Nobody is racist, but don´t touch my daughter!

None of my friends are racist. They all have an African-American friend, or like jazz, or voted for Obama, or are crazy about Beyonce. But when I told them that my then 16-year-old daughter´s boyfriend was black, they almost jumped out of their seat, they couldn´t help it. “Ufff, you need to take good care of her”, they said. Take care of what? I wondered. Make sure he doesn´t touch her, he doesn´t look at her, he doesn´t take her to his house. Make sure he doesn´t sleep with her. If the guy wasn´t black, I wouldn´t have to worry about it? Or maybe worry less?

My daughter´s boyfriend didn´t want to come to the house. In part because he was afraid I didn´t approve of it and would be rude to him. In part because we lived in a neighborhood where there were no African-Americans. In part because his family had instructed him never to ride his bike after six in the afternoon in a neighborhood other than his because he could get shot.

That is the reality we live in today in the United States. People feel they have the right to shoot at someone they suspect is dangerous, which in reality means, black or dark-skinned. And people who are black need to live in fear of being attacked, chased, insulted, even killed for no reason. And we think this is civilization, we live in the best country in the world.

My kids went to the public school in our neighborhood in Miami, where white, Latino and black kids got together. But beyond the school, there are invisible walls that almost nobody crosses. There are no laws today in the United States forbidding interracial marriage or prohibiting intimate relationships between people of different color, but there are huge prejudices that divide us. I don´t think any of my friends would have allowed their daughter to date a black kid. No way! But nobody is racist.

We deny our own prejudices, at least in public. As Latinos, we think we are not racist because in Latin America we are all the product of a mix of indigenous people, black and white. But of course, the whiter the skin tone, the higher the socioeconomic level. And in our countries, we don´t mix between people of different social background. The boundaries are well defined, rich with rich, poor with poor, and it´s for life. No social mobility either.

If we started by admitting our own prejudices, because we all have them, that could be the beginning of changing the way we relate to one another.

Would you be OK if your daughter/son dated a person of color? Share your thoughts here.

Why I am a feminist and am not embarrassed to say it

For a long time I didn´t dare call myself a feminist because I thought feminists were tomboys with mustache and anger issues. I used to think that if I said I was a feminist, people would think I had problems and that I was ugly, on top of it.

Luckily, things have changed and now being a feminist can be even cool. Emma Watson has done a lot to put the topic on the table and explain what it means to be a feminist. Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie, my hero, explains it well in her book We Should All Be Feminists. I gave that book to my daughter and my niece and would like to keep giving it.

This is the first blog I write and is no coincidence that is about feminism. I would like to reach women, especially Latinas and get them to open their eyes. Being a feminist is the first step.

Why? First because we have to realize that we as women have the same rights than men. The right to be happy, to study, to work, to decide what to do with our time, to choose what to do with our body, to enjoy our sexuality. The right to express what we feel, our desires, fears, and aspirations without fear of being judged. The right over our body, to enjoy it with who we choose, how to dress it, how to show it, or not. It is our decision. Not the decision of the man we love, or the man we married, or the man we are in a relationship with, or the father, or the brother.

We own our lives and we have the sole authority over any decision about our lives and our bodies. How is this hard to understand? It seems so obvious to me. We need to take the reins of our lives.

The goal of a woman is NOT to get married, or be sexy, or seduce guys, or remain a virgin until she walks to the altar, or be the best mother in the world, or the best daughter, or the best anything. The goal is to get to wherever we decide we want to get to. Not follow what is imposed to us by society, religion, or institutions that were invented and are ruled by men.

So, with a mustache like Frida Kahlo, or with no hair in the tongue (sorry, literal translation of a Colombian expression that means “talk without mincing your words”) I invite you to become feminists, to feel entitled to live your lives fully and with your eyes open.

Share your thoughts here.