Saturday, November 28, 2009

Latina Identity

Latina identity is something I overheard someone pondering the other day and it seemed a pathetic use of time. Everyone must know by now that culture is complex, dependent upon your country of origin, class and amount of time spent at that particular tier, education level, race, ethnicity, gender, and whether your family owned a TV, books, just a TV, just books, TV and books but more emphasis was placed on watching TV than reading books or maybe, your family had books but they were Time Life Collection of Facts type books where knowledge was disjointed and set up as if knowing something had to be about memorizing data for some pop quiz that never happened or that appearance on Jeopardy you dreamt about as a kid.

Latina identity is something that gets people's panties in bunches. Some Latinos feel that a touch of criminality or domestic violence makes them Latino-er. Here, I am recollecting a Latina friend who left her Latino batterer and began dating a gentle, soft-spoken Latino musician who adored her and made her breakfast. He didn't raise his voice or ask questions about where she had gone dancing with her friends or what she had done. There were no beatings fueled by delirious suspicions.
He was just sweet, confident and consistent. Latina friend said he was a wimp; the relationship lacked the fire to which she had become accustomed. In her words, she expressed that her old Latino love who had beaten her in the street in front of her neighbors was more manly or authentic

Latina identity can become boring; the Latinos who speak about not straightening their hair as a political act to show pride in their African roots as if they had just found out that enslaved Africans were not just brought to the United States do bore me. My mother has been a Black Latina all her life without resorting to fairytales to explain her hue; she spoke of racism in her tranquil rural community.
Yes, brodel . .. the enslaved Africans were also brought to our countries and pardon me if the fact that you stopped going to the beauty salon to put carcinogenic chemicals in your hair doesn't impress me.

Latina identity might have something to do with valuing your family over your own health, dreams, goals. Neglecting your self to pursue the highest accolade, the Nobel Prize of "traditional" Latinahood "Mira, she's a really good mother!" We don't know if she could have been a really good philosopher, lawyer, teacher, scientist, business person because nobody was checking to see if she had done her homework or why that teacher in the fifth grade was so important to her; maybe, in this "traditional" Latinahood, everybody was just obsessed with her virginity because everybody understood about that and about the possible consequences of unvirginity.
Sandra Cisneros once said "I am no one's mother and no one's wife." This was not a feminist recrimination of mother and wifehood, but just stating that it is ok to not be those things.

Not straightening your hairs, breaking free of some other expectations of your particular tribe is a nibble of a political act.
But a real political act would be pursuing your dreams without worrying about what you might seem to other Latinos and finding out what parts of the norm for your particular socioeconomic, racial, ethnic group concords with the beliefs that have sprung from your singular self and from the impetus with which we are all born to self-actualize.

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