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Common Struggle

May 25th, 2012

In George Priestley’s article entitled “Ethnicity, Class, and Race in the United States: Prospects for African-American/Latino Alliances”, Priestly states:

The current challenges of both groups are the product of race, class, and gender relations of the post-civil-rights era, a period characterized by massive immigration of nonwhite people […] If economic competition and immigration issues have the potential of dividing Latinos and African-Americans, these groups have a strategic list of demands that unites them. (Priestly 56)

Priestly believes that “race, class, and gender” play major roles in both minority groups.  In America today, slavery no longer exists, but “The Color Line” an article which Frederick Douglas published in 1881 detailing racial segregation, still exists to a certain extent in America.  The “Color Line” suggests racial discrimination because of the color/race of a person.  Latinos and African Americans have both equally dealt with Racialization and inequality in America prior to and after the “civil rights era”; an era that struggled to attain civil rights for African-Americans along with other groups.  Latinos represent a multi-cultural and multi ethnic group of people and a “color line” or Racialization exists within their community as well because of the diverse backgrounds and races that incorporate the group.  As immigration increases from Latin America, Latinos and Blacks both struggle to achieve civil, economic and social stability.

 

In Tanya Golash-Boza’s article entitled “Dropping the Hyphen?  Becoming Latino/a-American through Racialized Assimilation”, Boza states:

In contemporary U.S. society, we learn our racial place through interactions with others.  If others classify us as white, we learn to expect preferential treatment.  If others classify us as something other than white we learn to expect marginalization.  This marginalization plays out in different ways, depending on a wide variety of factors, including, but not limited to, skin color, manner of speaking, body language, hair texture and facial features. (Boza 33)

Boza states the “we learn our racial place through interactions with others”.  This happens if you’re white, black, Latino, Asian, and so on.  Race places everyone in categories and even a child regardless of race understands their place in society.  Even if they are not consciously aware of it, society depicts a hierarchy with whiteness and children grasp this at an early age.  She also states that Latinos “learn to expect preferential treatment” if others classify them as white, and they expect “marginalization” if they classify them as black or other.  She also states that depending on “skin color, manner of speaking, body language, hair texture and facial features”, the marginalization plays out in different ways.  Boza implies that the darker their skin, the more “ethnic” they speak and “act”, the coarser their hair and the larger their features the more they are racialized or discriminated against.

 

 

In Jennifer Lee’s and Frank D. Bean’s article entitled “Reinventing the Color Line Immigration and America’s New Racial/ Ethnic Divide”, they state:

In any case, regardless of skin color, Latinos fall closer to non-Hispanic whites in their attitude towards blacks than to non-Hispanic blacks.  Such results suggest considerable variation in the Racialization experiences of Latinos in the United States […] Many Latinos, especially Mexican, may not see themselves or may not be seen as belonging to the collective black category. (569)

Lee and Bean state that “Latinos fall closer to non-Hispanic whites in their attitude towards blacks than to non-Hispanic blacks”, this implies many Latinos fit well within the white binary, where they relate more to whites than to blacks.  They also state that there lies “considerable variation in the Racialization experiences of Latinos in the United States” which implies that Latinos also use Racialization when it comes to blacks because they fit into the white spectrum and possibly never experienced Racialization.  Again, going back to the color line, why would anyone want to relate to a group that faces marginalization and Racialization over centuries within this society?  This quote explains how some Latinos identify more with whites over black minorities because of 1.) Racialization and 2.) White represents power where as black represents fear.

 

Shades of the Border

May 25th, 2012

This video demonstrates how Dominicans use Racialization when it comes to their sister island of Haiti.  Though the Haitians and the Dominicans look quite similar (the Haitians may be a tad bit darker), they view the Haitian people as less than which shows how the white/black binary persists in other countries as well. Over one million Haitians live in the Dominican Republic illegally and the video illustrates the conflicts that exist because of the white/black binary which is not only prevalent in the United States but as you see in this video in another “minority ethnic group” .  Dominicans and Haitians derive from the same lands and some the same ancestry, but yet one holds a stigma on the other because of skin color.  The other conflicts that Pineda mentioned pertain to cheap labor, language and religion but the real heart of the conflict involves darkness.  The darker the person, the more Racialization occurs even within otherminority groups.

