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Young Latina Poet's Ode to Her Heritage Goes Viral

Xochitl Morales may be young, but she learned early to use her voice to highlight her community and culture.
Xochitl Morales sharing her poem
Xochitl Morales sharing her poemPhoto courtesy of Get Lit

Xochitl Morales may be young, but she learned early to use her voice to highlight her community and culture. Through poetry, the sixteen year old demonstrates what it means to be a Mexican American. Her video poem, titled “Latino-Americanos: The Children of An Oscuro Pasado” addresses her cultural identity.

The video went viral and has been shared widely on Facebook and other social media, as well as by Latino sites. The poem is a response to Donald Trump’s comments about Mexicans in the U.S. “My culture is important, although it wasn’t always accepted. This poem is a call to action, it a reminder to never forget where you come from” Morales said.

Growing up in California’s Central Valley, the rising Junior at Wonderful College Preparatory Academy was taught at a young age to reject her Mexican heritage and self-adjust to American life. “Instead of teaching me how to speak English in school, they told me to just get rid of Spanish completely because it is useless in America,” Morales told NBC News. She went through an identity crisis, but that didn’t stop her from pursuing her interests.

She became an honor student of Get Lit, a non-profit organization that aims to increase teen literacy through poetry. “The advice they gave me about writing in general has made me a better student, more passionate about things, and has given me a family environment,” Morales said. “The program opened my eyes to a lot of things, from learning about political and social awareness.”

Xochitl Morales takes selfie with her Get Lit teamPhoto courtesy of Get Lit

By writing poems for the program and learning from her personal experiences, she became inspired to accept and embrace her Mexican background. She pursued a role as president of the Mexican American Club at her high school and teaches mariachi, a traditional type of Mexican folk music, to young students at her family’s studio.

Oscuro Pasado means “dark past” in Spanish. Morales said she included the term in the title to refer to the struggles Latinos encountered in the past, individuals like her parents. “I use it to say that this dark past should not define us. Instead, the strength and the passion we take from these experiences should be what is important,” Morales said. “If we want to preserve our culture, we have to be proud of it and shout to the world.”

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