People of the world
I regret to inform you,
I have not been expelled from my country.
I fought on the frontlines,
a shield-bearer in the dirty war
used as a cannon fodder
forced to battle against the protest.
The men died
from malaria, cholera or dengue
alongside my kidnappers.
I integrated myself, running for office,
marrying another country
singing the national anthem,
dancing the tango,
mimicking reggae tunes,
to find a connection with my other brother’s nation.
I'll be that stereotyped black woman
in love with Bob Marley,
in love with Che,
in this city of ‘good winds.’
I am afroargentina.
My ancestors were silenced
in these pampas,
an adoptive mother’s land.
I am a part of the same inheritance,
almost one million strong voices.
Everyone’s eyes are covered,
erasing my existence.
The poem " I'm Afroargentina" is from my book-length manuscript Miss Universe:poems; a series of persona poems mainly filtered in the voices of former Miss Universe titleholders and contestants of African descent from Latin America, Africa and Europe. This manuscript is about ‘beauty’ and globalization, loss and love, but most importantly, it’s about the universal voice of women of different cultures coming together to win for their nations.
Jina Ortiz received her MFA in Creative Writing from Pine Manor College. Her poetry has been previously published in the Sahara, Afro-Hispanic Review, Calabash, Poui, New Millennium Writings, The Caribbean Writer, Green Mountains Review, New Works Review andThe Worcester Review, amongst other journals. She has received residency fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), Art OMI/Ledig House Residency, the Ragdale Foundation, Vermont Studio Center (NEA Fellow), the Writer's Colony at Dairy Hollow, Can Serrat Residency in Barcelona, Spain and a fellowship grant in 2006 from the Worcester Cultural Commission.