the absence of brown

it turns out i’m brown.
i’m not really sure what that means. some might call me latino. others might say chicano. still other outdated folk might call me hispanic.
i call some aspect of myself brown.

brown. the last discovery of america. that’s what richard rodriguez has called it.
i call it brown. the color that pigments my embodiment.

being in my line of work, i am constantly reminded that i am brown.
i wish that line of work was something obvious, overt. it’s not.
i don’t work in a kitchen making sushi while listening to corridos.
i’m not a gardener, nor a dishwasher, nor a cleaning lady, nor a manos-for-hire.
i don’t work with inner-city kids talking about how we’re all ‘la raza’ and that we should have ‘orgullo’ and stick together and si se puede.

my raza passed me by–i never translated brown into chicano. my father is mexican. my mother is nicaraguan. they were born in their respective lands and came here with little more than some huaraches and the knowledge that they didn’t belong here.

i am reminded of my browndom in a different way than the way that they were reminded that they were brown, and still, in a different way from the manos-for-hire is reminded he is brown… .

through absence of brown people in my field, am i reminded that i am brown.

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