reflection: 40 years later

January 22, 2013


I will never need an abortion.

I no longer have a crib. Due to a disease called endometriosis five years ago, I had a hysterectomy. Still, I have a very difficult time understanding why anyone would feel the need to get involved in such a personal and private decision.

When I was 14-years-old I went with a cousin on mine to the clinic. When they told her she was pregnant she was numb. She was around 19. They gave her options. She said she’d let them know what she would do.

I don’t remember many details except for her silence. The train ride back to her mother’s place was quiet. And in between tears and sighs I could feel her worries. There are so many components to this decision: spiritual, emotional and physical. But they were hers and only hers to make.

I am not sure when she made the decision but I was there the day she came back with her boyfriend. Her eyes were swollen with tears. She lay down in her bed. And she asked me for a pen and paper. She said she was going to write a letter to her unborn. I saw it as her need to talk to this spirit she was returning to the spirit world.

I never asked her any questions about her decision. I simply understood that this wasn’t the time for her to take that step.
Years later, she married and has three beautiful children. I am witness to an amazing mother. A mother I know wasn’t there when she was 19. There is no way she could’ve been that mother because she needed time to “prepare.”

My mother once told me that she considered having an abortion when she became pregnant with me. She already had my two brothers and she said she felt overwhelmed. She wasn’t sure she could handle the load. But that’s just it; it was her decision to make. This shouldn’t be up for debate in chambers and capitol floors. And when it is, it threatens autonomy.

Forty years after Roe v. Wade we are witnessing to a war on women’s rights. The Viagra debate was never a debate. It was a demand to insurance companies to cover it and that was that. Yet it took 30 years to approve birth control pills.

And why are we, as women, not up in flames about this? Do we not recognize or realize our power? Are we raising sons to forget where they came from and that they must defend and protect our rights for the sake of their own children as well?
Roe v. Wade was just a step. Our battle is much longer. We may have come a long way but baby, it is so far from over it may just be the beginning.

We must remain vigilant and civically engaged in the process. Otherwise, they will cast a vote on your body: Nay, to your very basic right to make your own decision.

I will never need an abortion.

But my cousin, my mother, my sister, my niece and my daughter cannot and will not be kept from their right to do what they feel is best for them.

A government that interferes with that by definition becomes a tyrant.

hello, my name is…

January 16, 2013

names have power.

i was named, Sarahí. (try it in your best Spanish. the “h” is silent and the “í” sounds like “ee”).
my mother’s older sisters named me. her name was Sara (again, read that in Spanish).
she thought Sara was too plain.

recently, i went to an open house (i am in the process of applying to nursing school) and the young man who gave the opening presentation introduced himself as Jose Villa (read, Ho-say Vi-la). my heart ached. i cringe when we do this (i was guilty of it years ago). hell, i didn’t even try to say my name in “English,” i simply changed it to Sarah.

lots of us are guilty of this. some of us do it ’cause we just don’t want to deal. others because, “whatever.” pero i stopped doing this about eleven years ago.

what changed?

i realized a few things,

1. i had to learn an entire language, the other person just needs to learn how to pronounce a name.
2. i was dishonoring my name by butchering it both written and verbal. i slaughtered the texture of it, to please foreign tongues.
3. my name is BEAUTIFUL.

we spend so much time trying to assimilate, to fit in; while honoring the traditions of our culture. we sacrifice parts of our culture that can bleed out for a lifetime. but i couldn’t do that anymore. i grew up in the states. but i wasn’t born here. neither were my parents. neither was my name. and i have to work at holding on to these cultural parts of me because this place tries so hard to change the parts of you that are most powerful.

so we get here and they drop our mother’s last name. reserved for security questions at banks. then they call you something else. they ask the question, “what does your name translate to?”

if your name is Juan, now you are John.


you cannot translate a name. by definition names have no translation.
when you were named, you were given power.
you are to carry that name and make it yours while honoring your last names.

and when you migrate to this country they want to change it -pa’ que se le haga mas facíl en su boca.

i invite you to start saying your name, the way your abuela would say it if she were calling you back in the house. or the way your parent says it when you’re in trouble (you know, when you get that first and middle name). give people your name the way it is supposed to be pronounced.

i told my nephew this just a few weeks ago.
tell them there is no translation for Se-bas-tián.
it’s not sa-bash-chin. it’s not even close.

my name is Sarahí. anything less is disrespectful.