Everyone’s brain is like a tiny working computer. Our experiences are like the data that we collect through our memory. The way that our mind processes these experiences and memories determine how it affects us physically, psychologically, mentally and most importantly spiritually. Thus, our emotional response to things in life are directly connected to our memories. For example, whenever I eat mangos, I instantly feel nostalgic. I am reminded of my time as a little girl climbing mango trees in my grandfather’s yard in the United States. Just like I imagine the smell of incense may cause a Spaniard to remember their times at the Catholic church or attending processions with their families. Our nearly 4 years of living in Spain has allowed me to receive so many memories that are incredible, yet others outside of my comfort zone. For instance, the Holy Week here in Spain is an extremely important tradition. Holy Week in Spain is the annual commemoration of the passion of Jesus Christ celebrated by Catholic religious brotherhoods and fraternities. They perform penitence processions on the streets of nearly every Spanish city and town the week before Easter. The nazarenes of Spain (los nazarenos) are members of various catholic-based brotherhoods and fraternities. I realize that Spain takes much pride in their catholic religious traditions. I have been to multiple processions throughout the years during the Holy Week and would like to provide my perspective as a person on the outside looking into the culture of Spain.
I think it is very admirable of all the participants who carry the statues/images during the procession and others who help. It is commendable and I see that they take much honor in doing so. However, as a southern Black American Christian woman, I feel a sense of guilt in watching recreated scenes of Christ’s crucifixion. Additionally, when I see los nazarenos, it triggers my emotional trauma. The robes with the pointed hoods are very similar to the robes of the ku klux klan- commonly known as the KKK. The Ku Klux Klan is an American white supremacy terrorist and hate group whose primary targets are African Americans, Jews and immigrants. I fully understand that the Holy Week is about Catholicism and remembering Christ crucifixion. I also fully understand that los nazarenos are simply members of a brotherhood who participate in the processions. The color of their robes represents and depend on their specific brotherhood and church. And I fully understand that los nazarenes have absolutely zero association with the KKK United States hate group. HOWEVER, my database and memories cannot be erased. I have both personal and secondhand experiences with the hate group KKK. So, when I see los nazarenos at the processions, I still feel some emotional trauma. This is something that I have learned how to internally process within myself. Emotional trauma is the result of events or experiences that leave us feeling unsafe and often uncomfortable. Some common emotions associated with emotional trauma are anxiety, fear and shock. I’d like to think that my family and I are now well educated on Spain’s culture, but my experiences are permanently ingrained into my memories, thus causing an inevitable psychological and emotional reaction.
Now, what my children perceive when they see the nazarenes are completely different! My three children are ages 5, 8, and 12 years. Therefore, they have spent a large part of their lives here in Spain as well as attending a catholic school. So, the Holy Week for them is no different than any other festive activity held here in Andalusia, Spain. Our young daughter has even brought home drawings of “los nazarenos” that her class colored in. For me this is beautiful progress. There is NO emotional trauma when my children see the nazarenes. They only see Spain culture and traditions. I feel like that is a generational trauma that has been broken through our “cultural integration” here in Spain. It is important to always remember who we are and where we are from. But it is equally important to move past the pain of our memories by creating new ones. This is what my Black American family and I aspire to do by building our lives here in Spain. And even though my emotional trauma can never be erased, it ends with me and will NOT plague my children. This realization is a blessing.
Below is a short video of my children viewing our town’s procession.