2508This is Catherine, who is from New Orleans in the US, and her family is from Nicaragua. She read an email out to me, explaining her SOTM story and later sent me that same email, part of which is reproduced here or you can listen to her reading it on her audio clip.
She said that a friend was moving from the teeny, tiny town of Ruston, LA, to Seattle, WA, for graduate school and that she met him in New Orleans, bringing with him his newlywed wife who Catherine had never met.
The two have just returned from a mission trip in my (original) home of Chinandega, Nicaragua. She told me of their 18 year-old translator, a native Nica who had a "trickster" personality. Annoyed, she recounted how he would tell the small children to playfully tackle the mission volunteers. On one occasion, she said, he instructed the children to tackle one young man, and the group of kids accidentally ripped his shirt. (The translator then offered the volunteer the shirt off of his own back -- but nevermind that. Apparently that meant nothing.)
She shook her head and rolled her eyes as she nonchalantly dropped the bomb: "They were like... little savages." Little. Savages. LITTLE. SAVAGES.
Shocked, I think I just opened and closed my mouth a few times, oggling at her in bewilderment. And by then, my friend was talking about the delicious freshly ground coffee they had enjoyed every morning. I felt my anger mounting.
I was so very uncomfortable -- I had only just met his wife and they were, after all, leaving for God knows how long -- but I wanted to say something. I wanted to return to that subject, to look her in the eyes and say, "What the F***. did you just say. Mirame y dimelo otra vez...."
And then I thought about how I might never see them again and about how I did not want to upset my friend-- she was (and is) not my friend. I let the moment pass. I did not say anything.
I just can't get the remark, so casually dropped, or her eye roll or her privileged disdain and disgust for my home and my people out of my head.
And so, even though this is coming several hours late, I REBUKE THEE, MRS. J. E. Yes, yes, this is a delayed reaction, but I'm sending it your way nonetheless. And I'm sounding off the alarm to all of my fierce sistas and brothas of the Black Feminist Performance Family -- because they won't tolerate your hatred and your racism any more than I.
Taken in Baltimore, USA during the SOTM World Tour.