I’m so, so sorry for fucking white guys. / or… “Polly don’t want that cracker no more”.

KL***photo-frontal

i’m an artist, but i used to write books. books with both words and pictures. i was lucky.

i believed in what i was doing once.

after years of studying bad ass cartoonists, standing before mad painters, reading books that made my eyes bleed, watching electric-shock movies, adoring raging comedians, flinging my body against the walls to alive music, and generally believing whole-heartedly in this american illusion of “progress,” i now think it’s all been a dangerous–albeit entertaining–“bread/circus” distraction while they run off with all the motherfuckin’ cheese.

i see this new emptiness and deadness everywhere now. it’s all netted us the shittiest movie remakes possible; irrelevant ivory tower authors writing “let them eat cake” fiction or lovingly combing their life’s complaints like long blond hair; music with lyrics that read like narcissistic 5th grade christmas wish lists; along with a fake “free market” capitalism that spooges in all our faces in an ever more evil america that forces even the sickest, weakest, and youngest to swallow.

not to mention romance so awkward, phony and bad, first dates have become creepier than first dates in windowless vans parked outside nursery schools.

for the first time in my life ever, after feeling like a mangy, feral mongrel in america most of my life, i feel like fucking snow white now. pure as the driven goddamn snow. / and i’m not kidding at all.

so i now think just about all public art/entertainment is sofa art, and i don’t care about warning or screaming in my art to a general public any longer.

.

but i just had to write this apologia.

.

for me. for anyone left who accidentally stumbles upon this with the attention span to read me. return to me. think about me.

the rest? they don’t exist as an audience i even care about winning over any longer.

i’m free.

and i only really believe in secrets anymore. my art has become intensely private even as it’s a habit to perform it all in public. but in secret. because that’s always been my specialty: doing just enough so those who know what i’m doing can find me in plain sight, whilst the others just scowl and look away quickly.

(perrrrrfect.)

this is how i find the fearless alpha dogs. i don’t have to even look up; i know they will find me. everyone else should move along because they just waste my time.

and now my art is about whispering in quiet screams to be heard amongst all the other bullshit.

maybe this is bullshit, too.

but i don’t think so. at least not for me. i’m too old and refuse to be embarrassed about much of anything now that i see what twitchy emotional wrecks most folks are who pretend they’ve got it together. i desire to care as profoundly as i’m able in this life.

or all else is wasted and i bought the line about us just being “consumers.”

denying your own humanity is unholy. as unholy as president obama denying his preacher, mr jeremiah wright. that’s when i knew he wasn’t really our first truly black president, but the highest-promoted house negro since clarence thomas ascended to the supreme court over anita hill’s vagina.

i’m going to revise, edit, and add to this letter as i dance to find words as i craft out my apology. it is not a one-time thing. i am forming the words for how i want to live the rest of my life. what kind of woman i want to be from now on. as an artist i am going to craft my apology to you as i also use my powers to craft the kind of love i was born to give.

and i’m not talking about white people love. that always seems to “cost” someone somewhere down the line in one way or another, whether it’s blood diamonds or cruel fur coats. someone’s gonna get it bad in that kinda’ love, even the little furry critters and butterflies.

the kind of love i’m talking about doesn’t have an insatiable savagery of any kind at its core. it is the mad deep supernatural shit that connects the dirt under your feet to your soul, your being, and every sparkle in the universe and makes you go a little mad. sublimely crazy hot mad.

free.

the kind of love that gives to others and all as it emanates kindness to others all around. makes butterflies and furry little animals and minimum-wage employees feel safe and warm.

like watching gloria chambers dance when i was a ten year old runaway; she was just sixteen in regular years, but she knew more. she knew there was more.

this is her at age 13. not more than 16 as this was already an “old” photo when i knew her. she was born this way, and her mother, lucia–the alpha love goddess who just loved her little girl, helped refine her as a fucking superhero love goddess incarnate. anyone who met her never ever forgot her. she was sweet as hell.

gloriachambersi thought if she knew about this extra magic in life, then everyone certainly would, and i’d pick up on this “more” thing later on when i wasn’t running away and had the extra time. ha. no dice. that was it. all i heard after that was new age clap trap (more blood and ermine, just under a different story/guise), and no one’s got any time for anything anymore.

