Some people will say Mexicans are descended from kings and queens. That this is the reason we belong on this land. I disagree. The kings and queens of this land slaughtered us by the hundreds in temples made for Gods that didn’t even belong to us. They wore our skins as cloaks and played soccer with our severed heads.
I am not descended from the Aztec kings. A royal lineage that would have been too sparse and too delicate for what we’ve had to live through. They were a minority population that relied too heavily on imported labor from conquered vassal states to propagate as many Aztecs as I meet on the street in this brilliant new future where the temples we serve have become unrecognizable to our ancestors. But our place in them would be familiar all the same.
Our people lived through the time when slavers mutilated and hobbled us for speaking our own language. When they erased our history and took any semblance of culture our previous conquerors had left us with. When they raped us and our land in equal measure, detained us in labor camps they called Missions in the name of new Gods with the same bloody agenda.
A time when Mexicans hung from trees in the fields that used to be ours. Lost over a war of white greed. Killed to hide the undeniable fact that we were here first. We’ll always have been here first.
Indigenous people marched to death on illegal orders from a populist racist president. The very same man our current populist racist president claims to look up to despite knowing nothing about old Indian-Killer except for his death toll. Is it any wonder indigenous people are killed by cops to this day at unprecedented rates?
Add to that our black brothers stolen from their families to feed a prison system operated by the oppressor, capitalizing on our blood the same way it always has. Because the missionaries learned on us: To enslave a native population, prison is the only answer. Marshaling an indentured workforce on their own land is impossible without separating the labor from the people by way of armored detention. In order for the system to work, it has to be prison and “work programs” that were never actually meant to rehabilitate people you can not afford to allow full lives. Not when our economy is built on slavery. From the beginning to this day.
Poor people aren’t the unintentional consequences of rich people. We are the only reason rich people exist. We are the herd they waste, we are the land they erode. Our blood is the only thing they have ever bled.
But time moves on and we do too. From the hundreds or thousands of indentured servants who died at the alters of Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca (proud, defiant, terrified; we will never know), to the men and women stolen from their homes and jobs in racially motivated ICE raids, things have changed. Maybe we are killed at a less alarming rate, maybe we do have a Latina on the supreme court, but that’s not what I’m really talking about.
In 1500 or so years of recorded history in the Americas, we have spread from Tenochtitlan throughout this continent, into America and beyond. There are more of us now than there have ever been. Together with our brothers and sisters in oppression: queers, people of color, immigrants, disabled people and all the others that polite society has thrown away. We are the economy of this still powerful nation. We are the engine that propels the capitalist war machine. Just as before, our blood runs this world. But unlike before, we are not alone.
Now is the time to come together, to work together. There can be no room for internalized oppression. No corner where hatred of our brothers and sisters can hide. Save your hate for Donald Trump. Save it for the wealthy oppressor that turned us against each other in the first place. We have persisted throughout the centuries. We may not thrive, but we persist. All of us who live in poverty, all of who are made to feel strange in our own land, in our own skin, our own selves. We know something no one can take from us. We have always been here. We will still be here when they are long gone. Not all of us. Eventually not any of us, specifically. But the memory of the people is long.