The above video entitled “The Browning of America” is from a lecture at The Latin American Health Institute by Ilan Stavans, the editor of The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. Stavans discusses the social connotations of color and the stereotypes that society constructs for different ethnic groups.  He addresses the White/Black binary and states that the social connotations of color will always maintain prevalence because the world encompasses a multi cultural and multi ethnic society. Good Stuff!

This short video shows how Miami is considered the “Capital of the Americas” and the “Center of the New World”.  Miami is filled with Latinos from all over the world who have come to the City and made Miami into a little Latin America.  From Cubans, Venezuelans, Brazilians to Argentinians Miami encompasses this wonderful culture and has embraced the Latin community.  Miami is the most diversed Latin American Community and almost 60% percent of the people speak mainly Spanish.  It is almost as if Miami is its own diverse Latin American country.  Cubans make up the biggest percent of Latinos in Miami and even have a section of Miami called “Little Havana”.  I have been to Miami several times and I love the Latin/ Caribeean energy that Miami brings.

The video above brings tears to my eyes.  Even though I know it is staged, it really pushed my buttons to see this type of crime happen because the individual is “Mexican”. It really saddened me to see the lack of humanity that transpired during the video.  There have been lives lost for hate crimes just like this and I do understand the initial shock of witnessing this type of thing and the uncertainty around getting involved.  But, as another human being how could you just stand and do nothing. With the society that we live in people close their eyes to and ignore what’s going on because these people are strangers to us.  But we have to take a step back and put our selves or our loved ones in the same situation.  The pedestrians that got involved, represent humanity and love for their brother and that was so beautiful to see.

 

Cover Letter

May 25th, 2012

I always thought of myself as a pretty good writer until English 255 Latino Literature with Professor Alvarez.  This class completely opened my eyes to the habitual mistakes that I make when writing.  I never noticed that a paper of mine would contain on average about 20 “To Be” verbs.  Everything that I learned in this class, I am now applying to my other classes when I write my papers.  I am over conscious about the the verbs that I use, because my writing simply flows better with less “To Be” verbs.  My MLA citation has definitely improved but I can not say I have mastered the many different variations which MLA entails.  This course helped me to critically analyze different texts from poems to historical content.  As far as learning about Latino Literature, I can honestly say that I appreciated learning about the culture on a deeper level than what I know from friends of Latino descent.  I appreciated learning different things about the culture and the social struggles that they face as a minority group.  Even though the class has A LOT of writing, I enjoyed it because of the improvement that I now see as I write.  This class definitely had me questioning my other English classes and wondering why I never learned to organize PIE paragraphs or even accurately use MLA citation.  Thanks Professor for taking the time “to be” 🙂 thorough.  That was only one I think.  Have a great summer!!!!

Abstract

May 25th, 2012

Abstract

 Racialization exists in America, but it also exists all over the world.  In this article, I will argue that Latinos face social struggles in American society.  I will argue that Latinos face the same social struggles that are inherent in the African American community but because of the white/black binary instituted within our culture, they tend to identify with whiteness because of the hierarchy that it implies.  Racialization stains the United States because of the color line.  Race links individuals to their place in society.  Latinos represent a racialized minority just as African Americans in American society, but depending on skin color a Latino/a can go either way.  This article will detail how skin color impacts the way Latinos classify and identify themselves.  This article will argue the idea of “race” and how it impacts the relationship between Latinos and African Americans.  I will argue that African Americans and Latinos need to connect on a minority level to build a coalition where the two groups will work together to achieve the same opportunities as whites.  Race is a form of social inequality and this article will demonstrate how it negatively labels different groups within the hierarchy of race.

 

The above video entitled “Discrimination PSA Light Skin vs. Dark Skin” shows how children discriminate against each other because of skin color.  The video shows two African American, dark skin girls approach a group of four light skin Latino girls who are jumping rope.  They ask if they can play with the light skin girls and the girls are turned down because they are too dark skinned.  As the black girls are walking away, the main girl who says no to the girls says “She is mad black, she is darker than that cheeseburger my father burned yesterday”.  One of the other Latina says “They just the same people just with different skin color and different hair type”.  Then another one says “Dark isn’t lovely, They is too ugly” followed by laughter of the other two.  The only one out the group who tries to diffuse their way of thinking says “Ya’ll don’t even understand my point” and they continue to jump rope.  This is a prime example of discrimination and how minorities of a lighter skin color look down on people that are darker skinned.  The girls were about twelve years old and they are using the color of a person’s skin to determine if they are worthy to fit into their clique.  There was one girl who stood up and acknowledged that her friends were being racists.  But, she continued playing with them.  This is a learned behavior, human kind is not born with racist tendencies.  As minorities we have to learn to embrace our rainbow of colors.  It starts within our community, we have to love ourselves regardless of skin color before others will.

