My piece is a cry to decolonize; to blatantly deface and dismantle the structures on this campus that alienate by telling us that we cannot be proud of our working poor background, our accents, and our black and brown skins; to realize that there is no shame. We need not a degree, or an acceptance letter from an affluent and predominantly white institution to give us our worth. Our stories and struggles—those that we demand a space for—are the true foundation of our beauty.
This letter is our affirmation that this campus cannot ignore, for we, just like those who came before—indios, slaves, campesinos, obreros, immigrants—endure.
To those newly admitted,
Jack the Bulldog has a house, on 36th between P and O Street. If I had told my dad, he would smile slightly, and chuckle with his gaze faced down toward the ground. He’d say, “Mira, tenían razón Los Guaraguao.” Look, The Guaraguao were right.
Guaraguao who sang:
Que alegres viven los perros, en casa del explotador.
Usted no lo va creer
Pero hay escuelas de perros
Y les dan educación
Pa’ que no muerdan los diarios.
Pero el patrón hace años, muchos años
Que esta mordiendo el obrero.
How happily the dogs live in the exploiter’s house.
You are not going to believe
But there are dog [training] schools
That give them education
So they don’t to bite the newspapers.
But the boss for years, many years
Has been biting the worker.
Pero mira. But look. You, newly admitted. In the Junited Estates—in Georgetown—there are houses for dogs. El Patrón has given el perro, Jack, a multi-million dollar townhouse, as we Latinos beg the university for a bone—for a house, for a space to express our own.
Can I tell you that the institution, Georgetown, welcomes you, asks you to be open to the diverse experiences of those around you, tells you that you will learn from each other? Do I omit that, when you hear “Spring Break in the Caymans,” see that the Spring Fashion catalogue students put together includes a $200 shirt and a $325 blouse, it might be hard not to feel excluded? Do I spend my last dollar buying that Brooks Brothers shirt, those salmon Polo shorts, Sperry Top-Siders, as if a piece of clothing with some smiling whale is going to mask my accent and brown skin? Or do I fight?
Te digo that even when we get a casa, we will not allow the university to put us on a leash. They tell us not to bite the hand that feeds us. They’ve told ours to be silent in the fields of concrete and green, in their houses, kitchens and offices. No más. No silence can be afforded. Racism and classism exist even here in this heaven, where white angelic bodies reign, where capital affords you power and belonging. Here where John Carroll waits like St. Peter at the gate, admitting you who leave your homes to come to one of the most privileged places in the country.
I’ve had it with the nice talk. Mijos, mijas, and all y’all, this campus does not have a Casa Latina. And we need you to be aware. Don’t get me wrong. Latinos are here. Look at yourselves. Look at how you make up twelve percent of your incoming class.
If you come, there are several here ready to make you feel like you’re at home. But, I want you to know what you are signing up for, when you sign that paper committing yourself to attend this Hilltop. Babosos, la lucha doesn’t stop when you walk through those gates. Beans and rice follow you even though they might taste worse without consomé, at Leos. That lack of salt may assault your identity. I know. There is no place to affirm that tu lucha es mi lucha. Pero confía. It is. There is no space to dialogue, to discuss, and to discover our person: queer, women, men, black, brown, poor, proud and all we are in jumbled Spanglish. Pero confia, we are fighting for a permanent home.
Excitement and fear runs through your veins. We’ve been there; feeling alone, leaving those los que nos aman y entienden for those who might not accept us. I want to congratulate you. You’ve made it vos, gotten that letter and probably that financial aid with as many zeros that you didn’t know existed. I’m proud of you, fool. I hope you join us in establishing our presence—let this institution know that our liberation is not based on silence, not on assimilation, but the expression of ourselves and our identity. Demandamos Casa Latina.
You can sign the petition to create a Casa Latina here.