Traffic lights, sidewalks, an abundance of people, trains…everything flashes in front of me in a blur.
Energy vibrates very rapidly in this city; it’s hard to slow down and take in the scenery.
I was born and raised in New York. When I was younger I didn’t know about the political climate, about racial issues, and about sexism…I was just a kid experiencing life.
It was beautiful; magical even. I grew up with all sorts of cultures around me, a diversity of people, and even then I knew that there was a certain magic in the air.
My parents are both immigrants from different countries; they are currently citizens but I would imagine immigrating from different countries to this one was particularly challenging. Imagine immigrating to a place where racism and sexism is still prevalent and when you’re called the “minority” and have to mask your accent but still manage to harbor feelings of inferiority to the ones who have already lived here and perfected their accents. You and your children are not given equal opportunity as those that have lived here before or are treated equally as those who have Caucasian features.
I’ve never experienced racism as a child while living in New York (that I was aware of). That changed later in life as a teenager and even now in my twenties. I still have people asking me if I’m Spanish? Caucasian dudes blowing kisses at me and calling me ethnic slurs. I still cringe but this is still Trump’s America—even in New York.
I had to explain to a person I was previously dating who happened to be white and from upstate that Americans come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. One shouldn’t judge someone based on their features, but in 2018 they still do.
“You’re actually kind of white,” he said. What does it mean to be ‘actually kind of white’?
The after effects of Western colonization are still prevalent.
Moving back to New York at 25 has been one of the greatest blessings but also one of the greatest challenges I’ve experienced thus far.
I had to relearn everything again and re-experience everything again. For the first time ever, I have a taste of what it feels like to be discriminated against. My dad moved to America in his early teens. The amount of racism and discrimination he experienced as a teen was so evident and it is now clear to me that it affected him deeply enough to not ever teach us Spanish on purpose.
I would overhear conversations he would have with neighbors, friends, colleagues, family, etc. about why he never taught us Spanish as well as him talking to them in Spanish. When he speaks English now, his accent is undetectable. His reasoning was simple: he didn’t want us to be discriminated against.
Have we gone backward?
Moving back here it seems we have gone backward.
It upsets me that New York is still segregated, it upsets me that there’s a huge disparity between the poor and the rich (the majority of the rich and powerful happen to be white), and it still upsets me that little is being done. It’s 2018 and the civil rights movement is still ongoing. We are all entitled to life, liberty, health, and opportunity regardless of the color of our skin or our cultural background.
Class and race, as well as socio-economic status, all play a part. We are all not given equal opportunities and some of us are racially profiled and discriminated against based on the color of our skin or cultural background.
Statistically speaking, African Americans are more likely than white Americans to have the police called on them versus a white person. Just by entering a store, they are more likely to be viewed with suspicion when it comes to crime versus their counterparts.
Crime doesn’t have a color, a race, or a gender.
My mom is Filipino and she had similar experiences as my father. To be honest I am very proud of being mixed –of having roots from different countries and then being born in America. Perhaps I was born to be apart of the movement, to be apart of the revolution. To end racism, discrimination, and advocate for equal opportunity for both women and people of color because to this day—2018 we are still not equal. This passion comes from awareness, education, and the need to take action.
At the end of the day, I do feel lucky to be here, to have the possibilities and opportunities, and to be able to chase my dreams. I’m also blessed and proud of my heritage and being a person of color –having the opportunity to shed light on this topic.
That is the only hope we have living in this society. Be you, don’t judge, and just live in love.