Guest Blog: Reflections of an Afro Latina – Carmen Mojica

I want to introduce you all to a young woman I find so amazing. She is have a book release party this Friday at Nuyorican Poets’ Cafe. I told her that I am so sorry I cannot be there. Here is Carmen Mojica! I hope you find this latinegra as interesting as I do!

As I reflect on my life, just days before my book release party at the Nuyorican Poets’ Cafe, all I can think about is my hair. And how something like cutting off my chemically treated hair was the catalyst for my metamorphosis. Anthony asked me to guest blog about where I am these days with my journey and it was a perfect time to ask, as I am in a very pensive mood about who I am and who I am becoming.

I can still remember that December night in 2004 when I finally had the guts to cut it all off and go natural. It was a freedom I didn’t know existed; it was also a reason to challenge the effects of racism and socially imposed standards of beauty on my self-esteem. Coming to terms with my African roots was hard. For most of my life, I wanted nothing to do with my African-ness, the very heritage that would stare back at me when I would look in the mirror. It took me almost 20 years to embrace it and, among other influences, writing about my experience was instrumental in unraveling the web of self-hatred.

My book, “Hija De Mi Madre” is the culmination of experiences and undergraduate research that describe and explain the effects of my identity as an African Latina on my life. It is a combination of memoirs, poems and research material that not only explain the effects of race on identity from an academic standpoint but also shares my own life as a living example. Self-hatred is a disease that runs rampant throughout much of the African Diaspora due to colonization and the dehumanization that occurred at that time. In the Latino culture, the African component of the Latino identity is often ignored, denied and is not usually a subject that is up for discussion. The original reason I wrote my book was because of one of my last classes while still at SUNY New Paltz.

I was in a class called, “Women in the Caribbean,” and one of the topics for discussion was the Afro Latina identity. At the time, as I was still exploring my racial identity, this topic took hold of my attention and I decided to do my final paper on the topic. It was hard to find writing by Afro Latinos as I did my research. After I finished the paper, I decided to add my voice to the research I had done.

These days, I am still ever learning about my racial identity. And ever since I made the choice to write and complete my book, more and more awareness is building around the subject of African ancestry in the Latino culture has cropped up in many places. Events, books, and even documentaries are telling our story in full. Tonight, I am in a reflective mood, as I think of who I was when I started my book and who I am now. My journey in understanding all I can about my roots is continious; my place in history as a woman of the African Diaspora is one of the lens I look at the world through. These days my attention has shifted to empowering women in my community to make the best choices for themselves at childbirth. As I pursue certification as a birth doula (to be done by the end of this year, god-willing), I recognize how much love heals not only my own emotional, psychological and mental scars but also how the love I have been cultivating for myself affects those around me.

As a writer, I have been aware for a long time that words are powerful; they can birth worlds. I find that I speak sometimes for those who can’t find the words to say what they are feeling; yet I also understand that everyone has a story. And as I tell my story, at presentations and even one-on-one, I realize that not only do we all have stories, but they too are ever changing. They are influenced by the stories that we become a part of; the ones we interact with, burn bridges with, start new chapters with. I suppose all this talk about stories is a roundabout way of expressing this point I’m at in my life. This new chapter of embarking on becoming a birth professional and bringing the love and lessons I’ve been learning about being an Afro-Latina woman into that new venture has showed me the importance of a few things. Relating to other through our stories, gaining strength to continue on our paths and moments of self-reflection are essential in the path to self-awareness.

And I hope that when I share my story with others, that they feel this. That they know their story is important too, and that I can’t wait to hear about it.

If you’re interested in checking out my work, here are links to my thoughts, words and my book:
My blogspot:
My Tumblr:
My presentation at my alma mater on my book:
Where you can get my book:

Everything is About Race.

Yesterday I was called a Racist on Twitter. Reason being that I had the nerve to point out something on Facebook that that my guest blogger stated. If you read what yesterday’s blog was about you would know that Rameer was pointing out the simple fact that not many white people he knew posted anything about Haiti on their Facbook statues, yet just about all the people of color he knew, did. It was a commentary on sociology of race relations and what we hold to be important.

Like I normally do, I will tweet about my blog to let people know what today’s topic is. I asked a simple question: “How many white people do you know on Facebook that posted something about Haiti?” Let’s be real about this. I think it was a legitimate question in which I got answers to. One follower, who is a woman I have spoken to via chat and on the phone, was offended by my question. “Why do you have to make it racist?”

