I am no stranger to colonialism. My very body is an amalgam of colonial violence, I am mestizo, I am a racial mixture of Amerindian, African, and Iberian blood. My wheat coloured skin, kinky brown hair, and Roman nose are kept together by a Basque surname.
I can only trace my history in one direction, however. I know the names of the conquistadors who came to Latin America, I know the history of my surname as members of the Spanish Imperial Army that fought against Venezuelan independence against Simón Bolívar.
But I can’t tell you the names of the indigenous women the conquistadors raped as concubines to give me my skin. I can’t tell you where the Africans they enslaved and transported to the Americas to mine silver and cut sugar cane came from to give me my hair. I know only my Spanish history, my Basque history. There is a sense of loss in that which is compounded by my displacement as a migrant. I know the dissonance that comes with being a colonial body.
People tend to hang out with like-people. They spend their time and energy on relationships with people who have the same interests as themselves, maybe it is political belief, art or culture; for others it is their experience as a minority that brings them together.
Regardless, people form communities and find their home with people that share things in common.
For migrants, often our social cliques revolve around our first culture. It’s just easier you know? We eat the same foods, speak the same language and listen to the same music. Our communities become a refuge from the surrounding culture and maintain that little bit of home which is missing from our lives.