As I have talked about in previous blog posts, I am from the Southwest. It took me awhile to say this, but I adore that area. I write about it, I talk about it, I read about it. It is home for me but it also starts to feel like this mythical place after being in New England for the past 5 months. Being a part of the Southwest, I have been immersed in many different cultures. My hometown feels like an amalgamation of so many areas: the West Coast, the South, and even further south, Central America.
Where I’m from everyone knows Spanish. It isn’t even a question. If you didn’t take 13 years of the language in school like I did, then you picked it up at work or from friends. Everyone I know back home knows something about Latino culture. Everyone I know loves to celebrate these cultures, as do I.
But now I’m here, in the Northeast. The opposite side of the country from where I feel my home is, and I feel like I’m losing touch with this part of me. I still write about the Southwest and my experience growing up with that beautiful Spanish language, but I feel so far from what I know and love.
Recently, I became aware of a Latina/o Theatre Commons National Convening at Emerson College in Boston from October 31-November 2. I was so excited when I saw my professor tweeting about this meeting and then found the HowlRound breakdown online. I was shocked that this was “the first gathering of its kind since 1986,” but was so happy to see that something I love so much had popped up in my new home.
As intrigued as I was about this meeting, I still felt far from what I know and love and have found that that is only because of my misunderstanding with my place in other cultures. I have said before that I am a white girl. I still have a difficult time writing for different voices than my own. It also would be pretty stupid and incorrect for me to portray someone of a different race than my own on stage, so how do I tune into this conversation? How does a white girl show enthusiasm over the Latino culture without looking like a person who is obsessing in a condescending manner? How does an African American show interest in Asian American culture and theatre without doing the same?
It all kind of freaks me out because I don’t want to make the wrong move or be taken as politically incorrect. I just want to enjoy every culture the world has to offer, theatre or otherwise, and I’m finding this journey to celebration of cultures difficult to navigate. Even in the writing of this blog post I feel as if I am completely overstepping boundaries and making a fool of myself, so I guess I’m still wondering where to go from here! In the meantime I’ll be reading up on Latino theatre and the way it affects my peers and myself.