"Excuse me, can you please tell me which way is Broadway?" The women completely ignored me. They must not have heard me. "Excuse me, do you know which way is Broadway?" Again I was completely ignored. Wow! Are they ignoring me on purpose? Can it be? It was like I was invisible and I was about 2 feet away - maybe a little more than arm's length away. My heart sank because deep inside I knew that these 2 white women were ignoring me, giving me as much importance as the pavement underneath their feet. It's a feeling you get and every time it happens you still can't believe it. Not to me. Not today not in 2006 and definitely not on a beautiful summer day in New York City.
"Excuse me, which way is Broadway?" What if they ignore me again? The white women looked at me and smiled politely. "I'm sorry. What did you say?" I mimicked her smile, "Which way is Broadway?" "That way. And I'm sorry I was talking to my friend I hadn't heard you." How did she know I said anything then? "I understand. It's a beautiful day." "If you say so." "It's bright and sunny" "It's too damn hot!" "Well, I love the summer!" "Well, OK then you little latina [pronounced la-tee-na]!" Oh my! I was shocked. I tried to mimic her smile again and walked away not knowing what to say. At least I knew for sure that she ignored me because of her ignorance.
I could have taken it as a compliment, "Oh? Thank you!" Or I could've said, "You recognized me from Desperate Housewives. Thanks!" Or with a white girl accent, "Oh my Gawd! No, this is just, like, a good tan and a bad perm! " Or I could have said , "You stay in the shade then Miss Honky."
What could I have said to that? That's not the real issue. The real issue is she said it to my face. What does she say behind my back? What if I was black? "You little African American? N……aaaaaaaa! NA! Nope, I don't think so.
This is just asking for directions. What if I was asking for a job? A raise? What if I was trying to make an appointment to see the house for sale on the corner? Trying to make the earliest appointment because I found a lump?
Is it that deep? All I know is that I was minding my own business walking on the Upper West Side of Manhattan looking for Broadway on a beautiful sunny summer afternoon. It was a day no different than any other. I wasn't feeling particularly Latina that day. It's not like I was waving my flag or had a t-shirt that said, "My friend went to Puerto Rico and all I got was this lousy t-shirt". There is no fruit basket on top of my head. But I am still a "little Latina". Why couldn't I be a big Latina? Or a powerful Latina? Lovely Latina would be nice.
No matter what we do we are still seen like Chiquita Banana. So I say you know what? Color me…Latina then. It is not a color but it's something that is easy identifiable somehow. Is it the sway of my hips? Or the sway of my lips wrapping around the english words? What ever it is- just color me Latina! We come in all shapes and sizes. We come from different countries. We have a unifying language that is Spanish and for that - color me Latina!
In this colorful issue we look at a Black Belt Latina who says it was her Abuelita that taught her her first self -defense moves. We talk to the founder ofbluelatinos.org, an online organization for Progressive Latinos. We are Living La VidaVerde with our article about being healthy and strong. We look at a funny story about 2 Latinasin a club who meet a white boy. We also visit Israelwith salsera Yesenia Peralta our cover girl. For our photo spread we see how Latinas do come in all different shapes, sizes and colors.
It's funny - the white woman that called me "you little latina" has no idea that I made a whole "issue" out of it! Just to have personal closure, let's re-play that scene again, shall we?
"Excuse me, can you tell me which way is Broadway?"
"Umm, excuse me, which way is Broadway?"
"Ummm, Broadway, please?"
"Oh sorry! It's that way."
"Thank you. Have a nice day."
"You too, you little latina!"
"That's La Diva Latina to you!!!"