Lee is a Social Anthropology graduate with a master’s degree in Management who has a penchant for the written word.
"Child of the Americas" by Aurora Levins Morales
I am a child of the Americas,
a light-skinned mestiza of the Caribbean,
a child of many diaspora, born into this continent at a crossroads.
I am a U.S. Puerto Rican Jew,
a product of the ghettos of New York I have never known.
An immigrant and the daughter and granddaughter of immigrants.
I speak English with passion: it’s the tongue of my consciousness,
a flashing knife blade of crystal, my tool, my craft.
I am Caribeña, island grown. Spanish is my flesh,
Ripples from my tongue, lodges in my hips:
the language of garlic and mangoes,
the singing of poetry, the flying gestures of my hands.
I am of Latinoamerica, rooted in the history of my continent:
I speak from that body.
I am not African. Africa is in me, but I cannot return.
I am not taína. Taíno is in me, but there is no way back.
I am not European. Europe lives in me, but I have no home there.
I am new. History made me. My first language was spanglish.
I was born at the crossroads and I am whole.
"Child of the Americas," by Aurora Levins Morales, tackles social diversity. It is a poem about an American who comes from a mixture of various cultures that comprise her heritage and her identity as an American.
The first lines hold the essence of the entire poem. "I am a child of the Americas…A child of many diasporas, born into this continent at a crossroad…" The author is a descendant of an immigrant or an immigrant herself, but that is what she sees as her unique trait and the identifying nature of her being an American. This premise is evident to most Americans. Besides the Native American Indians, every American is a migrant. It is through these migrants that the United States of America is the country that it is today. America became a melting pot of cultures and diversity of people. This diversity is highlighted throughout the poem. And these diversities are the quintessence characteristic of every American.
"I am not African, Africa is in me…Spanish is in my flesh…I am not European, Europe lives in me…." These metaphors are evidence of the many cultural heritage from which Americans today came. These diversities of cultures enrich the being or the self of individual Americans. "I am not European; Europe lives in me" is about the first wave of migrants who came to America. Europeans seeking freedom--freedom from oppression, freedom to worship, economic freedom, and opportunities that they cannot seem to find in Europe; a new chance and a new hope in a new land they could call their own. They are Americans.
Spanish is my flesh... In recognition of the Spanish influence and credit of the land that used to be part of America, people of Spanish and American descent have intermingled and shared their culture. Spanish influences such as religion, tradition, and food are treasured by Latin Americans who are very proud of their heritage. They are Americans.
"I am not African; Africa is in me..." is about Africans who were brought to the Americas as slaves; they have left the "self" and the way of life of Africans. They were "forcefully" made into Americans. At first, they were slaves, but through the efforts of visionary men, their rights were recognized, and they 'formally' became Americans. Though they have adopted a new way of life and culture, Africa is in their hearts. They persevered and preserved themselves as a people from a vibrant culture. The efforts of the forefathers of the contemporary African-American today made them an integral part of the community and society. They are Americans
"I was born at the crossroads, and I am whole…." Again, Morales emphasized, though, at a crossroads, there is no "standard" or "typical" American because Americans came from a melting pot of culture. This diverse cultural heritage, traditions, and influences are combined to form the American culture, a culture made from a melting pot of combined social inspirations that became integral to each American.
There is no "supreme" or "pure" American because even by tracing down American history, such a person does not exist. Every American was born at a crossroads, and this is what makes everyone whole. This influence makes the individual genuinely American, indeed a unique culture on its own--in a way that his personality and realization is through a background of a culture made through turbulent past, an effort of integration, and preservation of culture. It is through the knowledge of this diversity that Americans are Americans.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
hannah on February 28, 2019:
what ethnicity do you believe she was talking about when she said "the language of garlic and mangoes, the singing of poetry, the flying gestures of my hands"?
Amanda on May 13, 2015:
This was wonderful. I would have liked to know what the theme to this poem?
smga22 from Dhaka, Bangladesh on July 06, 2012:
lee custodio (author) on March 28, 2012:
thank you ytsenoh
Cathy from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri on March 27, 2012:
Lee, this was so endearing and nicely presented. Thank you for sharing.
lee custodio (author) on March 08, 2012:
khadeejah, yes your right, there would probably another lense to view this poem through their eyes: from the natives perspective rather than migrants.
khadeejah from Nigeria on March 07, 2012:
Your analysis is nice but I will have love to view this poem from the native Americans perspective.
lee custodio (author) on February 22, 2012:
you're welcome Cynthia. Glad i could be of help.
Cynthia Eason on February 22, 2012:
This was simply wonderful. Thank you so much, I gained a lot of insight, invaluable information.