Nívea Castro

Nívea Castro is a Nuyorican born in the Bronx, raised in Brooklyn, and a world traveler proud of her African and reclaimed Taino ancestry. She is a writer, photographer, emerita social justice attorney, and retired educator. A Kweli Writers Fellow, a Hedgebrook and Cambridge Writers fellow, and a Vona and Cave Canem poetry workshops alum, her poems, essays, and photographs have been published in numerous journals and anthologies. She is the curator and editor of Soy Lesbiana y Que! Out Latina Lesbians, a Lambda Literary and Golden Crown Awards Finalist. Nívea is currently working on her upcoming novel-in-short-stories.

It All Happened in 1969

I couldn’t vote in 1969. I had to wait until an act
of congress lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.

The average price of a new house in 1969
15,550 US dollars, a brand-new Toyota less than 2K.

My folks owed their lifeblood and sweat on a duplex
home in white flight redlined Brooklyn.

They were immigrant holly rollers. My mom labored in a sweatshop,
my pop lucked out with a union job. They never ever missed an election vote.

In 1969 white mankind landed on the moon. Ironic to think
as kind an invasion of outer/others’ space.

Boricua drag queens had enough of abuse by cops on Christopher Street.
Stonewall riots went on for days demanding justice for patos and gays.

I fulfilled my mother’s American dream - her firstborn to graduate high school.
My eyes were fixated on liberation from alleluia construct through education.

In the summer of 1969, I escaped to Amerika the beautiful.
Hippie freedom meant crox country travel, sex, drugs, and rockenroll.

Woodstock, Woodstock. Are you going to Woodstock?
I got this close to the music. Rock, blues, and Salsa too.

City University of NY offers free tuition that Fall. Brown and Black militant proud
teachers awaken me to our people’s history. ¡Que viva Puerto Rico Libre!

By November, I’m an anti-war social justice warrior marching the streets
of Washington DC. “Hell no, we won’t go. We don’t want your fucking war.”

Disgraced Nixon was president. Wal-Mart went live. Sesame Street debut,
Chicago Seven trials began, the PLO is founded, and a coup in Libya. Remember Biafra?

1969 is the year after King and Kennedy were assassinated
and only four since Malcolm X was gunned down by his own – so they say.

On a Monday, December sunrise in 1969, I turned 18. By law, I couldn’t cast
my vote until 1971. Yet, still, my Voice was born in 1969. 


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