I would much rather discuss the family vacation I was planning to take to Guatemala, or meeting up with my cigar club friends to share a smoke. Instead, over the past few weeks, my world has turned upside down. First with the coronavirus and then with the country literally burning down. But I do not want to discuss quarantine, masks or … recipes, even.
Warning Label: I will use words that may make some of you uncomfortable: “privilege,” “race,” “black,” “white.” Therein lies a bit of the issue, the words may make some of you uncomfortable, but they are actively and physically tied to my daily reality. More importantly, they are tied to the lives of all who look like me across this country and especially in our offices. I can imagine, many of you may not know where to begin. I have included some resource links at the end of this email.
I have personally spoken to many of our black colleagues at varying levels within Brunswick—many for the first time this week—and we are not okay.
Confession: I grew up with racism in the world and, more closely, in my own family. My father is from Puerto Rico (Borinquen) and my mom is from North Carolina. My paternal grandmother, Mamí Paca, was my favorite grandparent; I loved her fiercely AND she was unequivocally a racist. She is—what some call—a “white Latin”: physically Caucasian, ethnically Puerto Rican with Spanish as her primary language. My paternal grandfather, Papí Quentin, was a Taíno Indian, dark as night. He was so intelligent and strong—he was my hero! They met in the 1930s on the island. Mamí Paca never learned English and she had very negative, ignorant thoughts about black people, including my mother.