Here's My Life: I Am Afro Latina

Here's My Life: I Am Afro Latina

This is how I identify.
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Happiness. A word that has a subjective definition. How is it defined to those who haven't been exposed to much in comparison with those who've seen it all? I'm sitting on the beach in a third world country, and to these people, I look like a queen. I have it all: a designer bag, the latest phone, well-kept footwear that I took off because I had that option; not because I had to. My watch carries stones that look like diamonds, albeit they are false, they still sparkle in the sun I used to know and love.

This country, which I experience in part about once a decade, has a beautiful rhythm that can only be explained with a ballad or with the sweet taste of sugarcane. Every drink of water I'm used to has been replaced con una fría de Presidente Light because the regular one engorda. Every step I take is like a signal for men to refer to me as menor. As if it were a requirement for them to let me know que yo si toy buena.

Sitting on the beach here in the "lit" part of Boca Chica, I keep pulling my medicated bug spray out of my Maiko Koa bag and spraying it on my untanned legs. The natives let me know que soy blanca. No vamos Americana? Is a constant question, as if it's written on my face. I've been told "you walk like a tourist, your back is straight but your butt isn't poked out, so I know you're not from here." I seem to have developed an automatic "no, está bien, gracias" without even looking up. Leave me be, I think. I just want to eat my yaniqueque in peace; I never get to finish one of these. I'm not wearing shades, the sun isn't out. But here in Santo Domingo, si no tiene Gafa, no acaba. That's also how they know.

Being multinational is one thing. But when you're Americanized and have immigrant parents, your Spanglish is poppin' but your proper etiquette is lacking for your native country. When they tell you that If you're nice, te roban; if you're mean se te ve que es mala. I was born in America, but I'm not American. I'm Dominican, but I’m not Dominican because I barely know the culture. What I am is stuck in the gray area — where I eat Dominican food but don't want to marry and serve a man. I'm stuck in a place where I won't listen to bachata and merengue unless I have to, pero cuando me pongo a bailar, I be killing them. Soy Dominicana. Americana. Blanquita. Afro latina. This is my 50 shades of Grey.

Cover Image Credit: K. Grullon

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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Dear Marvel, You Really Need TO Do Better With Representation

This is simply a poor attempt at more diversity.

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SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Avengers "Endgame" hit theaters and shattered records across the world with making an amazing $350 million in North America and an even more stunning $1.2 billion worldwide. In fact, 'Endgame' has already destroyed records set back "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," "Avatar," and even the first part of the movie, 'Infinity War.' Fans went in expecting a mix of emotions and for the most part, the movie definitely delivered. However, there is one thing that some fans are severely disappointed in.

Directors like the Russo Brothers hyped up an "exclusive gay character" and "Marvel's first openly gay character" in the 22 movie franchise. But fans weren't happy with what they received after all of this hype beforehand. While representation is representation sometimes it's simply not good enough. In this movie, Steve Rogers (Captain America) goes to a counseling group with others to deal with such a huge loss in their world and lives. This is where we meet the "exclusive" gay character, who barely even has a name. He's an unnoticeable character if you're not paying attention, has no relevance to the plot, and doesn't make any kind of difference in the movie at all. He talks about how he finally went out on a date, with a guy, and how eventually they both cry while reflecting on their lives after the snap. While they call this "exclusive," we call this pretty close to queerbaiting.

Making a big deal over a background character and parading him around for his sexuality isn't what we would call representation. While it's always cool to see an LGBTQ character on the screen in such a huge series, this character is still just a minor character and has no relevance and is literally never seen again. He is on screen for less than five minutes before we never see this character again. This is what you call representation? A minor background character with no importance whatsoever? No thanks!

What we are looking for is at least someone that has something to do with the plot, not just there to say they've done it and market to the LGBTQ community. Marvel needs to do better when it comes to this. Their big deal over a minor character lost our respect more than it gained because this excitement was only a money grab more than an actual attempt at diversity. When we have characters like Valkyrie, who is Bisexual in the comics, we want to see more major characters gain this diversity. Even Captain Marvel actress Brie Larson agrees, "we gotta move faster" as no person should be excluded from being a superhero for any reason, even sexual orientation.

So Marvel, while you're here breaking box office records, don't forget to do better at giving the LGBTQ community the representation they deserve, and the representation we all want! And until you do, we'll just be here looking over Brie Larson's and Bev Johnson's support of Captain Marvel and Valkyrie!

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