What I find interesting is that I just asked a question. Consider that I have taken classes in social justice, sociology, racism and education, and I am a trained facilitator in racist dialogue…I think I would know if I was being racist. But I digress. The point is, that Racism exists and pointing that out, does not make me racist nor does it mean I am perpetuating it.

“When people like you ‘point it out’ but are really just being racist yourself. I think its so ignorant.” I am one to believe that ignorance is bliss. If people like me do not point such things out then we are truly being ignorant about the world around us. Do I need to explain why Haiti is suffering so badly? Do I need to explain why that country is so poor? Race has everything to do with it. I was just saying this week that we need to know our history. Haiti was once a colony of France and after it was bled dry by the French, they left the Haitians to fend for themselves.

Let me explain what Racism is, since I am so ignorant about the world. Racism is a part of the system of oppression that is perpetuated by those who are privileged. Racism is power plus privilege. According to her, this definition is antiquated. I am not so sure how old this meaning is especially when sociologists still hang on to this definition, so let’s go with Webster’s Dictionary: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

Ok…so how am I being Racist? Do not get me wrong, I can be prejudice. We all can be. We all have our thoughts about other people. Honestly, that is natural. “ANYONE can be racist! If you don’t like someone based on their race…your racist.” As I pointed out to her, I never said I do not like white people. But, if you really know me (which she does not), then you will know that I point shit out like this all the time. Why? Because I have heard people say that they think racism does not exist anymore…yeah ok.

“…and you are making assumptions. Maybe people didn’t post about it but chose to deal with it their own way or donated privately.” I will say this, I do make assumptions. But if someone points something out and many other people agree and see the same thing, what does that mean? I get the fact people want to deal with things in their own way. But, why donate privately? Do white people think they will be judged by their peers that donating to a “3rd world island” is not the in thing to do? Or would they rather hold up a blind fold and watch “Jersey Shore”?

Which being me to my point and why I had Rameer write that post yesterday. It is clear that we all live on the same planet, but we live in different worlds. It seems to me that most, if not all people of color, care deeply about what happen in Haiti. Most likely because they either have family there, or know people who do. More importantly, these people look like us! White people in general can be blinded to the plights of many of our people. The very system of privilege makes it hard for them to realize what we go through. So Haiti is a different world.

Everything is about race…Everything. If you do not think so then think about this. If you are a white person: Do get followed in a store because you are are white? Do you ever think you will ever be stopped by a cop because you are driving while white? Do you have issues buying a white doll from Toy R Us? Do you struggle to find a sitcom on TV that positively portrays white people?

Never EVER tell me that everything isn’t about race. When I think about Racists, I think about Pat Roberston. I am so not like him. I live my race everyday. Do you?

Truth Is Truth: Do White People Care About Haiti?

Guest Blogger today! My boy, Rameer Green. I had to hit him up yesterday based on what happened on his Facebook page…check it out:

I’m a Facebook junkie.

I fully admit it. Like millions of people worldwide, I can’t get enough of it. I connect with people, engage in online conversations…hell, I sometimes get news faster on Facebook than I do in real life. One thing is constant – regardless whether it be serious or jovial, I always have some stimulating online convos.

But yesterday, I caused a pretty significant stir.

One thing should be known about me – I’m pretty blunt. I say what’s on my mind, straight with no chaser. I’m also brutally honest…I rarely lie about ANYTHING. Some people love this about me, some hate it. People say they want honesty; I find most really don’t want someone who is ALWAYS honest.

This honesty upset A LOT of people on Facebook.

See, I took notice of something I found very peculiar. When the earthquake hit Haiti Tuesday night, my Facebook feed was lit up with reaction. People expressed shock, dismay, sadness, worry, offered prayers – everything you would expect to see in reaction to a horrible tragedy. I saw this all night, and saw it continue Wednesday morning when I logged on to my computer at work. That wasn’t the peculiar part.

The peculiar part was that not a single white person on my friends list had typed a single word in reference to it.

I have over 500+ people in my friends list. And I don’t add due to trying to take part in a popularity contest; I have some real connection with every person in that list. Out of the 500+, I’d say a bit more than 200 are white.

Not one had anything to say about the loss of possibly 100,000 human lives?!?

