Archive | March, 2012

Puerto Rican basketball player in the NCAA tournament taunted as “illegal.”

18 Mar

I want you to know it’s not easy being Puerto Rican – the only Hispanic group with citizenship – because people presume we’re illegal despite the fact that we’re as American as you are. The incident that just occurred in the current NCAA basketball tournament is another example of how ignorant people can be. Make sure to watch the video showing Angel Rodriguez, a player for Kansas State at the free-throw line,  listening as Southern Mississippi band members taunt “where’s your green card?”

We’ve paid our dues to the USA to the point where other Hispanic nationals don’t like us; believing we’ve given away too much to become citizens of this great country. My fellow Boricuas and I are caught in the middle, while we continue to deal with very negative stereotypes about us that put our safety and our self-esteem at risk.

So, please help your fellow American citizens by educating those around you to understand that Puerto Ricans – no matter where they live – are legal citizens of the United States of America and we bleed red, white and blue just like you.

Puerto Rican NCAA basketball player taunted for being illegal (USA TODAY)…

Affirmative Action Woes…

11 Mar

I’m well aware of the divisive opinions that exist on the subject of Affirmative Action. As a Puerto Rican girl whose k-12 education began in a very rough South Bronx public school and ended at an affluent suburban one, it’s important to me to share my minority education journey with you as the Supreme Court plans to take up this issue yet again (see below).

By the time I’d finished the 3rd grade and left the ‘Hood, I’d seen countless fights on my school playground and more violence on the streets surrounding my temple of learning than any 8 year old child should see. While I can only hope my teachers in the ghetto were doing the best they could, I know for sure that when I transferred to my fancy-pants P.S. 158 in Manhattan I immediately noticed a higher level of caring and involvement from my more affluent teachers who made me do my school work. I also remember feeling like I wasn’t as smart and prepared as my new classmates. This self perception continues, while every single day of my life I still wonder if I’m good enough.

I believe the goal of educational self confidence is more available to those who aren’t living in poverty, worrying about how to eat, avoiding violence and who don’t have to battle negative stereotypes constantly. For kids like me who have all these distractions on their minds as they head off to school every day, can you really expect them to perform as well in school? Sensing these obstacles, don’t you think the teachers at these schools are either a) caring, but completely overwhelmed with crisis issues and overcrowding and/or b) detached, sub par and/or maybe burnt out? Further, if you think our urban/minority schools have the same Taj Mahal facilities as our non-minority schools, then I beg you to schedule a visit to our village ghetto land. Simply put, the sad truth is that most of our minority students aren’t competing on a level playing field. Trust me, for those of us whose childhoods began amongst the broken glass and felons in the neighborhood, we emerge with scars and insecurities that follow us the rest of our days; making it twice as hard for us to be successful in school.

So, I bet you think I believe in Affirmative Action. Well, my position is a lot more complicated than a yes or no answer. This is the case because even after I “faked it till I made it” to graduate out of high school and continued my charade until I somehow finished college too, I entered the world of non-minorityville and saw for myself that I wasn’t really accepted there. Increasingly people would say to me “gee, you don’t look Puerto Rican,” like that was the highest form of flattery they could think to bestow upon me. Years later, when I finally developed a functioning level of confidence and began to push the envelope, I started pushing back on my non-minority peeps asking them what their question meant; offended while observing their discomfort as they answered. Increasingly, as I was selected as the first Hispanic on prestigious Boards – only to quickly realize I was their token – I saw firsthand that, left to their own, the majority community rarely, willingly chooses diversity.

Thus, until such time that those in power in our country see the light AND the dark; welcoming those to the table who don’t look like them, they leave me no choice but to support Affirmative Action. When I’m certain that they’ve voluntarily embraced all the colors of the rainbow, then I’ll know it’s okay for me to stand down. Affirmative Action doesn’t exist because minorities need it. It exists because the majority does.


Rape & Recovery…

2 Mar

At the age of 9, I lost my virginity to a rapist. He abducted me in the middle of the afternoon, around the corner from my fancy apartment on 80th Street & East End Avenue in Manhattan. Stepping in front of me as I was just about to reach the safety of my doorman’s line of sight, he towered over me and told me he was a police officer. He said he needed my help finding an old lady’s dog. In the same moment that my gut told me to run, he deliberately took my small hand  and lead me across the street to the basement pictured here. Three years ago, I took this picture; returning to the scene of the crime committed against me.

It took me 40 years to muster up the courage to confront this space, to see again for myself where I’d been violated. The next step of my recovery will be to visit R.A.I.N.N. (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) next week in D.C. to sign up for the recovery cause. This organization reports that 44% of victims are under the age of 18, that 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to police and that 15 out 16 rapists will never spend a day in jail. These statistics tell me that there are a lot of people out there just like me and so, I will tell my story now and keep you informed until they are able to speak about their own rape experience.  NEWYORICANGIRL

%d bloggers like this: