All posts by JustErik

Deadlines people, Deadlines

With the end of the semester quickly approaching, the deadlines gain a mountainous figure. A group project, research paper and a thesis proposal feel like tough fight to win. However, like you will see in my thesis, my father always told me that there is no “you will or you wont”. You’ll just do it and you’ll do it right. Now this may seem encouraging, but not so much when he’s teaching you how to drive and you’re trembling in fear on your first time behind the wheel.

Anyways, I find it hard to divide my time (and self) to everything on my plate. Lately, I find myself thinking that I could just do two classes instead of full time. I could potentially leave the second part of thesis to the fall, and give my self the spring and summer to fully dive into writing the bulk of my thesis. BUT MAMA AINT RAISE NO QUITTER. Though this wouldn’t be quitting more so allowing my self an extension. I am of the belief that diamonds are made under pressure AND to give myself more time to work also introduces the potential to procrastinate more. On we go onto the yellow brick road.

I’ve polished my proposal but still feel it needs more fine tuning. Thankfully, I haven’t looked at my literature review with a sterner lens or I would probably tear it to pieces and start from scratch. I’m glad that we have the option for One-on-One conferences. I need someone different eyes to look upon my work and see the cracks and flaws I cannot.

The Roads That Lead Towards The End

As I started writing and developing my proposal, I started feeling drastically unmotivated to write or even read. Although I want to relate this to the brain rot caused by watching T.V. sitcoms (I recently started watching Young Sheldon) it’s most likely to due to the constant deconstruction and reconstruction of a healthy sleep schedule. This paragraph has nothing to do with my thesis progression, but I thought I’d make my situation a cautionary tale. Get your sleep. (and watch Young Sheldon its actually pretty funny)

First update!

Literature Review (completed?)

Since I always like to start with good news, I’m happy to inform everyone that my Literature review is completed. After careful consideration and reading, I condensed it from 18 sources to 16. Still within the requirement thankfully. However, I added a question mark to “completed” since I started wondering if in the second part of thesis I will be able to add sources to this literature review. What if, while writing, I use a term that needs clarifying? Am I adding that to my literature review or just throwing it to my work cited page? question for class I guess. Anyhow since class this week will be online, I will Link my Review here. I’ve allowed comments and encourage that both Dr. Zamora and my classmates to leave their thoughts and criticism.

Second Update

Thesis Proposal.

Initially and unsurprisingly, I wrote my proposal on paper and transferred it onto a Google Docs which can be found here. Even having done the research it was still difficult to convert it into a narrative form. I still only have a draft and it’s still a rough description of my thesis. The prior research section still needs to be edited and needs the articles I will be utilizing turned into narrative form. I feel as if this task will be easier to complete since I completed the literature review. All I have to do is put in the time. Personally, I believe the methodology part can also be developed further.

I’m looking forward to the comments of my peers and to Jasmines presentation. Also, here is a picture of my cat curled up and sleeping on my bed to brighten your day.

AHHHHHH

So lately I feel as if I have been Lagging behind my due dates. With the assignments of my other classes, getting sick last week, and a mental block that seemed impossible to overcome. Life, academically speaking, seemed to be a stagnating. It’s difficult not to be hard on myself during these times. However, I’m overjoyed to report that I’m getting the academic ball rolling again, despite its colossal size.

So lately I’ve been adding sources to my Lit Review that are based upon masculinity and in Latino communities. Which is great and very important to my thesis. But if we recall my presentation the one gap I was missing in my research was mental health in the Latino community. Since I was gathering other important sources I regrettably neglected this requirement. It’s strange to say but it wasn’t a bad neglect; I was gathering other important resources.

I have found two very important sources that deals with this issue directly. The first one is Urban Latinx Parents’ Attitudes towards Mental Health: Mental Health Literacy and Service Use by Louise E.Dixon De Silva et. al and the second one is Latino Mental Health And Treatment In The United States by Marilyn Aguirre-Molina et al. The latter is the seventh chapter of the book Health Issues in the Latino Community a book completely dedicated, as the title eludes, to the health issues in the Latino community AND this chapter speaks only on the Mental health aspects of those health issues.

