A Letter to Professional White People
Dear professional white folx,
It’s time we had a discussion because ya’ll think you are off the hook, [for doing that oppressive white folx thing]…Porque puede hablar Español, or you married a Latinx, studied abroad, know a little bit about Frida, whatever makes you a “honorary” Latinx.
I know you are not going to like what I have to say. You support our community (in sometimes less than ideal ways); and our community members probably halfway trust and confide in you, so you think you have some “in” with us.
That’s the thing though no matter how many clientes tiene su agencia, ni modo cuantos tacos you have eaten at our taquerias, you will never experience the oppression we have.
So for that reason, I want to remind you of a few things. For starters, oppression is not sexually transmitted, so no matter who you are having sex with, YOU are still privileged.
When our people do come to you, you are not suddenly the “voice for the voiceless”. Cut that shit out. We are not voiceless. If we were voiceless we wouldn’t have survived as long as we have.
You do not get to decide how to serve our community. We do. Who knows better the needs of the community than the community itself? There should be ningun programa created without our voices.
Look, I know it seems awesome to be Latinx, we have amazing music, our food is delicious, we are passionate and beautiful people. However, you would never choose to spend even a day of your life being oppressed. Therefore, you are not allowed to take parts of our culture pero dejar los partes that will cause you endless stress.
Do not tattoo our heritage on your body, ride through the streets blasting reggaeton, or mimic our style. We have to fight daily to survive in this country. We have to avoid being deported, murdered by police, and to learn to accept our hairy ass bodies which are mocked (until it’s popular).
We are not your token immigrant, token black person, or token brown person. Do not invite us to an event to speak on our experiences and cut us off when we start calling you out. Immigration is not exclusive to whether we have papers, it includes issues of race, poverty, police brutality, school to prison pipeline and much more deeply rooted oppression. When you ask us to come out and speak, be ready to talk about all of it.
Do not be afraid to address your whiteness. Do not be afraid to acknowledge that you have more work to do. Wokeness does not always feel comfortable; it is draining emotionally and mentally so if you feel comfortable you have more to do. If you feel you have figured it all out, baby let me tell you, you are far, far from it.
I want you to do the best you can. You have opened agencies, organizations and law firms to help our community. I appreciate that, but if I do not call you out on your ode to Caesar Chavez or your puebla dress you bought from a non Latinx, I would be doing myself an injustice. I would bottle up the distrust I have due to your appropriation of my culture, your white savior Facebook statuses, or the pictures of mi familia that litter your Instagram. Trust and believe that although we need your services, without us trusting you enough to participate in them they would not exist.
Just keeping it brown and unapologetic,
Amanda Tello “As woke as you may think you re, you can’t be free until everyone is free” Latinx, Mamá, Activist, Theologian, Unapologetically Brown