Are we witnessing an historic moment?

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Race relations in my country have always been a maelstrom.  Not just because of Blacks being brought here by Whites as slaves but also due to the volatile nature of our socioeconomic condition.  Ferguson, MO used to be an all White community until the “great white flight” of the 1960’s when inner-city Blacks moved into the neighborhoods. In order to understand what is going on in this local suburb read up on its past.

black-and-white-baby-together

Good or bad (trust me everyone has an opinion), the past events have culminated into the currently volatile situation we now have almost at my front door. I am by far no expert on race relations.  I only know what I’ve seen and heard with my own eyes and ears. I grew up with racism, was the subject of such prejudice and chose to overcome it.

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I have seen racists slurs directed by both Blacks and Whites against each other. No one is innocent here.  It takes a conscientious effort on all of us to remember that despite our skin color underneath we are the same.  And because of this, we should treat one another with respect and dignity.

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I know it’s easier said than done, but frankly I am sick and tired of the violence and abuse. Overseas we have Civil War, genocide, starvation, pollution, etc and here at home we have our own economic struggles, our poverty…the list goes on and on.

I grew up within a community that is still for the most part 99.9% Caucasian.  I received real-time, real life diversity training at school from my peers, who didn’t know how to handle a bi-racial kid, all the way down to the Caribbean where cousins firmly told me I was not Puerto Rican enough, that I was a “Gringa.” So, here was this Midwestern Irish/Puerto Rican gal who lived in perpetual limbo. I was quickly educated on where “my place” was.

But I did not stay there.

I joined the Army

I went to College

I became a Mother

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Maybe it’s easier said than done for some…I don’t know. Life is absolutely relative…but….if you desire to better yourself down to your community—–it starts with y.o.u. YOU need to pick yourself up and make YOUR community a better place and pay it forward.

Time for me to get off my soapbox.

I will leave you with this:

If we don’t start at home, where everything begins….nothing will change, and the ugly head of racism, self-entitlement, and violence will continue it’s cyclical course.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”
Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym

 

Where is her justice?

I read Under the Abaya and Susie’s Big Adventure on a regular basis. One story which I must share is Lama’s. This 5 year old girl’s only “crime” was being female in an patriarchal society.  Half Egyptian and half Saudi this little girl had no real chance of a life in her father’s country.

lama-al-ghamdi(Courtesy of Susie’s Big Adveture)

Instead of enjoying dolls and cartoons she is dead at the hands of her “father”  Sheikh Fayhan Al Ghamdi.  She was beaten, raped, and tortured by the very man who should have protected this innocent soul.  Half of her head was smashed in, her anus torn and then burned to try and shut it, a fingernail pulled out and raped everywhere.

You can read more of her story here nonetheless this worthless piece of crap is literally getting away with murder due to the offer of blood money ($50,000 USD) and favoritism towards the male gender.  WHEN will the women and children of Saudi receive proper justice?  In a country which prides itself as the land of Haj it seems more of a land of lawlessness, hypocrisy and blasphemy.  Women are treated as property, second class citizens, their life worth half of a man’s. Thank GOD I live in the United States where my freedoms are not trampled upon. Though we Americans scoff at the credibility of our justice system, it is far better than what certain segments of Saudi’s population receives.

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(Courtesy of Susie’s Big Adventure)’

The Race Issue

“Our true nationality is mankind.”
H.G. Wells

It’s well-known about the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.  I am not here to prejudge what happened when George Zimmerman shot that young man.

What I want to discuss is the delicate US race issue. 

Many times I have discussed racism on this blog. From my own experience to personal observations.  It greatly saddens me that many people still judge one another by the color of their skin when it’s actions that count.

I will never understand the deep-rooted hatred some blacks and whites have against each other here ever since the colonial era. Generalizing an entire group of people is simply wrong.

The institution of slavery set the tone for black/white relations for generations to come.  It has become the US’ Achilles Heel. Unfortunately it seems that there is still no answer as to how to overcome this blight in American history. 

My daughter is half African-American and she too has faced racism and have taught her from the time she could understand that we are all the same, it’s just the outside which provides our humane uniqueness. 

How we treat others reflects greatly on our character, our spiritual strength and our ability to be compassionate.

Unfortunately racial divisions still do exist, especially in Urban America as does racial profiling.  Those of us who are white, When we see a black man on the streets or even one who “looks Arab” what is our first impression?  This is what I mean when racism has become engrained in our society.

I have blood relatives mixed with African besides my daughter.  Slavery was also a factor in Puerto Rico’s history.

A good book to read is Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s. Involves groundbreaking research on racial theories and racial dynamics and evolution of ideologies in the United States and the Clinton Administration’s foothold for change.

