HHM: My honest struggle

Reading the comments section of Remezcla’s coverage of Alejandro Villanueva last weekend solidified my estimation. I used to think that HISPANIC or LATINO people, my people, were driven by a need to be perceived as anything other than poor. Although true, I also know that is only second to the idea that WE want to be perceived as far from BLACK as possible.

Me: “You know you’re the tallest Ecuadorian in Ecuador right?!”
Him: “Yeah. And I don’t even know what to tell them, so I say, ‘Drink milk.’”   


Me: “Yo, you remember the first time you went to Ecuador and you got milk in a bag?”
We slap fives and laugh like we are family.  
Him: “Yoooo, remember trying to figure out why it was oily and how you need to just bite it and suck out the liquid or else it’s a wrap?”  
More laughs.
Him: “Yo, not only am I tall, but they consider me BLACK, so I am coined NEGRITO.”  


His expression changes.  
I feel safe telling him, “I remember when I was 10 and I asked my dad to get out and help a boy that was getting his ass handed to him and he says he won’t because he’s dark skinned too.”  
An exchange of understanding.  
Him: “You know my wife is Polish and my kids came out super white with hazel eyes and my family says that our genes have finally been saved.”

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Mi gente.  
We’re so lost.
We diminish our history.
We want to be European.
We are direct descendants of slaves masters.
We are direct descendants of slaves.
We hate our  BLACKNESS.
We diminish our history.
We’re so lost.
Mi gente.

Every time you ask me if I am from the coast, or from the city, or from the mountains, you know what the fuck this tells me?  You wanna know how removed from BLACK slaves I am.  Your ass would never ask me that shit directly though. You would rather ask me if my dad is INDIO when you see my hair straightened. Oh, how your face changes when I tell you my grandfathers are NEGRO and MULATTO from the tobacco plantations of Trinidad and Tobago.  MULATTO…miscegenation anyone?  

Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 10.53.55 PMI don’t do this month because I don’t know who WE are, and I don’t know how to help US yet.  

The editor asked me to round out my ending.  The truth is that I don’t know how to end this piece because in my own life and practice I haven’t reached an ending with which I am comfortable.

I am looking to the wisdom of my people, mi gente, the people with a platform both inside and outside the classroom.  Shout out to my partners at CREAD who are actively and passively helping me along this journey.


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