HERE

April 21st, 2012

I am two parts/ a person

boricua/spic

past and present

alive and oppressed

given a cultural beauty

… and robbed of cultural identity (1397)

 

In this passage from the poem “Here” by Sandra Maria Esteves, the poet addresses her nationality which is of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent. She speaks of being “two parts/ a person” which indicates how she is viewed within her Latino community and how she is viewed within American society.  She represents Latinos “past and present” who have dealt with the social struggles of being Latino.  Esteves speaks of her identity as a Latino dealing with “oppression”.  She is “alive”, but she is living in an oppressive environment.  The Latinos are known for having a beautiful culture but they are robbed of their identity once they immigrate to America.  Esteves is in conflict with the new “her” and the old “her”.  She craves to be one “part”which involves being socially accepted reconnecting with her cultural identity.

 

Everyone had Cameras

April 20th, 2012

In the critical essay “Everyone had cameras: photographers and the farm worker experience in California- a photographic essay” by Richard Steven Street speaks of the importance and impact film has had on the farm worker experience in California.  Cameras and film capture the struggle of the farm workers and their non-violent protests, marches, fasts and arrests.  Film is the best evidence for creating an impact on issues involving the human condition.  In the following passage Street discusses the photographer who waits for a critical moment:

 

The photographers who have worked among California farmworkers have been called the eyes of conscience, but they have also been called propagandists for hire. They have recorded life and labor in the fields, even while obscuring its harsh realities. They have probed the human condition and glorified an industry, captured tenacity, generosity, and dignity, and also recorded suffering, injustice, and violent class warfare.

 

Street brings focus to the importance of the photographers.  A picture says a thousand words and the photographers are usually on the front line willing to capture a moment to show the human condition.  They witness first hand and capture inspiring moments as well as moments of injustice.  The farm worker experience in California is gruesome and photography captures these moments so that the public is aware of the dark side.  But at the same time photography captures beautiful moments as well.  A freelance photographer by the name of John Krouns says that “Cesar Chavez really knew the value of photography”.  Krouns states that everyone had cameras and Chavez considered how everything would look on film.  The use of film is used to shape the visual to their advantage during the strike.  In Cesare Chavez’s “What is Democracy?”, Chavez discusses the involvement of people to achieve democracy.  Chavez states that “participation in the democratic process is a key strategy in nonviolent struggle”.  Hence, the reason Chavez appreciates and understands the value that comes with photography.  It exposes and is a part of the democratic process as well.

 

Street, Richard Steven. “Everyone had cameras: photographers, photography and the farmworker experience in California–a photographic essay.” California History 83.2 (2005): 8+. Academic OneFile. Web. 20 Apr. 2012.

As I watched the video “The Mexican vs. Racist Angry Minutemen”, I was disgusted by the ignorance and racism.  They told the Mexican man to go back to his country as if he did not belong here because he is from Mexican descent. Whilefilming the young man persistently asks the minutemen “Where did your ancestors come from?”  He asks this because he is trying to prove a point that he has just as much right to be in this country as the angry white minutemen does.  America is made up of the world and the many nationalities that encompass it.  The young man stood firm and did not back down or behave in a violent manner.  At one point he films a Latino woman who also protests against Mexicans living in America.  The young man shouts several times “I am indigenous to this continent” because Mexico is in North America along with the U.S.  It is so ironic that the minutemen are the ones acting like savages but they are to first to deem other minorities as savages.  In “Borderlands/La Frontera, Chapter 1”, Gloria Anzaldua sheds light on Mexicans and how they are treated as outcasts and aliens in the U.S. just as this young man is treated.

 

On various occasions I had been mistaken for a Jew, an Italian, a Greek, even a Hungarian; and each time I had come away feeling secretly proud of myself for having disguised my Spik accent, and with it my lineage.  I could almost feel myself melting smoothly and evenly into the great pot (1565).

