Speaking Story...

L: My name is Laura Jimenez, I’m 42-years-old, today’s date is October 24, 2015. I am at the offices of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, CA and I am here today with my daughter.

K: My name is Kiskeah Sanchez Jimenez, I’m 14-years-old. Today is October 24, 2015, I’m in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, CA and the person I’m here with today is my mom.

L: Good morning.

K: Hi!

L: I’m glad to be here with you to have this conversation.

K: Me too.

L: I guess what I was thinking about when we were preparing is the ways that Papi and I have talked to you about who you are from the time you were born and how we have tried to show you who you are from the time you were born, and it was just occurring to me when were talking that now you are saying who you are, you’re really expressing who you are, how you identify, and I’m very interested in hearing…because I’m with you all the time, I’m with you everyday, but we don’t have these conversations about who you are and who you think you are, who you want to be, or how you identify. I’m interested in hearing, who are you? How do you identify and who do you think you want to be?

K: Okay, I’m going to answer the last question first. I don’t know who I want to be yet because I’m 14 and I’m a freshman, and I’m just going to focus on what I’m doing right now, but all I know is that I don’t know who I want to be as a person, but I know I want to be happy. I don’t know how I identify. I just identify as me, as Kiki, but technically I really strongly identify as a Black person, more than anything that I am. I think people doubt that sometimes, that I’m Black, and that doesn’t work out for them very well. I’ll shut them down very quickly because they don’t know who I am because people forget where I’m from and stuff. Another thing that I struggle identify as is that I am bisexual and people also don’t get that. People don’t get bisexuality because they think you have to be one thing or the other and that is definitely not true, so that’s another thing I shut them down on. I forgot what the first question was, no, I think I answered all of them.

L: Okay. That’s cool I just find that you’re 14 right now so everything is changing and you get to decide who you are. I remember being young and trying to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be. I admire that you’re very strong in the way that you…even though you say you don’t know who you want to be, I think you definitely are a person who has some distinctive principles and ideas about yourself and I like that. You said you definitely identify as Black, why is that?

K: I don’t know, the way I grew up….well, Harlem was a rough place. It was really cool culturally, but that’s who I was surrounded by was Dominicans and yeah, dark people. And then we moved to Georgia and then I went to school with all of these Black kids…that’s what I grew up around. I mean, I definitely identify as Mexican more, but I didn’t see as many Mexican kids when I was growing up, so I couldn’t be like, “hey, I’m like them, too.” For me, it was more like, “yeah, I’m Black,” and then we moved here and I got to see a lot of different kinds of people.

L: What do you like about who you are?

K: I think I’m very different, I’m Mexican and Dominican and a lot of people don’t even know what Dominican means or is, so then I have to say, “hey, you remember where the earthquake was in 2009? Haiti?” And they’re like, “yeah!” and I’m like, “yeah, that’s the island that they share and they still don’t get it, they don’t know what it is.

L: What has been challenging for you about how you identify?

K: Most of the difficulty happened in Georgia because I identified as Black, but the kids didn’t think I was Black because they were fully Black and I had the looser curls, smoother hair, and straight roots, so they didn’t believe me. So I would get bullied a lot because I was lighter than them and they didn’t believe I was Black. They thought I was some weird Mexican girl that was just there, calling herself Black. That’s some of the main difficulty. Some of the other ones is that some people will straight up tell me, “you’re not Black” and I’m just like that’s not true, I don’t know where you got that idea.

L: What do you know about being Afro-Latina because you’re saying that they didn’t know?

K: It’s difficult because both of those races are harshly judged and when you put them together, it just makes it even worse. And I’m going to school where’s there’s a lot, a lot, a lot of rich white kids that don’t really know what being Black, or Mexican, or Dominican really means and the stuff you have to go through to be heard in that kind of school because they’ve already heard.

L: So you don’t feel heard at school?

K: Oh, I make myself heard! But if I didn’t make myself heard, I wouldn’t be heard. I make sure that I’m seen because if I’m not seen, I just kind of fade away.

L: How do you make sure that you’re seen?

K: I don’t know, I make sure that if people are trying to put me down, that I shut them down! Tell me I’m not Black, I’m like, “who do you think you are?” I don’t know, sometimes I think me trying to be seen will go bad. In a few classes I’m the class clown but that’s just because some of the teachers will say some ridiculous things and I will call them out, but that’s not me trying to be seen, that’s just me.

L: What do you love about your life right now?

