Or, at least, that is what she said on Monday when she gave a lecture at UIC titled "Writing in the Time of Mexiphobia, or Packing Your Papers" in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
"We are living in a time of extreme Mexiphobia," Cisneros said. "I am deeply disturbed with the Mexiphobia which is being stroked by the media and politicians and people who have no sense in their heads."
She went on to say she has no answers for the current situation, only questions: "What is my responsibility as a writer in this time of fear? How do I write to effectively make change?"
Cisneros, 55, is originally from the University Village area of Chicago, which has been experiencing an intense gentrification since the mid-90s. The new look to her old neighborhood was not something that went unnoticed to Cisneros.
"Coming back to this neighborhood today is a little depressing," Cisneros said. "I grew up right here on Roosevelt Road and there were houses that had people of color in them. Those are gone and now there are condos and townhouses. That means those people have been displaced and I am wondering where they went."
Despite the political nature of the talk and, especially, the question and answer session, Cisneros did talk about her newest projects.
"I just finished a screenplay of "The House of Mango Street" and we are trying to raise money to get the movie made," Cisneros said. "I am also working on a book about writing called "Writing in My Pajamas" and a new collection of fiction called "Infinito.""
Cisneros read a couple of her new pieces to the crowd. One was called "Natural Daughter" and it told the story of finding out that she had an illegitimate sister in Mexico whom her father had left behind when he moved to America.
The story was beautifully written and had the poetic cadence that we are used to from Cisneros. The dialogue and explanations were bilingual; going in and out of Spanish like the thought process of someone who speaks and dreams in two languages.
The next story she read was about the interesting relationship between her mother and father, who seemed to have loved each other, but both were somehow brought down by the marriage. Again, Cisneros uses amazing images to describe everyday ideas. She says her father's family had "accents as stiff as suits" and that during angry rages her mother "threw sharp words like knives wounding both the guilty and the innocent."
Cisneros ended her readings with a comedic story about the love between a grandmother and her grandson, and how the grandmother teaches her grandson to not say everything on his mind, including the fact that she has a large derriere.
Answering an audience member's question about her writing process, Cisneros said: "If you write from your center, from what makes you different from everyone else, your story will always be unique."
When asked by a different audience member what her favorite book she has ever written is, Cisneros said it is "Infintio."
"Mother always likes baby best," Cisneros said. "I like "Infinito" best because it is not done so it is perfect now."
Ivone De Jesus, the interim director of UIC's Latino Cultural Center, said they asked Cisneros to speak because her work reflects this year's theme of their Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, "Celebrating History, Heritage and the American Dream."
"Whether you identify as a Latino or not, you can easily understand Cisneros' themes of love, family and heritage," De Jesus said. "Her work represents the idea of living with two identities and that is something that our students are dealing with directly."
UIC has a large Hispanic population with 18.5 percent of undergraduates identifying themselves as Latinos.
"The number of Latinos in UIC's undergraduate class has risen each year," Bette Bottoms, the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs at UIC, said. "Currently close to 20 percent of the undergraduate class identify as Latino. When we reach 25 percent we will be considered a Latino serving institution, which is something we welcome with open arms."
Cisneros now lives in a bright pink house in San Antonio, Texas with a menagerie that includes multiple dogs, cats and a parrot.
For more information on UIC's Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations visit uic.edu or call 312-996-3095.