Dear Editors of the Triangle,
Around Halloween, the Triangle released a piece about cultural appropriation highlighting how the definition released by dictionaries and other online sources were incorrect by leaving out the fact that it was a power struggle. The article mentioned the fact that some people wear the sexy senorita costume not knowing that it offends those of the Latino culture. Wrong.
I was born in Puerto Rico to two Puerto Ricans; my mother divorced my father right as I was born, but continued to raise me using the values and traditions she was raised with: rice and beans for dinner, Three Kings after Christmas, the man of the house gets to choose the first steak, and absolutely no disrespecting your elders. Those highlight only a few points that were drilled into my head. After celebrating Columbus Day for years, when I reached high school, I finally learned of the true monster he was. Columbus brought conquistadors that raped, murdered, tortured and committed genocide to my people. Years of crossing our genes and forced assimilation made us lose part of who we were, but in turn created who we are now. All of this pain and suffering from the “white man” and yet, I do not care when the blonde hair, blue-eyed sorority girl wears a sombrero and skimpy lingerie. I do not think of my fallen ancestors, but that does not make me any less Puerto Rican than the next guy.
My race and appearance have caused me the short end of the stick many times. I was part of an organization that would go camping often, and guess who was conveniently placed as the chef every time we cooked Mexican food? Can you guess who had the endearing name “Paco”? I was placed in a special English as a Second Language program in my elementary school because of my last name, even though my mastery of the English language was better than most of my peers’. I spent my formative years speaking Spanish, but when I joined an English school, I had to learn English. My pronunciation was subpar, and I was made fun of for it. I said “share” instead of “chair” and used a hard “ch” when saying “chef”.
Freshman year of high school, I joined the wrestling team, the only ethnic student to do so. I wrestled at the feather weight, 106 lbs, weight class, versus an Aryan army of 160 lbs students. I was sexually assaulted, harassed and my coach would not listen because he could not bear the fact that his star wrestlers might get kicked off. I was held down while I was publicly shamed on my social media page by a current United States Military Academy student.
Where I used to live, we were warned that because we were not originally from the country we were to exercise extreme caution. Travel in groups, if anyone asked you where you are from, lie to them. Simply because of my background, I had to be careful at night walking alone.
My step-father was gone for about one-fourth of my life, but not for a bad reason. He was off fighting in wars to defend our nation’s freedom and ideals. My mother had to struggle raising us by herself while he was gone. We had to worry every day whether or not he was going to make it, whether I could continue to have a father figure in my life.
All of these hardships in life and I still think that the idea of safe spaces is bullsh-t. I do not deserve the Latino scholarships even though I experienced racism throughout my life. The idea of cultural appropriation is dumb; by trying to moderate it, you are giving racists more power. College is a place where ideas are supposed to be exchanged safely, where opinions are changed and where people are educated. How am I supposed to be able to educate others if they will not even let me talk?
This past year, Yale had protests about cultural appropriation after a headmaster of a residential hall sent out an email about cultural costumes. A popular video shows a Black female yelling at the headmaster, not letting him talk, and she says, “It is not about creating an intellectual space, it is not, do you understand that? It is about creating a home here!” If any student stands by that argument, then I urge that student to leave. I pay a lot of money to Drexel so that I can become a better thinker and learn more about my passions. If I wanted a safer space, a home, I would leave and lock myself in a box.
Earlier in the aforementioned protests, the headmaster of the hall asks, “Who decides what is offensive?” A student quickly replies, “When someone is offended…” If that’s the logic we as a society are to go by, then I demand the cease and desist of all publications that encourage safe spaces, because I am offended that we need that sort of protection from free speech. How are we supposed to advance as a society when new ideas of race and culture cannot be formed without offending others?
Any form of assistance, media, or aid that is specifically targeted towards a race or gender group is inherently racist itself. If you want to define racism as the “systematic or institutionalized oppression” or whatever the definition of the month is, then it is still discriminatory towards the majority. Black Entertainment Television, Ebony Magazine, Vida today and other “POC” entertainment outlets should be as taboo as something like White People Today. As a Latino, why isn’t Fox News or CNN enough for me? Why MUST I get my news from a Latino specific news center?
I know the history of where I am from, who I am, and what my parents had to go through. Every time The Triangle, or any other news center publishes a piece on how some item or idea is racist, I am hurt a little because I know it is not true. Sexy seniorita isn’t racist, Taco Bell is not trying to remind us about the enslavement of Mexicans to the conquistadors. In the end, it’s all bullshit to get views and people to agree with you.