I Am Not Better Than Mi Mami
Originated published on Guerilla Feminist
I am the first in the my family to do a lot of things, like go to college and get a graduate degree. And all my accolades began to go to my head. I began to feel like I was better than the people who made it possible for me do be able to do what I do. So I wrote this as reminders, for myself to not measure my worth according to white standards of excellence, rather to measure my worth according to how I treat people.
My mami is not terca, nor is she ignorant, nor is she someone you need to decolonize forcefully. I have a mami who loves me, despite how much as she will try to indoctrinate me into becoming a “good” virtuous woman, aka wife and eventually a mother.
Where I have been and where I am going is entirely different than what she imagined for me, and when I was younger I resisted and argued and I even screamed for my liberation. I felt like she suffocated me. And yet, I have been able to do things that no one in my family has ever dreamt of doing. And it got to my head…so one day, mi mami said something that I will never forget. She looked at me straight in the eyes and said: “Yo no soy estupida.”
My newly acquired “book smarts” cannot ever mean that I get to forget that my mami is where she is today because she is a survivor.
My mami received the education she was given access to. She had aspirations outside of motherhood; she wanted to be a reporter or a detective.
A professional chismosa. She says this often, as she watches her mystery shows. My mami’s favorite show is cheaters, and she would love to catch (primarily men) beings dogs. She was made for a job like that…
But mi mami could not become that person, because of societal expectations and lack of money, and decided to love the person she did become: my mami. So the minute that my education begins to make me look down at her, I have failed her and myself. Not only that, but my education has failed to teach me how to treat people with compassion.
Yes, my mami disagrees with who I have become…
Yes, my mami prefers I was married and at home, not traveling and working….
Yes, my mami is terrified for my future
as a potential child-less woman…
But my mami also has a glow in her eye when she hears about me being flown out across the USA to speak to young Latinxs. My mami tells my sister, in private, when my dad treats her poorly: “si Priscila estuviera aqui, ella me hubiera defendido.”
My mami knows no man will ever treat me like she is treated, like some of her friends are treated, and like some of her friends daughters are treated. My mother knows she raised no pendeja, and she brags about it.
Being an immigrant mami of a brown girl who is being raised in a vastly different context than her own is probably the hardest thing many of our mamis have ever had to do.
It means loving us unconditionally even when we attend rallies, and they know what that meant in their countries. Young people would not come back from rallies, and if they did they came back in body bags. We are product of migration and their sweat and tears, and although they do not understand us they understand that whatever it is that we are doing we will be okay, even if they had to begin to redefine what okay meant in this new country.
I am not better than my mami, but I have opportunities at my fingertips that she could never even dream of – and I cannot forget that it is my mamis that I have to thank for my new possibilities. When I say I am my mami’s revolution, I mean I what she could not become – so I everything I do, I do for her, I do it for us.
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Read more about familia … Mi Futuro Esposo: What Our Mamis Want For Us