La Tribu 

   

I remember being a little girl and admiring my grandmother’s strength and aiming to be just like her when I grew up, everything minus the pistol. That’s right my Abuela toted a 38 Special wrapped in a white handkerchief like any true gangster would. The images of Latina women would always pop into my head when I thought about determination, feistiness, power and la chancleta. She was a reflection of the women in her life: Belen, Berta, Ester, Rosalina and Maria. Unlike the women in Sex in the City, these women wouldn’t gather to discuss dating over Martinis. They were too busy trying to conquer issues of upward mobility, raising Latino kids with dual citizenships and identities, and making sure no one’s husband cheated. They were a group of the sweetest old ladies. A gang of gun-packing doñas (yes, they all had pieces) that were not playing any games. And, they had each other’s backs. My Puerto Rican grandmother would send medicine to her friends’ families in Cuba. Ester took care of the kitchen when my grandmother lost her son, and everyone took care of Berta when she was diagnosed with cancer. They were connected in so many ways and would be of support to one another like family even though they were from different countries.

Actually the rapport that they had was more of “The Godfather” than “Sex in the City”. And yes they had their disagreements, chismes and escandolos, but they had a bond and loyalty that any gangster, anywhere would envy. They raised their children and grandchildren together, they guarded our neighborhood and made it a village together and eventually all died together. But what they had was glorious because they created a tribe far away from their homes. A tribe where they participated in a cultural exchange that was incomparable. When old ladies from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Nicaragua and the DR gather what you get is a beautiful barrel of jokes, colloquialisms, spells, stories and experiences that you can brag about for generations.

That was when I was a little girl.

As I’ve navigated through the many stages of my own womanhood, I’ve had such a tough time finding that Latina village. As a lover of my fellow woman, especially the one that looks like me, talks like me and more importantly, feels like me, it is my natural instinct to reach out and seek sisterhood. Yet, this experience feels like something of the past. I once auditioned for a TV show on a popular Latin network and got feedback that I was too dark and that my Spanish wasn’t Mexican enough. This news came from my own people: Latinos. How about that? Two things that I could never change. But what was most hurtful was that the dagger was delivered by a fellow Latina who was “white” and felt a bit pompous and condescending when she delivered the information. I guess this was something that I was supposed to come to terms with as an older woman who I looked up to explained, “ No esperes el apoyo de tu hermanas Latinas, están perdidas. No te pueden querer si no se quieren ellas mismas”. QUE? I refused to accept as a reality that my number one nemesis would be my very own people. I am Latina and I beam with pride every time Rosario, Salma, Jennifer, America, Gina, Zoe and the rest of them, no, US wins.

We can’t deny the disconnect amongst women because we are socialized to not trust and to hate each other. If all women stood in solidarity we could shut shit down. I believe in Latina power. We are so impactful and colorful, we can move mountains with our hips alone. We dance like nobody’s business, cook like nobody’s business and hold shit together like nobody’s business. Does it matter if you’re Cuban, Nicaraguan or Dominican? What is it that makes us feel that we can’t love Jennifer Lopez and Salma Hayek? Why can’t we all be pretty whether we have straight hair or pelo crespo? Chica, it is time for all of us to get it together!

So, let’s stay in solution. How do we work on making this pesky nat of a divide go away? Start by looking in the mirror and loving yourself, all parts of you. Yes, even the part with the non-English speaking Grandmother. Read about your glorious history. Not the ever trending headlines about Trump’esque thinkers highlighting the worst parts of us, but books about our rich cultures. We are all connected. Remember girl, your greatest ally can be someone who shares in your experiences and forming partnerships only empowers you despite what you’ve been fooled into believing. Now go and find your tribe, you owe it to yourself!

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Little GIRL Lost!

I used to believe that I was adopted, I mean, really believe it to my core. I endured some of the(eee) most backwards shit as a kid, and every single transgression had a gross justification. Take this picture for example, there are two very wrong things going on here. That look on my face is not just depair and disdain, it is also deeply rooted in shame.

Lou Diamond Phillips

I used to have this green jumper, that was offensive, not just to those that had to witness it, but to my vag area. I was a tall kid and this outfit just didn’t fit, it was too short and it downright hurt my “Cu-Co” (as grandma would call it). My mother loved this thing for some reason, as you can see her proudly accessorizing it with Mr. Roper’s scarf.

MESSAGE: Don’t do this to your tall kids, it shits on their self-esteem and more importantly, their self-assessment.

Alright, let’s get to the more obvious. Why the hell do I have a haircut that speaks more to the military than it does to the first grade? Simple: some Latin folk believe that cutting your daughter’s hair, makes it grow back stronger. I really wish I had a better reason like I caught lice at school or had finished my chemo, but no,  this was my mother following the directions of her elders on how to get my hair in that “Head and Shoulders” commercial condition.

So, what do you get when you dress your 6 year old girl in a Soul Train outfit and give her a buzz cut? A baby Lou Diamond Phillips!

HEY TV, Where are the MEDIUM CHICKS????

I recently went into a couple of TV network and production company meetings to discuss my television goals and I gotta tell you, these meetings can really rip at your inner core and make you feel like you just fell out of a dumpster. I digress, there is a point to this fulmination. 

I was told by a woman, that I needed to decide who I was going to be on television. She said, “You can be the fat girl or the skinny one, but there is no room for medium on television honey.” She boasted of her extensive television knowledge and assured me that “This is just  the reality, Dear”. 

Then I said to myself, no wonder television sucks nowadays and so many TV shows fail, they’re writing the shows for themselves and about themselves, with no regard for the people that actually watch it. 

Two things I must touch upon and I will let you get on with your day.

I am so thankful for being a stand up comedian that tours, I have the opportunity to “first hand” talk to those people that actually watch television and support it. And I will tell you Dr. Hollywood, most women are medium and they are beautiful; their foreheads move, they have meat on their bones and they radiate with joy. I wish I could tell you that television is a reflection of the hungry, duck faced figurines you keep pushing sporting a $3000 bag and refined mutt you call a designer dog, but that is not the case. You keep missing them, the women that go to work every day, take care of their own children, cook at home and actually like their lives. The ones that haven’t been a size 2 since they were 12, are absolutely healthy that haven’t been on cleanse for the last six years.

There is something to this, how is television to tell the story of the average person when they are being represented by people that are fake! I”ll say it again, fake. Fake and afraid to grow older, gain weight, get wrinkles, have in-grown toe nails, bad gas, battle with sun spots, have cavaties, sport saddle bags and love handles, showcase their natural skin pigmentation, have their hair fall out and the ongloing list of normal stuff that happens to all people. Medium women are perfect just the way they are and you must stop telling them that they are not, they resent you for it, I resent you for it.

Secondly and lastly, do I really need to get into the destruction of body image you keep pushing upon our young. As someone in recovery from self destructive eating habits, it’s not easy to hear that the balance I’ve have been fighting for since I was 14 is not going to cut it for me to obtain my goals in television. It is most hurtful when it comes from another woman because she is supposed to understand. How destructive does the industry have to be for there to be change?

I will end with this, I propose a solution…how about you send your scouts (writers, producers, etc…) out  to check out what is happening in the world you seem to think you are capturing on screen. Think about the shows that are successful and why they are, most of the times is because people can look at those characters and say, “That’s my uncle Joe.”, “This happened to me once.”, and “I know that feeling”.

I think all women should be on telelvision, not just the ones that fit into your box, your box isn’t a good reflection of what’s actually out there. PUT SOME MEDIUM WOMEN ON TELEVISION!

Medium and Happy