The findings from recent studies suggest that Latinos such as
Mexicans, Cubans, and Puerto Ricans generally immigrate or migrate with superior mental health status compared to the that of the population of the United States as a whole. Over time they have increased risk of mental health problems. Even more disturbing, their offspring’s major depression rates may increase to or exceed normal population rates for the United States.

(Aguirre-Molina et al. 182)

What a wonderful quote that clarifies the mental journey that I’ve unwillingly embarked on. The authors of this chapter even clarify that the Latino community is extremely diverse and more research data is needed for the smaller communities. This is why they focus on the data they have which is mainly Mexican, Cuban and Puerto Rican populations. Another important thing they mention that I haven’t seen mentioned before is the “cultural barriers” that prevent Latinos from utilizing mental health services. This includes stigma and the distinctive expressions for emotional disorders. The example given was “ataque de nervios” (attacks of the nerves). An idiom labeling mental illness symptoms as “temporary emotional reactions, these beliefs may obstruct an individual and his or her significant others from recognizing symptoms of mental illness” (Aguirre-Molina et al. 196).

The other article Urban Latinx Parents’ Attitudes towards Mental Health: Mental Health Literacy and Service Use by Louise E.Dixon De Silva et. al is a short study but has a plethora of important information. It speaks on the stigma surrounding the Latino community, accepting internalized mental health problems, and utilizing mental health services

Generally, parents viewed their child’s worry or sadness as intertwined with other problems that they were having…. Findings revealed that parents often could not distinguish between symptoms of anxiety, depression, and behavior problems. The most commonly described child problems were nervousness/worry (inquieto, ansioso), sadness (tristeza), withdrawal (retirarse), and irritability (irritabilidad)

(De Silva 3)

Though the sample size is relatively small and the limitations that the researcher elucidate are valid, this study still brings an extremely important cultural barrier to the table. Only when things are drastic are they taken care of, and even when they are drastic they’re labeledー as the previous mentioned study claimsー as simple attacks of the nerves.
While reading this study I got, as the youths like to say, war flashbacks. When reading certain lines I had to stop cause the words hit close to home. Ill throw out a few lines that did this.

  • “Furthermore, parents identified the belief that anxiety and depression are not “real” problems” (De Silva 4)
  • “after 6 sessions, I’m like “Honey, like, so like how did she teach you? What did she-?” Because I’m still seeing you doing this. Like she was still doing the same like anxiety um, like methods, so I’m like I was getting frustrated” (De Silva 5)
  • that Latinx parents, such as those in our sample, may tend to focus on outwardly visible behaviors while more internal mood states are overlooked (De Silva 6)
  • Concerns about parental blame, stigma, and etiological explanations of mental illness (e.g., problems stem from poor discipline) are all factors that deter appropriate service use and treatment adherence in Latinx communities

The quote I’ve bolded was one that I had a verbal reaction to when reading because I’ve had this line thrown at me. I briefly attended a master program that I dropped out of at Montclair University. While I was there I made use of their Counseling and Psychological services (CAPS) If I recall correctly, and I do, it was around 23 sessions throughout two semesters. Towards the last session my mother asked me to tell her how long were the sessions and how many id been to. After I told her she tallied it all up and said “that’s almost 24 hours. Aren’t you over it by now”

ANYWAYS, I think I’m done (for the most part) gathering sources. The 19 that I have are sufficient enough to provide good background support. I’ve complied them all into one document and have started the literature review. I’m honestly glad I took Research and methodology prior to this. This literature review doesn’t seem so terrifying, (its still a tad intimidating but not terrifying). At the same time I cant help to feel as if I’m falling behind. anywhoooooo see y’all in class. I cant wait for Jasmines presentation.

Update People Updates

It is 4:30 am as I’m writing this, me and my family are packed into my mothers Nissan rogue with my grandma’s several suitcases, packed with gifts for my family members back home. I am filled with pain and worry since this may be my last seeing my grandma in person. As I was driving her to my aunt’s house she told me that she doesn’t think she can make another trip to the US. Time has taken its its toll on her, as it will on all of us.(her words not mine). This is not the first time I’ve had to do this, I recall her first visit here in 2018, that departure was the hardest. My mother after not being able to hug her mother for 19 years was saying goodbye once again. It was a moment filled with a somber love. I hated seeing her like this, feeling so much sadness and yearning and love all at the same time. I found myself comforting her more than I’ve ever done so. As unbelievable as it seems, I’m usually a more reserved and distant person when it comes to either showing emotion. I’m of the belief that when people are sad, they need space and time to heal. At least that’s what I need. However, seeing my mother that way hurt, I held her, kissed her head and reassured her this wouldn’t be the last time we see her. I’m not sure I can do that this time. 

