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Response 4

Samuel A. Batista Jr.
Professor Steven Alvarez
English 255-6476
30 April 2012

Racialization and Discrimination outside our borders: An Interpretation of Maritza Quiñones Rivera’s Jorunal “From Trigueñita to Afro–Puerto Rican: Intersections of the Racialized, Gendered, and Sexualized Body in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Mainland”

Immigrants from all over the world come to the U.S. for a variety of reasons from setting a goal to achieve the “American Dream” to escaping religious persecution to escape racialization/discrimination. The unfortunate part of this is that discrimination/racialization still exists within these walls and therefore shows there is no difference in the “Land of the Free” than the country they used to call home. The land of opportunity advertises overseas that it is the place to be especially if one wants to pursue social and economic mobility. However, this remains untrue because discrimination plays a big role in trying to climb both the social and economic latter because there needs to be a certain message shown to keep a certain image up. Rivera pursues this in her article, “From Trigueñita to Afro–Puerto Rican: Intersections of the Racialized, Gendered, and Sexualized Body in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Mainland”. Puerto Rico, a country full of Latinos of various skin tones, but an American territory, contains the same discrimination from that of the mainland, a country that is a transition for immigrants if they cannot make it to the U.S. in on their first attempt. Rivera discusses the social dynamic of discrimination in Puerto Rico, she writes,

“To publicly acknowledge racial differences is a threat to the island’s class- and colorblindness, where individuals—regardless of their social, economic, and racial/ethnic background—are ostensibly able to realize their potential and achieve economic and social mobility.” (163)

Rivera says that the racial differences are a key part to the island’s social dynamic and to disrupt the publicly make note that there are racial differences to those who are ignorant to what is going around them makes declares a threat. “Colorblindness” as Rivera puts it, is how the society views the racial issues, there are no colors in a sense but rather everyone is treated a certain way because of their skin tone. Based on her quote, since it is based solely on skin color alone, one’s social standing/economic status doesn’t matter, it boils down to what one looks like. With these factors taken out and the reduction to skin color alone, no one truly can ascend the social/economic latter to achieve a better life. Rivera put it plainly that the social dynamic is what truly slows down the ascension of any latter, all because of skin racialization/discrimination.

Rivera’s pursuit of the racialization issues are further discussed with the idea of racist ideologies slowly becoming a reality in the minds of many powerful individuals in the island of Puerto Rico. Citizens of Puerto Rico insist in a more teasing fashion but almost seem to want the idea of bringing up their race to higher status. In order to do this, skin tones must change and they would have to have relations with lighter partners. Rivera writes,

“[…] ‘Hay que mejorar la raza.’ In other words, Black individuals are enjoined to improve the race by marrying and reproducing with lighter-skinned partners.” (164)

To translate the above, it states that “We have to better our race”, to better the race, individual of darker skin tones are joining forces in order to bring up their status in the world. To improve the race’s status in society and economic mobility, marrying a lighter skin tone and also reproducing with a lighter skin begins the cycle of slowly increasing one’s status. Rivera fully pursues the measures people are willing to take in order to bring up their status, almost in such a way that it seems these people are assimilating. At first it deems to be in part as “passing”, but then if they are to be respected and expect to move up in the social and economic latter, one must throw out what their cultural identity and assimilate and becomes a more unified “American”.

Quiñones Rivera, Maritza. “From Trigueñita to Afro–Puerto Rican: Intersections of the Racialized, Gendered, and Sexualized Body in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Mainland.” Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 7 (2006): 163-64. Project MUSE. Web. 1 May 2012.

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