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

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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.

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.

Hispanic culture verses the WASP

Sometimes I have a full-blown battle going on inside of me because of being mixed.

My Hispanic side rebels against the fact that my daughter should automatically leave the nest at 18. While my WASP side (though I did not grow up Protestant but Roman Catholic due to the heavy influence of my mother’s religious convictions and dad’s apathy towards anything remotely related to it) rebels against the fact my daughter has grown comfortable still living at home.

I say that only because my daughter needs to have the necessary tools to survive in this society.  America is all about being individualistic (and trust me I respect that because I greatly value my independence)….so kids really need to be taught at an early age about responsibility and gaining a marketable skill.

Don’t get me wrong, WASP types of families do love their children, of course they do and would be stupid of me to say they did not but I do feel and see a difference when it comes to WHEN children are expected to break free.  In addition, in a typical Hispanic family it is preferable for the young women to remain at home until marriage (yeah sounds old-fashioned) but all in all I would prefer that my daughter remain at home until either 1.) She finds a stable job and moves out with reliable friends or 2.) moves out when she marries.

The Hispanic family normally has a large network of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins (second and third ones at that) who rally together for their blood and this passion for one another really appeals to me.  I always see Hollywood and the general media knocking down Hispanics. We are either a.) drug dealers b.) maids c.) troubled youth d.) prostitutes e.) single mothers or f.) illegals. These people forget that we come from different backgrounds.  That we are more than what the general society THINKS we are.

Like I said…it is difficult to overcome the stereotypes already in place out there.  Open your eyes….think for yourself.

Memories of PR

This picture was taken when I was around 13 years old. (Am to the very far right sitting next to my abuela). The Puerto Rican sun kissed my skin a nice chestnut brown.  The blinds behind me are typical of PR homes (because of the hurricanes).   My sister is seated to the far left (with her little tom boy haircut) and brother is up front to the right.  Also in this picture is one of my aunts (she became a teacher) and one of my many many cousins (he ended up becoming a police officer).

These were some really good memories:

Click on picture to enlarge

Racism is alive and well in the heart of America

I was reading Cool Red’s blog regarding the incident her daughter has recently went through. It’s a shame this day and age we still have such archaic thoughts on race.

Her children are mixed:  Arab and American.  Cool Red’s story reminds me of  “my adolescent cross to bear” being of mixed race.  Kids these days really should know better but bullies will be bullies (must be that inferiority complex) and these kids in Wyoming were simply ignorant.  WHY in the world put a young girl through such trauma?  It’s difficult enough for kids.  WHY add to it?

I taught my daughter (who is also of mixed race) to respect other cultures and religions.  Obviously some of these kids need a refresher course on being compassionate.  Frankly I am glad the school stepped in and denounced such perversity.  Calling someone a terrorist simply because they are of a certain race/culture is completely asinine.

No on Señor Pop’s

Unfortunately :^( when we arrived at the location it was closed for

"Sheer heaven baby!"

"Sheer heaven baby!"

r.e.n.o.v.a.t.i.o.n.  Personally, I think Mr. Pop’s choose an unsuitable place for such a restaurant of my grand genetic heritage.  I would have preferred it at the more northern end of Grand Avenue. Let’s just say the location they chose was questionable.  Oh well, went ahead and took mom and the kid to a Persian restaurant and we had our fill.  Would have loved to try some PR cuisine…considering how long it has been since I tasted something so utterly and heavenly delicious….(I need to practice more with my own culinary skills)……….

My mother stated she could almost taste the mofongo (pictured here) and frankly so could I.  GOD! Seems like this blogger is going to have to make the recipe herself. I really miss my abuela’s cooking. I remember as a child standing by her in the kitchen (literally with tears in my eyes) because I wanted to eat her food so bad. Mind you I was just a meer child and the delectable smell of the arroz con pollo was simply overwhelming to my young senses.

If you would like to try your hand at mofongo go right ahead!:

Ingredients:
(Plaintains with Pork Rinds)
3 green plaintains
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb. Crisp fried pork rinds
4 cups water
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
Optional: fried bacon, lard or vegetable oil

 Directions:

1. Peel plaintains. Cut into one inch slices. Soak for 15 minutes in salt and water. Drain well.

2. Heat fat or oil(350 degrees if you are using a deep fryer). Add plaintain slices and fry for 15 minutes but do not brown. Drain on paper towel.

3. In a mortar(for pounding), crush garlic cloves and sprinkle with salt, add olive oil to the mixture and keep pounding.

4. Crush a portion of the fried plaintains slices and the pork. Add some of the garlic and olive oil mixture and keep pounding.

5. Spoon the mixture and shape into two inch balls. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you use all the ingredients.

6.Place in oven pan and keep warm until you are ready to serve.
Suggestions: Prepare chicken brothand pour over mofongo, so it will be juicy. Enjoy

The Guayabera Shirt (gwai-a-Ber-a)

I grew up around these gorgeous shirts.  Now they have them for women (shock shock…dresses) and for teeny tiny tots…cannot WAIT to see what my nephew looks like in his!

