Yo vengo de todas partes, I come from everywhere
Y hacia todas partes voy… And toward everywhere I go…
—José Martí, Versos Sencillos
We rise from all that’s raised us. From the winds of our real or imagined homelands billowing through sugarcane fields or prairies dotted with wildflowers. From the hum of island sea-songs or the waves of desert dunes. We rise.
From the tears of rainforest waterfalls or the falling sparkle of snowflakes. From knitted rows of corn or the tangle of pine tree forests. From across the street or across continents. We rise. At times we may lose our way, but we always find the stars of our ancestry charted across our skies—and we rise.
From the sway of merengue or swagger of reggae. From hip-hop hooks or the plucks of sitar strings. From calypso drums pinging or cumbia skirts whirling. From the shuffle of samba or clonk of a country two- step. We rise. At times we may stumble, but we keep dancing, find our rhythm again—and we rise.
From flaky pastelitos or plantain pasteles. From stuffed burritos or spicy beef patties. From gooey cachitos or pão de queijo. From fried falafels or grilled arepas. From dollops of hummus or ladles of matzah ball soup. From the aroma of curry or café-con-leche. We rise. With all the flavors of our heritage that sustains us, we feed our hunger—and we rise.
From temple kaddish or Buddhist oms, from the incense of mantras or hymns of stained-glass churches, from the call of minarets or the rapture of Sunday gospel choirs, from offerings of apples or candy to our deities. We rise. At times we may doubt, but we keep searching for the divine in us. And we rise.
We rise from the sounds of our names: I am Joshua. I am Joaquín. I am Samantha. I am Ahmed. I am Yi Chueng. I am Ajibola. I am Edwidge. I am Edward. I am Aditi. I am Maya. I am Martín. I am Paulo. I am Pok-Sun. I am Rajesh. I am both Richard and Ricardo. I am because we all are—and together—we rise, despite all that’s tried to keep us from rising.
Out of countries raped by greed and gunfire, we rise. Out of the ache of slavery’s back or the careworn hands of migrant farmers, we rise. Out of the river currents and white-capped oceans we’ve dared to cross, we rise. Out of one-parent homes in one-bedroom apartments, we rise. Out of all those who told us we couldn’t, we rise. Out of what we damn-well dream, we rise.
We are the resolve of mountains, the relentless spirit of clouds, and our thirst for the rain of knowledge. We are the courage of revolutions and the humility of peace. We are the promise of created equal and the pursuit of happiness—and so—we rise—with all the instinct and drive of the sun, because there is always another horizon, and another, and another to reach and keep lighting-up with our light.
—Richard Blanco ’91, MFA ’97
Read about Richard Blanco’s journey from civil engineer to renowned poet to FIU professor of Creative Writing in his own words.