After receiving this award yesterday and being this is my last blog post! I did a lot of thinking of what I have learned throughout this semester and how I have grown as a woman, an Afro-Latina woman. This award is a representation of everything and mostly everything I have learned from this class and have taken it out to the world. After listening to the final podcast, it was interesting some of the thoughts discussed with Rosa Clemente really hit home for me. Like me she was born and raised in the South Bronx who is activist for the community of Black and Latinos. She is an Afro-Latina woman and this made me realize that everything we have learned in this class and every single woman we have encountered in this class has made me a better woman, a better scholar, a better activist, and most of all woke. If I could I do it all over again I would, and I am grateful that I have women to look up to even more now, and that I too can be like Rosa, Caridad, Pabon and so much more …
This is a testimony to all my Latinas out there that battle with showing off or embracing their blackness. To my Latinas who already embrace their blackness but struggle with trying to fall in the right crowd without being told you too black to be white or you are not black because you are not black enough. Funny someone told me the other day, “The idea of calling yourself Afro-Latina, does not make sense to me just be black or Latina” Hmmm, if only it was that easy right. First let’s take about how long it took me and many of my sisters so long to love our hairs because curls were too ugly so being in the salon every Sunday was a thing. The most upsetting part today is that curly hair is embrace sisters, but the Eurocentric culture appropriated my hair, your hair and style. I feel your pain in so many ways when you trying to balance out who you are but also trying to fit in because you constantly are trying to get the validation of others! See this letter is more than me or us trying to get the message cross, this is a testimono of the unspoken feelings of always being the middle person, trying to defend that your blackness is truly meaningful! Writing this letter, I know I am repeating and saying the same words that our ancestors have cried, but the sadness part is are people listening? Because my cries are endless. The feeling that your culture or your identification being called out on as not enough hurts. My latinidad and my blackness is enough.
Our ancestors must be flipping in their caskets of all the pain we still encounter. They reflected courage, determination and persistence; but how must we continue their legacy of courage when we are being Afro-Latina is not a thing. You see I want to make it clear ladies, let’s NOT give up, let’s educate because sometimes we get caught up with the bad instead of the good. Educate so that future generations feel protected and secured. We should feel proud to say that we are Afro-Latina because we are somebody. We must unify together, and be the movement we want to see, standing together and supporting each other through it all. The first step is recognizing our OWN strengths and appreciating our OWN presence, no matter how many times our presence goes unnoticed. Our presence will speak volumes to those who are not ignorant, to those who understand the pre-fix of the word Afro-Latina. We must work towards building our own community and letting other communities know what the first part of our identifications mean.
I know at times my sisters we feel that that this color is a burden or the way we identify. Not at all. This our gift, your super power, your secret weapon, the skin cells we carry no one can take that away. Because we know what it is like to be different and discriminated against, you will be able to recognize it when it happens to someone else. You will be able to lift them up as I hope this letter will do to you. And then they will pay it back with someone else and so on and so on. This super power means you have the potential to stop this ugliness just by being you. If this is not a gift, then I do NOT know what is. Keep pushing my sisters …
Sour and Hard
The taste on my tongue makes me miss you
It makes her
Put her heart out and scream her feelings out
The grape is like a ball
Like the knot I have in my throat of sadnesss
Hard like my battles
A room full of empty souls
Many dreams broken, still a lot of hopes to fill
Cherish the good and remove the bad.
Some people don’t realize till it is gone
Moving on is a way of life.
There will always be obstacles, pain, and strife.
although it may be risky like eating a forbidden fruit
never let anyone steal your shine and make you frown
So will you sit in the shadows and let darkness
Or will you rise up and with the Latinas lost in the room?
Dile Que Es Amor
Y eso fulls my life
I fell in love with the sound of hopes and dreams not sadness
The way it shapes only the curves of a womxn can be explained
Reminds me of the islands
Pero tenemos que seguir luchando to make our womxn praised as much as a mango would
You and us as ONE
This is not the end but we will be back soon
When I look at this picture and when you look at this picture I want you all to understand what it is like to juggle life. I have been juggling with a sickness that I cannot control, but the biggest juggle of my life I have been struggling with is losing my mother. I am very attached to her; de qué vale el exilio si no hay amor en la familia. That is the message I want to send to Latinas we are all juggling something but the struggle in our lives is worth it. Death is something that everyone fears, but I have learned that to live does not mean you are alive. I will not allow the bad things to define me, I will not allow the bad to die on me but to make it positive. Hello?
Dear the Unknown,
I used to be afraid of what would happen if I did not know what was next or not knowing the unknown. I was worried because sometimes the unknown is scary and we might not take chances but dear Unknown, I do not know you but I am thankful for all the advice you have given me. Teaching that you can start small but always grow to be a better woman. When reading this I thought about my sorority, when I finished started my journey I never knew what my days consisted of but I know that one day I would be a great person. Just like you I knew I needed support, especially being a minority; being a woman. I remember when I was also biting through, being the first in my family to go to college at first was very hard; I was depressed. But, the Unknown can never cease to exist; it is always there in the back of your mind, watching, learning, waiting for the perfect time to manifest into a something new ask yourself questions like: “what will happen next?”, or how will I die?”