I have always viewed the United States as the largest social experiment. We have individuals from all ethnic groups, religions, and ideologies.  A true melting pot with distinct flavors.  It’s a huge responsibility for each and every one of us to be productive citizens and to bond together in nationalistic fervor.  However, when we continue to hold on to archaic beliefs about each other, we will never progress as we should as a nation.

Puerto Rican New Year’s Traditions

Thought I would share an old post of how this celebration is typically done on the island:

My mom introduced this to me last year.  Why she did not do this earlier no clue but on Midnight we throw out water from the old year…getting rid of bad tidings.  Here is some more info regarding some PR traditions for the new year:

 In Puerto Rico, children enjoy throwing buckets of water out the window at New Years Eve midnight. Some believe that this emancipates their home from evil spirits.

In Puerto Rico, everyone goes to the beach at midnight (okay not everyone)….and falls backward into the ocean. Making loud noises at the stroke of New Years Eve midnight with car horns, boat whistles, church bells or drum beats is also practiced to drive off the demons.  I remember the car horns but not going to the beach at midnight and acting crazy…. :^)

Parrandas

Even before December arrives, the chords of cuatros and guitars, accompanied by guiros and maracas, can be heard playing the traditional tune of an “aguinaldo” or “villancico” (Christmas song). Parrandas, also known as “asaltos” or “trullas,” are the Puerto Rican version of Christmas caroling. Friends gather late in the evening and go from house to house singing traditional holiday songs. The parranderos (carolers) generally are invited in by the homeowner and, in anticipation of their visit, the host offers them food and drinks. The parranda then continues on to the next house with the host usually joining in. Parrandas generally last till mid-January.

Año Viejo

Indisputably, Año Viejo (New Year’s Eve) is the holiday with the most noise and bustle in Puerto Rico. Friends and family gather to await the arrival of the New Year and say good-bye to the old. The celebration begins early in the evening with a lot of drinking and eating of traditional foods. Many choose to dress in brand-new clothing so they can receive the New Year with new things.

Although the government has outlawed pyrotechnics, you can hear plenty of firecrackers, bottle rockets, and cherry bombs exploding all night long and, as midnight draws closer, everyone gathers in anticipation of the new year. When the clock strikes 12, all you hear are fireworks, horns, cheers, and cries of joy as everyone hugs and kisses one another, wishing each other “Feliz Año Nuevo!”

Año Nuevo

After saying good-bye to the old year, a lot of Puerto Ricans do one of many rituals to receive the New Year. Eating 12 grapes at midnight is a custom that comes from Spain. It is said to bring lots of prosperity to those who do it. Another one is to throw a bucket of water out into the street to rid the home of all the bad things and prepare it for the arrival of all the good things. Another ritual is throwing sugar around the outside of the home to attract good luck and ward off bad luck.

Website:

http://www.puertorico-herald.org/issues/vol4n50/PRHolidayTrad-en.html

 

Being of mixed “race”

I have previously mentioned on this blog my experiences with racism and finding my identity.  Being of mixed race has its positive and negatives. Positives being I have two countries to be proud of (being 1st generation born in America) and being of Puerto Rican/Irish decent is always a nice conversational topic.
 
From the Wiki:
 

The terms multiracial and mixed-race describe people whose ancestries come from multiple races. Unlike the term biracial, which often is only used to refer to having parents or grandparents of two different races, the term multiracial may encompass biracial people but can also include people with more than two races in their heritage, or also may refer to the origin of more generationally distant genetic admixtures of more than one race in a person’s DNA.

 
However, those of us who come from two distinct cultures can at times find it difficult to “blend in” into this American melting pot.  We are pulled into 2 different directions, loyalty to the country we were born and raised in and loyalty to a culture with strong familial ties.
 
When you are here in the states there are people who consider you less than human and have a difficult time “categorizing” you. And when you are in Puerto Rico some don’t even consider you a Hispanic but more of a gringa….it’s like being in limbo.
 
So, you grow up fighting for what you believe in, to prove yourself (yet why should you ever have to?) and simply trying to find your personal niche in this world to call your own, irregardless of your heritage.  I know that I love who I am, I enjoy my extended family and am comfortable from where I come from.

Staying committed

What kind of person does it take to stay committed to someone?  So many factors can interfere with a relationship:

  • Job
  • Children
  • Money
  • Relatives

Each of these factors have their good and bad points, just depends on how you look at them.  As stated in my previous post, couples need to discuss these pertinent issues prior to becoming committed.  Once you realize the two of you are becoming serious such issues need to be addressed down the road.

