Entries tagged "Identity"

A Straddler's Journey

September 10, 2013 2:58 PM by JoAnn Gerber

You could say that my journey as a Latina in America is from the perspective of a straddler.  At least, that’s how I would have described myself at one time – as someone having one foot in the U. S. and one toe in Mexico.  For years I was not quite convinced I belonged to either side. 

It was my mother who provided the connection.  She was born in a tent on September 16, 1929, the sixth child of my grandmother, a Mexican migrant farmworker, and the only one in ...

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Noble Strains: Thoughts on a Hybridized Identity

September 9, 2013 3:40 PM by Nelly Rosario

Meet Dominican Republic’s pre-post-racial trifecta.


Three national heroes—Enriquillo, Bartolomé de las Casas, and Sebastián Lemba—stand on pedestals at the entrance to Museo del Hombre Dominicano, ranked by Lonely Planet as #11 of 120 things to do in Santo Domingo.


To most Dominican kids on summer vacation from New York, the museum ranks low on the list of things to do. But having just entered high school, where I’d been assaulted with questions about my identity, I accepted my uncle’s invitation to El Museo. I remember ...

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The American Dream that Came True

September 9, 2013 10:28 AM by Roy Lopez

As a child growing up with two parents from Monterrey, Mexico, there were many challenges that I faced. One of the challenges was that neither of my parents spoke English. My parents, Emilio and Gloria Lopez, moved from Monterrey, Mexico to Bryan, Texas. In the 1960’s, jobs were scarce in Bryan, so we moved to Fresno, California, and this is where my story began. My sister Dora was thirteen years old, my brother Emilio Jr. was ten, and I was seven. Growing up in Fresno, California, my family worked ...

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What Columbus Never Imagined

September 8, 2013 12:24 PM by Ariel Dorfman

There is a store I visit from time to time, for convenience’s sake or to indulge in nostalgia, where I can find all of Latin America on display.

Under the roof of one vast supermarket I savor the presence of the continent where I was born, go back, so to speak, to my own plural origins. On one shelf, Nobleza Gaucha, the yerba mate my Argentine parents used to sip every morning in their New York exile -- my mother with sugar, my father in its more bitter version. Even ...

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September 7, 2013 12:10 PM by Sabrina Avilés

I have been asked what it means to be Latina. A loaded question. Well, this is what it means to me, a half-Dominican, half-Puerto Rican Latina. (And of course, this is different for everyone.) 

It means being able to go back and forth in two languages without ever noticing that you’re doing so (unless some monolingual person in the room reminds you that you’re being rude because “you’re speaking in Spanish!”) 

It means talking with your hands. 

It means embracing your curves. 

It means food: platanos, tortillas ...

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Heart and Casa

September 6, 2013 11:51 AM by Jesse Borrego

It's a warm summer night in San Antonio Tejas. I'm doing Tai Chi in the moonlight behind the building I've helped restore, in the southside, my old barrio. My daughter is starting college at my old Alma Mater, Incarnate Word, where I studied Theatre and Acting, and where I first courted her mother, my beautiful wife Valeria, also an actor. Here in this neighborhood, there at that college, and here in this town I told my first stories, played my first characters, danced my first dances, sang ...

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I’m with the 16 percent

September 5, 2013 8:34 PM by Ingrid Rojas

In 2012, Pew Hispanic asked the question, “When you think, is it mostly in Spanish or in English?” The answers varied across generations as one might imagine: third generation responders said they mostly think in English, while first generation responders (immigrants) said they mostly think in Spanish. Only 16 percent said they think in both languages.

The survey didn’t go on to specify how exactly this 16 percent thinks in both languages: is it in a Spanglish kind of way, switching words between languages within the same thought? Or ...

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The Birth of an Urban Jibaro

September 4, 2013 10:34 AM by George Torres

My passion for curating can be traced back to the time when I was raised between Brooklyn, New York and Bayamón, Puerto Rico. My maternal grandmother, Gloria del Rio, was the person who raised and set the foundation for who I would become. Mama, as she was known, was the matriarch in our East New York and Brownsville neighborhoods. She had emigrated from Puerto Rico as a single mom, educated herself and dedicated her life to political action community advocacy for Latinos, particularly the elderly. Having been witness to her ...

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Boricua Christmas in New York

September 3, 2013 10:14 AM by Aurora Flores

I met my grandparents for the first time in 1958. They came from the mountains of Lajas, Puerto Rico. A toddler living high in the towers of the projects of New York, my grandfather asked me to bring over the curious black box he had with him. He unsnapped the leather straps, slipped his hands through both loops on each side and stretched it open. My mouth opened and my eyes widened as I heard life breathe from the crinkled accordion skin. An uncle pulled out a cuatro, a cute ...

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Hard Living in the Big Easy: Latino Immigrants & the Recovery of Post-Katrina New Orleans

September 1, 2013 3:17 PM by Jose Torres-Tama

At no other time since my arrival in 1968 have I been witness to such blatant defamation of immigrants as I am seeing today, and the passing of Arizona’s SB 1070 by the Republican Governor Brewer in 2010 has spawned other copycat anti-immigrant laws in states like Georgia (May 2011), Alabama (June 2011), and South Carolina (June 2011).

I call these states the New Confederacy of the South passing Juan Crow laws that redirect their previous vitriol and racial poison towards African Americans towards brown Latinos today.

Basically, people ...