K: I think in California it’s really cool. In Georgia I feel like I would not be able to be myself, but here I’m able to be myself because there’s so many kids mixed kids. I know so many mixed kids, so it’s cool that I’m able to be who I feel I want to be, that’s what I like.

L: What do you find hard about your life right now? You can be honest even though I’m your mom.

K: What I find hard…I don’t know, people tell me that I’m smart, but then I go to school and I just don’t really feel like being in there, so I know what I’m doing and I know the stuff that’s being taught, but because I feel like I don’t want to be there, like I don’t want to do it, I don’t do anything, so it makes me feel like I’m dumb. I know I’m not dumb, but people will call me dumb and I just uh nuh, sometimes I believe it.

L: That’s difficult. What would you do if you weren’t going to school? What would you like to do if you didn’t have to go to school?

K: I don’t know, I would just dance all day.

L: That sounds good. Tell me about your family.

K: I have a big family. So direct family, I have two older siblings; one is a 20-year-old brother and a 16-year-old sister and I’m basically the middle child. I have a younger sister that’s 11 and my older brother’s name is Jolani, my older sister’s name is Lilah, my younger sister’s name is Ishelle. And then I have a mom, and she’s here with me today, and then I have a dad and he’s the Dominican one with dreads and stuff. And then I have like my grandma on my mom’s side and her name is Claudia and she’s typical American grandma. She makes cookies and pies and she buys us stuff that mom wouldn’t buy us. And my grandpa, he’s not American, he’s actually Mexican and he’s definitely Mexican. He had the mustache, it’s gone now; he’s a very cute grandpa. And then my grandparents on my dad’s side passed away, but I’ve been told that they were really nice; they would have been really nice to us, their grandchildren. And then I have a bunch of cousins everywhere.

L: Yeah, you do, all over! Do you have any questions you want to ask me?

K: I know the basics of what happened, what my life was in New York, but I don’t really remember it. So I wanted to know what was the best parts of living in New York and what was the worst part of raising a child in New York?

