Racism IS Business As Usual for the United States

I never had any delusions about our country being “post-racial” after Obama’s election. All you had to do was listen to a Republican tying themselves in knots to try to explain why they opposed him at every turn without calling him a “ni**er” to know that racism is alive and well.

I’ve been shaking my head at how many folks out there are so pissed at the millennials who sat out this last election because they just weren’t excited about Hillary Clinton with cries of “entitlement” and “laziness.” But here is the thing. Nothing screams entitlement more than thinking that you deserve to an entire country to yourselves because you happen to have less melanin than the average human. I mean, what the actual fuck?

So, yeah: America is and has always been racist as hell. And let me double down on this fact: TRUMP WON BECAUSE RACIST WHITE PEOPLE VOTED FOR ANOTHER RACIST WHITE PERSON TO BE PRESIDENT. STOP APOLOGIZING FOR THEM.

If you voted for Trump you ARE a racist. Learn it. Love it. Live it. Maybe you don’t even know you’re a racist. But you are. Self-awareness and knowledge is not a prerequisite for being a racist.  Yet all these supposedly left-leaning politicians in Bernie Sanders’ corner want to be progressive while refusing to label the Trump movement for what is really is: A nativist, white supremacist, nationalist frenzy.

And if you have children, you should be terrified. I was so happy that my son was born during Obama’s tenure as president. I made me think of all the kids under the age of 8 who just thought it was normal that a Black man held the highest position of power in our country. But, it turns out that so many wypipo, rich or poor, urban or rural, felt that this was so completely out of the “natural order of things” that they gave their vote to a reality star clown in order to desperately hang on to the position of power and privilege they have held on to, well, since forever. That the patriarchal powers-that-be are willing to sell their souls to the highest bidders just to protect that power is actually pretty normal. I don’t, in retrospect, understand why I was so shocked I guess.

I’ll tell you what’s not normal: It’s not normal to think that climate change isn’t real. It’s not normal to demand to see the president’s birth certificate, but then be 100% okay with a presidential candidate who refuses to share his tax returns. It’s not normal to support a man who wants to ban Syrian refugees, and then bombs the shit out of their country to “protect” them. It’s not normal to refuse a woman the right to end an unwanted pregnancy under any circumstance because she is “killing a baby” while simultaneously rejecting child refugees from Syria, where babies are being bombed and murdered every day.

It’s not normal to say we live in a post-racial America, and try to deny the fact that the folks who voted for Trump are racists. Stop apologizing for them. Stop politicizing the very real hatred and danger people of color have felt tangibly in this country, day in and day out. This is the very definition of staying woke. We’re woke to that danger, to that level of threat and menace in our day to day lives. For those of y’all who are just so shocked by the uptick in hate crimes, in the fact that children are being bullied and taunted in school for the color of the skin or they family’s religious beliefs, recognize how fucking steeped in privilege you really are that you were able to believe this wasn’t happening before this god-awful election.

We should all be so lucky. Now that we all see what’s REALLY good though, how are we going to create a new normal for our children here in America?

The Day After Tomorrow: Hope & Love Can STILL Win

I know so many people are feeling abject dejection right now. I know it’s so hard to stomach the fact that millions of people in this country are okay with the idea of a man who has spewed such vile racist, xenophobic, ableist and sexist hatred being our president. It’s so disappointing.

I’m here to tell you to take heart. Everything is illuminated now for those who refused to accept the real world dangers surrounding us here in the country we call home. These institutions, everything from educational, financial and housing systems to the Electoral College, were not made for us. These were made for them. And They don’t want us to win. DJ Khaled is right.

When we elected President Obama in 2008, he got 15 million new voters to the polls, mostly Black, Latinx and very poor (a large percentage of new voters in Obama’s first election made less than $15K a year). The election of Trump is a direct reaction to the election of President Obama. Don’t get it twisted. White people came out in droves to tell us that this is THEIR country. And it is for the time being, but not for long.

Here is one indisputable fact: WE ARE STILL THE FUTURE.

Real talk, I don’t even want to claim this cesspool as my country right now. There is so much work to be done before I can feel proud to be an American again. Corporations have taken over our entire electoral system thanks to Citizens United. And even if they hadn’t, our Electoral College system is a fucking farce. How the hell are we okay with having ANOTHER president elected who lost the popular vote?

We should be rioting in the streets because we are in a civil war, my peoples. Make no qualms about it. On one side, we have a large and growing minority of Blacks, Latinxs, immigrants, LGBTQ, and WMW people, and on the other we have people who want to “Make America Great Again” by disenfranchising voters of color with, as one North Carolina judge noted, “surgical precision.” These are the people who thought Emmet Till got what he deserved and didn’t think racism was a problem until we had the audacity to elect a Black president who “brings up the topic all the time.”

