Anonymous talks about their identity and experience growing up in Puerto Rico
D: Ok, so first question, just a bit of background on who you are. So where are you from? K: Puerto Rico
D: Ok, so what about your parents?
K: Puerto Rico. Do you want me to say cities cause you know them.
D: No, it’s fine. Where are your grandparents from?
K: Guess where. Puerto Rico
D: Oh really! Wow! Ok, so where do you currently live?
D: Yeah, ok. That’s fine. That’s fine. Which place did you feel most at home? K: Puerto Rico or Miami.
D: If you had to choose?
D: And how come?
K: Well, the memories are like – cause I only lived in Puerto Rico from when I was zero to seven so like I remember the most about Miami cause it’s the longest I’ve lived somewhere where I actually have memories from.
D: Which place, out of all the places you’ve lived, made you feel least at home? K: Texas
D: Is there any reason why?
K: It’s really boring. There’s not a whole lot of Hispanics.
K: Yeah. Well, where I live, cause I live in the north, not the south.
D: What were your friend groups like? Were your friends also any Hispanics or did you feel, like, isolated?
K: No, I didn’t feel isolated. I was just one of the few Hispanics there.
D: Did that make you feel uncomfortable?
K: No. Just bored.
D: So at home, who took care of you when you were young?
K: Well, both my parents worked, so my grandma.
D: And how was labor divided at home? Like, chores?
K: Like me or my parents?
D: Just as the family as a whole.
K: Well, it just depends what age. What age do you want?
D: When you were young? What do you mean?
K: Like teenager or before teenager?
D: Throughout. Throughout. Did it change over time?
K: Well yes. As a child I had less responsibilities and I kept growing and more were added. D: Ok, and your parents?
K: Yeah, my dad did most of the work at one time. My mom also worked. He had like 3 jobs at one point. She only had one so that way she’d be the one to, like, took care of us the most… when we moved out of Puerto Rico. Yeah, and then my mom was a stay at home mom in Texas for like a year, when my dad worked. I don’t know if that answers your question D: Yeah. Yeah. um. So a bit more about your parents. How did your parents meet?
K: My mom was 10. My dad was 15.
K: My mom’s cousin is my dad’s best friend. And so she’s liked him since she was 10 but obviously he was 15 so he was like “you’re a child.” But then he went to the military. They both like grew up a little bit and then at 20, when she was 20, they started dating. D: Ok, and… at what age did they marry?
K: My mom was 21. My dad was 26.
D: Ok. There levels of education?
K: My mom: college. My dad: also college, but it’s from- my dad’s from a non accredited school and so in some places they don’t count it but in my mom’s they do. My dad got a Ph.D from a non accredited school, so it just depends.
D: Where was this?
K: Like, non accredited schools is like online schools so he did a lot of online school cause he was in the military, whereas my mom actually went to like, a university in Puerto Rico. D: He was in the military? How was he treated there? Like um
K: I think good. He liked it.
D: Did he ever talk to you about it?
K: Um, well no because- so they had kids he stopped that way he could be a present father. He didn’t want to be overseas.
D: How long was he in the military?
K: 8 years, I think.
D: Um, what jobs did they work?
D: Throughout. Throughout.
K: So, my dad- well- Do you want as a child or just as an adult?
D: Throughout there, um, like, lives. Do you know
K: So my dad at one point was a newspaper boy, when he was like, a teenager. He also worked at a fast food place. Then he was in the military so that was his job. After the military, he worked for the police in Puerto Rico. He also worked for the company Boya, where, you know, he like, managed sales or something. Then, he worked in New Jersey, in a residential home, cause he has family who were the heads of it. And then in Florida he worked… I don’t know what he did. He did 3 jobs in Florida, I know that. And then after that, he was like the manager of sale at Kraft. And now he’s a business owner. He’s like his own boss. And then my mom was in college when she had me so she didn’t really work at that moment. Then, she- she’s a chemist- so she worked at pharmaceutical companies. She did that until we moved to Texas. And then in Texas she worked at a cosmotol- like a cosmetics pharmaceutic- it’s not a pharmaceutical- cosmetics, chemist person. She formulates cosmetics. And that’s it. Oh, my mom also worked at Walgreens, before she worked at the pharmaceutical at Miami!