What I do know is that I want to die leaving my legacy behind. When I read about being a Latina and try to explain that to other people they will never understand, because you if you do not understand the unknown you will never understand the position you stand in. No matter how hard you strain for us Latinas to be equal, you will never truly understand what being sad about who you are, what is at the bottom, IF there is a bottom or what could be staring you right in the face can make you FUERTE! Tu sabe the biggest fear to all humans is the fear of the unknown, but for me it has always been something that excites me.
Throughout my life, I have faced multiple obstacles placed in front of me, with each success and failure shaping the person I am today. However, in life like the Unknown has always followed us Latina because we were always targeted or forced by society hate who we are and how we are judged. For me, I continued with my battles of being Latina. I was placed in many situations where being myself and what I STAND for did not matter but afterwards but if it was worth it all!
So, dear Unknown thank you for tough messages that you would send my way but for also being there in silence giving me as a Latina advice to grow against all the odds against me. I am better than my limits and when you pass by again Unknown I hope you are ready to chat because I have a lot to say and I am grateful and I hope that you can stay. Stay to excite me for your next move and how that will reflect me and you, as we BITE through the hard times and work together to love you, us, and the unknown.
I want to start this off by saying I love you! Pero let me tell you why not only because you are Puerto Rican but you are POWER and Strength.
When I hear, you say the world politics my brain lights up because I cannot believe that me and you have a lot in common. I understand being the struggle of being part of a group especially when I consider black. People tell me all the time how can you be black if your Latina and then my Puerto Rican family calls me Gringa. I want to write a poem to you and this letter goes to you for memory.
Garcias por tu Pay y tu Máy for making the decisions they did
I know it was NOT easy but I appreciate you
Where we come from everything that is true, we say wepa
we get pissed, we say cono
we laugh, we say que estupido
when we play, it’s a classic game of dominoes
when we love, it’s always a say of te quiero
No one can take that way from us
It may be the same of color as the u.s.a., but do NOT get it twisted
it may be a colony but the u.s will never take away our wealth
wealth is not all about money, it is what being Boricua and what that means to us means to us.
I am glad you learned about YOURSELF
I hope I could meet you
Your vibe and empowerment I hope for that one that enlighten me!
Puerto Ricans are just as equal we are not any different,
The women in our culture are NOT Putas,
The men in our culture are NOT a waste
Like you tengo un testimonio de dolor. Mi papá se me fue when I was eight years old. His hands like yours were soft and almost a sign of protection of mi. love that you said that you started life looking backwards because I have lived that way my whole life until I came to college. I carried my mother’s depression for a long time because I had to be her best friend, she did not have no one else. My mother’s tears were my way to freedom of being what everyone expected me to be, so I thank you for that. I knew that for my mother to feel old about herself I had to be her bridge for her pain. My mother’s fears more losing me than her own life, but like your mother I fear my past because I cannot take back my mistakes or things I have said. I fear my future like your father, scared to be everything everyone said I would. Fear of doing anything right, not making my mother proud, being a loser. Ivette, sometimes I look at myself and ask why I am so harsh on myself. Me and you are not both from Puerto Rico pero I since the sazon between us how we struggled to be where we want to be. My father when we do speak tells me all the time what I study or am doing will never get me any money, he is locked away but does not still seem to understand that I do not need riches nor fame. I want to help students, Latina students that look like me, struggle like me, and cry like me because I want them to have a role model and to live up to themselves not anyone else.
Me encanto the way you said that although you were the bridge you could not choose sides on a bridge and that was hard for you. When leaving to college I had the opportunity to pick my own side and be my own bridge, mami at first did not get that and thought the worse but see your story symbolizes to me faith and hope. The way your mother spoken about men and how you are strong and we do not need them was beautiful; especially under teachings. My mother tells me all the time to get an education and to not depend on any man and she compares her past relationships and the way men have hurt her. You see Ivette we are not our mothers and something our mothers hear fear for us more than we do because they don’t want to be the mother with a screwed-up child. Men are not trusted, I would never forget my first heartbreak the first thing my mother told me was I told you so. Your parents like my parents take me to speak up for myself and more definitely not to let anyone take control of my thoughts and what is mine. I thank you Ivette and I hope one day I can meet you, you have been such a good person and you deserve the best. Like you the best gift I can give my mom is my education and love.
Win or Win
When you put these words and thoughts together I think of the Power Pantoja had! I will fight for not only myself but my community …
Young and old
When you put these words together the fight, freedom, and passion that Pantoja had speaks through them. I am my community I will fight for what is right.
Free at last; reading about YOU Pantoja has showed me I am strong, I am free, I am my community. I miss you this poem is for you …