Growing up in Paterson New Jersey where the population is predominantly Black, it was inevitable that I would share space with an individual who identified as black. However here there was never a question of separation. Black, Hispanic or white it didn't matter; we were all in the struggle together.
Moving to Florida is when I learned about different nationalities such as Jamaican, Haitian, Cuban, etc. and I wasn't sure if this was a way to proudly identify with your culture or a way to separate and cause division. I later learned it was a way to divide us, yet we quickly fell victim to the system and complied.
I myself as a woman of Hispanic descent have often been told I'm not Hispanic enough because I didn't speak fluent Spanish or was unable to dance salsa or other traditional styles. Being told this at such a young age pushed me to struggle with my identity. So for a while I stopped looking at race and ethnicity and ultimately became ignorant to culture-type struggles.
As I grew older I felt a sense of disconnect from cultures period, but always felt myself around my black friends. It was in these moments that I spent more time with not only friends, but significant others, that I started to truly understand cultural struggles and moreso the struggle for the color of your skin. I decided to do some research and figure out what made up my genetics and my ancestors' genetics. And I was not surprised to find that Puerto Rican bloodlines and culture evolved through a mixing of the Spanish, African, and indigenous Taíno and Carib Indian races that shared the island. Maybe this was why I felt at home, because I was with my people.
Yet it was some of my own people telling me I'm not black enough or I'm not Spanish enough and my all time favorite, I am white passing because I am lighter skinned, I conduct myself professionally and often try to use proper grammar. WHY do we, our own people, tear each other down and equate the way a person speaks or acts to a white person? Is that not giving them more privilege and a reason to look down on us?!
In the times of today, which, let's be honest, it’s been this way for years, Black people have been treated unfairly and unjustly, but I find hope in us coming together because ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Will we finally stop attacking one another and be on the same side of the fence in matters outside of the unjust that is done towards us?
Lives are being taken, BLACK LIVES are being taken and when we scream Black Lives Matter, some interject that all lives matter. Please understand saying black lives matter is not insinuating that all lives don't matter; it's insinuating that people act like black lives don't based on all the senseless violence done towards us, so we must put emphasis on black lives.
George Floyd is sadly not the first to be killed senselessly because of the color of his skin nor will he be the last, UNLESS we continue to be seen, to speak up, and peacefully fight for our voices to be heard and for action to be taken against those harming us.
In times like this, our resilience is key! Lean on your brothers and sisters to hold you up, to walk with you and to fight for what is right.
A white passing Hispanic woman
Black Lives Matter
Justice for black lives lost
Say their names
I can't breathe