In this passage From “Family Installments 7: In Black Turf” Edward Rivera speaks of being a lighter skinned Puerto Rican who is frequently mistaken as Caucasian from different countries.  But this does not bother him, because it gives him a sense of social acceptance.  Puerto Ricans range in color from white skin to very dark skin.  The darker skin Puerto Ricans deal with racial discrimination just as the minority Black race.  In the Latin community the lighter skin is idolized because they look European.  Rivera states that he feels himself “melting smoothly and evenly into the great pot”.  This simply means that he feels more socially accepted because he does not look Latino or Black.  His lineage or roots are concealed because of his appearance and this is a plus for him in American society and Puerto Rican society as well.

My parents and my grandparents, after all, had first instilled in me a sense that there was far too long a history of injustice in this society. “Only,” as my father would say later at my trial, “your mother and I never thought you would actually try to so something about it.  Not on such a scale, anyhow.” (1446).

In this passage from “La Vida Pura: A Lord of the Barrio” Pablo Guzman discusses the reaction of his family when he joins the Young Lords Organization.  Guzman’s family is exposed to the social injustices that were going on in their community but they never believed that their son would be one of the pioneers in establishing this radical movement for Latinos in New York which was an affiliation of YLO’s in Chicago.  Guzman at the tender age of nineteen had become politically involved in a revolution to fight against racial and socioeconomic oppression.  The Black Panthers and the YLO fought the same fight which was for equality and liberation.  Guzman fought along with the YLO’s for political change socially and economically.

 

Often when on a translating trip at the hospital or local school with my mother or a neighbor, another person—a Spanish-speaking stranger—would also require and request translating assistance.  The role as “go-between helped in my later radicalization because I got to see institutional practices up close.  I got to feel the disdain and injustices with which people, bureaucrats, and institutions responded to Puerto Ricans.  I experienced the mistreatment and humiliation (1429).

In this passage from PALANTE, SIEMPRE PALANTE! : The Young Lords –A CHILDHOOD AS “GO-BETWEEN” Iris Morales discusses her life growing up and attaining her role as translator within her family and friends.  Morales deemed herself the link between theAmerican culture and the Puerto Rican culture for her parents.  She assisted her parents as well as neighbors and strangers with translating the language.  Morales experienced first hand the social injustices that Puerto Ricans face in America.  The prejudices which Morales experience directly derive from being poor, darker skinned, and speaking a different language.  The scenes of disrespect and disgrace become implanted in a person’s psyche.  Throughout the history of the United States racist practices against minorities is not uncommon (the darker the skin the more prevalent).  Morales eventually utilize these experiences to pursue a militant civil rights movement with the Young Lord Organization to ensure that the government takes more responsibility for the living conditions and social struggles in the Latino communities.

apprenticeship

April 20th, 2012

when I join my grandmother

for a tasa de café

and I listen to the stories

de su antepasando

her words paint materpieces

and these I hang in the galleries of my mind:

 

I want to be an artist like her (1414).

 

In this passage from “apprenticeship” Evagelina Vigil-Pinon speaks of spending quality time with her grandmother and learning of her Mexican ancestry.  The poem demonstrates two different generations where the older generation passes memorable life experiences to the younger generation.  Her grandmother’s words are so descriptive and beautiful that she compares them to artistic paint masterpieces.  The words become long lasting memories shared between family.  Pinon says “I want to be an artist like her” because she wants to convey the same stories to the next generation of her Mexican-American family.  I enjoyed this passage because it demonstrates the idea of identity.  When a person is knows their identity and ancestry it provides a sense of pride and self worth.  The passage also demonstrates an intimate scene with Pinon and her grandmother and it conveys their close knit family relationship.

 

 

 

A Mongo Affair

April 20th, 2012

I have to admit that he has been

lied to, misled,

that I know that all the goodies he named humiliate the receiver,

that a man is demoralized

when his woman and children

beg for weekly checks (1347).