L: I moved to New York when I was twenty-six and I was only supposed to be there for a couple of months to do a project for work and I was very much looking forward to leaving because I was there for the six months of winter and barely just the beginning of spring. I guess to me, that’s one of the worst parts of living in New York; I had a really hard time coming from California and moving to New York because it was so cold. I remember I used to ride the bus to work and we would ride through Central Park and I remember when the spring started coming because when the spring comes, the daffodils come up first. I just remember seeing yellow flowers as I was riding through the park and looking out the windows and I remember feeling like I had been craving to see color and all of a sudden I was so happy to see those daffodils. But the rest of the winter just felt awful, horrible; I got bronchitis, it was cold, I wasn’t used to that kind of cold and it was cold for so long. That was probably close to the worst thing for me living in New York, just how long it was cold. So I was preparing to leave New York in like six weeks when I met Papi and then I fell in love and all this good stuff. I tried to convince him to come to California and move to California with me, but he wasn’t ready, so I ended up back in New York. So I ended up back in New York and I got pregnant, and I wanted to get pregnant, I intentionally became pregnant with you, so we had a baby within a year. The hardest part, or another hard part, was that we didn’t have any family. Neither of us had any family in New York; all of Papi’s family was in the Dominican Republic and all of my family was in California, so we had no support for…we had to ask people for support, which seems to me a bit different from how people traditionally do it, where you’re just able to ask grandparents or aunts and uncles for help with your children, or just for a break, just to rest, things like that. So that was really hard, that was very, very hard to be the two of us alone with you in the beginning. I loved it, but it was really hard, that’s why I respect whatever you all decide to do; if you want to move…I think moving around was great, travelling was great, but just from my own experience, I hope that if you have children, you move back close to us so we can help you because it was really hard. The other thing, it was also really expensive, it was just really expensive; expensive to live in New York, expensive to live in a lot of places, but New York was really hard. And you remember our apartment in Harlem, it was like a tiny little box that we lived in and we did the best we could, but mice and roaches exist in New York, so that’s not something I was familiar with coming from California, so that was really hard to feel like you’re constantly trying to protect your baby from these things that you couldn’t really keep out of your place. And not wanting to chemically contaminate your whole apartment to kill them, so it was just a constant process of cleaning. And also Papi and I both grew up in places where we went outside, we spent most of our time outside. We didn’t have phones, TV wasn’t the same, so it wasn’t like there was constant TV; cartoons were in the morning and then that was it. Maybe there was TV at night, but there wasn’t constant shows for us to watch, so maybe we watch something and then go outside, be outside playing in the dirt, riding bikes or whatever, hanging out, and then come in. We couldn’t do that with you; we had a fire escape, you can’t put a one-year-old or two-year-old on a fire escape. And then it’s cold, so you have to dress them all up, so we grew up in warm climates where we could be outside and free. I realized very quickly that that’s not something I wanted for any of you and then I knew I wanted to move back and be near family, so I was determined to get the heck out of New York and come to California. What I liked about New York? I suggest New York to you when you’re young and single and you have very little responsibility and you have a little bit of cash to spend because I did have a blast with Papi, before I had you! I had a blast when I had you too, but before I had you, because we could go out, we could stay out all hours of the night, you could be at a club, we would go dance salsa, we would leave at 4am and then we would go to a restaurant, a Dominican spot in Washington Heights called El Mambi and we would go eat roasted chicken and moro and salad at 5am. Then we would go home and sleep for five or six hours and it was great, no responsibility, it was a lot of fun. And then for me coming from California, I had just barely begun to become aware of Afro-Latinos and Carribean folks because the demographic makeup of California, the Latinos, is very different than what it is in New York. So I had barely begun to meet people that were Cuban or Puerto Rican. When I went to New York, it changes completely, so for me it was really fun. I enjoy diversity in that way where I get to meet new people and there’s something new and interesting about their culture, but at the same time I recognize things that are similar about what I know in my own culture. So I found that really cool, it was a really cool experience. When I moved there, I moved to New York at the same time as your Nina, your godmother; she went to graduate school at Columbia University, and through her I met Papi, but through her, I met a lot of other Chicanas and Chicanos students that were in New York and mostly from California who had transplanted to go to graduate school. They had started a danza group and so what was beautiful was that at the time that I met Papi, he was telling me he had also been introduced to the danza group, so because he is an Afro-Dominican traditional percussionist, they were having sort of informal, cultural exchange and drumming for the danza group. They would go to each other’s activities and they would perform together because 1) there was a commitment to social justice as part of our resistance as people, as Afro-Dominican people, as Chicano people, this is the resistance that we proclaimed for ourselves and knowing and performing our own culture is important. So there were really interesting things happening between those groups and also the Puerto Rican community, I enjoyed having you in that space and time because it was around you all the time. And so when we did your baptism ceremony, you were baptized in the Iglesia de San Romero de las Americas, at that time they were doing their services in the basement of someone’s building. They were very informal and the priest just said, “you two the parents, and you two the grandparents, get to decide, there’s no power bestowed on me to do this baptism. You have it, do what you want, so the danza group came and they made a beautiful mosaic of beans and seeds, which was a symbol from the Nahua language and culture. And then there were also paleros, there were Dominican palo players that came and played as well. And we talked about the world we were bringing you to and the cultures we were bringing you into, so I was very pleased that you had that around you for those first five years before we moved to Georgia. That was beautiful. And then even though winter sucks in New York, I will say that it makes spring and fall that much nicer. There’s always just electricity in spring; the electricity of the color coming back, the warmth coming back, and so everyone’s out. So there’s a lot of activity outdoors; there’s music, there’s art, there’s dancing, that was something I really enjoyed about New York.

K: Okay, what about Georgia?

L: What did I like about Georgia and what did I not like about Georgia?

K: Yeah, about raising two kids now in Georgia and still being far away from your parents?

L: What I liked about Georgia was that having left New York to go to Georgia and trying to figure out how that was going to be a stepping-stone to get to California, I feel like I came to understand what southern hospitality is to some degree, even though I know there was a lot of hard times for you in school. I feel like we got there and I remember both Papi and I being really just kind of shocked and floored when we’d just be walking down the street and people would say good morning to you and how are you.

K: Because New York isn’t like that?

