wednesday, october 5, 2016
i was pretty much raised white. born in puerto rico, my mother left my father when i was about 3 months old (and if her story is to be believed, she had pretty good reasons), and he ignored me from the time i was about 6 months or so. no child support, no birthday cards, nothing. i've considered looking for him, but never had the money, and now...well, when i considered it before, there was that whole need for approval from a parent. now? not so much. it's taken a few years, but i've found my own confidence that doesn't rely on others. anyway, when she remarried, my sep-father was white. she had my brother when i was 5, and they divorced when i was 13.
that's a lot of time being raised white. and those years weere also my formative years. never learned spanish (until i attempted it in high school; it's still not a second language, much less a firstheck, it's pretty much not a kanguage at all for me), never celebrated the holidays or traditions of my puerto rican heritage. and, it never really came up as i was growing up, even after we moved to california. i look hispanici have the traditional thick, dark, curly hair and the olive perma-tanbut being a person of color was...never a focus as i was growing up. if anything, it got ignored by pretty much everyone (it is possible there was discrimination later in life, but i was never actually aware of it, and my fluency in english, intelligence, and level of education as i got older may have even limited those instances). i was only ever chastised once: on a bus going to classes, a woman began speaking to me in spanish, when i told her i didn't speak the language, she questioned why i didn't speak my cultural language. i didn't think much of it at the time, even forgot it for awhile.
lately i'm starting to think more about what should have been my heritage and wasn't as i was growing up. lately, i'm starting to identify more with being a person of color. lately, i want to delve more into the traditions of my puerto rican heritage.
just a few days ago, i learned that as a puerto rican, i am a mix of spaniard, african, and taina. i knew the first two, but never heard of the third. i've bookmarked the wiki page to learn more. i'm starting to look into puerto rican traditions to find things i can pull into the traditions we already celebrate. yes, my children are gone, and there's no one in the house to pass the traditions on to, and my husband is unlikely to participate in parrandas (carol singing), but this isn;t really for them. it's for me. it's to help me connect with a culture i should have had in my life and didn't. my girls can decide if they want to explore this on their own, but they are primarily white (scandinavian, german, english come to mind between me and their father) and may not feel the need to connect to their non-white heritage (though my youngest appears to be very interested in it). my husband will love exploring the food since it's in the carribbean cuisine.
i turned 53 today, and this is a part of who i am. 53 years is a long time to not know anything about my heritage. time to change that.