Archives for : Spain

Sisters Are Doing it for Themselves…in Spain

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

Black & Spanish = Kinky Gazpacho in my book.

Black & Spanish = Kinky Gazpacho in my book.

So, all of you regular readers know that el esposo is my Spanish husband and that I met him while spending my junior year of college in Salamanca, Spain and from a very young age I’ve had a love affair with Spain. And then all of my dreams about Spain were crushed when I learned that Spain has a very peculiar response to Black people, which I wrote about in my memoir, Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain. Whew, that was a mouthful.

Here's my new online destination for Kinky Gazpacho inspiration.

Here’s my new online destination for Kinky Gazpacho inspiration.

Anywho, Spain has been and continues to be the lover I know I should stay away from, yet I can never resist her charms, so I’m always looking for ways to overlook her shortcomings and stay focused on her positive attributes. But that’s really hard when it seems the only thing written about Black people in Spain seems to be a lament about the country’s deeply entrenched racism and ignorance about cultural sensitivity. Or articles like this. So, imagine the joy when I discovered this new website called, Las Morenas de España (The Black Women of Spain). It is a gorgeous online destination created by Black women expats who are chronicling their own love affair with Spain and helping others along the way. It was just what I needed to get my groove on again with España.

Now to plot my next trip. I’d like to spend some time in Barcelona.

What about you, dear readers? What have your experiences been like while traveling in Spain? Where you welcomed with open arms? Did you find the culture to be racist in any way? Did you eat churros con chocolate at dawn? I’m totally listening.

Hasta pronto!

#WomensLives: Life on the Border Between Europe and Africa

Hello Melitngpot Readers,

A view of Ceuta, where Spain and Morocco meet.

A view of Ceuta, where Spain and Morocco meet. Photo from LookLex

If you’ve read my memoir, Kinky Gazpacho, then you know I’ve lived in both Spain and Morocco, so these recent stories about life in the border city of Ceuta have caught my attention. Ceuta is a city on the cusp of Africa, but it is a Spanish territory. Ceuta’s citizens are Spanish, but the divide between African and European is clear and striking.

Check out these two stories, one about the bone crushing work Moroccan women endure to make pennies at the border of Ceuta and Morocco and the other about the growing tensions between the haves and have-nots in Ceuta.

Life as it stands in Ceuta is not working and will require some significant changes. A handover to Morocco? An influx of industry that can staunch unemployment? What? I don’t have the answers, but obviously something has to give.

What do you think dear readers? Do you think Spain should hand over the city? Would Ceuta as a Moroccan territory solve the issue of unemployment and illegal activity? I’ve always thought it odd that Spain owned a small piece of Africa, but then again the Brits still own a small piece of Spain in Gibraltar. And we thought colonialism was so last century!


Who’s More Black•ish, El Esposo or Ms. Meltingpot?

Black & Spanish = Kinky Gazpacho in my book.

Black & Spanish = Kinky Gazpacho in my book.

Hello Meltingpot Readers,

So, those of you who read my memoir, Kinky Gazpacho, know I have a deep fascination with all things Black and Spanish. It’s kind of been my way to make my relationship with el esposo into some sort of cosmic destiny thing. I like finding historical precedents in all things, including my own personal love life. So, when I fell in love with Spain and then with el esposo, I felt compelled to find some shard of Black culture in my adopted homeland. And I did. A lot actually. I discovered that the Iberian peninsula had been home to thousands of Black Africans for hundreds of years and as such there is quite a bit of African culture in Spain. Which has always made me think there must also be quite a bit of African blood running through the veins of the average Spaniard, including el esposo.

Which is just my way of saying that we finally did it. Last week el esposo and I spit into a plastic vial and sent our DNA off to a laboratory in California to be analyzed. I’m not really interested in tracking down my long lost cousins, I really just want to know if in fact el esposo actually has African blood in his Spanish veins and I also want to know just how much European blood I carry. I’m really interested because I want some kind of scientific explanation for why my three children are three different colors. I get how DNA works, I just want to see the percentages for myself so I can do the math. I predict that el esposo must have some real Black in him and that clearly I must have a substantial wad of Whiteness. More than the average Black American — which is approximately 20 percent I believe — I don’t know, but two of my kids are quite pale. Until the results come back, all I can do is speculate, but when I do know for sure, I’ll be sure to let you all know. Stay tuned.


Kinky Gazpacho The Movie! An Update

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Who Plays Me in the Movie Version of My Life?

Who Plays Me in the Movie Version of My Life?

So, I got another update about the progress of Kinky Gazpacho the movie. If you recall from the last time I wrote about it, a Spanish actor had reached out to me to tell me he wanted to play the role of el esposo. Apparently his enthusiasm was a wee bit premature, but the wheels of progress are still turning. There is a director attached, the script is being fine tuned and they are about to cast the role of Lori!!! I can’t believe this. So, dear readers, any fresh ideas about who should play the role of a Black 22-year-old grad student who travels around Spain and discovers something about herself and falls in love with both the country and a hunky Spanish dude?

