by Liliana C.

SURELY, anyone can obtain happiness
It is up to the individual to make it happen
Happiness is like the American dream
Only individuals who do not try cannot succeed

SURELY, there is a representation to happiness
Can everyone represent this?
Textbooks on self-help and therapy sessions will tell us yes
Positive thinking and smiling are the magic words to happiness

SURELY, the woman who is told “that’s not ladylike” smiles,
Her mind races as images of the perfect woman appear
Constantly trying to have it ALL:
Be thin, beautiful, smart (but not too smart),
Not smart enough to go against the patriarchal system and become the feminist killjoy
Be independent but still submissive
Be a hard worker, and an even better mother and wife
Have a good balance of seductive and unprovocative
“Well fuck, guess I’m not a lady” she thinks to herself

SURELY, the Hispanic woman who is asked “but, where are you really from?” by the white person smiles,
Her double identity makes her brain explode from so much contradiction
Constantly trying to have it ALL:
Be supportive of both her ethnic and current state
Obtain the American Dream, or else her parents hard work was for nothing
Has to make it, even if it goes against her beliefs
Tolerate the stereotypes and prejudicial statements thrown at her and her people
Strive to be the opposite of what the U.S. thinks of her: a criminal, an alien, a rapist
Support the U.S., even if it is tearing the families of her ethnic family APART
“Shit…I don’t know” she whispers

SURELY, a Hispanic woman of lower middle class who is asked “wait, you can’t afford that, how do you live?” smiles,
She glances at her wallet which is as empty as the person’s brain
Constantly trying to have it ALL:
Become economically successful, or she hasn’t made it,
Eat healthy organic whole foods that are beyond her budget, and never eat processed packaged food
Always have money, because if she doesn’t its clearly the end of the world
Must have a “fulfilling life”, which means never being on a budget
Has a good income job, and NEVER works a minimum wage job that barely pays for her necessities,
“How do I live? By breathing…WTF?” she thinks to herself

SURELY, the lower class Hispanic woman working her minimum wage job who is called “sweetie” by the older man smiles,
While her body turns into fire and the image of punching him and exclaiming “FUCK OFF, I’m not your damn sweetie” comes to mind,
“Have a good day, sir” spills out of her mouth
As he walks away she is left both frozen and on fire,
Her fire cooled down with her ice-cold heart
Nothing but a smile is left as she awaits the next customer.