Tag Archives: race

.George Zimmerman. :: .The New White.

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March 21st, 2012
11:59pm

Status Update:

There is a whisper growing that I want to address before it turns into a distortion of the Treyvon Martin case at hand. There will be people who tell you this is not about race because Zimmerman is Hispanic. Here’s what there is to know about how Black vs White plays out per the racial ambiguity of “Hispanic” people: Hispanic/Latino is an umbrella term for Spanish speaking people *from* South/Central/Caribbean/Latino American countries. It is important to know this distinction in order to understand that just because you were born in Argentina and speak Spanish, that doesn’t speak to your RACE or in some cases even: Nation. There are Hasidic Jew communities in Argentina, there are Chinese communities in Cuba, etc. Historically Latino/Hispanic people are largely *OF* African, European, and/or Native Indigenous descent. Some of us are more African than European (Sammy Sosa, Tego Calderon), some of us are more European (Marc Anthony, Fidel Castro), some are more Native Indigenous (Selma Hayak, Roberto Duran). And while racism in our “Latino” nations plays out differently than it does here in the US, it occurs there enough that YES amongst ourselves Latino people recognize there are White Latinos and Black Latinos.  Racism plays out to the effect even, that some of our darker Latinos go all out to deny we have Black Blood and some of our lighter ones go all out to deny we have White blood (thus there is hatred for each other, and there is self hate; much the same way we have here as a mixed race society). Zimmerman is a WHITE man, he is a WHITE Hispanic. Some will want to blanket this fact to say, he is a human, color doesnt matter.. well.. it did that night.. and Trayvon’s plight will not be subordinated to our discomfort with dealing with race! Zimmerman killed a black man because he was black. He is as good as a skin head or a kkk member, to, me!

The moment I found out vigilante killer George Zimmerman was “Hispanic” I foresaw an opportunity for reactionary apologists to dismiss the Trayvon Martin murder as one without racial implication.

Race is an uncomfortable issue in our societal discourses, as we’ve all been conditioned to reject racism as ‘un-american’. And because when people refuse to confront a reality, the result is an atmosphere of denial, denial is what I expected..  And despite an overwhelming recognition of his death being over the color of his skin, over the course of the past few days, denial, isn’t something I’ve been able to completely elude observation of.

For one thing, I am behooved to highlight that Treyvon Martin was murdered over NBA All-Star weekend. That was a month ago. Yet it is only within the past few days that we’ve seen an uproar over what is increasingly seeming to become American society’s worst nightmare: reminder that racism is not only still with us from out of peoples mouths, or individual actions.. but that it still permeates and plays out within the ranks of our trusted authorities in government and law; that it still dictates to us whose lives are valuable and whose lives are expendable; who we can expect will be afforded a status of privilege and who will be subordinated in our society.

Let’s not play this down to Zimmerman alone. The greater tragedy in all of this is THE STATE’s reluctance to take action; which speaks in overtones, to a justice system which still favors the interest of white middle and upper class communities over the lives of Black Americans. Had the roles been switched; had Zimmerman been a Black man and Treyvon Martin white, there is little doubt Zimmerman would be defending himself from behind bars.

Had Treyvon Martin’s family remained silent, like many families do; dejected to accepting the conclusion that hell, he in fact did happen to be in a neighborhoodhe wasn’t s.u.p.p.o.s.e.d to be in‘ (thus, there no reason to waste money on a lawyer for a case that would be thrown out… as many do); We wouldn’t be talking about Treyvon Martin today (AS WE FAR TOO FREQUENTLY IN THE FACE OF AN INNOCENT BLACK MURDER, ARE NOT SO MUCH AS AWARE ENOUGH TO!). Meaning, there would be a Trayvon tomorrow, and the day after, and we’d have no power to stop this tide of genocide which happens beneath the breath of the few fortunate African Americans who ‘make it’ and provide “land of the free” fodder for hypocritical rightists who spew racial epithets behind the wheel yet fold their hands with an arrogant brow against charges of racism.

If it weren’t for we, THE PEOPLE; Trayvon’s family; activists and ally lawmakers, everyday people on facebook and twitter (white, black, asian, latino) we wouldn’t be having this conversation. And some people rather prefer it that way! …The rest of us, for better or for worse kind of understand “it” to be what it is, and either avert to the latest on Snooki’s pregnancy, or scream out into the night, not with visions of grandeur as to what hollering and protesting might do (we know that tomorrow there will continue be Trayvon Martins; if you grew up in the ‘other America’ you know that!) but with an unwavering commitment to continue to fight; to resist, to insist, with our fists in the air or fingers on the keys, primed on reminding ourselves there is more work to be done.

