hide from home

20 Things Disabled Latinx Are Tired Of Hearing From Their Familia

Handling a disability can be particularly disturbing when you’re a Latina. While we know our family means well, sometimes the things they say to us can be just plain mean and harmful. A lot of it stems from our culture not understanding disability and seeing it as something bad. Being disabled isn’t bad, it’s the lack of accessibility for us that makes people think it is. Life is great being disabled, sometimes it’s difficult but overall most of us are happy with our lives. The only thing that would make it better if some of our family would stop saying the following:

1) Estas bien, hay gente que esta peor que tú

via GIPHY

We’ve all heard this before, “there’s always someone worse off”. And while this is probably true, everyone’s reality is different. Comparing a disabled person’s experience to others doesn’t change the fact that your family member is going through a hard time. And this phrase is only going to make them feel worse than they might already do about themselves. Instead of dismissing what they’re going through, just ask how you can help.

2) You’re not praying hard enough

via GIPHY

Listen, some Disabled Latinx are religious and some aren’t but saying that we’re not praying hard enough in order to “feel better” or be healed is really messed up. For those of us that believe in God, we know he helps us in ways that only we understand, but praying isn’t going to magically cure us. Praying helps as a way to vent our troubles but what we really need is your support and access to good healthcare. Praying isn’t going to do that. 

3) Mira, tu prima is vegan and it cured her *insert illness*, maybe try that 

via GIPHY

We can’t deny that a vegan diet has helped many people with their illnesses or have overall improved someone’s health. That’s great for them, but that doesn’t mean it’s a cure all for disabled people. All of your primos could be vegan and be “healthy” that doesn’t mean our body is going to react the same. It may ease some of our symptoms but trust us, a vegan diet isn’t going to cure us and we’re tired of you reminding us that it helped our cousins. 

4) All you do is sleep! 

via GIPHY

Listen, being disabled is exhausting. Everything we do, even if it seems simple can be very draining when you’re dealing with chronic pain. Sleep isn’t something we’re doing to be antisocial or to skip setting la mesa for dinner. Sleep is helping us conserve and recover our energy that we lost from doing our daily tasks. But yelling at us that all we do is sleep is invalidating of our experiences and makes us feel bad. If it were up to us, we’d love to be present all the time, but we can’t if we want to keep our body going. 

5) Mentirosa, you were fine yesterday! 

via GIPHY

I know, I know, yesterday I was having fun with the family and I seemed to be doing well. But that was then this is now. Disability is fluid and some days are really good and some days aren’t. It’s a gamble for many of us who are disabled when we wake up in the morning. But instead of being upset that today we can’t do anything with the family because we need to rest, be happy for the days when our symptoms ease up and let us spend time together. 

6) Have you tried yoga? 

via GIPHY

I’m just gunna make this quick and simple, YOGA DOES NOT, I REPEAT, DOES NOT CURE DISABILITY. Sure, it may help ease some people’s symptoms but listen to us when we tell you we’ve tried it and it doesn’t work for us. 

7) Ponte de Vaporú 

via GIPHY

Mami, Abuela, Titi….please don’t get mad when I tell you this but vaporú isn’t going to fix this. We know vaporú is the reason generations of our family hasn’t died, but the most vaporú will do is clear our sinuses, it won’t fix our pain. You can still put vaporú on us…just maybe by some motrin as well? 

8) You’re not a vieja, you don’t know pain 

via GIPHY

You don’t have to be old to be in pain. Young disabled people exist and we deal with pain the same as our abuelos. The only difference is we didn’t have to age to get like that. Please don’t dismiss our pain by telling us that we couldn’t possible have it or understand the aches unless we were old. It just adds more pain to us listening to you lecture us. 

9)  Ay, bendito 

via GIPHY

This phrase is the most insincere “poor baby, get over” thing you could say to us. Sure, maybe you mean well by thinking you’re sympathising but this comes across as you not wanting to engage. Talk with us about our experiences with our pain and disability but don’t deflect by saying “ay bendito”. We don’t need sympathy here, we need empathy. 

