Written by: Mariela Regalado
YO SOY LATINA
The language I speak does not define mi nacionalidad
The little boxes you ask me to check “which one of these labels applies” is not an accurate interpretation of my ethnicity.
The piropos and the whistles I hear you yell down the street do not faze me,
for you do not entertain me with your obscenities.
“That Spanish girl over there” I hear you say
“Hold up, lemme correct that real quick” is what I say.
For I am not Spanish
I speak Spanish
Yo soy Latina
I inherited natural curly hair, it can get wet in the rain, I don’t care. I can get a wash and set from my aunt and as long as I wrap it in a tubi it’ll last me at least a week. Sometimes I add tracks to it, sometimes I wonder if I can rock a weave. Sometimes I just wanna go back to my teenage years when I had long curly locks down to my waist -until- I cut it all off and that brought tears down my fathers face.
My body is the exact opposite of what you see when you open and flip through the pages of your magazines. They say we have all the right curves in all the right places and I love the look on people’s faces when they notice how our clothes cling to our bodies so sensually. And I always choose red for Junot Diaz said that color was made for us specifically.
I feed these curves well. Sure I can make you a sandwich, Bro. Or, if you treat me the right way-Papi mejor te preparo, Moro de guandules con bistec? And if you’re sick Forget that chicken broth nonsense- Mejor te preparo, un sancochito…but don’t get used to it tampoco cause I’m not cooking for you everyday.
By the way I went to college. So that’s an Educated Latina to you. Beauty, brains, attitude! I don’t think you can handle all this personality coming your way. And trust me the things I gotta say, I can tell you without being afraid. I can give you inspirational quotes to advice, help you distinguish the wrong from the right. I can tell you if I voted for Obama, I can tell you how I really feel about your mama. I can speak eloquently on issues like inmigración, I can help brainstorm solutions that will help increase the graduation rates for our youth, and how to build a solid foundation that will set our communities up to succeed. We can argue about God and politics, discuss isms and Plato. And if you don’t agree, well- you are entitled to your own opinion.
Yo Soy Latina and my love is extreme, the kind of love that will have you screaming for more, and then have you screaming your lungs out cause damn it you can’t stand me sometimes ! But you can’t imagine what it’s like to live without me. You see, my love will send you soaring through the skies I will treat you like the King you were meant to be just do not lie to me. Cause I will turn into the best detective for hire. I will do better research than the FBI and the CIA combined. So if you’re gonna be with me I have high expectations. Blame the romantic novels I read or the Mexican novellas I’ve seen, but thank my Mami and my Abuelita for they were the women that made and raised me.
I am the best DJ to have. When we’re riding in your car we can hear anything from Skrillex to J. Cole. I can rap along to my favorite Jay-Z songs. I can play some Marvin Gaye and bring our bodies closer. I can subliminally suggest you some Romeo Santos lyrics “mi corazoncito esta de luto por tu amor…” Cause he has the perfect words to describe what I have to put up with.
Esa la trigeñita, la morenita, la indiesita, my Dominicans say. My people are a vast array from the milkiest white to the richest shade of dark chocolate. Mixed tragically with Europeans and Spaniards who invaded my island- sprinkled with the royal blood of African nations I embrace my history, my roots with no hesitation.
So the next time I hear them say “that Spanish girl over there”
“Hold up lemme correct that real quick” is what I will say.
For I am NOT Spanish, I speak Spanish.
Yo Soy Latina!
Mariela Regalado was born in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She was inspired by her 7th grade ELA teacher to write. By day she works as a College Counselor, helping to change the landscape for students of color attending institutions of higher learning. She loves working with the youth, and currently co-facilitates poetry workshops with “Brooklyn Gypsies” at the Brooklyn Public Library for teens to unlock their creativity.