Looking for a Silver Lining in the Basura that was 2017

jakob-owens-168406
Photo by Jakob Owens. Retrieved from: https://unsplash.com/photos/B5sNgRtYPQ4

Feliz Año Nuevo Afrolatinagirl peeps! I know I am a little late. Hell, it’s almost February. I wanted to write a post a lot sooner but to be honest, I have been trying for months now to muster up the emotional and physical energy to make it through the day much less write anything down. The holidays were a little hard on me but now that things have settled down a bit, I feel I am in a place where I can share some of my thoughts and reflect on the past year.

Where do we start? I’m not sure about you but for me, it is safe to say that this year in Trump has been the worst. It is impossible for me to pinpoint just one horrific thing about the Trump presidency. It’s like trying to choose between being stung by a million bees or being bitten by a million ants, I’m not here for either. Here is a recap in case you have already forgotten his many accomplishments: In 2017 he appointed a bunch of unqualified and despicable racists to important cabinet positions. For what could only be vindictive reasons, his administration worked to systematically dismantle every decent thing Barack Obama ever did. He took it upon himself to admonish Kaepernick, a social justice warrior and humanitarian, for taking a knee during the national anthem (an anthem by the way that he doesn’t even know the words to) and then there was the infamous Charlottesville incident in which, instead of admonishing Nazi sympathizers and distancing himself from white supremacists, he told us all how “there were very fine people on both sides.” Let’s not forget the time when he threw paper towel rolls at the people of Puerto Rico after the hurricane or how we saw him take tweeting to a whole other level with his incessant childish grammatically incorrect tweets. From Trump’s healthcare bill, his efforts to re-energize private prisons, to his heartless stance on immigration, it’s safe to say that 2017 has been a hell of a roller coaster ride, and not the fun kind.

Even though we have established that 2017 was utter shite, there were a few noteworthy highlights worth mentioning:

Women’s March

On the heels of the Trump election, the women’s march did supply a short-lived respite from the chaos and unsureness felt during the aftermath of the election. Like many of you, I participated in the march in my city. With my multi-ethnic family in tow, we navigated the taunts of white bikers, braved being called the n-word and every other slur and managed to arrive at the march in one piece. We were able, if for a moment, to lick our wounds, and collectively express our disappointment and our fears about the days ahead.

Although the march at the time helped to serve as an outlet for some of my emotions, my feelings on the march are mixed. In a sense, the march provided a safe space for me to share my disappointment with other like-minded individuals, but at the same time, it raised some deep feelings for me about the type of empty ally-ship I regularly experience when engaging with white women. I couldn’t help but feel some sort of way about the fact that many of the pink pussy hats who were, in fact, complaining about Trump being elected, were part of the problem and that his win was in many ways caused by some of their apathy. Also, many of my issues with the feminist movement, in general, surfaced as I saw how the march was centered mostly around white women and the ways in which space lacked intersectionality and did not feel inclusive. My complaints about the march aside, I was happy with the large turnout. If anything, I think that the numbers definitely pissed Trump off, and pissing Trump of for me is always a plus. I also feel that it helped to mobilize and awaken the sleeping.

I Am Rooting for Everybody Black

In 2017 I, like Issa, was rooting for everybody black. In the midst of all of the mess happening around me, I managed to find some solace in the fact that black women like Issa Rae, Ava Duvernay, Janicza Bravo, and Lena Waithe were out here living their best-blackest lives ever. I love all things Issa and I was overjoyed when I learned that Insecure was renewed for a second season. Issa, Ava, Janicza, and Lena through their writing, directing, acting, all worked to challenge traditionally held stereotypes about what it means to be black women in America and I was here for all of it.

Barry Jenkins also brought us his masterpiece, Moonlight. For me, Moonlight was groundbreaking because it made all of us examine black masculinity and the pressures that our young boys endure in trying to navigate their sexuality and sculpt their male identities. On Oscar night, many of us sat around holding our breath waiting to see if Moonlight would receive the Oscar recognition that it deserved. We watched in disbelief when Warren Betty and Faye Dunaway announced that La La Land, the Hollywood story about Jazz and its white savior, had won for best picture only to moments later realize that it was announced in error and that Moonlight, in fact, earned the title!

Jordan Peele also made his film debut in 2017 with a little gem called Get Out. Although some white people viewed Get Out as a funny light-hearted horror flick, for me and for almost every black person I know, it was a truly horrific tale. The movie managed to embody all of the real fears POC have about white folks, particularly the liberal-leaning “well-meaning” kind. I’d like to think that it opened up much-needed discussion about race and that it showcased some of the societal issues black folks deal with daily.