This time, I’m listening and so are the producers.


Wish I Was Here…

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Once upon a time, I fell in love with a man from Cadíz. Our subsequent romance and eventual marriage required frequent travel to Spain. I fell in love with the country as my love for the man deepened. But then we had kids. And 9/11 happened. And the economy tanked. And it suddenly became a lot more difficult and expensive to go to Spain. But still, I cannot turn off my internal clock that says I should be in the Iberian peninsula during the months of June – August. It just doesn’t feel right to be in the United States in the summer for me. I literally feel an internal longing and a sense of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. All. The. Time.

I know these are first world problems and I should hardly complain given all of the blessings in my life, but, man, I wish I was here:

Cadîz. El esposo's birthplace.

Cadíz. El esposo’s birthplace.

If you could be anywhere these days, where would it be? Do you have plans to get there somehow? I’d love to be inspired. I’m listening.


Kinky in Spain: A 21st Century Hair Story

gonaturalspaingraphicHi Meltingpot Readers,

If you know me then you know two of my twin passions are Black hair and Spain. Not necessarily Black hair in Spain, but you could imagine my excitement if somehow these two topics somehow came together in some kind of magnificent event. And guess what? They did. Sadly, I wasn’t involved in any kind of way, but I’m still happy.

Apparently, almost twenty years after I first set foot on Spanish soil, a suitcase full of hair care goodies — from boxes of relaxer cream to an arsenal of electronic gizmos meant to flatten, curl, dry and fry — to maintain my hair in a country devoid of a Black hair industry, there was a giant Natural Hair Fiesta in Madrid this weekend in honor of American natural hair blogger, Curly Nikki. Check her website for the pictures of this most awesome party, but pay attention to all of the beautiful brown faces and fabulous hair. This is 21st century Madrid and I love it. And this wasn’t a one-time hair party. GoNaturalSpain is actually an active group of naturalistas in Spain, who celebrate their ‘Afro hair’ on a regular basis. And I love the fact that the group was actually started by a Black woman and her (white-ish) Spanish husband. Woot! Woot!

Ms. Meltingpot is in shock and awe (and is sad she’s not going to Spain this summer). Viva la Afro. Viva España!

Did You Know This About Me?

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Did you know I was supposed to be a teacher, not a writer? In college, after earning a C in my first creative writing class, I decided writing wasn’t going to earn me a living. Because I was only 18 at the time, yes I cried and cursed the fates that I couldn’t follow my passions, but in a short amount of time I simply decided I would find some other profession where I could use my many talents. After a summer working at a camp for Milwaukee’s disadvantaged youth and coupled with my insane love for children, I decided I should major in education, teach in the classroom for a few years and eventually work my way up to becoming the secretary of education so I could overhaul the entire public education system in America. Yes, I always dreamed big.

So, in the beginning of my sophomore year of college, I declared my major in education and did everything I could to learn about childhood development, alternative education, the history of public schooling in the United States and teacher training. When I left for Spain for my junior year, I made sure I’d be able to take education classes at the University of Salamanca so I wouldn’t fall behind with my major requirements. And everything was going fine until Spain seduced me with the idea of rekindling my love affair with the written word. Something about having all of that siesta time to consider what I really wanted out of this life, as well as all of that leisurely time to put pen to paper, I came back from Spain determined to try again at writing. And you know how this story ends. Writing has been very good to me and for me. But guess what, there’s still a teacher inside of me.

So, I land at Temple University for part two of my professional life. And while being on tenure track means I have to publish, publish, publish, I also have to teach. And dear readers, I love it. I am finally in the classroom where I always suspected I’d be able to make a difference in a young life. Yes, I always envisioned my students to be younger, but I actually really like teaching college students. They’re poised on the brink of starting their lives and really need good teachers. I work really hard at being a good teacher but like writing, it’s something I enjoy so the hard work doesn’t hurt.

And here comes the sweet part of this story. Yesterday, at our final all-school faculty meeting, I was given the school’s award for excellence in teaching for a junior faculty member! The award is a simple, but lovely plaque but it meant so much to be honored for something I almost feel called to do. It felt good.

And now I must return to publish, publish, publish.

That is all.


No Spain, No Gain

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

I am so sad to report that I will not be making it to Spain this summer. * La sigh*

Unfortunately, not enough students registered for the class I was supposed to teach, so it’s a no go. As you can imagine, I am extremely disappointed and so are el esposo and the kids. I was so looking forward to exploring northern Spain. *La sigh*

But, since I am a perpetual optimist, I’m trying to find the bright side. The practical part of me is actually semi-relieved because I have to do a lot of research for my next book this summer and being in Spain wasn’t going to help. At least I will have more time to research and write without thinking about taking a six-week Spanish hiatus in the middle.

Since el esposo and I really don’t want our boys to go so long without visiting Spain and being immersed in the language, we talked about him just going with the boys and babygirl and I would hang at home. It’s a work in progress. But I promise to keep you posted.