A: Commitment issues. Because ever since I was a child, I saw my parents split up and I saw how commitment issues didn't really work out as well. And ever since then, all my relationships have been going down because I don't trust people and I have every complex with commitment issues.
Q: Do you think you'll ever get over it or move through that?
A: I don't know, that's the thing. I'm still trying to figure it out, but that's why I'm traveling the world as I speak.
A: Well I think not being raised by my mother and being raised by my father definitely um… I had a lot of questions about my femininity growing up. ‘Cause usually the mother is the first person that you model especially with your femininity. And then growing up in the 90s didn’t help because like, straight up baggy pants and timbaland’s. But um, yeah, I think struggling with my uh, femininity as I got older. Well I’m in my 30s now I’m in my 30s so I became more comfortable and I blossomed and realized that we have duality because we can swing it either way. But um, yeah …and then like being a little unruly, not conventional, you know, being raised a latchkey kid, it’s like basically um… learning the ropes. Like, “You gon’ learn in this house today”. Haha, so that builds up your resilience. So I think because I was not raised by my mother, I became a little bit more resilient as I got older. Um, and now I’m a mother myself and there’s pros and cons to not having lived with a mom. I would say the pros are that I didn’t inherit a lot of the issues that women have gone through in history. Um, I didn’t pick that up, those bad habits. Like for instance… I hear a lot from my friends who were raised by their moms that they had to be a certain kind of perfect image, or the expectations that they had, that their mothers had on them, dealing with their femininity, “Sit up straight, do this, girls don’t act like that…” so I wasn’t raised like that. But then the cons are that I lost a lot of tradition. You know, I had to google how to make arroz con guandeles, I had to google how to make sofreitos, you know what I’m saying? So those are the cons, your tradition is lost. But the pros are, you kind of have this blank page to work with and not inherit all those things that are put on us [women] from young.
A: I feel like defining my blackness is an unresolved… not necessarily unresolved, but something I’m still exploring since my childhood. I felt like a lot of times I really questioned what it was to be black when I was younger. Um, I didn’t see a lot of myself in the classroom and even though I had very pro-black parents, there was a lot of insecurities I had just being in a predominantly white school or just having predominantly a lot of white friends. So, definitely, going to an HBCU helped rectify my perception of what it meant to be black. And it’s not about the stereotypes that define me, it’s more about who I am that’s defining me. But, often times whenever I’m in social settings, I sometimes start to feel a little insecure about, “oh, what if I don’t know about this movie or what if I don’t know about this song”? Um, even though I’m more confident and comfortable with who I am and showing myself, I feel that little anxiety coming up, but I’ve learned to fight that anxiety and realize that I’m um.. just as black and I define black just as anybody else. I said that my parents were really pro-black, right? I hope so.
A: Mmmm… that’s a good question. Okay. I think um, I’m a writer. I write a lot about my relationship with my mom. I met my mom, (because I’m an immigrant) I met my mom when I was 7 because she lived here and I was in the Dominican Republic. And so […] I’m 23 and I’m still working on that relationship... And still writing about it, and still working my way through it and trying to figure out what kind of relationship we had when I was living there and she would call every week, to when I moved here and I was a kid and getting to know her, to now… us both being adults.
Q: So, you hadn’t seen her at all until you came here?
A: I saw her. She came to visit once, but when I got here, I didn’t recognize her.
A: Um, me dealing with my father. He wasn't in my life. There was this incident that happened that I purposely forgot and he just recently tried to come back into my life. Those bad memories came back and it affected me in a negative way as an adult. I think it affected me more as an adult than it did as a child because I didn't understand what was going on when I was a child. Um, so now that I know what's going on and because I work with children that those things have happened to, it affected me a lot more now than it did when I was a child. I wasn't able to deal with it as a child because I purposely suppressed it in the back of my mind or forgot about it and it just recently came back so... it's work.
(Brooklyn by way of Oakland, CA)
A: ...Not knowing my father. Like, not knowing what he looked like, not hearing his voice, not knowing like how a man is supposed to treat a woman that he birthed and brought into this world. Um, I feel like that kind of confused me now with like, men and like what type of man I'm looking for, and how I want that man to be strong. 'Cause I never really knew my real father to have that for me. Like even though I had a stepdad and he was there for me, I kind of feel like I still have a missing puzzle not actually having my real dad there. So it's kind of like, I'm missing something, but I don't know what I'm missing, but I know that I'm missing something. But... It kind of made me strong in a sense 'cause no matter what I will never let a man disrespect me no type of way, so... but... it's just like that missing puzzle. Like, I feel like I'm missing something.
Q: What happened to your biological dad?
A: He was shot and murdered when I was a baby. Didn't know anything about him or what he even looked like.