Angelica Mercado

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Angelica Mercado is an artist and writer attending Briar Cliff University, in Sioux City, IA. She is originally from Fremont, Nebraska. Her poetry and essays have been shared at Indigo Palette, among other places. Her artwork has been published in cream city review and the Briar Cliff Review this spring. 

Untamed and Uncut

able to cause serious injury or harm

            I am dangerous. I am dangerous, at least according to Spencer's mom. She didn't like it very much when he would come over to my yard when he saw my brother and me playing tag. I was six then. Spencer once told me she didn't like “beaners.” I laughed as I told him that beans weren't that bad. When Spencer was eight, his mother told him they could no longer live next to us, so they moved. I haven't seen Spencer since. I now know she wasn't talking about food when she said that about beans. She was talking about something larger than that. You see, I didn't know what that meant until I asked my mother after repeatedly hearing it yelled at me by the guys in the pickup truck that would drive by our house yelling, “Fucking beaners, go back to where you came from.” She explained to me that some people just didn't like “our kind.” She said it was because we were brown. I didn't want to be brown so I stopped drinking chocolate milk. I would stare for a long time into the mirror in the bathroom to figure out what made me dangerous. But I was more than just dangerous to those around me. I was an animal; I was an animal like the ones at zoo exhibits: there for visual entertainment. Sometimes, I'd even get things thrown at me too. And just like that, I've lived my life in a cage. Laughed at, pointed at, and ridiculed. As I grew up, I realized that it didn't matter how much chocolate milk I drank, or how hard I scrubbed myself in the shower. I couldn't wash off the “brown.”  It was permanent.


a smaller number of a whole; less than

            I learned something in Mr. Sutton's sixth grade history class. He said I was a “minority.” I was a minority because there were less of us brown people than whites. So, I grew up mad at the white kids in school. I hated them for being perfect. I hated that I was never able to find a Barbie or a baby doll that wasn't blonde in the countless rows. I hated that I could not be like the blondes at the Agency 89 modeling school I went to. And I hated myself for wanting to be like them and for being ashamed of myself and my family. I hated my mom and dad for not being white. I hated myself so much that at the age of twelve, I was taking a daily dose of Lexapro for depression. All I ever wanted to do was fit in. My example mirrored that of millions who were just like me. I was just another girl who told her father to remove his sombrero at school events, and who told her mother to not speak at parent-teacher conferences because her accent was embarrassing.

            In 2008, I became a citizen. I remember crying as I pledged that I would remain loyal to the United States with my right hand raised and my left one smashing the tiny American flag I was given. I did not want to be star-spangly when it was what I despised.

         Ordinance No. 5165 in Fremont, Nebraska, my hometown, changed my life the summer of 2010. The ordinance was passed in June as a plan to deter illegal immigrants from the city. It prohibited the harboring and hiring of illegal immigrants because the “employment of unauthorized aliens in the City displaced authorized United States workers and adversely affected their wages” (City of Fremont). Not only did that cause panic to the Hispanic population, but it created discomfort and tension for everyone, including those who were U.S. citizens. So my parents, along with ACLU of Nebraska, MALDEF, United Food and Commercial Workers Union, and Local 22 sued the city of Fremont. The battle continued for six months. During those six months, hostility escalated. People no longer said “hi” to me or my family; cashiers would scowl and say, “Here come the Mexicans,” as we approached to check out. The public pool was evacuated when my brothers and I went there to swim. I remember going to Aaron’s Rental Center once to use the restroom because I did not want to wait until I got home. I walked in and asked the lady at the front desk if I could use the restroom and she replied, “Sorry those aren’t for Mexicans to use.” I was living in a nightmare. Luckily, we won the court case as the ordinance was deemed unconstitutional. However, the hostility never went away.

             I'm twenty now, yet those memories still haunt me like ghosts in horror films. Those aren't the recollections that I want to have of my childhood. I don't want to remember being picked last for four square or playing tetherball against myself at recess because nobody wanted to play with me. Well, they let me play, sometimes, but I was always “it.”

            I am still it. I still feel like I need to search everywhere for someone to talk to, for someone who won’t run away at my approach.




the act of hurting oneself in an attempt to relieve stress due to feeling unimportant or unworthy

            I became a danger, but to myself. Last year, I could not handle it anymore and I began to self-harm. It was in December. I remember this because I had to wear pants, and the cuts on my hip stung when my pants would rub against them. I’ve always been scared of blood. But I stopped caring. Tears rolled down my cheeks each time I dug into my skin with the blade. But I did not cry because it hurt, I cried because I was tired. Tired of the pain I felt inside, of constantly feeling less than everyone who surrounded me.