D: Um, how much of their daily work experience did they share with you? Like did they tell you any stories?
K: Um, yes. My mom was mostly complaining about people.
K: Yes. And then
D: Can you be more specific?
K: Well she just- she felt like she was more qualified than her bosses that didn’t know anything. At least in Texas. Like in Puerto Rico she really liked her bosses and everything. Cause Puerto Rico used to be like the head of pharmaceuticals in, like, the world. Yeah, but then now they took away- like the U.S took away the tax exemptions, so they left, so yes. And then my dad… when was a cop, he wouldn’t tell us, cause he didn’t want us to know. And then, he never really talked about his jobs, but he- when he worked for Krafts he would always bring- cause you could get whatever you want for free that Kraft produces so he would just bring like oreos and stuff like that so that was like what we heard about from work, like whatever products were being displayed or whatever.
D: Um about your mom- So, she felt as if, like higher-ups weren’t as qualified as her? K: Because, yeah, cause she worked for two of like, the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world beforehand. One was, like, Glaxosmith. The other was Merck. And so, in Puerto RIco they had to compete with each other and everything so they had to produce a lot, whereas here it was more laid back and so like, in Puerto Rico you make a certain quantity and your good, but here its like: they want you to stay for longer, not necessarily make as much quantity. D: How come- How do you think- Let me rephrase this. Why do you think she didn’t move up past those people, if she was more qualified?
K: Um, well. In her work, they value masters over bachelors, but she has more work experience than people who are in a master program or anything. Also, like, she was the only Hispanic person who wasn’t a custodian who worked for the company in Texas.
D: You think that had a profound effect?
K: Yeah. They would rather hire [new] people to be, like, chemists rather than just promoting. D: What were their life goals? Like, did the jobs they have, were they the jobs they wanted? K: Um, for my dad: he always liked police work, so he did that. And then my mom: she wanted to be a doctor. But then when her dad died, that’s when she decided she didn’t want to be a doctor and that’s why she became a chemist cause she still wanted to help people. D: Ok, so have they influenced you in what career choice you want to follow? K: Um, yes. Cause both my parents, like wanted to help people, so then I wanted a job that helped people. So my dad was a cop and my mom was someone who could do like- medicine. So that’s why I want to be a doc.
D: Ok. Have they been supportive of your choice?
D: Ok. So, I want to talk to you a bit more about religion. So, first off. What role has religion played in your family? Like how big?
K: You know it’s big. How big do you want me to explain it as. Like everything is based on religion
D: Like how often do you practice? How often does it come up in what you do? Or the attitudes you have?
K: Well, I’ve always been raised in religion. Like, some people are more extreme than others, so I consider my parents to not be extreme or anything. Um, we just go once a week to church except when there’s a special event, whereas my grandma, like, she goes to church almost everyday. She goes to like prisons and like, talks to prisoners about
L: Yeah. About God and everything. So… like, she’s a lot more into it. Like, she only wears skirts cause in the bible it says that men are like- men wear men’s clothes and women wear women’s clothes, so she considers pants like a manly thing, whereas my parents are like, pants are pants. So it just depends
D: So there’s like a generational thing there? Of that kind of gender role kind of thing? L: Yeah definitely with my grandma. Yes. My grandma prefers her nephews over nieces, or like, she would never tell you this, but you can tell that like- Causewith her husband, he was the only one who sat down for dinner. Her sons would get first picks in meals before her daughters did cause she had 2 sons and 2 daughters. So yes, definitely the boys had that keenness. D: So then gender did play, like, a big role in
K: Not in my case cause of my parents. But in my mom’s… like, yeah.
D: What about in your extended family?
K: Um, I don’t think that gender plays a big role. I think it’s just my grandma. Bause my grandma wasn’t religious, she became religious because of my grandfather so I feel like she was trying to make up for the fact that she hadn’t been religious beforehand so she was super strict about it. D: Um, at what age did you get into religion? Like really into, like, understanding, practicing? K: Well, I’m guessing that you mean when was I baptized? Is that what you mean? D: Or
K: Cause like I’ve always been in the religion thing, going to vacation bible school and everything, but when did I, like, choose to be a christian is what you’re asking? D: Yeah
K: I chose in the fifth grade, I think.
