

So I learned

I learned that when one is faced with oppression, colonial subjugation and inhumanity
One must resist…or perish as a people …Just to be FREE!!!!


© Mia Roman Hernandez 2008

This poem was republished with writer's permission.
Post a Comment