The best conclusion we can draw from this election is that the people who voted for Trump are running scared. So what can we do now? Well, we have a few choices. There are some who want to abandon the country and move abroad. I can’t and won’t hate on that option. There are others who are fired up and want to help support non-profits who, rightfully so, are terrified about their futures and their ability to help those who need it most. That’s a noble cause. There are some who are pissed off about the ways our elections work in the first place and want to change the fundamental ways in which our democracy is run, that’s an amazing goal and one I can get behind this 100%. Whatever you feel is the best way forward, take it. But don’t just sit on your butt and complain. We need to create a coalition across races, socioeconomic backgrounds and gender identities that can stand up strong against the White supremacists who are about to get high level appointments in Trump’s cabinet. First things first, we MUST do away with the Republican majority in the house and senate and we can do that in two short years.

Me? I’m trying to figure out a way to raise my son and keep him safe in a country that seems to hate him, to hate US. I’m not sure how that’s going to look quite yet, I need more than 24 hours to figure it out, but one thing is for damn sure: I didn’t work as hard to get where I am now to let a bunch of old, scared folks tell me how I can and cannot live my life. So, I’m not going to stay quiet. I’m not going to act like this election was normal. I’m not going to legitimize this man’s presidency and this election the way the mainstream media has for months on end.

Donald Trump will NEVER be my president and the millions who voted for him will NEVER be my people. So they better get out of the way, because if they thought President Obama was scary, they ain’t seen nothing yet.

Being Black & Latinx in the United States

When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to fret about me staying out in the sun for too long. “Te vas a poner prieta,” (“You’re going to turn black”) she would cluck at me, clearly wanting to prevent this horrible thing from happening.

I was always super confused about this cause I was born with chocolate brown skin. I’m darker than some of my black girlfriends. There was no going back to some lighter-skinned fairytale version of myself that never existed. No matter how much I avoided the sun, my skin was going to be “prieta.” The funny thing about this is that the very same word used to denote unwanted blackness is also used as a loving nickname. Calling someone prieta or prieto in Puerto Rico (where my family is from) can be a term of endearment.

We have a complicated relationship with race and colorism all across Latin America.

All across Latin America, the black populations are often the poorest, most marginalized communities. It’s also REALLY hard to get some AfroLatinos to admit that they are black. I’m pretty sure if you ask the Dominicans born of Haitian ancestry currently being deported back to a country they have never called home what they think about that, you’ll get some interesting answers.

Here in the United States, it also very complicated when you ask Latinxs to self-identify race. Though about 25% of Latinxs surveyed here in the U.S. say they are “AfroLatino” only 18% of them denoted their race or at least one of their races as black. Say WHAT?

Part of the problem is a fundamental misunderstanding of what the words Latinx and Hispanic connote. Neither are indicators of race, you can be Latinx and be black, white, indigenous, Asian, etc. It just basically means that you’re ancestors come from any country in Latin America or the Spanish Caribbean, including Brazil. Though this is often used interchangeably with the term “Hispanic,” they are not the same. Hispanic just generally refers to those who come from countries of origin where the Spanish language is spoken. So this term would encompass those from Spain, while the term Latinx would not.

What makes my brain hurt is the fact that there is a large community here in the U.S. willing to identify as AfroLatino while simultaneously refusing to accept their blackness. There is an intense anti-blackness drummed into Latinxs. The colorism is so deeply ingrained in Latin America that if you ask someone who looks like me what their race is they will go down a list of everything from “India” to “Mestiza” to “Mulatta” just to avoid saying black.

Once you add the basic human desire to always see another group as less than — no matter where in the hierarchy of oppression you stand — you can understand why some U.S. Latinxs may be comfortable embracing their AfroLatino heritage, but not their blackness.

Black people are subject to unrelenting systematic racism. Demonized by both mainstream media and the criminal justice system. the U.S. black community is more marginalized than most any other minority group. Who would want to identify with that history of hatred and abuse?

But we have to align ourselves. And we should want to. Because the black community here in the U.S.A. and those of African heritage all across the globe have been standing up to the kind of fascism we’re currently dealing with for hundreds and thousands of years. People like Donald Trump think there is a difference between calling for the registration of Muslims, mass deportations and policies like Stop & Frisk but there is not. It’s an attempt to make us all less human and to make our civil rights less important than theirs.

It took me a long time to self-identify as black but it wasn’t a case of self-denial. My parents did a really good job of explaining the African ancestry of Puerto Ricans to me and I was well-educated and proud of that aspect of my history. I just always felt “not enough.” When I with my black girlfriends, it was clear to me that I was most definitely not one of them and that I could in no way understand their struggle. Which is 100% true. It’s a different experience. When I hung out with Latinas, it was made clear to me that even though I had dark skin, I was lucky because I had “good hair,” and and other phenotypical attributes that they blatantly pointed out kept me from the “black” designation. Now I know I am enough, but it was confusing and apparently, I’m not the only one.

