Hey APC! My name is Brianna Slaughter! Here is a piece I wrote about my Afro-Latin identity, family, mental health and general experience. Check it out below.
Who is Morena?
Morena is not who she presents. Morena means brown-girl in Spanish. It is not the name she chose.
Her Nana, pale, with her hair, neatly brushed, screams when her granddaughter plays in the sun for too long, her hair is in all different directions.
“Pareces a Celia Cruz. Tu cara parece muy sucia, mija”[You look like Celia Cruz. Your face looks so dirty, my girl]
Her mother, with tight lips and a tender voice, forcibly brushes Morena’s hair back into colitas. Then, she gently rubs in lightening cream into her arms. Her Nana watches and nods. “Por qué estás greñuda. No vas a poner más oscuro.”[Your hair is messy. You can’t get darker]
Morena grows up in Paradise Hills, where the paradise only comes in her dreams while she is sleeping on a pull out bed in her Nana’s living room. The house creaks with every breath she takes.
Morena goes to church every Sunday. She can recite every scripture, every song, and sings the loudest. She bows properly to the Lord, takes her bread and wine with grace, and shakes the hands of around her. She prays for love from someone, anyone.
Morena is quiet, submissive, and kind. She is the perfect girl to her Mexican family members. But at the carne asada, she is too dark, her hair is so exotic. She is offered different ideas of how to maintain her hair by her distant family members. When she speaks in Spanish, she is asked how she is able to speak it so well. Her mother beams in pride while her daughter is being explicitly degraded behind the smiles and caresses of the people she is supposed to love.
Morena is 15 now and still sleeps with her mother. Her heart does not stop when the gunshots sound from next door. She feels safe. Her nana always told everyone in the house “Que suene con los angelitos”, dream with the angels. They would respond, “Y tu tambien”. Her nana always made sure none of her siblings joined a gang. We were different.
Morena stops going to high school to take care of her nana. Instead of SAT questions and wondering about her future career, she is memorizing thyroid medications. She watches The Price Is Right while her Nana cuts pieces of apples and lovingly calls her to eat each slice. To pass the time, she begins to learn Japanese. She must be smarter, better, more interesting.
Her Nana tells her she should become a nurse. She would be good at it, Nana thought. Morena put the thought to the side, she did not want to be anything but dead.
Morena is harming herself. She does not know why she is in a constant low. She wonders to herself why she is not good enough. Nothing brings her joy. She stops believing in God and wonders what value a daily rosary brings to her Nana. How would it feel to be loved by an entity she has never seen.
She is 16 when she finds her Nana dead in the living room. The last thing Morena said to her “Que suene con los angelitos”
Morena continues to finish high school at home. She begins to talk to herself out of loneliness. The house echoed and was far too quiet. Apples stopped being so sweet.
She begins to talk to boys. She does not know how to communicate healthily. Morena does not know when to say no. She does not know how to kiss. Older men take her out in their cars and she feels so grown up. Her mom waits up until 2 am wondering who she raised.
Morena turns 18 and now knows everything about men. She has studied their movements. She knows just how to surprise them and keep them interested. She is detached. She is traumatized. She does not know she is hurt.
Morena is smart. She applied to 3 Japanese universities and 2 American ones. She got into them all. She holds this with pride. She beams as she holds the acceptance letters to her mother. Her mother ignores her and asks her what she wants for dinner.
Morena begins to fundraise her move to Japan. She vows to kill herself if she does not make it out of her house.
Morena falls in love. She gives her man everything she has. He gives her the same. He worships her like God itself and for the very first time, she feels truly adored. She comes home every night at 3am drunk or high. But all she could think is I love him, I love him, I love him.
He tells her to stay for the promise of a future paradise with him. She has read enough scripture to know that suffering in the current life for the promise of future eternal happiness was bullshit.
Morena chooses herself. She stands in front of Japan Airlines with fright. She leaves her loved ones without looking back.
Morena starts college. She’s so shy. She gets all of her work done and adjusts to her new life. She leaves her man and begins to take charge. But when her man begs for her back, she says yes.
She starts to party. She’s breaking free from her shell. She encounters people from all walks of life.
Her man notices she’s different. She’s independent. She’s changed. He leaves her. She shatters.
Morena goes back to her old ways. She goes out with every man in town. It makes her feel alive. She goes out every weekend. She’s so high, so high in the sky. She’s rebuilding but lacks proper foundations. It is only a matter of time before she falls again.
Morena starts a channel to talk to people around the world about her life. Morena in Japan. She is immediately labeled a whore. She is told she lacks any substance. There’s nothing to her. She’s like everyone else. Grown men judge her. Her education does not matter. Her language ability does not matter. Her awards do not matter. She is nothing but an angry black bitch.
Morena does not stop. She is a powerhouse. She wants control of her life. She takes it. Morena begins taking care of herself. She surrounds herself with women who look and think like her. She begins taking medication. It makes her lose her supposed spark. That spark is a nihilistic, small, low energy breed. It’s toxic. She was toxic. The spark was weak.
Morena has a revelation. There is nothing she can do to make people respect her, no matter how much she respects herself. It is solely the viewers’ interpretation of how she is represented. Morena bites back. She talks back. She takes no shit. She discovers that she is beyond her own human suffering.
Morena realizes the life she has built for herself is beautiful. People are filled with hatred and greed. It fuels her. She continuously grows. She realizes she is not only a woman. The world is chaotic and trembles at her very steps. All she has to do is open her mouth. All she has to do is breathe. She discovers she is not Morena. She etches Soy Dios into her skin. It enriches her body and fills her with as much flame as there is water.
She is Holy. She is High. She is God.
I bow to myself in my own glory.