"One of the things you have to do when you apply to an American university, coming from for another country, is to fill out a questionnaire about your ethnicity... I have to tell you that is the first time in my life I have had to answer those kind of questions. I remember when I did mine and how I answered. I was at home, in Venezuela. Are you white-American? (She looks her skin) I said: yes! Are you black-American? I took a minute in this part to think about it… The father of my grandfather was black therefore I should be black in my ethnicity...yes! Are you Asian? I lie, I said no… A couple of months ago, I read an article at the New York Times Magazine that said that the Chinese came to America before Christopher Columbus... so we all came from China! Are you Hispanic? ... yes... white Hispanic, black Hispanic, Caribbean, oh yes, why not!... At this point I was just looking for the category that said: “All of the above”... but I couldn’t find it... Then my mother came and told me how “wrong” I was... She said... no, no, no Matilde in this list you are just Hispanic... Well, my father was born in Spain. I like Spain. I’ve never been there! I’d love to go. But I really feel American. Of course I am not from North America, or Central America but South America… but the common word that we have here is America. At that point my mind was full of pride and stupidity about this matter... (Comment) Oh we don’t have that, Venezuela is different... we just have social classes... but we are all mixed... no racism! (Pause) Well... I lie again, but to myself. One of the good things about being far from home… is that you do have time to re-think your pre-conceived ideas, from another perspective… (embrace the audience) In Venezuela 80% of the population is poor. Just less than10% control the oil country... sorry!.. the whole country. If you are poor will be very hard for you to succeed. To even have the luxury of an education. Racism, Classism…at the end the consequences are just the same. When my mother and I…”together” and “finally” filled out that questionnaire, she told me that the questionnaire is meant to protect minorities and I believe that. I understand that this world has a long way to go in this matter. That our fears are based on ignorance and create in our minds prejudice and distance. I think in Venezuela… we need that questionnaire, or some kind of questionnaire, to make us ask questions about who we really are? Not just our names or color, but our dreams or ideas to built a better society, and hopefully protect the majority, that 80% that is poor and give them some rights."
New York City / Actors Studio Drama School 2003Black History Month
by Matilda Corral