Trump's Election from Abroad

Thursday, November 10, 2016

[the one where I delve into what this feels like right here, right now]

"...and to all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams." -Hillary Rodham Clinton

What's happening in American right now is bonkers; watching it from an ocean away is a unique and though-provoking experience. For those of you who didn't know, this semester I've had the privilege of studying abroad in Bilbao, Spain this semester. Here, I've made many an international friend and I've continued to study international politics -- which, of course, is taught very differently here than it is in the States.

At the beginning of the semester, one of the first questions these students would inevitably ask was on my opinion on Donald Trump, and if I thought he could possibly win. At the time I told them I did think it was possible. Keep in mind this was before the most recent of his heinous comments about women. As the semester crept on, even though his platform got more and more extreme, I stood by instincts, thinking that there was definitely still a likely chance that he could be elected, at which point most told me I was crazy or unrealistic. I even made bets, hoping that on Wednesday the 10th of November, I would have to eat my words. Let me simply say: I have never been so upset to win a bet. And I come from Nevada, where gambling is a way of life.

I watched the first few hours of the election and then fell asleep until the last few. I thought I would be waking up with tears of joy at the shattering of the ultimate glass ceiling, that our country would've elected their first female president. Instead the tears I shed at 7am yesterday, and several times since then, have been tears of total heartbreak. I find myself heartbroken about the fact that we elected a sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, hateful, hateful man. Heartbroken that so many are "voter-shaming" those who used their vote to support someone they truly believed in (unless, of course, you wrote-in for Harambee, in which case I full-heartedly agree with the frustration). I am heartbroken that the minorities in America (self-included) are terrified to represent the differences that makes our country beautiful. But most of all, I'm heartbroken at the fact that I believe they're terror is fully justified. Still, I have been so inspired by the absolute outpouring of activism for important causes and the love I've seen explicitly expressed for our persecuted minorities in this time of grief and mourning.

Here's the crux of this post:

Being abroad in these moments is so incredibly painful because I mostly feel that I haven't been able to grieve, to mourn in the way that seems to be a catharsis on American campuses. Instead, this election has become a trending conversation topic. Instead of being allowed to grieve, these international students are looking for answers and expressing hate. Answers I am not totally sure I know how to formulate, and hate that my gentle heart absorbs like a sponge. Moment of honesty here: I actually cried in class today. Maybe some of you think this an overreaction. Maybe you think this is overly emotional. I'll quickly direct you here, but please come back.

And so, as I shared with my dear, sweet, internationally-minded friends, it came to my attention today that my perception of the outcome of the election is very different from those who won't go back to live in the states after December. The outcome of the election is not just a "current event" for me. It is not just a "top news" story. Indeed it is a total change to the way I will have to live my life when I go home. As a woman, as a Latina, as someone near and dear to a multitude of diverse friends. I begged them and now I am begging you to understand that for me this event is something to grieve. I am still in mourning. Maybe that sounds dramatic– so be it, and again, see the hyperlink above. I haven't written on this blog in so long, but I am now as a way to ask that you please be gentle and understanding in the next few days, knowing that this isn't just a hip topic of conversation, but something profoundly impacts me on a personal level. And for the homies at home, please try to be gentle too. We are, after all, better together.

I said it on Facebook and I'll say it again: being abroad right now is hard. being a woman right now is hard. Hillary's concession speech actually brought me to tears in a public place. please never forget that you are strong and powerful and so worth loving.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." -- Galatians 6:9 NIV, as quoted in Clinton's concession speech.

This, gives me hope. Let's stay hopeful, get engaged in the issues that matter, and truly practice loving one another.





Hopeful and lovingly yours,

Sabrina

#SongCrushSunday: Latin@ Pride

Sunday, April 17, 2016



Following up on my post about identity, I want to offer y'all a playlist that celebrates one of my favorite parts of cultura Latina.* I'm sure that there are some here that have become mainstream enough for some people to identify, but if not, I hope you enjoy them anyway!


1. "Bailando - Spanish Version"  Enrique Iglesias

I don't mess around with the English version. This way or the highway, obviamente.

2. "Inténtalo"  3BallMTY

I found love in a Zumba studio and never looked back.