Having my grandma visit always brings up mixed feeling for me. For one, it reminds me how separated my family is here in the US. Yesterday I saw my maternal aunt for the first time in 5 years. We cut off communication with her for reasons that seem so insignificant in retrospect. It boils down to a sibling jealousy, rivalry, and ill-will that’s far older than me. She hugged me and we pretended that our families aren’t currently not on speaking terms. She didn’t know I wasn’t working at DHL anymore, or that I’m a semester (and a summer course) away from getting my masters. I like keeping things close to the chest and my family respects that.
Another thing her visits makes me think about is the struggle in her life. Having 9 children with a man who had four other families that he abandoned. (I’ll speak about my maternal grandfather another time. its a doozy). Only three surviving to adulthood: Colón, Johnny Angela, Celeste, Erick, Mary-Lou. (EXTRA POINTS ON THE QUIZ IF YOU CAN GUESS WHICH NAME IS MY MOM) Having to take care of her disabled daughter for 50 plus years, along side her three grand daughters: Erika-Belen (13) Samantha (8) and Aisha (7). When will this woman get a break. I fear the only rest will be in death as morbid as that sounds, but that’s a bigger fear: The impact her absences will have on all of us.

Okay, wipe the metaphorical tears, lets get academic.
Last post I mentioned that I had to review the articles I gathered that were based on masculinity. Having found a total of seven I read them and decided that four had the necessary substance I need for my own thesis. These are:

  • Factors Influencing Masculinity Ideology among Latino Men by Pedro Saez, Adonaid Casado, Jay Wade
  • First-Generation Latino Men’s Perceptions of Masculinity During Their Higher Education Experience by Moises Alvarado Garcia,
  • More Than Muscles, Money, or Machismo Latino Men and the Stewardship of Masculinity by Andrew S. Walters & Ivan Valenzuela
  • Machismo and Caballerismo Linked with Perceived Social Discrimination and Powerlessness in U.S. Latino Men by Helen M. Hendy, S. Hakan Can ,and Hartmut Heep

However, the other three sources will not go to waste. I plan on scouring their references in order to make some use of them. Adding these into my literature review I now have 18 sources. Since I have all my sources separated into folders on Google Drive, its hard to see the work I’ve put into my thesis. However, taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.

Adding Sources on Masculinity

Yesterday during breakfast I overheard a conversation my parents were having with my grandma. They were talking about the relationship dynamic of my Aunt and Uncle. We’ve cut off communication with them to the point that I’ve haven’t thought about them in years. I can’t even recall the last time I spoke to them, about them, or even thought about them. However, this conversation made me think about all the male figures I’ve had in my life.

Identity does not emerge in a vacuum. Its molded by everything around us. With this thought in mind, I thought about adding the role of masculinity, toxic and nontoxic, into my thesis. It’s a thought that had not come up until I heard this conversation. It’s one of these ideas that I knew would arise when I dove deeper into my work. In thoroughly thinking about it, I cannot say that my own father consciously instilled toxic masculinity in me. He always told me that its my role as a brother and a man to protect the women in my life. That its my responsibility to keep them safe from the cruelties of the world. That is what being a man is to him and what he taught me. HOWEVER, as developing children we are not only influenced by what we’re taught but also what we see.

Growing up, one of the things that would infuriate me was that he expected to be served at the dinner table. (I saw my uncle expecting this too) It irritated me because my mom (and aunt) would come home from work, cook, clean, and would still be expected to serve them. So during the beginning of my adolescence, one of the things I began to do things for myself would be to serve my own food, grab my own set of cutlery, and pick my own plates and cups and I still do to this day. It’s reached a point to where my mom mentions this to everyone who notices it. By everyone I mean the guests we would host from Ecuador. This is a task, a role “meant” for the daughter or mother of the family. But to leave this task to a woman who just spent ten hours on her feet working felt intrinsically wrong. There is a word in Spanish for a man who does nothing and is expected to be catered to, its Mantenido. Its literal translation means to be kept or to maintain, but it has a derogatory meaning as well. Its to be a freeloader or parasite or a good for nothing. This forum goes into detail about all the ways it can be used.

