Creative SubmissionsCulture and Identity


Painting of Oscar Abreu. Submitted by Guadalís del Carmen

Written by Guadalís Del Carmen


What are you?
Why do you speak Spanish?
Why is she here?
¿Quién trajo a la negra?
Are you mixed?
We don’t want your people here.
These faceless voices have loudly occupied space in my head for as long as I can remember.
Accusations and interrogations piercing through the most vulnerable parts of my mind. They yell and they scream.
Until they manifest in real me,
front of my eyes.
It’s like a bad movie that I’ve seen a hundred mes but,
It s ll makes me cringe.
A stranger comes along.
I see him mouth off these intonations, like incantations in a Catholic church.
But, they aren’t solemn prayers.
They are loud.
Loud enough for others to hear.
Loud enough to humiliate me.
And like a toddler trying to lift an AK 47,
I am weak.
My face feels hot, my heart races. I’ve been here so many times, but it always hurts
And, it always comes the moment I let my guard down.
I let my guard down. Fuck.
I let my guard down. I want to run
I want to hide…
Where’s the eject button?
As I watch my nightmare unfold, the voices in my head se le.
There is silence in my mind, and
I am speechless.
I want to defend myself, to educate him, to relieve him of his ignorance, I am black,
I am also cien por ciento Latina…
Pero, I can’t.
in that dream,
you try to run
but you don’t get anywhere?
I am stuck.
I am defeated.
And I don’t want to be that person.
That angry person.
That angry black person.
Because the fear of being the angry black woman is
I am once again, made to feel like an outsider.
Watching from the window as everyone perfectly fits,
and I am the square peg that didn’t.
I now have to say Afro Latina,
it makes other Latinos comfortable.
It separates me,
from them.
Even though we are all Latinos still.
But now I have a category that explains why
I’m so dark,
my hair so coarse,
my nose so wide
and yet,
hablo español.
without the Afro in my descrip on,
there are so many ques ons,
uncomfortable ques ons
with uncomfortable answers.
But yo,
everyone wants to be friends with the Afro Latina.
She’s cool,
she’s sassy,
she keeps it real.
And isn’t it fun to say, “Wait till you hear her speak Spanish!” Like a cool party trick, you show me around.
you’re careful not to date me,
no ma er how much you like me.
I’m not socially acceptable,
only behind closed doors,
in the bedroom acceptable.
Because Mami made it clear,
hay que avanzar la raza,
¡no me traigas negras a la casa!
We have to take our bloodline forward,
never back.
I don’t want black grandbabies!
And once again,
I am not good enough.
I don’t fit in because our ancestry is more evident in me
than it is in you.
A part of me hates this word,
Afro Latino term.
It makes me feel, as I’ve always felt,
uncomfortably different.
And yet,
a small piece of me has always yearned for this name.
This li le part of me that has been beat down by society saying, she’s not beau ful enough,
she’s not light enough,
not thin enough, not graceful enough.
The little part of me that has been sedated by relaxers and denial. She is malnourished,
she is neglected.
This tiny, little warrior fights her way back up,
every me new hair growth comes in.
That’s how I know she wants to live.
Every me I hear the beat of drums,
I feel her heart
That’s how I know she wants to fight.
I nourish her with affirmations of negritud.
With every snipping away of relaxed hair,
her skin becomes thicker.
In her innocence and thirst for Mamá Africa,
she reaches for her ancestors.
Reaching for Anacaona and Caonabo,
Taíno warriors in their own right.
And as she continues to grow and become stronger,
For the first me in a long me
I feel it start to leave my body.
Se me va la ansiedad
and I am filled with all the beauty
and all the love that my ancestors were filled with, before the first encounter.


Bio of Guadalís Del Carmen
Guadalís Del Carmen is a Loyola University graduate born and raised in Chicago. Her first play, Blowout, was produced by Aguijón Theater in 2013. Blowout a racted many first me theatergoers and received a Highly Recommended in the Chicago Reader. In 2014, she was one of eight early career playwrights to be chosen to be part of El Semillero, a playwright wri ng group curated by ALTA (Alliance of La no Theater Ar sts) in residency at Victory Gardens Theater. Guadalís has been selected to be a part of UrbanTheater Company’s 2015 R.A.W. (Real Aggressive Wri ng) Series which will present four staged readings of new work in November and December. Tolstoy’s Daughter was selected as a finalist in Quick Silver Theater’s Playwrights of Color Summit, taking place in June 2016. Her one minute play, Family Portrait, was a part of the One Minute Play Fes val in Chicago, 2016. Guadalís was also selected as one of 6 Afro La na writers to be a part of the first Afro La na Writers Retreat which culminated in a Livestream of the work produced at the retreat. Culture, Love, and Iden ty: An Afro-La na Reading was streamed in November of 2015.
Guadalís is an ensemble member of Aguijon Theater and UrbanTheater Company. Guadalís is also a company member of the New York based, E.P.P. (Educa onal Plays and Produc ons) founded by Candido and Carmen Rivera Tirado.



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