As things continue to escalate against blacks across the world. I decided to make a blog post about what my experiences have been as a Latina, and what are my hopes for the future
“You’re too dark for me to love” the words echoed in my brain and I decided I wanted to become as white as she was, I bathed in scathing hot water, scrubbed my skin until it was pink and then scrubbed some more. No matter how much I bathed or scrubbed my color didn’t seem to change, nor did I seem to fit or earn my Grandmother’s approval. She often looked at me in disgust. Sometimes because I was too dark, sometimes because I was too fat, other times because I was both.
Although I was seven and eight years old when I was thrust into the reality that I was different from my siblings, especially my white sister – the words of disdain and the look of hatred in my grandmother’s eyes have stood with me far into adulthood. She has since apologized for actions that she ‘doesn’t remember’ and usually blames on the haze of full blown menopause. She always expresses her love and admiration towards me and while we’ve had conversations about how far I’ve made it in life, I can see in her eyes that she does remember the days of torture I endured under her care.
As I read the news of a white man in South Carolina trying to start a race war, and the mass deportation of Haitians, Dominican-Haitians and black Dominicans in the Dominican Republic and The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, I can’t help but regress to that feeling of displacement within my own family, hatred towards my skin, and confusion of my heritage. Are these people going through those emotions, or are they just feeling hatred for what’s being done to them?
Since my experiences with my grandmother were so enlightening, I have been aware of my dark skin color since those days. And even though a lot of people wouldn’t dare to say I’m all that dark, the point is, I have color in my skin. If this were to be colonial times, I’d be placed as a house slave, too light to be out in the fields, too dark to be anything else. The eternal companion of my white sister – that would be the truth. Never did I hear about stories like that of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the first black aristocrat who, in many ways, influenced the abolition of slavery in England. I was always told that if slaves still existed, I’d be one of them.
The truth is, slaves never ceased to exist. Forced poverty ensured that some type of slavery continued through the years, still today, with the displacement, or mass deportation of black Dominicans and Haitian-Dominicans the war against race continues. It is ever present in the Caribbean. Anti-blackness is as strong as the words of disdain my grandmother uttered to me over 20 years ago “you’re too dark for me to love.” Is the Caribbean European too white to love their darker contemporaries? What makes black so unlovable? Why is there so much hatred towards a race that has clearly been pivotal to the history of mankind?
As children we’re taught that blackness is ugly, dirty, something to be feared. That the bible says that blacks are inferior (I’ve yet to read that passage in the bible, but I’m still in the New Testament, so I guess I’ll get to that point). But, if we’re going to use the bible as a guide, then we must continue to accept polygamy, and incestuous marriages.
As I know it, ever since the dawn of time Egypt has been occupied by people of color – therefore, people of color are responsible for the most amazing architecture, technology and structures ever built in ancient times. While indigenous people, who are also target of mass displacement and discrimination (see the treatment towards Native Americans as a good example) and genocide (see any indigenous people in Latin America, and the Caribbean as another good example) are responsible for the construction of pyramids in Central and Latin America, tools and furnishings that are continued to be used today. These are all people of color who have positively contributed to the world. Tribes who have been stripped of their identity, land, and forced into slavery or exiled because they have color on their skin, but why?
A recent conversation I had with a friend of mine about race, raised many questions, mainly the “do you consider yourself black?” I responded no at the time, because while I know that I am of color, I don’t have a strong African presence in my ancestry. While I do consider myself being more indigenous, I know for sure I am not white. Even though my sister is, and my mother was. That’s the tricky thing. As a Latina, I am black, Indigenous and white. I have all these pieces of DNA in me. I can birth white, brown, and black children, regardless of who father’s them – just as my mother birthed a white, a black and a brown child to a brown husband. Why? Because we have black, we have brown, and we have white in our blood. So why only love the white?
What makes this color of skin so superior to the others? Why is color hated so much, that people are willing to kill, commit mass murder, displace in masses, and even commit genocide to preserve this skin color? Why do you feel compelled to start a racial war? Why do you feel it’s right to tell a child they are not worthy of love because she’s too dark? Because that wasn’t my experience alone, it’s the experience of every child of color in this world.
With what’s going on right now, the mass shootings, the killings in churches, the mass displacements of blacks, we’re telling the black community that it is not okay to be a person of color. Dare I compare what’s happening today’s to blacks to what happened to Jews during the holocaust? Yes, because we’re allowing the mass killings and displacement of our black brothers and sisters to happen in our own backyard without raising our voices in protest. We’re labeling them threats, gang members, domestic terrorists, among other things, as an excuse to have them picked up tucked away in a place where we can’t see or hear them.
We’re telling them that we don’t love them, that we would rather have them dead or exiled before we can be comfortable with ourselves. That we feel they are threatening our existence even if they’re just sitting there minding their own business. We’re treating blacks as if they were the plague to society that needs to be cured.
Still, even though I remember the hatred of the words my grandmother uttered to me, I also remember her heartfelt apology for what she did. I feel her love and hear it in her voice whenever I speak to her today. I’ve grown out of hating my skin color to loving it, realizing that I am beautiful and that while I’m born with an “eternal tan” a lot of white women spend countless hours trying to achieve this natural island glow I was born with. I love my culture, my island, my people. I love that of one person different races can be born from – something that I wish I can live to see, like I told my friend during that racially themed conversation. “I can’t wait until we’re all one global race, where black, brown, white, yellow, orange, purple are all one – when that day comes, what are we going to fight over then?”