(Disclaimer) The following blog was not initially part of what I planned to launch my site with. Nevertheless, I felt that being this a platform where I am able to share my voice, I could not simply ignore the most relevant topic of this season. I do want to leave clear that my blog is not about politics but instead of encouragement. My goal with my story is that even in a topic such as this, you are inspired to create a life that you love.
I was born in Medellin, Colombia. My dad was able to bring my mother and I to the states (the legal way) when I was only a year old. To be honest, I don’t know Colombia. I mean, yes I went back probably every summer throughout middle and high school, but I never lived there. I don’t know what it is to go to school there, I’ve never lived their struggles and I didn’t grow up on their streets.
I grew up in New York. In Queens, we lived in a building of about 12 floors. When I was old enough to walk, talk and play I made a friend through my balcony. Her name was Angela and she was Chinese. “La Chinita” is what my parents would call her.
She was a beautiful little girl that knew no English. Here’s the thing… I didn’t know English either. My dad had moved to NY (through my grandfather) as an adult and my mom was a first generation immigrant, so all I knew to speak at home was Spanish.
Nevertheless, Angela and I would play through the fence that connected our balconies almost every day. She’d say something in Chinese and I’d reply in Spanish, but somehow we understood. As the years went by we both started school and eventually learned English.
I would go over her house to play often. I remember trying to imitate the things her mom would tell her in Chinese pretending that I understood. They would give me delicious snacks from their country that I’d never tasted before and of course, we’d share some empanadas with them (or so I want to believe we did, because as long as I’ve lived there’s been empanadas at my house and we always have enough to share.)
Angela was my first best friend. We were so different, and yet the same. We were both immigrants, we were both minorities, we were both girls and we would both grow up in a country far from where we were born, but where we would learn to love and call home.
Maybe because I am an immigrant and a minority, I haven’t had the internal struggle of racism within my heart. Fast forward to Florida, my parents ended up buying a house in a somewhat predominantly black community.
On our block, we were surrounded by 3 Hispanic households, probably one or two white household down the street and the rest were basically African American families.
At H.D. Perry Middle school, some of my closest friends were black. After school my friends would come over to play football for hours right outside my house. The girls would sit on my parent’s cars and cheer (or hate, hehe).
The boys… they would not team up based on color… it was football; they’d chose teams by skill and one team would play with their shirts on and the others with their shirts off.
I don’t remember us ever making a big deal that we didn’t look the same; yes, maybe when we were making fun of each other out of love but not seriously. Hispanic, black, white… it didn’t matter. We were friends and we where there, day in and day out for fun. Thankfully, nobody taught us to hate each other.
We aren’t born racist. Yet today I wonder, what were they struggling with when we were not together? What did they fear that they were not being vocal about? Now knowing the problems that they had to face back then without me noticing, really hurts my heart.
If you’ve never been to South Florida, we are the place where Walmart and Walgreens translate all their signs to Spanish. There are entire supermarket chains in Spanish, like “El Presidente” and “El Bodegon”.
Even though I am Hispanic, I don’t walk out in public feeling like I’m a minority. But I know now that there are other places in our country where I would feel that way… where I would feel unsafe.
Current events have opened my eyes to a battle that I wasn’t aware was so real. I don’t think I didn’t notice it intentionally. Sometimes we are just so caught up in our own battles that we miss what other people may be going through.
The other night a friend told me that there were riots in Miami. So I did what every normal millennial would do, I Googled. I searched for “Miami riots” to see if anything came up in the news. I was surprised that what I found was a Wikipedia excerpt on the 1980 Miami riots. Ya’ll that’s 40 years ago! Read how similar this news is to what we are going through today:
“The 1980 Miami riots were race riots that occurred in Miami, Florida, starting in earnest on May 18, 1980, following the acquittal of four Dade County Public Safety Department officers in the death of Arthur McDuffie.”
Tell me how similar that sounds to four Minneapolis police officers arresting and killing George Floyd on May 25, 2020? Floyd was 6 years old when McDuffie was killed. Here’s my question:
What do we have to do today so that the 6 year old boy down the street from my house isn’t murdered in May 2060 for being black?
It all starts at home.
I hope what we accomplish is to ensure that police departments properly hold their people accountable when they commit a crime while wearing their blue. Nevertheless, chances are that the officers that will one day commit a racial crime didn’t become racist at the police academy.
They probably learned it at home, from their parents or guardians. It’s a lesson brought down from generation to generation from the time of slavery when the leaders of this country felt that blacks were “half-human”.
My prayer and my call to action today is that we raise a different generation. If my son decides one day to be a cop, I want him to be an ethical and honorable one. It is not his trainer at the police academy or his boss’ responsibility to teach him how to be honest and treat all people alike… it’s mine!
It is my responsibility to teach him how to help others regardless of peer pressure. It is my responsibility to send him out into the world as an ethical person. It is his dad’s responsibility to teach him how to be a man of principle.
When the protests die down, the IG stories stop requesting equality and the media changes the narrative, let’s continue our fight at home.
I am American. My passport says born in Colombia and I will always love, value and celebrate my Hispanic heritage… but I am American. This country is all I know and it’s where the generations after me will live. I’m going to fight for a better tomorrow.
I hope you join me and you create a life you love to live… a life by YOU!
I am a believer in continued education. I want to encourage you to watch a message by a man I admire, his name is Mike Todd. The message is called “Racial Reconciliation”. Mike Todd is the Pastor of Transformation Church. A church founded by a white family and then handed to a black man. Transformation Church has recently bought the Spirit Bank Event Center and is a diverse multi-cultural mega-church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.