My father is “white” (Italian) – I don’t know him and I don’t know any of his family. I grew up Puerto Rican and in my mind that’s what I am, through and through (though I got way whiter after joining the theater world). My mother would tell me “Don’t tell anyone you’re Puerto Rican.” And I’d say, why Ma, why? And she would explain that things would be easier for me. And in reality, things have been pretty darn good for me in my life, and I haven’t been the target of racism (though definitely some misogyny). When did I experience racism? Interestingly, I’d say it was NOW (and even this, indirectly). Now that Puerto Rico is in dire straits, and I’ve read comments on threads under stories and on twitter, where people sneer saying things like “Hispanics are always looking for a handout” and learning that apparently many people don’t know Puerto Rico is an American territory and its residents are citizens, and when I see that the president doesn’t care a whit about us American citizens or even pretends. This new experience has allowed me to, somewhat, “walk in the shoes” of a person who has actually experienced racism, and it’s awful and I want to cover those friends with 10,000 kisses.
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