Denial, doesn’t live here…

But it is still here. Reeking of a certain death in the room, that doesn’t so much point to the body of a 17 year old boy as it does the intention of police who stood over his body to take his killer’s alibi at face value without further investigation; their motion to test Trey’s body for drugs and leave it unclaimed for two days while the untested man who took his life (a convict with assault on a policeman to his record) walked free and till this day carries his gun; the continual refusal to arrest him despite tapes which show HE to be without a doubt the aggressor, the stalker, the initiator of a struggle documented on the audio of Martin’s girlfriend’s phone records to come in the midst of a conversation with a boyfriend she would later find went dead on the line for walking through a gated community with ice tea and skittles in hand. A death, which reeks of the first two officers on the scene being the same two officers present for a controversial shooting some years back, one with the same racial implications, yet without the same public backlash; a death reeking of a police captain whose son walked free following his attack on a homeless black man, until the story (it was recorded) went viral and as is the case today, the public demanded justice. This certain death, reeks a state governor who hasn’t said a word in the victims defense. Reeks even, of a fellow black man in all his influence in voice, with an authority vested by the millions of black people who put hope in him to if not turn this historical scenario around; to address it, at the highest rank in the universe… remaining relatively silent on a modern day lynching.

Denial, thwarts the integrity of even the most righteous of us in this, our nation of the ideal.

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Status Update:

The fact that the state has gone the extent they have to protect him, and the fact that the overwhelmingly white American community he did the bidding for in FL have been his collaborators invites us to consider that despite his ‘ethnic’ otherness, white Hispanics today can/are/will continue to pass and generate institutional racism. There was a time when Irish whites were not accepted by Anglo whites, same for Italians when they first came and many other ethnic white groups. But that’s precisely how “whiteness” came to formation… a communion of the various fractioned white groups into an identifiable hegemony. Their skin. <Bacon’s Rebellion. It is the specific moment in US history in which the elites recognized they could no longer relegate marginalized whites to the same status as blacks. And it is by all historical indications, the seminal moment in history marking the birth of the term “white”. Before Bacon’s Rebellion, white as a ‘race’ is not found in any historical journal or manuscript so much as identifying a “white” people within a nationhood context. In the same manner Irish Americans, Jewish Americans, Italian Americans attached to ‘whiteness’ then, white Hispanics in America attach to it now. And they look down on Mexicans for their indigenous pronounced features, etc. They are the new white

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It always smooths’ it’s way in does denial; prevents us from having the whole conversation. Keeps us from understanding and leaves us to approach dealing with future events, from a perspective which remain incomplete per the past. Different events, same circumstance; that’s where we’re at. Moving stuck.

Sensational moments in history have taken shape. We can reflect on them and determine that they’ve no doubt had an impactful influence on the world today. But racism is not a phenomenon which perpetuates itself in a vacuum; it’s not something we whether to the good or the bad, engage in some sort of social lab. It is a personal, social, institutional, material, spiritual, human condition we can for the most part challenge ourselves at a given moment to be accountable for; but cannot with a contemporary campaign of any nature eradicate.

And in order to check it we’ve got to be willing to identify it in balance and recognize the multiple prisms through which light on an event like the murder of Treyvon Martin, projects from.

Barack Obama’s election has for many ‘liberal’ whites even, symbolized generation towards a post racial society. When a Treyvon Martin is shot are liberal whites willing to re-assess and challenge the notion that the rise of a black man into a position of power *over a system whose mechanisms regulate the potential for post-racism* will bring change? And will whites in doing so, start by showing all cards?? Or will we revert to our privilege, give a tear and a few bucks, but plead five on what WE can do short and long term, in our everyday lives to transform the system?

There is a possibility George Zimmerman walks free, and the State will pose: on the grounds that he was not out of compliance with the neighborhood watch laws designed to give communities like Sanford, THE SOVEREIGNTY to police themselves. Will progressive blacks reflect on this and this time go beyond relying on promising politicians as usual, in a move towards designating THEIR OWN sovereign rights in the same vain: replacing the occupying force of municipal police with gun carrying citizens; ensure that if nothing comes of the death of Treyvon Martin in terms of justice for him and his family, that the very same institutional constraints on his ability to be afforded such.. be capitalized upon to represent justice on broader terms??

