Sunday, 12 February 2017

The Trouble with Sombreros

[Media prompt] Mexican nationals in the U.S. now face a “new reality,” authorities warned in a statement.
The Trouble with Sombreros

Had a physician measured Angélica Garcia’s blood pressure before she set out to the general office of the Department of Sociology, a short walk along the Free Speech bikeway, and then measured it upon her return to the dormitory, he might have recommended hospitalisation, or at the very least prescribed one of the excellent drugs available these days to treat hypertension. Unfortunately, nobody with medical expertise was present on the morning in question, and after struggling up the stairs to her room on the second floor, she fell onto her bed, where she stayed until her breathing and heartrate returned to normal, or as close to normal as circumstances allowed.

At first, other Chicanxs living on the floor thought Angélica had suffered a massive heart attack. Although a false diagnosis when viewed in hindsight, it was not, as far as amateur medical opinions go, without foundation. At over two hundred pounds and barely five feet tall, the general consensus was that if anyone on the Aztlán floor was going to die before graduation, it would be Angélica Garcia, whose vegan diet was heavy on Oreos and Fair Trade chocolate and light on fruits, vegetables and pulses. José Luis and Alejandro, urged on by a growing crowd, rolled her over so she did not, as everyone shouted, “fucking suffocate, man.” That was when they saw the crumpled essay in Angélica’s damp hand.

Angélica lay on her back, and the only sound in the momentary silence was her great gasps for air. “She’s okay,” someone said, and there was a cheer of relief. With Alejandro’s help, Angélica sat up and said, “I am not okay. And no Chicanx on this floor will ever be okay again.”

Faqueza, a tall girl wearing one of those T-shirts with ‘Not One More Deportation’ printed on the front, which you don’t see anymore, took the essay from Angélica’s hand. The cover page said, “The Trouble with Sombreros: How privileged whites have stolen Chicanx intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, and artefacts,” by Angélica Garcia. “God, I fucking hate white people,” said José Luis, twisting side to side to relieve the pain in his back. As Faqueza flicked through Angélica’s essay, the pages brimming with handwritten comments in red, there was a muffled cry from the bed; “Just turn to the end,” she said, collapsing onto her back.

The crowd surged forward, and José Luis and Alejandro had to spread his arms to prevent Fazueza from being crushed. “I’ll read it, I’ll read it,” said Faqueza, taking a step backwards. “Just give me some space.” There was some grumbling from the back, but eventually she started to read out the comments in red on the final page.

“This essay should be titled “The Trouble with Mexicans”, and is, in my thirty years of teaching, the most egregious example of racist, La Raza agitprop I have had the misfortune to read.”

At the word ‘Mexican’ there was a collectively sharp intake of breath, and by the end of the sentence the shrieks and howls of rage drowned out the reader. “Calm down,” said Alejandro; “Let her read.”

“Your writing is incomprehensible, your ideas are infantile, and your conclusions are ridiculous. That you were admitted to this institution is a travesty of the intellectual ideals upon which this university was founded. Moreover, I have discovered that you are an ‘undocumented’ resident.”

Once again, Alejandro had to tell people to quieten down.

“’Undocumented’ resident,” said Faqueza, repeating herself as she picked up where she left off. “I have contacted ICE and you should prepare to go back to whatever part of Mexico your overworked heart belongs. Perhaps there you can take back possession of your sombrero.”

There was a long silence, broken only when a man outside in the hallway asked someone at the back of the crowd, “Do you know where we can find Miss Angélica Garcia?”

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