Days 21-29 Catch Up: The Quick & Dirty Finish

I’ve got to apologize to @Latinegro because this is starting to feel like one of those old-school chain letters. Bad blogger.

Then again, I always did like those things….

One dark and stormy night, @Latinegro founded the 30 Day Latino Blog Challenge. He scheduled it to coincide with Latino/a and Latin American Heritage Month (I hate the word Hispanic) which began today and ends October 15th. And, hospitable fellow that he is, he’s invited any Latino blogger to join in.

Since I can count on one hand the number of fellow Afrolatina bloggers I know, I think I’ll take the plunge. After all, I haven’t written a post specific to Latina or Afrolatina issues for awhile now. For 30 days and nights, I owe the interwebs at least two paragraphs on the topic o’ the day. To follow along (or backtrack) click the tag “latina/o heritiage month.” Today’s topic(s): Uh huh, keep on reading….

*does a salsa spin and keeps on cheating*

Day 21: What Latin American Country/Island I Have Been to? I wrote this when I went to Brazil for the first time.

Day 22: Do you consider yourself more Latino than American?

This one is a good one.

I consider myself American. Of course, when I think “American” I am also thinking pan-hemispheric. My America encompasses everything west of the Treaty of Tordesillas.

But I still consider myself American in the United States sense. True, I wish the U.S. would live up to its creed and unwrap itself from its imperial ventures around the globe (including the island of Puerto Rico). And I definitely felt Michelle Obama when she described how proud she was of her country–and that it was the first time she felt that way.

But my Latino identity, as multi-tiered as it is, remains wrapped around a history particular to the United States. Trans-atlantic slavery to the U.S. South and the Caribbean, one-drop rules, cotton and tobacco farming, property loss through gentrification and eminent domain, labor migrations to cities in the North, espiritismo and Pentecostalism, bootstraps and the 14th Amendment. Even my privilege is wrapped up in being from the United States. They are indistinguishable. I blame it on my mama.

Day 23: Hispanic or Latino: Which do you prefer?

Day 24: Should Puerto Rico be a state?

Aww snap. Hit me with your best shot, why don’t you?

I think Puerto Rico has the right to self-determination. If that means state, so be it. If that means independent nation, so be it. Or whatever is in between. The struggle for Puerto Rico is not so much the form that emancipation should take–although this is critical and important–but the fact that this choice has never been presented to the island with no strings attached and with the full support of the federal government. Puerto Rico is consistently treated like the pathetic step-child by state and federal governments who use the island for experiments in sterilization & education, a dumping ground for military waste and a playground for corporate execs and Wall Street elites. Which flows into the common wisdom. Don’t believe me? Ask the person sitting next to you if you need a passport to visit the island? #fail

Day 25: Post a picture of your familia and explain the significance.

My mother and father met in high school. My dad has a story he liked to tell about first meeting her. Walking with a friend, he bumped into a young woman in the hallway at school. She kept moving; him, being the swaggalicious heterosexual black boy he was followed her with his body until she was out of sight, his oblivious friend continuing to talk all the while. By the time he turned back, he said, he’d already decided, “I’m going to marry that girl.”

I don’t know how he got this shot of my mother and my aunt and himself. And there’s something vaguely lecherous about him spying in on what was obviously a sister moment (my aunt has the uh-uh look she still gets on her face when her train of thought-speech has been interrupted). But whenever I see this photo I think of that story. One day, I’m going to marry that girl.

Day 26: Favorite Latino Actor or Actress. Redirect: Rita Moreno.

get em, boo!

Day 27: Favorite Latina/o Author

That’s tough. All the usuals are in evidence: Gloria Anzaldúa, Cherríe Moraga, Michele Serros, Junot Diaz (I’ve got no beef with Oscar Wao) & Piri Thomas. Eduardo Galeano and Gabriel García Márquez are my favorite Latin American authors–One Hundred Years of Solitude is a classic. Isabelle Allende is the writer I hate to love: on an intellectual level her work goes too far but no writer since E. B. White has been able to wring tears from me the way she can–and not during the scenes of violence.

Truth is, I don’t have one. And now that I think about this prompt, I realize I can’t name an author who fits my imaginary criteria for favorite: great writer, Puerto Rican & latinegra descent, speculative fiction aficionado.
Most of the brown writers I’ve come into contact with have been of Chicano or Mexican descent, or been male.

I toss this one out to la familia. If you’ve got someone I should read, pass the suggestion along. I’ll even blog it.

Day 28: Family Ancestry

Ay carajo. as @LuvvieiG might say: iFail. iRedirect.

iAdd: my grandmother’s grandmother was apparently Taino. Her grandfather was Spanish. There’s some additional rigmarole about her being “very beautiful” and I think my childhood self imagined her as a princess (too much Pocahontas, I know. See what Disney does to your brain?)

The family ancestry that is important is the one I’ve been describing over these last twenty-eight prompts: United States Slave South on my father’s side & Peasant Farming Puerto Rican on my mother’s. A match made in post-colonial heaven. But I look forward to chatting more about family ancestry as this blog develops. I’ve got a few projects planned out–stay tuned.

Day 29: Latino Politics–What affects you?

My earlier concern with black and brown political unity and pan-brown dialogue irrespective of language bears out in several larger issues that aren’t seen as specifically “Latino” issues. Keeping abortion legal and protecting my right to deliver a child to term is critical and critical for Latinas who come from families and communities that are “traditionally” more Catholic, more patriarchal and more conservative. I used quotation marks because most of that is anecdotal. In my personal experience, the truth that doesn’t like to be told is that a Latina girl or woman is as likely to have a child as she is to abort with or without approval from the father (or her father, or priest, or pastor). We are not a womanhood being run by the men in our communities so don’t let the passive-Latina-wife stereotypes fool you. Reproductive choice, one way or another, I dare say, has been a fact of life since the First Man looked down to measure his ding-a-ling while the First Woman looked around, saw someone left the gates of Eden unlocked and decided she wanted something more.

The real problem is that these shouldn’t be closeted choices–any woman should be able to choose when and what she is going to do with her body and that includes the nine months it takes to bring a life into this world.

The other issues are old hat by now but we need to keep talking about them. Gentrification is DESTROYING our communities. It is at the root of gang violence, education resources, voting patterns, tax brackets, foreclosures, unemployment–everything. Violence against women and girls of color, including street harassment, is tied up with this too. Rebuilding New Orleans is a personal issue for me. Ending gun violence in Chicago is another one. Equal access to higher education–and rigorous academic teaching and standards is a third.

Immigration is an issue that does not affect me as directly. I was born on the mainland. Puerto Rico is U.S. property. My obligatory brownness makes Driving While Black & Female a problem but not one that will get me deported (thrown in jail on trumped up charges and at risk of other bodily violence, yes). I live on the east side of the Mississippi and above the Mason-Dixon line. I speak fluent English. In other words, I’ve got a knapsack of privileges that protect me the ICE-industrial complex even though I am black & brown. My citizenship status is a kind of freedom paper certain everyday injustices that punish so many people from just trying to live, work and raise families in the U.S.

But as a larger fact of life…if ICE is coming for them at midnight they will be coming for me in the morning. Two degrees or less separates me from someone deported or threatened with deportation. That is unacceptable.

Latinos. We got issues. And these are issues that interlock…which means that maybe as we topple one at a time, we can more easily topple them all.

Stay tuned for Day 30….


One thought on “Days 21-29 Catch Up: The Quick & Dirty Finish

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