Rigorous
Volume Four, Issue 3



Christian Hanz Lozada


The Bullets That Were Close to Me

my friend has a bullet lodged in his leg.
He isn’t a criminal or veteran,
he’d been shot in a hold up at work
He said, “That year I had a lot of therapy,
but getting shot wasn’t the problem.”

My student tells me she can’t come to class anymore
“but you’re here now,” I say.
She opens her jacket,
revealing the bandage wrapping her arm.
“He walked up to my mom and me,
I don’t want to leave home
anymore.”

Another student missed his final,
but his classmates were there,
crying
crying
crying.
“Speedy’s dead.”

and his absence lingers
like an unfinished sentence
I expect to see him in every class
every semester
every school
I’m waiting for it to finish
It’s as if living broken,
for me,
is all any of us
can ask.




Gatekeepers Create a Mission Statement

I enter the meeting angry
I exit the meeting angry
and in between my colleagues say: “we must stop systemic racism”
they say it should be our mission statement,
as if this is an original declaration
and I’m angry

while hearing how we should break the foundation we’ve built on,
I’m reading the eighth draft of a research essay,
             two weeks after the semester is over
                          from a Black student who lost her cousin last week
                                       who has to figure out how her computer works

we’re doing it already
adopting the language of the uprising
hopping in front of the march from the safety of zoom
preparing the way
             to admit those who say they down
                          while continuing to exclude those who are down

I say: “we are the gatekeepers,
the best we can hope is teach navigation and language,
the best we can hope is to model a way up and out”

They say: “No, we must be anti-racist”

while I respond to the student:
             “you’re still plagiarizing
                          give credit and space to the ideas you’re using
                                       put them in quotes and cite”

I quiet, knowing these same voices are the ones
who lock the classroom door as soon as class starts
who turn away the wrong paperwork
who hide behind “there’s nothing I can do”
             but mean I’m willing to give only Work Me
                                                                                           but never Me

and the student sends a barely touched rewrite
my grades are late
knowing I will fail her, but
hoping
praying
needing
             something different,

I rewrite:
             “you’re still plagiarizing
                          give credit and space to the ideas you’re using
                                       put them in quotes and cite”

I ask the group: “What do I do about student who ________?”

So quickly and repetitively, the answer is: “They have to learn.”

this is what gatekeepers do:
             we uphold the standards that keep the down
                                                                                           down



Christian Hanz Lozada: "I am the product of an immigrant Filipino and descendent of the Revolution and Confederacy, and I have co-written the poetry book Leave with More Than You Came With and a local history book. My writing has appeared in Cultural Weekly, Hawaii Pacific Review, Dryland: A Literary Journal (forthcoming), A&U Magazine and various other journals and anthologies. I have been invited to read and speak at the Autry Museum, the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, and other places throughout Southern California. I currently live in San Pedro, CA where I run a program for NHPI student success, teach Umojafied English classes, as well as instruct my neighbor’s kids at Los Angeles Harbor College."




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