So I posted a link to the AP news story Wednesday morning, and I pointed this fact out. And inevitably, the reaction started to pour in: I was horrible to point this out, why do I have to make this about race, Facebook isn’t always for serious stuff, etc.

But no one could answer why none of them had posted any reference or reaction to the situation in Haiti. And my responses were consistent – truth is TRUTH. The reality didn’t change that none of them had posted ANYTHING.

I should point out that out of the 250+ people of color in my list, well over 50% posted *something*. A link, a reaction, prayers…something acknowledging the story dominating national news. I didn’t do the math, but I’d say somewhere like 75% of all people of color posted something. And, as I stated on the thread, this wasn’t the first time I have noticed a story or subject that resonates with people of color that whites seem to have no reaction or opinion on. This was simply the first
time I called this crap out on Facebook.

In my opinion, it comes down to this – the value of human lives is very different in some people’s eyes. A single white kid missing in Iowa can make national news and illicit the attention and sympathy of many whites; a good, promising young Black student getting killed as an innocent in the crossfire of gang violence in Chicago doesn’t. Mexico facing it’s worst violence to start a new year in over 50 years catches few whites’ attention, but violence in a European country is “terrible”.

I have concluded many years ago, and had it reaffirmed with years of research by experts much smarter and more knowledgeable than me – that this occurs at a subconscious level. It’s the result of attitudes that go back to the dawn of this country – that whites are somehow more important and substantiative as opposed to the brown, red and yellow people of this Earth. And this is propagated in the education we receive, the entertainment we watch, and the how things a represented in the media.

As we debated throughout the day, here’s the funny thing…I noticed many of my white peers did start acknowledging what had happened. Many copied and pasted statuses I had put up regarding donations and help. Others brought attention to their white friends on their lists. And in the most impactful instance, three people who work in media were spurred to give better coverage and attention to it than they had been. This LITERALLY resulted in newscasts being changed at THREE stations in my
market, and feature stories being done on the topic.

No one was ever able to give a semblance of a good excuse for the disparity. There was one guy who was actually honest…he said “Wow. Way to make us feel guilty.” But he wasn’t being condescending, he was sincere. He DID feel guilty, as he told me – because he knew he was one of those that post things daily about things of substance that effect white people…and that there really wasn’t a good excuse why he was apathetic to this situation. And I appreciate his honesty. Many others simply got
defensive and tried to turn it into a different type of debate. I didn’t really fight too much, I just pointed out the numbers don’t lie – truth is truth.

None of them either cared to post something or thought to when they do so for a number of other things. And that I don’t know for sure why that is…they’d have to look within themselves and determine why this had occurred. 200+, and NO REACTION?!?

Scratch that. One white woman I know DID post something that I missed. I gave her kudos. 1 out of 200. Less than 1%.

What started out as a convo actually made a much bigger impact than I could’ve imagined by the end of the day. And I’d like to think I gave my white friends and peers some real food for thought as to how they think and how they subconsciously view and value the lives of some people over others. I’m not making the argument that any of these people are blatant, hateful racists; as I’ve stated – I believe this was a subconscious thing much deeper than that, but still rooted in racism.
Like many things, we’ve all been indoctrinated with certain things in relation to whites being of a higher value than those involving people of color. I should note – I work in media. I see subconscious decisions as to who and what is important daily…and there’s a huge difference when the people behind the scenes are all white as opposed to when there is diversity.

Someone told me I was being negative. I think I made an observation that made a whole lot of white people feel uneasy. But like I said in my responses – a negative reality is STILL reality.

Truth is truth. I just happened to be the one who pointed it out on that particular day.

Men Are Assholes – A Woman’s Response

My recent blogs have been very interesting to say the least. But, I felt I need a woman’s perspective on all this. So, I have asked Brooke from Brookey’s Cafe Blog to weigh in all this “Asshole” stuff. She is an incredible writer and a good friend. I am glad to have her as my first Guest Blogger…so lets see what is inside her head:

Okay, I actually had to marinate on this one. Ant asked me to write a response to his “Men are Assholes” blog. I say I had to think about it because I could have simply written, “I agree…The End” and kept it moving. 🙂 But, I wanted to give this some serious thought.

I know most women who read Ant’s blog will say ‘yes, men ARE assholes. Period.” And that would be easy to do. But then we have to prepare ourselves for the snappy comeback – “well, if we’re assholes, it’s because women are bitches!”