D: Fifth grade? And what made you, just sort of the atmosphere around- or like parents? K: Not even- no. My parents never forced it. Like they made me go to church but they never forced me to make the decision. I made the decision by myself based on the fact that I like, felt God in many different situations that we’ve been in. So, yeah.
D: What is the role of women in your religion- like how does religion affect, like, how you view yourself and your gender?
K: Well, if you ask my grandma its a different story, but with myself like I see it as like we’re equal, that like, God saved all, not just men. So…
D: So not too much, not too much difference between the genders?
D: Um so, next I want to talk a bit about… like Latinx Representation. So, you’re latina, right. You identify as latina right?
D: Do you think all latinx groups receive the same amount of attention?
K: Definitely no. I feel like for the most part the ones that are always in the media are Mexico, but that’s because it’s attached to the states, so it makes sense to me.
D: Did you- were your experiences with other latinx groups mostly Mexican, or were they K: It depends where I lived. So in Puerto Rico, obviously Puerto Ricans. In Florida, like that’s where I met the most types of different latinos from all over the place. In Texas, there are [a lot of] Mexican latinos
D: Why do you think this is, that there is such a big gap between representation of different groups?
K: I think it’s that people- some people are really uneducated. Some people when I told them I was Puerto RIcan they thought that was a city in Mexico, so like they just don’t know so I think it’s just lack of education. I dont think it’s them trying to be like only Mexico. Also, like, Trump is kinda extra with Mexico at the moment. So… yeah.
D: Um, do you think there should be more education about Latin America? K: Not even Latin America, just the world. People need to know that there’s other countries out there.
K: Yeah. Also, are you or any of your family members indigenous to Puerto Rico? K: Yes.
D: Did they ever feel treated differently because they were indigenous?
D: Can you elaborate?
K: Yeah. So I think it’s- we’re all technically indigenous because we’re like mixed with it, but like the last person I can remember that was like fully indigenous as well as I’m aware was like my great-great grandmother. So, she was like this indigenous woman and she was in a relationship with a Spanish man, and he was like a white Spanish man, and so they had kids together and everything but he said that ‘he could never marry an Indian’, which is what they would call, you know, like the Indigenous peoples so – Yeah so, then she was treated differently in that sense because he was like- saw her as lesser than even though they lived together and everything. And then when he was gonna die- He was like “No, let’s get married” – She’s like if you didn’t want me when you were healthier you’re not getting me when you’re sick. And so, that’s why we have her last name because they never technically got married. So…
D: Wow, so that’s like a form of resistance.
K: Yeah, she was kinda like- kinda strong for back then cause women weren’t allowed to do a lot of things.
D: Did she ever, um, get backlash for her decision?
K: I don’t know? I don’t think so. Maybe from him, that he was upset that she denied him, but D: Okay. So next up, what are some common stereotypes that you would think of latinx, in general?
K: Um, tacos. Like the food. Everytime that I’m like “Oh no, I use spices but they are not spicy” people are always shocked. Also, the way that, like, we look. People just expect us to look like the native Mexicans
D: As in?
K: Like, that Aztecs, Mezclas, like those types of natives.
D: So uh, more specifically, um, what about Puerto Ricans? Any specific Puerto Rican K: Stereotypes?
K: Um, that we don’t roll our R’s. That we listen to a lot of Reggaeton. I don’t know. We’re loud. But I think all latinos have the stereotype of being loud.
D: Can you think of any, more specifically, Puerto Rican women?
K: J-Lo [Jennifer Lopez]. People expect J-Lo when they find out that she’s Puerto Rican, they are like “oh, that’s Puerto Rico.”
D: So, sort of like in a sexualized stereotyped?
K: Oh yeah. Definitely sexualized.
D: Where do you think these stereotypes come from? Like where do their roots come from, these stereotypes?
