I am Joaquin Gonzales: A Reflection Paper

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Gonzales’ poem I am Joaquin focuses on how people decide to identify themselves. It suggests the need for Mexican Latin Americans to conduct a self-evaluation and accept their culture and history, whether bad or good. The poet is considered to have catalyzed Chicano rights movement. This is a reflection paper on Gonzales’ poem which gives details on how it makes me feel, the poet’s message from my perspective, its importance, and the connection to my class.


The poem remains to be a commendation for the Mexican Latin Americans who have accepted their culture and keep on reclaiming it while they face U.S.’ standard way of life. It displays two types of cultures in America: one that requires outsiders to conform to the American way of life and one which accepts other cultures. The poet seems to be in a moral dilemma in the first page whereby he states that he can turn is back on his culture and survive with the shame of his actions and he can also embrace his heritage at the expense of enjoying the possible advantages of the American culture. The word “sterilization” in the poem helps me understand what most non-native Americans achieve for them to become full members of the American culture.

The themes that reverberate with me as I read the poem include: freedom, endurance, unification, determination, survival, and liberation. The repetition of the words “I am” makes me identify with the poem. However, there is also a feeling of helplessness for most peasants since the poet makes it clear that he is a bit reluctant to take actions because he is just a “campesino”, (Gonzales 189). The poem has a tone of resentment which makes me feel like the poet is torn in between fighting for his beliefs or giving up and playing by the rules.

The poem makes me understand heritage and culture is not something that should easily be surrendered since the ancestors fought and died for it. This raises questions on whether I would go to such extents to protect what I believe in and is it admissible for a community to give up part of itself for its self-preservation? Gonzales makes me think that he is looking for recognition and advocating for equal treatment of the people rather than allowing the system treat some of them as second class citizens. This theme connects greatly to my class’ teachings on discrimination. The poem urges non-native Americans to continuously survive and endure, but preserve their culture and heritage.

The poem describes that aspirations of Mexican Latin Americans for a better life in a loving manner when he mentions the “soft brown eyes of expectation”. He made me understand the nature of revolution for Chicanos. The opinion of revolution has always been among the Chicanos in the form of an unavoidable notion. The reason why those depicted in the poem are starting a revolution is because their liberty lies in accepting their culture. The poem encourages an unending determination for better lives among the Latinos.


The poem made me understand the need for liberation, unification, freedom, and determination among the Mexican Latin Americans in search for a better life. Although there is need to enjoy the advantages of the American culture, it should not be at the expense of one’s heritage. The solution to being treated as second class citizens lies on accepting one’s heritage and advocating for a system that treats diversity equally.

Works Cited

Gonzales, Rodolfo. "Corky." I am Joaquin (1967): 788-799.

November 13, 2023



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