All my life I've been called “trigueña”, which is an euphemistic word used in Puerto Rico to describe some one 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 was always very conscious of the color of my skin. I knew for sure that I was not white. But, I was not dark enough (by Puerto Rican standards), to be black. So, I have always been put in this ''trigueña'' category. Even though I knew that I was black, I was constantly asking my self what I really was. I always felt that I was living in a place where no one considers themselves a racist. But, they will still use a subtle form of 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, many Puerto Ricans will consider themselves white, and those who are black will often be called "negrito” and “negrita" or "trigueño” and “trigueña".

This paradox shows the complexity of the Puerto Rican society and the contradictions surrounding its 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.

So, I decided that in order for me to understand better the Puerto Rican identity and subsequently my own, I should try to look deeper into what it means to be an Afro-Puerto Rican.

This is the beginning of a long-term project.

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