November 6, 2012
Niggerlips is a short story written by Martin Espada and is located in the bilingual book of poems called Cool Salsa edited by Lori M. Carlson on pages 73-74. My interpretation of the historical implications in the writing is when he notes the great grandfather’s time and place of existence, Coffee Hills in Puerto Rico 1900’s. The writing also includes a section describing how a young villain student, Douglas, who attended elementary school with the grandson, would frighten young black children playing on the sidewalk with an unloaded gun in their communities. This to me indicates a time in history where racism and violence were not considered radical acts as most would in today’s modern society, but that’s not to say that it still doesn’t happen today especially in southern states like Arizona or Arkansas for example. In this era, sinister behavior like Douglas’s was somewhat acceptable in a sense from the 1960’s and prior for many years and included harsher treatments. For example, during the civil rights movement in the 1960’s, police were treating minority groups with fierce aggression that included unjust assault on men, women, and children. I also picked up the sense that the great grandfather, Luis, was more of a burden to his family rather than a beloved member. It were as if the family was disowning or hiding him from the family legacy for having black skin and assuming curly hair which are dominant traits in the Puerto Rican nationality. The conflicts imply a historic era engulfed by prejudice that defines entire races to be inferior to others and often made scapegoats for others as well. They also represent a time when hate and violence were accepted in communities as a status quo for reasons that are beyond petty such as how they look, their income, gender, sexual preference, and religion. These types of traits...
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