no one even looks up and out, anymore.

and gloria’s dance transmitted messages and warnings and truths from waaaay back. so far back, i don’t even know.

what she told me with her body was just… eternal, somehow.

i feel it like a message she danced for me the other day. i was 10 then; i’m 47 now. this is me at 12, below, from those same days. we stole the polaroid film from the 7-11 we used to trade our friend’s foodstamps at so we could get handfuls of change.

erika-age12

i am at your feet as i write this. to some of you, i’ve already fallen to your feet in public. i kissed brett’s ankles after he did his lat pulldowns. bowed before wordy on one knee as i presented him with two love letters in front of all his friends, who are now so respectfully kind to me…to all this… and not trying to “get” me first anymore.

i’ve confused all of you. made you smile uncomfortably. / sweetly.

good.

it’s time to honor you. step up, bow down, and treat you like the kings and leaders and artists and geniuses you were born to be.

/ and teach you to treat me and our sisters as the queens and goddesses we are all here to be.

feet1

i realized we wanted you to lead us. be our saviors and heroes, but we sold you out for the “stuff” to our own detriment.

martin luther king jr.’s family opted for the fur coats and it set the tone that fucked us all. / left us with beyonce’s fake blonde tracks covering erykah badu’s dangerously magic eyes that know all that gloria knew even then.

we’re always starting over anew. no time for “racism 101” anymore, as joy degruy reminds us.

michelle alexander also woke me up /

when we inevitably go mad from the insane dissonance, hipocrisy and cruelty from our stints in the The Big House, we have no one to turn to anymore. we’ve helped eradicate, neutralize, imprison, enslave you.

i gave you nothing back.

i failed at this honor thing and went for the dryer behind door #3 and fucked myself bad.

i forgot to love you in private and keep you safe so you could fight for us another day out there. i forgot that’s what we were supposed to do. i forgot we belonged to each other and always will.

i’m so sorry.

i went mad and realized some of us left for the perceived “ease” and curiosity and “front of the line” advantages of white boys we toned it all down for, or we might as well have made you in their image and enslaved you, too. we abandoned you. let them turn you into caricatures. tokens.

minstrel shows to emulate and grow up to.

i know because that was me.

i know no one was willing to love you in your secret pains.

you had to pretend you were always huge, rock hard and ready to fuck.

that’s what the white guys thought of me, too. except for the huge, rock hard part. / but always ready to fuck, without even needing to stand still. i was a curiosity. something to check off a list for when they reminisce in the future during their big retirement cruise.

enough with those fucking lists, already. they kill.

but it had to be verrrry different with white girls or i’d be asked to leave town. so for the girls, i played the cheerful sidekick ethel. toned down my sexuality and energy until i couldn’t move and my knees were rotting.

and eventually i noticed no one was dancing anymore. / we wanted to fit in. get along. win. have our own Big Houses.

i had to pretend i was jolly. jovial. convivial. understanding. appreciative of any status granted to me in The Big House.

and i couldn’t move anymore.

i get it now.

i’m sorry i…

i’m sorry i left you and started fucking white men simply because i finally wanted to get good service at restaurants.

i’m ashamed.

i was tired of being angry and i thought it was all in my head. i thought working with and being accepted by happy white people would keep me from wanting to stab them in the necks with forks.

it didn’t.

i sobbed over this realization of what i’d done to my own people who made me, for 20 minutes in the drugstore parking lot last spring and i’ve been looking for opportunities to love you back in any small way i can. that’s when i first wanted to write this love letter even though it seems presumptuous as hell to write a mass love letter. and what if no one actually cares what a shit i’ve been? well, then how do i swagger back to my seat elegantly, while pretending the back of my skirt’s not caught all up in my pantyhose?

.

(i don’t.)

.

