ENCANTO VII: Bruno — Indigeneity and Hierarchy
From here, the plot begins in earnest. Luisa refers Mirabel to Bruno. His room evokes indigenous architecture. I disavow language that renders indigenous cultures to the past. Colombia’s indigenous present remains alive and in resistance.
His room has been abandoned — yet, he remains hiding in the walls, internally displaced.
Stepping back — the family that sustains the town; keeps ties to the church; and spreads its power has a hidden room devoted to pre-Columbian artifacts. Further, this room belongs to an uncle whose existence is denied and those who mention him are silenced. Ironically, the Madrigal’s flourish because of unnatural gifts.
Remember, “we don’t talk about Bruno — no, no”.
My family, like many of yours, guards its secrets. There’s a number of people and memories that I could fill in for Bruno. Which members were you taught to ignore? Taught to forget? Which events did we decide never happened? Further, in Bruno, I saw much of what is disdained in my family: deep-set eyes, unkept beard, long hair, non-traditional dress, — and, using sacred medicines. These are things I learned to refute.
Time to Disentangle Mestizaje
Mestizaje is a non-neutral term that refers to the project of whitening non-white communities, thus making them acceptable to white supremacists. Mestizaje is reciprocal, but unequal because European virtues remain necessary for prosperity; e.g., language, religion, currency, family structure, gender roles, naming customs. But, assimilation takes place alongside extractivism. It explains Benjamin Franklin wearing a frontier cap in Paris and white kids in war bonnets at Coachella — don’t forget Plains Indians were denied their culture for generations.
Turning to Encanto: what are the Madrigal’s cultures? They’re European. Are they also descended from Muisca people? Are its Black members free? Where do the cultures sit in hierarchy? Bruno might not be indigenous; but he is tied to its practice. When others perceive him as creepy and malicious, it reveals what colonized people learned of indigeneity.
The cracks in Casita’s foundation become clearer as Mirabel approaches the truth. I think it means Mirabel will expose the family’s devotion to power and rejection of indigeneity. Mirabel will elevate truth, vulnerability, and intimacy to refute Alma’s work of consolidating wealth, power, and influence.
Let’s take a moment for John Leguizamo — my hero since his 1997 performance in The Pest.
I like that he’s now a voice for diversity and inclusion. It suggests political wakefulness. But he aligns with the ADL and campaigns for neo-liberal Democrats. His one-man special on Netflix, Latin History for Morons, is cringe. I still want to meet him!
This excerpt comes from series that I wrote in the wake of Disney’s release. The film inspired me to tap into my creativity. Join and subscribe to keep up as I share over the next month.