K: Some of them could be, like, the lack of people being exposed to people of those places so maybe they would meet one person and they think that’s how everybody from that place is. Also, like the media definitely- with Sofia Vergara, J-Lo. They are all like sexual icons. D: Yeah. Um, have these stereotypes affected you in any way? Do you have any experiences of being stereotyped yourself?
K: Oh yeah. Definitely. Yeah, I remember, like, in high school a guy asked me if he could pay me for sex because he that since I was Hispanic, like I’d just be down. And I’m like “ugh-Jesus exists. I’m sorry.” Yeah, no, definitely with that people are always shocked cause they don’t think of like Hispanics as religious but, likes that’s a very big part of the culture. D: So this like, sexualizes stereotype comes up a lot?
D: So how does that make you feel? Like was is your
K: I feel bad for them! Not for myself. I’m like “Oh, you poor thing.”
D: Wow, that’s different than what I would have expected.
K: Yeah. I’m like “Oh you poor thing, you thought. No…”
D: Um… so, do these experiences ever have, like, a lasting effect on you? Do they, like, you know- lasting effect?
K: I mean, not really cause I don’t let those kind of things bother me. I avoid those people, but it’s not like “Oh my god, he thought that of me! What!”
D: That’s very powerful of you. What would you say to those- Or actually let’s start with this: Have any of your family members been stereotyped?
K: Um. Probably, but I wouldn’t really know that much.
D: Have you been told of any stories, in particular.
D: What would you say to those who believe in these stereotypes, like
K: I don’t think they are bad people. I just think that they don’t know any better. Like they haven’t been exposed to people who are different than them. Or maybe they are just, like, not educated. They just hear something from one person and just believe it instead of finding out for themselves.
D: Okay. So another thing. I know that you moved a lot. So, what kind of schools did you attend, from place to place?
K: In Puerto Rico, it was all private school. And then in the U.S it was public school. D: Did they differ? Like socially, or you know, in the classroom itself, or like, the actual curriculum itself?
K: Yeah. In Puerto Rico, like, since it was private, it was a bilingual school, so it was emphasized you learned two languages whereas in the U.S it’s like: public schools only English. In Puerto Rico, they allow you to test into grades. So when I was two I was already in school, whereas in the states, it’s when you turn a certain age that you start school. So, that’s different. D: What about socially, from place to place? Did you feel any differences? K: Well, I went to a christian private school in Puerto Rico, so, like, religion was a part of the curriculum. In public school, religion isn’t a part of the curriculum. It’s more math and science-based.
D: More STEM.
K: In Puerto Rico, I feel like it was more well rounded cause they would have music classes and different things that you would have to do too.
D: Why do you think that is?
K: I think it’s just a different set of priorities. Cause, like, in Puerto Rico, I feel like they just emphasize for you to get a well-rounded education, whereas here you want to test well. SO they are trying to, like, teach you the things that are going to get you the highest scores so that you represent the school better.
D: Which would you say you preferred? It just depends on what you are trying to achieve, I guess. I liked Puerto Rico’s schools, but I feel like I wouldn’t have gotten the same opportunities if I would have stayed there. Definitely with American schools, like, they give you more opportunities.
D: How would you feel if you had to stay in Puerto Rican school, if the opportunities, as you sat, weren’t as reaching?
K: I think that if I didn’t- like in Puerto Rico I wouldn’t have known any better, but if it was like, if I was here and then I moved back
D: Then you could tell.
K: Then it would be like obvious cause they have a lack of funding and everything since they are part of the U.S but they get taxed more, but they don’t get as much money as a state would. D: Did that- Did the underfunding, like, did it show?
K: It shows now more, even more because of the hurricane. So like, there’s a lot of schools that started closing down because they don’t have funding to repair anything. Some kids have to go to school in the dark cause there is no electricity or anything. So like, that would have never passed in somewhere like Florida. Yeah.
D: What about facilities? Like restrooms, classrooms…
K: There’s no air conditioning in public schools in Puerto Rico. If a teachers absent in a public school, then they don;t have substitutes, so like your class is just canceled for the whole day D: -Really? What would you do in the meantime?-
K: -for the whole day.
D: Oh. For the whole day?