Afro-Latinas Made History

The beautiful and intelligent Colombian journalist, Ilia Calderón, took over Maria Elena Salina’s chair at Univision and she became the first Afro-Latina to anchor a major news program. This was such a big moment for me. I remember growing up and watching Univision and seeing only blue-eyed, light-skinned Latinas hosting the news. I am so proud of IIias accomplishments and what she represents for us all.

Elizabeth Acevedo, Dominicana, debuted her novel, The Poet X. I haven’t read her novel yet. I am trying to get through The Warmth of Other Suns right now, but I am so looking forward to it. When I was a teen there were no teen stories that truly spoke to me. Her story sounds so relatable as it talks about a young Afro-Dominican teen growing up Harlem with strict parents, sounds a lot like my teenage life. It is so nice to finally see narratives that shine the light on the Afro-Latina experience.

Now, we can’t talk about Afro-Latinas and not talk about my girl Cardi B. Cardi B is the product of a Trinidadian mother and Dominican father and although she was raised in the Bronx, she spent a lot of time in Washington Heights, a neighborhood I am very familiar with because my dad lived there for most of my childhood. I have a particular soft spot for Cardi B because she reminds me of so many girls I saw growing up. She’s a hustler and a fighter and she will do whatever she needs to do to make that money. Her single Bodak Yellow gave us life this year! My favorite line, “If I see you and I don’t speak means I don’t F with you.” Truer words were never said.

Notable Elections

Aside from all of the negative political news we received in 2017. There were some firsts this year. Ravinder Bhalla of Hoboken, NJ became the first Sikh American to be elected mayor of a major U.S. city. Andrea Jenkins in Minneapolis was the first openly trans woman of color to be elected to the city council of a major U.S. city. Danica Roem in Virgina became the first transgender lawmaker.  Charlotte elected its first African-American female mayor, Vi Lyles and Helena Montana elected its first black mayor, Wilmot Collins from Liberia. Some important political strides were made this year but we will have to wait until November 2018 to see if we are able to flip the house and begin to undo all of the damage that has happened thus far.

Me Too

I don’t want to get into too much about the Me Too movement. I have my own thoughts about everything and I don’t want to start any heavy arguments/ disagreements but I will say that I am generally happy with the way in which the issue of sexual assault, abuse, harassment has entered into the mainstream. I am happy that we are finally having honest discussions about issues like misogyny, patriarchy, and that women are feeling empowered and strong enough to come forward. Despite overt attempts to center the movement around rich white Hollywood women, I do appreciate that women like Tarana Burke, the actual Me Too founder, are finally getting the acknowledgment that they deserve. I hope that poor and minority victims of sexual harassment, assault, and rape are given more of the spotlight in 2018 but 2017 gave us a good start.

The Lights are on; the Roaches are Visible

If anything positive has come out of 45’s presidency. It has caused us to begin to have some open discussions about the hateful racist legacy of our county. From the removal of Confederate monuments to Kaepernick’s shining a light on the systemic killing of black and brown by police by taking a knee, we have opened the dialogue about race. Not sure how much this open discussion will change minds but I do believe that it has given many a deeper understanding of how deeply racist and unfeeling certain segments of our society can be. For many of us, this has been an eye-opening year. We have learned some uncomfortable things about family and friends and, in some cases, these hidden truths have caused us to clean house and re-evaluate our relationships. For me, it has at times been both cathartic to let go of unnecessary baggage but in other instances, it has caused me to feel deep disappointment towards individuals that I used to love and respect. Although it has been hard, I believe it is always better to stand in the light than in the darkness.

This concludes my 2017 recap. It was very hard but I tried my best to highlight some positive events from the year. I am sure if I tried harder I could find some more nice things to say but that would take more energy which I explained earlier, energy, I do not have, LOL. My negative feelings aside, I am trying to remain hopeful about 2018. Even though there are times when I want to throw in the towel, I plan to continue to advocate for people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQ community who are trying to make inroads in government and leadership positions. For me, there is too much at stake, and I am not ready to give up just yet. I feel it is important to continue the fight and to especially fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. My mantra for 2018 comes from the great Angela Davis who said, “You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.” What’s your 208 mantra? Hit me up Afrolatinagirl peeps. I want to hear your 2017 thoughts and reflections and your plans for the coming year.

Besos y abrazos,

Afrolatinagirl

 

 

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