Ultimately, where our white citizens take it from here is a question for white citizens to answer. Where our black citizens go.. that’s a question for our black citizens.
And this isn’t something anybody needs to be told riiiight? This is something we already know?

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Status Update:

What is important to note against the many complexities of race ANYWHERE is that EVERYWHERE that there are African blooded descendants of slaves, there is a “social contract” against them. And what i mean by that is, regardless if it was the Irish who came and were called niggers they soon recognized Blacks at the bottom of a construct (hierarchy) which existed in terms of political/economic access. And so not to be the nigger any longer the Irish attached themselves/appeased to the white skinned folk who came before them. This is the same thing that happens whenever ANY group comes here, including Latinos (notice many who say they are “not black” listen to the context.. what they are saying is they are not “American Black”, and the way they conceptualize a distinction is by noting stereotypes. subconsciously though the intention is to prove to whites and non blacks that they have potential to be ‘better’ than that) people come here and automatically “know”. Even continental African immigrants come and assume that attitude. So when you refer to it as a kind of psychosis you are not kidding, it is so embedded in our culture it is in the air. And there is a reason for why this contract exists.. as i stated in an earlier post, the system (national and even global) that we live in today (material international market capitalism) evolves from direct beginnings with the exploitation of resources and enslavement of people in Africa. You can literally do research and you will find there is a class distinction between Africans who migrated around the world BEFORE the 1400’s (for them to have done that they practically had royalty and today even some of their descendants carry affluence) and African people who migrated here on their own AFTER the 1800’s (perhaps not as royal as the pre 1400 African migrants, but in many cases statesmen and their children or business people); in contrast to Africans who date their blood to the African slave trade (stripped of everything from language to record of existence, recognized as property, broken from family) a broken family is a big deal, it is to start over from scratch, a stripped name, you cannot follow it back to some inheritance in the old country. etc. And so African Americans of slave descendancy who began to own the name “negro” did so in and of itself as a notion of micro-nationhood.. to identify one another as those sort of ‘lost people’… it is not until waves of consciousness came along that blacks who identified as Negro began to question why they were doing it and resist that term, but there remains even today a double consciousness and youve heard everyone from the honorable Malcolm to Tupac allude to their people as Negro or Niggas. This same phenomenon happened in all of the Americas. My great-grandfather who is my grandmothers Black side, it is told to us “came from an orphanage” my great grandmother who just died last year and was white as an eastern European Slavic woman it is told to us had a grandfather who supervised a plantation (not in those words.. my grandma more like translated it this way: he would ride on a horse and manage over the farm). Here’s the whole negro matter in Latino context.. I can trace back and be clear that my great grandmothers side had some class distinction, had some kind of status. So far as my great grandfather it is very murky and perhaps because he strayed from his larger African family thus bringing little remnant of African culture in our home. He was the first light weight boxing champion of PR so him marrying a “white” Puerto Rican woman and having mixed little babies who knew nothing of such slang as “Mojeto or negrito” etc. not a big coincidence; surely most his friends were white Ricans who accepted him for his athletic status etc. But why didn’t they accept with that, his slang & other nuances that he hid and destroyed; didnt invite into my grandmothers tongue, etc? Because he was a “negro” and he knew it. To say that Zimmerman is “Hispanic” and to have that encompass the Treyvon Hernandez’s Treyvon Ortiz’s Treyvon Rivera’s of our lands, is a flawed analysis. I can actually put it much more easier for you: When I say there are white Hispanics and there are black Hispanics, you can be sure the Black Hispanics understand what i mean

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The morning after I posted a status to seed a discussion for not only Latinos, but for Blacks and Whites as well; an MSNBC guest analyst saw the need to remind it’s mass of viewers that “Zimmerman is Latino” and hear this: that “this is not a Black and White issue, this is a Black and Brown issue.”

I want us to reflect on what such a statement infers…

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My war is with George Zimmerman and every George Zimmerman at our barbecue; those of us who CHOOSE to distance ourselves from Black society and strive to ‘make it’ by attaching to whiteness.. It is our George Zimmerman’s who, in their quest for acceptance internalize a hatred for Blacks and overcompensate to the tragic ends we see in Treyvon Martin’s murder.

