My dad made the worst dad joke the other day. We were at the cemetery.
- Me: why are they adding so much space?
- Dad: they need a lot of new plots.
- Dad: everyone's dying to get in.
But it wasn’t out of a desire to distance myself or my people from our African roots, it didn’t come from an insidious or anti-Black place. I was always very aware of the African roots in Dominican culture that the many slaves who were brought to Hispanola passed down traditions, customs, foods, religions that are a huge part of our cultural lexicon. I usually got angry because I felt people would say that as a way to take away from Dominican culture, as if there was no specific Latino or Hispanic culture, all of our customs and traditions were just African. And it bothered me because I felt it ignored the Taino influences in our culture. And on a personal level it bothered me, I am not a dark skin Latin@, I’m white-passing (until I open my mouth that is) so I felt when people were saying that they were taking away my Dominican-ness from me like “But I’m not black, so I can’t be Dominican?” kind of thing.
I’m older now, and I think I understand a lot more about race than I did back then. I don’t get angry when people say Dominicans are black anymore, in fact, I say often make that declaration with pride now. I understand that even though we have Taino roots, the African influences are much stronger than they are in let’s say, Mexican, culture because the Tainos were a much smaller population and got wiped a lot more quickly than the Aztecs or the Mayans (I actually don’t have evidence to prove this, it’s a hypothesis, but it makes sense since I know there are still people Native descent alive in Mexico and Central America today, but there are no full-blood Tainos alive today). I now understand that you can be a White Hispanic and a Black Hispanic. You see for my entire life when I had to fill out forms and the race question came I would never answer it, because right before they ask you what race you are they ask you if you’re of Latino/Hispanic origin and what country you’re from, and then they ask for your race. I would always fill in Latino/Hispanic and not race because I certainly did not identify as White, or Black. It actually wasn’t until right before college that I actually read the question thoroughly and saw that it asked “Regardless of your answer to the previous question, please choose your race” or something along those lines.
But anyway, I know understand that the same kind of racism that’s so prevalent in America pervades throughout Latin America and it all stems from European colonization. I understand that the same kind of racism that allows Dominican officials to brutally expel hundreds of Haitians, and mistreat hundreds of Black Dominicans, is the same racism that allows George Zimmerman to kill Trayvon Martin and get away with it. I don’t know why I ever believed the two issues to be removed from one another. I know a lot more, my eyes have been opened a lot more. Which I’m glad for, it just still leaves me in a peculiar place when it comes to my own identity.
My friend asked me yesterday if I identified as a Black Hispanic, I had trouble answering the question. I would identify culturally as a Black Hispanic but I could never fully take on that identity because I am not dark-skinned, I have the privilege of looking white (mostly), I would fee bad claiming my Blackness when I know there are probably Sicilians are darker than me. But I certainly don’t identify as a White Hispanic, my father may have light skin and green eyes but even with him you can tell he’s not white, in fact my father told me that he’s often asked if he’s Black because of his features, and my mother wasn’t white, she had a coffee colored complexion (a beautiful complexion might I add), one that she passed down to two my little brother and sister, my other little sister has my father’s complexion. I know that I grew up in the Hip-Hop generation and Hip-Hop was a HUGE, HUGE part of my formative years, I was raised on it more than I was on Juan Luis Guerra actually. I told her, if anything, I’d say biracial, or more aptly, mestizo, because I feel that’s a much more accurate description. Excuse the pun, but the issue for me is not just a black and white one. I asked her what she thought, she told me that she would consider me a Black Hispanic because to her it was a cultural thing and how I hold myself the way I act, think, and speak. She said that’s she’s met Latin@s with my complexion who have a “white mentality” who she would consider White Hispanics.
Her explanation made sense to me. I still don’t know if I would consider myself an Afro-Latin@, I don’t want to offend dark skin Afro-Latin@s. I’ve never been randomly stopped by a cop in New York, I don’t get followed around in stores, I can’t speak to those transgressions. But I can use the privilege I do have to make White people understand racism, to help people who don’t have that privilege, I can use it as a tool to dismantle the system.
I still don’t quite know where this leaves me. And I don’t really know where I was going with this there’s no real conclusion here. But it’s been on my mind a lot so I just wanted to let it out. And I’ve just spent twenty minutes typing this when I should be doing my essay so I’m going to get back to that now.
plz dont dispute christina aguilera’s talents bc i really dont want to have to end our friendship but im willing
Sigh. These women are Latin@. Women also wrap their hair in our community. This is not like a fashion statement. They don’t even look white just look at their features. Sheesh.
Even deeper sigh. She hashtagged the pic #RihannaStyle, so yes it is a fashion statement that they copied.
Yeah maybe after seeing Rihanna do it at an award show they wanted to wear it to work (I just went to the instagram) but I’m positive that as Puerto Rican women they’re familiar with hair wraps and understand that it’s something you do after you get your hair done to keep it nice. It’s not something they “copied”. Maybe they just felt like if Rihanna could wear it to an award show let me wear it to work. Or I could be totally wrong I don’t know these women but I know that hair wraps (we call them doobies sometimes) are super common in the Latin@ community amongst all of us. I remember several times when I was younger and had long hair having to sit still while my mom or aunt would wrap my hair with pins. I’m just saying it’s not cultural appropriation it’s in our culture as well. Which is unsurprising since Latin@ culture is heavily influenced by our African roots, typically in the Caribbean where the native populations were much smaller and got wiped out by the Europeans much faster than in Central and South America.
Here are my results:
Your power comes from an ability to sense how things might be and to proclaim this possibility with a great force and willingness to act. You have a tendency to be romantic, and can be an idealist. This sense of how the world can be is often expressed with self-deprecatory humor. Because of your need to address the immediacy of the moment, you may not think things through to their logical end, relying instead on a feeling for how a situation SHOULD end. You need to be liked and appreciated by others, although your attention often wanders. Sometimes you neglect old friends in favor of a new or exciting acquaintance. You have a real difficulty being alone. Often you will seem to know how to handle a situation without exactly knowing HOW you know this. Your thoughts are often shallow. While in the excitement of the moment you can obsess about a task at hand. If it should become rote and unexciting, however, it can be dropped just as quickly.