My Blackness Means: Telenovelas, Collard Greens and A Little Bit of Everything – Britt Morales Portlock

My blackness means listening to trip-hop, jazz, gospel, latin and alternative music, knowing every word, point of rhythm or inflection, effortlessly weaving between worlds. 

It means on Monday I’m making pupusas with mom, Wednesday is cornbread and collard greens, and Friday I’m on a green juice cleanse. 

It means I change my hairstyles when I feel like it, sometimes it’ll be a red wig, one week it’ll be box braids, the next week I shaved it off and it’s a buzz cut, it’s whatever I want it to be. 

My blackness means I stay authentic in a world that refuses to own every part of itself and citizens who do the same. 

My blackness means I can be on the phone with my African American dad crying as he calms me down or receiving cuddles from my El Salvadoriean mom as she calls me mija and cradles me in her arms while watching a telenovela. 

Growing up, and I’m sure any mixed race human can understand, I’ve always felt like I had to choose. In grade school, I was never “black enough” or “latin enough” to fit in with certain crowds, of course at that age, you might not have the words to describe, or speak up and say “why do I have to choose?”…that always bothered me…why am I being forced to be in a box?

But looking back, I would not trade those moments because it forced me to forge my own paths, be in a relationship with myself and explore all of my areas of interest which ultimately created a dynamic, soulful and cultured human…me. 

I have a presence. I take up space. I know who I am. I know what I like, I even know how and when. I have preferences but find the beauty of improvisation as well. I speak truth without needing to utilize vitruberating methods to get people to notice me. I’m a good person. I like to live in joy, ease and leisure. My favorite words “don’t rush me”. The guys I’ve dated might know this very well. 

I feel like my entire life, the world has tried to tell me who I am. Oh…you’re black? And you’re latina? You’re poor, you’re uneducated, you have bad credit, you’re not worthy of success. 

I remember one time while working for a major company, a blue-eyed blonde haired girl (that I didn’t know personally) was in the bathroom while I was. My hairstyle was big curly hair, my outfit that day was a band t-shirt and jeans…she looked at me up and down with disgust, while we’re both washing our hands….and then asked, with sincere confusion…” How did you get here. How are you working here?”…The microaggressions are loud in corporate America, but I am personally very happy to be out of that particular environment. If ever presented with an option to go back, there will be lengthy hesitation and significant consideration. 

My blackness means working with other black people that can’t stand me for reasons that are unknown, perhaps because I’m a little bit of everything and I operate with a level of freedom and kindness? I genuinely don’t know….the “I don’t want to see you win before me energy” never made sense to me, especially when coming from other people of color, especially when they are your age or older…at this point of my life, I now know that it all comes down to your spirit and your relationship with yourself. I just mind my business and compete with myself, my closest friends do the same. 

My blackness means I am a queen. It means my soul and my spirit are always alive. It means I approach life with zeal and creativity. It means that I love myself. It means that I care about others. It means I’m a little bit spicy. It means I’m eclectic and happily so. 

Growing up through struggle, limited resources, and pain means that I have endless gratitude in my heart, and endless creativity. 

My blackness, my afro-latina-ness means I stay inspired, whether it’s cooking, dancing, art, music, fashion, hairstyles… 

Reading, writing, loving, or adventuring. It means I’ll always have options, whether presented to me or created by me. 

My blackness means that I have a curvy frame, full lips, and almond eyes. My blackness means that I have true and real homies…then associates and colleagues. 

My blackness means my love is deep, real, passionate, and most times hilarious. My blackness, my afro-latina-ness means I have texture and I will only remain interesting. 

My blackness means I live by my own standards and do my own thing (all whilst hydrated, moisturized, and living divinely).

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