Back to that in a minute.

Ant kinda wrote his own follow-up to the “Most Men are Assholes” blog with his “The Scourge: A Man Scorned” post. It kinda gave an explanation as to the reason why some men are assholes. I’m going to try to respond to both blogs in one.

Ant said most men are assholes, or have the potential to be. But that could be said about anyone…man or woman. Women can be bitches (whatever your definition of a bitch is) – we all have the potential to be. What defines our character is how we react in certain situations and how we allow these situations to affect our lives. For the sake of this post, the situation is heartache. We can either take a good look at our heartbreaks and learn the lesson, or we can turn into assholes and bitches and destroy everything in our path. It’s up to us to decide.

That being said, from the woman’s perspective, most of us recognize the asshole. Ant said the asshole can disguise himself as a sincere, genuine dude just to get what he wants…but most men don’t bother. They just don’t go that far to try to get us if they’ve been THAT hurt. They really could give a damn. Like Ant said, most assholes tell you upfront what the deal is and leave it up to you to decide if you wanna rock with him or not. There are at least 3 other women he’s already looking at ready to take your place if you bounce.

But, some women think we can change him, soften him up a bit…be the woman that takes his “assholedness” away. And if that’s the case, all I can say is if you fall for an asshole, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Men like the ones Ant speaks of are not hard to spot. Sure, they can lure you with fake confidence, money, cars, clothes, sweet words, and dance and romance your sweet ass. But underneath all that is a man filled with bitterness and anger – not just towards women, but towards himself too. He can’t hide that for too long. If you wait a little while and don’t give him any too soon, he will eventually rear his ugly head. Trust me on that.

But sometimes we women don’t give it a chance. We catch feelings and BAM! Hooked on an asshole. We make excuses for why we fell for the asshole…all of it nonsense. I know, I’ve done it. I still do it sometimes…and it’s all buffoonery. There’s no trickery involved. It’s just that assholes present a challenge. We want to “fix” them. We want to love them back to health. Ladies, it can’t be done. He has to WANT to not be an asshole anymore – and if the pain is too deep, RUN! Nothing hurts more than to fall in love with an asshole with a broken heart.

That being said, I don’t believe that most men are assholes. But what most men are NOT are experts with emotions…especially their own. We may not believe this, but I think women are good at eliciting emotions from men, even though they won’t admit it. When things are good, well, they’re good. Like Ant said, men want to love and loved in return. But when things fall apart, men feel like they fell into a trap that they set for themselves. Men think love is a curse. They run from it like it’s a disease they catch, like the freakin plague. They fool themselves into believing that they can’t be hurt. But when it inevitably happens, they’re shocked and surprised…and pissed off.

For some, emotional pain hurts like physical pain. When a man gets hurt, the instinctive response is to hurt the person who inflicted this damage even more. In the hundreds of thousands of years since man walked upright, this instinctive response served them well. Until now. Now this response just makes life unbearable for everyone – them and the women they loved (and perhaps still love) and every woman who follows.

When their world flips upside down, inflicting pain on the woman also gives him a small measure of grounding. If he can’t make her feel love for him, he at least can make her feel pain because of him. It’s not much of a consolation prize, but at this point, any bits and pieces of pride and ego that he can salvage he’ll gladly take. When there’s no more love to speak of, power is the only thing that matters. As long as he still has the power to make the woman feel something, anything, even if it’s pain and misery, he will likely use it.

So yes, sometimes men act like assholes. Not because they really are, but because it’s the easy way out. It’s the fastest way for them to heal and come to terms with their emotions. The alternative is too difficult and too painful. Not many men know how to take the high road or deal effectively with their emotions. It could be called “bitchassness”…or simply human nature.

Typically, men and women deal with emotions differently. Women cry, call girlfriends, hash it out immediately and allow ourselves to drown in the pain until we can’t cry anymore. Then magically we’re cured and we fall in love again. The problem is if we don’t take responsibility, learn our lessons and keep falling in love with assholes, then we can – and most likely WILL – turn into that bitch ourselves. Some women react the same way an asshole man does, and punish every potentially good man they meet…making him pay for the asshole they fell in love with who hurt them. And the cycle continues.

