Is there a written law somewhere in US Latinolandia that I am unaware that says the following: “Thou cannot celebrate your accomplishments or your identity, because if you do some high and mighty individual with a short-sighted agenda will lecture you about how you are just a brainwashed sellout that has ignored mestizos?” (For those who care to know: “Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent.”)
If so, then I am guilty as charged, but it leads me to this: why why why do we as a group of Latinos (50+ million strong) continue to divide and hurt each other?
This all started last night on the world’s new high school environment: Facebook. I had recently come across an AMAZING Life Magazine photo of the Great Clemente (see below) and I had uploaded the pic to my wall (which, in my mind, is my online house), saying that I thought this picture of Clemente was beautifully classic.
Now, a few things you should know about me. Clemente was my hero growing up. When I was three or four years old in Puerto Rico, my dad had gotten me a Pittsburgh Pirates shirt that I basically wore every day it seemed. My grandfather would tell me stories of Clemente’s feats. I loved every minute of it, so much so that every time I see the number 21, I think of Clemente. As I grew up, Clemente was always dear to me heart, not only because of his athletic feats, but how he handled himself when it came to speaking about injustice and how he made the ultimate sacrifice by trying to help others who had suffered a tragedy.
In Puerto Rico, Clemente is a god, and even though I have my issues when political parties on the island use Clemente’s legacy as a political tool (different blog, different story), there is no doubt that Clemente will always be one of the most historic and beloved Puerto Ricans ever.
Which is why I posted the picture on my Facebook wall, saying that I thought the Clemente photo was so classic, so beautiful.
And then Trollzilla arrived.
“He doesn’t look mestizo to me.”
My response: “Yes, he is a true boricua, a mixture of 500 years of history, both good history and bad history, but nonetheless, the best and the pride of PR.”
Trollzilla then continued with a lecture of how I was not a true Puerto Rican because I deny my own mestizo background and I am just a white Spaniard. (FYI, for the record this is me: a Moorish Spanish Corsican Italian boricua, whose ancestors came to the island in the late 19th century)
What the hell does that mean? Was Trollzilla saying that Clemente was not a true Latino because he was darker than others? Really? Well, after an interesting back and forth where I was lectured about how I am not a true Latino because I reject the mestizo (which, by the way, is 100% false, but what would Trollzilla actually use reason to have a discussion), I told Trollzilla to take his patronizing better than thou attitude off my wall. When it comes to issues of identity, I would never tell someone that their own identity is a false illusion and that they are wrong, and quite frankly, I allow for a lot of very heated discussion on my Facebook thread, but I have no tolerance for people who just want to judge someone’s own essence. Well, I tried to tell Trollzilla this, but he kept going He didn’t stop, so I blocked him. Thanks, but no thanks. You see, my Facebook wall is my home, and therefore, you are a guest in my home. I wouldn’t put up with someone acting like an elitist jerk in my home, and Facebook is no different.
One of my Facebook friends said it best: “That’s the problem. People are stuck on some ” I will drill you with my belief because until you believe it like it or not.” Puerto Ricans don’t roll like that.”
Just goes to prove that even when there is such a need for true Latino unity, there still exists a belief that the only true Latino is a mestizo and that if you celebrate anything else or discuss a Latino experience that is different from that, you are just a fake. And yeah, Trollzilla will probably tell me that I am just a product of the repressive culture that tells me that being Latino is just an illusion.
With beliefs like that, no wonder we will never advance as a people.
I mean, hating on Roberto Clemente? Whatever.