When I was in college, I had a black boyfriend. And it never occurred to me that our relationship would be a trigger for other people. What did I know? I grew up in a diverse population whose schools also reflected that diversity. My friends came from all different backgrounds. And race had never come up, at least not between us kids.
Well, I brought that boyfriend home to meet my extended family during a holiday break from school. One of my uncles pulled me aside and told me he was proud of me for going to college and bettering myself. And he also told me how disappointed he was in me. His words, “I cannot believe you became a n***** lover”.
I was shocked, disgusted, and ashamed that someone in my brown family felt that way. Those words still shake me.
I am Puerto Rican. I come from a beautiful family with a beautiful culture that speaks a beautiful language and has some of the best damn food 😊. My husband is Cape Verdean and French Canadian. We were both born here in Connecticut. We were both educated here (mostly, he got his undergrad elsewhere). We are good citizens. Good parents. Good role models. And yet, I still get hit with comments like “You’re Puerto Rican??? But you talk white”. As if “white” is a language. Or I hear “You don’t act Puerto Rican. You’re not like them”. As if that is a compliment!!!!!! My husband has a whole different set of experiences.
It is 2020 and equality still does not exist. I have a hard time imagining what it will take to make that change. But it has to come from a place of wanting the change. And you can’t force that on anyone. They have to want to. What happened recently has shaken my world. Watching George Floyd beg for his life was one of worst scenes I could ever imagine.
I promise to do my part, starting in my home, because that’s where change comes from. I will continue to raise my children to love others. To see them. To believe them when they say they are struggling, or feel targeted. To listen objectively, with no judgment. I will teach them that different is beautiful, and those differences are what makes us who we are. And most importantly, I will teach them to speak up when they see or hear something that attacks another individual. Because silence is a betrayal in and of itself.
This year has thrown us for a loop. Quarantine, uncertainty, loss of jobs, loss of life due to COVID, loss of life due to racism, riots, looting, and of course, we have seen numerous peaceful protests. We are living through a time that our grandchildren will read about in their history classes. And I will be damned if the story that is told is one in which I stood silent.
If you want to live in a world where “All Lives Matter”, then it’s about time for you to acknowledge that Black Lives Matter. And yes, I’m aware that some of you don’t agree with me. But my job is to serve my community from a place of honesty, starting with my truth. If this is the time to part ways, then I wish you well.
I stand for love. I stand for unity. I stand for peace. I stand for acceptance. I stand for equality. So that we can stand together.
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