African-Americanized?

Happy Friday! 

Hope you’re doing well on this fine day.

Once I told one of my friends that I had started a blog with this name, their first question was what makes you African Americanized? 

My first response was that my identity has been developed upon my heavy influence from rap growing up, but also some of my favorite shows growing up featured African Americans, (which was PC at the time) and how I’ve grown to refer to my darker skinned brethren in general. I suppose now it’s more PC to say black, as I’ve been raised with both I will use them interchangeabley​. Without strong representations of Hispanics, I gravitated towards the other minority I could relate to and saw in the mainstream, black people.

Of the shows I used to watch, some of my favorites being Smart Guy, Sister Sister, Proud Family, basically anything on UPN…my Mom had me growing up watching In Living Color, my dad, Richard Pryor. As I said above, without any representation of Hispanics/Latino that spoke English (besides George Lopez and Greetings from Tucson) I identified mostly with the shows portraying African Americans as they represented life closer to what I was living as opposed to the exorbitant lifestyles of white families (as messed up as that may sound…).

Music influences, mine and parents

While I may be mistaken, I once heard that rap is actually an acronym that stands for “Real African Poetry.” Hearing Nas’ “If I Ruled The World” or Jay’s “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” or Kanye’s “Slow Jamz” can take me back to rides in the car with my family going anywhere and everywhere.  I grew up with a strong rap influence, mainly thanks to my eldest sister who was all about it. She had her ears to the streets and is probably the main factor in my development in music interest.

Another major influence was “oldies” or classics like Earth, Wind, and Fire, The Commodore’s, Stevie Wonder and many more (my all time favorite, Blue Magic – Sideshow) filled my youth with soul and rhythm I have to give thanks to my Dad who always had good taste in music.

Unrelated of sorts, but I guess it kind  of shows how minorities are  kind of assumed to get along better than whites and blacks… Growing up, my 4th grade teacher suggested I make friends with the new student, a black boy (great guy, plays basketball for Nigerian team now) in 4th grade, who loved Captain Underpants, and to make him feel better I totally fibbed and said “of course I read that, I love Captain Underpants!” And we became really good friends, not because we were both minorities but because we’re both well-meaning guys who got along nicely. 

While I know I’m not black and have apologized for saying the word “nigga” because I forget my place at times, I do like to think that I probably have a lot more in common with my brothers from other mothers than Stan the man. I’ve been assumed to be a “thug” by my club leader at UC Berkeley, have been avoided intentionally by white people because I was wearing sweats and a hoodie, and have been followed in a store because they thought I would steal… While I may not be black, I’m sure I’m not white. As Early sweatshirt said, “too black for the white kids and too white for the blacks…”

I found myself ostracized from my fellow Latin kids early on as I spoke English primarily and they all spoke Spanish. The language barrier alone made it hard enough to make friends at church, a church full of kids just like me phenotypically but not culturally. I’m in a special kind of nice place that has allowed me to define myself as something beyond just one cultural background. Chances are you’re influenced by more than what you think as well… That’s for another post. 

As I’m still new to blogging, this is just the first iteration of this topic. It’s far from being completed or polished but gives a taste to what I mean to say by my identity as an African Americanized Latino. I have a lot more to say… hopefully it’s engaging enough. Still trying to find a structure and organizational method to help people find what might interest them. Bear with me, please. 

Be well, and be kind, it’s Friday – find time to unwind. 

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