Del Enfado al Amor
Iexperience my humanity through the lens of la colombiana What it means to be a Colombian woman Is a truth that holds so much joy yet so much pain, Is a truth that I feel woven in between the letters of my name with great care By those who came before me. They wanted my name to stretch through time Long name like long pathways and secret passages to find my way home Long names like there’s no way you could miss my greatness when I walk into a room Tengo el corazón de la colombiana I have the heart of la colombiana Listen as I dance circles around you with the beauty of this language that is mine Rapid tones rising, falling, flowing, firing, sizzling, dripping from my lips Like the hot summer gatherings from the land I now miss The laughter of my cousins and the warmth of our family The warmth of shared food Food that greeted your every taste bud with vicious kisses and gracious hugs So you know that you are loved You... belong somewhere... Here. Always. Las noches de Navidad, those Colombian Christmas nights The feel of my grandmother’s palm on my cheek Infusing her memories into me Into my skin She planted A resilient Latin spirit that never dies Not a Latin spirit of tacos, nachos with a side of chilli cheese fries No, that’s what we sold to you so that’s all you know. My Latin spirit is in the fiery rock of volcanoes and in the stone of temples the world is still trying to understand My Latin spirit is cryptic rhythms hypnotizing the world My Latin spirit is my grandmother’s bosom and the sweet words of comfort rolling, dripping from her lips like rain dripping from la flor de mayo This culture I carry in my skin, on my tongue, and in my heart has kept me sane During times when microaggressions pushed me to the brink of insanity Insanity first threatened the day my parents decided They wanted a better life. Funny how when sun-kissed brown bodies seek brighter, better lives, they move further from themselves to be closer to colder, whiter lands. I came here and suddenly became so aware of my brown skin This skin was robbed of its innocence and painted over... the colour: immigrant. They coloured us immigrant « Arrête donc ton espagnol! On parle français icitte On parle ben mieux icitte. T’es une immigrante icitte On est meilleur que toi icitte. On veut pas de toi icitte. Mais on a besoin de toi icitte. S’il vous plait reste icitte mais... prend pas trop de place icitte » Before university I had a kind of tranquility A kind of serenity I had a kind of blissful placidity within the diversity that coloured my adolescence I was blessed enough to know people with perspectives from all over the populace I had a kind of privilege of my own. The privilege of innocence; of knowing but not really feeling your otherness, your social disadvantage because you’re so coddled by convivial community. My high school hallways were decorated with security guards because poverty is the best fertilizer for violence. So, my first lesson in high school was that I couldn’t be trusted. People like me didn’t get into university, we got into fights... but we were family. Most of my family couldn’t make it here with me so every day I know I have to seize this knowledge that is power, so I can give it back to them You know what they say. Give the gift of knowledge to a coloured kid and they become a threat to a cowardly nation; a threat to the status quo. You’ll have opened the Pandora’s box that is consciousness and they won’t stop until they see justice.
I came here thinking justice was a given if someone like me were able to get in But I was immediately disappointed when I realized how little of me there was here How little of me I could be here How little I felt here Unprofessional, unrefined, uneducated. The total opposite of the old-white- men portraits whose eyes haunt the corridors of my department Reminding me that they never meant for me to be here. At first, I hid behind phony smiles and masks of normalcy I wanted to show them that I could be bougie too But deep down the erasure made me angry I never liked bougie people, because they reminded me that not everyone knew what it felt like to open and close your fridge a million times in one day hoping that at some point some unknown black magic would fill it up for you... taking the hunger away. Not everyone knows the heat from the tears of joy that fill your eyes when your best friend takes you grocery shopping for Christmas... because ain’t that what privilege is? I never liked bougie people, but I find myself secretly wanting to be so free that I don’t even know what freedom is because I have no captivity in my bloodline, no chains wrapped around my veins, no epigenetic transgenerational trauma pinned to my name. Every time my feet hit the gravel on these unceded lands I’m reminded of how my body beat every statistic that told me that I could never belong here, Every time a professor dared dishonor the existence of minorities to my face in my own learning space, I became more convinced that I did not belong here, I became so angry... I found myself trembling at times. I wanted to tear this campus to the ground. I want to relish in the sound of its destruction and sweet reparation. But suddenly... someone came and gave me an even sweeter consolation: They told me that anger was simply the lack of love. And their love poured over me, oozing from their being, like the persistent lava of Colombian volcanoes To be seen, unconditionally accepted, and validated even in our darkest moments of pain… That’s what love is. Love uproots you from anger no matter how deep Love makes revenge seem distasteful no matter how sweet It may seem in the beginning, because in the end My immigration turned activism was a journey from loss, to love, to anger and back to love again Del enfado al amor Do things still seem unfair? Hell yes! Am I going to stop fighting for what I believe is right and calling people out on their bullshit? Hell to the mothafuckin nah! But my fight is now rooted in peaceful assurance; a passion plight I will not fight in a way that calls out my oppressor yet destroys my well-being in the process.