On Being Latina

So, first of all, I made a page in my art journal:

So, the cupcake was drawn in another sketchbook that I have, and I had full intentions of coloring it in, but eh. I don’t think it wants to be colored in. 
I went to a discount store here in brooklyn and discovered Sharpie pens. Oh my goodness. Seriously as awesome as it sounds. 
On another note, a friend of mine posted THIS. It got me thinking of my experiences with being a latina artist. 
You know, I’ve never really been able to fit the stereotypical latina. First of all, I have pale white skin. Being of Puerto Rican and Colombian parents, this seems strange to most other latinos. 
Things I get told by other latinos:
  1. You’re latina and you can’t dance? 
  2. You don’t look latina
  3. You like rock and roll? You mean you don’t like hip hop? 
  4. Oh you write poetry? You mean spoken word? 

Yeah, really. People assume that because I do not speak like Rosey Perez, that this means I must be a “halfie”. 
For the record, both of my parents were born in THEIR OWN COUNTRY. They came here as adults. My mother was born in Bogota, Colombia and my father in Puerto Rico. My father has light blue eyes, pale white skin, “good hair”, and freckles. My mother is a short lady with straight “indian” hair, and tan skin. 
I however, have pale white skin that burns with the sun, and bear little brown freckles that in spanish is called a “lunar”. I get them with the sun a lot. 
I’m okay with my pale skin. No, I do not want to tan. Why should I? I was born this way, and I am big advocate of accepting who you are, just as you are. I don’t have to change the color of my skin to conform with someone else’s idea of what a latina is. 
No, I can’t dance. I actually have terrible rhythm. I clap offbeat. I tell people that while I so admire professional dancers, my body just does not express itself that way. And that’s okay. That doesn’t make me any less latina. 

To tell someone they do not “look latina” is both offensive and racist. Perhaps I simply do not look like what is your idea of a latina. Have you thought about that?
Personally, I love shattering ideas. I love shattering another person’s idea of what something should be, like motherhood and being latina.
I can have my nose pierced, pale white skin, arm tattooed, ripped up jeans, and still look latina. Why? What is it that makes us our race? Is it what we wear on our skin? What makes us “look latino”? Being latino is more than just dark skin and gold earrings. Looking latina has more to do with facial structure and bone structure of the body, than it does with the shade of my skin or choice of accessories.
Thirdly, I do not like hip hop. No. I mean, well maybe I like the old school stuff from the 80s. Back when hip hop wasn’t about bragging about how badass you are.
I love rock and roll. I love it. I love classic rock, I love classic jazz from the golden era, and I love classic country (think Hank Williams Sr).
My choice in music does not make me any less latina. My love of Pink Floyd, Rancid, The Grateful Dead, and Cab Calloway does not infringe on my race.
Fourthly, just because I happen to be latina, and I write poetry, does not mean that I write “spoken word”.
I don’t write that in that style. I write poetry; poetry as in Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, E.E. Cummings, and Anne Sexton. Poetry. That’s what I write.
It makes me absolutely livid that people assume that I write spoken word simply due to my race.
Look, the truth is, I am my own version of latina. I am my own person with my own ideas on life. And yes, I am proud of my race. I am proud of where my mother and father came from.
I speak spanish, love Hector Lavoe, classic cumbia, and I could eat rice and beans every day for the rest of my life and not be bored one bit. But I also was a vegetarian for 12 years, had a homebirth, and love classic punk and classic rock.
Don’t put me in a box. I don’t fit in them.
And the truth is, you wouldn’t like it if I put you in one, would you?

Diana Gonzalez

Diana Gonzalez is a self taught artist, writer and poet, formerly known as The Craftaholic.  You can visit her etsy store here

the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” 

-Jack Kerouac

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One Reply to “On Being Latina”

  1. Well written and relatable my friend.

    I am neither a Latina nor have skin of a non-stereotypical shade of someone of my background. White, Caucasian, European descent (unless you count the Italian, northern Italy people.. it is cold up there). BUT I do relate to not fitting into a box. Just like you I never have, wanted to, or would. Even if at first glance I could, my arm, foot, or my ability to dance would be jutting out of the box.

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