Saturday, February 23, 2013

Difference Breathes in Reality-Hope

Difference Breathes in Reality-Hope
Many say they cannot return home because things are so different. I see the difference. It is a painful yet hopeful difference. A difference in class that is very visible to the point that you ask yourself, Am I in the same country? A difference in where the progress “Progreso” of this country is seen in specific areas that does not come close to others.
Yet in the midst of this difference the people who are most affected, many who look like me, find a way to still smile, laugh and hope for something better.  

My heart feels all this reality but my eyes see beyond the broken buildings, the trash, the crime and the poverty. Hope sets in.
Every time I go home the first thing I do is visit the cemetery and place flowers on my uncles, aunts and my mother. After that happens my time home begins and in that moment I know I will learn something and feel something.

On my first Sunday home all Catholic Masses were dedicated to the sick. Daddy, Melsa, Tonio and I attended mass at my family church, San Jose Paulino. I feel so different about church when I am home. As I looked around at the faces of the elders, Mrs. Yearwood, Mrs. Juana, my cup feels full. Those faces, that church say, you are home Yvette.
The sermon was focused on love. It was speaking right to me, “El amor no tiene limites” Love has no boundaries. That is how I felt in that moment looking around the church where my family has been a member for many, many years.

As I moved through my lines for the film, I felt the energy of those warriors, Mandinga, Bayano and Mozambique come alive. I felt the pain of the women who faught for their children.
After a day of filming, I shared with Toshi and others that it takes me time to lift that energy not only because of the lines in the film but also because I feel the same energy when I walk in Colon, Dorchester or Roxbury. We are fighting and hoping everywhere.

I keep saying it but it is never enough, I am in love with Colon in the most unconditional way. The Buenos Dias nena, on my morning runs in Portobelo are priceless.

Toshi’s film and all those who are part of it, our small familia, Sheila, Jose, Sandra and Tosha, is unbreakable. The people who without hesitation said yes, “yo quiero ayudar”, I want to help, will forever have my respect.

Difference brings awareness; it elevates your sense to be clear about who you are and where you fit in.
One of our evenings out having dinner in Portobelo, I met this bright young man, Geñito. He shared what he is focusing on at the university. We began speaking about the progress in Panama and the division or difference it is bringing about.

The people of Colon are keenly aware of the differences that separate them from the haves and the haves not. They move with what they have and make the best of it. Material gain becomes less of a priority while peace takes over.

When I am home I crave wanting to be one with the people. I don’t want and won’t become one that cannot spend time in Colon. I If I do that, then it would go against what I write and feel. I am so blessed that my father supports this feeling and comes along and shares all my spaces with me. It is then that I also realize that my sister, my brother and I are blessed to know that not only the family is there for him but the community is also.
The difference that some may see I have with my people comes with no judgment. In Portobelo speaking to Geñito and Antonio, I kept saying, why do we not hear about these two bright minds. Antonio is one of the leaders in the group for the Festival de Diablos y Congos. I found their energy refreshing because sadly, young black men in Colon are mostly labeled as gang members.

These two future stars are members of a large community that seeks inclusion in the progress of the country.
When I stood there with my cousin Tonio as the Brasileiros practiced in Calle 7, I felt safe, I felt like I never left. When he announced I wanted to take pictures and video tape them, they began playing an old favorite of many. I started singing and everyone looked at me with a smile saying, “ella se recuerda de la cancion. She remembers the song.” Yes, I do, those songs were a soundtrack to my childhood.

On Martes Carnival, I was dancing and sharing with the people. I shared with a group of youth who were fascinated with my fro. That fascination led to a wonderful conversation about their hopes and dreams and how to take care of natural hair. While having a good time, everything came to a horrible end due to a shooting close by.
I saw the pain in the youths faces as they said their goodbyes. I felt heavy yet a sense of realness came over me as we gathered ourselves and went home. The next morning we found out a young man was killed.

I felt the pain overcome the joy. I felt the reality, that this is what our streets have become.
The difference of getting permission from my parents to jump comparsa as a young girl with no worries and then standing there as an adult not knowing if we will have a Carnival is real. It screams, times have changed but I pause with a cleansing breath and say but there is HOPE.

I know the difference, you can’t escape it but the spirit of this young Colonense girls lives deep within and every time she is reminded of that difference, nothing but love takes over for Mi Colon.

On Wednesday which was also Ash Wednesday and the Day of Baptism for the Diablos, the streets were filled with whistles alerting the coming of the Diablos. I got excited and once again had a wonderful exchange with a Diablo and then entered church with Daddy and Melsa for my ashes.

For the people of Colon that I sit and share with or look for long periods of time in their faces, their difference, their reality allows them to acknowledge it and move on.

When I shared this mural on the Soulful Afro page I wrote, “This mural stood out for me as I moved through Colon, saw the joy in the faces of the people and felt the pain when the celebrations ended due to a shooting. I hope to share my reflections of this time at home with all of you. My heart is full of love and pride for my people for they continue to find something good in their surroundings.”

A high school classmate and dear friend Terry Flynn commented, “Beauty among  pain and suffering is somehow more beautiful. It looks like hope. I am sad to hear about the shooting. I keep my thoughts and wishes with that city.”

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My family always jokes that I think everyone one is good-looking and beautiful. That mindset has transferred into how I see the beauty in Colon.

The differences of my Colon have made me breathe in a reality that I never expected but I have learned to accept. In that acceptance I also chose to not get stuck in the past and gather new stories, new memories that continue to love this city that lives deep within me. Some may say it is naive I chose to say, optimistic and hopeful. The reality of Colon makes me breathe in HOPE that this too shall pass and hope will prevail.

May the ancestors continue to guide and protect my people.


Peace and blessings,






Cooli2 said...

Made me feel as though I was right there with you. I so wish I had been.

Encuentro Diaspora Afro: Reflections from the African Diaspora said...

Wonderful, that was my intent to bring you closer to my hometown.