            As time progressed, I continued cutting, no longer feeling satisfied with just cutting my hip, I moved on eventually cutting my wrists and then thighs. I became addicted. Cutting was an escape from the caged life. Not an escape from the world, but an escape from reality; a transfusion of pain from my heart to my thighs because I did not have the courage to overdose like I envisioned every time. I called my mom on occasions when I felt like crying. I told her I don't fit in. It was middle school all over again. I hated catching myself scanning every room I went into for kids with black hair and “brown” complexions, my kind. There weren’t many.

            However, I have found comfort in just talking. I’ve found comfort in being listened to. I’ve realized the language is a form of action because we are always talking. Language is, in a sense, my salvation. Without it, I would have never realized that I cannot cure trauma with trauma. Although my friends could never physically make me stop cutting, they have helped me slowly exorcise the demons that once possessed me. They are the Litany in my life, resuscitating the real me.     




the process of healing from a traumatizing event


            I remember the last time I cut; October 2nd, 2013. It's written in my journal. The blood-stained razor blade is now taped in it by a note that says, “I'm retiring you today. It was good while it lasted but I don't need you anymore. In this case, happiness will win this battle. I want to be free.” I haven't touched it since. The scars on my body remind me each day of the hurt, but each day that passes where I don't touch that blade makes me realize that I have become stronger. I need to stop pitying myself. Life can be tough. Acceptance is not easy. It’s not easy feeling the weight of the world on one’s shoulders. Definitely not easy feeling like every glance could turn me into a living piñata. Good news is that it can get better. I’ve gotten better at accepting myself. I can drink chocolate milk again. Getting up every day is a struggle. Opening that orange pill bottle to sign off my day to fatigue and headaches is not my favorite thing to do, but with the help of friends and family, I've paved my road to recovery, and I'm not turning back.


noun, verb, adjective


she who cannot be  bound to a set definition

            It is true, I am Mexican. It is in my blood. It is in my roots. It’s inscribed on my birth certificate. But I am also more than what is written on paper. I am more than what is noted on my identification card, black hair and brown eyes. I am a woman, an artist, a writer, a sister, a friend. I am a laundry list of “am’s.” I am the muse my brother needs to sing and the inspiration for my sister to draw. I am what pride looks like to my parents because they see how far I’ve gotten on my own. I don’t need to be a Barbie, and I don’t need to have blonde hair and blue eyes to be adequate. I don’t owe this world an explanation as to why I feel content with being different. There’s nothing wrong with being brown, just like chocolate milk. It adds flavor to who I am. Many events in my life have changed the way I see the world, but the world has not changed who I am.

            “Well excuse me, I’m sorry for being “dangerous,” for being born with an accent and a different skin color than yours; making those the reasons why you told your child I was a bad influence. I am sorry for not being able to pull out the roots of my origin, for not being able to strangle my ethnicity, pull the ropes on the noose around my name, and tomahawk missile away at my culture just to see a smile on your privileged face. And I am sorry for not having a magic wand to transform me into a goldilocked-blue-eyed Aryan supremacist like yourself. And Mr. Sutton, yes I am a minority. I am one of the few that is blessed with parents who still instill familial values of respect and acceptance so that I don’t grow up to be narrow-minded like you. And don’t you worry, Ms. Cashier. I still remember how excited you were when we would come up to you, and Hey Aaron’s Rental Lady, this goes to you too.” Those are the things that I would’ve liked to have said to those people. But I don’t hate white people, at least not anymore.

            But it doesn’t end there. Truth is, I refuse to be tamed. I will never actually apologize for being who I am. I will not lie passive, docile, or submissive before the expectations of the white community. I will stand before anyone and speak out, continue to be dangerous to those who try to interfere. My roars will be louder than those that were once yelled at me out of windows. My claws will never recede because I will no longer be intimidated by overbearing shadows. I am done being a spectacle. You will never “read all about me.” In short, no net will ever be large enough to hold me back, no box too stiff for me to break through, and no cage stronger than my will to keep me from fighting to live my life freely.




Works Cited

City of Fremont. “Ordinance No. 5165.” Fremont, NE. City of Fremont, 2010. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.

© The Acentos Review 2015