image6Ana Canino-Fluit
Penfield, NY

I am Puerto Rican, I lived in Puerto Rico till I left for college at 17. Till I was 16 I had never given much thought to racial identity. My senior year in high school I was selected to be a exchange student to our sister school in southwestern New York State. One of my friends who was not selected, took me aside upset that he wasn’t going, and huffily commented that I was going to fit in just fine there since I was white. He was dark skinned and up to that point I had never considered us different, just fellow Puerto Ricans. It was the first moment where I realize that how I thought of myself didn’t necessarily match with how others identified myself. Later in college, I ran into this again and again, people commenting who said things like “you don’t look Puerto Rican” (my response: Puerto Rican come in shades) or “Puerto Rico? What were your parent doing there?” (my response, “being Puerto Rican”).
It has been a struggle at times to be a invisible minority. People sometimes say things in front of me that they might not if they were more conscious of my identity and at times there is also guilt at not experiencing the same sort of prejudice others are, when we are both the same.

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