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How do stop a Chola-fied nerd not actually named Maria?(Editing notes for the future film I will finish before 2018)
1. Where is the music?
2. This will work with one piece from the walk, one piece from the drive and then the end drive away.
3. Use the very end of the walk where your close to the camera and then walking away. Use one of the interior shots to do kind of a montage.
4. Start with the drive towards, cut to the interior of the car, cut back to the turn and stop, cut to the drive away.
5. 1 minute of footage.
I was never so frightened as when I encouraged my classmates to dress as cholas and walk the campus. I had some grand idea to prove a point—all I did was prove a point to myself that I could convince folks to do some crazy thing that might make other people think. Problem is, all along I have always said about people and tolerance that the more noise you make, the more noise there is. What happens after the ruckus? Are people awake enough to care that you made all that noise? How tired are you, because making noise requires expending a maximum amount of energy and really what happens when you are spent? Can you further encourage people, now awake and aware to do something about all that awareness? Not really. What you can do is lay across the cool floor, with your sweaty, identity in your face challenging self, now too week to move and willing the cool floor to just hug you like your mom after you’ve fallen and skinned some really tender part of you.
So there you are, face down with nothing left in the tank but exhausting, opening one eye, and turning your head just enough to see everyone bent over you—waiting for the next move that clearly has to come from you since, you’re the one that made the noise.
Two years ago when I felt like the most invisible thing no matter how people tried to convince me otherwise, I thought, these people will never understand what it is to be brown and a woman and old and a gay—or just a brown woman walking down a Lincoln street. I remember some days when I couldn’t find my car, I could find the brown people, walking the Lincoln streets after 5pm—as if the rules changed for the brown folks and they could come out from wherever brown people in Lincoln hang out during the days—indoors somewhere.
Oh, I was going to make a point—call me Maria—I’m not skinny and white with long straight hair—I don’t even enough hair to be long or skinny. I was going to get dressed in a way I had never, spout some good pro-brown rhetoric, making me seem angrier than I could ever be—I’m too Midwestern to invest in those kinds of emotional moments. I might even yell and point—I thought the persona called for it.
I bought Dickies, size 50 since “fifties” are what the true Cholas wore. I got a bandana to match my black creased Dickies. I learned how to tie it so I wouldn’t look more like Aunt Jemima and less like Snoop Dogg—or Snoop Nerd as my family replied when I sent a selfie of the outfit. Then one of them said, don’t get arrested. I hadn’t given this exercise quite that much thought to take into consideration the possibility of arrest. I had lived in Lincoln long enough to know the arrested types did things like sell drugs, set things on fire and beat up somebody they lived with—usually a wife or girlfriend. Still, as I got ready to leave my apartment, I took off the plaid shirt, buttoned once at the collar and hung it over my forearm. In its place on my body, a black jean jacket with no markings, no protest buttons, just rivets that said in the least confrontational way, “Lee Jeans”
“Scoop Nerd.” My brother says as I call him from the car to ask if he has gotten the selfies I sent the night before from my bedroom photo shoot of my outfit. I was testing the bandana—must remember, less Jemima, more Snoop—I waited overnight for an answer from my little brother but then he was on a date. Dates, yes something else you have when you’re not in graduate school coming up with rhetorical exercises to create cultural awareness around the importance of naming. What do I know of naming is more than what I know about un-naming or worse, mis-naming someone the world thinks shares my DNA-something I've decided, really only happens when all we share a common toilet during a party.
My plan was to walk a campus, wearing a body cam, taping the three of us walking with a second camera. I drove to campus, meeting my comrades in arms in front of the union. They too would be dressed as cholas—we were going to chola walk the campus.
I did stay within speed limit on Highway 2—a road I had flown down several tens of miles over the speed limit at least once a week. Today I would not be stopped. I even drove slowly past the Nebraska Penitentiary and wondered, did anyone in there look like I was planning to look in twenty minutes—you know, chola-fied everyday? I wondered how fast I could get my ass beat down in prison. I wondered if I would ever end up in prison. You know, get too mad one day because someone called me Maria to my face at a moment when some form I had just tried to turn in wouldn’t be accepted because I had forgotten to do some top secret special thing they only told the white kids about because that’s how it is.
Next thing you know I would have some skinny, 19th century, Victorian Literature grad in a head lock, bouncing her head off the marble tile outside of the Writing Center because it would be her fault always looking at me like I didn’t belong here and for god sakes what is Digital Humanities and what a cop out since it doesn’t require reading but building websites and writing some deeply ethnic text that should be called, “Geeze here we go AGAIN with the white bashing personal narrative supported with theorists who only oppress and really why can’t we rewrite the Constitution since it was based upon a business model of torture and fleshpeddling?”
She would go down to the ground shouting, “Do you have another song—that one is so tired you future graduate stealing my job I was supposed to have until you got the vote and affirmative action—you know how long my people had to work to stay here/get here/be here—you know how bad it was in the old country? We couldn’t vote, get jobs, and they called us animals—we came here to be free, so get off my lawn, stay out of my pool and really a membership at my health club—go teach at a JUCO—y’all feel much better in the middle of your peeps right? Why you lookin’ at me like that? My family knows challenge—we only had one car to get me to my damn piano lessons. I had to wear my sisters hand me down danskins to spirit squad until my sister went to college! Get ovah yourself, sistah!” When would I wake up from the noise of her skull on the concrete—her high and shrill whine yelling “I’m not a pimp! I don’t pedal flesh! Get off of me! I know Jujitsu!”
The car behind me honks—I’ve overstayed my welcome at the light at 14th and Nebraska Highway. A wave and apology then, with the Penitentiary in my rearview mirror, I do five miles under the speed limit. But I’m going to tell them all off about their ways and their neglect of my intellect at their readings—gosh they’re good and smart and funny and well meaning. I focus on the road ahead, realizing that it is Sunday and I am heading to campus to engage my friends in making a point about inclusion using terror. I’m going to educate my classmates in brown face.
How is this fair to the good message I want to send? A message about identity that IT is as fluid as water flowing from a creek, to a river, to an ocean. How it fills the space with the joyful language of song and learnin'. I sit at the light at south and 14th, gripping the steering wheel. A mother with a small boy walk in the crosswalk in front of my car and I just wave as he stares, almost losing his completely turned head to see me, my dark glasses and bandana tied in a knot across my forehead—I would stare too.
What happens after the rucas?Looking at the footage now, I know the point I would like to made about invisibility is that my name is not Maria and that this fact doesn’t actually matter. I haven’t ever had my own name. I got a ex husband's name when I was born, got a new name when I got my own husband and kept the name, not the husband. I’ve never had a legal identity that correctly defines me as daughter of, child of, and I no longer have the correct identity that defines me as “wife of.” If my legal identity doesn't accurately define my life status, who is to say I can contest/defend/argue that naming me incorrectly, or worse, invisible, hasn’t already happened? How can I get upset about a name, when I don't have one that accurately defines me? I just had a moment where someone called me by a name that belongs to someone else—for a moment I couldn’t believe it, then wouldn't believe it--I retreated to other thoughts like, gee this weekend is Easter. Since I don't actually have a name, maybe I should thank that girl instead of wanting to bash her head in for something she didn't actually do.