10) Don’t talk about your illness, it makes me sad 

via GIPHY

Please remember famila that while your feelings are valid and we know that our pain does make you upset because you feel helpless, telling us not to express what we’re going through because it “upsets you” is sh*t. If we can’t confide in our family, then who can we talk to? We will give you room to process your feelings but we need your love and support and sometimes that means putting your feelings on the back burner with the frijoles, so you can be there for us when we need it. 

11) The doctor knows more 

via GIPHY

Doctors know a lot considering how long they spend in school and I know you trust what they say but they don’t know everything. And they definitely don’t know what it’s like to live in a disabled body. A lot of times our experiences don’t match what doctors think they know about our disability. While it’s okay to take what the doctor says into consideration, please listen to us too. We are the ones who know our bodies the best. 

12) Natural medicine will cure you 

via GIPHY

Medicina natural can cure a lot of simple things like the common cold and sure it may even help ease our pain. But telling us that it’ll cure us and do a better job than modern medicine is wishful thinking. If natural medicine could cure us, we would of taken it a long time ago. Modern medicine isn’t evil (the companies behind it are but that’s a topic for another time) and neither is natural medicine. They can work together to help ease our pain but they won’t cure us. 

13) It’s all in your head 

via GIPHY

Mental illness is definitely in someone’s head, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real. Mental illness, chronic pain and any other disability isn’t something we’re making up for fun or attention. They serious things that should be treated as so. Dismissing us when we tell you something is wrong is just going to make things worse and make it harder to seek the help we need. Believe us when we tell you something is wrong. 

14) Only white people have that 

via GIPHY

Contrary to what people believe thanks to media making #DisabilityTooWhite, disability/mental illness isn’t “just a white people thing”. Disability is present in all races and ethnicities. By not only dismissing this fact in general, you’re telling us that you don’t believe we are sick. This mindset is the reason so many disabled Latinx/PoC are less likely to access the proper healthcare needed to care for our illness. 

15) Why are you using your *insert mobility aid*, you’re giving up 

via GIPHY

I promise you, using a wheelchair, cane, braces anything that’s a mobility aid isn’t us giving up. In fact, our aid gives us the freedom to enjoy being with you during parties or vacations. Without our aids, it will be difficult to walk and as much as you want us to walk with no “problems” that’s not going to happen. Look at our aids as something positive, without them we’d be stuck in our room and never “experiencing life” the way you so desperately want us to do. 

16) You’re doing this to hurt me 

via GIPHY

For many Disabled Latinx, we have a deep love for our family and only want the best for them. The last thing we want to do is hurt anyone, but saying that our disability is hurting you because you’re “upset” when we can’t do something or you think we’re not “trying hard enough” is abusive. You’re making our disability and our life about you and your feelings when it has nothing to do with you. It’s saying that our existence is troublesome for you, and that’s not the unconditional love families like to talk about having for one another. You’re allowed to feel upset but remember that our disability isn’t and will never be about you or there to hurt you. 

17) Nena, you’re too pretty to be in this much pain 

via GIPHY

Hold up, so you’re saying disabled people can’t be pretty because they’re disabled? Being pretty doesn’t matter when it comes to chronic pain or disability. You could be the biggest supermodel in the world and still deal with chronic pain. Once again, saying we’re too pretty to be in pain is dismissing our experience instead of acknowledging and supporting us. 

18) Put some makeup on, you’ll feel better 

via GIPHY

I love putting makeup on like anyone else, and sure it lifts my spirits up when I do. But if we tell you we’re hurting or we need to take our time with something because we’re having a bad day, just telling us to “freshen up” and that’ll make all our problems go away is hurtful. It doesn’t help us by saying this, so just stop and ask what can make us feel better. 

