Nigger Reekan Blues

Hola Everybody,

I thought I post a piece from one of my favorite Nuyorican poets, Willie Perdomo. It’s refreshing for me to see someone else relate to race and color in the manner in which I was raised. Puerto Ricans bring a new perspective on the almost non-existent dialog on race in the U.S. Race in the U.S. is dominated by the “one-drop rule” perspective (which is a Eurocentric construct).

 

Boricuas challenge that view and bring a racial mindset that’s not genetic in nature. More on that at some other time. For more information on Willie Perdomo, click here. Also, you can check out an interview on the Black literary journal, Mosaic here. The words and spoken word performance are included below. Enjoy.

Nigger-Reecan Blues

(For Piri Thomas)
— Willie Perdomo

Hey Willie. What are you, man? Boricua? Moreno1? Que?
I am
No, silly. You know what I mean: what are you?

I am you. You are me. We the same. Can’t you feel our veins
drinking in the same blood?

 – But who said you was a Porta Reecan?
– Tú no eres Puertoriqueño2, brother.
– Maybe Indian like Gandhi Indian.
– I thought you was a black man.
– Is one of your parents white?
– You sure you ain’t a mix of something like
– Portugese and Chinese?
– Naaaaah… You ain’t no Porta Reecan.
– I keep telling you: the boy is a Black man with an accent.

 If you look closely you will see that your spirits are standing
right next to our songs. Yo soy Boricua! Yo soy Africano. I
ain’t lyin’. Pero mi pelo3 is kinky y kurly y mi skin no es negra
Pero it can pass…

 Hey yo. I don’t care what you say – you black.

 I ain’t black! Everytime I go downtown la madam blankeeta de madeeson avenue4
sees that I’m standing next to her and she holds her purse just a bit tighter. I can’t even catch a taxi
late at night and the newspapers say that if I’m not in front of a gun,
chances are I’ll be behind one. I wonder why…

 – cuz you Black, nigger.

 I ain’t Black man. I had a conversation with my professor. Went
like this

 – Where you from, Willie?
– I’m from Harlem.
– Ohhhh! Are you black?
– No but –
– Do you play much basketball?

 Te loy estoy diciendo, brother. Ese hombre es un Moreno! Miràlo!5
Mira yo no soy Moreno! I just come out of Jerry’s Den and the
coconut
spray off my new shape-up sails around the corner, up to Harlem River
and off to New Jersey. I’m lookin’ slim and I’m looking trim.
When my homeboy davi saw me he said, “Coño papo, Te parece como un moreno, brother. Word up, bro. You look like a stone Black kid.

 – I told you – you was Black.

 Damn! I ain’t even Black and here I am sufferrin’ from the young Black man’s plight/ the old white man’s burden and I ain’t even Black, man/ a black man/ I am not/ Boricua I am/ ain’t never REALLY was/ Black like me…

 – Leave that boy alone. He got the Nigger-Reecan Blues.

 I’m a spic!7
I’m a nigger!
Spic! Spic! No different than a nigger!
Neglected, rejected, oppressed and depressed
from banana boats to tenements
street gangs to regiments
Spic! Spic! I ain’t no different than a nigger.

* * *

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

Notes:

  1. Moreno/a: A Spanish term used to refer to individuals of dark skin tones. It is not considered offensive, and is commonly used as a term of endearment.
  2. Puerto Rican in Spanish
  3. “My hair”
  4. “la madam blankeeta de madeeson avenue”: the white women of Madison Avenue.
  5. “Te loy estoy diciendo, brother. Ese hombre es un Moreno! Miràlo!” I’m telling you, brother. That man is a black man! Look at him!
  6. “Mira yo no soy Moreno!” Look, I’m not a black man!
  7. A highly offensive term referring to Latinx
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