We wear a mask because of our lack of identity
Our heritage says one thing, but our environment says another
We are easily broken due to our vulnerability
To the outside world it seems that we are just a bother
We wear a mask because of our adaptability
Assimilation or resistance? One is survival, the other destruction
It seems that we will never be accepted in this reality
As we reside in limbo we walk the path of redemption
We wear a mask because we are the past and the future
We are the history of our ancestors and their hope
Our lives are full with spirit, heart, and culture
Representing civilizations from all around the globe
We wear a mask because we feel out of place
No matter how hard we try it just seems that we will never fit
We are this generation, the masked one,those without a face
Floating gently and feeling lost, thinking when we will escape from this hollow pit.
This poem was created after reading the first chapter of The Labyrinth of Solitude by the prolific Mexican writer, Octavio Paz. What caused the theme of the poem was when Octavio was defining the new Mexican youth that had formed gangs in the southern cities and that lived in the United States of America; he called them Pachucos. While reading, it felt as if it was not just Mexicans that he was defining but rather most if not all of Latinos that were born in the United States. It seemed as if he was defining me and my generation, and no I was not referring to the gang aspect but more towards the mental and psychological state of the Pachuco.
The Pachucos are not Mexican nor part of the United States, they are stuck in the middle of two forces that cannot seems to accept the Pachuco. I call it being in Limbo because of the identity conflict, we are neither there nor here; as much as we might want to attach ourselves to a respective culture. Paz had put it beautifully when he explained that we just float, “It floats, never quite existing, never quite vanishing” (Paz, 13). We are neither here nor there but we are everywhere, in the sense that the youth who are bi or multicultural have gone through this. The way of the Pachuco or as I mentioned in the poem, living with a mask. To live with a mask is not all about hiding who we are but rather being like a caterpillar that dwells in a cocoon until it is ready to emerge as a butterfly. It is merely a phase of deconstruction and reconstruction, we deconstruct who we were to reconstruct who we will become. We either are the masked ones, those that represent the culture from home and try to find a balance between our two worlds or the Pachuco one that rejects both cultures and lives to defy them.
We as youth struggle in living between two worlds our home and the outside, thus our struggle is, finding a way to live with one leg in the home and the other on the outside, but for a long part of our struggle to find a balance limbo is our home that is surrounded by a dense fog of which cuts off our visibility so we feel lost in this pit. We either come to hate limbo and the external force that placed us here or we come to accept it as an ideal setting for our revolution, the change not the uprising, we either become the Pachuco or the Masked one.