19) You’re not disabled mija, you can do so much! 

via GIPHY

Let me make this as clear as possible, DISABILITY ISN’T A BAD THING. Admitting to yourself that we can’t do some things doesn’t take away from what we can do. It’s important to recognize that our disability will stop us from doing things but that’s the same for people who aren’t disabled. There are still things you can’t do either, but that’s not a bad thing. Ignoring our limits as disabled people and only focusing on “what we can do” can put us in danger if you force us to do something we’re not able to do. 

20) I didn’t want this life for you 

via GIPHY 

As parents, you’ve probably had an idea of what your hija’s life would be like and disability wasn’t a part of that idea. And that’s okay but the reality is, we’re disabled and that’s also okay. You may have not wanted this life for us but it is what it is. Disability doesn’t mean our life isn’t going to be amazing, it just means it’s going to be different from your experience and that’s fine. As long as we work on making things accessible, we will thrive and live a better life than you ever planned for us.


Recommend this story by clicking the share button below!

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Día De Los Reyes Was The First Time I Allowed My S.O. To Experience My Culture

identities

Día De Los Reyes Was The First Time I Allowed My S.O. To Experience My Culture

For many who regularly take part in the holiday season, Christmas traditions are strongly tied to religious beliefs and practices. The ways in which the customs around the holiday season are carried out often deeply rooted in cultural rituals and they often vary from family to family. For my Puerto Rican family, the holiday season is drawn out well past the first of January when radio stations reel back on the jingles and Mariah Carey classics. For us, the Twelve Days Of Christmas sales or songs we know of don’t relate to the days leading up to December 25, but rather the twelve days in between Christmas Day and January 6 The Epiphany, a biblical day that marks the final leg of the  Three Wise Men’s journey to deliver gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus Christ.

Día De Los Reyes has always been an especially important day for my family. The fact that “reyes” is my mother’s maiden name has only made the day a little sweeter.

Photo provided by Wandy Felicita Ortiz

A more popular holiday back on the island, my abuela and abuelo Reyes brought their traditions to the mainland with them in the 1950s.

On the evening of January 5, each member of my family from grandfather to my youngest sobrino pull out cardboard shoe and clothing boxes (all marked with our names, drawn on and decorated over the years with crayons, markers, and glitter pens) to take part in a tradition that we hold dear in our hearts. After we’ve filled the boxes with snacks like carrots, lettuce, and sometimes grass for the Three Kings’ camels to munch on as they pass through our town we stick the boxes under our beds. Finally, just as we would with Santa Claus, we write the Three Kings–Los Reyes–a handwritten note wishing them safe travels as the journey to see the baby Jesus hoping that as they did with him on that first Epiphany, they’ll leave a small gift or token of some sort under our boxes.

Dia De Los Reyes functions similarly to Christmas Eve in my family. We all wake up and check under our boxes to see if we were good enough this year to receive any gifts. We’d go to mass together, where as kids we’d hope that maybe Los Reyes stayed in town with their camels long enough that day to be at the church community center to pose for photos. We would visit family and eat pernil and arroz con gandules, dishes reserved for celebrations and holidays.

As I got older I went to mass only sometimes and stopped looking to get my photos with Los Reyes.

Photo provided by Wandy Felicita Ortiz

I never stopped checking my box for gifts though, or remembering each rey by the names older relatives taught me to write in my letters: Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar. As an adult I focused on new ways to celebrate “being a king,” as my family would say, and took on the role of expert coquito maker.

When I started dating and began wanting to bring boyfriends home for the holidays, part of my new role during the holiday season also unintentionally became one of both gatekeeper and teacher of my Puerto Rican culture. As a sophomore in college, I brought my then boyfriend home for December for the first time. In my household, Noche Buena, Christmas Day, New Years Day, New Year’s Eve, and Dia De Los Reyes were all days set aside for family, exclusively. I knew not to ask for exceptions, and in the past had willfully or grudgingly passed up holiday and New Years parties to honor the expectation of being en familia.

But in my twenties I badly started to yearn for my first New Years kiss and wanted, even more, to share part of my twelve days of Christmas with somebody who mattered to me.

