TACOS DE ASADA
BY CIELO VALENZUELA-LARA
A Response to Backstreet to the American Dream
There are days
When all my soul craves are
Tacos de asada con una horchata,
Loaded with onions, cilantro and lime
From a friendly food truck.
Comfort and safety wrapped in two tortillas and foil,
My smile wide enough to fit the whole plate into it.
But as I grow up,
as a latina in this country,
I’ve been taught to know the taste of oppression.
I’ve been taught that my food,
My Central American identity,
does not belong on wheels.
That it’s nothing but a roach coach far from gourmet.
But I don’t want gourmet.
I want home.
I want food to remind me that the blood that runs through my veins
I want to order in the language I said my first word in
My Spanish, a language I will never let die.
I want food prepared by golden hands,
recipes that live in minds and not cookbooks.
I want to run to the lonchera at the prime parking spot,
so I can buy tacos that will pay for someone’s college tuition.
I want to eat the food that my classmates told me
I should be ashamed of.
I want to show them
How good it is to be brown.
I want to support the trucks who don’t
Have the luxury of a reality tv show to
showcase how delicious their food is.
I want to eat the tacos crafted by
pioneers and entrepreneurs who built
their own empire who don’t get enough spotlight.
I want to eat my tacos on the curbside
confident that the lonchera continues to nourish its neighbors
and is supported by local business owners.
I want to drink my horchata
carefree, knowing the lonchera is
patronized instead of harassed by police officers.
I want to eat the food that fuels my pride
and has the power to remind elected officials what I’ve known all along;
that the effort, the business, and the hands that prepared this food
are worth the investment.
I want to eat my tacos and be reminded that
The home that my familia created here was worth the home they left behind.
I want to taste the American Dream my ancestors were promised.
Cielo Valenzuela-Lara (she/her/hers) 17, is a Latinx artist & activist from Los Angeles, California. Cielo takes pride in calling herself an artivist. She uses this term to describe her passion for using her acting, singing, dancing, and spoken word poetry as activism. With artivism in mind, she sees the material she performs and the content she writes as tools to bring about social and political change. As a result, Cielo has performed during immigration rallies, fundraising events for local non-profits, and other special campaigns and projects that raise awareness about social issues, like adverse childhood experiences. These professional experiences have also earned Cielo notable recognition. In 2020, Cielo began her engagement with a professional youth poetry troop known as the Get Lit Players. She is also a published poet, featured in The Los Angeles Press and the National Youngarts 2021 Anthology and Catalogue. Cielo currently attends California School of the Arts and plans to pursue a degree in Musical Theater in the fall. Her dream is to study musical theater in college while applying her interests in history and creative writing to support causes that matter to her.