This past Friday we held the homegoing celebration for my grandmother, Mrs. Irene Lujan Primous. It was a beautiful celebration with family, friends, and community leaders. The recollections of my grandmother living in her South Phoenix community for over 7 decades were of love, strength, understanding, and acceptance. So many people felt that she gave them what they lacked from their own family. She offered guidance and love to all who sought it from her. She was remembered for always using terms of endearments to address everybody; mijo/mija, baby, darling & son/daughter being her favorites. These were terms not just used for those who shared her blood but for every body she came into contact with. Her home had an open door and open heart policy. All she ever wanted was for us to be happy and feel loved. I have made it my goal to share that same love with everyone. It is the only way I know of that I can truly honor the woman she was.
Due to celebration, I was able to overwhelmed and amazed by how many individuals I with whom I share DNA. Not only was the amount amazing (She helped raise 32 children [18 were hers and the rest were my grandfather’s offspring], 79 grandchildren, 166 great-grandchildren, 16 great-great-grandchildren and a host of brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, and neighborhood kids) but the shades of skin in evidence, from alabaster to ebony. We also had representatives from across the USA and Phillipines. I met quite a few aunts, uncles, and cousins for the first time in my 40 years. (I missed out on meeting a couple of sisters of mine for the first time. I am feeling some kind of way about it but that is a topic for another post.) If you listen to the reports out of Southern California, this event should have been full of animosity. Why? Well because Mexicans hate Blacks and Blacks hate Mexicans. And at this event there were just as many Mexicans as Blacks. We should have come to blows and engaged in racially charged arguments. That is edict that has come out of the Southern California Prison System. Mexicans should racially cleanse the areas they live in. And of course we, Blacks, should make sure that no Mexicans want to live in our neighborhoods. There has been article after article investigating this topic. (See this article for more insight: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2013/01/azusa-gang-leader-to-be-sentenced-for-conspiring-to-cleanse-city-of-blacks.html or this one: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-ramona-gardens-20130411-dto,0,4607165.htmlstory#axzz2l1DU4zum ) It really is a confusing stance to someone like me: a Black woman who can also trace her roots to Mexico and the indigenous peoples of the USA.
I have the blood of Africa and it has given my skin the sun touched beauty of which I am proud. I also have the blood of the Yoeme/ Hiaki/ Yaqui, the blood of the Cherokee, the blood of the Muskogee/Creek, the blood of the Louisiana Creole, and the blood of the Tejano (Texas Mexican) which increased the determination of the warrior that I was blessed with. All of my roots are appreciated for the knowledge of self and the bravery of heart. And with such knowledge, to hate another is to hate myself. I can’t bring myself to do it. How can I hate my blood/sangre and consider myself sane. I just can’t do it. I looked at my family and it reaffirmed what I have always known. Black and Brown are the same. We have different cultural artifacts but we are the same. Some of us have a different languages and dialects but we are still the same. Our histories both contain oppression at the hands of the so called majority. The same Jim Crow laws for Blacks were used for Mexicans. The same second class status was assigned to us both. The Panthers were Black and Brown. Cesar Chavez was a hero for all farm workers and one of his inspirations was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If you don’t understand why the separation of our people is encouraged then you really are still asleep. I suggest you wake the hell up. Because I need you just like you need me. I know that we can get along.
I know you may be thinking what does this have to do with anything that is important in my life. I will tell you. We all walk around with stereotypes and prejudices in our heads. Most of us try not to act on them but we do it anyways. I have been pissed and call somebody a mojado. Just as I know some of you have been pissed and called somebody a mayate/mallate. I know that it is just as possible that the one I called a racist slur is related to me in ethnicity if not in actual lineage. We have to remember that looks are deceiving and there is no such thing as a pure race. I am Black because of my skin and my worldview but I am Indigenous because of DNA percentages. If I am attacking other Indigenous people, I am displaying self hatred that will hurt me more in the long run. I will internalize the thoughts and my own self esteem will be lowered. Each time I lower my self esteem, I will become more likely to lash out at others and myself. It becomes a cycle of self hate manifested in trying to make others feel less than me. I will be miserable. And I will no longer be living the life my grandmother wanted me to live. Remember I said she wanted us to be happy and feel loved. I will also be cutting myself off from my family. And I just met some of them, why would I want to give them up already. Hell, I don’t even want to give up the known racists because I feel everyone is redeemable. I know that when we realize that our fates are intertwined we will be an unstoppable force of change. Until then, I leave you with Love and Hugs, Baby. 🙂