My parents, on the other hand, were hesitant. Dia De Los Reyes was about Los Reyes, as in my family.

My boyfriend was someone they saw a few times a year and knew of only from phone calls, letters, texts, and video chats. Someone so unfamiliar certainly wasn’t considered family, and moreover someone who wasn’t Latino couldn’t possibly understand the sanctity of the day we’d honored so lovingly all our lives.

Most concerning of all, Dia De Los Reyes is also known among some circles as “the poor man’s Christmas,” my grandparents’ explanation being that back in the days of Jesus, being a king didn’t mean wealth like it means today. It meant that the giftschildren and observers receive in their boxes today are small, like a $10 gift card, socks, some mittens, or maybe candy. The last thing my family needed was for some guy they didn’t know to reach into an old shoebox of all things, pull out socks, and think we were cheap. With some convincing and a little grumbling, my family allowed me to write my boyfriend’s name on a box, fill it with lettuce and put it under my bed on January 5.

That night as I lay in bed, I did feel nervous knowing that I was bringing somebody into such a special part of my life that no one had ever seen before outside of my parents. Earlier in the day, I made sure to explain to him how seriously my family took our family only traditions, and how it wasn’t just about the religious holiday but the namesake that ties us to one another. I felt silly as I highlighted decorating beat-up boxes as one of my favorite traditions, something I hadn’t ever admitted out loud. Quiet and reserved, he listened to my stories but didn’t ask any questions.

In the morning, I still had my family only morning mass and our opening of gifts, but later that day my boyfriend was invited over for pasteles, coquito, and the checking of his first and only Three Kings Day box.

My parents observed with critical eyes as he went through the motions of our traditions, seeming charmed by the gifts of a hat and gloves left resting on top of torn up shreds of lettuce, proof that Los Reyes had come through our house. As he followed our lead I sat hoping that by participating in the events himself, he might better understand where my love for my culture comes from, or maybe even briefly feel the same sense of childhood joy I do on that day each year. Admittedly, it was an awkward day for everyone involved and not filled with all the magic I had hoped for. Nonetheless, I still felt proud of myself for being able to break down a barrier that had long existed between myself and not only romantic connections but a friend, too.

I wanted the opportunity to show those outside of my family the part of my identity that I hadn’t always made transparent in my daily life, even if that meant that they didn’t understand or wouldn’t “get it” at first.

Photo provided by Wandy Felicita Ortiz

Even though the person who got to take the test run of my family only traditions and I aren’t together anymore, a few years ago he broke the mold for being able to bring others into a part of my life I was using to shutting so many close to me out of.n Maybe he did think that of us, our gifts, or the day we celebrate as cheap, but after the fact I, didn’t care. In the years that have followed, what has mattered most to me has been that I could start sharing Reyes, this name that laid down the foundation to who I am before I was ever born, and all the nuances that come with it with those I want to know me better.

This Dia De Los Reyes will be one of a few Reyes family festivities that my current boyfriend will be participating in, and another year where my family pulls out his box and welcomes his extra cheer into our holidays. While he’s still learning about my roots, I’m still learning that I can take these moments and use them to bring myself closer to my culture and my loved ones.


Read: Twitter’s Latest Hashtag Fights Back Against The Normalization Of Death And Violence Against Migrant Youth

Reccomend this story by clicking the share button below! 

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

After A Traumatic Experience With My Disability, I Stopped Believing In God

identities

After A Traumatic Experience With My Disability, I Stopped Believing In God

Like many people who grow up Latinx, I was raised in a Roman Catholic household. While our household was divided about religion, my father is Baptist, my mother Catholic, my sisters and I were raised in my mother’s religious beliefs. Ones where Sunday school was mandatory, masses were rife with long services, and confessions and consumption of Eucharist and wine were tradition. I sang in our church’s choir, acted as an altar server and helped out at the church on days my parents went to mass.

For the most part, I liked church.

