Distance is what led me to Yale and Noel. He was Puerto Rican, his lineage a medley of African, Spanish and Jewish. Race relations consumed much of our dialogues, with most of our proceedings musings on the tenets of American racism.
Noel never quite understood racism in American and prided his beloved Puerto Rico for its “colorless” society that champions racial and ethnic diversity. I demurred, introduced Frantz Fanon, then "Se Solisita Lava Platos" happened upon us at a New Haven restaurant.
Noel was awoken. Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks explores the power of language in subverting the consciousness of the colonized, stifling them into a quandary of self. "Se Solisita Lava Platos", for Noel, pitted language not just a medium of communication, but as a subjugator of class, both historically and in the present.
We left the restaurant, quiet. After a few paces, I gently nudged on the topic of the Amerindian languages, how they once echoed across pre-colonial America, and their steady extinction of the languages. Romance languages took over and that afternoon the Spanish scrawling arrested us and humbled Noel into a renewed regard for his language, his people, his roots, and his beloved Puerto Rico.