L: People will talk to you in New York; I think people think that people are unfriendly, but they will; you ask for directions and they will totally help you, so they’re friendly, but people just don’t say “hey, good morning! How are you? Have a good day!” It was really funny to have that and just sort of be welcomed into people’s homes and things like that. The way that we made friends with people; it was the same as I was telling you, good to be in a different cultural experience, but also recognize things that we have in common between cultures. So for me that was a really cool thing about living in Georgia. Just being in the seed of the South and being in the blue spot of most of the South, being in Atlanta…if there’s any progressives, it’s there and maybe in Durham, North Carolina. But other than that, it’s really conservative and challenging, and that was the part that was hard for me and eventually me feel like I have to leave and I can’t be here anymore. When we were there, we moved in 2006, and that was right in the middle of the time that the federal government was doing 287G Agreements with local enforcement agencies. There weren’t very many of them at the time, there were four counties in Georgia that had signed on to these 287G Agreements, which meant that if someone was arrested by regular county or city police and they were booked, they would also look into the Department of Justice records basically, and they would be able to see immigration status, so then they could hold people who maybe just been jaywalking or didn’t have a license because they don’t have papers so they could turn them over to immigration. Because Papi is undocumented, that was a really rough time for me in Georgia. It was very stressful for me just because he went to work and came home and it was really hard to not worry all the time. So I did feel when we moved to California that I felt so much more relieved and that was difficult for me because even though I’m a U.S. citizen, I felt persecuted because I felt like I was being profiled, or I could be profiled. I wasn’t profiled, I wasn’t pulled over, but I felt who I am and the way I looked was cause for suspicion and on that part and I didn’t feel safe as a parent. I didn’t feel like I could protect you, and [name], and I didn’t feel like I could protect Papi either, it was very, very hard. I’m sure you remember, you were probably like six or seven, when I told you I need to know that you know my phone number because if you’re driving around with Papi and they arrest him, I need to know that you will know how to reach me. Do you remember?

K: The home number?

L: Yeah.

K: Okay.

L: No, I’m not asking you to tell it to me right now, I’m saying do you remember when I told you that?

K: No.

L: Do you remember that?

K: I remember you making me repeat your phone number over and over and over.

L: I think you got upset, you cried when I told you that. Papi, of course, said “I’ll kill them before I let them take my daughters from me” because I was not only scared that they would arrest him, but I was also scared that if he was with you two and he was arrested, you would end up in foster care or somewhere for even a night for me was not acceptable. I needed to know that you knew my phone number so that you could insist that they need to call me so that I could get you. That was horrible, that was a horrible thing. I never, ever…no one should have to tell a six or seven-year-old that information. And I felt horrible because you got really upset and scared when I told it to you. At that point I was like, “okay, I’m done with this place. I can’t do this here.” But I did like that you were able to grow up around Black people in a place where there was a lot of  positive reinforcement about being Black, even though they weren’t seeing you as Black and being positive to you about it, I thought that was really cool. I thought it was really cool also sort of what you were being taught about Black peoples presence in the United States, and history in the United States, and the civil rights movement. There was so much more and there was more…it was really in-depth and I thought that was a really cool thing. We’ve always supplemented what you learned at school with information that we have about ourselves or about our work or things that we know.

K: I don’t remember, but even when I had hard times at school, I felt like I was still excited to go to school. Were there ever days…obviously there were some days that I didn’t want to go to school but that was just because I didn’t want to go to school, but I felt I was still…that’s when I was still good at school, so I was like, “let’s go learn!”

L: Yeah, you were pretty excited to go to school. You always liked learning, I mean…

K: I would like school if we didn’t have to do so much homework, and take so many tests, and it wasn’t so based on how smart you are, it would just be about what you learned, and that was it. But no, that’s not how it is.

L: Yeah, you were excited. You have always been a kid who will provoke discussion in your classes and want to talk about other things that you know. When you were excited about a topic, you shared a lot of information after and asked for a lot of information. So I don’t know, maybe you need to think about what you would like to learn about within the topics of your classes and just start bringing up conversations in class.

K: I think people would just start to get really irritated by me. I think people are already irritated by me because I English class I read a lot into the Outsiders and people just wanted to get it over with, but I read a lot into that book. I was just like, “we need to talk about this” and so everyone was just so tired of me in English class, but it’s fine. I liked Georgia because my best part of it was the scenery was cool there. I mean, if I could imagine our street, I realize now that it was kind of dirty, but we kept our yard clean, so it was really cool to play in the leaves. Here the leaves don’t change until December, so it isn’t really fall for me, so it doesn’t feel as exciting. But fall over there would be really cool because there were so many trees, big trees, gigantic trees, and they would just turn orange, and red, and yellow. The leaves would be everywhere; you could walk and pick the leaves up and then it snowed. There were actual seasons there if that makes sense; you could tell what season was which, here it just feels like summer or spring all the time. My best friend was a white Hungarian person and I didn’t have best friends in school because they were just friends in school because I needed someone to sit with, but they weren’t very good friends.

L: What is your favorite book?

K: My favorite book is basically…I have a favorite book every time I finish a book because if I finish a book, that means I really like it. Right now my favorite book is The Outsiders, but I think a book I will always go back and re-read is Perks of Being a Wallflower because it’s just a really good book.

L: What is the message that you take from that book that makes it your favorite?

