Desahogo about my culture

We put much thought into defining where we come from. Some do it because they care about their heritage. Others do it simply because they want to make sure that they are not added into the mix. The mix that make us draw the imaginary line that divides Black from White. Here is where the people that draw it make it seem like white is better. What makes me angry about all this is the fact that these attitudes that I am talking about do not come from white people. They come from us. Yes! The latinx culture. Here and there, we are in a constant fight with our own history. This is our own fault!

Growing in the Dominican Republic, watching Haitians break their backs everyday. Working for their food along their fellow dominicans made me believe that we were unified. You know, since we are neighbors when it comes to the location of our country. I thank God today because I have an education and I was able to open my eyes about my own culture, specially my country. We… the Dominicans, we are racist. Most of us, if not all of us within the Latino culture are racist. We are in a constant fight to find ourselves further away from Blackness as if being black was some sort of disease. Now, if you think I’m lying let’s talk about the Dominican Republic because what I am talking about now is what I grew up seeing.

I say “We” when I talk about racism in Latin America because no one who grew up there is able to say “I did not have these attitudes while growing up.” It might not be our fault because we were young but the thoughts were there. I used to celebrate February 27th as the best day in Dominican history. We celebrate independence from Haiti as if it was our greatest accomplishment, but what happened to the independence from the colonizers? Why do we have a “Faro a Colon” as some sort of tribute to him? As if he deserves to be recognized. Why do we try to copy North American culture in most of the racist things they do? Because we are racist. We are poor, we have different skin tones and because of that are oppressed by the elites. However, we ain’t no saint because we also oppress others. The “others” are called Haitians in my country. What are they called in yours?

Being latinx is complicated enough, now when the word Afro is added… Where Afro is tied to Blackness and “we don’t want to be considered black because white is better.” We make the construction of our identity too complex that we do not know who we are even thought we believe we do. You believe that the negation of your roots makes you more of who you really are. YOU ARE WRONG!

Some do not want to be fully black, others do not want to be fully white and I do not want to be racist at all. Embrace the different flavors!

My body, My art

We believe that being quiet is being silent.

Eso no es cierto!

Not when our body is present,

Not when we choose to deconstruct stereotypes through the arts.

Not when we transform what we wear into a crucial part of who we are.

 

And certainly not when get so deep into character and perform our lives.

 

We have to be silent, stay still and pay attention.

Presta atencion!

Because when our bodies talk, we must listen.

Listen to all the stories and intense feelings that has to let out.

They always come out…

 

 

 

Letter to Music

This is just a little story I want to share with you so that you can understand the reasons why today I want to share my feelings about you. So, the other day I felt like I had lost my headphones. I looked everywhere for them, my jacket, my pockets, I even retraced my steps. By my reaction, a friend who was with me thought it was my phone I had lost. I said: No, but this is as important as my phone. And let me tell you why…

First, I would like to take this time to properly thank you. Thank you for always being there for me. You have never let me down. You seem to know my darkest secrets and have never used them against me. You know what makes me sad, happy, uncomfortable, angry, numb… Every feeling that you could ever imagine I go through it with you. Whenever you say something and I can relate to it, I turn the volume up and you speak loud to me. Loud enough that I learn from it every time.

Honestly, I do not know how you actually do it but you have magic. For instance, there is not much I can say that keep me connected to the world, but you do. At times, for sure. Because some other times when I listen to what you have to say I go to an alternative world and it’s just me and the voices. You have given a mission to these voices. Those strong, of sober thoughtfulness, sometimes hype or sad voices that guide me through my darkness and happiness. I also want you to thank the people that dedicate their time to make you better every time because through them you keep me sane. Their purpose have worked in my favor.

Without doubt, you have also put me on some sort of duty. Yes! Because of you I dance. While dancing I reflect on everything being said. I let it sink into my inner self, I feel the rhythm and finally express what the voices want to divulge through my body and energy. My passion for dancing would be nothing without you. Indeed, my passion is to dance; my desire is to listen to you. Music that change me every time from a broken person into a brave and more alive one.

I hope you do not get offended by this but I am proud to refer to as my drug. I cannot go a day without you, I am addicted. My headphones are like the needle that transmit the dangerous poison that is music. This substance always makes its way into my ears as if it was a vein and completely changes my day. All the different flavors and high that you offer… I mean, from the dembow to the reggaeton, bachata, salsa and boleros sometimes I do not know which one to pick “All I know is that I must have [you] to be whole.”

Thank you Music.

Pssst

Pssst!

What a beautiful body. God bless you mami.

Where I come from, un piropo is like a how are you.

You get it everyday, at anytime, anywhere.

 

Pssst!

What a beautiful body. God bless you mami.

If you pay attention to it, you are considered a whore,

or they assume that you want somenthing with them.

If you don’t, you get insulted for ignoring them.

 

As we grow up we start to understand that enough is enough.

We don’t want to hear the…

 

Pssst!

What a beautiful body. God bless you mami.

Because through these lines we ask ourselves at some point,

“Since when does physical maturity signal that your body is available to any men at any time?”

