No Me Llames Trigueña; Soy Negra (Don't Call Me Trigueña; I'm Black) 

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All my life I've been called “trigueña”, which is a euphemistic word used in Puerto Rico to describe someone who is black or mixed race. It is a word that confused me because it was always employed to sort of make me feel good about my skin color. Growing up, I knew that I was not white, I was constantly reminded of it. But, I was always trying to figure out if I was black enough. I have always been put in this ''trigueña'' category that many times I was asking myself what I "really" was. I was living in a place where no one considers themselves a racist, but yet, they will still use micro racism in their daily narrative as if there was nothing wrong. I was living in a place where having a big afro could be the joke for many, where my curly hair was often referred to as "pelo malo" (bad hair) or where you will hear things like is better to marry a white man to "mejorar la raza" (improve the race). But yet, as contradictory as it sounds, Puerto Ricans love to dance to the music of our African ancestors, and we are very proud of our roots.

In our current racial narrative, 75.8% of Puerto Ricans identify themselves as white (US Census 2010). This paradox shows the complexity of the Puerto Rican society and the contradictions surrounding its racial identity. It also opens the door for many more questions tied to different types of oppression, not only related to race but also to gender and social class.

Who am I? How I form and constructed my black identity in a social context where blacks are systematically invisibilized? These are the questions that I will try to answer with this project to be able to understand the complexities surrounding the Afro-Puerto Rican identity.

This is the first part of a long term project exploring the black identity in Puerto Rico (ongoing).

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