What I love about being Latina: Having an earthy Taina on my left-side, a fierce Spaniard in my center and an African Queen on my right. Having a soul surrounded by a body of water. Having an island of rhythmic tongues and beats inside me, behind me, in front of me, under and over me. Having a family whose blood line transcends dysfunction and battles for union. I love being the Nuyorican polychrone who functions on Caribbean island time, jibara that I am. Being Latina has given me the eyes to respect earthly thoughts and environmental balance. I love sipping Coco Rico, listening to Coquis through telephone lines and standing in the middle of a tropical rainstorm with no umbrella. I love recognizing the smell of coconut and pineapple as long lost sisters. The flavor of tamarind, parcha and canepas call to me as harpies call the dead.
What I love about being Americana: Being in the center of an international Mecca. As an Americana I love being able to speak in the “heard” language, have access to the passage to higher education, self-mastery, definition and success. Hearing Janis Joplin belt her gut out and Nina Simone wail in fury. As an Americana I love the choice for religious freedom. I love feminist support versus dominant machismo. As an Americana I have access, to almost anything.
My biggest challenge in growing up Latina in America: Being me.
1. Moving too slow in a fast paced cold-hearted steely city, by stopping too often to smell the flowers and trace my marks in the sand or tar prints on the concrete. 2. Learning how to teach others to pronounce my name correctly. 3. Defying the cleaning-lady persona and expectation that followed me methodically. 4. Fitting my ass into jeans. Fighting the temptation to buy colored contact-lenses. 5. Conquering the ‘Sun-In’ beast, who beckoned that my hair just wasn’t fair enough.
My biggest support in growing up Latina in America: My grandmother who moved to New York City forty nine years ago and raised her seven children as a single mother. Why I am beautiful: I am beautiful because the caramel infused color brown that my flesh bears is heavy with elegance and sweetness. I am beautiful because my dark hair is residual of native people who harvested this earth with respect. I am beautiful because there is no gaze in the world like that of my brown eyes. I am beautiful because my heart is filled with compassion, empathy and a longing for peace justice and equity. I am beautiful because I have two tongues.