In an effort to build a space for queer people like myself, every Tuesday I’ll be posting opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx/WOC community since I am Latinx.) Welcome to Queerly Not Straight! Enjoy and leave a comment below if you have a suggestion for what I should cover next.
I love sazon and adobo. Both have been staples of my Latinx life since birth. And for generations, seasoning mixes of coriander, cumin, oregano, achiote, and garlic powder have defined my culture and the food and community that have developed around it. So I consume spices, on the regular. But that doesn’t mean I AM the spices.
Let me explain.
Getting to know a new culture when you yourself have come from a place of privilege ISN’T a bad thing. We live different lives and have different experiences. And when someone who started out better in life comes around to get to know those that don’t live the privileged experience, it’s a moment of learning.
The privileged person gets an inside look at a way of life that is new for them and different. And the not so privileged person uses their voice, history, and community to speak their truth and teach those less informed. Now, this is all good and dandy until the privileged person thinks they know better because they’ve lived our experience for a couple years.
And honestly, it’s a load of bullshit.
This editorial was born from a privileged patron at work who wouldn’t stop talking about her time in Latin America. It sounded like a brilliant adventure that she took from a position of power to help build homes and churches. Nevertheless, I was cool with her and kept nodding along like nothing because it’s nice when someone takes the time to get to know me, my culture, and my people.
That all came crashing down when this patron shoved her foot so far down her mouth that her ancestors must’ve felt the second hand embarrassment.
This random lady that if she were a spice she’d be flour, called ME spicy.
She called my people spicy.
My home spicy.
And over a week later it’s still blowing my damn mind. Just because I use sazon and adobo on practically EVERYTHING that I eat in my life, doesn’t mean that I AM THE SPICE. I know that logically this random parton with her foot in her mouth, knows that I’m not sazon and adobo. But her words, her spicy comments, leave a bad taste in my mouth and with the stark realization that to her, I’m nothing but something exotic. The other. And that’s some utter bullshit.
I am not the other. I am not the exotic. I am not the wild and free native that movies or TV shows try to shape us into because if you’re poor/other of course you’ll have a magical way of looking at things that will give the privileged kids perspective on their lives. No. Fuck that noise. I’m none of those things.
I am a Latina. I am my ancestors, my present (even if that present is all about sazon and adobo), and I am the future dreamers of the United States that no one can take down or hide away despite our governments best efforts. I am not a wild and spicy thing to entertain the privileged til they get tired of me or angry when I call them out on their ignorance.
And it would do well, for that random patron and every single person that has thought of me as the “other” because of my life, my home, or my traditions, to actually listen and take a seat. We are not what TV or movies paint us out to be and you’d do amazing by listening to us and ACTUALLY getting to know who we are past the spices.
We are mothers, daughters, friends, cousins, aunts. We are Latina.
Queerly Not Straight posts every Tuesday with opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx community since I am Latinx.)
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