I continue to be moved by the historical events that took place yesterday.
America’s 1st African American President. I was elated when he won and like so many Americans I cried for his victory.
I continue to think about the possibilities for America and for it’s youth.
As a child I can recall so many times when I experienced prejudice as a Spanish/Puerto Rican American.
I know what it is like to be prejudged based on nationality rather than my performance as a person.
Growing up I was the “Puerto Rican” girl hanging with the Irish and Italians. I was usually the “only Puerto Rican” in my circle of friends.
We moved from the Bronx when I was 5 to a suburb in Westchester County, NY.
We were the only Puerto Rican family in our entire neighborhood.
I remember as a child hearing “You are a spic” “What are you eating for dinner…rice and beans??” I would hear “You are my favorite spic” and I use to say “well, I am the only one you know (under my breath saying “what an idiot”). LOL!
I was teased often by the kids in my neighborhood. My mom use to say “If they have nothing nice to say, they really shouldn’t say anything at all…and that’s what you need to say them when they say mean things”. The ignorant comments made me sad but it also gave me power and willingness to succeed in life “This little so called spic can do anything.”
Years later when I was able to understand the ignorance, my mother shared our “Upon arrival story” when moved from the Bronx and into our new house in Westchester. She told me tomatoes were thrown at our house and how quickly she cleaned it up.
I commend my parents for sticking it out and allowing a few tomatoes make us a stronger family.
The name calling and list of comments goes beyond childhood and into adulthood.
After college I went on to become a Jr. Executive for Saks Fifth Avenue in NYC. I was the Assistant Manager for Men’s Fragrance. I remember my first week on the floor and a sales associate who was African American smiled as she reached for my arm and said “Garcia… (my maiden name) you go girl…finally a Latino”. I was so proud and I wanted to make her proud to have me as part of the management team.
As I climbed the corporate ladder working for many high end retailers and designers, I’d comb through the roster of employees just to see if I could scope out another Latino.
Unfortunately, there was only a few. As the years went on, I noticed more and more Latinos on rosters and I would get so excited like the lady who reached for my arm at Saks. The fashion industry is more of a melting pot today and I think it is wonderful.
I remember dating a guy in my 20's and meeting his mother. She was a Dr. and very all American lady with Pearls. When I met her she said “So your mother is Puerto Rican?” I said “yes, she is” She said “Well, I have a friend who is Puerto Rican.” I looked at her with a smile and said “Oh, that’s nice”. I could tell she was trying to relate to me in some way outside of her son. I knew at that moment my nationality would be a bone of contention for her. That I will never know for sure but honestly...WHO CARES if it was.
I married an American Indian/Jewish Lithuanian. Talk about melting pot!! LOL.
Our kids...American Indian/Jewish Lithuanian/Spanish/Puerto Rican.
I did not vote for Barack Obama because of his race or because he is a democrat. I voted for him because of his performance as a person and what he stands for, what he wants for America and the people. His presence is a strong one and I am confident he will be a great president.
I wish and it’s my hope as a parent that we as a country teach the generation of tomorrow that there is no color and stop using nationality & race as a roadblock for success.
I wish for Barack Obama to approach the challenges of presidency with the continued dignity and pride he showed through out his campaign.
I wish for Barack Obama and Joe Biden to help America be the great country it is meant to be and put an end to our war and the financial mess we are currently in.
Congratulations Barack Obama!!!. I look forward to the change.