3. "El Perdón" ― Nicky Jam + Enrique Iglesias

Esto sí me gusta!

4. "Darte un Beso" ― Prince Royce

"Yo sólo quiero darte un beso / Y regalarte mis mañanas / Cantar para calmar tus miedos / Quiero que no te falte nada." Yeah, and they say chivalry is dead. 

5. "Propuesta Indecente" ― Romeo Santos

Yup, this is 180 degrees from the last sweet, sweet ballad. Enjoy this for the music, and really only translate the lyrics if you're in the mood for something altogether racy.

6. "Suavemente" ― Elvis Crespo

This started to play last semester at our school's pre-finals "Midnight Munchies" study break just as my friends and I had started to leave and I'm not saying I pulled it up on my phone to play it on the walk back to our dorm, but I'm also not saying I didn't.

7. "El Taxi" ― Osmani García + Pitbull + Sensato del Patio

This is fun and upbeat. And for people just skimming the list for another familiar name, here's our favorite Cuban.

8. "Niña Bonita" ― Chino & Nacho

Makes you believe in the beauty of love again. So so sweet and lovely. There's so much love here.

9. "Márchate Ahora" ― Los Totora

If you're sitting still during this one, you're doing it wrong.

10. "Sígueme Y Te Sigo" ― Daddy Yankee

It wouldn't be a Latin playlist without including Daddy Yankee.



Good luck with the last week of classes and your finals!!!

Happily yours,

Sabrina


*I don't italicize Spanish words because that creates a sense of "other"ness, when in reality, being Latina is essential to part of my identity. For more on this, check this out.

Identity: Orgullo

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

[the one where I talk about skin color, culture, and other things that might make some folks uncomfortable]


For one of my classes we have an assignment that asked us to talk about our identity. For me, nailing down a specific identity has always been tricky. I went to a high school where the majority population was Hispanic / Latino, and had a small magnet program that tended to attract upper-middle to upper class, typically white students. Now, I am technically both, Hispanic and Latina – in that I speak Spanish as one of my first languages (I learned it and English concurrently) and have a mother and grandmother who were born and lived in Havana, Cuba. Still, I grew up in a home where both of these women consistently identified with the “Caucasian” census box, because of their ethnically Spanish-from-Spain heritage. Are they wrong? If skin color is the primary differentiation between races, then fine, they are absolutely “white;” but if it is instead based on the notion of a shared heritage and language than they are definitely “Hispanic” and “Latinas.”

Indeed, these women, especially my grandmother, may have racist tendencies in their perceptions; that is, that she views herself as “white” in relation to other Latinos, because in addition to being fair-skinned, she has achieved the American Dream, which in her mind is not attainable to “immigrants,” even though she is one herself. This is an example of the prejudice that results from racial categorization in combination with a history of oppression based on these racial categories. For either of these women to feel adequately classified on any of those forms there would have to be a way to represent their “whiteness” in addition to their Cuban heritage – which, is immensely different than that of Mexicans, Colombians (who are Hispanic, but not Latinos), or even Spaniards.

In the case of my personal identity, I find myself limited to boxes that do not highlight or adequately explain who I am and how I feel. For this to be the case, I would need a way to represent all the years of feeling like an outsider of both ethnicities: simply put, all my life, the white girls have considered me to be exclusively Latina (even though I never had a quinceañera, a traditional Latina right-of-passage), and the Latinas considered me to be exclusively white (even though I looked like them and spoke the same language) – so I never really felt like part of either or both.
So, Census, where is the box for that?

In trying to bridge this understanding of identification, in combination with the discussions I'm having in one of my classes about the stigmatization of the Spanish language especially in it's association with the political climate on issues of immigration, I want to publicly assert that there is no harm in being Latin@ (the new way to include both the masculine and feminine identities). Instead, we should have orgullo* in our heritage – which also goes for second and third generations. We are who we come from, and their culture and language are ours to learn and cherish and pass on to our own children. Let us be proud of our language and music and people. Let us love las raizes that brought us to where we are now.
Happily yours,

Sabrina


*I don't italicize Spanish words because that creates a sense of "other"ness, and the whole point of this post is to show that there is no need for such a mentality.
 
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