Veronica Polanco is a writer and businesswoman. She works at Google partnering with eCommerce businesses to help them grow and meet their annual goals. Her work is currently featured in the LatinX Poetry Project.
Davina Ferreira interviewed Veronica about her experience as an Afro Latina in the US and her work in the LatinX Poetry Project.
What are you most proud of about your Afro Latina Heritage?
Our beautiful, rich, colorful and delicious Dominican culture, most of which comes from our African ancestors.
What is your earliest memory of your Afro Latinx experience in the US?
My earliest memory was in 3rd grade. I sat on the carpet as our library teacher read our class a book on the civil rights movement. The teacher spoke of the colored section and the white section. Trying to find my place in all of this, I got up the courage to raise my hand. “Where would I be? I’m Dominican.” I asked her. She paused, turned her head to the side, thinking. My face got hot. Why didn't she know my place? I thought. She then shrugged and said matter of factly, “in the colored section.”
That was it. That moment taught me, I have brown skin, just like the “African Americans” in those black and white pictures of the civil rights movement. They are me. I am them. It didn’t matter that my parents just got to the US. This was years before me even knowing the words Latino or Afro-Latina. I knew where I stood in American History.
What inspired you to use your voice through poetry and creative writing?
I’ve always been a writer, before I knew I was “a writer,” before I claimed “writer” with confidence and conviction. I’m finally claiming it!
What has been the best part of joining The LatinX Poetry Project?
Truthfully, when I was selected for The LatinX Poetry Project, I felt imposter syndrome. Well my poem really isn’t that good. And this was my first time writing poetry since I was a child, I thought. This moment is forcing me to celebrate every win with my head held high, even if my poetry is in the fledgling stages!
Tell us about your powerful poem!
I compared the Latinx community to trees planted in sidewalk squares. They enjoy our language, our music, our nutrition. Our leaves and branches. But are roots are contained below the cement. Our blackness, our indigenous people, our own uniqueness as part of 21+ countries, can’t be restrained in a square. We crack the cement as we grow, we lift up the sidewalk.
Follow Veronica at @veroisapol