I’m pretty much exhausted at my attempt to explain how a ‘black_brown conflict’ perspective is objectively skewed. You can read my status updates for a holistic context around how so.

…But I will pose the following:
I identify as Brown because I embrace solidarity with my African heritage and blood; because my spirit embraces remembrance of the native indigenous ancestry of my lands.
And I will continue to be Brown, because of that. It is something I embraced the power to choose!

In all my light skinnedness (having been confused for everything from greek to arab)… It is not a CHOICE I have always made.
As much as it a choice, Treyvon Martin, never had…

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RIP little Brother.

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– Tr

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-A Genesis of Brown- (early draft: chptr 1)

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Chapter One

Sweat was as Pa as the uniform Ma needed spread a sheet over, nights when attempts to wake him off the couch would’ve done little more than rouse a snore.  You watched his sideburn bristle drip into a pour when an envelope took to his hands; beads perspiring from the nose as he went through shirts like cuchifrito does a brown paper bag.

Nobody racked up time and a half like that man; not a police officer, no fireman, nor anyone in sanitation, much less any of his co-workers in the Emergency Medical Service.  Which is probably why he received so much love, as manifested per barbecue and pool party we were invited to attend when Pa wasn’t covering someone else’s weekend.  Navy blue up, navy blue down everywhere we went; patches and the badge.  If your name wasn’t Don Mattingly, no one in this city could say they knew you to hustle more doubles than Resto!

It remained to be seen whether I inherited that same work ethic upon being offered a cut for every job I tagged along to lend a hand with.  After two decades which saw them maintain the kind of camaraderie withstanding every Giordano promotion that set hierarchy between the two, and every Giordano transfer Pa felt pressure to follow, Giordano and Pa went into business together behind his longtime partner’s lead for side-income doing home renovations.  Giordano had the van, Giordano had the plan: he provided the tools he promoted the service he secured the contracts.  Pa covered the labor, which would’ve provided me opportunity to earn money for school books while holding onto one last season of sandlot baseball; and did… until it didn’t.

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I never told him why I began to resist, and eventually, ceased lacing up boots all together that summer.  Were it not for the game he saw slash and burn prospects of delinquency, to a future in his boy’s eye, my abled body would’ve had no alternative but to try my newly minted diploma from the get; believe you-me, there wasn’t a request Pa didn’t begin and end a response to with “MORTGAGE” and “CAR PAYMENT!”  So it had to be to the dismayed welling of his own defeat, that despite Pa’s faith in me, I’d eventually turn down his proposal to split earnings for the sake of sparing me some 9 to 5 that might impede on practice.  And it was in a sort of melancholy, projecting to be gracious humility, that I would sooner settle on a fulltime at The Nathan Boardwalk than seek the old man’s recourse.

Save for having to swallow a little sarcasm on my supposed golden arm’s supposed struggle to sand a wall, my decision didn’t draw the kind of reaction I had braced myself for.  Of’course news of the Nathan hiring relieved me of ‘the real world’ speech on his 70 hour work week.. and he did gave off as if convinced I’d keep my promise to continue grinding toward our dream.  Such absence of disappointment at any prior juncture would’ve shown passage for me to whistle off clean;

Stopped, whether by the stoicism contrasting such usual eccentricities as his ever-wincing forehead or how he’d normally clamp his lips curled into his teeth; …or by something more intuitive than the reading his pensive face gave off in its concentration, there was something it seemed, even he felt left to be complete between us.

At second glance I’m at a loss to explain

the space in which I found myself, between

offering up a hug and venting.

Pa had sacrificed for us too willfully to be exposed to the heart of my wallowing; the intensity of those veins and snapping tendons proving harder to detach from than I could have conceived.  To think; how the bills reflecting off the ol’ specs bridged before him bound those providing hands to so demeaning a keep, so obsequiously.  I have to believe he was uneasy as I, hearing what one the other heard, as we worked through the bigotry inundating from Giordano’s shadow the morning that would deter me from returning.  Then again he’d survived nearly half of his life smiling through the shame, absorbing a word his son was just learning the pain of.

