Thursday, August 30, 2012

Political Musings

One night during my freshman year of college I went to sleep. When I woke up the next morning the first African-American president of the United States had been elected into office. Something that I could not even bear to watch, that I hadn't even dared to hope for, had come true.

I remember when I first learned not to hope for things beyond my color. I was 10 years old. My mother, my aunt, and I were standing together in the living room, pausing in our conversation about something or other to watch a wrestling commercial in which "The Rock" strutted and flexed his sweaty muscles. Unlike my mother and her sister I had not yet learned to appreciate his particular physique. Instead, I was contemplating what bet my mother and I would make over who would win when we watched wrestling in the evening. It came as a surprise to me then, when my aunt suddenly asked me why "The Rock" would never be president.

I gave the question serious thought, nervous but also secretly pleased at the attention being given me as my mother and aunt awaited my answer. "...Uuumm." I stalled some more before finally saying, "Because he's not qualified?"
My aunt sucked her teeth. She was dissapointed. I could see.
I did not like dissapointing adults but surely my answer was the right one. "The Rock " was a wrestler. He couldn't be the president because he was not a politician! Simple, right?
"Wrong! It's because he's Black!" My eyes widened. This did not occur to me. I had already internalized the ideology that lighter-skinned Black people could do more and were liked better. I figured "The Rock" was light, so therefore the only thing stopping him was proper training.

Though my mother had not spoken during this exchange I could tell that she agreed with my aunt. When she finally did speak it felt as if she was ashamedly defending my naiveté on the matter. "You can't expect her to know that. She's too young." "Yeah, well she should know."
I should know.

I do know that three women, along with countless others, saw something happen that should not have been considered amazing or a milestone. That sentiment alone is enough to suggest that our journey toward equality is far from over.
This time, as the winds of change sweep over the United States, I want to be ready to meet them. I have decided to stay awake.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Summary of the Past Few Weeks

Heeeeeey there reader!

So it's been awhile since my last blog update and naturally much has happened. I'd like to say my tardiness on this matter is because I'm super busy being super cool and awesome, but really I've been super busy avoiding life and playing video games in between watching the Olympics and feeling sorry for myself. (Those Nike commercials work wonders on the bruised ego of an overweight non-Olympian. I now believe greatness is in me too!)
However, despite my concerted effort to not do anything, I'll have to cut down the last few weeks to five musically memorable occasions.

Here we go!

5. I wrote a song! 
7/16 I finally wrote a song. The one before that was 6/13 and the one before that 5/22. Given this pattern I can expect to write one in a few days. I'm used to writing much more than this so hopefully the one song a month curse will be broken soon.

4. Mother and I remember our roots (Honduras). 
My mom and I have recently started watching "Por ella Soy Eva", a novella about a man who is framed for fraud and decides to become a woman to regain his honor while he hides out from the law, which thinks he's dead because a hobo stole his ID etc and then got blown up in his car while digging through it for more loot. I can go on for days with this one...
Well anyway, we made it through one episode valiantly, quite pleased with ourselves that our Spanish was good enough to actually know what was going on. The next episode we used subtitles though, since it's infinitely easier to read Spanish than it is to make out another country's accent while they speed through their lines.

On that note (and this is where the music comes in), I had the best time talking to this guy in the subways in Spanish after he asked if I could sing anything in Spanish for him. I only know worship songs but he didn't mind. Anyway, I had to tell him three billion times that my family was from Honduras before it sank in.
One time at Harvard a guy from El Salvador flat out told me: "You're the blackest Honduran I've ever seen!" He must not see many Hondurans...

3. The repeat offender
So a week or so ago I let this kid sing the ABCs on my mic. He seems to now think he has some rights to it because a week or two later he and his mother were passing by and he grabs my mic in the middle of song and says goodbye to everyone since the train was coming soon. He sang a bit more, la la di da... This time it wasn't cute.

2. God is good
So I decided to play outside again after spending the morning with a friend who was visiting. I only had a salad for lunch, just plain greens and balsamic vinegar dressing, and I was despairing over how I was going to find the energy to go into the subways and put a few hours in there. As I'm packed up this guy comes up to me and offers to make me a PB&J sandwich. Yaaaaaaaay! It turns out he and the group of high schoolers he was working with were from a summer missions program and were finding a way to help out some of the homeless in the area. Because it was their contribution for enjoying my music, I fought the shame of eating a sandwich a homeless person could have eaten. It didn't take us long to realize that in college we both participated in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, since I had done something similar in a summer program through them. I spent another hour outside before hitting the subways having conversations with the homeless in the Boston Commons and it was a wonderful time.

1. Bieber is back!
At this point I might as well proclaim myself a Belieber. Some of the most fun I have in the subways is singing "Baby" with the little ones (though chillin' with homeless people is a really close second). The most recent group of kids sang along with me, and before I knew it, all the kids in the subway were joining in. Excellent times.