By Christiana Castillo
I. Church Pews
B tells me in Canada they do land acknowledgements all the time. She’s white. She told me she did them in Toronto when she led tours at her university.
I am brown. I am white. I carry Indigenous blood. I carry the colonizer. What does that make me? I have never done a land acknowledgement as large as B. And I think about how B is in Southwest Detroit, and how she probably just learned it is the Latinx safe haven. I wonder what she thought of Southwest before she entered.
Maybe she knows that first we were colonized by the French. I wonder if she cares, wonder if she knows how Ste. Anne’s church exists, and how it was built by the French but is filled with Latinx seats and shrines to La Virgen de Guadalupe. I wonder if B wonders like I do, in the space we are talking, what history it holds. Does land have a memory?
Does B know I’m made up of history and memory, too? Psychiatrists know that trauma can bleed into generations. My grandmother’s father was her favorite person. My mother and I knew our fathers in pieces. I love my stepfather. How will the rest go? I wonder how similar I am to my great-great-grandmother. Do I carry her voice in mine? I wonder how I would live in red clay. I wonder if B believes she’s carrying her ancestors as well.
E tells me she just learned that New Mexico and Texas are really México. She said she didn’t think about that ever before. I tell her I think about it often. She smiles, changes the subject.
I dream of brown and red dirt and terra cotta pots.
When I was five years old, in kindergarten, drawing my family, I asked a white boy to pass me the color brown. He told me that I was the same color as poop. In that moment I did not like being brown. What does that mean for me? I went home and ate my quesadilla cut into tiny pieces made by my grandmother. We sit and are brown bodies together. Here we are home.
I wonder if my diaspora would go away if I lived in Nevada, or New Mexico, or Texas. But I live in Michigan, I live on Anishinaabe land. I live in an abundance of water and trees, but I am always craving more warmth, yearning for sunshine cut up into tiny pieces. Greedy niña. ■
Christiana Castillo is a Chicana writer, educator, activist, and urban gardener based out of the greater Detroit area.
Cover image by Christiana Castillo.
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