And while I was there, Jessie came over. June (Paula's mom) and Jessie and I were sitting around Paula and Risa, just talking. There was a lull in the conversation, and June said something in Spanish (which they all speak, being Panamanian). When Paula began to translate for my sake, June said, "No, no, no, no -- that was just for Jessie." She laughed and smiled at Jessie, who looked a little uncomfortable (she's a gentle person). A few minutes later the conversation went on. I reined my feelings in tightly, 'cause I felt like crying but fvck if I'd let June (or Paula, who would defend her) see. I can't help it that my skin's not dark, I don't speak Spanish, and I wasn't born in their culture. She very effectively walled me out with that action; it would have been more honest to say, "Get the fvck out of here, you don't belong and you're not welcome." I don't know if this little situation translates as prejudice for the rest of you -- but it sliced through my heart. I love June, I'd sacrifice for her -- but she has a grudge against me, while Jessie, who has done far less for Paula and happens to be a black Panamanian, can do no wrong. It felt like prejudice, and if that is what minorities feel, my heart bleeds more for them. I hate all prejudice, all "us and them" mentalities; but when it's someone that you thought cared about you, it feels like... how do you express it? You suddenly realize that even if they care, it's weak caring -- they'd trade you for a stranger of their own kind at any opportunity. It's betrayal, and fighting would do no good. There's no way to express it! It makes me feel defeated and thrown away, like my spirit isn't enough to redeem my skin and my mind. Doesn't it matter at all that I love your skin and your culture and want to learn your language? My heart was yours for the plucking and you plucked it all right -- took a bite and dropped it, 'cause it wasn't the taste you were used to.
I don't feel that Paula is the same way -- but she didn't stand up for me, not even to look bothered by what her mom did. And she had to feel my hurt! Jessie felt it and she doesn't know me! (And in the back of my mind, it bothers me that when Paula and I were talking about my kids-to-be, she said she hoped they had Ben's skin -- he's part Seminole. ...even though I also like Ben's skin better, I don't want to be told that mine is ugly.)
At least I know that Spencer and Gabe trust me. They both share their hearts with me, and they accept me, pale skin, white culture, and all. If Spencer has any prejudice against me, it's that I'm not into sports (he's a coach). ;-)