Culture  Del Enfado al Amor

Cocoa Butter Column

I experience my humanity through the lens of la colombiana
What it means to be a Colombian woman
Is a truth that holds so much joy yet so much pain,
Is a truth that I feel woven in between the letters of my name
with great care
By those who came before me. They wanted my name to
stretch through time
Long name like long pathways and secret passages to find
my way home
Long names like there’s no way you could miss my greatness
when I walk into a room
Tengo el corazón de la colombiana
I have the heart of la colombiana
Listen as I dance circles around you with the beauty of this
language that is mine
Rapid tones rising, falling, flowing, firing, sizzling, dripping
from my lips
Like the hot summer gatherings from the land I now miss
The laughter of my cousins and the warmth of our family
The warmth of shared food
Food that greeted your every taste bud with vicious kisses
and gracious hugs
So you know that you are loved
You… belong somewhere…
Here. Always.
Las noches de Navidad, those Colombian Christmas nights
The feel of my grandmother’s palm on my cheek
Infusing her memories into me
Into my skin
She planted
A resilient Latin spirit that never dies
Not a Latin spirit of tacos, nachos with a side of chilli
cheese fries
No, that’s what we sold to you so that’s all you know.
My Latin spirit is in the fiery rock of volcanoes and in the
stone of temples the world is still trying to understand
My Latin spirit is cryptic rhythms hypnotizing the world
My Latin spirit is my grandmother’s bosom and the sweet
words of comfort rolling, dripping from her lips like rain
dripping from la flor de mayo
This culture I carry in my skin, on my tongue, and in my
heart has kept me sane
During times when microaggressions pushed me to the
brink of insanity
Insanity first threatened the day my parents decided
They wanted a better life.
Funny how when sun-kissed brown bodies seek brighter,
better lives, they move further from themselves to be closer
to colder, whiter lands. I came here and suddenly became so
aware of my brown skin
This skin was robbed of its innocence and painted over… the
colour: immigrant.
They coloured us immigrant
« Arrête donc ton espagnol! On parle français icitte
On parle ben mieux icitte.
T’es une immigrante icitte
On est meilleur que toi icitte. On veut pas de toi icitte. Mais on a
besoin de toi icitte. S’il vous plait reste icitte mais… prend pas trop
de place icitte »
Before university I had a kind of tranquility
A kind of serenity
I had a kind of blissful placidity within the diversity that
coloured my adolescence
I was blessed enough to know people with perspectives from
all over the populace
I had a kind of privilege of my own. The privilege
of innocence; of knowing but not really feeling your
otherness, your social disadvantage because you’re so
coddled by convivial community.
My high school hallways were decorated with security
guards because poverty is the best fertilizer for violence.
So, my first lesson in high school was that I couldn’t be
trusted. People like me didn’t get into university, we got
into fights… but we were family.
Most of my family couldn’t make it here with me so
every day I know I have to seize this knowledge that is
power, so I can give it back to them
You know what they say. Give the gift of knowledge to
a coloured kid and they become a threat to a cowardly
nation; a threat to the status quo. You’ll have opened the
Pandora’s box that is consciousness and they won’t stop
until they see justice.

I came here thinking justice was a given if someone like
me were able to get in
But I was immediately disappointed when I realized how
little of me there was here
How little of me I could be here
How little I felt here
Unprofessional, unrefined, uneducated. The total
opposite of the old-white-men portraits whose eyes
haunt the corridors of my department
Reminding me that they never meant for me to be here.
At first, I hid behind phony smiles and masks of normalcy
I wanted to show them that I could be bougie too
But deep down the erasure made me angry
I never liked bougie people, because they reminded me
that not everyone knew what it felt like to open and
close your fridge a million times in one day hoping that
at some point some unknown black magic would fill it up
for you… taking the hunger away.
Not everyone knows the heat from the tears of joy that fill
your eyes when your best friend takes you grocery shopping
for Christmas… because ain’t that what privilege is?
I never liked bougie people, but I find myself secretly
wanting to be so free that I don’t even know what
freedom is because I have no captivity in my bloodline,
no chains wrapped around my veins, no epigenetic
transgenerational trauma pinned to my name.
Every time my feet hit the gravel on these unceded lands
I’m reminded of how my body beat every statistic that told
me that I could never belong here,
Every time a professor dared dishonor the existence of
minorities to my face in my own learning space, I became
more convinced that I did not belong here,
I became so angry… I found myself trembling at times. I
wanted to tear this campus to the ground. I want to relish in
the sound of its destruction and sweet reparation.
But suddenly… someone came and gave me an even
sweeter consolation:
They told me that anger was simply the lack of love.
And their love poured over me, oozing from their being, like
the persistent lava of Colombian volcanoes
To be seen, unconditionally accepted, and validated even in
our darkest moments of pain… That’s what love is.
Love uproots you from anger no matter how deep
Love makes revenge seem distasteful no matter how sweet
It may seem in the beginning, because in the end
My immigration turned activism was a journey from loss, to
love, to anger and back to love again
Del enfado al amor
Do things still seem unfair? Hell yes!
Am I going to stop fighting for what I believe is right and calling
people out on their bullshit? Hell to the mothafuckin nah!
But my fight is now rooted in peaceful assurance; a passion plight
I will not fight in a way that calls out my oppressor yet
destroys my well-being in the process.