Posts Tagged 'Erika Kent'

For the children of immigrants who don’t know what language to speak in California… by Erika Kent

I do not have the heart to tell my children, they will never feel at home here

I do not have the heart to say, even though our family has lived here for well over 30 years, our history will never be grounded here

Our experience will never be fully recognized here

Even though you my future children, will be born here, you will be treated as people who fled on boats or bare feet to get here,

You will be third world battered children here


In this place where the children of immigrants are painted with the red white and blue stripes of historical assimilation

I do not know the right way to tell you my children, that when people ask you what you are, you will be expected to respond in government imposed generalizations


Where specifics don’t matter, just check marks on the U.S. census

Latino/Hispanic, Non white, other, check one please

Even though, you my future children,

will be born here-

Our ancestors native tongue, will come to you as a second language,

And if you are anything like me, you will live a lifetime of division

Unsure whether the children of immigrants are allowed to call themselves Americans

But you,

You will be a beautiful and proud example of what it means to be a fluent broken English speaking ESL reject

To my future children, I can not tell you, what or who you are meant to become,

All I can do, is try to teach you from personal experience,

And Mijo in this country, people will laugh when you tell them where our family is from,

Mija, They will grin with pure unfaded content, they will smear their hand be-neathe their nose and sniff…

They will laugh out loud at you with their stomachs slanted towards the sky as they pat your back and ask if you too are a Colombian drug traffikking mule.

But you, my future children, will learn not laugh or smile at this,

You will learn to stand straight faced and restless after years and years of witnessing this.

After being aware for years and years, that this country was founded with that same type of generalizations and anti immigrant sentiment

You will tell them, about how Colombians are not all drug induced people, we are simply living aftermath of failed US Intervention and policies

I do not have the heart to explain, to you,

my future children,

Why one day when you dare, to be proud of your bilingual tongue and dark brown skin, many will feel intimidated and put off by it

I do not know how to explain, why it is that this melting pot society melts away the faces of individual cultures in order to claim cultural diversity

You, my future children, will live knowing, that no matter what culture or country you choose to claim

Somos gente con familias

And Mija, You will understand that that we believe in community more then borders

Mijo, You will already know that our families loyalty has never lied with any gun toking concept of patriotism

And despite any taunting or racist propaganda, we already know human beings can not be defined by their citizenship.

For you my future children, I do not have the heart to say a lot of things but, for the sake of tradition and community I will ask you

Child, to learn how to raise a fist,

Cast a smile, and to believe in something bigger then yourself

Because You, are part of the the next generation, who must stay awake dreaming.

You are not the light

But you, my future children, are the passage.


meet Erika C├ęspedes Kent

Erika C├ęspedes Kent is a 21 year old first generation Colombian-American artist and youth organizer. She has been actively involved with numerous Bay Area arts education and youth development organizations including Precita Eyes Muralists, Brava! For Women in the Arts, and The San Francisco Department of Children Youth and Families. Erika currently attends CCSF full time, and is proud to rep all things SPOKES related while working as Program Associate for Youth Speaks.