Monday, December 7, 2009

My mom called me at 9:15 pm and told me that my abuelo died an hour ago. We talked. We don't know too much about funeral arrangements right now. He was my maternal grandfather. He was my mother's last parent. It is not a surprise, he has been extremely sick for the last month. Yet things like this, even when they are not sudden, are still very shocking.

I know I've written about my experiences growing up in a racially White family as a girl of Color. My grandfather was one of my only family members who came to visit us on a regular basis.

After my grandmother died he immediately married the Black Dominican woman he had hired to care for my grandmother. She had children in the RD and is about 20 years younger than him. Needless to say it was a scandal in the family. The racism that was "dormant" and "covert" came to the surface. I remember very vividly my mother pulling my sister and I (17 years old) aside at the funeral parlor and saying "if you see a very dark Black woman don't let her touch you."

You see they thought that she practiced/s VooDoo. Regardless if she does or not, her warning to us was coded in so much racist language, so much ethnocentrism, fear, judgment, pain, I got the message that maybe other parents say the same things about me to their children.

You see out of all my family members my abu was the only person who even remotely, and very obviously, quietly made a powerful statement about race in our family: he married a racially Black woman. A woman darker than me. He is the only person in my family to have done this. He married her, she became a US citizen, her children moved in with them and she cared for him.

I've never met her. I don't know if I will meet her. I don't know if I can afford to go to the funeral as it's in PR and tickets are NOT cheap and your girl has no disposable income.

Although I've never met her, I know she loves him. I know she loved him. I know she experienced the same kind of hatred and racism that I endured by the same family members. This creates a relationship that I share with her. This also makes my grandfather the only man who even remotely gave me the impression he thought I was worthy, beautiful, valuable. He reminds me I'm loved regardless, and because of, how I look.

Peace Abuelo.

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