Gringo boyfriend

Prisca and her bf, Brad.

photo: Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez

Dating as a brown Latina means that you have most likely been asked to call someone “Papi” when you are already in bed, naked, and vulnerable. It means that someone you’ve dated has probably asked: “Is your skin really this brown?” as they rub your flesh. It means that you begin to approach dating outside your cultura with some hesitation. When you begin to fall in love with someone who has the privilege of being male in a society built for his success, and white in a world that prefers his kind, you should probably have a heart-to-heart about what it means to date someone outside your race and culture . . .

To my white novio,

I am going to need to speak to you frankly about what it means to date a Nicaraguan-born tortillera brown-bruja. Since I arrived to the USA, you white boys have been attempting to recolonize my already mestiza (read: colonized) body, and I have generally avoided truly falling in love with someone who cannot accept all this brown sugar for obvious reasons: I am a white boy’s nightmare.

Related from Vivala: The Struggle of Not Being "Latina Enough"

I will not teach you Spanish. I want to see you sit in a room where nobody accommodates your first language. I want you to have to watch shows like Plaza Sésamo to begin to gain entrance to these spaces foreign to you. I want you to understand (though you will never truly understand) what it means to be an outsider. 

I will not tell my friends to take it easy on you. I want them to ask you if you have a “thing” for Latinas, and how much of your attraction is a fetish for my cultura, and what you think about capitalism as a white male. I want to watch you squirm and see your true colors seep out through your pores. Your friends will call me “caliente” and ask me if I love spicy food, and even venture to request I speak some Spanish to them. All this will be a product of your context, and I will not sink, but I expect you to swim just as furiously when my friends come for your head, figuratively. Because your friends, whether they know it or not, will come for my heart and I will handle it.

I will expect you to say my name, in my accent: Priscila Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez. Because your name will be said properly in all your spaces, and even my own spaces, so I expect you to at least hold my name, my entire name, with love and make it feel safe with you. I will expect you to hold my entire personhood with the same determination, because to date a Latina is to date a lineage of strong chingonas who have fought for visibility and for their existence since the beginning of time.

People in my community are going to love the color of your eyes, your blue eyes. Please be mindful that, for a long, long time, my people have been told that white features are superior to our brown features, and your lightness will be coveted. It will inflate your ego, but remember that it comes at the price of devaluing all the brownness that is me, the woman you have fallen in love with, and the brownness that will most likely be passed down to our future children, because my genetic darker traits are dominant. We will most likely have brown children, who will be rejected and undervalued like their mama just because of the color of their skin.

Related from Links: What It Means to Be a U.S. Latina

I may jokingly call you an “honorary” Nicaraguan, but realize that this is a joke and an oversimplified way of acknowledging that you, a white American male, will know more about my cultura than most white American males. Please do not repeat this to your friends, nor to any other Latinx you encounter, because the struggle of being Nica is unique and needs to be lived. Being Nicaraguan is my birthright, much like having the ability to never fear being stopped by a cop on a simple traffic citation is yours.

My brownness is special, and I will talk about my brownness and my food and my cultura with pride. Understand that this is countercultural in a society that wants me to assimilate. I will hold your whiteness and your American culture, because I have lived here long enough to know your cultura. But now it is time that you make the effort to learn and appreciate mine as a countercultural act that embraces your partnership with a Nicaraguan-born tortillera brown-bruja.