Victoria Santa Cruz- Author, Artists & Activist

A poem about being proud to be Black by a Black Latino woman has been given new life by a young Black Latino girl.
This powerful poem called ‘Me Gritaron Negra’ is by Victoria Santa Cruz, it has recently been performed by a young Columbian girl. In this post, we have embedded the original version and the recent performance. Despite the words being the same, both of the performances are powerful in their own individual way.

Victoria Eugenia Santa Cruz Gamarra (27 October 1922 – August 30, 2014) was an Afro-Peruvian choreographer, composer, and activist. Victoria Santa Cruz would go on to be called “the mother of Afro-Peruvian dance and theatre.

As per usual here is their performances and the words to Victoria’s poem for you to contemplate, comprehend and digest.

This is the version by a young and proud Columbian Afro-Latina

They Called(shouted) Me Black

I was barely seven years
Barely seven
Not even!
Not even five!

Suddenly voices on the street

Shouted at me “Black!”

Black! Black! Black! Black! Black! Black! Black!

“Am I black?”–I said to myself.  Yes!

“What does it mean to be black?” Black!

And I did not know the sad truth behind it. Black!

And I felt black. Black!
Like they said. Black! 
And I stepped back. Black!
Like they wanted me to. Black!
And I hated my hair and my thick lips
And I felt sad as I stared at my toasted skin
And I stepped back. Black!
And I stepped back…
Black! Black! Black!
Black! Black! Blaaaaaack!
Black! Black! Black! Black!
Black! Black! Black! Black!

And time went by,
Always bitter
I kept carrying
My heavy baggage

And how heavy it was!
I straightened my hair,
I powdered my face,
And among my hairs, always resonating
the same word
Black! Black! Black! Black!
Black! Black! Blaaaaaack!
Until one day I stepped back,
I stepped back and I was about to fall
Black! Black! Black! Black!

Black! Black! Black! Black!
Black! Black! Black! Black!
Black! Black! Black!
So what?

So what? Black!
I am. Black!
Black. Black! 
I am black

Black! Yes
Black! I am
Black! Black
Black! I am black
From now on I don’t want to
Straighten my hair
I don’t want to
And I’m going to laugh at those,
Who say they don’t want
They don’t want to make us feel bad
And call blacks people of color
And what color! BLACK
And how nice it sounds! BLACK 
And what rythm it has!

I’ve finally understood FINALLY 
I’m not stepping back FINALLY 
And I move on with confidence Finally 
And I move on and wait Finally
And I bless the sky because God wanted
For jet black to be my color
And I’ve understood FINALLY 
I have the key 

I am black!

‘In her poem, Santa Cruz rejects Eurocentric beauty standards and decides to move forward with pride. When she was young, she was the only black person among her group of friends. “One day there was a little girl among them with blond hair,” she said in a 2007 interview. “And she immediately said, ‘If the little black girl wants to play with us, I’ll leave.’ And I thought, ‘Who is she?’ She had just arrived and was already dictating the law. What a surprise it was when my friends told me, ‘You can leave, Victoria.’”

It was a painful moment, and one she never forgot, because it changed her point of view. “That girl stimulated something in me without knowing so,” she said. “And I came to discover what it means to stand on your feet without looking for someone to blame, suffering but discovering things. I began to discover life.” Yara Simon

It was also something that Victoria decided to handle on her own. She never told her mother or father about the incident.

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If you like this check out the rest of our collection of  spoken word:

‘3Cs of Life; choice, chance and change- you must make the choice, to take the chance, if you want anything to ever change. ‘ Antoine Allen
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