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finale

 

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 …

!

Afro-Latinas

Dear Afro-Latin@s,

 

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 …

Love,

Menorka

Dominican Presence in Academic Spaces Extra Credit

The conference was a great space for integration of ideas and concerns that many Dominicans have at the moment of express their comments about academia. Academic spaces suffer a lack of representation by latino community in general.  On the other hand, it was interesting to learn about people of color that highlight because of their impact in academia and also learn about the ones that did a magnificent work but because of their color there is no recognition for them

The research that the department is doing to support and encourage Dominicans and people, in general, to learn about the culture is important to increase awareness.

AfroLatina

What I liked most about the reading was the relation to identity that was established. She is an Afro-Latina lesbian. There are a lot of intersections within that one identity. Because of this, she found it hard to relate to anyone at all. She questioned the validity of her identity and felt isolated from her communities.
Identity is often overlooked within the Latinx community. Although we all fall under this one large umbrella term, there is a lot that differentiates us from each other. Being of Salvadoran and Dominican descent, struggle with identity within my Latinx community is something I’ve faced first hand my entire life. We often times isolate ourselves from each other even though we all share this umbrella term subconciously. This is a problem that needs to be addressed because it divides us as a community and hinders any sort of progression. We need to understand that although our struggles might not all be exactly alike and we may not look alike either, we are still marginalized as a unit. It is only together that we will ever be able to destroy these boundaries that prohibit us from moving up the social ladder.

Letter Response to Uncovering Mirrors

Dear Little Sophie,

You are so beautiful. Your mind, your body and your spirit. And you will go through so much. People will put you down but you will get back up again. Your mind will tell you “no” but your heart will tell you “yes”. Listen to your heart because it’s truly what should drive you to inner happiness. I’m here to tell you now that everything will be okay. I know you’re so curious about what the future will hold for you but have faith that whatever happens will happen on its own. It’s okay to think those girls on your favorite television show are pretty. And it’s okay to not know if you have crushes on them or if you just want to be like them. You will still not know the answer to that question when you are older. And that’s okay because you have so much time to “find yourself”. But at the same time, you will ALWAYS be your true self. Life is just a path of discovery. You will uncover so many little secrets about yourself and so will other people. When people in your life insist you give them answers, don’t feel the need to. Your self discovery is personal, not public. They too have their own journey. You will fall very madly in love with silly boys that don’t deserve you! Your heart will hurt a lot when it’s all over but cherish the memories you had with them because you’ll grow so much from these relationships, trust me. While you face more difficult situations down the road, I encourage you to seek help. It’s okay to ask for it because people who love you truly want you to be mentally stable, they want to be here for you. The art that you make will help so much when it comes to these problems. Not just your art, but your writing too. Don’t be afraid to read books too because you can learn so much from them. Even the books you may be embarrassed to pick up, just do it! Who cares? Just you at this point. Like the American Girl book about puberty and hormones, that’ll come in handy some day, again, trust me. When you get to that time in your life where boys start looking at you, don’t feel like you have to be someone else just for them. Don’t feel like you have to dress up just for them to like you because if they’re worth it, their like you “sweatpants, hair-tied, chillin’ with no makeup on.” You’ll find out later what that song is! Anyways, back to relationships! Relationships are tricky but they don’t have to be like that. They can also be a learning experience. I don’t even mean just romantic relationships- but also friendships. The best romantic relationships start as friendships too- so keep that in mind. On a final note, expressing your sexuality is going to be a rollercoaster. You will feel confident some days and most days you won’t know what the heck you want. When you’re feeling lost, talk your LGTBQ+ friends. They will comfort you and relate to you more than anyone else. Never stop loving the people in your life unconditionally because one day you will get it in return. I promise.

Love,

Sophie

Unsteady

Blackness and brightness
All together as one
Should I be worried? should I be fine?

Blackness and strength
Together but not as one
Am I strong enough? Am I fine?

Blackness and me
I am the middle
I am blackness and brightness
I am fine

My strength is my blackness
My reflection is my brightness
I am fine

I can get confused
but I am the middle
I will be fine
I am fine

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!

The Privilege of the Passport

I was really moved by Ana M. Lara’s piece “Uncovering Mirrors”, and a part that really resonated with me was when she spoke about the power that her U.S. passport gave her. I have traveled to and from Mexico for most summers of my life, and I was made aware of the privilege that came with my American passport at a young age. Other factors such as my fair complexion and the occasional accompaniment of my White father on these trips would make going through airport security even less stressful, but I think that the deep blue hue and U.S. emblem on my passport has helped me in all of my travels more than any phenotype I possess.

