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A Woman’s Place on the Border

mgarcias Icon Posted by michelle garcia

June 15th, 2008

My boyfriend slipped his arm around me and we talked about music, my music and songs that evoke the Texas highways. I was sloshing through writing a person-political essay for “The Washington Post” now reprinted in “AlterNet” and the music helped with the headspace. The one that really does it for me, I said, is El Rey. (The King).

El Rey? It’s a very, ahem, manly song. Loose translation of one refrain: “I do what I want and my word is the law… I continue being the King.”

Other than myself, women are poorly represented in my piece. Road trip across South Texas in my pick-up truck, a run-in with border patrol agents and sniffing out the Texas Ranger myths, as I followed the trail of the bloody oppressive south Texas history to frame the b border wall fight.

But my feelings about this border wall, the reasons why this report had to go “personal” spring from stories embedded in the land, family stories, stories of men and revolution, of the Rangers and vigilantes who slaughtered thousands of Tejanos. Those stories mostly published in books by men are preserved in families like mine by the women, dogged researchers who flock to genealogy conferences and knit together the quilt of my past, my heritage.

But I’m still trying to figure out why I feel the border wall issue should be so important to women, the argument I can make other than the public face of opposition is a woman. Eloisa Tamez has lad the legal fight to stop the wall from tearing through her property. And then this caught my eye I came across this article in the New York Times about the Mexican rodeo. Quick note: the “American rodeo” actually came from Mexico, the very word rodeo is Spanish. Amazing that little detail is not acknowledged.

In any case, Elizabeth Solis, a sophomore at San Joaquin Delta described to the NYTimes what the weekly rodeo practices mean to her: “It’s different than going shopping at Nordstrom’s, going to the movies and being constantly broke, like my friends.”

I see a line connecting us, Tamez on the border, Solis on horseback and me riding the Texas highways, a feminidad rooted in culture and identity and history. Solis brilliantly describes what happens when that is lost. I imagine she will grow up to like El Rey but sung her way by a triumphant woman on horseback who knows where she comes from.

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