Identity is fluid; context is everything.

Zoë McLaughlin, USA. Waiting in line for the Chinatown bus in New York City, a man approached me and began speaking Spanish. I squinted at him and briefly pondered my response. This was not the first time someone has expected me to speak Spanish. As soon as I began making forays out of my predominantly [...]

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Russian? You’re improving the race Amiga!

Mayra Velez Buffalo, NY Picture of us, a Belarussian and Puerto Rican, soon-to-be-married, couple. When we started dating, every time I said he is belarussian to my friends and family, I heard the “oh improving the race amiga”. I think is our colonial mind, in which status in society was determined not by wealth but [...]

Saw an ugly world too early

Diana Ryan Millbury, MA My last name notwithstanding, I am 100% Puerto Rican through and through. That is an ethnicity, not a race but too many people don’t make that distinction. My features are typical in the culture, full lips, broad nose, dark curly hair, olive skin that tans deeply and easily. It’s a blessing [...]

The Butter Pican- Pana Rican :)

Danixa Carr Brooklyn, NY I am Panamanian and Puerto Rican. My mom is Afro-Panamanian (her roots are mixed as well) and my dad is mestizo. Growing up, I’ve always identified with my Panamanian side and considered myself to be Latina. However, I had one life altering experience in Panama. I traveled to Panama in 2010 [...]

Educated Puerto Rican can’t even dance!

Carmen C. Brenes Jette, Ph.D. Lexington, MA “What! You don’t look Puerto Rican!” was my other choice. I wanted to convey the power of stereotypes – how burdensome they can be and how tiring it is when you have to explain yourself, educate others constantly. Going beyond people’s expectations can be so freeing (I am [...]

Hated wearing green on St.Patrick day mom.

Daniel Luis Soto New York, NY I consider myself Puerto Rican. Grandparents from PR My great grandfather on moms side is from Ireland. Going further back on both sides my heritage spans the globe from Spain to England to various British occupied islands. Im proud of my diversity, but I look Puerto Rican speak spanish [...]

Finally I learned to accept myself

Katherine Porter San Leandro, CA I grew up disowned by my racial cultures…too different from White, too different from Chinese. Talked about by cousins, wondered about by strangers, eroticized by college boys, and discounted by the census. Always had to check “other” on the surveys. Felt like I had to be the best example of [...]

Black Latina not AfricanAmerican, neither Latina

Diama Gabriel Miami, FL I’m in between waters. I’m not African American for the black Americans, and I’m not a Latina for the Latino community. I’m a proud black Puertorrican woman who moved to USA 13 years ago. Upon my arrival to the States, I lived in a mainly African American community in Miami but [...]

Not Everyone Whose Hispanic Speaks Spanish

Isaiah Santiago Philadelphia, PA My names Isaiah Santiago and I am Puerto Rican. Being Puerto Rican and being different is always something that I’ve dealt with in my life. I’ve always been called things like gringo(white boy) or just a fake Puerto Rican. All of this comes back to me not speaking Spanish. Everyone always [...]

More than “just a Black girl”

Jolie Anne Chevalier San Jose, CA This is me at eight years old back in 1979, the daughter of an African-American/Seminole Indian mother, and a Irish-French-American father. Growing up, I was faced with contradictions in a world of opposites; although I was multiracial my mother told me I was Black, and to identify as such [...]

But you don’t look Puerto Rican…

Paul David Mena Wayland, MA As if a Puerto Rican can’t be fair-skinned, middle-class and college-educated! Granted, I was raised by parents who looked for a life as far away from their Depression-era upbringing in Brooklyn as possible. They found it further east in suburban Long Island, where I grew up with zero consciousness of [...]