IN LAK’ECH: YOU ARE MY OTHER ME
Luís Valdez, regarded as the father of Chicano theater, is a playwright, writer, film director, and founder of El Teatro Campesino, a farm workers’ theater troupe. The late Domingo Martinez Paredes was a professor at the National University of Mexico in the 1970s and the author of several books on Mayan thought and culture.
As a result of Arizona House Bill 2281 targeting the Mexican American Studies program, my plays have been banned in Tucson public schools, along with other works of Mexican American literature. I condemn this latest violation of American constitutional principles. I attribute it to a historic blindness and ignorance that will only embarrass the good people of Arizona for generations to come. Chicano Studies is quite simply the root of American Studies. Human history in this hemisphere does not begin in 1492 C.E. but rather in 3113 B.C.E. with the creation of the Mayan calendar, if not before with the Ancients in Peru.
In Lak’Ech is a timeless Mayan precept I incorporated into a larger poem called “Pensamiento Serpentino.” More specifically, I inherited In Lak’Ech directly from the late Professor Domingo Martinez Paredes of the National University of Mexico in the 1970s. He was the renowned author of several books on Mayan thought and culture, and I had the privilege of being personally tutored by him. The meaning of the phrase is affiliated with the Mayan definition of the human being, which they called “huinik’lil” or “vibrant being.” In this regard, we are all part of the same universal vibration. This was the origin of the recitation, excerpted from my poem, that celebrated our collective human being in Tucson’s MAS classes:
Tú eres mi otro yo.
You are my other me.
Si te hago daño a ti,
If I do harm to you,
Me hago daño a mi mismo.
I do harm to myself.
Si te amo y respeto,
If I love and respect you,
Me amo y respeto yo.
I love and respect myself.
For a video clip of Curtis Acosta beginning a class with this recitation, please visit www.preciousknowledgefilm.com.