Ay, ay, ay, that the slave was my grandfather
is my sadness, is my sadness.
If he had been the master
it would be my shame:
that in men, as in nations,
if being the slave is having no rights
being the master is having no conscience.
—Julia Se Burgos
As an empath, I feel everything. Just seeing pictures, hearing stories, watching the news—I feel it all.
I feel the energy of people and the crowds. This week, I have been wracked with overwhelming sadness as scenes of pain, anguish, violence, and death filled the internet and the TV screen.
Protesters shouting, “I can’t breath“ A Dallas man getting his head kicked in while defending his store. A black man crying in anguish, begging looters not to destroy his store and steal from him. His cries haunt me.
Sounds of helicopters whirring above my peaceful neighborhood and police, parked and waiting, is a jarring reminder of the new normal.
A white man making a special point, driving in circles in his brand new BMW SUV, calling a protester the “n” word reminds me that hate is everywhere. It’s a disease, infectious and spreading, even more deadly than COVID-19.
In East L.A., gang members sit on the roof, the roof like a citadel, with their sniper guns ready to defend their homes.
I see white people terrified and standing in front of their home with guns on hand and I am sickened by looters stealing from an Urban Outfitter.
The President of the United States blithely glides by protesters and stands in front of a church holding up the Bible, while behind him, protestors are tear gassed and shot with rubber bullets as he takes photos.
The final scene playing in my head is of a white police officer, kneeling on a black man’s neck as he pleads for his mother to save him. Horrified spectators watch his life ebb out of him.
This is America. The beautiful, the home of the brave and I am paralysed with horror.
All I can I think of is, where is the love? This is the America I pledged allegiance to and the America that my 14 year old father thought had streets of gold.
As a Puerto Rican American, I have seen first hand the ugly seeds of racism.
My father was white with blonde hair and blue eyes, yet born in Puerto Rico. My mother’s grandfather was Afro-Puerto Rican. My mother’s grandmother was descended from Hernán Cortés and Isabella Montezuma. Racism existed in both sides of the family.
Because my father looked white, he was able to cross barriers. My mother told me the stories of the racism they experienced and sacrifices my grandmother and ancestors suffered for us. Because of this, I I was able to have a better life.
It is so sad to see racism still alive and well, and to see the division we have in 2020.
It’s not new to Puerto Rico and to the Puerto Rican people suffering hundreds of years of racism and discrimination.
Empathy can go a long way in diffusing this divide and we need to hear, validate, and listen instead of having judgement and hate.
We are in trouble. Let love be the answer.