Virgínia Vélez



16 marzo del 1992


Canéla and I are good friends because of our excesses: excess joy and fury and anguish and jaded screaming whoopin' laughter. We also have an excess of labels: former het, former dyke, "neo-het," light, dark, latina, chicana, puertorriqueña, nuyorican, nuevariqueña.


soy madre dedicada de un puertorriqueño
que tiene la lengua amarrada
los raices secándose por falta
de las lluvias y susurras
de su tierra y sus gentes
exiled granddaughter and daughter
of exiles
and mother
of yet another. . .

Excessive exile. So it should be expected that I would be ungrateful -- do you insist on calling it "bitter"? -- and disloyal. Do you also expect me to be yet another abused base for your legitimation? That term, legitimation, is a big word I've learned directly and indirectly throughout my entire life. I am now at Stanford, finding little or no legitimacy in 99% of what goes on around here, though we are trained as graduate students to respect "expediency" and "rationality."

I am, in many ways, a TPR: a very "typical Puertorican." So I don't see legitimacy in the perpetuation of the problems they make so much money studying as "social science research" here and everywhere.

I left 12 years of full-time employment as a secretary-turned-word processor-turned-administrative assistant, living check to check and never having a "nest egg," to continue my education past the high school level, so I could provide my then-eight-year-old son with a better opportunity to go to college himself, and be able to help raise a family without being destitute and desperate. Remember now that I am the granddaughter of a single grandparent, madre de mi madre, who worked six days a week, and we still lived on the edge of destitution in the barrio.

I tried to have my tubes tied at 18, but something made me not rush to follow up on it. I was liberated in the most anglo sense: wanting to be a ball-breaking female femmie lawyer, champion of the poor, desired by all white men, and eventually choosing a fortunate soul to teach me to ski; or maybe a 'Rican or Black brother to help me save la raza, while living in a style to which I'm supposed to want to become accustomed. I wanted to be a Pruppie.

But then I became pregnant by a bashed-bisexual, bashed-Black, bashed-Puertorriqueño, bashed second-generation welfare recipient, bashed should've-been-an-artist, when I was 20. . .and was bashed into a "mild" concussion by that husband of mine, when our son was almost one. . .and on top of being the sole responsible parent of this child, I ran away to the West, where my people were and still are much harder to find than in newyorkhome. . .then I came out as a lesbiana, in the second quarter of my college career, when I was 28. . .And politics became real.



 Forward to Vélez, continued



 Essays/Interviews Contents Page  |  Journal Contents Page


About Standards