Borderlands/La Frontera

Breaking Our Silence

7 days ago

EDITORS’ NOTE: The Crimson is not, and has never been, a perfect institution. In the last few years, we have taken a number of steps to become a more welcoming organization for editors of color, but we recognize there is more work to do. We are publishing this piece in the interests of continuing an internal dialogue about how to address important questions of diversity and inclusion.

— Juan V. Esteller ’19, Editorial Chair

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Is Brown Beautiful?

November 08, 2017

Zoe: When I was in the fourth grade, I thought I was in love with a boy in my class. He gave me butterflies and made my heart race all at once. I thought it was a “forever” kind of love, one for the screens of blockbuster movies and storybook scenes. After a few weeks, I decided it was serious enough to share with my family. I told my mom about how seeing him made me fill with an insurmountable happiness, in a way I’d never felt before and thought I’d never feel again.{image id=1325819 align=right size=medium byline=true caption=true}

Her first question was about what color painted his skin. Naively, I was confused about why she would ask about something so seemingly random. I answered that he was half white and half Chinese, and she replied he wasn’t the right type for me. He wasn’t Mexicano, didn’t speak any sort of Spanish, or eat tortillas religiously. He was the right gender, just not the right skin color.

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​Our Cultures Are Not at Your Service

October 25, 2017

Ruben: There’s beauty in seeing a room full of smiling faces bobbing their heads to songs that flirt with both English and Spanish, saturated sweetly with the sounds of Latin America. Through Latinx cultural groups, we transport little slivers of our homes, of the Latin American diaspora, into rooms on campus that have—for the majority of this institution's history—excluded people who look like us.

But Latinx cultural groups are not just here to serve as a spectacle of food and music. They play an intimately personal role to Latinx students, particularly those who struggle with feeling as if they belong to this institution.

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Not Latinx Enough

October 11, 2017

Ruben: When I arrived on campus more than two years ago, I realized quickly that I did not belong. There’s no romantic way of saying this. I was one of only a handful of Latinx students in a 75-person class marketed as an introduction to the humanities. My finances gave me anxiety as I juggled a part-time job with an academic workload beyond anything I’d attempted before. I was strung between two worlds—Harvard and home were further apart than simply the 3,000 miles I’d trekked to get here.

Zoe: When I was little, I would listen to Spanish beautifully and effortlessly flow from my grandparents’ lips. When I would see them, I would do my best to mimic the songs they were singing, trying to roll my r’s and remember to make the “y” sound for “ll.” At the age of five, I hadn’t yet been taught to be embarrassed. I can only remember panicking when my grandma yelled for the escoba and I brought her a pan, only to find out she wanted the broom. I could feel sentences forming in my mind when I saw her, with the holes remaining unfilled by the words I had never been taught.

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Check Your Allyship

September 18, 2017

Ruben: My U.S. citizenship grants me privileges. It allows me to travel from the United States to El Salvador with relative ease. I have to pay $10 for a tourist card, because although I travel there every two years and and have dozens of relatives in the country, it’s not considered my “legal” home. When I visit my Abuela Carmen, whose home sits between tropical trees and gleaming green leaves, I tell her that I’ll see her soon. And because international mobility is not treated as the human right it should be, telling Abuela that I’ll see her again is a privilege.

Last week, I bought a book of poetry by Javier Zamora, a Salvadoran-American poet who crossed the Mexico-U.S. border at nine years old. In the opening poem, Letter to Abuelita Nelli, he writes, “I can’t go back and return. There’s no path to papers. I’ve got nothing left but dreams.” The ability to cross borders is a privilege afforded by the trivial circumstances of my birth.

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