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  I am Joaquin

by Rodolpho Gonzales

  
I am Joaquin,
lost in a world of confusion,
caught up in the whirl of a
              gringo society,
confused by the rules,
scorned by attitudes,
suppressed by manipulation,
and destroyed by modern society.
My fathers
     have lost the economic battle
and won
     the struggle of cultural suvival.

And now!
    I must choose
                         between
    the paradox of
victory of the spirit,
despite physical hunger,
               or
    to exist in the grasp
of American social neurosis,
sterilization of the soul
     and a full stomach.

usmexborder.jpg (9858 Byte) Yo soy Joaquín,
perdido en un mundo de confusión,
enganchado en el remolino de una
             sociedad gringa,
confundido por las reglas,
despreciado por las actitudes,
sofocado por manipulaciones,
y destrozado por la sociedad moderna.
Mis padres
    perdieron la batalla económica
y conquistaron
    la lucha de supervivencia cultural.

Y iahora!
    yo tengo que escojer
                    en medio
    de la paradoja de
triunfo de espíritu,
a despecho de hambre física,
                        o
    existir en la empuñada
de la neurosis social americana,
esterilización del alma
    y un estómago repleto.

   
 

The poem has no real structure; it is loosely divided into two parts, but does not make use of any rhymes. It is printed rather differently from what one would traditionally expect, to highlight certain words or phrases. The fact that "or" in line 19 stands alone and therefore gets special attention, stresses for example the big difference between the two worlds. As the author, Rodolfo Gonzales, is a Mexican – American the poem exists in English and Spanish. This is to express the author’s feeling of not being able to shut out one of the two worlds completely.

"Joaquin" tells the reader that his ancestors managed to keep their cultural identity, but that this meant being economically ruined. On the other hand he explains that – although a full stomach is guaranteed in the modern American society – one is manipulated and inwardly destroyed by the attitudes of American people. Also, identification with the American world would mean a complete loss of cultural identity. Of course, the problem of the decision between the American and Mexican world arises.

I think the poem is rather depressing. As a European one might just about be conscious of the material problems in minority groups, but one hardly realises how badly "modern society" can destroy cultural identity.
(Anne, 10th grade, Oct. 2002)

 

More information
          Yo Soy Joaquin (I Am Joaquin).
There is a dramatization of the Chicano poem of the same title by Rodolpho "Corky" Gonzales about the Mexican-American experience from Cortes to the current farm workers' struggle, emphasizing the problems of the oppressed and exploited Mexicans. Originally produced as a motion picture in 1969. 19 min. Video
Bibliography:
Hinojosa, Rolando. I Am Joaquin: Relationships between the Text and the Film." In: Chicano Cinema: research, Reviews, and Resources Edited by Gary D. Keller. pp: 142-145. Binghamton, N.Y.: Bilingual Review/Press, c1985.
 
Martinez, Eliud. " I Am Joaquin as Poem and Film: Two Modes of Chicano Expression." Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 13, 1980: 505-515.

        Are Chicanos the same as Mexicans? See: http://www.azteca.net/aztec/chicano.html

 

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