Editors' Note: This essay is one of a group of essays on Race and the Poetic Avant-Garde. Read the rest.

Traditionally, the locus of enunciation should not matter. Any statement about the avant-garde and its relationship to identity politics would aspire to be valid regardless of when, where, or by whom it was formulated. Convention has dictated that it is best to avoid bringing in contextual information about the position from which one speaks. Such information highlights contingencies instead of the general point one is trying to make, is therefore petty and in bad taste. If it does not necessarily exclude from the conversation those who do not share the same position, then it particularizes or relativizes one’s arguments to such a degree that they cannot possibly lead to the emergence of a general truth.

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______ began writing this piece in Marfa, Texas, where ______  had an odd exchange with an Anglo woman worth recalling. ______  had said to her that ______  am Mexican and she seemed perplexed—a response ______  often get because of ______  complexion. (As if, the thinking goes, you cannot play the race card if you do not look the part. Then again, what if you do not want to play the card in the first place, but others play it for you? Read “tokenism.”) Granted, ______  too have wondered about ______  propensity to identify ______ more readily as Hispanic than Caucasian given ______ mixed background and the fact that, by now, ______ have spent almost equal amounts of time living on both sides of the border. It could be that ______  patriarchal tongue proved more decisive than ______  mother tongue in shaping ______  identity. But, then again, patriarchal in what way? In sheer biological terms? By mere relocation to the United States, the patriarchal system in which ______  was brought up was turned on its head, becoming circumscribed here to a minority, proving that the meanings of terms like the ones here discussed, despite their categorical aspirations, are nothing if not relational.

Only through form am ______ able to resist identity as hashtag, as commodity.

______ was born and raised in a city of twenty-something million inhabitants, a majority of them mestizo. ______  did not feel the need to claim ______ American heritage, in part because American cultural artifacts prevailed in the Diet Coke–sipping, Madonna and Michael Jackson–listening middle-class milieu of the 1980s, to the chagrin of anti-imperialist intellectuals—a group whose ranks ______  (perhaps pretentiously) aspired to join. Even more, ______  sought to disavow one half of ______ identity by conveniently not mentioning it. If pronouncing ______ mother’s home state, Connecticut, in Spanish was difficult, glossing over ______ bi-national status was not. South of the border, hyphenated identities are as uncommon as, say, taco salad, to put it glibly. Yet, in all seriousness, ______  am aware that their rarity could very well be due to complicated notions of diversity, the assumption being that many of the haves have mixed backgrounds and the crushingly disempowered minorities constituting the have-nots do not. (Yet another notion flipped north of border.) And any sense of ethnic diversity among autochthonous populations is annulled by the rubric of indígenas under which they are commonly lumped.

The woman ______  had been chatting with asked if ______  knew how far back ______ family went. ______ had never been asked that before, and even though ______ father once told ______ about some distant relatives who had traced the family’s Spanish origins, ______  could not remember the dates. ______  made up an answer, just to get out of the situation. Even so, the dates would not have settled the matter of race. The Spanish Inquisition’s fixation with safeguarding the purity of its national identity only further led to complicated hybridity by making it impossible to trace, as with crypto-Jews’ adoption of generic Spanish surnames.  ______  last name figures in lists of surnames corresponding to conversos such as the one put forth by the Spanish writer Pere Bonnin in Sangre Judía (Jewish Blood). ______  did not mention this, of course; the conversation was casual. After spending a few more days in town ______  realized she had surmised ______  was claiming to be not a Mexican from Mexico but, instead, a local Tejana, for the Mexican-American community does seem to know how long their families have been here, especially in relation to the U.S.’s annexation of Texas in 1845, after the Mexican-American War.

Wouldn’t ______ identification with the local community on the basis of ethnicity elide the much more significant differences in terms of opportunities we have each been afforded, historically? Here, far from Mexico City, the population was marginalized by the central Mexican government prior to the annexation—in fact, this was precisely what led to its severance from the Mexican state. Afterward, segregation of African Americans and Tejanos was widespread in the area until the civil rights movement. How not to see the irony in the name of the old part of town, south of the train tracks, where a majority of Tejanos reside? “Sal Si Puedes” (Leave If You Can) is right outside the almost religiously pristine premises of the Chinati Foundation, founded by Donald Judd. Judd famously wanted to place art in context, but then again, which context? He clearly never meant it to be the social and political ones.

Marfa is about 190 miles away from both the nearest Mexican city, Ciudad Juárez, and the nearest American city, El Paso. Mexican and Central American undocumented workers and children risk their lives by the thousands attempting to cross over into the United States to escape conditions that, for instance, made possible the police-sanctioned murder of 43 students in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero in September 2014. Southwest of San Antonio, a massive for-profit family detention center is being built in order to “accommodate the influx of individuals arriving illegally on the Southwest border,” according to a spokeswoman of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It will be run by the private firm Corrections Corporation of America, whose record is more than questionable. Again, in terms of heritage, what kinds of gross elisions would ______  be perpetrating if ______  adopted the subject positions of the families who might wind up at the center, one of the largest in North America?

At this point in history, ethnicity is not the sole issue. Systematic, often endemic, patterns of exclusion and inclusion are based as much on class as on race, if not more. And reductive binaries are particularly pernicious in that, when attempting to dismantle them, it often proves impossibly difficult to resist polarities as well—they continue to spawn offspring. Some critics of the us-versus-them rhetoric of the (either perceived or self-appointed) watchdogs of the avant-garde continue to fall into the same sweeping generalizations and discursive traps they decry.

Moreover, if the officially or unofficially sanctioned disempowerment of vast numbers of individuals is cause for outrage, ______  indignation as a citizen of the world has little to do with ______ being an “avant-garde minority poet.” As such, however, ______  can practice and trigger an active solidarity by rehearsing the following approaches to a minor, de-territorialized writing (Deleuze & Guattari), in English, the language of Empire:

Performing a polymorphous subjectivity that undermines essentializing notions of identity and their insistence on one-to-one correspondences, which inevitably cancel multiplicity. An optimal post-racial scenario, in this sense, might be one in which a systematic questioning of assumptions concerning race and identity is continually taking place.  

Inserting into my work illicit presences that critique hegemonic, exclusionary discourses, including those pertaining to identity politics, and thus contribute to the expansion of frames of reference.

Disrupting the expectation that, as a Mexican-American poet, ______  speak for a collectivity. If the avant-garde requires radical presence, ______  can conjure the singular presences of all those for whom ______  cannot speak, and whose experiences ______  own abysmally different one can speak to, but does not reflect.

It is only via questioning of conventional form that ______  can explode both representation and normative conditions of reception, in order to frustrate the expectation that ______ play the part assigned to ______. Only through form am ______ able to resist identity as hashtag, as commodity. And my engagement with form, and not my commitment to politics, has given me certain strategic advantages vis-à-vis experimental writing, considering that, by and large in the U.S., the avant-garde’s organizing axes concern formal innovation and not politics. Yet, if those in its ranks prefer to disavow themselves of  ______  politics, their loss, not ______ .