I had the ‘great experience’ of breaking down on my way to work. I had the ‘great experience’ of realizing that I, as a minority, am powerless. I had the horrible experience of sitting in my fear, in my despair as I prepared to be strong for another human being.
As I read of shooting, after shooting, after shooting I am left overwhelmed. I am left powerless and afraid. I am left fearing for my life as a Latina and fearing for my partner’s life as an Afro-Latino. I am left speechless; paralyzed by fear. Afraid that if I speak too loud, if I laugh too hard, if I even enjoy my life how I want to, that my peace of mind, my life and my home will be taken away.
I live in a constant haze of white souls telling me how to act, how to talk and how to ‘properly’ relate to them in an attempt to assimilate me to their culture. Their fear of my diversity. Their fear of ‘larger than life’ personality. Their need to feel comfortable around a culture they have never been in contact with, is evident to me but not to them.
I am constantly bombarded with ‘I am a quarter black’ from a blonde man. ‘I am half Indian’ from a white female. ‘I am two-thirds Cherokee’ from a red-headed man. I am constantly bombarded with cultural appropriation, with a need to be more than just part of the white mass of the United States. I am bombarded with voices that are quick to claim their diversity but even quicker to disappear when it’s time to defend the culture they appropriated. And I find myself caught between the noise and the silence, whispering ‘It’s your heritage. Your heritage. You are not a fraction. Your blood cannot be divided into different minorities. You carry heritage not the label.’
I am perpetually in a motion of strength and weakness. I find myself puffing my chest at the mention of my heritage, my culture. I find myself defending myself and my people by showing excellence, by showing intelligence. I also find myself a ball of heaping sobs when no one is around. I also find myself in a maze of silent fear over my future, my life and my family as I co-exist in the white United States of America. I find myself constantly code switching; constantly building and crumbling all in order to find myself safe in a land of united states but of divided people.
I live in perpetual state of wanting change and not knowing how to reach it. As a child I dreamt of being black, like my family, so that I may feel part of them and not be called ‘La blanquita’ (the white one). In this land where only the white are free, and my skin is perceived as brown, I dream of being white so that I may be heard when I speak of injustice.
I had the horrifying experience of experiencing my own minority-ness as I walked to work. I had the horrifying experience of feeling silenced and powerless. I had the horrifying experience of realizing that unless those in power stand up for justice, my people will always fall in silence.
Signing off, TWS