In my time and my neighborhood, a lot of people were the single moms and they had the young single mom that was growing up with. In my culture it was very much, “Yeah stay home, work, go to school, have a kid, this is community.” In Caribbean culture, that afrolatinx culture, where it’s okay to have a family compound. We believe in community and in being together whereas in America it’s, “Oh you graduated? Move out. Time to go, Bye.” You leave the nest.
I grew up with a sense of family as well as my mom and I were really close where I felt like we were friends. But i knew i had that same level of “respect your mom” where “I’m not your little friend.” She wasn’t the youngest, my mom had me when she was around 30 but to me she was my big sister. Not like in the relationship but that I can go out with her and people will mistake us for siblings. We travel together a lot, as a child. We would get up and she would say, “Let’s go here”. We would book a train ticket or a flight and we would go visit this place for a day. That for us was bonding and of course adding into food she would take me to all these different places. And places that she also had never been and kinda expanded, “We’ve never had this let’s try and let me expose you to this.” We have a very close relationship and were able to travel and explore.
I was an only child up until I turned ten and then my little sister was born. We’re ten years apart so theres that age gap of course. Things kind of slowed at that point that where I kinda grew up. But growing up my actual childhood was really great compared to others. Looking back, as a kid you’re kinda selfish “I don’t have this or I don’t that or I don’t have the coolest” I had the coolest where I would redo my childhood or I would offer my childhood to somebody else. We had hard times and struggles but the fact that I got through and still had a type of structure.
Gran Varones Fellow
interviewed & photographed by: J. Aces Lira, GV Fellow