For the woman, I have only one piece of advice. Ask yourself: is he a good person having an asshole moment? Or is he TRULY an asshole? If the answer is yes, then be honest with yourself and run – do not pass-go! But if he’s a good guy who’s been hurt and is trying to instinctively protect himself from being hurt again, forgive him for his asshole moments – even if he acted foolish and hurtful in the worst situations. He did it because it was the only way he knew how to get through the darkness. And if the Scourge truly wants to come out of the darkness, don’t be a bitch…be his Light.

Man Rules – Chapter 1: Women vs. The Boys

I am not blogging today. I have too much on my mind, but I think this a good topic. Thank you for the Birthday Wishes…

{Originally Posted on Brookey’s Cafe Blog, I was a guest blogger }

I do not talk about being a man very much. Quite frankly, because I don’t want to get into a discussion about what a real man is. It is like trying to prove that humans are perfect. I will say that there are certain rules to that man have to adhere to when it come to each other. Especially if they are boys! Some of the rule are unspoken rules that are just observed by just about every male and his close friends.

I have decided that every so often I will discuss Man Rules on my blog, Inside My Head. As a special treat I will debut this right here on Brooke’s Blog.

Today, I will talk about one thing: Women. How will women can fuck up a perfectly good friendship or at least piss off your boys long enough that they will avoid you for long periods of time. Now, this is my perspective as a Latino Male. These are the things I live by when it come to close friends. I am not talking about associates or guys that do really chill with one another.

Never…and I do mean NEVER, let a woman in between you and your boys. Just do not do it. This rule is not a soft rule. This a solid rule. Most men know that when you are married or at least dating that there are only certain amounts of time that they can chill with the boys. There is no way to compete with the love and affection (and ass) that a woman can provide. We have no issues with that. As a matter of fact, we are happy about that. If you have a woman that means that you are getting what you need.

If there comes a time where you are slated to hang out with your boy(s). Then that becomes “man time”. That means that all parties involved inform their ladies that they are hanging out with the boys. This way there is no miscommunication as to what is happening. Please make sure that certain things are done to ensure that man time is not interrupted. Hear are two basic examples:

  1. Make sure that, if you have dog, child, or any chores that need to be done…are taken care of. We do not want to witness fights or general nagging from her.
  2. Make sure that your woman is aware of your intention to hang out with boys. Phone calls of a yelling wife demanding your return is not taken likely the fellas.
  3. Do not take offense when you called out because you are whipped. It happens. Most guys who are in a real relationship are whipped. We know this, we just pick on the one who is whipped the most. In fact, the whole concept of having a woman is to be whipped. Women can be the best thing in our lives, guys know this. Do you think most will admit it? To each other? I do not think so. Just as long as you still give the boys respect, we are good.
  4. If you have a new girl, please expect us to make fun of her. Nothing personal, we don’t know how long it will take before you do something so wrong that you mess it up. So, to us she is just another person in your life. We will know how serious you are about her. If you tell us all the freaky shit she does in bed or with her tongue then chances are….you are not trying to wife her. Now, you are all on that new shit about not telling your boys anything, then this is whole different situation.
I bring all of this up because once a man selects his circle of friends, he rarely changes it. The friends that are made in college are going to be the same friends that he will have by the time her is 40. After the age of 30, men do not try to find more friends. While they can spend their whole life looking for that perfect woman, they can be pretty content with their friends. Most men are fickle. They will keep their boys close until something outlandish happens.

Which brings me to my next point. Do not let a woman become in between you. If you are both feeling the same girl, person who ends up with her is the “winner”. Do not go behind his back and try to screw around (even if the attraction is mutual) That is a cardinal sin and will lead to fists being thrown. At the same time, do not entertain the notion of dating your boy’s ex-girlfriend. That may lead down a path you are so not ready for. The last thing you want to do is getting into your head that she is comparing because chances are…she is.

A bond between boys is something that is not easily broken and if it broken easily then the bond was not really there. Wouldn’t you agree?

Laptop Issues

It is not my intention to skip blogs for this long, but I am having issues with my laptop that has made it diffcult for me to connect to the internet. So I am writing something quick tolet my readers know that I am still alive. I did manage to write a guest blog on Brookey’s Cafe Blog. So please check that out. That was posted yesterday.

Once I get up and running again, I will write several blogs about my weekend. I was going to write a review on Terminator: Salvation. I will try to get that done. For now, I want to just get some rest. I hope you are all doing well…