So you go by Bruja. Is that your real name? And that hair! Tell me about your journey.
bruja is my real name. yes it means witch and no, it is not what is on my birth certificate. i believe everyone has the right to call themselves what they wish. for example, Malcolm Little became Malcolm X – the letter X for the unknown African family he came from. later El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, signifying a new phase, a new journey he entered. Gloria Jean Watkins decided to call herself ‘bell hooks’ after her grandmother. she purposely lower cased the first letters to distinguish herself from her grandmother. i lower case because i am only one element in this rather large organism – the world. bruja is my name. it is what you can call me.
at about 16 years of age, something clicked in me. my hair became me. it was no longer “a part of me.” my family is from the dominican republic and dominican women are infamously known for the most poppingest of poppin’ blow outs. of course i wanted long straight hair. yet, i couldn’t afford going to el salón every week. buns and wash and go’s were styles i always did before i even knew they were called a “bun” or a “wash and go.” i just wanted my hair to be dealt with not knowing it didn’t need to be dealt with in the first place. i have always been natural. along with accepting my hair how it comes out of my head, the name bruja came right along with it. i was called bruja because of my pajón (afro). but i was also called bruja as a term of endearment, de cariño. i have always been extremely vocal and social but an still very much an introvert. i chose books, protests, spoken word before hookies and boyfriends. deciding to call myself bruja was as organic as it was destined. i call myself bruja in honor of all the witches murdered and hounded spiritually; in honor of all the women i have known to tell the truth and carry on our legacies. bruja means power and truth.
What do you do for a living?
what pays me isn’t as important as what i am meant to do. i have been having conversations with movers and shakers that do not have a traditional career path. we are in a digital age where our ability to navigate different circles using our many acquired skills has afforded us the ability to create new means of income. i only have 10 months in my first traditional job that i am seeing as a stepping stone for my next move. what i can say is that i am a connector, a speaker, a mover and shaker. i am particularly interested in latin@ communities of African descent both domestically here in the US and abroad (the diaspora, our motherlands), women, media and arts. i talk race a lot. i talk sexism a lot. i talk capitalism a lot. these are interlocking systems of domination that connect us with each other, most often in the worst way. by deconstructing these systems, i find that i am able to truly build commUnity and learn a bit more about you and myself in the process.