…anyhow

i thought i had the right to choose because i was half white.

my father’s black puerto rican and my mom left him when i was 4.

he was made a villain but i looked like him. / i was confused.

besides my father, black men have made me. saved me. in the white world of my mother’s side that wouldn’t let me use its hairbrush ever since i was tiny, because of my …hair. / but ever since I was tiny, your eyes were always open to me. you saw me. told me i was beautiful.

you actually liked my hair. a lot.

and you were my very first crushes.

and then my first one.

i kissed brett’s ankles in honor of my first one. he reminds me of him. his eyes are also huge and naked to me. beautiful.

my first one… he set the tone so i could return to the sweetness even after all the years of bullshit shtick.

you were never afraid of my rage. my tenderness. my intensity. it mirrored your own.

white people have always taught me to hide my intensity. at first i was taken aside and told i was being “inappropriate” constantly, like i’ve got a smelly, leaky fistula problem; but now the cops routinely get called on me for dancing in the sun alone, by myself.

the one time a black cop came by, he laughed angrily at the “several callers” who he said were really scared of me.

good.

and then he went off on rants of his own while his latino partner suggested i might move away to the sidewalk, so’s not to scare them. i laughed because that’s what i hate about us latin folks these past 30 years; we’re too fucking accommodating and keeping our heads down because we somehow think we’re more like the jews, italians, irish and cubans and can step over the history of black folks who built all this shit fo’ free and fast track our way to the Big House.

uh….what the fuck happened there? we also don’t want what they’re selling, remember? 

that’s another more private rant i’ll keep to myself and a few. i even missed the vote when we were all supposed to be called “hispanic.” what the fuck? ew.

i digress

anyhow–

my job in san francisco is to pull out my ghetto side and scare the shit out of the techies here. i get off on it, actually. going too far.

i digress. but not really.

i should never have loved you like a white girl with those fucking “lists” they’re always demanding be met, and passively waited for you to love me how i wanted, without loving you that way.

i shopped. tried to make one of those… “lists” just once. how can you order up a love like a trip to the grocery store?

i fucked just enough white boys, i know what it does to you. it turns you into a caricature. a stereotype. it was a script that easily played itself out in an arena that is so easily made magic and we trash it.

for what?

all… this? behind door number three? no thank you. i want what we started out with: our humanity. our connectedness. our humility and audacity.

and i acquiesced into the stereotype myself… until.

i’m learning how to be sweet again like when we were young.

it’s hard as hell to come home again. fucking white boys seriously fucked with my head and how i felt about myself as an actual human being.

you can’t play at anything without becoming it. that’s the danger. and you can’t just put it down once it …becomes you. you made the world in your own image already.

this time i will be patient because it’s not about “getting” anything this time as much as giving will be. not like a doormat. i’m a double leo. half puerto rican. half bougie/half ghetto. there’s very little about surrendering myself to a man that means i’m a doormat.

admitting my utter adoration and desire for another is the most powerful, freeing feeling. most alive. like dancing in the sun with my shirt up and my tits out.

eriquita-FINAL-avatar-brwn-MED***

that’s my new motto, by the way. it’s all about an edict i heard in my head to play in traffic and in everything go:

TITS OUT.

which often means be naked. vulnerable. it’s way too easy for me to fight and push cell phones out of rich guys’ hands or chase one of those passive aggressive techie douchebags down my block and challenge them to a fucking fight. white people are in the habit of starting some shit and then calling the cops on you, so cuidado.

……anyhow-

to love fiercely? nothing at all “doormat” about it. it’s intense, breathless love. scary. exciting. the best high is to scare the shit out of yourself socially. i swear to god. plan it. do something secretive. sweet. scary. vulnerable. something that makes someone feel good. for free.

want nothing back but to spoil for a moment in such busy lives.

*

anyhow…

we must be able to fuck whomever we want, love and marry whomever we want, but when the parody or pathology affects how we love our sons, daughters, ourselves and each other, then it’s time to come home again.

*

my father can’t be with me as his daughter because he fucks curious middle class white women only. ever since we all could remember. so he couldn’t switch up anymore now even if he wanted to. it’d be like quitting smack at this point.

my father dates nice enough ladies, but he knows they’re liberal elite tourists. the kind who give to NPR pledge drives, but wouldn’t ever have taken him home to mother, either. at least not until the divorce and after their kids were grown and they don’t have to be so serious anymore.

fucking black men for many is apparently like planning that once-in-a-lifetime fancy retirement cruise.

even my own mom took my father home for her ivy league tantrums. they made her use the back door for awhile, but he paid dearly and forever. once she was done with the tour and found out he wasn’t 7-feet tall like she thought it’d said in the travel brochure, she took his kids away, mocked him, ruined him.

