NYU Black Renaissance Noire Spring 2015 - Page 78

Interview with Ruby Rumié By MarGareT PORTER TROUPE r Ruby Rumié Where were you born and where did you grow up? I was born in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, and apart from four years that I lived in the United States, I grew up in in Cartagena. Today, I live between Colombia and Chile. 76 How did you grow up? When I was three years old we went to live in Baltimore, that is, my parents, my three brothers and I. My father, who was a doctor, did his specialization in psychiatry there. My parents came from comfortable families; we were used to the well-being that provincial cities in Latin America offered. For this reason, it was a challenge and a learning experience to adjust to my BRN-SPRING-2015.indb 76 father’s life as a student, since this brought with it economic limitations. Nevertheless, and despite the restrictions, Margot Marrugo, a young girl who came from a low-income family, traveled with us. She helped my mother with household and children. In the small house that my parents rented in Baltimore, Margot shared a room with me; we became great friends. At the end of each month, when the person who collected the rent came, we had to hide Margot in the basement so they would not evict us from the house. This was at the beginning of the 1960s, and people of color, of African descent, were not accepted in certain neighborhoods in the usa. My mother always contrived some excuse so that Margot would not be aware of the situation; maybe Margot never let on that she was aware, for she always cooperated discreetly.1 I began my elementary school studies in the United States. After four years we returned to Cartagena. My brothers and I arrived speaking English only. They called me “la gringa” because I was blond, didn’t speak Spanish and didn’t know how to dance merengue (the letter of introduction for a person from the Caribbean). I grew up in this kind of identity limbo: I did not feel like a North American, nor did I feel like a Colombian. Maybe it was this situation that pushed me to construct my own universe, full of imagination and quiet observation. In Cartagena I lived my life in the world of the nanas who worked in my house, which was much more fun — colorful, spontaneous and joyful — unlike the social life that our family’s position required us to live. 3/29/15 11:41 AM