Carla’s Status Doesn’t Define Her, Her Humanity Does

Carla came to the U.S. a tiny human

Seven she was

A Chavarría she was

From Atizapán Estado de México she was.

Crossed the border with her mother

Her long-haired, rocanrolloving dad

Anxiously waited on this side.


As her bones stretched upward in the land of the free

She lived in two worlds.

World one, her home amidst

A Mexican pocket of Snottsdale,

World two, her school

Inhabited predominantly by

White faces.


At home she was a Mexican kid

A daughter

A niece

A neighbor

To people who made ends meet

Working three, sometimes four odd jobs.

Payroll was not something that wanted them.


At school she was a student

A brown one, not an undocumented one.

Undocumented didn’t exist yet for her.

Basketball existed

Graphic design existed

Academics existed

Black and white classmates coexisted

With her.


Undocumented loomed over her as a 16-year-old human

A Junior in high school she was

Trying to enroll in college classes she was

Unable to pay out of state tuition she was

But from in the state she was.



Carla’s cap and gown crossed the stage of Arcadia High School

In year SB1070

Undocumented was more

Spine-chilling than ever.


But Carla was unafraid

Like so many others

Tired of living in the shadows

She began to raise her roar

Against the crushing system.


Her roar was visual

It was creative

And human.

She picked up a camera

Snapped away

Captured the faces of others like her

Undocumented and Unafraid.


Unable to work for an employer

Carla rejected a free load

And freelanced instead.

She pulled herself up from her boot straps

Except she didn’t have boots

The straps came from the ether of her Young Creative Mind.


In an ironic twist of faith

Carla thrived as an entrepreneur.

The land whose flag waves stripes and stars,

As it denied nine-digit numbers to hard working

Human monarch butterflies

Gifted her another series of digits to be her own boss.

Fuck payroll.


The year the world was supposed to end

YCM was born.

Young Creative Minds

Carla’s own marketing company

She was creating jobs.


The year the world was supposed to end

DACA was born.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Relief from deportation

Permission to be on payroll

Carla was a childhood arrival

Thanks Obama!

But Carla didn’t want to be on someone else’s payroll.


In the eighth month of 2016

Ganaz Apparel was born.

A clothing line for those who eat tacos and do squats

Ganaz she owns

Ganas she has.


Today DACA ends.

An orange-faced bigot

Too afraid to speak himself

Puppeteered a minion to say

No more relief from separation

No more permission to work

No more dignity.


Carla has DACA

But DACA doesn’t have Carla.

She was a graphic designer

A photographer

A creative

An entrepreneur

Dignity was hers

Before DACA.


Carla’s favorite food is papas

Potatoes for the No Hablo Español crowd

She doesn’t own a car

She lifts 49 kilos in the snatch

59 kilos in the clean

And she lifts spirits with her laughter

Carla is strong

Carla is a human.


Carla is not DACA.

Carla is a DREAMER.


Carla Chavarría is one of the artists of the exhibit “Las fronteras nos dividen, pero el arte nos une.” Her along with Gionava Aviles, Isela Meraz and Gloria Casillas-Martinez will hold a panel to share their stories and how art has played a role in their healing through creative expression. The panel will take place Wednesday, September 6 at The Sagrado Galleria, located at 6437 S. Central Ave.