One of my favorite Tumblrs, black beauty, featured photos submitted by Tumblrer Indigo, who dressed in an homage to legendary artist Frida Kahlo. (The headline comes from the caption she wrote to describe her picture.)
They came to lay Chavela Vargas to rest at Plaza Garibaldi Monday night. And that was just in person. When word spread of the Costa Rican native’s passing this past Sunday, they mourned not only in her adopted home country of Mexico, but in Spain, in Cuba, and anywhere they still feel ranchera music.
In nearly a century, she was an LGBT trailblazer; a gender role provocateur; a friend to artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and a muse to others like Federico García Lorca and Pedro Almodóvar; she performed at Elizabeth Taylor’s wedding and at Carnegie Hall; she recorded 80 albums and came out at the age of 81. She beat addiction to become an institution. And they raised their glasses to her Monday night.
Racially complete. When you are racially silenced, you begin the process of being incomplete. Silence can occur when you are told to stop talking about race. The process begins early for children – through a loss of heritage from the process of immigration, to being racially silenced in schools, to being told, “you’re crazy” from friends and family — the silence around race is deafening. To become racially complete, you have to go backwards, go back to these moments when you were silenced and try to understand what those moments were about. Your voice is the beginning.
I found my voice during Black History Month. I was a sophomore in college and was very unhappy. My experience with race and racism was overwhelming. A predominantly white institution, the college I attended still had a lot of work to do around these issues. Not knowing what race-work was at the time, I was one of the students who discussed racism on our campus with other students, in the corner of a cafeteria. Then, Revolution was only part of my vocabulary and something others did. Not something I could do.
Until one day, my friend Aira, co-coordinator of Black History Month at the time asked me to sit on a panel to discuss the experiences of Women of Color. “You should talk about what it means to be Latina here.”
Oh hell no I thought. I don’t even know what that means. Where would I even start?