Do unto others

I grew up knowing what it felt like being in the minority.  I never considered myself different than the other kids in school until I revealed in the 4th grade that I was half Puerto Rican.  My teacher discovered (cannot remember how) that I was bi-racial.  She was fascinated and asked if I would create a short presentation of my roots.  I was glad to do it; this doey eyed innocent little girl who held no shame about being “different”. I brought pictures, wrote out the alphabet and showed the kids how to pronounce each letter. Afterwards I received accolades from the teachers and even gave a presentation to the 5th grade class.

Little was I to know then the drama that would unfold through my childhood and teenage years for being the mixed child. Kids would call me names (and the wrong racial slurs also). I was called a wetback though Spic was the more appropriate term.  Had rocks thrown at me, was spat upon all because my father decided to marry an island girl who was a little more brown than others and spoke with a beautifully lilting accent.

I learned to stick up for myself, to fight back with words and not fists.  All that torrential abuse caused me to quickly learn to develop a thick skin but when you’re a 9 year old little girl you haven’t quite developed the tools to wrap your arms around your heart in protection.  It took time, and made me realize how sad these people were who would so easily discount so many of the world’s population and of course, someone like me.
Those racial taunts only spurred me even harder to leave home and succeed, which I did. We all have to learn how to get along. Doesn’t matter your racial, ethnic, religious, or socioeconomic background.  We have but this one life, this one planet.  Let’s all try to get along…shall we?

Racism springs from the lie that certain human beings are less than fully human. It’s a self-centered falsehood that corrupts our minds into believing we are right to treat others as we would not want to be treated.
Alveda King

The Race Issue

“Our true nationality is mankind.”
H.G. Wells

It’s well-known about the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.  I am not here to prejudge what happened when George Zimmerman shot that young man.

What I want to discuss is the delicate US race issue. 

Many times I have discussed racism on this blog. From my own experience to personal observations.  It greatly saddens me that many people still judge one another by the color of their skin when it’s actions that count.

I will never understand the deep-rooted hatred some blacks and whites have against each other here ever since the colonial era. Generalizing an entire group of people is simply wrong.

The institution of slavery set the tone for black/white relations for generations to come.  It has become the US’ Achilles Heel. Unfortunately it seems that there is still no answer as to how to overcome this blight in American history. 

My daughter is half African-American and she too has faced racism and have taught her from the time she could understand that we are all the same, it’s just the outside which provides our humane uniqueness. 

How we treat others reflects greatly on our character, our spiritual strength and our ability to be compassionate.

Unfortunately racial divisions still do exist, especially in Urban America as does racial profiling.  Those of us who are white, When we see a black man on the streets or even one who “looks Arab” what is our first impression?  This is what I mean when racism has become engrained in our society.

I have blood relatives mixed with African besides my daughter.  Slavery was also a factor in Puerto Rico’s history.

A good book to read is Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s. Involves groundbreaking research on racial theories and racial dynamics and evolution of ideologies in the United States and the Clinton Administration’s foothold for change.

I have always viewed the United States as the largest social experiment. We have individuals from all ethnic groups, religions, and ideologies.  A true melting pot with distinct flavors.  It’s a huge responsibility for each and every one of us to be productive citizens and to bond together in nationalistic fervor.  However, when we continue to hold on to archaic beliefs about each other, we will never progress as we should as a nation.

Being Puerto Rican and la familia

I had previously posted on this very subject in the past regarding the Puerto Rican or rather the Hispanic view of the family.  We Hispanics tend to be a very tight knit bunch.  Our family, our blood means everything to us.  I cannot describe how wonderful it feels to be the recipient of so much devotion.

Interesting Facts

Puerto Ricans consider themselves American but are fiercely proud of their island and their culture. They don’t usually call themselves Americans or “Americanos”, but “Puertorriqueños” or “Boricuas”. To most Puerto Ricans, “my country” means “Puerto Rico”, not the United States.

Criollo (creole) is a word used today by Puerto Ricans to describe things native to the island, such as: music, cuisine, language, arts, people, religion, and other aspects of the island culture.

It is known that Puerto Rican descendants call themselves Puerto Ricans. “I am Puerto Rican, but I wasn’t born there.”

