While this may seem like a rant, I’d like you to hear me out. For the first time in my 28 years of living, I feel like I may not be the only person feeling this way. I’ve never just heard anyone speak up about it…until now.
I grew up knowing I was Black. Later on in life I would hear the word African-American. It was all I knew. I only knew my biological grandmothers in my family. They were Georgian born, slave descendents… in other words, Black. One day in middle school I came home to my mom going through old photo albums. One picture was of a skinny man with light skin, dark hair and a huge smile sitting down and leaned up against a TV with a wine bottle on top. It was odd. I pointed to the picture and asked, “Who is that ma?” She looked at me and then looked at the picture and said, “My dad.” It confused me because I could have sworn the man who I knew as “grandpa” was her dad. He was all I had ever known as a grandfather.
She then began to tell me the story of who the man in the photo was according to my grandmother. She explained to me his name is Efrain Collazo, and he is or was a man from Puerto Rico who moved to New York as a kid. He and my grandmother dated here and there when she moved to Long Island, New York for a job from Georgia. She says they dated like this until she found out Efrain was married and had a son and another baby on the way. Apparently Efrain wasn’t ready to let her go, and eventually the stress of it got to my grandmother. She left with the help of Efrain’s brothers, Johnny and Frankie. A month or two after she came back home to Georgia, she found out she was pregnant. Months later while giving birth, she found out it was fraternal twins! He never knew.
Wait a minute! I’m Puerto Rican?!
From that day on I embraced the Latino culture. I loved that it ran in my blood, and I loved everything from the food to the music (especially the music). I embraced it anytime I got the chance, for whatever reason. But for some odd reason, it bothered other people. People couldn’t understand how I could be Puerto Rican, and “look” Black. They would see my mom and become more understanding, but I would still get so much crap about it. Now grant it in high school being Latina was the thing to be. A lot of people claimed something they weren’t, whether it be partially African American, Latina, or “Indian.” I on the other hand was dead serious.
At one point I questioned if he was really even Puerto Rican. I ended up doing a DNA test that gave me familial matches. Turns out I have quite a bit of 4th cousins or closer. About 85% of my matches being from Puerto Rico or having lineage from there. While it didn’t shock me, it gave me comfort in knowing for a fact I wasn’t out there putting up a facade of who I am. When my son (whose father is from the island of Puerto Rico) was born, I saw our genetics at work. My son came out with dark blonde hair, gray to hazel eyes, and fair skin. All I could do was laugh.
Despite the stereotypes that some people think or believe…I am Puerto Rican. It is unfortunate when we show prejudice against our Black Latina women who don’t fit the stereotypical Latina look. We are Latina too and we love who we are.
Full-time student, raising 2 kids and a 9-year-old sister. I love all things elephant and teal. I’m just as Puerto Rican as you. 🙂
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