In this passage from “A Mongo Affair” Miguel Algarin speaks of the Nuyorican who has established a life in New York from Puerto Rico.  Algarin states that Puerto Ricans come to America and they are “lied to” and “misled”.  Algarin believes that once Puerto Ricans come to America and fall into the welfare system, it only holds them down.  He calls the welfare system and all the “perks” that it encompasses as “humiliation” for the person that utilizes it.  He also uses the word “demoralized” to imply that welfare undermines a person’s confidence and goals.  The receiver becomes complacent and does not strive for more, such as education and careers.  He correlates welfare with a form of begging.  Algarin believes welfare brings about laziness in the receiver, which keeps them mentally enslaved and financially dependant on the government.

 

The Broken English Dream

April 20th, 2012

To the united states we came

To learn how to mispell our name

To lose the definition of pride

To have misfortune on our side

To live where rats and roaches roam

in a house that is definitely not a home (1365)

In the passage from “The Broken English Dream” Pedro Pietri illustrates the United States and the “American Dream” which many immigrants aspire to acquire while in America, as an unattainable and unrealistic goal.  Pietri states that Puerto Ricans in America deal with poverty and misfortune.  The Puerto Rican race loses all sense of pride because they come to live a life that is probably worst than the life they were living in their homeland.  All of their hopes and dreams are diminished and they live in amongst rodents because they are unable to achieve a life other than poverty.  Pietri says that they live “in a house that is definitely not a home” which implies that they are just living in a shell without any foundation or connection to the country that they reside in.  Instead of America enabling the Puerto Ricans, it has mentally disabled them.

Which is more effective as a means of getting a political message across? Who has more freedom of speech? Whose manners of speaking are legitimate, or carry the most symbolic power? What are the balances of cultural capital?

The “Star Spanglish Banner” is definitely a more effective means of getting a political message across.  The film illustrates people utilizing their democratic right.  This consists of marches and protests in a non violent manner.  They are also utilizing their freedom of speech by changing the lyrics to the Star Spangle Banner to get their point across.  The short film is satirical.  The goal of a satire is to take a political stand in a funny manner.  Even though it is funny, the audience clearly grasps the social criticism that the video pokes at.

The “Nanny Spanish” video is hilarious, but it is not the most effective means of taking a political stand, because these women have no idea that the teacher is taking a stand against something.

The Democratic Process.

March 19th, 2012

What I am really talking about —whether it is immigration, citizenship, cultural mores, or voting rights—is making it possible for more people to participate in the democratic process.  If these changes come to pass we will witness a radical reordering —for the better—in our country.  For whenever new blood is transfused into our national social and political fabric our nation is enriched and strengthened (779).

Cesar Chavez addresses his ideas on what he feels democracy should consist of.  Chavez believes that everyone should take part in the democratic process in America.  This process entails voting, boycotting, striking, marching, and anything non violent that will get attention.  All of these factors are the given rights of a democratic nation.  Chavez believes that these factors are stepping stones to get the issues heard and we all should utilize them.  He believes that participation is the only way to see change in America.  He believes that change will bring forth a better country for the citizens as well as the immigrants who migrate here.  He also states that America is enriched and strengthened when people can come together regardless of race or color and tackle the political and social issues of the nation.

Just Sad!

March 19th, 2012

If you’re white, you’re right;

If you’re yellow, you’re mellow;

If you’re brown, hang around;

If you’re black, step back;

If you’re just Spanish, you’ll be banished (1074).

In this vey short passage, Nicholasa Mohr introduces a rhyme that the children of New York City would recite.  Apparently, it originated in the south by African Americans. Again, it is amazing how children perceive themselves in society’s eyes.  The fairer you are in complexion the better off you are in society. As I read this, I was reminded of the white doll/black doll experiment.  A rhyme like this is what establishes an inferiority complex in our minority children.  It is sad to see that this is something that actually comes out the mouths of children.  But, it goes to show you how society can affect the way a child thinks and sees his/herself. The color line in America is what holds the country back. In line (4) “If you’re black, step back;” and line (5) “If you’re Spanish, you’ll be banished”, absolutely disgusts me.  I can not imagine growing up in those times and hearing that rhyme.  This will stick with a person for life if you were a black or spanish person because it evokes the feelings of being less than others.

My parents came from Poland and Czechoslovakia, at twenty I ousted myself from my country, foreseeing that the nation would take on something like the air of a general prison; that wasn’t to my taste (I would come to learn that the whole planet is a general prison): I was born in Cuba, where I left no progeny, and I will not return: I am the first and last Cuban generation (1243).