/ me. my sister.

i love my mother. a lot. a lot of my eternally broken heart belongs to her. she’s my mother. i may not wish to talk to her any longer, but i love her and am grateful for my life. and i know she can’t help herself when she hurts me so hard. it’s how she was raised. the water she breathes. the air she swam in since birth and is everywhere.

and she’s way way more than one of the good guys. she’s a bad ass activist and the kind of quaker who worked/lived her entire life fighting for justice. she comes from a time back when being a quaker was about taking to the streets and role playing passive resistance scenarios for the streets and such. it wasn’t a feel-good passive new age religion it seems to have become these more recent war years.

my mother is an outlier among outliers, and she is powerful and a goddess superhero to of ’em all, even though i know she’s only human. she more than “gave at the office,” as she returned to her world with two colored kids in tow. that wasn’t at all easy. her first marriage to a black man (before my father) was televised on CBS news, it was so …newsworthy.

and my father later told me his main revenge was knowing that even though she was leaving him and taking away his children, no man in her world would ever want her again once they saw us.

and my father was right.

my mom became one of us by proxy.

but when the system actually is working for you, as it was for her, and you have your beach house in this society, you don’t want to really overthrow too much of anything; you just want to tweak it here a bit, nip it there; make it a “kinder, gentler” imperialism and capitalism.

/ there’s apparently no such thing in a nation that relied on and still routinely relies on genocide, slavery, and a constant level of total destitution among its least-lucky citizens to keep everyone else happy with the economy.

that’s some seriously fucked up psychopathic, sociopathic shit to be behind.

that’s all america’s about. money. not family. are you kidding me?

and that’s why i see how diabolical this all gets. there’s no “progress” to speak of when we keep getting used to the new normals that are more and more encrusted with centuries of barnacles of hatred.

my mom tried tried tried. still tries, i’m sure. she never stands still in her life.

that’s why all other white people absolutely terrify the fuck out of me to no end. most barely try to understand and assume we’re all getting shot for some good reason.

i saw how hard and awkward it was for my own amazing mother–and her entire family–to shed this devil crap. and i know my mom adored us and her family actually did love my sister and me. best they all could.

it’s just that our existence asked so, so much of them.

so i may sound so wildly politically incorrect again, but that’s why i know most regular white folks– they’ll steal your fucking organs out of your body if they want ’em. self entitlement. and what’s scary is that they won’t just ask or take ’em. you won’t wake up with funny scars one day like you’d think.

oh no no no… they’ll make a plan to infiltrate every system of government and pass laws for thirty years and before you know it, they’ve got legal dibs on everyone’s organs– and for generations of their own offspring, to boot, because you’re giving an organ a year to update those fucking iphones. they don’t need to bother to harpoon us with transmitters when we’re already paying to carry them ourselves.

.

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*boop boop be doop*

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The mass cling to its masters, loves the whip, and is the first to cry ‘crucify’.”

—Emma Goldman 

.

.

dad&me3

*

and you can’t dehumanize who you’re fucking without dehumanizing yourself in the game. it’s simple math. we cast our own spells with whatever we give our attention to, and when you dehumanize any man or woman, regardless of their color or their own intentions, you will always catch your own daughter’s hem with the knife. and thus your son’s… as well as your own soul.

*

and the beat goes on… and on. 

there is no separation of anything. everything’s connected and comes out in the sweat and in everything you touch and do. separateness? it’s a misnomer.

right?

so scare the shit out of yourself by being a sweetheart because everyone wants true love. and we need it, especially these days. scare the shit out of yourself. try a new script. it’s like jumping off bridges and floating because you realize most people are sweethearts. and the ones who seem cold? they just need time to acclimate to you. sometimes it takes years. and going away.

that’s why we can’t cling. we’ve gotta look at the long game now. that’s why i will love each of you best i can. however short the moment. when i see you while i’m dancing in the street or in front of my favorite juana alicia mural on the side of our favorite taqueria, i bow to you. most others i turn away from. i’m busy calling up whatever it is i’m frothing up. no words for it.

just gloria’s face.

when i see other little girls looking at me in awe that i get to do this in public (ha!), i look at them straight in the eyes and smile, hard toothy mad sweet wild ecstatic. so they’ll remember for as long as they need to like i did with gloria. i’ve passed it on… and your social media ain’t shit next to this stuff. this is what you get from looking up, y’all.