K: Yeah. You don’t- like the parents have to take you and then like sometimes some parents can’t take you to work with them, so then they have to like run and try to find someone to take care of your kids, or they have to skip on work.
D: What would your parents do?
K: My parents, since I was in private school, that didn’t happen. They always had substitutes. D: Okay. Um, did you feel like the history of Puerto Rico, or like, people who sort of, like, look like you, or, you know, that you identify with- Did they ever show up in the curriculum? K: Not really? I think the only time Puerto Rico has ever been mentioned in the curriculum is when they are talking about what lands the U.S conquered from Spain and the Spanish War. That’s the only time.
D: How does that make you feel?
K: I mean, like, at least I’m mentioned, cause there’s other territories in the U.S that are treated way worse than us. So, like, yeah.
D: Um, were the people any different, in the schools?
K: What people? Like the teachers, or like the students, or what?
D: Um, broad. So, you want to start with teachers? Were the teachers any different? K: Well, the race in Puerto Rico was mostly Spanish speakers. But, like, white and Black: we didn’t see it like that. It was just Puerto Ricans. Whereas, in American schools it’s more divided. There’s like strictly Asians, strictly Middle Eastern, [etc]. Over there, it was like Puerto Ricans. Pretty much all of them.
D: Is that the same for the students?
D: Were you treated any differently? Let’s say, by the teachers?
K: I don’t think so. Well at first cause I was in ESL, even though I knew
K: English Second Language is ESL.
D: Oh, Okay.
K: So I was put in ESL classes because they thought since I was coming from a Puerto Rican school, like, that I wouldn’t know English. And so I definitely knew English, but I didn’t know the more social term. Like for me, I remember I got asked in the second grade if I had a boyfriend. And I was like, yeah, I have ten. Cause you know, in Spanish, there’s a distinction between a guy who’s your friend and a guy your dating. But in English there’s not. So I was like yeah. And they were all shocked. Like “no you can’t have ten boyfriends.” And I’m like “what are you talking about?” So I thought they meant a friend that was a boy. I didn’t know that meant your dating.
D: Were there any other barriers? So language would be one, right?
K: I don’t think so. I feel like kids are pretty good about welcoming different people in. But, I think I’m fine. Yeah.
D: Did finances, race, gender?
K: Well, if your in public school, your in the same, like, money spectrum of the people who are around you. So I guess not really, cause we were all in the same boat. Like, if I lived in a good
area, all the people there also live in a good area. If I was in a worse area, all the people are also in that same worse area. So there wasn’t that much of a discrepancy except when I moved from a not so good area to a better area, there’s the No Child Left Behind program. And so, like, that was when they would see discrepancies, but the school would try to minimize that in Florida by having everyone wear uniforms so that way you couldn’t tell how much money someone had based on just the clothes they had.
D: Did you ever feel more left out in one school over another?
K: I didn’t feel left out in any school. It’s just in some schools people didn’t believe me when they said that I was, like, hispanic? Cause they said that I was too white to be hispanic. Or some people would say that they couldn’t understand my accents whereas others said I didn’t have an accent, so they would have never guessed I was Hispanic. And this was in the same school so its like: which one is it? So- I didn’t feel left out. I just felt that people didn’t know that I was possible of existing because they didn’t know Puerto Rico was a place or that Puerto Rico was a territory. I remember a teacher in high school because people were confused. He printed an article, and they just had an assignment on Puerto Rico so that way people would be educated cause they didn’t know. Yeah.
D: So a lot of people didn’t recognize that your latina at first?
K: Yeah. A lot of people, like, in Texas, they confuse me more for Middle Eastern or Arab more than Hispanic.
D: And would they recognize it after. Like, when you tell them that your Latina. Or would they be like “Oh no, you’re white or-?
K: Some people would be like “Oh, I thought you were white.” Or like, “are you sure your Hispanic cause you look white.” But most people, like, If I told them I’m Hispanic, they don’t like, question it. They are more like “Oh, I just didn’t know.”
D: Okay. So, next I want to talk about work experience, and not just your own. SO, what attitudes did you have towards getting a job and the workforce before you got your first job. K: I wanted a job, but my parents didn’t want me to work. They wanted me to focus in school. Yeah, they said school was my job. So like to focus on my grades, cause they felt like having a job would be a distraction.
