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UPLIFTT | January 24, 2018

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SQUINTY EYES: A Poem by Michael Montenegro

SQUINTY EYES: A Poem by Michael Montenegro

This poem is dedicated to all of my squinty-eyed Latinos, Chicana/os, Hispanics, pretty much folks of Latin American ancestry who have Spanish surnames, who have felt marginalized because of their squinty eyes. Also, I hope any of our squinty-eyed humans can relate to this experience.


Writing a poem on these two eyes,

These arched slanted eyes

these indigenous almond eyes,

these eagle eyes of squinty-ness,

These eyes used to make me feel like I was blind compared to round eyes folks.

It’s been giving me reoccurring dreams since 1st grade, where my eyelids are nearly shut and blurred vision as if I just woke up.

Are you Chino? Are you Filipino?  Can you see me?

I’m asking because of your squinty eyes.

Well, you see, depends how many thousands of years you go back,and your stance in anthropocene.

Depending if you believe in the Bering Straight Theory,

Or the Polynesian contact of Mexico in the States of Guerrero and Oaxaca

Perhaps it might be because of the Chinese World Explorer, Zheng He of the 15th century?

Or maybe your squinty eyes are rooted to…

The Chinese migration of the mid 19th century to all of the Americas, and how by 1882 in the USA, the Chinese Exclusion Act was signed, creating a social stigma of discrimination against the physical characteristic of “Chinese squinty eyes,”  these  political refugees fled to Mexico, like Mexicali and Tijuana.

To think that I might be related to Genghis Khan and all his relations, is pretty cool.

Perhaps it was the 1950s and your parents or grandparents are connected to the military, you military brat, or you bastard.

Imagine being culturally isolated from your people, where cultural assimilation is an act of survival, and that might be the reason why you don’t know the story of your eyes.

Sometimes I like to think these Squinty Eyes of mine, aka EAGLE EYES, are an evolutionary adaptation, after thousands of years of walking across the world against dust and sand. Where they always remained focused on your path or the hunt.

Flexing your eyebrow muscles to show that you’re serious.

And or it just means there’s light in your eyes.

Theses SQUINTY EYES are native to these lands and are indigenous characteristics, too.

Think about every tribe, we are related by our squinty eyes. It’s our defining feature that lets us know that we’re family.

To put in perspective, think about all the countries in Asia, Polynesian culture, and indigenous folks of the Americas… I guess what I’m trying to say is that squinty eyes are the dominant characteristic in the world and they’re beautiful to have.

Oh Squinty Eyes,

Oh Squinty Eyes,

Oh Squinty Eyes,

It took me over 20 years to love you.



Michael Montenegro. Chicano. Filmmaker. Activist for media diversity.

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