But my U.S. passport was not always an easy thing for my mother to maneuver in her travels with me, and especially when I was a toddler my mother would be questioned about whether or not she was actually my mother. So, while I have rarely been stopped and questioned because of my passport, it has been a much more difficult endeavor for my mother, and despite her joint citizenship, she is still heavily scrutinized every time she crosses the border.

My U.S. passport also allowed me to cross borders like a hot knife through butter when I found myself in Europe last year. Of course, border control in the European Union is much less strict than that of the U.S., but of course only in relation to the right bodies passing through–think of the xenophobia directed at refugees and those coming from the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Eastern Europe and how their experiences crossing Western European borders must be nothing short of harrowing.

Even this past winter, I crossed the Mexican border in a completely new way. I was visiting San Diego, the city of my birth, with my family. We decided to drive across the Mexican border into Rosarito in order to eat authentic tacos al pastor and watch the sun set on the beach over the Pacific ocean. On the way back to San Diego, crossing the Mexican border was a lengthy and annoying process. But as soon as we reached the check point, we were free to drive straight on to In-N-Out before heading home. As I looked in the rear-view mirror at the Mexican landscape behind me, I saw so many black and brown bodies frozen on the other side of the border. Citizenship is a privilege I had never felt so tangibly connected to until that crossing, and it makes me wonder what I could do with this passport in order to share this privilege with others.

Afro Latinidad

 

 

 

 

Resultado de imagen para afro latino identity

http://atlantablackstar.com/2016/03/03/afro-latinos-divided-on-their-racial-identity-more-claim-white-or-hispanic-heritage-rather-than-black-study-says/

Being Latino is complex enough. With all the cultures, religions, traditions, geographical compositions and mosaic of hues encompassed, it can be hard for Latinos to define themselves.Now add afro into the mix, and the questions about cultural makeup and identity are endless. Not only, is possible to be both things, but its actually pretty common. However,there is still a clear white and black line. Sadly, our society doesn’t understand that there is a mix of things and you don’t have to define if you are one thing or another. A lot of people have experienced being in this intersection were they don’t fulfill entirely the common characteristics thereby, they are not considered Latino neither Black,  they are in this grey area where they can’t find their identity and they are not fully accepted in either community.

Latinos come in all colors, all shades, you don’t have to make a choice, embrace who you are.

Response 11

In “Miss, You Look Like a Bratz Doll”: On Chonga Girls and Sexual-Aesthetic Excess by  Jillian Hernandez, I learned a lot about how minority women are hypersexualized and denounced through others perceptions of them. I am a Puerto Rican woman who moved from Williamsburg, Brooklyn to Westchester County, so that my parents could provide my sisters and I with a good life. My mom especially wanted to take me out of the urban environment that is often plagued with perceptions of Latina women being “Chongas.” I remember the women I was often surrounded by wearing necklaces and big hoop earrings that had their names in them and women who overlined their lips and drew on their eyebrows. I did not know that their was a label for these women who just liked dressing the way they did. However, the United States, as it often does, gave a bad rep to these women and decided to hypersexualize them and denounce them by labeling them as “Chongas” as if it was a bad thing. Even though I do not portray all of the characteristics of what it is like to be or look like a “Chonga,” the people I have grown up with and attended school with have made me very aware of my ethnic stature. I have always attended predominantly white, Catholic schools so being the black sheep has always been a thing for me. I was always the thickest girl, the girl with the big lips, the girl with the “Asian” eyes, and the brown girl (even though I do not see myself as that dark). I noticed that while I was growing up, I was often seen in a sexual way to my peers simply because of what I looked like. I remember for my eighth grade graduation, I wore a black dress with red roses printed on it that extenuated my body. I had a full figured body so my breasts filled out the top of my dress and my hips stood out. I wore heels and had my hair twisted at the top, and wore huge heart earrings. Looking back, I cannot even imagine what my classmates and their families thought of me. Probably that I looked like a “Chonga.” Probably that I looked like a slutty, Latina girl, who did not have enough money for a modest dress and nicer hair (little did they know, I did). But that was what I liked and so I was going to be me, entirely and wholly. The hypersexualition of minority women needs to stop. We do not see any of this labeling being placed onto white women. So why do WE have to be generalized and denounced? While reading this piece, it reminded me of how there are so many parody videos on YouTube that praise stereotypes and cliches. Videos such as “How to Know You’re Hispanic” or videos like “Ten Reasons Why You’re A Real Puerto Rican.” I remember watching a video that included reasons of how you knew you were a real Latina, which included cliches such as your grandparents keeping the plastic on their furniture (even though it is true in my case) and the most often praised chankleta and how you would get your butt beat with one if you acted up. In the comment section I would see people praising these videos and agreeing, which would  encourage the stereotypes and cliches even more by making people believe these are ways in which all Latinas/os live. It is literally insane! There are so many things that need to be changed about the stereotyping of Latina women and the change needs to begin with the media.

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