1.126 – E-Race Me

With 5 minutes until closing time, a customer walks up to me and says:

“Hi, I know you must be wanting to get out of here, so I’ll be quick. I was just curious…um…what are you?”

What do you mean?

“Are you black?”

No

“Oh. What are you?”

I’m Puerto Rican.

*laughs* “Oh, cuz I was gonna ask you how I could get hair like yours but I’m not Puerto Rican. I’m Black.”

That’s nice.

“And um..is the Nook Tablet like the IPad..but like…cheaper?”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

“Okay thanks.”

Exit ensues.

Here are a few tidbits that will enlighten you as to why this interaction annoys the ever-living-piss out of me. This customer sat in the cafe area for a good hour, doing nothing. This customer was bald. This customer was a male. How the hell are you inquiring about my hair, boo? How did you assume you could get hair like mine? Maybe you dress up, so you assume I bought it?

I’m a Puerto Rican female. I’m just a female. I don’t ask people what they are, racially…to be quite honest – I don’t ask because I don’t give a shit. I don’t search for a specific race to date because I have some fetish. I don’t hang out with a specific race because I feel “accepted.” I interact with people. Not their race.

Not everything darker than white is black. Not everything that is spanish is mexican. For 11 years, I’ve answered this question a million times. It comes with the territory…or so I assume. It’s even funnier to me when people act shocked…or as if I’m lying. If I was black – I would be proud to be black. If I was mexican – I would be proud to be mexican. But I am none of those things. I am proud to be a woman who does not fixate on race. I am proud to live outside of stereotypes and labels. I am proud of the beauty of my internal being versus the shell you stare at.

On a side note – I’m actually excited about a children’s series concept that I discussed with an artist friend tonight. Don’t know where the idea will go…but I’m grateful I’m still having ideas. Means I’m still alive.

Advertisements

1.78 – Boycott Bigotry

Lowe’s, along with about 45 other businesses, has pulled it’s advertising from the TLC show All-American Muslim, which focuses on five Muslim-American families in Dearborn, Michigan. Instead of focusing on drunken Jersey Shore adults, Mob Wives, Sports Wives, a family that has like a million children, or pageant families – this show focuses on a specific group of people, spreading awareness on the normalcy and the struggles of a people who are forever stigmatized by the events of 9/11.

Why would Lowe’s pull their advertising? Well, the Florida Family Association, founded by David Caton is on the prowl. Originally affiliated with the American Family Association, Caton continues to lead his herd of religious extremists to push his agenda of spreading bigotry. Known for threatening companies to pull from shows like Degrassi (because they have gay and trans-gender characters), Caton apparently believes that the show, All-American Muslim is

“propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law.  The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.”

People who share in the same hatred filled targeting practices as Caton have spread their message to the likes of Hasbro, Kayak.com and now Lowes, threatening these companies until they pull their advertising from shows that don’t fit the AFA and the FFA’s belief system.

I’m disgusted. Here we go again. Yet another extremist group decides to spring forth and project their voice until companies start buckling. What the hell is the problem with their being a show about Muslim families? It’s hysterical to me. Lets not boycott or create email chains and websites against shows that promote promiscuity, alcohol abuse, physical violence, emotional self-mutilation for the sake of a paycheck. This group is yet another set of wack-jobs who decided to band together and threaten action and in turn, the likes of Lowes caves. If you don’t think this group is wrong, with their hate filled views on the LGBT andMuslim community, I’ll switch things up for you.

Tomorrow, NAMBLA – North American Man/Boy Love Association will have the right to boycott “To Catch A Predator,” “Law & Order SVU” and any other association, business or media outlet that does not support pedophilia. Can you imagine going to a store that will not post their advertising on a show anymore because it speaks against pedophilia? Would you support a business that would buckle under the pressure from a group of extremists because they just don’t want to piss off the extremists? And if you think this is a bad comparison, you’re wrong. For every person that agrees with these extremists religious groups, there is someone who agrees that pedophiles are just “children lovers.”

