As I read the poetry and short stories of Latin American Women writers, a voice inside my head said, “Just say you are Latin American”. As I contemplated this it occurred to me that my parents don’t speak latin (or Spanish), and we speak English. I was born in Illinois. I have ancestors from many tribes. I was born on what was formerly Sauk land. So were my parents. The Native Americans died. My dad eats corn tamales.
As I read these women’s stories I realized that I never thought white was any more synonymous with purity than black. If I can not claim a sort of unity with a group based on the color of my skin, my language, my religion, am I not pure?
In, “When Everything Shines” by Liliana Heker, I got the impression that the author saw cleanliness as a type of purity. However, it was hard for her to maintain and she always had to get a little dirty eventually. In, “You Want Me White” by Alfonsina Storni, she thought white was pure like the dawn. Is the shining of the sun purity? Is it still pure even through the greenhouse effect? Is anything pure? Does it even matter? When I think of purity I think it is anything that is unmixed, undiluted, and 100%.
I feel cheated by the fact that I had to celebrate in everyone elses purity. I am a United States citizen and I am unpure. I have no voice. I feel silly trying to claim other’s purity. I eat dandelion greens, fried chicken, tacos, pizza and pancakes. I am unpure, yet I love these things. Is purity perfection? Is purity godliness? I drink coffee and wear down coats. I haven’t seen the purity of whiteness, blackness, or browness. Someone on the other side always has something to say.
Then I realize that these writers were looking for inclusion based on their purity. Purity propaganda has penetrated us to our deepest core. I am not pure because I am everything. I can celebrate with your group because I am part of your group but I can’t separate myself because I also belong to the world.