I chose this passage written by Jose Kozer initially because the bio says that he taught at Queens College and is a Latino/Jewish which I found very interesting.  Besides the bio, I found the text in “First & Last” very captivating.  The reader immediately identifies with him being Cuban from a Polish and Czechoslovakian descent.  At the age of 20, Kozer explains that he exiled himself because of the political issues that were happening in Cuba at the time.  He views Cuba as a prison, and this identifies with his lack of freedom in the country.  When he points out “I would come to learn that the whole planet is a general prison”, Kozer is addressing the social struggles that inhabit the earth.  Kozer states that he was born in Cuba but that he will not have any Cuban offspring and he will not return back to that life. He says he is the “first and last” which demonstrates to the reader that his experiences with Cuba left a bad taste in his mouth.  Even though it is his native country he does not have any desire to return there.

A Mother’s Love

March 19th, 2012

You are a woman, Nilda. You will have to bear the child; regardless of who planted the seed, they will be your children and no one else’s. If a man is good, you are lucky; if he leaves you, or is cruel so much the worse for you…And then if you have nomoney and little education, who will help you, Nilda? Another man? Yes, and another pregnancy. Welfare? Yes, and they will kill you in the process, slowly robbing you of your home (1053).

In this passage From “Nilda” by Nicholasa Mohr, a mother on her death bed speaks to her daughter very bluntly about life.  Even though it is avery blunt passage where it may come across as cruel, as a reader it reflected the love that a mother has for her daughter. She does not want Nilda to make the same bad choices in life as she did.  She wants her daughter to be wise before she makes life altering decisions such as having children.  She wants Nilda to be independent economically, so she does not have to depend on any man or the government for assistance.  She tells her to get an education so that she will be able to provide for herself.  She does not want Nilda to get caught up in the stereotypical lifestyle where she has child after child from different men who do not stick around and at the same time relying on welfare to get by.  She tells her that the welfare process will kill you and take everything from you including potential, ambition, and a sense of autonomy.  I really enjoyed reading this passage, because her mother did not sugar coat anything. Her goal is for Nilda to get the message and truly understand that she does not have to
settle in life.

I am Joaquin,

lost in a world of confusion,

caught up in a whirl of a

gringo society,

confused by the rules,

scorned by the attitudes,

suppressed by manipulation,

and destroyed by modern society (788).

In this small passage from a poem titled “I am Joaquin” written by Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, it addresses the struggles that Mexican immigrantsface in this country.  He writes “lost in a world of confusion”, Gonzales is saying that he feels lost in this world or land called America.  He is confused because he can not get ahead due to the economic struggles that Mexicans face in this country. He says that he is “caught up in a whirl of a gringo society”, which is clearly an opposition towards white society in America.  Gonzales is “confused by the rules” that are different for the Mexicans because they do not have equal rights. He also states that he is “scorned by attitudes” which implies his feelings of denigration that arise because of the treatment and mindset of the “gringo” population.  He discusses the feelings of being “suppressed by manipulation” which reveals the exploitation that the Mexicans experience.  Gonzales is not only speaking for himself but for all the Mexicans who are in the struggle of attaining economic and social equality.

I never really thought about the struggles that children face when English is not their primary language.  As I watched the video titled “Immersion”, I could not imagine having to face those struggles everyday.  Moises, who is the main character in the short film, is a Mexican immigrant. Moises is excellent in math and he is preparing for his first state exam in the United States.  He is also probably the most knowledgeable in his class. But, because his English is not well he struggles with the dynamic of the standardized testing because it is in English.  This video made me want to scream, I could not understand why there was not a test in Spanish that could have been provided for Moises.  Latinos make up a large percentage of the population and I think that these tests should be in the Spanish language as well.  However, I do understand that English is in fact the “primary” language of the U.S.  These children should be tested in their primary language until they reach a point where they are comfortable with taking it in English.  I think there needs to be more efforts in establishing an environment where the children are not under this type of pressure at such a young age ,especially in schools or areas where there are many immigrants.