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Throughout childhood, SPIC, whizzed me by in cacophony with MAMI, TE SIRVO, GRAHAM AVE, LANI!, LET’S CUT THE SHIT, WE’RE FAMILY, THE HIPOCRACY, JACK!, DON’T INTERRUPT ME LET ME SPEAK, DIME CON QUIEN ANDAS Y TE DIRE QUIEN ERES, PHILIP!, UNBEKNOWNST TO ME,   DINKIN’,  CLARO QUE SI, SAM! and IT’S SAD IT REALLY IS…   Especially Saturday nights, when receiving a guest meant the bottle of soda erecting from a spread of Bacardi| seltzer| Tanqueray| and gin was off limits; those of us who’d long built tolerance to a drunken thumb ‘cross the gums testing the hour of company in our own irritable right, Saturday night!

For a time I couldn’t tell it different from any word that wasn’t my name, except that I can’t recall having traced it to a voice other than that of Uncle Ray’s.  When I came upon it’s implication of disdain per the darting force with which he pinned it to neighborhood names that never came up favorably, nothing of its nature notioned it could pertain to me.  Spic, was a lazy ignorant drug addict who lived off welfare, but back then it wasn’t Puerto Rican.  According to Ray it was Carmen flopping a stroller forth with her knotty headed boys straggling shirtless behind.  But it wasn’t referred to Rosa, who wore the same chancletas when she got home and out of her blazer to walk Tito; not usually at least, not unless she in some way gave him the inclination that she thought she was better, needed to be brought back down to earth.  Such ambiguity might explain why it would be years before I found myself processing those four letters relative to my own identity.  (Everyone owned a brown pair of slippers lettering the gold Puerto Rico!)

Back then people were people.  It was a time enriched by naiveté when a child’s bliss was safe.  We played until it was time to eat then were off again after we ate.  Taught it our business to keep out of grown folk’ conversations I was trained on being seen, not heard.  Thus, my listening had adapted to assume a like distance.  For if ever I, stampeding in line past a powwow of elders or swarming in and out a pile of sibling limbs, were pulled to that chat in the kitchen it was when “T O N Y!” hollered out on mother’s whim.

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As a seventeen year old elbow resting a palm full of chin, or lollygagging behind, from the ride to home depot < home depot back to the ride for our sheetrock stripped destination, it was no different.  Unless I was present to a mention specific to me, nothing exchanged in Pa-and-Giordano’s discussion drew me aware to it.  The same uncompromising trust my face gave the wind trailing passing scene; that music behind my eyes facilitated from  hammer to nail I glanced between;  was the trust my red light green light 1, 2, 3’s held, uncompromised by noise screaming from the kitchen back in my young’n day.

There was however, that time and again

in which tensions flared on the drink and a counter slammed,

shouting slanted our attention still to it, and

glass broke.

You grow on to the grapple and roll of wrestle-mania from the cowboys and Indians chase.  Then you learn roughhousing earned you a spot on front of the living room television glowing Sabado Gigante when things got carried away.  Didn’t take forever to develop a rapport on how to avoid repercussions of hyperactivity, with a period in which G.I. Joe became the rave half decade before we sedated on video games.  Passivity however is another thing, especially amongst a community in which it could be viewed as weak.  After all, stores selling us Desert Storm Cards to trade during the first invasion of Iraq probably didn’t do as much to tame us as they did to engage us in war.  No doubt it pissed our parents off that a transition to figurines wouldn’t eradicate the havoc to be raised. …Makes me want to go back and lift a mirror to show them who we were the children of;  STOPPP STUPID!, INDIAN GIVER!, LEAVE ME ALONE!, and HE STUCK HIS MIDDLE FINGER AT ME!, caroming off the walls.

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Soon as the day came Ma  lit up to Pa divulging Giordano’s arrangement for us to go see a home, things were bound to change.  That mammoth edifice of the old Brooklyn Army Terminal stood in the way of the harbor, across which sprawled suburban pastures to which we couldn’t imagine conforming our ways.  Not that Ma ever pictured us doing so might resemble the manner she frightenly observed children behave during yearly visits to their cul-de-sac for Giordano’s son’s birthday; but that she had us speeched to an impeccable posture, in the balance of which hung privileges and a possible whooping dare we embarrass our father.

Days went by months gone by years past, and nowhere near as long had my refined demeanor come to lasting the guidette cadence Ma adopted an awkward variation of; not nearly as wide as that of my PRAP (Puerto Rican American Princess) knighted sister, had my own Staten Island circle grown; nowhere close to as high had I ever come to imagine our becoming selves, above the selves I looked back on leaving, as brother had, on a past he looked down on being.  There must have been something resisting any like-allowance to succumb to the numbness my family seemed to embrace in overcoming our confronting transition.