this is why they used to call the cops on b-boys. they were dangerous. i get it all now. this is why we’re supposed to hate our bodies and each other. so we’ll sit. keep looking at the fucking screens. for what? to buy more shit? to die with our pants around our ankles in front of another screen because the machines won and you forgot how to fuck actual people without flipping through their stats and fast forwarding and replaying the parts easy to jerk off to?

eeeeew. really? how the fuck did they sell this stuff to anyone who can clap between the beats? what the fuck happened?

we’ve already got heaven within us. / with each other. the truth. freedom.

i get it.

look up.

nothing is separate. neither are we.

the neutralizing assimilation schools go back to the indians here, and they aren’t even growing peaches in georgia anymore.

but those of us who know better need to stand the fuck up and remind. scream, sing, dance.

this country kills everything for a dollar. everything. nothing is sacred. no one. nada. life certainly isn’t. not even their white women are as sacred as you’d think with the endless “birth of a nation” remakes constantly cranked out in what’s left of hollytown, so don’t be surprised.

*

feminism netted a lot of ambitious type A white middle class women with bald vaginas, insatiable souls, and creepy botox winces. pro-choice for them was about hooking or lap dancing their way through their ivy league colleges for adventurous pin money, and getting a half dozen abortions became as casual as swatting mosquitoes.

yes, white women can be a blood-thirsty lot; but even white girls are routinely sacrificed at creepy altars in this culture for something to do or watch on tv.

there’s a lot of idealistic feminist “theory”in the air out there, but this is what feminism was actually about in practice:

equal pay for all this objectification and exploitation.

not true freedom. for anyone / else.

i know. i was bred to serve white women, laugh politely at their jokes, hold the reflectors under their chins, the umbrellas over their heads, and cross the street when they’re afraid of my enraged furrow brow, or when i seem sexier than them, i’ve gotta be the fat ethel or their maid so they feel safe in the world.

my father marched in selma, so i live this dissonance. the “we’ve gotta do this all over again?” and at a time when no one knows how to do anything that requires anything longer than the attention span of their fucking elevator pitch. everyone’s a hustler now.

*

anyhow

gloria taught me our real warnings and teachings are in our songs, dances. secrets.

look up.

you won’t catch the mysteries, secrets, and quiet special people by looking down at the corporate screens all the time.

really? 

the next round of messages will be made in the light of the sun or the moon. sweat. people. smells.

anything else is pellets of bullshit.

so look up again.

it’s the only way you’ll even see anyone like me. i look away from men who’re hunched over and looking down in public. it looks weak. creepy. like navel gazing.

very un-hot. very unleader-like when you can’t even fucking look UP and outward from your phones and into the real world.

i don’t know what’s next. i only know that i’m sorry. i’m aware. and this time i won’t get cold and rigid against your love. your truth. your pain.

i don’t know why i ever left. really.

i was a runaway ever since i was ten precisely because i knew the whole system was bullshit. i couldn’t wait to grow up and do it right.

ha.

i’m still romantic and idealistic, artistic, and old enough, wise enough, to know i will love my next man hard hard hard. i have already started.

and i am at your feet. some of you have seen in my eyes i was for fucking real. you are kings.

i’m sorry that i forgot all that i knew. all i’d been taught. all so that i could get better service at restaurants and pretend everything was just dandy.

the food’s never been good enough for that to hold up this long./ i didn’t realize how deep the hatred and shame of myself could go.

you loved my hair ever since i was 4 years old and you were 5 years old. and now that i am older and you are older, you still look at me like a miracle when you don’t know i’m even noticing. / i’ve looked at you the same, but i’m never cool enough to look away in time and i know you’ve caught me, too.

you helped me hold my chin up even when the upcoming famous white preacher guy asked me on a date after his impassioned public speech, and tried to climb my face and fuck it two weeks before he was getting married.

if they ever took me home, it was their grown up tantrum.

but they never needed me. i was like a fucking clown painting in their lives.

and i did that to myself./all while thinking i was being sooooo bad ass and subversive all this time, like i’m angela davis or ramona africa, or some such bullshit.