This word has been used by my mom as a counter to the toxic masculinity of Hispanic culture. No seas un hombre mantenido, don’t be a kept man. My mother has worked tirelessly to make me combat this culture, to be come a caballero, a gentleman. Growing up I took it a bit further by helping her in the one thing she hates to do, cook. She’s constantly told us that she hates to cook, hates the process, hates how everything comes out, her food doesn’t taste right etc. But being in this culture that expects her to cook and feed her family, she’s stuck doing it. I believe I found so much joy in cooking because I got satisfaction in helping her. I love to cook, to me there’s an insurmountable joy in feeding people, my friends, my family, my partners. I’ve mentioned in some of my classes that I’m the one who cooks for thanksgiving (all recipes inherited from my mom). I love it for the fact that the reward is visible. The happy faces and full bellies of my family. <3. Right back to toxic masculinity…

In their dissertation Garcia Alvarado and Alejandro Moises explain masculinity and hyper-masculinity.

“Hyper-masculinization is perpetuated and upheld by modern-day patriarchal systems where Latino men live. The social construct of machismo came with a set of gendered norms, constituting society’s perception of manly behaviors, which included, among others, the following: never show emotions, weakness, or any need for support; instead, one should portray the ability to be self-reliant

Alvarado Garcia, Moises A. First-Generation Latino Men’s Perceptions of Masculinity During Their Higher Education Experience, University of California, San Diego, United States — California, 2022.

Here is where I want to talk about the unconscious implementation of toxic masculinity. Never showing emotions, or the need for support. These are the main attributes I saw in my father. I can count the amount of times I’ve seen my father cry on one hand. (spoiler its 2) Once was when their golden child, me (I’m saying me sarcastically) was caught smoking marijuana and the other time when my uncle (fathers brother) and my great-aunt tragically passed away in a car accident in Ecuador. I remember these days vividly, they are branded into my mind, soul and being. In a similar fashion, I’ve only cried a handful of times with them being present. A result of becoming a withdrawn child which I mentioned in my presentation.

The other attribute, the need for support, I’ve only witnessed with the conversations I’ve had with my mom. These private conversations that we have are our connection. Since my withdrawn nature was/is seen as a sign of maturity, my family takes heed to my words. They see me as a calm headed person who thinks before he speaks or acts. (Disclaimer: I don’t believe this would be the case if my sister wasn’t so outspoken. Quite literally the opposite of me.) So during these conversation my mom would disclose the stubbornness of my father and his refusal to ask her for help, monetarily or otherwise. These conversation make me recognize my own aversion to ask for help. Unconsciously emulating my father.

Now that the trauma dump is out, we can get back to the academic part of this blog post. I’ve currently gathered 7 sources based on the effects of masculinity, hyper-masculinity, and toxic masculinity in the Latino community. All with great information and references that are beneficial for the completion of my literature review. I have to read them more thoroughly and discard the ones that will not be as useful. I anticipate that after this I will be left with 4 or 5 beneficial sources.

That’s all I have to report for this week.

Happy Halloween

Its the spookiest day of the year. The day where the boundary between the living and the dead are blurred, allowing spirits to walk among the living. My favorite time of the year.

Lately I’ve been focusing on the structure of my thesis. As I’ll explain in my presentation today, I want to structure my thesis into three major parts. childhood, ranging from 0 to 10, adolescence, ranging from 11-17, and adulthood ranging from 18 to Now. Each being a filled with crucial information on why I started the journey of searching for my identity.

As for the Literature review, I have 6 articles that will be extremely beneficial and can be used for multiple parts of my thesis. I also have 4 books, 2 of which I will relating to (these are the memoirs Minor Feelings -Cathy Park Hong and In the Country We Love -Diane Guerrero) and the other two are more for inspiration. The Poet X centers around the struggles that come with a strict Hispanic household and it’s written in verse. so it’s a great source to learn how to tell a story in this format. I wrote this, for you, is one of the poetry books that has impacted me greatly more than any other contemporary poetry that I’ve read. When I brought this book to class it may have not seem like a lot material to go off but it’s actually part of a bigger collection. There’s actually about 4 books titled I Wrote This For You (or some variant of that)

My writing has been slow for the most part. I find myself being over whelmed with the work of other course, and entertaining the most important family guest, my Grandma who is visiting from Ecuador for about 2 weeks. I manage to push out a few poems and short memory recollections here and there but not as much as I want.

