Saturday, February 27, 2010

LatiNegr@s Project: Prof. Susurro

For the last week of Black History Month and for the LatiNegr@s Project, I've decided to send out some questions to LatiNegr@s in my life who I've learned from, been mentored by, and have built community with and share them with you all. I thank each of them for agreeing to share their lives with us and to share them publicly. Today's interviewee is someone I'm very proud to have entered my life via social media as a source of affirmation, support, and mentorship: Prof. Susurro

Q. How do you want to be identified?
A. [Prof] Susurro. Like a Whisper Blog. decolonized anti-racist feminist blogger & queer pop culture critic

Q. What identities do you embrace/have/claim?
A. radical woc activist - the rest you can glean in context

Q. Do you have a preference regarding the terms LatiNegr@, Afr@-Latin@, etc? If so, which one and why?
A. I prefer Afra-Latina because "negra", though descriptive in nature has often been used to differentiate between "good" and "bad" qualities and/or people or to mark difference, & tho we pretend it has no real racial meanings those meanings are always there and more acutely so to transmigrants who travel between racial systems and thus are often exposed to their hegemonic practices in ways that ppl born here or there are not.

Q. What images/texts/narratives were available to you growing up about Afra-Latina?
A. I think this question is complicated. There are tons of Afr@-Latin@ images, both positive and negative available in most countries with high percentages of Afr@-Latin@s outisde of the U.S. but positive images, with the exception of Celia Cruz, were not always marked as Afr@-Latin@. So for instance, you don't call previous presidents or revolutionaries who ousted colonial rule Afr@-Latin@ presidents or leaders, but if someone is running for president who is Afr@ Latin@ and the establishment doesn't like them you call them "black" and wonder about their real origins . . . So I would say that I could think of positive examples/images of Afr@-Latin@s in music, sport, medicine, education, the government, literature, etc. but that they were not associated with "blackness" nor was the term Afr@-Latin@ ever applied to them with few exceptions.

Q. Is there a specific or pivotal time in your life that stands out as being imperative to your consciousness as a Afra-Latina?
A. No. I am biracial (or multiracial if you prefer) so blackness has always been a conscious identity in my family; my family is pretty political about all of our ethno-religious and racial identities come to think of it. There was never a time we weren't taught to be proud of all of the mezclado and since my parents and grandparents are all pretty political folks, there was always discussion about cultural struggle, history, and intersectionality going on at our house. It was nice.

Q. What are your thoughts about the lived experiences of Afra-Latin@s all over the world having similar experiences with those living in the US (i.e. HIV rates).
A. diasporas are like trees, the limbs may be distinct but the roots are one. In that way we are all connected and our positive experiences and cultural expressions come from that connection. Unfortunately, colonialism is also like that in the sense that any given place has a specific colonial history through which racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, etc. get enacted but ultimately marginalization of certain identities are born from the root of that poison tree, & this is why we also share things like poor health, higher death rates from curable diseases, larger unemployment, etc.

Q. What symbols/rituals/etc. are important to you for maintaining community (locally, internationally, virtually) with other Afra-Latin@s?
A. This seems cheesy but certain favorite foods of mine, and the way they are eaten, are often key to feeling connected or creating connection after long absence as is old school music. I can't tell you how many times students have drifted into my office b/c they hear a particular song playing on my computer that reminds them of "home".

Q. Were there any lessons/ideologies/norms that you had to “unlearn” as you evolved into your identities? If so, will you share some with us?
A. Nope, see question 5. I feel very lucky about this b/c I spend a lot of time with people in my personal life, social service work, and academic life who have so much to unlearn or who don't know it is ok to believe black is beautiful and love themselves.

Q. Is there a book/image/quote/artifact/etc. that is important to you to symbolize your identity? If so, will you share one with us?
A. There are far too many to list and the funny thing is they represent a wide range of identities, places, and world views; I think people would be surprised @ what they'd find on my list.

Q. What else would you like to share with readers?
A. Cheesy as this is: know your history/ies, trust that you are beautiful, strong, and intelligent, and spend your energy on building community, justice, and your own self-esteem rather than raining down the hateration or reacting to others who do and you will be surprised at what you will learn about your culture/s, communities, and self.

Q. Is there a way readers can reach you through social media?
A. I blog @ Like A Whisper & have twitter & occasionally I answer formspring but mostly not.

Many thanks to Prof.Susurro for sharing! Please go find her on the web and visit her virtual homes. Don't forget to visit the LatiNegr@s Tumblr Page and consider submitting something. The page will be available year-round as people are welcome to submit as often as they like.

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