Moros Y Cristianos

Moros y cristianos: A dish indigenous to Cuba consisting of black beans and white rice.

Traditionally served separately.

Moros: Meaning Moors. In reference to the black beans.

Cristianos: Meaning Christians. In reference to the white rice.

Moros y cristianos: Moors and Christians = Black and Hispanic.

Moros y cristianos: = Young girl who has too much Danzón to Dougie but is already too fluent in the foreign tongue of Ebonics to learn Español.

Moros y cristianos has been force fed to me since I was old enough to bite.

Spooned to me in the words of my tias

who huddled around and spoke in a language I didn’t know.

Although I couldn’t understand what they were saying,

the way they spoke made me feel homesick for something

of which I did not know the name.

And no,

I do not speak fluent Spanish,

but I do not need to understand the words

to understand the difference.

The first step to preparing Moros y cristianos is to boil the black beans.

Drench them in water.

Drench them in the same water that I have been forced to use

in an attempt to wash away my moro; my black.

To wash away the grime of my culture.

The filth of my heritage.

To drown the seed of this evergreen tree of African pride

that was so expertly planted.

Next, ignite a fire.

One that spits and stings harshly,

like the word mulatto dripping from the lips of my abuelo

who will never understand

that if I could

I would drain every ounce of this bi-racial blood

and let him soak me in whatever holy water is necessary

for me to become the latina young woman

that is worthy of his superficial gaze.

Bring it to a boil.

Let it simmer and stew like the ancestral bitterness of a broken blood line that is held by those who abnegate my Cuban authenticity,

as if my heritage is a badge that they have stripped me of.

They tell me that I am not “really” Cuban and carry on nonchalantly

as if they didn’t just deny my relation.

And at times I can’t help but agree.

I think back to making tortillas.

You see, I usually took refuge in a space unseen

from the judgemental gazes of the latin women spread amongst the kitchen.

But silly me to think that I could go unnoticed.

Soon enough I was being shamed into joining them in this almost ritualistic activity.

We huddle around a bowl of flour.

My palms quiver at the sight of everyone else’s tortillas coming together without any difficulty.

As if their hands knew how exactly much water to use.

Where as my tortilla sits in my hands, like me, a mess.

But even still, I am Latina enough.

The second step to preparing this dish is to cook the rice.

Make sure it is in a separate pot.

You do not want to mix the two.

Serve the two


Only combine when you are ready for consumption.

But for 15 years I’ve been waiting to be ready for public consumption.

In my family there are liars and thieves

and drug addicts

and abusers

and criminals

and they are embraced with open arms.

But here I am being persecuted for origins I didn’t select.

As if the biggest crime is being different.

I don’t care about what fraction of each race I am,

I just want to be plena.

Moros y cristianos: The purposeful separation of two heritages

that can be beautifully displayed together

if you look far enough past what is tradition.

Moros y cristianos: A dish indigenous to Cuba

consisting of black beans and white rice.

Traditionally served separately.