Anyhow, since we’re meeting digitally today, I’ll link my reading here.

Don’t Be a Squirrel

(Quick explanation for this title, squirrels often hide nuts in the ground and never in one place. Safer to have multiple caches of nuts than one big one. However, some of these caches are…forgotten or left behind. Since I don’t have the fear of having my cache of valuables stole, I’ll place them all in one place and avoid being a squirrel)

I had a very lengthy conversation with my friend, peer, and confidant, Daniel. He and I had a similar experiences in our lives regardless of our upbringing. He’s Pentecostal while I was raised catholic. Why am I mentioning this? Well because religion is another aspect of my life, my identity that I’ve avoided. My family was never big on going to church, however they raised us to be good moral people. They always told us to believe in God but never in the word of man. It cant be trusted. Man can be greedy, self-centered, egotistical, evil, selfish. SO this is my stance on it on religion and how played a role in my identity, I’ll have to write on it some more to get all of my thought on it out from the prison in my mind.
One other thing that I will be focusing on is the idea of trust. I want to write about this a lot more before I tell the digital ether about it.

On the topic of Organization. I have made a Google folder for everything. I have made subfolders for books of a similar fashion (memoirs in verse and poetry books) then folders for the old dead white guys that inspired my love for literature and poetry. I’m debating if i should make a folder for songs or music that have impacted me.

This is one of my favorite poems. Its currently fighting for first place against Max Dhrmann Desiderata. It clearly depicts the anxiety within me and the unsureness of everything.

For the research articles I’ve decided to separate them by topic: one for DACA articles, one for articles on Theological identity, one for trauma responses. I could go more general and just make folders with general topics like legal, psychology, theology, memoir, etc. For now I’ll leave it as until I get more articles. (articles that I know ill use)

My next steps for the Lit review is to scour the databases for psychology articles on identity and/or trauma. Id like to avoid making this an APA psych thesis and somehow have my article give some justification for my thoughts. I’m trying my best to avoid Freud and his coked out Oedipus complex diagnosis…if that’s possible.

I’m super excited for Gianna Presentation, and hope to collaborate or discuss religious inspirations and maybe share found articles on this topic.

A tough Lit review

I believe that the literature review will be the toughest part for me to complete. Since I’m thinking of doing a memoir in verse I have found a some stories in verse, and lots of autobiographies.

  • Crank by Ellen Hopkins (YA fiction in verse)
  • In the Country We Love by Diane Guerrero (Autobiography)
  • Someone Like Me by Julissa Arce (Autobiography)

and from our trip to the library I found lots of articles on DACA. The struggle of Individuals like myself, the discourse around policy and the effects it may have on their health.

  • Becerra, Cesar. “Keep the Dream Alive: The DACA Dilemma.” Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, vol. 40, no. 6, Dec. 2019, pp. 847–58. 
  • Billini, Alicia. Dreamers: Stories of DACA Recipients in Higher Education during the 2018-2021 Political Climate, Western Michigan University, United States — Michigan, 2021.
  • Becerra, Cesar. “Keep the Dream Alive: The DACA Dilemma.” Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, vol. 40, no. 6, Dec. 2019, pp. 847–58. 
  • Patler, Caitlin, et al. “Uncertainty about DACA may Undermine its Positive Impact on Health for Recipients and their Children.” Health Affairs, vol. 38, no. 5, 2019, pp. 738-745,745A.

Out of these seven sources I’ve found, I believe the first two are going to be the most impactful right now. Since CRANK is written in verse and In the Country We Love is about the family of actress Diane Guerrero being deported at 14. (a fear that every child of immigrants has). I’ve also been doing a lot of freewriting about, myself, my life my experiences. and here if you can read my chicken scratch is the last one I did.