Sometimes a person’s job may take them away for what ever reason (money issues, the nature of the job, time away from home).  I have seen couples break up or divorce because their partner is never home.  For myself, well….I cannot see how a relationship can thrive if someone is always gone.  I really feel for husbands/wives whose spouses are always gone due to deployment or working shift. They may not see them for months or even years and when shift work is involved…you may not see them for days on end even though you both are in the same household.  The income being brought in is what keeps the marriage financially afloat. If the money being brought in means more than the relationship itself then why bother being in one? Again, all this depends on communication and whether or not both individuals are in agreement with how the relationship will survive. Compromise, of course, in both situations needs to be addressed.

Another issue is child-rearing.  If the two of you don’t see eye to eye on how to raise the kids this is simply asking for trouble.  I have seen children play each parent against the other to try to get their way.  In connection with this, it’s important the both of you are in agreement when it comes to discipline. NEVER, and I mean NEVER make your spouse out as the bad parent when it comes to discipline.  You never should put your spouse in such a bad light that your children become scared of him/her. I have also seen this happen and this can cause tremendous strain on the marriage.

Relatives also are key to keeping a relationship going.  If there is animosity against the spouse’s family it can create a heap of problems. Though we say we are marrying this man/woman–not their entire family this isn’t always the case, especially when it comes to Hispanics and African-Americans. We tend to tightly hold on to our extended family and if you don’t or can’t understand why then you need to learn fast because family will always be there.

Committment seems to be a four letter word of late.  It’s a running joke that men are afraid of it and women are endlessly seeking it.

In the end of course, you have to do what’s right for you because you gotta love yourself first and once you have done that, then everything else SHOULD fall into place.

Cultural diversity and other rants

You know how you have friends who forward emails to you (some you like others you delete just by reading the subject line) anyway, a friend of mine decided to send me (A mixed raced woman) an email about how the US should vote for English as the only language to be spoken in the USA, that there should be no cultural influences other than what is allowed in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Needless to say I emailed him back and asked him did he know WHAT he was sending me because I didn’t care too much for the content of said email.

I love the fact America is so culturally diverse. 

We are the land of opportunity (at least we were) but a person can still make a good living here if they have that fire from within to keep pushing forward (a trait Americans are known to have) and which I will continuously defend. I have read a lot of America bashing (especially after 9/11) and am sick and tired of it.

In regards to the email, I believe anyone who lives here must abide by the rules established by law and respect our Constitution.  With that said it galls me to no end there are individuals who want to stamp out the cultural identities of those people who call themselves Americans.  Growing up and having to deal with racist comments and acts I always had to deal with the stupidity of these people who couldn’t open their eyes to the possibility there was more than one color to the human race. We have to all share this planet together and I find that we are not the best caretakers for it (but that’s a topic for another day).

 So, before you forward another email please step back and think about what exactly you are sending because it might not be “quite appropriate” for the person on the receiving end.

Xenophobia at its best

I have been reading a couple of CNN articles regarding the growing population of Hispanics in the U.S. According  to this article, the US Census shows we Hispanics are now the majority “minority” population of over 50 million. I read the article and as always the comments…never saw so many racist posts in my life.  Just because the Hispanic population has grown doesn’t mean we are all illegals. (And just a side note….the illegals that are here typically take on jobs Americans thumb their noses at)….the “good” jobs are being outsources and until that is regulated and Americans unite and protest this practice don’t place all the blame on a minority group which has been a scapegoat for America’s ills for many years.

Seems that racism will continue to be alive and well in the world’s “melting pot.”

The article briefly delves into the reason why the population has surged. Part of it deals with many women being of child-bearing age. Hispanics typically practice Catholicism which we know frowns on birth control.  From what I have seen and read, Hispanics also tend to be quite devout Christians.

What bothers me is that a lot of the comments I read really were quite cruel.  Seems we Hispanics are only of ONE ethnic group…Mexicans….forget that there are other Latin American nationalities…..I have vented before about this.  People asking me if I speak Mexican, eat tacos etc….irregardless that I am of Puerto Rican origin and tacos are not part of the Puerto Rican cuisine.

Seems like some people don’t know how to grow up.

Xenophobia is still alive and well here in the USA. Though in our defense have to say the melting pot scenario would never happen with other homogeneous countries that frown upon “race mixing.” And until they accept other “races” I feel at least…they do not have a solid foot to stand on.

In the end we have to try to get along because we all have to share this planet together as one race.

The Tragedy of Japan

Of course everyone has heard or seen on the news what happened to this lovely country. And there is talk of another 7.0 earthquake which could happen in the next three days.

I am in total shock and completely sad over it. I love the orient, the people. I was stationed in South Korea and only had a brief respite in Japan on my way to the Land of the Morning Calm…it is unimaginable what is going on over there but my hope is that the Japanese are able to come up with better technology to deal with future earthquakes and nuclear reactor accidents.  They are a resilient people..their history and especially recovering from the aftermath of WW II is a testament to their character.
God bless you and keep you safe Japan.

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.