This past semester was my hardest semester at Princeton thus far. As a junior, I was confronted with taking five classes for the first time, having to think about my independent research, producing independent research, attending to a more rigorous work schedule, the thought of actual post-graduation plans, familial tensions, maintaining entire relationships and, of course, Continue reading
Like most grandmas, mine liked to tell stories. She was made for it. She was short and wide, with a billion wrinkles folded into one another, like elaborate human origami. Her skin was the color of peanut butter and she always smelled like her daily cocoa butter routine. We children used to say she was carved out of candy. But her glory was in her voice. Her voice was bull strong and sugar sweet and had the power to make every word into a jewel.
Growing up, I always struggled with finding a stable identity of my own. I knew I was Latina, but I felt like I could only relate to Latina women in my family and never the ones on television and film who show how an “actual” Latina was supposed to be and act. In television programs, terms like “exotic” became the norm when describing tanned skinned, seemingly typical Latinas. Yet, it wasn’t until adolescence, when I began religiously immersing myself in pop culture, that I started to realize just how pervasive and damaging this one idea of what a Latina is actually was. Continue reading
Afros and high tops tend to tower over the less-voluminous masses. Dreadlocks inspire stares. In general, “kinky” or curly locks garner attention, usually of the negative or ignorant sort. In America, the public display of black person’s natural hair has always caused uneasiness. For many non-black people (particularly whites), natural black hair is a frightening, politically-charged declaration of “otherness.” But does it have to be that way?
I have never been quite as intimidated by an inanimate object as I am by the little bottle sitting on my bathroom countertop. It had arrived, along with a flood of other unfamiliar toiletries, in my cousin’s bag this morning. The bottle is only a couple of inches high and the words “Fair and Lovely” are written across the top in friendly, pink script. An ambiguously ethnic girl smiles on the front. Behind her grinning mug is a picture of the same girl, minus the idiotic grin but plus a whole hell of a lot more melanin. “Smear me all over your face,” the bottle demands rudely. “Then maybe you can be white – pretty – and happy, too.”