I’ve always felt the beauty of church architecture to be undeniable, the traditional structure of their buildings, the concept of Saints always gripped me with fascination, and much to my peers’ surprise  I even enjoyed going to mass. It helped that attendance was almost always sealed with the sweet deal of after-mass doughnut. Still, despite all of what I enjoyed about church, even at a young age, I made my disbeliefs and skepticisms about the bible known. So much so that I began to build a reputation with my childhood church teachers as being a bit “rebellious”. I ended up getting kicked out of many Sunday school classes for voicing my opinions. It’s easy for me to recall the first time I was asked my a teacher to leave class. I was in first grade and when I required a deep disdain for a church nursery song we’d sing about the love we have for Jesus. There was a line that went “I got that love of Jesus in my heart. And if the Devil doesn’t like it he can sit on a tack!”

As a kid, I refused to sing that line and one day a teacher noticed and asked me why. I told her that it didn’t make sense to me, why would I want to be mean to the devil? Shouldn’t I show him kindness and teach him that God could love him too again if he said sorry? I remembered a lesson where if we were truly sorry about something and apologize to God, he would forgive us no matter what. I figured if I show the kindness God showed me to the Devil, he would realize he needed to be good and say ‘sorry’ to God. And then once God forgave him, all the bad things in the world would go away. My teacher didn’t quite see the logic in response and I soon find myself standing outside of the class.

I was nervous to tell my mom who was also a Sunday school teacher in the classroom next door, to my surprise she wasn’t angry, actually, she was quite pleased. It didn’t take much thought on her part to think about my answer and support my thoughts on my faith.

My mom isn’t like most Catholics, while she’s devout in her faith, she has always let her children believe what that want and question everything.

No doubt her experience fleeing Cuba, a country where indoctrination was well and alive, had a role in her belief that people, especially her children, should be able to think how they please. She wanted her children to be freethinkers, ones who’d voice their opinions despite popular opinion and most certainly in the face of extremism. Of course, she wanted us to love and know God like her, but she encouraged us to think critically.

My mother met her biggest challenge of understanding how to raise me when I turned ten years old.

At that time I went through a traumatic event that involved the disability I was born with. As a result, I spent longer than I have had before in the hospital, a whole summer plus three months on my sixth-grade year. With all that was happening with my health and my family only being able to “comfort” me through prayer, it made me resent them and my faith. One day as my mom was mopping the floor in the sala, I walked up to her and told her I no longer believed in God. I told her that God would have never put me in the position of getting, that my pain and trauma had to mean that, he and her faith couldn’t possibly be real. It saddened her to hear, but she didn’t attempt to convince me otherwise or correct me. She accepted me. I didn’t have to believe in him. This went on for a few years, and not once did my mom ever tell me to talk to God, to believe in him again nor did she pressure me to join her at mass. I expected her to be passive aggressive towards me about not believing but she never was. She was always open to me expressing my feelings about God as I wrestled with myself about him, giving me the best advice she could but made sure never to cross any boundaries. For her, it was important that I believed in God because in her heart she knew he would help me but it was just as important for her that I thought for myself and decided for myself what I needed, even if that meant without God.

Eventually, I decided on my own that I believed in God.

I have made my own choice to let God be a part of my life in a way that works for me, on my own terms. My relationship with my faith has become very personal and I always feel grateful to my mother for giving me the freedom to find the path that I found myself with my beliefs today. My mother, without me realizing it gave me the backbone and the foundation I needed to make my own choices, not just about my beliefs, but how I pursue my life. Although she was met with frustration and misunderstanding from her peers and family for her decision to allow me to have this journey, she knew to respect me and my views was the right thing for her to do for me. Today I view my mother is a strong Catholic Cuban, and I’m so grateful that she gave me the strength that I have today to find my own way in my life, career, and feelings related to faith.


Read: Before They Were Famous: Can You Recognize these Latina Celebs?

Recommend this story by clicking the share button below! 

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com