 

You will never change me

Being in the streets from 1:00PM till 7:00PM was normal to me. Coming from a poor neighborhood in the Dominican Republic where there is not much to do at home, we used to entertain ourselves differently. As a child, playing outside with friends, going to the esquina and watch other people play, or just going to a neighbor’s house and talk about whatever topic came to mind made me happy. I never lived with my father because he moved to the U.S when I was two years old, but he would go to the D.R. every end of the year for a month just to spend time with us. Everything was perfect when he traveled. But coming to the U.S I had many encounters with him about “Tu eres la hembra de la casa, you should be home.” Meanwhile, being younger than me, my brother was always encouraged to go out, explore, never help me with the chores at home (because it is a womxn’s task) and be a “Man.” We have to move out of this neighborhood (176 Street in the Bronx) because I do not want my daughter near these Blacks. He would repeat that to my mother everyday after work. At the moment I did not understand what he meant by it. But as I grew up he kept saying “Novio negro no, tienes que mejorar la familia.” 

Pero nunca me deje influenciar. I never let his beliefs influence me on my role as a womxn. Nonetheless, who I should mix myself with. Now, he is happy I didn’t.

Where do we live?

We live in a country where
Looking for a better future seems possible.
Possible, hasta que nos la ponen en china.

We live in a country where we are free,
But become prisoners of our own thoughts.
Thoughts that want to be let out,
but we have to be careful with our words.
Porque sino…

We live in a country where “there is no”
Race, class, ethnicity, religion or gender inequality.
We live in the United States.

To whom it might concern

I once said, I will stop my academics for a year. That was only going to be after I finish college. My plan was to work and finally get out from under my parent’s wing. Then, I would go back to school in the city. However, my father did not agree with this plan. He made me an offer. He said, “Go get your Masters right after college and I will take care of all your expenses. I will also buy you a car. I said yes, not because I wanted a car or him still breaking his back at work to give me money. I said yes because the look on his face told me that that’s what he wanted to hear. I can’t really back down now, even though I am drained of long days of classes and nights of homework for the past four year in college, plus the other 13 years of the same routine (Kindergarten-High school). But I have to keep pushing because that is something that he wants for me and I can’t let him down.

If I had said no to his offer, he would have been “okay”. To explain better, it is like an exercise where we get partial credit for the effort but not the full credit because that was not their vision of what we should have done. This is because even if they support our decisions at the end, deep down they feel some type of way.

Sometimes we are pushed by our parents because they know better than to let us do things on our own, and they want what’s best for us. However, parents like my parents do not know the struggle of being a college student. That is unfortunate of course, but that it is a pressure that they put and we carry on our shoulders. Therefore, I wonder if they actually think about how we must feel with their constant intervention in our decisions as young adults.

I relate to the fact that we are our parents bridge. My mom does not really have much to say. She wants what’s best for me, but also whatever I want to do is okay with her. Disagreements come and go because the man of the house wants his wife to support his decisions. They fight and the fustration always lead me to ask them, “If ya can’t be together without fighting, why don’t ya get divorced already?” Sometimes is “we still love each other” other times, “it’s just a regular fight, not a big deal” but there is always that “it is also because we do not want our children to grow up without both parents”. We all know that their intentions are good, and I do not want to sound as an ungrateful child but I would like to know when is it that we will get to make our own decisions without worrying about the way our parents are going to feel.

I believe its never!

Att: A Tired College Student.

 

 

 

 

You don’t know

Don’t tell me you don’t know.

About my roots; hijos de la tierra.

About the urge to feel free from machismo…

free in my body, free in the world.

You don’t know.

 

You doubt whether I’m crazy or not.

But…you’re right,

I am crazy, so let me live in my bubble.

you’re right,

because you don’t know about my struggles.

 

 

Cultivate a better future

As I look at this random picture from google, I find myself thinking deeply about the institutions. These establishments whose intentions are to convince our children that some people are better than others. Perhaps, they want to cultivate a divided society. Evidently, many do not realize the power that adults have over these kids. Pura Belpré understood that in order for us to have a better future, we must abandon the socially constructed beliefs. This can be done by teaching them the importance of culture and the acceptance of other cultures as well. Additionally, the truth about their history. As Belpré said, the goal is to show them the similarities that they have, instead of teaching them their differences. As a result, we can create a more unified society.

This image represents the actions that we do. If we do not water our plants they cannot grow. Moreover, if we do not teach our children the right things, our society cannot progress.

 

 

 

 

Fight

Fight!

That’s what we are constantly pushed to do.

They take what’s ours out of the blue.

If only we could find a way to break through.

 

Fight!

That’s the only thing we could do.

But do we do it? We must admit,

that we barely take action but we have to commit.

Fight!

Against inequalities,

race/ethnicity, gender and stolen property.

Stand against the hypocrisy and,

dismantle the monopoly.

 

Fight!

Don’t wish to live forever, if you’ll be living in vain.

Don’t stay tied up to an imaginary chain.

Work your way up against all costs.

and FIGHT against oppression.