Identity: (Not) A Poem

Image found on War Against All Puerto Ricans – “The Dark Truth of the Puerto Rican Day Parade”

I was born in Manhattan and raised in the South Bronx.

I wasn’t allowed to hang out in the streets. The only sleepovers I had were with my cousins. My parents barely let me hang out with friends after school.

Papi was an alcoholic. He loved horror, sci-fi, making us laugh, barbecues, & Latin jazz.

Mami was strict, angry, depressed. She loved horror, smooth jazz, and cried a lot.

I grew up learning Spanish from my grandmother, but I understood it more than I spoke it. English was my first language.

The kids in school said my hair was “dead.” It was wavy.

In high school, I tried using products to make it curl. Didn’t work. I also got a blow-out every two weeks to keep it straight. Didn’t work.

As a kid, I was a really good singer and Michael Jackson was my favorite.

David Bowie too. I loved David Bowie.

When I was in third grade, I told my classmates I’d grow up to be a demonologist. I didn’t have a lot of friends after that.

When I got older, I listened to metal, rock, electronica, and alternative. Hip-Hop and R&B didn’t move me the way The Cranberries, Metallica, and Orbital did.

Horror was my favorite film and literature genre. I had a crush on Freddy Krueger.

I went to Catholic school from sixth grade forward.

I renounced Catholicism as a teenager.

The New Age and esoteric called to me but I didn’t fully dive into it until my mid-30s out of fear of damnation.

And fear of my mom. My mom was very clear about not letting any Brujeria in the house.

I devoted myself to Hekate at age 35.

Once I was an adult, I went to goth clubs and raves. I didn’t hang out in the Bronx.

If I stayed in the Bronx, I was at a boyfriends house or smoking weed and eating ham and cheese sandwiches with my friends at Pucho’s place on 3rd Ave.

I went to the Puerto Rican Day parade once dressed in blue shorts, and a red sparkly tank top. Screaming at the top of my lungs, “Que Bonita Bandera!”

The first time I went to Puerto Rico, a tour guide asked “who here is Boricua?” I raised my hand with pride! He asked where in La Isla I was from.

“Well, I was born in New York but my mom’s family is from Isabela and my dad’s family is from Cataño”

“Oh. You’re NOT Puerto Rican. You’re Nuyorican.”

Why did ‘where’ I was born make me any less Boricua?

Over the years, I met boys and girls like me. Nerds, weirdos, and creative souls.

But their hair was more textured, skin was browner, and they spoke better Spanish. They seemed deserving of their Latinidad.

At 37, I took a DNA test.

I’m made up of primarily a fuck ton of Portugal and Spain, a healthy portion of Indigenous Taino, and a sprinkling of African ancestry.

So basically, mostly white.

But I’m definitely not white to a white person.

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