D: So no job. So you were never pressured into getting one?
K: They didn’t want me to get one. I wanted one.
D: Did you eventually get a job?
K: It just depends on what you consider, cause like, I babysat in Texas for, like, two years. D: At what age was this?
K: I started at sixteen. So I babysat for people who went to the church. And then the church also hired me. So I worked for my church for those years. I still technically work for them, but I just don’t live there so I work very little. And then now, I work at the neurosurgery building. D: Did your parents approve of the babysitting and the church?
K: I wouldn’t have been allowed to do it if they didn’t.
D: So they were okay with that.
K: Yeah. They were apprehensive about it at first, but yeah
D: But they wouldn’t be okay with an actual-
K: Yeah, cause like, I want to get a job during the summer but they don’t want me working fast food or anything.
D: How come?
K: I feel like since my dad has worked before so many jobs growing up, he wasn’t able to focus in school as much, so I feel like [inaudible] distraction for me too.
D: Let’s say if money were to get low, would they pressure you into getting a job. K: No. They were too prideful to ask me to get a job. They’ll get more jobs themselves. D: Um, how did getting jobs at the age you did make you feel?
K: I was glad, cause I always feel bad for my parents to buy me things, so like, I was like, “I can buy myself things.”
D: So you felt, like, a sense of empowerment.
D: Did you ever find it hard to seek employment? Was it hard?
K: No. Cause I had volunteered at the church, for like three years before they asked me to work for them, cause you have to be sixteen to work anywhere. They asked me, I didn’t ask them. D: Oh really?
K: Yeah, cause if I would have tried getting a job my parents would have said no. But since it was a church asking me, they were like “Okay.” I had to deny them the first year cause they asked me when I was fifteen and my parents said no. So then it took a year before they said yes.
D: How is your experience now in the workforce?
K: It’s good, I guess. I just work for work-study so it’s not a whole lot of time commitment. They are really flexible with my schedule. I get to choose my hours and everything. So, it’s good. D: Is there anything you’d improve? Like, you’d want improved?
K: More money.
D: That’s always good. Can you describe any experiences where you were treated unfairly in the workforce? In any one of the three?
D: Okay. That’s good. Okay, so let’s move on to your family’s migration experience. K: Okay.
D: So, at what age did your parents decide to migrate to the mainland?
K: So my dad had lived here before because his parents were divorced. So he would get to pick where he wanted to live. So sometimes he’d live in Texas or Florida or Puerto Rico. So he would choose. My mother had never lived in the U.S before, so when they chose I was seven. D: How old were they?
K: My mom was twenty- oh no- she was probably twenty-nine, around there. And so my dad was five years older than whatever
D: Whatever she was. Why did your parents migrate?
K: In Puerto Rico, the way they describe the U.S is like, almost heavenly. Like, the streets are made out of gold, money just flows from trees. So, they were like, “Oh, we should make the jump, that way, like, for schools and for money, that way I would be better off too.
D: So, opportunity?
D:How did they feel about migrating?
K: My dad- it was easier cause his side of the family is smaller, but for my mom it was harder cause she was gonna abandon everybody she new and everything. Cause my moms side of the family is ginormous. The way that my moms says it is like: “Once I made the jump I knew I wasn’t gonna go back, so it was like either she was gonna go or she wasn’t gonna go at all. So…
D: How did you feel about it, at seven?
K: I didn’t want to leave. Cause I didn’t want to leave my family. But once I got to New Jersey, I was like “Ooo, I like New Jersey.”
D: Did you fully understand what was going on at seven? Like the commitment? K: Yeah.
D: How did you and your family prepare?
K: Um, we didn’t really. My dad left before we did, to find a house. And then, we would like- we gave away all of our belongings because we weren’t gonna bring them. And also, the reason why we moved was because my dad’s side, his uncle or something like that, he has a lot of money, so he’s like “Oh no, everything will be provided for you.” But then it wasn’t. D: Really?
K: So we had given everything away cause we’re like “why would we keep it if we’re gonna get everything over there.” So, yes.
