I really need to start speaking from my mestiza roots,

announce to the world that I grew up being La India.

The wrong amount of pigment surrounding the correct shape of an eye,

the Spanish that bites my tongue before I can announce that,

I too, speak a history of immigrants.

A history of workers, laborers.

I am a laborer.

I am a mestiza.

I am also the third world.

I am also black.

I am also white.

And I need to start announcing the intersectionality that


children of the colonized world,

women of the colonized world,

let form in their womb.

Announce that we can no longer feed them from our breast,

that the space between our gaps and the ground is theirs,

and not ours.

I am the child of a rapist,

of a woman whose mother washed the shirts of foreign soldiers,

foreign soldiers with familiar needs.

I am Hispaniola.

I am the Americas.

I am Asia.

I am the outline of the darkest continent,

the sweetest soil.

I am the color of tree bark.

I am the ash.

The embers of my people on fire.



Francena Ottley’s poem “I am Your Mestiza” won second prize in the Fifth Annual School of Visual Arts Writing Program Contest. Francena hails from Queens, New York and is currently working on her BFA in Photography and Video. This poem is part of a series called How To Survive As A Black Woman. She strives to share the stories of each woman who has dealt with discrimination based on how they look, where they come from, and what they’ve encountered by being black women in society today.