ECA Student Uses Talent to Share Experience
The Early College Academy (ECA) is filled with students that come from diverse backgrounds and experiences. What they all share is a commonality that teaching culture is not a singular conception, nor is it something easy to explain. 10th grade student Paulina Gutierrez, Inupiaq/Puerto Rican, has excelled in her Art for Social Change class in the ECA. The class is an opportunity for students to find voice within themselves to express what they experience, feel, hope, and dream for. As part of a culturally responsive curriculum, the class takes into account the many different voices that make up the ECA and how each one has an individual story to tell and a journey to share.
Paulina also participated in the 2015 NAYA Gala with the slam poetry group and has been writing as an expression of the oppression that dominant culture has had on her life. Read one of Paulina’s favorites that speaks to her mixed ethnicity. Paulina will be performing at the ECA luncheon with her friends in another slam poetry performance, you won’t want to miss.
Mixed, Paulina Gutierrez
“Aww, you’re so pretty!” “What are you?”
The color of my skin is too often an invitation
for white folks to come up and ask me all these crazy questions.
And when I reply with “Alaskan Native & Puerto Rican” they take a step back and look surprised
“So you’re like Pocahontas or Dora the Explorer, Right?”
People are so quick to assume that if you look a certain way, you must also act a certain way, and that if your skin is a certain color, you must fall under a certain race.
The color of my skin determines my worth, and I am reminded of it everyday. When I
am in History class I read one paragraph about my Alaskan culture printed neatly on the page. Then the rest of the history book is full of the White washed culture. To society my people are considered nothing but “savages” when in reality the true savages are the White colonists who transformed my people to be that way. We are kind, generous, loving people. The reason we had to become “savages” because you took our home land, and shed our blood all over it through genocide.
I am the golden glow of the sun that rises over my peoples beautiful home lands. I am the moonlight that shines down upon the rushing rivers during Alaska’s eternal winter night. I shine so brightly that you wouldn’t be worthy of naming me.
The next question people will ask is “So if you’re Mixed, then what side do you side with?”
I didn’t realize I had to chose which side I felt more comfortable with.
What these people don’t understand is that I am not this or that. I am human just like you.
My genes are my genes and they fit me just fine, I shouldn’t have to choose between being either this or that
My parents are not rival countries fighting over control of my identification. I have the right:
to have loyalties and identify with more than one group of people. I have the right:
Not to keep the races separate within me. I have the right:
To act the way I want, and not be judged because of the color of my skin.
I have the right:
Not to be responsible for someone’s discomfort with my mixed race and ethnicity.
I had know idea that my ethnicities came with a rule book and that if I don’t match the guidelines, I can’t justify my existence in this world. I’d like to apologize that my race isn’t visible to your eyes but last time i checked, it wasn’t any of
Your. Damn. Business.
I’m so tired of people who aren’t multi-racial telling us mixed folks how to live in our own skin. Stop trying to tell me how to live my life because you know nothing about me or my people. Stop trying to fit me in all these fake ass stereotypes because I’m getting real tired of it.
I’m so exhausted of having to explain my almost curly hair, and my almost brown skin. I am the aftermath of magic and that doesn’t seem to matter to anyone at all. I can’t help the way I look and I can’t help the way people treat me either. But is that what you see when you look at me? A puzzle to be to be played with and figured out? And when it takes too long to explain where all the little pieces fit and go, you get frustrated at me
and just try to shove all my heritage and culture back into your white washed box of racial slurs and stereotypes.
If you still have the nerve to ask me
“So, like what are you?”
i am a human being, just like you.
Two eyes, two ears, and a kind heart that beats in time. Don’t treat me like I’m some kind of alien, creature, or beast. Just do me a favor.
Just stop assuming.
I am more than my race.
I am more than my color.