By Guest Contributor Blanca E. Vega, cross-posted from Race-Work, Race-Love
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?