Latino: Indigenous Peoples of the Americas

Mama Chava's house in El Salvador

I used to be a perplexed little kid… impatient because I couldn’t pull of the “bowl-cut” look with my hair, not really understanding what “brown” meant in reference to my people.

When I look down, when I’m naked, I go “wow, I’m super-brown”, undeniably a descendant of something deeper than just “Latino”.

I’m glad I went to college.

So, this is what it was before Columbus and his comrades came over:

The first documented peoples of Mezo-America (“middle america”: Mexico and Central America) were the Olmecs – a bunch of accredited sources strongly claim that they sailed from great West African civilizations, establishing the calendars and groundwork for the many civilizations after them in the Mezo-American area.  The Mayan calendar and the Aztec calendar are based on Olmec math, cosmology.  If you go to Yucatan, Mexico there is still a giant statue of an Olmec head there, very warrior-like.  It’s beautiful.

In El Salvador, on the eastside, there was a tribe called Maya-Lenca – when I look at my grandma’s face in photos and compare her what indigenous people from the eastern portion of El Salvador look like, they look like sisters and brothers.  She was beautifully “brown”.

My mom has told me many of the beliefs and practices that they used to uphold when they were kids; as kids, when they wanted it to rain, they would hang live turtles from trees.  After the rainstorms would stop, the turtles would be gone.  These were beliefs of people from the mountains, from rural, jungle-like areas.

Those beliefs, even though oppressed and hidden from people like us, were once of the ancient people that used to cultivate that respective land.  They used to pray to the moon and the sun, and look at the stars to understand the seasons  All of that has been hidden under Catholicism and Eurocentric standards of living, but the beliefs are still there – What I love about us: no matter how hard we’re trampled, divided, beaten, forgotten, cheated, raped, molested, displaced, instinctively we never give up who we truly are as a people.

If you go to The Mission district in San Francisco, you see Mayan and Aztec murals all over the neighborhood.

If you go on International Blvd. in Oakland, you see the same thing.

Tortillas are ancient, and of Mezo-America; proof.

Being “Latino” robs of us of our true identities; when we are displaced and given a name not ours, “Latino”, we leave behind our true history – In the last couple of years I have come to understand how racism in the US is constructed systematically: they choose your name, make up your circumstance, and delete your history through the name you are given – As dark as I am, to be called Latino and to be proud of it would be to dismiss the genocides of hundreds-of-thousands of Mayans in Guatemala and El Salvador in vane.  In other words, I don’t think I’m Latino (on a piece of paper, sure, but not in my heart).

Learn your history, learn who you are to know where to go.  You might find your heart in the wrong place.

– Lover

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