Race Relations

One of the things I’ve been struggling with here is leaving Little Village in Chicago, a predominantly Latin@ neighborhood, to Costa Rica which according to this map http://abagond.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/the-map-of-white-people/ is 75-100% made up of white people. It is the only country in the region that is predominantly white. I didn’t know this before I came here and to be honest I’m not entirely sure I would have come had I known that.

Disclaimer

Before I continue I’m going to say this once and I will not say this again: people of color cannot be racist. Power + prejudice = racism, therefore white people are the only group of people that can be racist because they have political and economic power within our societal structures. People of color can be prejudice, we can be bigots, we can even be haters but we cannot be racist. If you’d like to learn more about this it would behoove you to do your own research on the topic. You don’t know what I’ve been through nor how it has affected my perspective but all you need to know is that I love and care about my family and friends no matter what color you are.

Culture shock

When I first came to Puerto Viejo it felt like culture shock to be around so many white people. You wouldn’t think that coming from Chicago but people don’t realize just how segregated Chicago is. I’ve lived in Little Village for four years now and I’ve been going to school at UIC the past three years. The only white people I had to interact with were the ones in my classes for three hours twice a week and a few at my internships. I don’t spend time in predominantly white neighborhoods unless it’s for something specific like finding gear at REI for my trip. In Chicago I surround myself with powerful womyn of color I would call my chosen family who love and nourish me (s/o to Nicole Huser for being the only down ass Chitown white girl I hold dear to my heart). I typically only go to events and places that are made up of predominantly people of color. So understand coming here I was surprised and disappointed to see so many white people especially from the U.S. When I lived in Panama for four months I, Xicana/Guatemalteca, my best friend who is Peruvian/Portuguese, and my other friend who is Black/Panamanian were the only “Americanas” on the block. For some reason I expected it to be the same but this situation is not the case.

Part of my chosen family

Part of my chosen family

 

My disdain

In this area of Puerto Viejo, most of the stores and restaurants are owned by Europeans or people from the U.S. There are a group of Americans who own/work at a restaurant called Tasty Waves. I hate to admit it but they have bomb ass fish tacos. Their little crew came into town to get what I would call Wrigleyville wasted. They were riding on a wooden boat and there were families with children in the water. The Tasty Waves crew decided it would be a good idea to hump inflatable dolls they had that looked like penises in front of the many small children who were in the water. This shit is not appropriate. I’m not saying ALL white people are like this, I’m not even saying all white people in Puerto Viejo are like this, but I am saying these are the type of Americans that can afford to travel and make us look bad around the world. At the place I’m staying at there was a drunken night when it all came out about this white guy who’s staying here. He takes up so much space and he doesn’t even realize it. I wont go into it but basically I left the conversation feeling like he simply didn’t get it and the other folx in the room just praised him for how wise he was. I don’t see anything wise in saying “if you act like the N-bomb then you are the N-bomb” trying to say that the word nigger can also be associated with white people. Wrong! You can’t say that and then say you exist on another plane of consciousness where we’re all just humans. Don’t give me that colorblind bullshit then sell it to me as a spiritual enlightenment. I’m not saying this guy is a bad person because he’s not. In fact I trust him in ways I’ve not been able to trust other men and I think that’s why it bothers me so much that he simply doesn’t get it.

 

Fish Taco at Tasty Waves

Fish Taco at Tasty Waves

 

The connection to my journey

I didn’t write this post to rant about white people (well maybe a little), the thing I’ve had to struggle with the most in reflecting on how white people take up space here is how it reminds me of how I have fallen in the unhealthy disconnected lifestyle U.S. wants you to give into. Before I came here I told my friend Marie, “yeah I can be bourgie in the States but when I travel I adapt; I’m all about roughin it.” Bitch please, I was ready to get on a plane to head back by the end of the first week. My dear teacher/friend Rachel is an incredibly wise, compassionate, radical being who has taught me so much about myself and curanderismo that I am forever grateful to her. I can’t sit here and act like being taught about my own spiritual cultural practices by a white womyn doesn’t bother me a little. She says when she sees me she can already see Clarita the curandera but as she says this I feel far away from that I can’t even imagine what that looks like for me. I hate that I don’t feel a profound connection to the amazing garden that wraps around the house and the jungle we’re surrounded by. Instead I scream at the site of bugs, I itch all the damn time, I sweat profusely when no one else is sweating, and worst of all I refuse to work in the garden. I feel so disconnected to my surroundings I had two dreams that I was pushing this incredible medicine away. The first dream I was literally holding on to the edge of my heart unwilling to go in. The second dream, medicine came in the form of love and I was getting angry, pushing it away. What am I afraid of? If it’s already in my blood, why can’t I embrace it? I don’t have the answers yet but I’m searching for my truth

Rachel Thomas in her element teaching a Moon Medicine workshop

Rachel Thomas in her element teaching a Moon Medicine workshop

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About claritabombita

I recently received my master's degree in social work within the mental health concentration at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Most of my work has been empowering young people ages 12-21 through group therapy, counseling, and case management. I am currently living in Chicago, IL working on balancing my mind, body, and spirit through various indigenous medicine practices and counseling undocumented boys from Mexico who are used by the cartels to smuggle people into the United States. This blog is my journey.

Posted on June 25, 2014, in Costa Rica and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Super well written Clara. I didn’t know there were so many white people there, talk about colonization at it’s fullest. In the end this experience will make you a stronger person, but I’m sure it’s a huge culture shock as you said.

    Like

  2. Gilberto Villasenor II ( Pa )

    Mija, be strong ! The universe wants you there.
    Love Pa

    Like

  3. Beautiful post! Thanks for being so honest about your struggles! We will all continue to learn alot and benefit as you evolve!

    Like

  4. I really enjoyed reading this post. I look forward to reading more so keep them coming. (sometimes it is our job to at least try and enlighten those around us to the best of our abilities, regardless of the end result)

    Like

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