I often write about topics many would find awkward or unpleasant. Give me a subject that will make people squirm or abuelas cry, and I'll gladly take pen to paper. Ever since I was young, I have hoped for the privilege of pissing off the Pope. I've been like this ever since I was a pre-pubescent brat, always sharing my unconventional opinions at whatever cost. Imagine a bitchy teenager telling her traditional Mexican family she's pro choice. You can surmise that there was a lot of gasping and clutching of kerchiefs. Though no longer that obnoxious, in many ways, I haven't changed.
I'm not delusional enough to believe I'm some sort of martyr. I know I'm not causing revolutions or rebellions with my writing. What I mostly do is rant about things that piss me off. (I have several scrolls with lists of topics). I that part of my purpose in life is to air out some of our cultural and societal dirty laundry because I feel nothing will ever improve unless we we incessantly analyze, discuss, and argue. I think it's necessary to talk about race, for example, until we're all so nauseated we must all hover over a collective toilet.
My writing comes with many consequences that I've already accepted. I know that no matter what I write, even if I think it's tepid or innocuous, someone somewhere is going to be irate. I can write about my love of Italian Beef sandwiches and someone will send me an angry email declaring me a racist communist self-hating food elitist or something along those lines.
When I write about myself, I get the most angry responses. A few examples: "well, that's not my experience; not all Latino men/women are like that; why are you generalizing Latinos?; you're making us look bad," etc. When I write these autobiographical pieces, I'm obviously writing about my own experiences. That's what "autobiographical" means! If I'm making myself look bad, please let me. I never claim to speak for all Latinas, Mexicans, feminists, women, writers, poets, muppet lovers, curmudgeons, or cheese enthusiasts. When someone writes me an angry email or comment about how my piece did not represent his/her reality, I think to myself, what exactly is your point? I never claimed to write universal truths. Why is this even an issue?
When I write about the "Latino community" and "Latino issues," I understand that there isn't a homogenous group of Latinos who think, feel, and eat the same things. We don't all gather to eat tacos and agree on abortion. Generalizations, however, are necessary to simply have a conversation. Latinos often have similar histories, cultures, and experiences in this country. I understand that your Puerto Rican grandma and Danny Trejo are not the same person. Please give me the benefit of the doubt. I'm smart. Please also note that I can't write about every single experience of every person who ever lived.
I get exasperated by this excessive political correctness. Think it's backwards and counterproductive. If you write about a particular group that you're not a part of, for instance, people get pissed. I once angered someone because I made a joke about a pre-op transexual gnome. A gnome! This person said that it was offensive and that it wasn't anyone's business that the gnome was pre-op. I laughed so hard I hurt myself. Every time I have to explain satire to someone, I lose hope in humanity. Comedy couldn't even exist if everyone had to be politically correct. The genius of Dave Chappelle wouldn't be possible. All we would have is Carrot Top (shudders). Would you want to live in that kind of world? Would you?!
Though I can't often prove this with with scientific data, I know a lot of people get angry with me because I'm a brown woman with opinions. Being a dignified Mexican woman gets people all worked up. With so many Latinas shaking their maracas on TV, some people get confused by the educated ones. (Please note that there are many of us in the world). Men in particular seem really bothered by what I write. Sometimes I get hate mail or creepy messages. To those gentlemen I would strongly suggest to boink a cactus.
I'm not going to lie -- even though I frequently get annoyed by such narrow-minded comments, there is a part of me secretly throwing confetti. If I get people to have a reaction, and possibly engage in a dialogue, then I know I've accomplished what I set out to do. But don't get me wrong-- I'm very careful about what I write. Whatever I publish, you can assume it's taken me hours upon hours (and frequently weeks, months, or years) to craft. I ruminate, obsess, and revise. My writing dictates my life. But if every time I sat down to write I thought of every person in the world I might offend, I would be so paralyzed with fear that I'd never write a damn word. No one would.