What finally crystalized my identity for me was a couple of horrible racist experiences I had as a young adult. First, I was denied service in a bar in Latin America because I was black and told the only reason they let me in was because I was with a bunch of “gringas.” Then I experienced NYC housing discrimination at its finest when I showed up with a deposit check to pick up keys to a new apartment that reached full capacity the second the management saw my face (even though it had just been built and about 50% of the apartments were empty that very morning). Racists don’t see any difference between me or a black woman or a lighter-skinned Latina. They just see a woman who is NOT white.

The only way we can force racists to acknowledge our humanity and basic rights is to do it together. Instead of denying our blackness, let’s embrace and uplift it and work together to bring the most vilified, the most oppressed, the most marginalized communities real justice. Desmond Tutu said it best:

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

All lives won’t matter until #BlackLivesMatter.

The Lesser of Two Evils: Misogyny VS Racism

Today I want to talk politics, because for real: Are you fucking kidding ‘Murica?

This election has been particularly hard on my sensibilities. I’m not a big Hillary supporter, not only because of her “super predators” comments, but because she supported foreign policy that sent so many children back to Honduras and El Salvador to a fairly certain death. In so many ways, she represents a brand of White Feminism that is very hard for me to stomach. Still, there is no denying that she actually listened to her constituents and has not only apologized for a lot of the shit that has happened as a direct result of her husband’s horrible policies but also shifted a lot of her own to reflect the very passionate Bernie supporters out there, like me, who are demanding more than just superficial change.

When Obama ran for President the very first time, a white woman asked me if I was “choosing my race over my gender” because of my support of the senator from Chicago. The question of if I have a choice is not really a question; it’s an assumption that only someone in a position of privilege can make. I don’t. I’m a person of color and I’m a woman. I can’t parse those two parts of my identity. It’s just who I am. Not only am I undeniably female as I walk through this world, but I’m also undeniably brown. In fact, I’m undeniably Afro-Latina. As in, I will never, ever “pass” and I’m fine with that. I love being a woman and I am so proud of my mixed heritage as a Puerto Rican that it probably annoys people sometimes. #YoSoyBoricuaPaQueTuLoSepa

I voted for Obama enthusiastically in part because I truly believed in the message of change and hope he was selling. Has he disappointed me in some ways? FOR SURE. But overall, I know that the alternative would have been so much worse it makes me shudder to think about it.

The thing about this election is that people are being forced to make false equivalencies and keep on insisting that this is a choice between the lesser of two evils. That’s where sexism comes into play. Donald Trump is an unqualified, failed business man with a history of cheating people out of money they are owed, cheating on his own taxes and cheating on his wives. Plus, he probably raped a young girl. He’s also a racist misogynist and most likely a white supremacist. He’s fucking EVIL y’all.

A Bush or a Clinton has held presidential power for 20 out of the last 28 years here in the U.S. That pretty much cements the status of our country as an oligarchy where a few select families control the majority of wealth and political power. In 2011, just 400 Americans had more wealth than half of all Americans combined and it’s just gotten worse in the last five years. That blows. But Hillary did not create the system she is currently benefiting from.

Here is the thing; we have real shit to criticize Hillary Clinton about because she has so much experience as a politician. She’s a career politician and Donald Trump is a career failure. The only thing he has really ever excelled at in his life was hosting a reality show where he told everyone they were “Fired.”

Yet Hillary Clinton has to stand across from this total asshat at debates and pretend that he is her equal and feign respect for someone who has never shown respect for anyone else. She is way more qualified than Trump and she has been preparing for this job pretty much her entire life. She wasn’t raised with a silver spoon and she was never given millions of dollars by her father to waste away on ill-advised investments. She has also never scammed people out of their hard earned money.

I don’t LOVE Hillary Clinton. I’m not all engaged by her the way I was with Obama or Bernie. But we have never, ever had a “perfect” candidate to elect because we will never all agree on who that “perfect” candidate would be. What we do have is a choice between someone who is qualified and someone who would make us a complete and utter mockery on a global scale.

For those of you considering a “protest” vote: Please, if you REALLY want to protest, start working towards a fundamental change in our electoral system. Don’t waste your vote on candidates who don’t believe in vaccinations or who think climate change isn’t a big deal because “the sun is going to actually grow and encompass the Earth anyways.”

The only reason we are even in this clusterfuck is because there is a radical change underfoot in this country and to a larger extent the whole world. It’s the browning of America and a lot of people are scared about it. The world is becoming smaller and borders less relevant and when it comes down to it, there are just plain more of US than THEM. So those with lesser intellect and closed minds want to elect white supremacists in the hopes of maintaining a power structure that is starting to hear its death knells. Electing Hillary won’t change the power dynamics in this country, but it would be great if we can prove to all Trump supporters that there are more of us who chose unity over segregation, who chose love over hate, who chose experience over idiocy.

Hate can never and should never win. And a woman should never be forced to pretend that a man is her equal just because he has a penis. That’s sexist. Misogyny is just a hateful as racism. That’s an equivalency that is true.