Cuban clothes are very unique and fashionable.  The Guayabera Shirt (gwai-a-Ber-a) is one of the most authentic symbols of Latin Culture. They are made of light fabrics to weather tropical heat. Distinctive for its two vertical pleats, four spacious pockets and embroidery detail in a variety of fashion colors, the guayabera shirt is a cultural icon of masculine elegance, the all-purpose shirt to menswear. 

 

I could die over this dress!

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You Know You’re Puerto Rican If….

I highlighted the ones I know personally:

  • You’ve ever used your lips to point something out.
  • You’ve ever been hit with “chancletas”, “la correa”, or the cord
    of “la plancha”.
  • You get really scared whenever someone mentions “El Cuuuuuco!!!”
  • You’ve gone to Titi’s house and passed through the “bead
    curtain” in the living room.
  • You step into a house that has all those little figurines taking
    up every inch of space on the TV and under the TV.
  • Your mother has a porcelain cat, dog, Buddha or elephant in her living room.
  • Almost everyone you know is nicknamed “mira”.
  • You’ve eaten “esporsoda” with butter.
  • You have a perpetually drunk neighbor.
  • You know your mom is sneaking up on you because you can hear the ‘clack-clack’ of her “chancletas”.
  • Someone in you family is name “Maria”.
  • You have actually met several people named “Jesus”.
  • You treat fevers with “alcoholado”.
  • You know “Don Francisco” from “Sabado Gigante”.
  • You need a cup of coffee after every meal.
  • One of your aunts weighs over 300 pounds.
  • You have a delinquent cousin.
  • Your uncle owns more gold than the jewelry shop down the street.
  • You’ve sat in a two-passenger car with over seven people in it,
    and there’s a person shouting “Subete que caben mas!”.
  • You put a big Puerto Rican flag on your car come June.
  • You’ve sung “Japi Beldei Two Yuuuu” more than you care to
    remember.
  • You know at least four of your last names.
  • You scrunch up your nose to ask a silent “que ?”.
  • You’ve ever left grass out for the camels on the night of Jan.
    6th., instead of leaving milk and cookies for Santa Claus on Christmas.
  • You remember Ricky Martin as the little one from Menudo.
  • You were raised on Goya products (Si es Goya, tiene que ser bueno).
  • You consider the bad luck day to be “Tuesday” (not Friday the
    13th).
  • You ever wished El Chapulin Colorado would come and save you.
  • You’ve dropped food on the floor, picked it up, and eaten it
    after saying “lo que no mata engorda”.
  • Your sofa or rug is covered in plastic.
  • You start clapping when your plane hits the runway.
  • Your cousins have “original” names, like a blend of their
    parent’s names (ViMari = Victor + Maria)
  • Your mother, tia, or hermana’s hair is black cherry, “sun in”
    red, or a burgundy that would make Celia Cruz jealous.
  • You go to a wedding or Quinceanera party, gossip about how bad the food is, but take a plate to go.
  • You can dance to merengue, cumbia, or salsa without music.
  • You think Christina can beat Oprah any day.
  • You can get to your house blindfolded because the smell of
    chuletas is SO strong.
  • Your mother yells at the top of her lungs to call you to dinner when you live in a one bedroom apartment.
  • Telenovenas have the status of holy ceremonies.
  • You think platanos are a whole separate food group.
  • You have a picture of “Cristo” in your house.
  • You think your name begins like this: “Ave Maria Purisima, __________”.
  • You walk around saying “Chacho”, or “Chacha” or “Ay Bendito”.
  • Others tell you to stop screaming when you’re really talking.
  • You know someone who drives a “Cheby”.
  • You call all sneakers “tenis”.
  • All breakfast cereals are called “Con Fley”.
  • All tissue papers are called “Klinex”.
  • All brands of diapers are called “Pampel”.
  • A balanced meal consists of rice and beans and some kind of meat.
  • You know the difference between “Carolina Rice” and everything else.
  • You appreciate the difference between “Agua de Florida” and
    “Superior 70”.
  • You have a great uncle that had more than three wives.
  • You’ve put a penny on your forehead to stop a nosebleed.
  • Your mother has put a balled up piece of thread on your baby
    cousin’s forehead to stop her hiccups.
  • The thought of eating fried pork intestines filled with blood
    and rice reminds you of Christmas.
  • You have at least 30 cousins. At least!
  • You know how to drive an “estandar” or “estic chift” car.
  • You can tell the difference between “Cafe Crema” and “Bustelo”.
  • And last, but not least:
  • Your grandmother thinks Vick’s Vapor Rub is the miracle cure for everything!

Que clase de Puertorriqueño eres?

Courtesy of Facebook:

Usted es una persona refinada, de clase media-alta o media-baja, educado en colegios privados y criado en urbanizaciones cerradas. Disfruta de fiestar con gente cool, linda y de caché, pero no disfruta de relacionarse con cacos. Algunos lo tildarian de comemierda, pero es de cariño.