Suddenly I was dealing with a heartbeat which had been chased before, but never through the terror of a plight unfamiliar as the wilderness to an urban animal.  The weight of whatever collective adaptation we generated to repress idiosyncrasies within family at home, within our peers of the Spanish congregation at church, amongst classmates pooled at the lunch table end dominated by the accent of our lips, hair and shade;  became the suppression of impulses discouraged from rising with the pride of our rooted heritage.

We had derived from a place from which I recall a scrap between biological sisters being triggered by one’s reference to the other as a “five dollar hoe”; where we arrived at school every morning prepared to fight for our sneakers; glance at the wrong person the wrong way and you could find yourself cradling your skull on the concrete.  Now we were being muscled around by eyes on the bus, stalled on by the doctor and rushed by the deli clerk; observing our parents pussyfoot around signs that our youngest siblings were being singled out and spoken at in a tone adults reserve for other adults.                      …I had never felt so low.

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There I knelt, knee deep in a rising tide of rage.  Reaction to insult had always begged a practice in restraint.  Here I faced a turbulence quivering deep in my soul, battling in question as to whether I’d be able to regain cognizance of the sunlight beaming into the patio and the smell of paint overwhelmed in the tension consuming me.  I sooner became afraid I might not be able to stand up straight, than I had become of potentially confronting a man a quarter century my senior.  Thwarted to the ashen planks of my surrounding I’d be missing the mark if I characterize myself having been beside myself – I was so beneath myself.

I had been in the way of that laugh before, now I was at its opposite end; I had accompanied Giordano’s eyes in mine, this time I kept them back from forcing their way in.  Way down binaural drone-deep in double vision, a mirage of references dotting select experiences from my rearing to the moment, framed me pit between a double consciousness that summer Saturday morning…

One which set my soul into mourning while it sang to the sky.   Looking back, that’s got to be the day, I killed my master.   And the spic, began to die.

 

– Tone.Are  (A Genesis of Brown__ work in progress/ chapter 1)


In All Conscientiousness, Interracial Relationships

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Never     have    I ever…   dated outside of my race

WAIT__  Have I ??    Nope ”’WELL, wait…

I’m brought back to a discussion I had the pleasure of taking part in, late July of 2009.  If I recall well it was I, in a circle with three Women under the sparkle of a deep black sky in Cuba.  A Dominican sister, a Mexican sister, and a sister who shared Ecuadorian and Puerto Rican roots.

“Have you ever dated white?” was the question; a prompt which to my surprise had acquired a yes from at least one, and if i am not mistaking, I believe two of the others.  My own response is one I’ve often shocked myself realizing, and in effect, was surprised to observe it not seeming to surprise them; “I have not.”

I say this because while I know each of our four to be some of the most race conscious Latino’s I (or you) will ever meet, through the work they’ve done around Pan-Afrikan history/culture/systems of belief,  those three sisters were bar-none greater engaged in our African ancestry than me.   And when you are that militantly bound to your own, love takes on a significance which speaks to preservation and cultivation of ours.   Though even Malcolm had his past.

Incidentally we’re talking about a conversation on interracial love, on an island whose culture is dominated by food, music, lingual aesthetics and genetic traits that are an infusion of Indigenous, European, and African influence  ;  the Mexicana glistening of red clay; la Dominicana, a beige favoring shade of light brown; and the Ecua-Boricua sister an almost strawberry.

I could go on and give some sensational description of my own body suit but for the sake of de-mystifying my assertion, you may poll that I fall somewhere along the more European end of the totem.

..Which is for me where the question hadn’t then, but does now, in-lie.

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My first love was an Afro-Boricua (Black Puerto Rican) sister.  Actually, I stand corrected..  or,      do I ??

Her father was half Syrian, half African-American; hence, he was a Black man of African and Syrian ancestry.  I mean, there are Africans of European descent who identify as racially White (check Dave Mathews).   But he was Black on account of his skin being identifiably (by common U.S. American social accounts) BLACK (dark Brown).

And her mother was Puerto Rican, like me.  ..But, in terms of race, what does that mean?   Sure her skin was ‘lighter’ than you’d probably imagine if I told you she might be a Black woman, but it was something of my own, or darker; a hue that browns like buttered bread on a hot pan come the summertime;   her nose, distinctively high and wide.

