cuando eres el concón del moro negro con coco by Sydney Valerio


Sydney Valerio is a creative non-fiction mixed genre writer and performer. She daylights as an educator & moonlights as a writer, translator, editor, content creator, and organizer.  In 2016 she wrote and performed “Matters", a one woman show. Her poetry is in several anthologies. A 2019 BRIO Award winning poet, she is currently working on her first book as an MFA student at The City College of New York.

IG & Twitter Handle: @sydneywritehere

cuando eres el concón del moro negro con coco you know you taste like you come from everything & people of no color will ask where are you from?  you usually want to say la línea this place in the caribbean filled with rice fields & of caña stalks turned
into dominican rum & their foggy stares demand a follow up reply & you usually say
I’m from the bronx & the bronx & el campo have the same after taste to outsiders they taste of deficit & taste of a place that is hard hard to chew & hard to swallow like concón.

what they really wanted to know is what variant of latinx makes you walk like a boss
& what borders have your families crossed & why your words always carry the
weight of your community’s trillion dollar spending power & you grew up with the guys on the block telling you si cocinas como caminas guardame un chin de concón & that made you smirk because you know you are sabrosa like el concón.

you know your perfectly crispy volume comes from decades of speaking over el
cucharon’s  scrapes against la olla & you are un arroz blanco mezclado con habichuelas
negras some other latinx call frijoles & your mother loves to make moro negro the most & she’s perfect perfect at creating this thin film of rice at the bottom of the pan & the rice grains unite so forcefully that strong grips are needed to despegarlo from its foundation & concón is thin yet thick & produced in the last stage of cooking & so you always have to stir the rice while the flames envelope the pan 
& boil the salt water & it softens its white grainy contents to then harden its bottom layer & mami a liniera never ever has let it burn & sometimes she likes to add leche de coco calls it a lo boca chica with a side of concón.

& dominicans aren’t the only ones who know about eating the cook’s trophy of a well
cooked pot of rice so the boris call it pega’o the ecuatorianos call it cocolón & kanzo is
what it’s called in Ghana & generations of your family lived in kiskeya’s border with ayiti
prior to coming to these united estates & being from a border means you carry
syncretized stories in your dna & the thinly formed parts that no one talks about burn to
the point that some never claim that part of the island home & they avoid any part of
their narrative centered on being the border’s concón. 

& history had you be part of the first u.s. born generation of your family & you took your
first breath on an island named mannahatta by the lenape who got to meet jan rodrigues
the first non-native resident of what later became new york & he came on a dutch ship
from saint-domingue & he was born from portuguese & african parents he was an
assertive man skilled in languages & your grandmother’s maiden name was rodriguez &
she was black & she also had a power with her words though never written only spoken
& with thirteen children in her home she was definitely known for making the best

& 23 & me claims you have portuguese & african in your dna so on some level you see jan
rodrigues as un tatatatatatatatatatatatara abuelo & you have never lived outside of new
york city & he stood in this place too & didn’t leave with the dutch & you don’t know what
is means to pack up & leave your hood & you have never claimed another zipcode though
it could save you money on car insurance & you grew up in the bronx & all the bori &
black kids saw your light-skin & thought your pale dominican ass was bori díque  because
of your articulation & all the dominicans they knew were black & so you were bori passing
but never white-passing & but most days negra is what lovers call you & you don’t correct
them because it is part of your truth & you do correct other light skin Latinx for not
checking their privilege because they treat it like they have to swallow the crispiest grains
in a centuries old concón.

& when you speak you enunciate & your elocution you got this from your grandmother &
she was negra & your aunts are trigueñas y negras & your uncles they are nicknamed
moreno & they are trigueño y negro & many of them were orators & poets & the kind of
people who welcomed everyone into their home to feed them words & food & whose
whispers during a dictatorship saved lives & during the  dictatorship they had to call
themselves trujillistas sin malicia & they focused on pronunciation which evolved in that
time into determining if you were black & if you had a right to live & if you were black you
were killed & still today black bodies are killed for being black there & in the u.s. & for
how they speak & almost a century later diaspora is still unpacking the language that is
anti-black & sammy sosa is an example of this truth & he’d rather be pink than black &
díque mainstream & because you are the concón de este moro negro mezclado con coco
you write & reach into the pot that is your ancestry & what’s inside is not melted but
syncretized & because you are from everything you come from el concón del moro que
son ayiti y kiskeya & you’ll never forget the skill of how to stir the contents & how to keep
an eye on the process & how to always embody celebrate carry & honor your moro negro
& how the pride resides in its bottom layer, el concón.   

The Acentos Review 2019