Having “Cojones”

Angry couple.

The serious lack of communication
between men and women still exists
today and it is probably more marked
even with all the access to clinical help.

Still a frustrated teenage writer living in country of little or no communication between people, above all, men and women, I was emerging during a time when manhood meant having cojones or balls, something synonymous with valor. Having cojones, as part of my identity as a Spanish man, signified having sexual prowess and something more than just being able to procreate other miserable human beings. I would have to admit, in fact, that by then I had begun to harbor the same backward notions of what a real man should be as the rest of my compatriots, male and female, even when I was using restraint in my relationships with girls.

In the meantime the question of my virility and, ultimately, my courage would continue unanswered in those crucial days; an issue totally left up to the lessons of the chaotic “school of life.” It remained unanswered in my mind during my entire adolescence since I had not one person whom I could trust to seek counsel during this vulnerable period of life. I simply and secretly continued to hold on to my own intellectual notions on this and many more subjects since discussing these uncertainties was considered somewhat unmanly.

My confusion or, better yet, my state of misinformation as to my identity as a Black man and as a Spanish man in particular would seep into most of my relationships with Spanish speaking girls who had no Westindian ascendance and with the Afro-Panamanian men of Spanish descent. I would often encounter “Spanish” blacks who would remind me of how little I knew of them and their presence in the Barrios of the city. They would vehemently argue with me that I did not know my own people, the Panamanian Westindians, as much as they did. Looking back I must admit that they were absolutely right.

By now, my experiences in my beloved Panama had taken all the restraint I had to muster not to have fallen into the snares that await any young man who fancies himself genuinely in love. By the time I would father my first child a few years later I would have to begin to deal seriously with the erroneous notions I had grown up with about what it means to be a real man in Panama. I would have to weigh in the balance of life the notion of staying with the idea of being a caring father or lay myself open to pursuing the other interpretation of manhood and succumb to the humiliations and the lifestyle inherent in pimping women.

This life’s bout with defining my manhood and addressing questions of maturity and responsibility in acknowledging paternity had just begun. It would become another area of my life that I would guard carefully in order to keep my mental balance and “self” containment. Divorce had been a word I had become familiar with since the tender age of seven as my parents had literally instructed me in the art of what not to do in the case of a divorce, so that, as a modern Black man I saw it exceedingly vital to maintain my tranquility in the event that I would have to exit a relationship through divorce- something I would have to do at least twice in my life with not one but two black women and their families.

I would discover much later and only in the intellectual circles of my student years in college that I would find a great deal of company in airing such questions during the heated debates throughout the revolutionary sparring regarding the manhood of the Black man. One thing was certain, I discovered, that those “chains” continue to follow the Black man from the days of slavery. The entire issue of coming up with wholesome answers for our youth, both girls and boys, continues to be fraught with the consequences of the most notorious time in our history when men, women and children were denied control over their bodies, minds and destinies.

This story continues.

4 responses to “Having “Cojones”

  1. Kyle and Svet Keeton

    That is the one thing that Svet and I have is the ability to communicate for hours. Maybe we do not solve world problems but we can talk to each other and enjoy talking to each other. 🙂

    I have been divorced twice also… Not a fun experience!


    Sorry been in Israel and on visa runs. So I have ignored your blog this month. I am still around and I will get caught up…

  2. Kyle and Svet,

    After all these years of trying to deal with my ability to communicate I've reached the conclusion that if we can achieve this with the one person in this world that matters to us, this is all we need- everything is smooth sailing from then on.


  3. i'm new to your blog and i just wanted to tell you to keep up the good work. but i have a question, you said that "They would vehemently argue with me that I did not know my own people, the Panamanian Westindians, as much as they did. Looking back I must admit that they were absolutely right". what is it that you didn't know?

    Alex from Trinidad

  4. Hi Alex,

    Thanks for your visit and comment. You pose a good question. They were right, I did not know my own people for many reasons not the least of which was that, as youngsters, very few adults spoke to us about anything; so, we were not only in the dark about what was going on in our own families but, we were generally unaware of the happenings in our Canal Zone and Panamanian side communities.

    In addition, I was growing up like a "Spanish kid," eagerly learning to speak Spanish, and learn all the customs and traditions of Panamanian people. In large part the political and psychological harassment our people were undergoing forced this kind of situation.

    Keep reading and you'll discover why so many things led to my ignorance then.