We’re All Instruments Of Knowledge
Most recently, I witnessed a young man speak of how he has felt segregated from the Hispanic community because he was mixed Puerto Rican and black, and did not know where to turn. Others have written me with similar stories explaining how they have experienced feelings of isolation, and discomfort once in a circle of fellow Latino peers. One might be amazed as to how many Puerto Ricans go through such ordeals, and how difficult it can be for especially a young Hispanic to be coping with hardships such as this. Some may argue that this is not that big of a deal, and that the issue is so minor, it is not deserving to be addressed. I beg to differ. It is most essential for an individual to find societal acceptance from their own culture, in order to be confident in their identity, especially when one is in their adolescence. Identity is so important in the process of development of a young person’s life. Ignorance among all of us exists, and always will, because we are all ignorant, it is inevitable. The key to avoiding the excess of ignorance, is to detect it in ourselves, and correct ourselves once we realize that our actions or beliefs are wrong.
Someone once told me, “You don’t look Puerto Rican, you look mixed.” I am sure many of us have heard similar comments in our time, yet some of us may brush it off and not think twice about what has been said to us. In reality, when we are confronted with such ignorance, we are given the opportunity to become instruments of knowledge. Puerto Ricans can look as white as some of my aunts do, with blond hair, blue eyes, and skin as white as snow. Or, like some of my cousins, some Puerto Ricans can have darker hair, brown eyes, and lovely almond skin. Other Puerto Ricans can lean more towards the beautiful African descent, and carry the radiance of such elegant and vibrant features. We are all different and unique, yet all equally magnificent. None of us fit a mold that was given to us from day one. The same young man I speak of in the beginning stated that after reading one of my previous articles, he realized that he was, “Rican in his own special way.” I told him he was wrong, he is not a special case, or any less part of the Latino culture than any other individual. All the dimensions of his ethnic background are equally beautiful and alive, and neither of them should be opressed or ignored. For all of you who have experienced the same feelings, remember that there is no other in this world like you. There is not one person who has the authority to tell you that you do not belong. You do belong.
Mayra contributed this story to Boricua.com and is currently living in North Carolina.