Before I was with Indra, I had a brief romance with an east Indian and a longer yet none the less loose commitment with a woman who was Ecuadorian and Dominican.  My daughter’s mother is Dominican and Puerto Rican.  At this current time I am seeing a Black woman born in Liberia.

I have never kissed, exchanged numbers with or courted an Italian, Irish, Russian, English, Greek, German, or any other variation of a Caucasian/ White identified woman.

…But here’s the kicker:  I’m not quite sure that means I haven’t been in an interracial relationship.  Each of the African prominent woman I have been with reminded me that from their perspective (respective of them) I am a white, albeit Latino, male!   Which in essence calls me to reflect on how whether I was conscious of it at the time of our discussion under the gorgeous Cuba sky, or not, I indeed have..  been in interracial relationships?   Only, in the context of race in those relationships, the white individual, was I.

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It is a question I will wrestle my whole life to digest, is race.  For a lot of Latinos it is that way.

Despite a shared historical generality in so much as the legacy of colonialism over the western world fundamentally shaped the interrelational reality between peoples;  neither the genealogical nor the social dynamics of race have evolved parallel between the respective northern and southern continental America.  Thus, to some degree  the processing of race  amongst people of the Caribbean, Central and South America  bares complexities  that are unique in contrast to how race shows up in the United States.

My biological father bares resemblance to Tom Selleck and my mother is a yellower Phylicia Rashad.  My grandfather, like my father had straight hair, white skin, a narrow nose and he married my mulatta grandmother.  Great grandma looked like an old Hungarian villager and great grandpa, a Moorish Algerian.   The fact that the three generations  who precede me (the only 3 I’ve had a visual of) in my direct lineage, comprise  what would be by U.S. standards determined mixed race couples, is telling.  Our people have been mix breeding for centuries.  And while taboo whispers do circulate about it, we really didn’t/don’t have the same (past and in some cases still, contemporary) legal and institutional barriers to domestic interracial affairs  that Blacks and whites have faced here in the U.S.

All of this to say that I’m coming from a people for whom  the interracial relationship has been relatively normalized.

If anything it is outside of the microcosm of my nation that I begin to see a more typical apprehension of Puerto Rican’s to embrace non-Puerto Ricans, and that’s a whole other conversation (one focused on the influence of nationalism as opposed to race per se).  It took my daughter being conceived to a half Dominican mother to discontinue the absolute Puerto Rican blood-line I was born into.   A conception that is ironically, although not atypically common considering there prevails for some a prejudicial rivalry of sorts.  By the by diasporic Puerto Ricans have for the most part dated within the nation because patterns of migration re-concentrated us amongst our own.  And if we weren’t dating other Ricans we’ve by an overwhelming margin dated within Latino.  But we’ve been here long enough that a couple of factors have begun to influence a change.  Boricuas in the military and those who’ve gone away for college transition to day to day lives with a more diverse demographic and tend to date outside in higher numbers.   There is also the suburbanization of the Puerto Rican family.  And with every generation born here our culture and the notion of nationhood becomes that much more alien to our youth, thereby distancing them from a notion of family that inherits, values, owns, passes forward the identity of it’s ancestry.

Now, nationality is nationality.  As a Puerto Rican, enlightened to the endangerment we already face (eventually losing our language and customs/identity/history, before being totally co-opted by mainland U.S. citizens locating there)  as a prospective 51 st state,  the Puerto Rican family for me, requires our conscious concern as a people.  Although, I honor choice as an individual right and respect all of my people the same irregardless of how you marry/date/mate.

Race is another thing.  After everything I’ve shared concerning race and nationality I must be careful not to blur the two; I must put forward that normalized relative to the U.S. or not racism remains an issue amongst Latinos in our own right, and that as an Boricua who can come here and ‘pass’ and in fact, as a Boricua who on the island would likely be classified as white, I really can’t speak for Black/Brown skinned Ricans in the context of preservation as it relates to race.   While I acknowledge that I am Afro-Boricua by descendance from a Black Rican greatgrandfather and those who came after, it would be disingenuous and perhaps even dangerous for me to totally deny my white skinned privilege.  I must respect that the struggles intricately specific to   someone like Tego Calderon whose afro ( that I don’t have)  triggers in him a consciousness that might rebuke my notion that interracial relationships amongst Puerto Ricans are somehow without resistance.   No intent of righteousness can pardon me from the reality that in doing so I threaten to co-opt and patronize the struggle of Black latinos.  His idea of preservation might provoke him to protest discovering his sister seeing someone of my complexion.

