Looking at my appearance, it is not always obvious where I come from. I enjoy the look on faces when I speak to them in Spanish and they didn’t know that I could. Just yesterday a woman displayed shock and horror upon discovering that yours truly can understand and speak the Spanish language. I am a Latino of Puerto Rican descent, I just happen to have very light skinned. Make no mistake though, I was born in the motherland and as such Spanish was my very first language. Allow this information to lay the groundwork for this post.
Several weeks ago I was invited to perform a musical set in the heart of Bedstuy. For those of you that are not from NYC, Bedstuy is a racially diverse area, occupied these days mostly by a wide variety of people from all over the world. It wasn’t always that way. There was a time when Bedstuy was exclusively a Black and Latino inhabited area, and certain pockets of Bedstuy still reflect this racial makeup. My musical performance happened to be in one of those areas.
The audience was mostly black with a few scattered Latinos here and there, and perhaps one or two white people at most.The show happened to take place around the time that the George Zimmerman “not guilty” verdict was handed down. As I sat in the audience, I saw several people walking around handing out flyers about an upcoming protest that was going to happen against the verdict in a few days. I was sitting at a table with a friend of mine who’s name also happens to end in a Z just like my own, and is also of Latino descent, but his appearance clearly shows more of his African roots than mine does.
There was an older gentleman handing out flyers and going around speaking with everyone about coming out to the rally. This is the type of behavior that solidifies for me that these protests are clearly racially motivated. As he walks over to my table, he nods and greets my friend. He doesn’t even acknowledge that I am sitting at the table, my friend notices this and looks at me as if to say “what is up with that”. The older man states “We are having a rally for Trayvon Martin tomorrow, we’d love for you to come out and support the cause”. He then hands him a flyer, still ignoring me, it’s as if I didn’t exist. I tried to make eye contact with the guy as my friend looks back and forth between me and him, he avoids my eyes and then walks away.
My buddy starts to laugh and I nod in his direction while sarcastically stating “Yeah, this whole Trayvon Martin thing is definitely ‘NOT’ about race.” We both laugh at my sarcasm and the absurdity of the whole event that just unfolded before our eyes. It is hilarious and sad at the same time because both of us happen to be Puerto Rican, while one of us just happens to be lighter than the other. When I stepped on stage to perform, I was introduced as “Angel ‘ARodomus’ Rodriguez”, the old man saw that they were talking about me, he looked in my buddy’s direction and displayed a very obvious look of confusion at hearing my very Hispanic last name.
This man’s ignoring of me was obviously race related. People like to claim that they are upset about the verdict, but the fact of the matter is that most people are really upset because of the race issue. Though most will never admit it, and they will call ME a racist for even mentioning it or writing something like this! Still I can provide hundreds of scenarios where Latinos and Blacks were killed with no subsequent community outrage or protests, mostly because it was another Latino or Black that did the killing. This particular reaction was brought out due to race, and it is clearly evident when based upon my external appearance a black man decides to omit me from his invitation to a rally. We all know that I would not have attended based on my own opinions, but he had no way of knowing that. He made his decision based on my external appearance, and that ladies and gentleman is what liberals would call “profiling”.
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