114th street

March 18th, 2012

I sure missed 111th street, where everybody acted, walked, and talked like me.  But on 114th Street everything went all right for a while.  There were a few dirty looks from the spaghetti –an-sauce cats, but no big sweat. Till that one day I was on my way home from school and almost had reached my stoop when someone called: “Hey you dirty fuckin’ spic.” (Thomas 814)

 

This small passage from Piri Thomas’ From Down These Mean Streets Alien Turf details his life as a child who moves into an Italian neighborhood. Piri brings to light the discrimination that he has experienced while living in a primarily Italian neighborhood.  This type of discrimination was quite common when Piri grew up.  Piri and his family moved from an area where everyone was just like him to an area where he felt alone.  He wrote this particular essay in 1967.  This was shortly after the civil rights movement where people were probably more vocal about their views where race was concerned.  Nowadays, racism is still very much alive but we live in a more “politically correct” era where those types of situations do not happen as often especially not in the North/East coast.  He recalls being called a “dirty fuckin spic” by the neighborhood children, just because he was different than they were.  Piri wrote about his life growing up and having to deal with racial and social conflicts that plagues America even to this day.  I enjoyed reading this particular story because I found the style in which Piri writes, grasps the reader like a movie does.

 

 

 

 

Earlier this evening I asked my son and boyfriend to watch this video with me.  My son told me that he saw this video two years ago in school and did not wish to watch it again.  My boyfriend and I watched it and this video caused a 45 minute argument. He is still talking as I write this. If I had known it would have created this debate, I would have chosen not to play it.  He does not believe that the whole light-skin/ dark-skin thing exists in this day and age where as I believe it does.  But aside from appearance there are also the negative stereotypes that black women deal with on a daily basis.  With that being said, I am from a Caribbean background where my dad is from Afro-descent and my mom is from Creole/ Spanish descent within the Caribbean.  I grew up resembling my father and having features that look more Afro.  I do not look like my mom or her family where as my sister does.  Growing up we would go to Trinidad every summer.  We stayed mostly with my mom’s family who looks very different from me. As a child, I always felt like I did not belong because my hair and skin was not like theirs.  I did not have that mixture which is praised in the Caribbean. I remember going to the beach and getting my hair wet and not being able to pass a comb through it, where as my cousins and sister were able to comb right through their fine curly hair.  As a child we see this and we feel like that’s what is looked at as beauty, and realistically society’s image of beauty is hardly ever the ethnic black female.  It is not until I got older that I began to embrace the beauty that God blessed me with.  The bottom line is that beauty comes in all forms, no matter what race, creed or color. As I watched 15 out of 20 black children choose the white doll over the black, it saddened me.  It demonstrates how even little children associate white with lightness and black with darkness.  How and where do children establish this way of thinking from especially children of the same color?  Do black children grow up thinking they’re inferior to white children?  Is it society that brings forth an inferiority complex?  We are in 2012 and it is time for things to change.  I just hope that it changes for the better.

They lodge in the best hotels where they are wined and dined, where long conversations take place to deliberate new means of extracting the last drop of energy from the emaciated bodies of workers and peasants from the colony (Colon 502).

In this passage Colon speaks of the exploiters of Puerto Rico, and he exposes the advantages that they experience as they discuss how the workers and peasants will be further oppressed. These oppressors do not care about these workers, all of their thoughts and concerns focuses on having more money in their bank accounts. Their concerns are based on what University or Country Club that their children will attend. These capitalists could care less about the salaries of the proletariat class or the countless massacres that occur because of social inequality.

Grandma, you are there on that beautiful island. You were born there. You have been there all your life. You now have what most people here can only dream about. Don’t let sentimental letters and life-colored photographs lure you from your island, from your nation, from yourself. Grandma, please, please! DO NOT COME! (Colon 499)

In this small passage, Colon writes to his to his grandmother begging her to stay in Puerto Rico where she was born and raised. She lives on an island where most people dream about, a place where they vacation and spend their honeymoon. He wants her to remain true to herself and to her nation. He does not want her to feel as though she is missing out on anything because she does not live in New York City. He understands that she misses her family but still begs her not to leave. He does not want her to be exposed to everyday hustle and bustle of New York. He wants her to enjoy her life on the beautiful island in Puerto Rico where people say “Buenos Dias” and where the people are calm and laid back. He wants her to remain on the island where she can speak her native language of Spanish where she fits right in. He does not want her to be exposed in any way to the elements of New York City. He wants her to realize that America is not all what it is boasted to be.

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