“Once you are an immigrant, you never forget that you are one.” -Jorge Ramos
In today’s world, the topic of immigration is one of the top priorities because there is always movement amongst humans and when there are push and pulls factors then immigration will always been relevant. Immigration is a close subject in my life because my parents are immigrants. They chose to leave their homeland to create a new home in America. With my family’s ethnic background being Mexican, we are targeted as the focused immigration group to be a burden to America. My confusion only grows as I learn more about the history and stories of immigration, because I still do not comprehend people’s mockery of them. Why is there no escaping prejudice? Immigrants are always alienated for being different. There is never a common ground of appreciation to traveling to a new country in search of a better future. My family’s label as being immigrants will always be on that I will not forget.
“Man is more than white, more than mulatto, more than black. Cuban is more than white, more than mulatto, more than black.” -José Martí
How would life be if race was not a vital component to someone’s everyday identity? I can not help but put myself in this mindset when appearance is the first impression someone perceives you as. I walk around campus with my white friends and me as a brown girl. What people do not know about us is that we are all Mexican but I am the only recognizable one. José Martí statement in his writing is powerful for humankind. Society wants to order people in a category and sometimes that makes everything unorganized than structured. My life is not a box, I wish man was more than race. I am more than race. I am Bryana.
José Martí was a leader in Cuba but his message resonated with other islands like Hispaniola. When I was learning about the Dominican Republic and Haiti’s relationship in my first-year of college, I did not know about the brutal history that island had. As a person with Mexican descent, the Caribbean were only perceived generally as a multi-mixed region that looked normal. I was unaware that there was such a thing as limpieza de sangre that meant a blood cleansing which the Dominican government wanted its people to clear any Haitian blood. This is problematic in so many ways because it represents an attempt to erase the black race and the history attached to the enslavement of a people. It ultimately leads us back to what is race and why it is important to our society? It only adds to people having to choose what they are in terms of race rather than who they are as a person.
“They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds” -Mexican Proverb.
I resonate with this quote deeply and and it ties into my class of Race, Ethnicity, and Hybridity concepts because even after all the oppression, we are still thriving as marginalized groups. I hold myself to a higher degree especially being at a predominately white institution (PWI) where the system favors the superiority of white people. I always try to reward myself however, when I have achieved a certain level of difficulty or fear of reaching a goal at college. I recognize like DuBois that the resources I have been exposed to growing up, I am not going to win the war but I will win battles. In a W.E.B DuBois piece he says, “particularly the Negro race-have not as yet given civilization the full spiritual message which they are capable of giving” (112). His recognition of what the world may never experience due to other factors of discrimination towards the black race as its full contribution to humanity. It is almost crazy to think what could have been if major and minor instances of people’s ideologies never existed?
Leopold Senghor’s writing in “What is “Negritude’?” had an impact on me in so many levels. He touches upon some of the anxieties I have had with the hegemony of white America in trying to assimilate but always preserving one’s own culture. He comes to an understanding of how one must assimilate but for the sake of their own well-being. If a person is regarding or is a erasing their culture in an effort to seek acceptance then they will never truly be successful. At this point, I must add race is part of culture. “We could assimilate mathematics or the French language, but we could never strip off our black skins nor root out our black souls” (Senghor 136). I cannot and will not hide who I truly am as a brown Chicana but even when I am feeling frightened by society, I will never lose who I am.
- E. Burghardt Du Bois. 1897. The Conservation of Races. The American Negro Academy
Occasional Papers, No.2. Washington, D.C.: Published by the Academy.