thursday:: the choice was between urbana or supporting vinny toro, a friend who has been there for me when it really counted and who, unfortunately, doesn’t get the number of features that he should. the spot was halcyon in brooklyn, a dj store.slash.cafe.slash.lounge. eclectic? yes but it all flowed together really well. i was hella late for the reading and only caught the very end but all was still good cuz toro was still there as was his fiancee, grisel and noel mendez (singer, guitar accompanist & visual artist) actually, all three of these folks have been there for acentos & synonymus when we needed them.
post halcyon we headed to a thai spot and ate up a storm! the appetizer was steamed mussels in a green coconut curry sauce and it just got better from there. now i am in the element that i am the most comfortable in- good food, great company & interesting conversation. the majority of it revolved around our experiences with various educational institutes and their subtle (and not so subtle) racial policies. everything from grade school to the awarding of teaching fellows was explored and it seems that we have all been victims of the latino stigma since childhood. sadly, it seems even then we were aware of it to some degree but just accepted it as part of our normal upbringing.
the latino stigma- i’m sure there is a better name for this somewhere out there but i aint in the mood to google right now (inside joke) but it revolves around the fact that latinos are not always the victims of head to head racism because of our surnames. example: julio rodriguez, john anderson, emily sanchez and toni james all apply for jobs/scholarships/grants/whatevah… if the governing body doesn’t want a minority to get the goods they can look at the list and eliminate two names right off the bat. doesn’t matter if the person has pelo bueno or not- they are out. these folks could be the light skinned, clear eyed poster child but their surname leaves too much in the air… a lil too much exotic, perhaps?
where the other two names may or may not be the clean cut norman rockwell picture- only one way to find out- bring em in for the interview and then let the racism begin.
this lil theory got the once over twice as we were all reflecting as to how many times we were included in remedial english classes or were questioned about our grasp of the language.
serendipity went into over drive when toro’s cousin-in-law, a playwright, happened to be eating next to us. the talk switched to upcoming projects and somehow we were treated to an amazing story of a son discovering his father’s homosexuality. this led to the discussion that many gay latinos from the 50s
were some of the roughest thugs on the planet. they had no choice! either be able to defend yourself in a bar fight should your secret come out or get lynched in st mary’s park in the bronx (true story).
you just can’t make shit like this up and it was great to be able to share. no need to censor or to fight for a chance to speak… organic conversation at its finest over chilled thai iced tea.