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JOSEFINA

By November 1, 2019August 19th, 2020No Comments

WHEN I CAME TO THIS COUNTRY FOR THE FIRST TIME, I FOUND IT VERY INTERESTING HOW PEOPLE HERE IDENTIFY THEMSELVES SO CLEARLY AS “HALF THIS, A QUARTER OF THAT, AN EIGHTH OF THIS, AN EIGHTH OF THAT.”  BEING A CLEAR MIX OF NATIONALITIES HELPS ONE FEEL A SENSE OF DEEPER BELONGING.  THIS, I UNDERSTAND.

IN MEXICO WHILE WE DO NOT SPLIT OUR ORIGINATION UP, HAVING A STRONG SENSE OF “MEXICANIDAD” IS ESSENTIAL.  BACK IN THE NINETEEN TWENTIES, MEXICO WAS UNDERGOING A NATIONAL IDENTITY CRISIS.  THE GOVERNMENT’S SECRETARY OF PUBLIC EDUCATION, JOSE DE VASCONCELOS, TOOK IT UPON HIMSELF TO VISUALLY FORM A NEW MEXICAN IDENTITY.  HE WAS ABLE TO GROUND THE SENSE OF BELONGING AND HELPED FORM A MEXICAN IDENTITY SO STRONG THAT IT PERSEVERES TODAY.  SO MANY OF OUR AMAZING ARTISTS FOUND THEIR SUCCESS DURING THIS TIME.  THINK OF RIVERA, KAHLO, SIQUERIOS.  ALL THEIR WORK WAS GEARED TO CREATING A SENSE OF UNISON AMONG THE DIFFERENT CLASSES AND RACES IN MEXICO. IT IS SO INTERESTING TO ME HOW CAREFULLY CALCULATED THIS WAS AND HOW UTTERLY SUCCESSFUL THIS WAS AS WELL.  TO THIS DAY, ALTHOUGH MEXICO IS A BIG COUNTRY AND VARIES IN ITS COMPOSITION, FEELING “MEXICAN” IS QUITE UNIFORM.

LATELY, I STARTED RECEIVING SO MANY ADS TO GET MY DNA TESTED THAT I SUCCUMBED AND DID SO.  I WAS CURIOUS TO DISCOVER  MY “MEXICAN” COMPOSITION.  WELL, LOOKS LIKE I AM MEXICAN, 51% EUROPEAN AND THE REST FROM THE WEST STATES OF MEXICO (I.E. INDIGENOUS).  THIS INFORMATION STARTED MAKING ME MORE CURIOUS AND I WANTED TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT MY BACKGROUND BUT IT IS HARD TO FIND.  THERE WAS NOT MUCH RECORD KEEPING IN MY FAMILY. NOT MANY PLAQUES OR MONUMENTS EXIST ABOUT THEIR LIVES. I USED TO BE ABLE TO ASK MY MOTHER ALL SORTS OF QUESTIONS ABOUT HER DISTANT RELATIVES.  MOST OF THE TIME WHEN I WOULD ASK HER ABOUT HER OWN CHILDHOOD, SHE WOULD SIGH DEEPLY AND SAY, “IT WAS  VERY SAD AND  I PREFER NOT TO TALK ABOUT IT.” BUT NOW, MY MOTHER IS THE LAST ONE FROM HER GENERATION AND GOD HAS BEEN TAKING HER MEMORY AWAY LITTLE BY LITTLE, LIKE PETALS OF A FLOWER. SHE IS DOWN TO THE STEM AND I CAN NO LONGER ASK HER.

THERE ARE ONLY A FEW OF MY COUSINS WHO KNOW A LITTLE BIT OF OUR BACKGROUND. ON MY GRANDMOTHER’S SIDE THERE ARE A LOT OF BLANK PAGES IN OUR HISTORY BOOK.  SO MANY QUESTIONS ARE UNANSWERED.  SO LITTLE DOCUMENTATION. BUT THE OLDER I GET, THE MORE I WANT TO KNOW SPECIFICALLY ABOUT MY GRANDMOTHER.  SO I HAVE  TRIED DOING SOME INVESTIGATION ABOUT THE WOMAN WHOSE BLOOD I SHARE.  IN MY RESEARCH, I HEARD THAT SHE HAD TWO BIRTH CERTIFICATES (THAT WASN’T GOOD).  ONE  SAID JOSEFINA AND THE OTHER SAID JOSEFA. HER LAST NAMES HAD VERY SPANISH ROOTS, PLACENCIA AND ORDORICA.

 SHE LOST HER PARENTS AT A VERY YOUNG AGE. HER MOTHER DIED IN 1897. I TRIED TO IMAGINE HER CHILDHOOD BACK IN THE LATE 1800’S.  SHE WAS FROM A TOWN IN MEXICO IN THE STATE OF JALISCO CALLED YAHUALICA. THE PEOPLE FROM THIS TOWN ARE KNOWN FOR THEIR BLUE OR GREEN EYES AND  MY GRANDMOTHER WAS NOT THE EXCEPTION.  SHE HAD GREEN EYES AND VERY BLACK HAIR. I HEARD SHE WAS STRIKINGLY BEAUTIFUL. APPARENTLY, WHEN SHE WAS A YOUNG TEENAGER, ORPHANED AND BEAUTIFUL, SHE PARTICIPATED IN THE MEXICAN REVOLUTION.  I SAY “PARTICIPATED” BECAUSE I DO NOT QUITE KNOW IF YOU CAN SAY WOMEN “JOINED,” FOLLOWED THEIR MEN,” OR HAD NO OTHER OPTION BUT TO HELP IN THE REVOLUTION.

 THESE WERE VERY TURBULENT TIMES DESPITE ALL THE COOL BLACK AND WHITE SHOTS OF THE MEXICAN REVOLUTION WE SEE IN RESTAURANTS AND SUCH! THE REVOLUTIONARIES WERE OUT OF CONTROL. AT FIRST THEY WERE FIGHTING FOR A GOOD CAUSE BUT THEN THE REVOLUTIONARIES, TRAUMATIZED AND POOR, STARTED GOING INTO TOWNS VANDALIZING AND RAPING WOMEN. THE WOMEN WHO JOINED THE MEN IN THE FIGHT WERE CALLED ADELITAS. SHE WAS ONE OF THEM. ALL I CAN SAY IS THAT SHE WAS VERY AFFECTED BY HER ROUGH CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE. SHE WAS KNOWN FOR HAVING A CHALLENGING PERSONALITY  (DISORDERS?) THAT LEAD ME TO BELIEVE THAT SHE PASSED THESE ON TO HER KIDS – MY MOTHER. ONE OF MY NIECES TOLD ME THAT EVEN THOUGH MY GRANDMOTHER LEFT LITTLE TRACE OF HERSELF, SHE LEFT DEEP SCARS IN HER KIDS.

I HAVE A DEEP COMPASSION FOR HER AND MOST OF IT IS INTUITIVE. I NEED TO REFLECT ON THIS MORE… TO BE CONTINUED.

I’D LOVE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS, PLEASE SEND TO MY PERSONAL EMAIL ADDRESS,
GUADALUPEJ4K@GMAIL.COM!