CITIES: "Born in San Antonio, TX #GoSpursGo; Currently in Pittsburgh, PA #ItSnowsHere"
ETHNICITY/RACE: My father was a Black American and my mom is a brown mestiza who is Mexican-American. I identify as Afromexicana.
EDUCATION: "Ugh, the University of Texas at Austin. I still owe them money."
FAVORITE IG ACCOUNT: "This is really hard to answer! I’m more into YouTube content. My favorite YouTuber is @evelynfromtheinternets. She is mad funny."
FAVORITE QUOTE: “I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.” – Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
FAVORITE SONG: I’ve also been listening to Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” on repeat.
WHAT'S YOUR STORY?
"I’m a black girl from the Southside of San Anto, who grew up on the Northside, and became a poet. I’m a penny pincher, flea market frequenter, thrift store mastermind. I make my own laundry detergent. I still don’t know what gluten is. I write a lot about history and the ways my communities challenge, fail, and push me. I perform poems in front of people and teach writing workshops to teens. Oh, and I tweet about the history of enslaved black people in Mexico, because no one should be confused about the fact that Black Mexicans exist."
WHAT'S YOUR PURPOSE?
"I’m here to uplift black women. To pay homage to my ancestors in as many forms as possible. My poems are always about creating a mirror in which I can view myself and my history without inflicting pain. In so doing, I am also always creating a mirror for other black girls, carving a space into which six-year-old me can finally feel safe and accounted for.
Often, I exist as a bridge between Black American communities and nonblack Mexican-American communities in the U.S.. Mexican-Americans (sometimes) are more willing to listen to me than a non-Latinx Black person about anti-blackness, because on some level, they can identify with me. This work is exhausting and isolating, though, so I try to spend as much time around Black folk as I can. They are the group of people who most uplift me."
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST HARDSHIP YOU'VE FACED?
"Being black, lolololol."
WHAT'S YOUR CONSTANT MOTIVATION & WHERE DOES IT ROOT FROM?
"Kind of answered this above, but I root for my six-year-old self. Six-year-old Ariana learned what antiblackness was because she experienced it firsthand. She learned what loneliness meant. She learned how it felt to be Mexican-American, but excluded from Mexican-American communities because her blackness confused people and made them uncomfortable. She learned to be quiet, invisible, and passive. My current self is unlearning all of this behavior. I know now that I belong everywhere, and I am working to make sure that blackness is not a barrier to belonging for people similar to me."
SHARE ONE OF YOUR HAPPIEST MOMENTS.
"Last summer, I got to study abroad in Mexico City. During one of our class trips, I got to go to the pyramids at Teotihuacan. I climbed el Piramide del Sol with two of my best friends. It took us hours, and we had to take a lot of breaks, but being there, at the oldest holy site in the “New World,” pushing our bodies to their fullest physical limits to reach the top, is probably the best moment of my life so far. I felt very grounded and alive."
WHAT'S SOMETHING THAT SOMEONE WOULDN'T KNOW ABOUT YOU?
"Since I was a teenager, I do this thing where I go into my room, lock the door, put my headphones in and either wil’ out (dancing) or stand in front of a mirror and lip sync to a song I love, pretending that I am the singer/dancer. I really love dancing, but I hate doing it around other people. It feels less pure. I call these my “jam sessions” and I try to have one at least every day. It is nice to feel free to be silly and uninhibited in the private space of my own room and imagination."
WHEN YOU THINK OF TEXAS, YOU THINK OF _______.
IF YOU COULD MEET ANYONE DEAD OR ALIVE WHO WOULD IT BE?