The term “Nuyorican” is used to identify New Yorkers born in Puerto Rico or of Puerto Rican descent who live in or near New York City. The word Nuyorican derives from a combination of the words “New York” and “Puerto Rican”.

My mother was the best example of a mother’s love.  She loves us unconditionally and always has. Sure, she had that infamous Latina temper but we never once doubted how much this mother loved us.

I sometimes feel I pale in comparison to how I love my daughter but then I think about the sacrifices made in order to ensure my daughter was brought up well, never had to worry about a roof over her head or food in her belly. She saw how dedicated I was to being educated and I instilled these values along with hard work into her.

For those of you men who find Latin women erotic and ache to date/marry one of us I beg you to try and understand the concept of La Familia and to keep this in mind if you wish to be involved:

                 Puerto Rican                                                          American

Family is the foundation of the Puerto Rican social structure. The word ”familismo” is a Puerto Rican word that means close family connections, and it emphasizes the concern for the well being of the family. Friends and peer-aged acquaintances are often seen as the foundation of U.S. social structure.
Communications by telephone, as well as visits among families, are signs of being caring and are strongly encouraged and valued. Communication by telephone is common, but family visits are often reserved for holidays and special occasions.
“Interactions between family members and others are expected to be courteous, honorable and considerate” (Giammanco & Bartolomei, date, page ?). Interactions among family members reflect the independence that is expected and highly valued among individuals in this culture.
Family honor is of primary importance to Puerto Ricans, and they value an extended family, or modified extended family, which is the basic support system for first- and second-generation families in the U.S. (e.g.: cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, godparents (padrino/madrina), and close friends. The family unit is very diverse but, generally, it tends to be small and nuclear.
Individual achievement is not considered as valuable as family loyalty. Individual achievement is highly valued.
It is quite common to find three generations living under the same roof.Married couples tend to live in a house or apartment near their parents. Family members such as the grandparents, parents, married children and other relatives may live in different parts of the country.
Children are brought up as an integral part of the family unit. “Each [family] member has interdependent responsibilities, which validate their position in the family” (Giammanco & Bartolomei, date, p.?). Children are not expected to contribute to the welfare of the whole family.

click here for the source

Interesting Fact
Puerto Ricans are known for their warm hospitality, often considered very friendly and expressive to strangers. Greetings are often cordial and genuine. When people are first introduced, a handshake is usual, however, close friends and family members always greet you hello or goodbye with a kiss on the cheek or a combination hug and kiss. This happens between female friends and between men and women, but not between male friends.

Puerto Ricans are best known by speaking using lively hand and facial gestures, as hand and body language are important forms of communication.

Puerto Rican New Year’s Traditions

Thought I would share an old post of how this celebration is typically done on the island:

My mom introduced this to me last year.  Why she did not do this earlier no clue but on Midnight we throw out water from the old year…getting rid of bad tidings.  Here is some more info regarding some PR traditions for the new year:

 In Puerto Rico, children enjoy throwing buckets of water out the window at New Years Eve midnight. Some believe that this emancipates their home from evil spirits.

In Puerto Rico, everyone goes to the beach at midnight (okay not everyone)….and falls backward into the ocean. Making loud noises at the stroke of New Years Eve midnight with car horns, boat whistles, church bells or drum beats is also practiced to drive off the demons.  I remember the car horns but not going to the beach at midnight and acting crazy…. :^)

Parrandas

Even before December arrives, the chords of cuatros and guitars, accompanied by guiros and maracas, can be heard playing the traditional tune of an “aguinaldo” or “villancico” (Christmas song). Parrandas, also known as “asaltos” or “trullas,” are the Puerto Rican version of Christmas caroling. Friends gather late in the evening and go from house to house singing traditional holiday songs. The parranderos (carolers) generally are invited in by the homeowner and, in anticipation of their visit, the host offers them food and drinks. The parranda then continues on to the next house with the host usually joining in. Parrandas generally last till mid-January.

Año Viejo

Indisputably, Año Viejo (New Year’s Eve) is the holiday with the most noise and bustle in Puerto Rico. Friends and family gather to await the arrival of the New Year and say good-bye to the old. The celebration begins early in the evening with a lot of drinking and eating of traditional foods. Many choose to dress in brand-new clothing so they can receive the New Year with new things.