It’s the spreading of hate. Lowes and the other companies that buckled are spreading the message that such assumptions of hate, of extreme views are allowed to blanket our communities.

I watched a clip from Anderson Coopers show, in which he speaks with the cast of All-American Muslim. One audience member asks, “I realize that not all Muslims are the same and there are the extremists but I don’t know, how do you explain them? How do you…I guess try to get someone like me comfortable that…you know, there are good Muslims out there and that I don’t need to be afraid when I step into an airport?”

I’m not going to say this woman is a moron. She’s not. She’s like a lot of people who base their prejudices on fear, on generalizations. Based on this nations history, I’m going to repeat this question and direct it to you, the reader.

I realize that not all white people are the same and there are the extremists but I dont know, how do you explain them? How do you…I guess try to get someone like me comfortable that…you know, there are good white people out there and that I don’t need to be afraid that you’ll…(Insert History Here)

Insert Christians, Catholics, Blacks, Mexicans, men, women, Atheists, Republicans, Democrats, New Yorkers, Kansans, Cops, Postal Workers, etc etc etc etc. Insert who you are into this statement. How the hell do you explain that you are good. How do you defend a majority when people focus on a minority – a small group of people who did something wrong and they just happen to look like you, sound like you, believe like you?

I am Puerto Rican. I am a New Yorker. I am an American. I am a divorcee. I am a mother. I am Agnostic. I am scared. Scared that every time these extremists win a battle, the war of hate continues. And when they gain, inch by inch, ground on their trek to target gays, people of different religious beliefs…I wonder when they will stop. My religious freedom, to believe or not is at risk. My skin color is at risk. My sexuality is at risk. My gender is at risk. My hair color is at risk. My voice is at risk. My son is at risk.

I do not fear all white people for the races consistent affiliation with slavery and genocide. Because the race is not what did the damage. Individuals did the damage. A race CANNOT be an individual. It is a label. Yes, this nation was tragically changed on 9/11. But not every Muslim was on those planes. Not every Muslim supports that cause. Just as not every religious person supports the FFA and AFA.

The tyranny of 9/11 lives in those who allow their fear to become hate. Do not project your fear and target innocent people. Do not support companies and organizations which live with an agenda of hate. While we point the finger at others, thrusting blame for destruction on anyone that is different, the true terrorists live amongst us.

Oh Lowes, you silly bitch.

1.66 – A Lifelong Battle

I tried jumping out of a window when I was five. Ask me why. I don’t know. I was probably sad or angry or just curious what it would be like to fly. I cant answer why that little girl wanted to jump, but she did.

Soon after getting my ass beat by my mother, I was sent to a therapist. I went regularly through the following years. Instead of opening up about the things that made me drawn to a dark place at such a young age, I learned how to lie. How to put up a show…how to wear the mask. You see, before every session, my mother would tell my sister and I that we could talk to the therapist but we couldn’t divulge anything that happened in our home. It makes no sense. I know.

I was obsessed with keeping journals from a really young age. It was the only place I could be honest and even then, I sugar coated things in case anyone read my words. I wrote in codes, using Anne Franks symbols and other forms I’d made up in my little head.

When I was eleven, my therapist asked me to bring in my journal. For several sessions, I read her the pages of my tweety bird adorned secret keeper. She just let me read. She didn’t ask questions, she didn’t make assumptions. But I was reading all of the surface stuff. And then, out of nowhere,  she asked me to read one of the pages I’d skipped. I was hesitant, but I felt like I could finally trust her.

I read the darkest pages of my journal. The pages that told of my hatred for my skin, my body, my face. My fears of not being smart enough, not being perfect, not making my mother happy. My wonders of why my father left despite the fact that I had a loving step-father. My confusion about my race since my mother made it abundantly clear she hates blacks, puerto ricans, whites, mexicans…everyone really. My curiosity over why I had no family. Why my mother drank so much. Why she abused my father. Why my body was not my own. I shared a lot and even then, I kept certain skeletons at bay. I read about how much I wanted to die. How I wanted to join my uncle in the grave so I could see if people would care when I was gone. The true testament whether I was loved. Would anyone cry at my funeral?

