Where is the love?

I really dig Aura Bogado – who writes about race and politics for The Nation and Colorlines, among others.  Her poignant yet simple expression on Facebook this weekend regarding the absurdity of the George Zimmerman interview on Univision and our peoples’ deep issues with their African history/roots hits so close.

Those of us raised by Latin parents in the USA know what it is.  The topic manifests its way into our daily lives in various, micro-aggressively yet seriously engrained ways which in my opinion, detract us from looking at how oppressed people could unite powerfully against the much bigger culprit$ beyond ourselves.

First, I commented on her post with my reasons for doing conrazón in the first place and supporting groups like Oakland-via-Panama’s Los Rakas:

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Then, I took a selfie with a purple lips lollipop I purchased for Valentine’s Day.  It reminded me of a story – which I mean in no way to disrespect my fallen abuela – but which has always made an impression on me.

As a young woman in her very early 20s, I was dating a man from the Dominican Republic who I cared about very much.  My abuela, who was meeting him for the first time, recommended to me I look for purple in his lips or in his mouth to tell if he was “Africano” – in a light, but negative way.  I, emotional and loud as always (nor graceful), brought up the issue at dinner, I was so upset. It embarrassed my abuela that I brought up the topic publicly, but ultimately, I do not regret what I did and I would do it again. Bless her blindness and guts in the face of it all.

A lot of this self-imposed hate, I understand as a mechanism for survival in a new land for people like my abuela and family.  Get in where you fit in – and especially* if you can pass as non-black.  It matters little that my father’s father – who she was with and loved – had African raices – Caribbean coast of Colombia, anyone? Seen my lips lately?

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When will we celebrate ourselves and these bridges? These connections. This richness.  I feel blessed to have found the clarity, but it’s much deeper across the board.  We’re watching manifestations of this hate now here in America in the case of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. On Univision, Telemundo, Mainstream Latin networks, also – I have many stories to tell.  As the writer Ed Morales says, “Univision’s interview of George Zimmerman: A travesty of journalism.”

This week, Los Rakas becomes a face of the Converse Cons 2014 campaign.  Their black, Latin and proud Raka faces will be up all over the United States.  One small example of seeing ourselves!

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Stay Raka: A Raka is a rebel who loves themselves.  Love yourself.  Latin America, love your violent and real context.  We are the remedy to breaking the Black & White binary (seen this cover of Vanity Fare, yet?) WE ARE THE KEY, BUT WE HAVE TO UNLOCK IT. THE PROOF IS IN OUR VERY FACES. ALL THE PLACES WE COME FROM.

Music and culture is not a bad place to start. How is this connected to the criminalization (some will say extermination) of blacks & Latinos, the immigration detention epidemic, cultural deficiency and declining education in this country?  That’s a big answer. There are artists, writers, social media mavens, educators and entrepreneurs doing the hard work, but they must be supported and we must feel the responsibility of supporting each other and looking at ourselves closely! Can we break the cycle?


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