K: The thing about books for me is that I’ve always been around books. I didn’t teach myself how to read but I taught myself how to read well and so they’ve always been there. I read fast but I take my time to absorb what’s happening in the book, while other people just read it to do whatever. What I got from that book…the story was about a boy and he was kind lonely and there’s obviously something wrong with him. He makes friends and then he feels included and then a bunch of stuff happens, but people didn’t read into it that much, so then they would talk to me about it and I was like, “that’s not what it’s about at all.” It’s about this kid and when he was younger he was sexually abused by his aunt, but he was too young to realize what was happening, so he still had an attachment to her. His aunt died in a car crash and a bunch of stuff happens and he’s lonely and messed up in the head because his body knows what happened, his mind knows what happened, but he doesn’t know what happened because of very repressed memory. He’s going through high school, he’s getting pushed around, but he has these weird anger flashes where he will just see red and beat up a person really badly. He meets these friends and he has a crush on the girl and the girl’s with a really bad guy, but he doesn’t understand. He has the mind of a child, so he doesn’t understand why she’s with him because for him everything is so simple. It’s a really complicated story and it’s really cool.

L: Do you identify as a woman?

K: Yeah, I don’t feel like a woman yet.

L: Do you identify as a girl?

K: Yeah.

L: Okay, what do you like about being a girl?

K: I don’t know, I don’t think I like anything about being a girl, I just see it as it is what it is. If I was a boy, I would just feel like a boy, but it wouldn’t be anything special. Girl’s are complicated messes but so are boys it’s just a thing, it isn’t a good thing or a bad thing.

L: So you’ve been around reproductive justice work your entire life. What’s your take away, what do you think about it? What do you think about the different things that you’ve seen in your life? What stands out to you, let’s start with that.

K: I’ve always been around your type of reproductive justice, which is reproductive justice for colored people, or women…

L: Women of color.

K: Women of color and so that’s always been really cool to me. When you’re younger you don’t realize stuff that’s happening, but you would bring it to my attention and I would notice it and it would make me nervous, the stuff that was happening to them. That’s what kind of stood out, when I started noticing stuff like that. What I think is really cool about it is that I’m able to educate other people; my friends always have questions for me and I would just be “yeah, this is this and this is this.” I health class, I know a lot about that, so if the teacher’s wrong, I’ll correct the teacher and so, “no, that’s not right.” And then we’ll be reading something and I will say “this is problematic” and I will explain why it’s problematic and everyone will just [heavy sigh sound], but you need to know why it’s problematic. In social studies even, I will talk about…because we lived in the South, I was really interested in southern history and then I got into the reproductive history of colored women because of the southern history I was into. I love Harriet Tubman so I read everything about her, so I learned so much about her, it was cool. So then I started to read into history, but reproductive history, stuff that happened in history that had to do with that kind of stuff, so in social studies I would correct the teacher and say “that’s not right.” I’ll incorporate what you’ve taught me into school, no one really cares, the teacher doesn’t like me, but I feel like it’s important to let people know.

L: I’m glad you don’t let that stop you. That’s funny.

K: What’s your favorite part of working in reproductive stuff, in your line of work?

L: People have told me this before and I think it’s true. There’s some people that they’re just mothers naturally, so I think that I’ve always been a mother, even when I was young, I was always the mother, I was always the person watching out for people. I knew that I wanted to have children, so when I got into…when I actually got the place when I was ready to have a child, I had lots of information about how I wanted to have the child and what I wanted my reproductive life to be like. Reproductive justice makes it so much larger, broader, because it’s not just the physical…conceiving a child and birthing a child, there’s all these other things connected. For me this work gives me the opportunity to integrate who I feel like I am in my core, even with the work that Papi does as a cultural performer, as somebody who is part of a legacy of resistance. We’re doing the some work; I’m saying I resist the efforts of colonizers or imperialists or whatever to determine how I’m going to reproduce or how I’m going to raise my children, or how I’m going to form my family. That’s what this work allows me to do and it also I think being a mother, I am a healer, so I also see the ability of the work that we do look at our history. When we were just talking about it in a context of the United States, we’re looking at our history of reproductive oppression and violence, state violence, so we have communities that need healing, and this is part of the way we can do that work. That’s what’s important to me about doing reproductive justice work because you’ve come into the world clean, you did hopefully, but then you’ve absorbed all of this stuff that’s hundreds and thousands of years going on because it’s being thrown on you because you’re Brown and you’re Afro-Latina, and you’re female, so even though it’s not yours to hold, you still get forced to have it. It can be painful, so we are constantly forced to that place of trying to heal and resist and move forward.