The therapist recommended I go away to this place, this magical place for the summer. A place upstate with other kids like me. A camp, where I could explore the outdoors, express myself and feel free. Yeah, it was probably a nut house. But at the time, I wanted to go so badly. I wanted to be free of the games, the pain and the confusion. I wanted to run from the darkness in my home, in my heart. I wanted a chance.

My father was supportive. But he was only my step-father and so he couldn’t sign for me to go. My mother had to do the honors. We talked the whole way back to the apartment. I asked my father if he thought I was crazy. If I was a bad seed. He said no. I just needed help. To love myself. And if it meant me going away, he would support that.

I had the paper in hand, ready to have my mother sign and pack my bags. This was my chance. This was going to set me free. I wouldn’t have to deal with my mothers voodoo practices, the secrets, the pressure,  or questioning myself anymore. I would be free to be a young girl.

I handed my mother the paper in her bedroom while my nephew received physical therapy in the living room. The door was closed to the bedroom so no one could hear what I was preparing to tell her. I begged to go. I listed all of the reasons this would be good for me. I waited in silence while my mother eyed the paper. She stood up and that face sent my heart in full fledged race mode. She pulled her arm back and came at me full force. I asked my mother to help me. She punched me in the face. Period. The conversation was over just like that.

Sending me away was not an option. Because then people would know there was something wrong with me. Instead, I was pulled from my sessions with that therapist and told to shut my mouth. The feelings would go away.

I’m 27. They haven’t. I question my worth every day. I don’t know what will ever make me feel whole. Maybe I was born with something missing. I used to be ashamed for my depression. For this cloud that has chased me. I used to. I battle the darkness. I fight to believe that I am worthy of good things. I struggle with my reflection, my thoughts, my emotions.

I sat on a ledge when I was five. I don’t know why. But I hold that little girl every night and try to convince her that she made it for a reason. That she has a purpose. My mother wanted appearances to be kept. But I didn’t want to fake being happy. I don’t want to fake it now. I want to be happy in my skin. In my thoughts. In my emotions.

I cannot put it on my son to make me happy in these ways. That is a burden he should not and will not carry. I struggle with the darkness every day. I can’t say whether I will win or not. But I will try.

1.56 – Not What You Think

I pass the gas station after a long day of work. (Update: I’m kicking this food poisoning things ass but its definitely waged its war on my energy). There is an officer that does night duty at this gas station. He says hi to me all the time. To be honest, I think he’s crushing on me. This is not to sound vain, but a girl knows when a guy goes out of his way to make conversation and why he’s doing it.

So, he steps outside to have a smoke while I’m buying some juice. I walk outside to go to my car and he stops me to ask where a good place to get a tattoo would be. (You see the convo starter). Blah blah, I recommend a place for him. I tell him they are really good because they are very knowledgeable about colors and skin tones. (I’m caramel so blues and yellows fade on my skin). He’s probably a little darker than me.

He asks me what I am. I say, I’m Puerto Rican. He says he’s black and Italian. Great, we now know our family origins. I really just want to go home and drink my juice and lay down and watch a movie. So I say kbye and start toward my car. He stops me and whispers, “are my eyes okay,” with this dorky smile. I say “um, yeah, I guess.” He smiles and says “you know how it is, with all this work stress, a mans got to kick back sometimes.” I say “ew. Thats just ew.” He says “oh come on, it aint that bad. You don’t?” Thats when I get in my car and drive away.

You don’t smoke weed? No, I don’t. I don’t partake in any drug activity. I don’t even drink.

The fact that an officer of the law asked me if I smoke weed does not bother me. Hell, I’ve seen my fair share of crooked cops. What does bother me is this…

What about me makes you think I’m a fellow druggie? What about me makes you remotely think we can relate on such a disgusting level?

