Astonishingly Reflective Moments of Contrast Living in Chile as a US Black Woman

El Mar (the beaches in Pelluhue y Curanipe, Chile)  South Pacific Ocean

El Mar (the beaches in Pelluhue y Curanipe, Chile) South Pacific Ocean

I keep having these astonishingly reflective moments of contrast living here in Chile when compared to my US life. There is so much new construction going on in my neighborhood and a whole new subdivision of homes have sprung up since my first arrival in Fall 2013. Well, with this new collection of homes came a brand new street next to the house I am renting that cuts more than half of my walk time to campus. It’s partitioned off by a thick black cloth as it seems the streets have not been open to traffic. No biggie, I’m not a car so I just walk under the tarp. 11728849_985863134790486_7534265111315919634_oTypically, no one gives a care as during the day I see other folks walking under the tarp as well. However, we are in a Chilean holiday at the university starting with Our Lady of Mt. Carmel last Thursday until next Monday the 27th. No state agencies where open today and I took my travel route as per usual. This time, a security guard stopped me to let me know that I shouldn’t be taking my route as the area was completely closed. I spoke to him in Spanish and explained how I during the regular week daily take the route. He engaged me explaining that since there were no construction workers today, they are discouraging pedestrian travel through the area. We continued to converse in a very pleasant manner and I explained to him that I lived in the house on the corner and it’s such a short walk for me, especially at night when I come home alone. I then asked him if his concern was about possible burglary of items from the homes they are building (that happened when my home was being built back in the US) and he said yes. Two which I responded with a charming smile and a giggle explaining to him in Spanish, “Señor, yo no soy Ladrona!” (I’m not a thief). We both laughed and he basically gave me the please “carry-on” signal and I was on my way.

We had no idea how great of a July 4th in Chile, South America would be for me!  #BlackLivesMatter

We had no idea how great of a July 4th in Chile, South America would be for me! #BlackLivesMatter

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Watching Chile play the America Cup game... it was a nail biter.

Watching Chile play the America Cup game… it was a nail biter.

Sports House Video

Our reaction after the winning goal!!

Our reaction after the winning goal!!

I mention this because as I was walking I thought of Sandra Bland and her death in the United States as she engaged US police officers. I thought to myself, how would that same scenario played out for me if I was walking in a white neighborhood in an area where I wasn’t supposed to be and encountered some psychologically unstable “flashlight cop” or police officer that wanted to teach me a lesson. Would he have engaged with me in the light banter I had with the Chilean security guard or would I had been spoken too disrespectful, and responded in kind, resulting in my possible death?

Celebrating the post- football game victory with some awesome Zumba!!

Celebrating the post- football game victory with some awesome Zumba!!

#IfIDieInPoliceCustody is such an untenable concept for me here in Chile, but an everyday possibility for black people—and now more specifically black women and children—in the United States. I wish I had Oprah Winfrey type money, because I would make arrangements for every black person in the United States to have a chance to live abroad in a country that doesn’t hold such overt and violent racist hostilities towards black citizens. Living in both Chile and the US has so changed my perspective on issues of race, life, and human rights. I often felt guilty when abroad because of a number of reasons. Primarily because I had temporarily escaped the psychological and overshadowing burden of US racism here; in fact more often than not my experience here with Chileans has been like being amongst family. 11722366_983961791647287_989984424969697113_o

Talca, Maule, Chile

11754236_10206730683841485_872171128051379684_n I know about racial tensions in Chile and the troubles faced by the Mapuche populations in the South. I am not naïve that prejudice and bigotry exists all over the world. However, US racism is a “special” kind of animal in light of our history of Chattel Slavery. It literally makes me sick at times to see how our people endure at the hands of white supremacy racism that permeates practically every aspect of everyday life in the United States. 11707814_989993737710759_2262962095503473662_o

Cauquenes, Chile

11728796_989993731044093_44078646905404236_o 11713938_989993741044092_8021187262892601701_o 11225291_989993734377426_9219814469931821628_o 11722414_989993627710770_3546771679656357509_o 11056571_989993617710771_3354728238275230156_o 11754835_989993631044103_866442133460934566_o 11741303_989992774377522_5917208947671778047_o 11708018_989991674377632_6709438251439561271_o 11745788_989988481044618_2477798574741947034_n 11728778_989972184379581_7233120123580541463_o 11707698_989914054385394_969534291091654631_o 11222982_989914047718728_848582640916801783_oThat’s pretty much all I want to say at this time. I had expected to do more blogging as I am here to finish writing up my PhD dissertation. But, the data analysis has been a little slower than expected and hanging out and loving on my friends here has caused me some distractions, but these are the types of distractions I welcome and love. The dissertation will get written too.  However,  I’m going to seize the moment and enjoy my experiences and cariños. Here’s some pics from my month long return to mi otro país. Being here to experience our America Cup win was Major SWEET!! Chi Chi Chi le le le ¡Viva Chile¡ #BlackLivesMatter

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Pelluhue, Chile

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My tigress house slippers I purchased today.  Love these things!!

My tigress house slippers I purchased today. Love these things!!

Why can’t the sense of human dignity I have come to know living in Chile as a black woman, also be available to all blacks living in the United States?

#JusticeForSandraBland

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