What I CAN speak to though, is how interracial relationships are informed by nationality when we (regardless of color/race) come over to the states.  And it goes the same for how in a larger scope inter-Latino relationships are emboldened when we come here.  A Puerto Rican living on the island may not imagine he/she can project to be with a Dominican, and vise-versa, but when that same Puerto Rican and that same Dominican comes and lives in New York for five years, we generally find ourselves in the same socio-economic circumstance opposite whites (stratified neighborhood and resources/ prejudices) and the same cultural circumstance opposite African-American Blacks (common language, foods, etc).  Such factors tend to bring us together so that although most second generation Latino Americans remain 100% descended of his/her mother nation, a good many ARE born to a Latino mother and father of different countries.   Then inside of that phenomenon you have the duality of cross-mixing between race unifying across nationality, as well as different races of the same nationality finding love within the nation; and so it goes that Black Puerto Ricans marry Black Dominicans and the more Spaniard leaning Puerto Ricans find love amongst Dominicans of the same phenotype…  while on the other hand a white Puerto Rican who in Puerto Rico may have had little probability of marrying an Afro-Boricua , in New York internalizes a greater probability to marry her because in New York the bottom line is that they are both Puerto Rican!

For Puerto Ricans in New York City, there is an especial history of children born to interracial union with African Americans (and to a lesser but significant degree, even, Italians).  We were really the first dominant Latino group to populate this city (40’s & 60’s), preceded by Cubans but by no comparison in measure.  And of course because we were agricultural and factory workers we settled in the low-income areas of the city Black-Americans had been relegated to in the face of discrimination.  In effect, it was us, and Blacks (with whom we share cultural commonalities per the African influence on the island, in the first place); if you dated outside of the nation the chances are you dated an African American.   It wasn’t until the 80’s that Dominicans began to come in waves, while the 90’s really began to usher in Mexicans and other South and Central Americans.

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In light of the historical and cultural circumstances I’ve just presented, the question of interracial relationships takes on broad consideration for me.  Either way, love is in and of itself the determining factor for whatever union manifest between people.  Love recognizes the universal emotions which so define it, beyond any human construct.   So I do not rule out that I’d date or marry or have a child with someone outside of my race or nationality;  but I can by this point in my life assess that it doesn’t seem very likely I’d be able to bond with a white identified Caucasian.. it doesn’t seem likely I’d grow an affinity for Asian women even (although I do favor Filipinas).   But I bare that on nobody else..  that’s just me.

I do however, encourage anybody who does date outside of their nation or race, to keep firm to the things you hold sacred; and to take into consideration that such things as language/customs/history, are the right of your children to inherit.  That your sharing a life with somebody of a different background by no means should command you to drop your identity or to compromise it, and it is up to you to reinforce these things in your relationship;  have that other person respect and accept you, and vise versa.

🙂

Tone Are

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FOR RELEVANT READING AS IT RELATES TO THE BLACK AMERICAN COMMUNITY, I RECOMMEND YOU SCROLL DOWN TO THE NEW YORK TIMES LINK BELOW:

Marriage has declined throughout our society, but more so for African-Americans, and in particular black women, than anyone else. The shortage of stable and successful black men is a big part of the reason. 

– Stanford Law Professor, Ralph Richard Banks

If a black woman happens to be single, it is not necessarily a commentary on black men as eligible partners or an indication that her ultimate goal is marriage in the traditional sense. Some black women are single by choice. Some are unmarried but are in relationships where they choose to cohabit or live separately. Some don’t exclusively date black men. Some are lesbian, bisexual or transgender and may not be interested in relationships with men at all. Black women are not a monolith. We are diverse, dynamic and have options.

– Angela Stanley of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity

A black woman with a postsecondary degree is more likely to be married than a white woman who dropped out of high school. A black woman with a personal annual income of more than $75,000 is more than twice as likely to be married as white women who live in poverty. White women living in New York and Los Angeles have much lower marriage rates than most black women who live in small towns.

– Associate Professor of Psychology at Howard University, Ivory A. Toldson

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/12/20/black-men-for-black-women

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