Cumbia is a dance that can have the saddest lyrics, but the most inspiring, uplifting beat. Rarely does anyone listen to the meaning of the song because everyone is focusing on masking their emotions with the crescendo of the joyous rhythm. As I am getting up to express myself out on the dance floor, I am stopped. Stopped by the strangers I call family. Stopped by the strangers that make this society. These strangers keep stepping on my right and my left foot vigorously. They bump into me as I am trying to find myself. They dominate the dance floor. That is when I realize that they want me to be part of the audience. Tired of being the lost soul on the dance floor, I start observing and know that I need to break myself down, step by step. One: I bring my right foot over my left. It must be done with confidence so I won’t lose my balance. It is difficult at first because when I see myself succeed, my family sees me fail. When I tell them my dreams, they say, “You should lower your expectations.” They want me to stop immediately; they do not believe I am capable of thinking on my own and exceeding. I start stepping into confidence. I will believe that what my heart says is true. I begin to believe that I do know what is best for me. I am capable of accomplishing my goals. Those strangers should not thrust me into their close-minded box. Their words are irrelevant. I learn that I need to have confidence in my own dreams to turn them into reality. Step one: I need to believe in myself. Two: I bring my left foot beside my right. I bring my left foot beside my right because I need to stand my ground. I need to stand my ground between society and my dreams. I always listen to the comments and questions that these random strangers have to ask.“You are a Latina woman, so your dreams are to be a housewife, right?” “Oh you’re from the South Side, so you are like those gangster Latinas we see in the movies.” “You’re a Chicana? That means you’re a chola, right?” In order for me to keep moving forward I need to listen and pay attention to every stereotypical thing they have to say about Latinas and prove them wrong. They will not oppress me; they are my motivation. Two: Defeat the stereotype imposed upon me. Three: As I bring my left foot over my right, my right foot goes back. Then it repeats itself all over again. Once I step out with my left, I release the negativity. I am not going to carry the resentment on my shoulders; I will be freed. As my right foot goes back, I still hold on to some of the comments said to me but this time around convert it into positivity. I am now at peace with my family and society, but most importantly, I am at peace with myself. I now know it is about me and my future. Now that I have learned the three basic steps of Cumbia, I know that is not enough to dominate the dance floor. This is where I push myself into challenging myself by learning more advanced techniques. I know that if I want to be known as someone, I will have to work harder. I am going to be someone who helps the minority prosper. I will be someone who makes a positive change towards society. I will be financially stable for my family and myself. I will become a forensic scientist, writer, or an English teacher. I will be successful. I will not just mix in with the crowd. I will dominate the dance floor. I will not be seen as an ordinary girl, but extraordinary. My rhythm will be a representation of a Chicana (Mexican-American) defeating oppression from her family and society. The moment I press play the rhythm starts streaming through my body. I no longer have blood flowing through my veins, instead it is stories of where I come from and where I am heading. I may have a sad or harsh past, but it is the way I choose to interpret it that matters. I will not let my past define me, instead I find the inspiring, uplifting beat to help guide me in my future. I know that one who comes from nothing knows exactly want they want to accomplish in life. I will now be the one guiding. Grabbing hold of my younger sister’s hands and guiding her to the dance floor. She will never be part of the audience because I will teach her every step scrupulously. I will be her mentor because she looks up to me, and I will do everything in my power to not let her fail. Even if she does, I will be there to pick her up and continue to encourage her. We will dominate the dance floor and the spotlight will be just on us. Cumbia is my body’s music. My heart is the lyrics, while my blood is the beat. I am a Chicana Cumbialera. One. Confidence. Two. Motivation. Three. Release. Ambition. Advance.
-- Daisy Bucio Velazquez is a senior at Phoenix Military Academy. She is from the far SouthWest side of Chicago. Daisy is a woman activist and believes in representing Xicanismo, Mexican-American culture. Her goal is to bring awareness and defeat the stereotypes imposed upon her by these two societies.