Updated: Jul 14, 2021
By David Ledesma
We have not been accepted. We have been forgiven. And some of us, not even that. It was not like the system woke up one day and decided that we were dignified people. It did not magically realize about its flaws, about the wounds that it inflicts in the skins of the neglected. Insatiable as it is, it simply noticed that we also have some money. Not all of us, maybe. But it needed to make some room for those who can help it keep on growing.
If we are valuable now, as we were not in the past, it is not because world leaders finally decided to follow the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They did not adopt as their own its ideal of freeing humanity from fear and want. They have not stopped watching us as votes, as bodies that you can send to war or throw away, as a shapeless mass that can be used as the fuel that keeps their rapacious corporations alive.
If today some of us get to be represented through the movies, through the speeches and through some public policies it is not because we now live in a world suited for all kinds of diversity, guided by the ideals of peace, inclusion, and nondiscrimination. The system simply redefined its concept of normality. It changed its parameters a little bit so it could include some decent families that help the world flourish with their capital and their Eurocentric beauty.
In other words, we still venerate the concept of normality. And this term only exists if its opposite is there too. The utopia was to tumble the boundaries that make some of us feel less human. What we got instead was a discrete relocation of the borders; the territory of normality became bigger to allow some of us, the forgiven, to live there as refugees.
And, of course, as refugees they need to meet some requirements before trying to walk in the land of freedom as if they were actually humans. The system officials will check the color of their skin, the money they make a year, their moral standards, their gender expressions, and their political thoughts.
The process can be tougher for some of us, and for some others the forgiveness is delivered almost automatically. For example, if you are white enough and you have enough money, let’s be honest, no one really cares if you are a gay man. Even in a conservative third world country, like mine, you only need to have a nice last name and look güerito enough to be forgiven.
If you are a brown LGBTQ person, it may be a little different. We were born here, in la tierra del olvido. This is where our great great grandfathers were killed, where their houses were set on fire, where our great great grandmothers were rapped, becoming eternally las chingadas, by some others of our great great grandfathers. So, technically, this land, Mexico, Latin America, is supposed to be our land. But somehow, it still feels like we just arrived yesterday in some boat and they are still trying to figure out if we have souls.
I do like my skin. I like that I do not have to go to the beach to look tanned. I like the way I look in white shirts and my black hair that grows as chayote. But, once again, let’s be honest: brown skin is a course. If you want to survive in this machinery tailored by the white grandfathers, you have to hide behind a wall made of decent clothes, ridiculous jobs in enormous corporations, cars, pretty houses or whatever you can use as a sign that shows the world that you can produce more than the minimum wage. If not, you better be prepared, because the system can vomit you as if you were rotten food any day.
The course punishes you with all its rigor even in your country (where most of the others are cursed too) and it follows you if you try to escape. It flows through your veins and it passes on through generations.
I have not been forgiven. I am too short, too brown, my haircut is the same that is worn by some reggaeton singers and my clothes are not fancy, they show a lot (not flesh, but skin, brown skin). I am used to walking through my country being watched as if I were about to commit a robbery everywhere I go.
My voice is weak even when I shout. My brain will never be smart enough to be considered valuable. My hands will never produce nothing more than useless phrases that nobody can build an empire with. So I will never be forgiven.
I no longer think that I can change the world. I don't even think that I can change my community, my colonia. To be honest, I am no longer even trying. But one thing I know for sure and it is that I refuse to accept that cruel, racist and insensitive people can define the concept of humanity.
Us, the unforgiven, are part of it too, and we will shape it as well, either you like it or not.