So if you can read any of that, I want to fixate on the line. “melting my young culture and adopting a new one whilst its being plated in Ecuadorian gold”. To think that came out of my brain during a solo writing session in which I was just going to toss out.
Now to pour this into research, I need to find sources that deal with the dangers of assimilation, or loss of identity or the journey of finding identity. I will start writing poems on my own identity, on why I’m here, who I am and want to be, but its easier said than done. I honestly feel as if I’m staring at an abyss of my own creation. Of things I’ve forgotten or willingly set aside. It’s staring back at me, like a parent sitting across a dinner table waiting to have a long overdue conversation.

The sources I found on DACA are great information on the ongoing discourse of immigrants like me, but I only see them as background to my experience. In the planet of Erik its the most currently level that shifts and changes. How its effects my education and my health and my ability to continue living here. However, my identity struggles will continues regardless if I reside in the US or get tossed back to Ecuador. They’ll be the same struggles from the Latino lens. I’m too white, my broken Spanish, and my sense of not belonging to name a few. This odyssey I’ve decided to undergo has brought up a feeling of being lost. Its an identity crises that I’ve been avoiding.

All for the chance at a Dream

It’s tough to write on a part of your life you’ve tried to avoid thinking about for as long as possible. The question may arise: Why weren’t you more proactive in figuring out your status? or Others who have recently got here have figured it out…why cant you? or my personal favorite which infuriates me Why didn’t you come here legally? A simple answer for the first and third question alludes to a kind of existential dread. The answer to the second is more complicated so I’ll save that for last.

Questions 1&3: Skewed Dread

Why weren’t you more proactive in figuring out your status?
So the answer for this needs a little bit of context. In 2011 during his first term, President Obama proposed the DREAM act as a pathway to citizenship for certain unauthorized immigrants. It was not passed by Congress (thanks asshats) and then turned into what is now DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Now this gives me the ability to A) not be deported B) receive in-state tuition (it does not guarantee the ability to apply for federally funded financial aid) and C) a social security number (Billini 25). To quality for any of this you need to be of good moral character, that means no criminal record (check), enrolled in school, High school or university (check), under 31 and have entered before 16 (check), and lastly, continuously resided and physically present in the U.S. since June 15, 2012 (check). So after hopping through those hoops and ladders you’re in. Congrats, yay, bring out the champagne, wooooo lets party…in Limbo. There’s nothing after this, that’s where it stops. Since it’s not a legal status I can’t apply for benefits such as: financial aid, food stamps, welfare or unemployment. I can’t own a gun (not that I want one), I can’t vote in any elections, can’t leave the country, and lastly no path to citizenship. Why am I not more proactive in gaining legal status? What can I do? I can’t vote for politicians who claim to have my back. I’m legally stuck, waiting for a miracle to land on my lap, waiting for others to grow a moral conscience.

Why didn’t you come here legally?
A question with the simplest of answers. I had no choice. I was a child of 6 thrust into a world divided by imaginary lines drawn by powers I could not comprehend. I can’t even go back to “my own country” because my visa would be revoked for 10 years. I would be stuck in a foreign country, with family I don’t know, with a language that’s slipping away from me. I once spoke to my mother about this. Why would they revoke my visa? I personally had nothing to do with this, you brought us as children. She told me “legally it was your responsibility to return when you turned 18 and apply for a visa that allowed you to emigrate to the US”. (quick side note on the bigotry thrown around these days about unskilled illegal immigrants, both my parents have Law degrees. Imagine trying to get away with anything in my house )
Well why didn’t your parents come here legally? We came on a tourist visa so technically we did come here legally. we just decided to overstay our welcome.

Question 2:Fear

Others who have recently got here have figured it out…why cant you?
Here is the big question that I actually have a semblance of control over. There are several ways to bypass my legal status that require a little bit of ~crime~ (and money). Who hasn’t heard about a Green card marriage? You marry a lawful citizen and within 6-8 months BAM green card and within 5 years BAM naturalization. However, if its found out you lied to do this, you get deported and the other party is charged federal crime along with several other fines, and even jail time. Since this is a capitalist nation you could invest half a million into a business and various other ways. Here’s an article stating all the legal way to become a citizen. Now, here’s where my upbringing comes in. As I mentioned in a side note above, my parents are lawyers so they like to do everything by the book, and legally. They raised me and my sister to follow suit, not cutting corners, following the law, and being a good moral citizen. This, alongside the consequences of breaking said laws, instilled in me a fear of being caught red handed. It can be seen in the poem I wrote on my last post, about the fear of standing out, of bringing attention to my self and my status and the safety of donning my chameleon’s cloak. (great title name for a poem).

