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Response 5

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 the cultural identity and assimilate to become a more unified “American”.

Rivera’s discussion of racialization in Puerto Rico has an important connection to Miguel Piñero’s poem “This Is Not The Place Where I Was Born” along the same lines with an addition of assimilation for the people of Puerto Rico. In Piñero’s poem, Puerto Rico over the span of a few decades changed drastically. When first discussed in the beginning, it was a place of peace, relaxation, the Spanish language dominated all others on the island and it was a very friendly and neighborly kind of place where everyone knew someone and trusted one another. However, going on, that eventually the Spanish people eventually become a minority on their own native island, the dominated language is now English, neighbors no longer trust one another and there was a flip from the foreigners such as Americas coming in to visit now became the locals and the native born Puerto Ricans are considered foreigners on the very lands their ancestors had helped to flourish and create. Piñero writes,


“& foreigners scream that puertoriqueños are foreigners
& have no right to claim any benefit on the birthport” (39-40, 1395)

The reversal of who was actually a foreigner and the local now has become a racial issue because Puerto Rico is now considered a U.S. territory. Locals now seem to have taken on the role to assimilate with the U.S. culture in order to be able to survive and even seem to turn on their own cultural brothers and sisters. This escalates further with even the police force, who were just as kind and trusting as all the neighborly people now walk with the mentality of the Ku-Klux-Klan and other mentalities based on films with heavy racial actions with a brutal police force. Piñero writes,

“police in stocking caps cover carry out john wayne
television cowboy law road models of new york city detective
french connection/death wish instigation ku-klux-klan mind” (48-50, 1395)

The police force once described as neighborly and knew everyone as friends rather than ID numbers and regular citizens who have the potential to be criminals show that a lot of the island has done what it needed to do in order to survive and become a better “American” as Rivera stated in the above. Piñero’s poem goes back to Rivera’s statement of trying to move up the economic and social latter because the original locals who haven’t assimilated are now considered foreigners and vice versa with local adapting to the new culture in order to survive and to improve their race.

Another example of racialization in foreign countries is the short film directed by Patrick Smith called Shades of the Border. In the short film, it takes place both in Dominican Republic and the country of Haiti. In this case, the Haitians are immigrating to the Dominican Republic in an attempt to find jobs and utilize more options available in order to survive. In Haiti, the economy is “dead and dried up” that no one really wants to even give the country a fighting to chance so people slowly move on as best as possible. In the Dominican Republic side of things, they are a lot better off than Haiti but the locals are very upset with the Haitians for going into their country and “stealing” jobs from the locals. The Haitians are actually willing to work for cheaper however they are in most cases exploited and sometimes go unpaid for their labor. The racism aspect comes into play from the children asked if they hate Haitians and if so, their friend is Haitian which implies they hate him also; to which they agree without hesitation. The Haitian people actually are as desperate in a sense to improve their social status as the Puerto Ricans in Rivera’s discussions.

In Rivera’s article, she discusses the desperation measures the Puerto Ricans will go to just improve their own status both economically and socially. The subject of breeding with lighter skinned partners falls along the same lines the Haitians use in order to survive in the Dominican Republic because in Haiti there isn’t much of anything because the country is cursed with poverty and hunger. The Haitians look to Dominican Republic as an alternative of survival and they pursue their own vision of living in a foreign land even if it costs them to lose their own cultural identity.
Shades of the Border shares a connection with not only Rivera’s article but also Pedro Pietri’s poem “Puerto Rican Obituary”.

Works Cited
Pietri, Pedro. “Puerto Rican Obituary.” The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. Ed. Stavans, Ilan, et al. New York: Norton & Company, 2011. 1357-1364. Print.
Piñero, Miguel. “This is Not the Place where I was Born.” The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. Ed. Stavans, Ilan, et al. New York: Norton & Company, 2011. 1394-6. Print.
Shades of the Border. Dir. Patrick Smith. Media that Matters. Short Film.
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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