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August 31, 2013 11:31 AM by Aurora Flores

As clichéd as it sounds a picture really does paint a thousand words. Recently, I posted this photo to Facebook that generated over a thousand impressions and comments. The subject: Latinos and Jews.

In my research for an upcoming book on the life and times of salsa music legend Larry Harlow, known as El Judio Maravilloso, (“the Jewish marvel”), I came across an interesting coffee table tome by Myrna Katz Frommer & Harvey Frommer “It Happened in the Catskills.” As I skimmed its chapters my eyes scanning the various black and ...

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Because the Dream Knows More than You: Chronicles from a Bilingual Citizen of the Hemispheric Americas

August 30, 2013 11:48 AM by Jose Torres-Tama

Dedicatoria al inmigrante/Ode to the immigrant

El emigrante cruza por varias razones, por necesidad económica,
The immigrant crosses for various reasons, for economical necessity, 
por el sueño de otra vida mejor, por evitar percusión política,
for the dream of a better life, to avoid political persecution,
por libertad social y religiosa, porque el acto de cruzar es un poema físico
for social and religious freedoms, because the act of crossing is a physical poem,
y un grito rebelde y un ejercicio mítico porque a veces hay que cruzar simplemente ...

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The History Written on our Faces

August 29, 2013 4:06 PM by Judith Escalona

1949: Four years after the end of World War II. My parents had only recently met. Through dances and other socials like the Annual Armistice Ball, war veterans were finding their future wives and husbands and reintegrating into civilian life. People were celebrating all across the American Empire, from the Caribbean to the Pacific, Puerto Ricans among them. Having served in the American armed forces, they were returning to their families in Puerto Rico or New York, where they became part of the Great Migration.

My mother had established a ...

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Este es Sherman Jackson Reporting for NBC News

August 28, 2013 4:17 PM by Sherman Jackson

Following the urban riots throughout the country in the 1960’s, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed a Commission to review the incidents and assess the causes for the disturbances. The Kerner Commission, as it was known, worked extensively and made dozens of recommendations to address the disparities in employment, housing and policing of mainly African-American communities.

Significantly, the Commission also made recommendations about the media coverage of the riots, and outlined steps that the news industry and government could take to present a more balanced view of communities of color ...

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El Barrio in the 21st Century

August 27, 2013 12:02 PM by Ed Morales

For my family, East Harlem, or Spanish Harlem/El Barrio was the core community that defined being Puerto Rican in New York. My parents met in the neighborhood after migrating from different towns in Puerto Rico, and much of our extended family lived there at one time or another. They shopped in a food market called La Marqueta on Park Avenue, and on Saturday nights they danced at the Park Palace on 5th. Tito Puente was born and raised on 110th Street, and Spanish was spoken everywhere on ...

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A Return to Cuba Thaws Cold War Fears

August 25, 2013 4:05 PM by Raul Ramos y Sanchez

At the heart of almost every Cuban-American family is a tragedy. Most of us were torn apart from loved ones by the passions of ideology. In some cases, this included fear of reprisals and imprisonment. Many also lost personal property. Wounds like these do not heal easily. So my first visit to Cuba after 52 years in exile began with heavy apprehensions.

From the airliner’s window, my first glimpse of the Cuban coastline was a smudge of white in a bluish haze. Emerging from the clouds, a familiar sight ...

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Great Latin American Cities

August 24, 2013 11:57 AM by Mario Alfonso Murillo

Whenever I travel abroad, and people ask me if I’m from the United States, I usually respond with an ironic “No, I’m from New York City,” to which I am greeted with awkward stares and quizzical looks.

While I say this mostly to get a laugh and ignite conversation, there is a serious side to my feelings about this. It’s the place both my parents came to as young people, from different spots in the hemisphere, forging a tri-national constellation that serves as the cultural and social ...

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Stamped by our Heritage

August 23, 2013 10:18 AM by Soldanela Rivera

When I was growing up in Puerto Rico during the 70s, and 80s the Spanish pop ballad, salsa, and protest song were everywhere.

I remember Saturday mornings when my mother would hose down the patio and balcony and clean the house blasting Lucecita Benítez, Chico Buarque, Valeria Lynch, Amanda Miguel, Pablo Milanes, Isabel Pantoja, Silvio Rodríguez, Violeta Parra, Sandro, Joan Manuel Serrat, or Mercedes Sosa.

Going to a bank, mall, restaurant, or just being in the car meant Roberto Carlos, Juan Gabriel, Julio Iglesias, José José, FANIA, Jose Luis Perales ...

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Puerto Rican Discovery Day

August 21, 2013 10:10 PM by Sherman Jackson

I discovered I was Puerto Rican was on March 17th, 1954 -- St.Patrick's day.
Waiting for the principal to ring her bell, I was already ahead of most of the kids. Her first bell called for everyone to freeze, and with the second ring, students would walk to their designated spots outside the school and line up in preparation for their school day.
St. Pius was located on 144th Street between Willis and Brook Avenues in the South Bronx -- at the time a predominantly Irish neighborhood with a smattering ...

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The Rainbow Fish

August 20, 2013 11:48 AM by Amber Seira

In elementary school I loved reading The Rainbow Fish, a picture book about a fish with many shiny scales who learns the joy in giving to others after he eventually overcomes vainness and shares his rainbow scales with his other fish friends. Fast-forward almost two decades and little did I know that this simple children’s tale epitomized my Latina university experience as a First Generation College graduate.

My experience in earning my family’s first bachelor degree is not too uncommon for Latinos across the country. 22 percent of ...

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