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Priceless

June 16, 2008

My cultura’s not for sale gringa
when you grab a silver ring from
an Indio’s stand and ask
“Koo-an-doh Koo-eh-stah”
in your sorry ass Spanish

I’ve seen tourists in Mexican bordertowns
Winter Texans in Tamaulipas
Wild college kids on Spring Break
Buying anything under ten dollars
Smiling at impoverished children
then
Returning to a privileged America

It’s not for sale
though the sign says
You get more for your dollar
Less for your peso
But
My culture wasn’t devalued.

I’ve seen gringos come for miles
to hear a “real” Mariachi
enjoy a few bailables
watch some surviving Indian dances

But you can’t capture us on a cd,
photograph us and
make us part of your collective memory

We have our own
and in them
You are still the gringo invaders of Texas
the treacherous robbers of Aztlan
the “big brother” of the north

In my memory
you are a foreigner to me
I will not give you our precious things

My people are not for sale

I am not a happy jarabe
a rhythmic son
a colorful Jalisco dress
a Chiapas Zapatista

I am not the most vivid and publicized
I am not a woman being beaten by police
I am not a drug lord or president
I am not a technocrat
That is not my cultura
That’s the media

Precious things are sacred and
your dollar will never buy you
My memories
My history
My place in a community

My cultura’s not for sale gringa
and neither are my men
“Dark, indigenous looking Mexicans”
are for Anthro books and theses papers
Not for the real world
Not for your photo album

You cannot have my songs
or dances
or looks

You cannot buy the sacred stories
the history of a revolution
the pride of my cultura

These are priceless things
which have been bought with blood of Mexicans

Mexicans alone
Not for you gringa
Not for the tourist
Not for the journalist

Just for the Raza

Those of us who know we own it
without having to buy it.

Maribel Ledesma

There are two great poems by Ledesma at Chicanas.com; Priceless is one of them. The other is called Printed Revolutionary.

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