Telling My Story

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Telling My Story|
Race/Racism &Nationality and Ethnicity|
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Christina Vazquez |
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The Latino Experience in the U.S.|

LAT150/SOC620

On my birth certificate it says that I was born in Queens, New York in the United States of America, but in my heart and what is written throughout my ancestry is Puerto Rican and Cuban. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, in a neighborhood that wasn’t the safest. My mother and father on the other hand was born and raised in Puerto Rico for most of their lives. They eventually came to the states when they were children. They raised me with strong Puerto Rican traditions with American cultural influences. They themselves transitioned from living on an island where they spoke a different language and had different traditions than those that they adapted to when they arrived in the United States. My Puerto Rican culture has influenced everything from the food I eat, the way I dance. I was raised in a house where they played Bingo every Saturday. When I was younger, all I heard were number and letters being shouted. I still remember as a child my family would play musical chairs and bingo for gifts during Christmas. If it was anybodies birthday, graduation or baptism, there was always a party in the backyard. I was raised in a Spanish speaking home. I heard mostly Spanish and the little English that I heard was through the television or at school. This affected the woman I am today because I am mixture of cultures. It affects the way I carry myself as a Latina. In New York City, there are various amounts of cultures and being able to be bilingual was always a great tool in my upbringing and a great device of communication as an adult. The island of Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States and Puerto Ricans are United States citizens, yet when my parents arrived in the United States, they weren’t treated like U.S. citizens but more like immigrants. If you were to look at my mother and father, they look like two different types of Puerto Ricans. My mother is more fair skinned and my father is darker skinned. When they arrived in the United States, they lived in the most run down apartments and smallest houses possible. They were very poor, sleeping in the same room with their brothers and sisters. Their experiences taught me a lot about the difference between my upbringing and how difficult it was for them. My mother told me one story in particular that made me think a lot. When she arrived in the New York, she had started going to school yet she was not put into an ESL class but rather into a regular English speaking class and was given a pencil for whenever she needed to use the restroom. The teacher was so fed up with my mom that he ignored her raising her pencil to allow her to use the restroom and therefore grew tired and broke her pencil. This broke my heart hearing this story because my mother was treated unfairly and all because she didn’t know English. It’s sad to hear this because she was a little girl with no clue of what was going on. I am thankful that when I was little that I didn’t have to experience that. That happening to my mother taught me that there are people in this country that will treat you differently because you speak a different language or that you come from a different place. Public school is difficult to go through in general. Kids have bullies, grades, major test to face. I also had to experience racism in addition to all those things once in elementary school. It was not as bad as my mom and dad’s time in school but it made me see things differently. In the fifth grade, I had a teacher who was African American. She would penalize for everything. The other children would pick on me and she never helped me, she just watched. I remember being young and saying that I disliked her for how she treated me and then I was labeled a racist by the other children that bullied me. I remember being a little girl and having no...
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