Thursday, June 18, 2009

Immigrant Tales

Two days ago I had a meeting with a colleague at work. He is someone I have worked with before, who is moving to a new position where he will have more contact with me during the planning cycle. So he paid me a visit at my cubicle, and we both struggled to fit an extra chair into close quarters so I could explain to him my main duties and show him my menagerie of charts and reports.

My coworker is from India, but has been living in the US for 25 years. He went to high school and college here. He has a son whom he has taken back to India to visit. He asked me where I was from and how long I had been here. I explained to him that, even though I was spared from dealing with INS when I moved here nine years ago on account of being born a US citizen, in reality I was very much a first generation immigrant. He had no problem understanding or accepting that. We talked about English language education in India and Puerto Rico. I told him my oldest daughter spends the summer on the island. He said his son doesn't like going to California to spend time with his aunts. It was a pleasant conversation and I think we both felt a sort of kinship forming.

I have been told by people that since Texas has such large numbers of Hispanics, that I should feel right at home here. How do I explain to them (if they do not get it already) that it is not quite the same, that Latin Americans are not some sort of homogeneous mass, that Mexicans, people from Central America and people from the Caribbean are not interchangeable?

When Gabe and I planned to get married, the wife of one of his friends warned him that I may just be marrying him to get a green card. Naturally I was pissed, not just at the assumption of dishonesty on my part, but at the woman's sheer ignorance about Puerto Rico. I teased Gabe that I was ready to walk down the aisle on our wedding day with my US passport pinned to my dress, so everybody would know my intentions were pure. I was only half joking.


  1. Hay mucha ignorancia entre algunas personas y eso lleva al prejuicio.