It’s not your place~
I have been preparing for this moment for what must have been my entire life - - never really knowing what it was I was preparing for, when or if my dreams were ever really going to come true. I was so inspired after we burned that email… I believed that I was onto something really special—I had a story idea. I sat with the words Its NOT your Place. Its not my place… it reminded me when I was a little girl and would go to Santo Domingo how the kids would make fun of me… mira a esa gringita. Because I was born in the United States they called me gringa. To me it felt like a bad word. Gringa felt very unwelcoming. They weren’t trying to compliment me. I felt excluded. They thought that this gringa couldn’t speak Spanish and that I couldn’t dance.
When you’re a little girl you want so much to belong. I think I grew up my entire life trying to find that place where I could feel apart of something. Coming up in the 70’s in New York there were one of two groups you belonged to. You were either black or white. I wasn’t light enough to be white and I wasn’t dark enough to be black. There was no Latino. Those who were a hint of beige darker than the average white person were automatically black. So hearing as an adult…it’s not your place. Threw me… it jumpstarted my heart and pushed towards finding my place. it was a moment of revelation and self-acceptance. For me it became, wait a minute, not only am I Latina, but I am black also and not only is my right… but it is my place to write our story. So in June 2007 I pitched my very first story idea titled, “Will the Real Black Girl Please Stand Up” to Essence Magazine. The story for me was about unifying this divide that seemed to exist between African Americans and Latinos. I wanted to tell the story of the shared history that existed within both cultures. The story was about Afrolatinos, the 150 million Afro descendants that currently exist in Latin America. I never got back so much as an acknowledgement for that email. I was little disappointed. REJECTION SUCKS.
I sent it to the Editor-in-Chief of Urban Latino Magazine. The editor-in-chief responded the very next day, telling me she loved my story idea and would like to run it. Dream come true right? Wrong! When I received the email that she was interested in the story I knew that I needed to begin writing it.
After the initial email of interest weeks went by and the EIC hadn't gotten back to me. I was a little disappointed but I said fuck it. I'm still gonna write this story even if I write it just for me. So I kept on going.
That’s when it happened… exactly like we've read about… exactly like we've heard so many people say that "IT happens” when you least expect IT!" Just as it says in the Alchemist when one walks towards their dreams the universe conspires to make it happen. It happened to me...the very next day on October 17th around noon. There it was…an email on my blackberry from the EIC: "Sorry it took so long to get back to you, but I most definitely want to print your social feature in our November issue… Can you get me a 2000 word draft by Monday, October 22nd?"
I sat with that question for a minute (can I get her a 2000 word story)?
When I hit the send button at 7:44pm, Monday October 22, 2007, I just sat there in front of the computer for about 15 minutes in complete silence and prayer and gratitude. Because for me it had nothing to do with being published nor did it have anything to do with the EIC liking the story, or the fact that the title of my story would appear in the cover, or that there would be a photo and bio of me in the contributors page. I HIT SAVE AND SEND. The moment of pure ACHIEVEMENT and EXHILARATION for me came with hitting SEND. In that moment – I finished it! THAT moment was the greatest accomplishment and best feeling in the world. I did it! I had no idea when it would come out but I was ecstatic.
A week later I left my office and needed to run an errand. It was really dreary out. I was wearing my yellow raincoat… bright ass yellow… you could see me coming from miles away. I was walking up 7th Avenue with the biggest smile (ear to ear), I had my ipod on and I was listening to Barbra Streisand. As I was walking to the bank I was thinking about ALL that we've been through together and all that it has taken for us to finally MAKE IT in NEW YORK. I am so thrilled to finally feel and say that I have MADE IT. WE MADE IT!!!
So as I am walking, listening to Barbra's incredible voice telling me, "HEY, LOOK AT ME WORLD, HERE I AM..." that's when I realized all I've been through, what the payoff has been for all the pain I've endured. It was always about the lessons learned. It was about me appreciating all the beautiful things that surround me. In that moment while I walked up 7th Avenue all I could see in front of me were the 1000's of people coming toward me, and the feeling of complete and total happiness that filled me. It was this feeling of joy and love that I was emitting... it was electricity that everyone who walked by me took notice and smiled because my smile touched them.
HEY, LOOK AT ME WORLD, HERE I AM... I felt like Barbra singing and Mary Tyler Moore flipping her hat up in the air ALL at the same time. I finally arrived. I am so very proud, blessed and grateful for every gift and every person I have ever met. My writing career is born!
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Peace, light and LOVE~