So, I wrote this a few weeks ago, but just needed to share it…
I just woke up with a question in my mind. It’s not even a new question…what are you? How do you identify yourself? Meaning, if you are Elly, which are you “first” a feminist, a christian, a puerto rican, an american?
The new semester has started and my new language is that of “Muslims in America”, but as I sat in class my heart was going to that question. How do you self-identify? People can tell you what they want, they can claim to be more ______ than _______, but there is still the moment when people only see what they see.
I decided to read through old notes and research I have, just to “Still my Heart” and that led me to:
“I am a child of the Americas, a light-skinned mestiza of the Caribbean, a child of many diaspora, born into this continent at a crossroads…I am Caribeña, island grown. Spanish is in my flesh, the singing in my poetry, the flying gestures of my hands. I am of Latinoamerica, rooted in the history of my continent: I speak from that body. I am not african. Africa is in me, but I cannot return. I am not taína. Taíno is in me, but there is no way back. I am not european. Europe lives in me, but I have no home there. I am new. History made me. My first language was spanglish. I was born at the crossroads and I am whole.” Excerpt from “Child of the Americas” by Aurora Levins Morales
I remember reading parts of this on a new old friends wall and thinking that’s me, but only parts of me. To imply that I am only taina only africana only espanola has to me always meant a forfeiture of the other bits of who I am. And today I find there’s more to me than the inherited genetics of my skin, my race, my culture…
I am a child of the diaspora, born into this religiousity at a crossroads…I am roman catholic by inheritance and tradition (long standing as it may be), I am catholic by birth right, how can I not be. I am not. But if I align my self with my inheritance then I must also acknowledge the santeros and espiritistas that flow through as well. I am not. I am lutheran by baptism, chosen by me with the stipulation and the understanding that I agree with luther in most things, but not all. I am not. And by my hearts choice and God’s leading I am ucc. I fit.
I am only elly and I know that being boricua means I am taina and african and european they are not mutually exclusive they are intertwined and merged and united I am only elly and I know that being ucc means I am christian, love GOD, and walk towards His purpose they are not mutually exinclusive they are intertwined and merged some would say changed others; united
Sometimes to grow we must acknowledge the change, the merging and realize that there is so much more to who we are than just race or creed or color of skin.
I follow Christ as I continue being an afro boricua, with a sense of the strength inherent in womankind, all while living in these united states. they are not mutually exclusive, though my Christ flag waves higher, all the roads that led me to HIM and through HIM strengthen me and give me courage. In those roads is GODS grace, HIS peace, shalom!