NEGRA by Gabrielle Greiner

I never knew I was black.

Growing up, my blackness wasn’t taught to me, like how I wasn’t shown how to do my hair.

When I raised questions to my elders, “Why does my hair grow out? Like sideways, not down. And why is it so curly?”

The response glossed over centuries of relaxed history, denied the blackness in me, and simply was “Because you’re Puerto Rican.”

But, the Boricuas I saw on TV did not resemble me, rather they looked like they stepped out of a commercial for Pantene.

So, what does this mean?

I made my first Latino friend in college, when I was 19.

She was Mexican-American, with indigenous roots I could see.

See, the Latinos in high school did not like me.

I was too white, too educated, thought too much, and wanted too badly to be free.

Free from the stereotypes that the oppressor laid on me.

My back was tight and I could barely just be.

I was contending with my identity

Because I have the blood of both the oppressor and the oppressed inside of me.

I realized I was black just before 23.

Studying my Isla’s history had removed the blinders from me.

The Spaniards murdered the Tainos and through violent indigenous rape, eradicated them from our present reality.

They forced this foreign tongue down our throats and balked when we didn’t like the taste.

Spain did the same to my African ancestors, denying their humanity, refusing to set them free.

They claimed ownership of the black body, through slavery and forced intimacy.

Thus, a Puerto Rican came to be.

I think about my blackness and wonder, “Is this how the country sees me?” As black?

We all know what that means.

Or, am I midway between the binary? Inoffensive light skin. Beautifully standard English flowing off my tongue.

Oh, but that hair. Wild. Unprofessional. Must be tamed.

I doubt my blackness. My skin isn’t dark enough. My ancestors were slaves on an island, not here. I have privileges that my Jamaican-American friend will never have. But, she sees my blackness. She calls it out of me, nurtures it, sings to it while it grows.

My blackness cannot exist without my brother and sister. My blackness is a lover I call out to. My blackness follows the question marks. My blackness propels me toward eternity and calls to me throughout history.

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Black Lives Matter – Bianca Roberson

Living in post-2016 election America has been interesting thus far. I find that I tend to bash the President and his followers on an almost daily basis. But, lately I’ve noticed that even mentioning his name, which I refuse to type here, is almost like when you experience acid reflux. It comes out of nowhere and burns you. So, I won’t mention him in this post. However I will preface this post with this fact: the President incites violence against people who are “other” almost every day with his hateful rhetoric and idiotic tweets.

Now that we know this is the climate we live in, let’s continue…

Recently, a young black high school graduate named Bianca Roberson was murdered by a white man on the street. According to various news articles, they had miscommunication about who was merging when and as a result, this white man experienced intense road rage. What did he do with his road rage? He shot her in the head.

Yes. He shot a young lady in the head because of “road rage.”

The news may call it road rage, but I say let’s call a spade a spade. It most likely had to do with the color of Bianca’s skin. Maybe he thought, “Who does this black girl think she is?” Only God knows what was in his heart, but I suspect this is true.

In his mind at the time, and probably before, Bianca’s life did not matter. He felt that he had the authority to pull the trigger on her existence, ending forever what beauty could have been. In that moment, he deemed that he was superior to her and that he could determine that her life should end, and end violently. When you shoot someone in the head, you shoot to KILL. I will say this until the day the Lord takes me: NO ONE has the right to take another human’s life, or even their own life. God is ruler over all. He created us and breathed His breath into our lungs. HE determines how and when someone dies, not us.

While reading news articles on Bianca’s murder, I’ve come across a few that state, “He was a good kid.” “He usually was calm and cool.” Enough of that.

 

Let’s discuss what we know about Bianca:

  1. She had JUST graduated from high school and was looking forward to attending college in the fall.
  2. She was coming back from purchasing college things with her family.
  3. She enjoyed playing basketball and had a joyful disposition.

 

Friends, the primary issue humanity has is that some people do not see other groups of people as equally human. We refuse to see the humanity in those who are different than us and as a result, we murder them, steal from them, rape them, and ignore their needs.

When we begin to see each other as equally human, equally valuable, equally special, things will change. But this value does not come from our accomplishments, our color, our language, etc. It comes from the fact that we are all created by God and made in His image. When we understand that we are image bearers of God, we will extend the arm of empathy, compassion, and justice toward each other.

 

Life is precious. Life is sacred. Life is holy. Respect and honor it, no matter what.

 

Black Lives Matter.

 

 

Gabrielle G.