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  • Damaris Chanza

Poem: I Am Defiant

I was born defiant

As the first-born girl in a culture that values sons

My blood mixed with love despite the subtle racism between families

I was raised defiant

By a strong mother who empowered me to speak my mind to the dismay of everyone she knows, including herself, sometimes

By a bold father who aims to fix the mistakes made with him

They taught me the cruelty of living as a woman in a world where men are the standard

They taught me the cruelty of being brown in a country where white equates power

They taught me the cruelty of living impoverished because the American Dream can feel more like a nightmare

They taught me to fight life's cruelties with brilliance and patience, and vigor

I live defiant

By entering rooms where my voice is unwanted and making sure its heard

By being louder than the bigots

By learning the colonizer's language and making a living writing it better than those who tell me to go back to a country, I've never known

By denouncing hate and using my words to uplift other marginalized, underrepresented, and disrespected communities

I live defiant but not without fear

Because a fire alarm could be a drill or a reason to call my parents and tell them I love them for one last time

Because getting pulled over could mean I was driving while brown

Because not everyone believes that no means no

Because my accent, my language, my skin, and my body can give insight into senseless violence and senseless laws

Because my body is politicized by righteous men using the word of my own God against me

Because I know my own government doesn't give a damn about a young Hispanic woman raised in the ghetto by immigrant parents

And still, I am defiant

I wear my skin as armor with honor

I speak volumes with my accent

I face the fears with defiance

I am defiant because I breathe

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