(and sherri west, i’m sorry i slinked away and didn’t sing at yours and robin’s wedding — i was ashamed that i sounded so “black” when i sang. even though it was our first year at moore college of ART, i didn’t want to dance, sing, or do personal art because my real self leaked out ever more when i was trying so hard to behave, be quiet, and fit in. even as i was a scholarship girl just out of the foster system, wearing the same skirt over and over because my case worker was stealing my money for helping me out. i’d just come from camden and maggots on the floors and hated everything i was from and i wanted desperately to be less…colored and wild. you all were like the cosby show. i felt even too ghetto and nasty for my fancy cosby cafe au lait shade. but more importantly, with my one skirt i’d even paint in, i had absolutely nothing to wear at your wedding. a simple dress was even out of the financial question as it already set me back a lot when that white girl didn’t return my paint brushes she borrowed right before dropping out.)

i’m back home now. my love is epic and i will strive to give you back the king in you as you’ve given me the queen in me.

i’m going to craft this letter as a way i want to love. i will re-write. edit. revise. stumble. try again.

it is hard and scary to be at anyone’s feet. at first. but then it feels just glorious.

that’s the kind of woman i want to be. the kind of love i want to give back.

i’m sorry i left you for The Big House. there’s nothing there but creepier evil and sleep on the floor at massa’s feet, where you’ve gotta check for funny scars to make sure your organs are still intact, come morning.

Field-nigga’ black, the dark ones like my father, were always the more intense ones. more mystical. saw between the atoms. they had to. dark men have an intensity the light skinned guys can’t even touch. light skinned guys bored me as they cavalierly, casually played both sides.

(like me.)

but no one wins in this system:

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even white people aren’t safe from white people–

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*boop boop de boop*

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and when you really and truly see how stupid / deadly / unnecessary / psychopathic / sociopathic this all is, and will continue to be, that is some scary true crazy mad shit to get your head around. it’d be nice to hear from jeremiah wright, right about now so’s i could get some sleep.

as i think talib kweli said, we’re all niggers now. so true/so true.

this is the most epic love letter i’ll have ever written.

x

–erika

p.s. i hate the internet iphones and all the digital world has done to the arts, privacy, and distracted, shallow, hustling human relationships in san francisco, where i live. i think tech people are the new devils as they infiltrate the mission and evict everyone and take photos of the murals in tour groups and do bitchy snarky yelp reviews in huge groups at restaurants. so i don’t read emails much and disabled comments because this internet thing is some serious bad juju. i’d xerox this letter and post it on telephone poles if i had the time. but a few people will get something from this. only a few. i’m a realist. i’ve done all this before. this “people” thing and trying to make some fucking difference with my words.

i don’t believe that anymore. it’s all filler, content, bullshit.

i will only perform and dance and talk to those who’re looking UP. the moment the phone comes out, we are done for good.

i’m going analogue, but i wanted this love letter out there for the few who won’t feel alone in this.

mostly i dance in the streets and try to know as few people as possible. only the most true, intense people interest me now. people who can hold a conversation without phone distractions.

i don’t need the ego hits of responses, negative or positive. pass on anything nice you’d say to me, to OTHERS. that’s more necessary than giving me up nods. i already know i’m a fucking crazy mad wonderful sweetheart. tell someone else who doesn’t know. again and again.

i only look UP for those who are alive and welcoming to me. i only see pretty things from now on. it helps me navigate the ugly when i’m forced to.

look back up. and out. focus. slow down. not only must we each remember to reach for our wallets slowly (or not at all), but us colored folk are the last ones who can afford to not look up and out, as well as inward . . .

. . .  and at each other.

i still and always love you, papi. forever. you are and always will be a fucking god to me. no matter what we can’t pull off in person. it’s hard to be a god in this world. and then be a regular guy, too. i love you so much. thank you for everything. for getting me. for making me feel proud to be your daughter. and i know you are proud of me and how i love.

i know you’ve always been here with me. protecting me. i know this. i know you’re still with me. always. you’ve always kept me from harm in the most mystical ways no one would understand. so our inability to be like regular people is okay. you’re beyond everything. / everyone.

i love you, papi. Dear, Rafael Lopez Sanchez. I still say i’m the son you never had and i will continue to live my life as you taught me. to fight and demand respect for our lives, even when it costs in blood.

i’m your daughter, too.

we always got more.

i love you.

x

dad&me1

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