Apparently, something about me screams “drug addict.” Well, here’s a clue: your vision is skewed. When you look at me, you will see a dedicated mother, a hard ass worker, an independent woman, an aspiring writer, a girl who skips on fashion to guarantee my son has the very best, a girl who merged book smarts and street smarts to become a better woman.

I cannot even count the number of times people question me the minute they hear I’m a New Yorker, I’m Puerto Rican or any of the other “red flags.” I really should make a freakin’ sign.

Yes, I know drug dealers. No, I’ve never sold drugs. No, I don’t do drugs. Yes, I know who my real father is. No, I am not on welfare – I bust my ass like every other tax paying citizen and make due. Yes, I know who my baby-daddy is – I was married and we planned my sons conception. Yes, I was born in this country. No, I am not an illegal immigrant. Yes, I speak English – I’m just ignoring you. Yes, I recognize that you and I have a different dialect – I say wash and you say warsh. Yes, I finished high school and went to college. I have tattoos and piercings and I can rock a suit like nobodies business.

I can cut you to shreds with a smile just as easily as an F bomb. I’m an equal opportunity individual. If you’re stupid – I hate you all the same. Swallow your assumptions and keep it moving.

1.46 – I’m The Anti-Drug, Non-Prejudicial Puerto Rican…Crazy Huh?

In doing something to my page, I deleted the previous blog post. Oh well, it wasn’t that good anyway. This post will probably be no better.

The week is catching up with me big time and I’m tired.

I was happy, until some douchebag rained on my parade. Despite being bombarded by customers today, I tried to keep a smile on my face, to keep things moving, to look at it as a positive. Business is job security.

So this crabby man comes up and places an order. I’m all smiles and he’s not really playing along. That’s fine. I make nice and run his order through. Not a minute later, my coworker comes up to me and says the crabby man said I was probably using drugs…because I was happy.

“No, I do not use drugs. I happen to do my job well.” Did the guy hear me? I don’t know and I, quite frankly dont give two shits. I will not have someone degrade my value by insinuating in any way shape or form I am happy because “well, she must be on something.”

Was the crabby man joking? Do I look like I give a shit? -.-

No, I don’t.

If I’m not all cheery – I let the weight of work and baby and writing and life in general slow me down: I’m a depressed, emo, a cloud of a person. I’m bad.

If I’m cheery – Optimistic about life and possibilities, leading by example, making the most of my time, enjoying myself and working with my coworkers: I’m a crackhead!

I am proud to say that I am a drug free individual. I have lived a drug free life and I am also keeping a dry home (no alcohol). This is my personal choice and I happen to enjoy my life this way. Are you surprised? Well, if you are: SHAME ON YOU!

I think it’s a damn shame when someone is actually trying to be positive and someone has to shit on them just because they are unhappy in their world. I hate your face and I hope you go home to your miserable little house and you sit next to your miserable little wife and you waste away in your miserable little life. Meanwhile, I’m going to make the most of it.

And FYI: I don’t care who you are – referring to someone who annoys me by their race followed by some adjectives does not help me. In fact, I don’t like it. In two days, I have two different people refer to someone as “that grouchy white guy,” or “you know the type, uppity white dude.”

I don’t care about color. If you are annoying, it’s your soul, your mind, your wicked little heart that annoys me. Or maybe we just caught eachother on a bad day. But at no point do I ever look at someone and think…”white = annoying.”

It’s like people look at my brown skin and assume that there’s this secret code: insult a white person and I’ll relate. No I wont. Because I’m not prejudice. Pride in my own does not mean I have to degrade another.

And my final FYI: I AM PUERTO RICAN. I know it’s hard here in the midwest. I’m not pale so I must be Black or Mexican. I know it’s hard to understand the concept that there are 21 Spanish speaking countries on this earth and so many different races that fall under the tan category but seriously – it’s annoying to answer. Strangers do it, so do friends. Yes, this is my real hair. No I do not relax it. Yes, I can cook. No, my mothers name is not Maria or Yolanda. I was born in NYC and I am a legal citizen. Now that we’ve got this covered…

I now return you to your regularly scheduled program, already in progress.