Can you guys talk for a second about how you teach that to her? You know this, you teach this to the people around you, how is that passed down? Do you remember moments?

K: Well, I’ve always been interested in history and I used to ask questions, “why is this?” and eventually I found out that women for centuries have been used…naturally in history girls have been given to 40-year-old, 60-year-old men to use to bear children. I’m 14 and I barely have my grades figured out and these girls had six children by the time they were twenty. I learned that that’s wrong. And with my dad and who he is, Dominican, indigenous to this island that was conquered and my mom’s family is native Mexican, so we have indigenous people that lived there. In elementary school you learn at first that Christopher Columbus came over to the Americas, he made friends with Native Americans, they had Thanksgiving and everything was okay. And then I come home and tell this to my mom and she’s like, “that’s not right. That’s definitely not right.” Basically Native Americans helped them survive because if Native Americans were not there, the Pilgrims would have died. They helped them survive, taught them to plant corn, and after that they burned their villages down. Pilgrims burned Native Americans’ villages down, raped women, stole women, kidnapped women, made them have their children, brought diseases over, did all this terrible stuff. And then I’d be like bringing it back to school and my teacher would be like, “you’re in second grade, what are you talking about? You’re not supposed to think this!” I just remember asking questions and getting the answers and sometimes my mom would be like, “hey, Kiki, what do you think about this?” and I’d answer and she’d be like, “maybe you should think about this.” That’s the way it’s always been ever since I was young. My earliest memories are my mom telling me different kinds of information. I’m trying to remember my earliest memory, but I can’t remember. But it’s always been there, that kind of information, that’s how it was passed down to me and my sisters and my brother.

L: I think that’s basically right. I think we started at a young age and I think I started the conversation saying this. We started at a young age telling you who you are, who we made you to be, and so we said you are Black, you are indigenous, you are Mexican, you are Dominican, you’re Haitian. You’re all of these things and we told you what that meant. So what I was saying in the beginning is that now you’re 14, now you’re in place of identifying yourself, so if you still identify yourself in that way, if that’s how you know who you are and you’ve added things to that, then that’s great. But that was the first part, then it was just about sharing information with her and her siblings. So I remember when you were in pre-K in New York, in Washington Heights. They were doing a Thanksgiving feast or some crap and I had seen on the Internet…this was not social media time yet, but I had seen something that talked about the first Thanksgiving. About how the first Thanksgiving was a celebration of these European settlers of a massacre that had happened. Now it would be kind of like a meme, but it was just this paper that had this information. I remember sharing the information with you and taking the information to your teacher. She was like, “oh my gosh, I didn’t know!” I would share that all over the place, I would share every time.

K: You make my teachers nervous, Ma.

L: I probably do make your teachers very nervous. The other thing that we did and we haven’t done in a while, but Papi used to go to your classes. He used to go and take his drums so together, depending on whether it was Spanish or English, we would also talk about…especially because we were in New York, you’re Dominican in the middle of a community of Dominicans, so he would talk about the significance of the drums and where this came from. Because there’s so much…certain Dominican people negate that they have any African heritage, so bringing that part in also allows you to talk about the slave trade and what happened at this very first point of contact. Here it’s totally different, like you said, they don’t even know who Dominicans are, they ask Papi, “what part of Mexico is that?”

K: One time on a map I pointed to where I’m from and they were like, “no, don’t you mean this?” and I’m telling you this, this right here and they’re like, “where does that even is that?” I’m like it’s right there, it’s right there, in the middle of the ocean, it’s an island, believe me, I’m not making this up, it’s on a map.

L: Yep, just sharing information with you and trying to be honest with you so that you would trust what we said. It reminds me of when we were in the car the other day and we were having a conversation and I don’t know what Jolani asked, but I said, “rape”

K: Oh! I don’t remember but It was really funny but all of us got really serious and we were like, “Mom, it was a joke.”

L: Yeah, I think that’s what it is. They would be telling me something, some kind of information, and I would just give them a very stark picture sometimes.

K: You would just say “rape” and it would just be like, “okay.”

L: You told me before that we gave you this awareness of what was happening around you, but it also stressed you out and made you anxious sometimes too.

K: Yeah, it would make me angry.

L: And angry. Anger is good sometimes.

K: Not all the time, not when you’re in social studies class. You just want to punch Christopher Columbus in the face.

L: Thank you for talking to me today.

K: Thank you for asking me questions.