Regarding Lit Review

Now that my informative spiel is over, I can speak on my research. It’s tough to research this topic since most of the results relate to Law and commentary on the injustices and lack of progress for me and the 800,000 others like me. That being said, it is a big part of my current identity. It might even be a GIANT chunk of my thesis, but honestly I see it as the upper most layer of me. It speaks nothing of my lyrical prowess, my wants or needs out of this life. I have this image in my head of a planet, let’s call it planet Erik. The situation of my status are the storm clouds in the Troposphere that can break at any second. Something completely out of my control. Continuing on this analogy, there’s still layers upon layers of earth that hold secrets waiting to be rediscovered.

Works Cited

Billini, Alicia. Dreamers: Stories of DACA Recipients in Higher Education during the 2018-2021 Political Climate, Western Michigan University, United States — Michigan, 2021.

Who Am I Really?

In thinking about this question I get reminded about the multitudes people have in them. How people go on about their lives with conflicting or even paradoxical natures. I love loud concerts but also quiet hikes. I could go on about the superficial paradoxes of likes and dislikes but that would be superficial. I want to dive deeper into areas of my own life containing these paradoxes that I’ve (honestly) avoided. However, I think that I should go into a semi-lengthy spiel on why these have been avoided.

Many of the people who learn that I was not born in this country have a look of bewilderment. As if someone had pulled the rug out from under them. It gives me a slight tinge of satisfaction knowing that they could not see through my cleverly designed façade. I couldn’t tell you when this disguise went up, maybe it was when I learned how to speak with out an accent, or when I inherited my mother skin tone or was it when my family learned first hand about how people of certain skin colors were targeted. (I may have inherited my mothers skin tone but my father is a naturally dark tanned Hispanic man. Shoutout to my sister who got mix of the two and landed a more olive tone). What’s worse, I cant tell you when I started believing my own lie. However, I do vividly remember when it became a choice to keep the façade going. It was in 2012 when my parents decided to sit us down and tell us the blunt truth of our status. They hammered down the fact that at we are not from this country, that at any given point in time we can be cast out and that we have no one else in this world who we can trust but each other. Imagine my thought process at 16 knowing that the only place I’ve called a home was a lie, the friends and teachers around me can’t be trusted, and that this system was inherently against us. My poor 16 year old psyche. That’s when I decided to, for a lack of better term, to fly under the radar. I often make the joke to my closer friends that I’m a chameleon, quietly in the background hiding from any would be predators.

This is the beginning of the biggest paradox of my being. From that point on I knowingly decided to strip away all evidence of my heritage, ethnicity, and race. You can’t be picked out from a crowd if you blend in, if you look, act, or sound like your oppressors.

After every step look over your shoulder
Don’t laugh too loud, you wont hear them coming
Use their idioms, and their language
Don’t give them a reason to look over here
Put a smile on it’ll hide your fear

Don’t speed to work, don’t pocket your hands
keep your head down but not suspiciously
comply with that officer,
How’s your day sir? Here’s my license, registration, insurance
No I don’t know why I’m being pulled over?
I’m just heading home, I haven’t been drinking, No I don’t smoke
Thank you for the warning, have a good day sir.
bullet dodge this time

this is still in its rough stages, I think I can/should spilt it into two poems

Nonetheless, There are certain things that you can’t strip away from your soul. In the same way I get a kick out of surprising people with my ethnicity, I always get taken aback when people just know what I am(?). I used to work retail at a bookstore and occasionally we would get a customer who either spoken broken English or just Spanish. They would see me and either ask if I spoke Spanish or just started asking me for help. I never had the heart to ask how they knew. It was usually older women who knew. Maybe it was the wisdom of age or a sixth sense.

I often fear about taking on this journey of transcribing my experience. there are roughly 45 million immigrants in the United States and since its creation there are about 750,000 DACA recipient. How is anything I experience unique? How is anything I’ve gone through not been said or published or broadcasted? With a lazy google search I can find dozen of individuals speaking out on their identities or the injustices of this limbo we find ourselves in. But I believe that not speaking out about my own struggles does them, me, everyone a disservice. I would be regress once again into believing my own lie.