Central American (In)Visibility: A Poem

Apr 1, 2019
9:47 AM

(Public Domain)

Zero tolerance policies
Combined with white supremacy
Furthering the anti-immigrant machine
Violently separating
Deporting and detaining Central American families

These policies aren’t new
They didn’t emerge out of the blue
They are rooted in centuries of racist ideologies
and systemic processes
of U.S. policies
From politicians — Democrats to Republicans
funding repressive regimes
and military trainings
in Central American countries

Affected communities
Have long lived with these realities
Organized against these atrocities
Written about the impact of these processes

Growing up in the 1980s, I heard some of these stories
Whispered in Spanish at gatherings
Printed in newspapers sent from Estelí
About family
Folded in envelopes received internationally

But, Central America was absent in my schooling
This invisibility shaping my identity
Including my own studies
Fueling the ignoring of these histories
And a continual cycle of silencing

Media outlets just now discovering these legacies
Realize these ties
Don’t further invisibilize
voices and communities
nor the intricacies of our histories

This erasure — even ignoring the names of countries
Is dehumanizing
Part of a continuum condoning state barbarities

Yet, generations of Central Americans are here
Disrupting the trajectory of these histories
Ensuring our visibility and full humanity


Gilda L. Ochoa teaches Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies at Pomona College. Her latest book is Academic Profiling: Latinos, Asian Americans and the Achievement Gap.