“When the mirror says yes to dark beauty:” Healing the Colonial Wound in Inés Hernández-Ávila’s “That’s Tejana”
Nearly two centuries since the Mexican-American War, Tejanos still find themselves the target of discrimination, from police brutality to inaccurate representation in media and textbooks. This synopsis of the Tejano plight, however general, is paramount to understanding Inés Hernández-Ávila’s coming-of-age story “That’s Tejana” (2016). This article examines how the narrative follows Gloria Anzaldúa’s conceptualization of nepantla as a means to deconstruct what Anibal Quijano refers to as “the coloniality of power.” It is precisely the story’s decolonial mode of thinking that creates healing of the characters’ in-betweenness. Therefore, I am interested in how this nepantla identity conflicts with and undoes hegemonic practices that seek to simplify Tejana epistemology. The author-surrogate Inés articulates freedom within those discursive practices by embracing anti-dichotomous thinking, self-recovery, vulnerability, and shifting paradigms while moving across different spaces, times, and identities that consist of childhood and adulthood, public and private spaces, and individual and collective positionality. Of importance is Inés’s self-acceptance as an Indigenous and Tejana woman who seeks out a transnational community of oppressed groups. Finally, I conclude that “That’s Tejana” as a decolonial narrative offers the potential to heal what Walter Mignolo calls the “colonial wound” through collective identity and activism.