In the film, both parents are Mexicans as white as
a Gitano’s bolero sung by an indigena accompanied by the Moor’s guitar
bleached by this American continent’s celluloid in 1948
when in America the world’s colors were polarized into black & blanco.
In the film, Pedro Infante plays Jose Carlos and sings
Angelitos Negros in a chapel, the film’s title song,
asking the painter of the church’s art to paint a picture with black angels
who look like Jose Carlos’s dark-skinned daughter, a child his wife refuses to accept.
¿Pintor, si pintas con amor, porque desprecias su color
si sabes que en el cielo también los quiere Dios?
Tonight I sing the same song for my morenos absent from these cathedral walls:
O painter, painting with a foreign brush to the rumba of its old bolero.
Listen to our angel’s chorus of inocentes morenos muertos.
We morenos in the barrio create a gumbo quilombo, our little taste of heaven
with matches and propane and coal stones under a pot of cabra y culebras.
We morenos are brown turned black, burnt by fire fired from guardia guns
looking to make us congos for a legisladore’s chanchudos.
Listen to los pelaos in the favelas kicking
around the soccer ball de pie a pie de pie a pie de pie a pie cabeza cabeza
forced out of their homes by a world class stadium they can never afford to get into,
forced into a life in the prison of their streets.
They too deserve to be painted, pintor, in your fresco Adoration scenes.
¿Pintor, si pintas con amor, porque desprecias su color?
Eartha Kitt sings Pintame Angelitos Negros,
the same Andrés Eloy Blanco poem Infante set to song
on thrift store vinyl playing in homemade YouTube clips.
Kitt raises her voice high enough
to swallow morning if it does not give her a sky
with dark-skinned angels in its clouds tonight.
Then dusk falls over the continent built on
shadows, shackles, and shame.
Broken-winged Blackbird three shades of jade, just fly into dark matter in outer space.
Perhaps up there is a better painter, better god for us all to obey.
by Darrel Alejandro Holnes
from Split This Rock