In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month

*This piece was originally submitted to Race Speaks!.

I was born into whispered Spanish lullabies that hushed me to sleep.
Rubbing my tired eyes, I would wake to the smell of mangu and queso frito.
I was born into high heels gliding across a living room floor, dancing to Hector Lavoe.
Tired feet would find their way into chanclas, bailando un merengue all the way to bed.
I was raised with primos in crowded family parties that bothered our quiet neighbors.
Caramel skinned and curly haired, my heart beats to the heavy sound of tambores.
I roll my r's and sway my hips, proud of the light accent you criticize under your breath.
I am brown. I am different. I am Hispanic.
Doubt my intelligence and I will prove you wrong.
Because I am capable of achieving this American dream.
~ Francis Elaine