There’s always a good and potentially bad in being recognized or included in any type of media piece. On the one hand, your work might get a couple of minutes of recognition but on the other hand, somehow reporters and journalists usually end up tweaking things or straight out misrepresenting or misquoting you.
Okay, so what happened?
This past weekend my small nonprofit held an event in the community. We’ve been organizing these ‘talk and walks’ along local, more semi-urban acequias, so that the larger community and public can better understand their importance. This talk and walk drew out a larger group that included a student from the local university newspaper. It’s always helpful when any type of local media covers your little grassroots events so all was good. We went through our talk and walk as usual, met new people, and hopefully instilled a new sense of appreciation for local traditions, awesome.
Then, a couple days later, the student from the paper lets me know that the piece is ready. I thought yay!, I’ll get to promote it across our networks. But, of course, first I had to read the piece. Everything was sounding great and well-represented until I get to a part where I’m mentioned and suddenly my smile turns into a look of shock.
Here’s the excerpt, word for word, unedited:
“Dr. Virginia Necochea, the executive director of CESOSS and Garcia’s life partner, said the Armijo Acequia has been connected to her family for generations and is a special place.” [Here’s the link to the article so you see I’m not hiding or denying anything.]
I almost fainted. Okay, I’m exaggerating.
But I did suddenly feel my body temperature shift and maybe I had slightly sweaty palms. Why? Because after all of these years working in the community I’ve learned first-hand about New Mexican pride and the hostility or suspicion of what are considered ‘outsiders.’
Those of you who know me can quickly point out the error in the statement.
I was not born in New Mexico so how can my family have been connected to the Armijo Acequia for generations? Well, they weren’t. Son bien Mexicanos de Sonora y de Michoacan, proudly so.
But, what I’ve realized is that people who don’t know me or who just met me or are listening to me speak about the work I do, fall under the impression that I must be from New Mexico given my work and commitment to the traditions of this place that has been my home for the past two decades.
Although this incident hasn’t kept me up at night, it has made me think a lot more about the concept of ‘home’ and belonging.
New Mexico is now my home, isn’t it?
New Mexico is the place I love.
New Mexico is where I met the man.
New Mexico is where my children were born.
New Mexico is where the majority of my professional career has taken place.
New Mexico is where I received all of my graduate education.
New Mexico is where I found my community.
New Mexico is the place I’ve refused to leave.
So given all of these truths, isn’t New Mexico rightfully my home?
I think the anxiety I felt over the misquote in the article was not due to the fact that New Mexico is now my home, it’s that it implied that I was supposedly saying that my family were from here. Something I’ve never claimed and will not claim given the respect I’ll always have to mi madre tierra.
The other part of my anxiety was caused by imagining someone who knows me and where I’m from, reading this piece and thinking that I was straight out being a mentirosa, something I try not to be. I could just hear one of my frenemies saying, “Mira la loca saying she’s from here! What a liar! We all know she’s originally from LA!”
Let there be no doubt that I’ll always recognize and be a proud California native who took her first breath in East Los that lives in and loves New Mexico.
Okay, I just wanted to clarify all of this before one of the super proud New Mexicans I know hits me on the head with the Daily Lobo reminding me that I’m not from here.
#laxicana #californian #notfromNMbutloveNM