Mexican – American/ Son /Brother /Friend /Athlete /Reader /Fighter /Student /Writer /Believer/Poet/ Coach/Educator/Husband/Vegan.

At a very young age (my parents called me “Pops”), I found myself wanting to bridge gaps – to connect. When I was in elementary school, my parents filled bookshelves with biographies and stories of connectors: Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, Harriet Tubman. Through these stories and through the daily actions of my pop and momma, I learned how to overcome division with resilience, love, and connection. So often, momma and pop showed care for others by offering up our home, money, or time. And I saw the same thing through my grandparents. My grandfather would pick people up who were in the neighborhood and were without a home. He would bring them back to his house, sit them at the table, and he and my grandmother would provide them with food. My family knows what it’s like to be on the “other side” of that table.

As the guests ate at the table of my grandparents, I slowly processed the lessons in front of me. I began to realize that these “guests” weren’t just guests. They were parents. They were sisters. They were brothers. They were sons. They were daughters. They were cousins. They were friends. They were my grandparents. They were my parents. They were my brothers. They were me. They were everyone. I was everyone.

I am everyone.

In 6th grade, I remember my neighbor yelling at me. He was a year older than me. He told me that Mexicans were dirty, and that he wanted to wrestle me. He was on the school’s wrestling team. He would show me how Mexicans couldn’t fight. I couldn’t understand how this kid was so damn angry. In my young mind, I thought to myself, “If only he knew my grandparents, he would see that we were as beautiful as anyone in this world.” He pressed on, and so I wrestled him. And I beat him until his body was covered in dust, and I had his arms and legs tied up. He tapped. I brushed off his back. I think he expected me to be angry, but I wasn’t. I knew my worth. I sat next to him – I wanted to know more about him. I wanted to know why he held so much anger at such a young age. I wanted to connect and to understand.

I later found out that my father saw this happening – he let it happen. He knew it needed to.

I also later found out that my parents knew a lot of what was happening in my life. But, they often let me figure it out. They knew I needed the lessons.

Today, I am working to become my best self. I am working to understand how my gift of connecting is meant to be actualized.

In my current role as an Assistant Principal, I have the blessing and the responsibility of helping facilitate connections. Sometimes I support others to connect with the self. Sometimes I support others in connecting with another. And, as part of this, I am constantly pushed to reflect on the stories and ideas of my family, students, community, and staff. We all sit around a table. Sometimes it’s my turn to cook and to serve. Sometimes I am cooked for and served.

When my life is over, I hope that the table at which I eat and serve is large. I hope that those who are neighbors at this table speak deeply and listen truly. I hope that we share food and laugh loudly.

This table belongs to you, too. When you find your seat (if you haven’t already), bring your gift and power along with you.

Those at the table are my grandfather, my grandma, my nana. They are you. They are my parents. They are my family. They are my friends. They are me.

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