Although the government has outlawed pyrotechnics, you can hear plenty of firecrackers, bottle rockets, and cherry bombs exploding all night long and, as midnight draws closer, everyone gathers in anticipation of the new year. When the clock strikes 12, all you hear are fireworks, horns, cheers, and cries of joy as everyone hugs and kisses one another, wishing each other “Feliz Año Nuevo!”

Año Nuevo

After saying good-bye to the old year, a lot of Puerto Ricans do one of many rituals to receive the New Year. Eating 12 grapes at midnight is a custom that comes from Spain. It is said to bring lots of prosperity to those who do it. Another one is to throw a bucket of water out into the street to rid the home of all the bad things and prepare it for the arrival of all the good things. Another ritual is throwing sugar around the outside of the home to attract good luck and ward off bad luck.

Website:

http://www.puertorico-herald.org/issues/vol4n50/PRHolidayTrad-en.html

 

Being of mixed “race”

I have previously mentioned on this blog my experiences with racism and finding my identity.  Being of mixed race has its positive and negatives. Positives being I have two countries to be proud of (being 1st generation born in America) and being of Puerto Rican/Irish decent is always a nice conversational topic.
 
From the Wiki:
 

The terms multiracial and mixed-race describe people whose ancestries come from multiple races. Unlike the term biracial, which often is only used to refer to having parents or grandparents of two different races, the term multiracial may encompass biracial people but can also include people with more than two races in their heritage, or also may refer to the origin of more generationally distant genetic admixtures of more than one race in a person’s DNA.

 
However, those of us who come from two distinct cultures can at times find it difficult to “blend in” into this American melting pot.  We are pulled into 2 different directions, loyalty to the country we were born and raised in and loyalty to a culture with strong familial ties.
 
When you are here in the states there are people who consider you less than human and have a difficult time “categorizing” you. And when you are in Puerto Rico some don’t even consider you a Hispanic but more of a gringa….it’s like being in limbo.
 
So, you grow up fighting for what you believe in, to prove yourself (yet why should you ever have to?) and simply trying to find your personal niche in this world to call your own, irregardless of your heritage.  I know that I love who I am, I enjoy my extended family and am comfortable from where I come from.

The New Face of America

Was thumbing through some of CNN’s headline stories today and clicked with trepidation on one article:  Is America Becoming a Hispanic Country? I didn’t know what to expect considering some of the generic feelings some people have in my country regarding Hispanics, or more importantly…Mexicans.

As I have previously discussed on my blog, I grew up with Midwestern racism.  My fellow highschool students were basically taught to fear people/things different than themselves. I remember in the 4th grade when some of my classmates found out I was half Puerto Rican (they initially thought I was Japanese) until I corrected them. My 4th grade teacher was enthralled and had me present to my class and 5th graders a visual presentation of the Puerto Rican culture. So I began public speaking at an early age.  🙂

The new face of America (me)

According to the news’ article on Hispanic population growth:

In the 33 states for which data has been released so far, there are almost 600,000 more Hispanics than previously thought. Twenty-eight states had more Hispanics than expected. And, while the current count is 38.7 million Hispanics, there is still data coming from 17 states, making it likely that the final figure could surpass 55 million, or 17% of the U.S. population.

As the article insinuates….Americans are becoming fearful of the demographic change because the country IS indeed changing.  America is a melting pot and with interracial dating and marriages the distinction of “races” may become a blur in the not so far distant future.

 

Personally, I embrace all forms of culture as long as there is a distinction of what cultural/religious practices are acceptable and do not interfere with the basic tenants of the Constitution; because from what I understand, there are certain sub-cultures within the USA that desire to change basic laws to meet the requirements of their religion.  Doing that, at least for me, would open up a whole new can of worms that could disrupt the social order.   We all have to assimilate to a certain degree in our chosen country (whether by birth or immigration.)

I digress but I knew this day would come. In college statistics already showed that Hispanics would eventually become the primary minority population by 2050. I understand about retaining cultural characteristic because it makes us unique when we number in the billions on this planet but I like to think of humanity coming in many wonderful different flavors and we simply need to find a way to try to get along and embrace this uniqueness we each carry.