Alejandro Jimenez is a poet & writer, educator, and avid distance runner from Colima, Mexico. He is a two-time National Poetry Slam Semi-Finalist, TEDx Speaker & Performer, and Emmy-nominated poet. His work centers around the intersections of cultural identity, immigrant narratives, masculinity, and memory. His self-published book, “Moreno. Prieto. Brown.”, has sold over 1,500 copies and is incorporated in curriculums of various school districts. Get to know Alejandro.
As a Kid, What Did You Want to Be When You Grew Up & Why?
I wanted to be a bull rider but I left Mexico before I was old enough to try it. Bull riders in my hometown were bigger than life! They were more important than politicians, and I wanted that—to be hella popular. Then, I wanted to be a professional soccer player (a goalie!) but I was too skinny. I wanted to give Mexico their first world cup. Then, I wanted to be a professional runner. I sort of succeeded at this one.
What Was the Biggest Turning Point in Your Life?
Coming to the U.S. has been pivotal in my life. I came here when I was 8 years old and remember everything about living in Mexico. Remembering so much is great and also a curse because I know the place I left. The life I left does not exist anymore.
The rhetoric that is used to describe immigrants coming to the U.S. is that we came here for a better life. While it holds true, it also implies that our lives back home were not good.
In my experience, though I lived in poverty and food was scarce, I was happy. I did not have to fear being deported or being separated from my family. I did not have to prove my humanity to anyone.
What Are Three Facts About You That Are Completely Unrelated to the Subject of Your Talk?
- I love running! In 2016, I was ranked in the top 15 in Mexico for 10,000 meters.
- I love cooking Mexican food.
- I had perfect attendance in 8th grade.
Who Are Three People, Living or Dead, That Inspire You the Most?
- Bobby LeFebre. The homie is always doing something new and looking for ways to improve his craft.
- Marcelo Hernandez Castillo. He is a writer and his book, “Children of the Land,” has dramatically inspired me to write for myself and for my family not as an entity, institution, or event. His writing centers our stories as immigrants in all of our humanness. I want to write like him when I grow up.
- Chavela Vargas. She was a ranchera/mariachi singer from Costa Rica. The way she brings the listener into her passion, love, pain and healing on stage is what I try to do.
What’s Your Favorite TED or TEDx Talk?
Similar to Bobby, I respect Suzi immensely. She is a homie, but also a mentor. She is someone that always encourages and tells stories with her people in mind. That’s why I love this TEDx performance!
What’s a Piece of Advice That You Live By or That You Give Other People Constantly?
In order for us to do the things we want to do, sometimes, we need to do the things we don’t want to do.
Name One Thing We Aren’t Spending Enough Time Thinking About as a Society. What Would Be a Good First Step?
Young people and the environment. We are so preoccupied to politicize everything in this country that we forget that people will live here long after we are gone. So, what are we doing to develop our youth leaders? Better yet, what are we doing to give youth the space to flourish in their ideas and change our society?
What are we doing to make sure that the earth our children, biological or not, will inherit is not completely tarnished by our egos? First step: give, allow, and provide youth with a seat at all decision making tables from local politics to national politics.
If You Could Achieve One Goal in the Next Year What Would It Be?
Finish my poetry manuscript and get it picked up by a publishing company that allows me to be the writer I am. I want the opportunity to continue to grow as a writer.
What Action Can the TEDxMileHigh Community Take to Support Your Big Idea?
Tell people about my work! And support environmental organizations that support youth leadership development. And give immigrants a chance to speak for themselves in a non-patronizing or tokenizing way—at your organization, school, business, etc.