Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cultural Divide

I recently read a blog about the division in Latin culture. The post specifically discussed the division between Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. I thought it was a brave discussion, because for the most part, we'd rather ignore the issue rather than confront it. 

After reading the article, here is what I was inspired to write: 

Many of us are afraid to bring up the prejudices in our culture, for fear of offending one over the other. I myself am writing with some trepidation.

I have cousins that are half Puerto Rican and half Dominican. Because the rest of our family is Puerto Rican, they choose sides to “represent” – but why do they have to? It makes absolutely no sense to me.

...But the prejudices go beyond these two beautiful Caribbean islands. My boyfriend is half Puerto Rican and half Ecuadorian [he calls himself BorEcua] and he too has to choose sides when it comes to being with each side of his family. It gets to a point where one may feel that they are not accepted fully by either culture because they are "mixed.”

I think the bias derives from...a desire to label one culture "better" than the other: For example, the notion of the jibaro (country folk) versus the city folk; one being more educated than the other; one being more “Spanish” than the other; one more pure than the other. Which in essence is Racism, whether we choose to see it or not.

If you think about the movie, “I Like It Like That” the character played by Rita Moreno has a line about being of “pure Castillian blood.” Why is that so important? Who cares? What is “pure” anyway? Why is there a fight over which speaks the better Spanish? Or who is more sophisticated? We sure don’t fight over who is more Taino or who is more African. Why? After all these years it still boils down to RACE. Therein lies our prejudices. And it really is a shame.

New York is quite the salad bowl of cultures, where we don’t have to assimilate to get by – we can just be who we are and express where we come from. Where we can eat mofongo or mangu, drink a Malta or make Morir SoƱando, and no one cares.

...There is so much division in every culture, we can at least do our very best to stay united within the Latin Culture…because divided, we will only fall.

What do you think? Do you think our prejudices are based on Race? Or something different altogether?

While you consider this, I'd like to leave you with two quotes, that I think are fitting: 

"I think we have to own the fears that we have of each other, and then, in some practical way, some daily way, figure out how to see people differently than the way we were brought up to" -Alice Walker

"We have become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic." -Jimmy Carter