D: Your uncle was-?
K: I don’t even know how he’s related to me if I’m honest with you. You know how everybody says that they’re their uncle.
D: Oh, so he’s not?
K: I know he’s related. No, he is related. He’s related to my grandma from my dad’s side somehow. I don’t know if he’s her brother or something like that. Yes.
D: Was it tough giving up everything? Was it hard letting go of some item? K: For me: not really. For my sister: she’s still mad that we gave away her pink barbie jeep and stuff like that. Like to our front neighbor. She’s like “I cannot believe that you gave that away. I loved it.” But for me, i didn’t care.
D: Was there an emotional toll on your parents, as well?
K: Probably, on my mom cause she likes to keep a lot of pictures and everything. And so she couldn’t take all those things with her, so a lot of them were left in my grandma’s house. D: On your dad’s side, no?
K: Um, no?
D: Did he ever tell you?
K: I don’t think so cause he only has a sister and an uncle on that side, so like not really? D: Also, you said your dad left earlier. How much earlier did he leave?
K: Maybe like, two, three weeks earlier.
D: Okay. Did you or your family know anybody in the mainland before migrating? K: The uncle in New Jersey.
D: Oh, okay. So he was in New Jersey?
D: Was there anyone else?
K: Not that I know of. I didn’t know anyone definitely. But I don’t know if the knew other people. D: And was he of any help once you got there?
K: He had the intention of helping, but his now ex-wife didn’t want him to help. D: How come?
K: Cause she cares about money. So, yeah. But she like dabbled in witchcraft and stuff and went crazy so… we just ignore her.
D: Witchcraft. Okay.
D: Did the dynamic of your family change once you came here? Maybe power structure, or anything?
K: I guess my dad just had more jobs, so then he was gone more off the day. That was pretty much the only difference. And now my grandma didn’t take care of us. So like, my mom had to make sure that she was there to pick us up from school and everything, and like drop us off. D: How did homelife change?
K: It was the same I feel like, cause me and my sister were the same. So, we were always together and we went to school together so it was like pretty normal in that sense. D: Hm-mhm. Okay. So, next we’re gonna talk about sex education and health care. So, to start off, has your cultural roots influenced how you see your sexuality or your body. K: Yes. Like, don’t do anything til you’re married. Jesus is a part of you. So like, don’t make him see anything you shouldn’t see. That type of thing.
D: Anymore you;d like to elaborate on that or
D: Like how many stigmas- were there any more stigmas?
K: I guess with, like, period equals womanhood. So you’re a woman when you get your period. You don’t do sex til you’re married. Definitely, that’s a big one.
D: So there are definitely do’s and don’ts with regards
D: Ok. Did your parents ever talk to you about your sexuality.
D: No? Siblings, family?
D: No? Did your school teach sex education?
K: Yes, and I opted out of it. Cause
K: Yeah cause I was in elementary school, and so my mom felt like she should be the one to tell me about it. And so, even when I hit puberty, my mother didn’t tell me what it meant. All that she told me was that that meant I was able to get pregnant. But she never told me how it was gonna get pregnant by puberty. Yes, she was waiting for me to ask her, but obviously if I’m going to ask her then that means I already know. My mom never got given the sex talk and she’s married and
has kids and everything so.
D: So, it wasn’t your decision to opt out of sex education?
K: Yes, it was my decision in a way because my mom was like do you want it and I thought they
were just gonna talk about periods and I was like I don’t want to- cause I had a guy teacher in that grade, so I was like “I don’t want him talking to me about my period” so… it was me and one other girl who didn’t take it.
D: How did that make you feel, that the teacher was male?
K: Well, I didn’t mind. I just didn’t want to hear the part about my period from a guy. D: Would it have changed if it was a woman?
K: Um, I just didn’t want to hear about my period in general but if it was a girl I feel like it would be more comfortable cause it’s like talking about a girl’s body to a girl. I feel like the guy teacher was good for, like, the male students. I feel like it would be awkward- cause it’s like “Ooo, if you
have questions and you want to say them just write them down.” I was like “I’ve been in your class the whole year, you know my handwriting” so… yes.
D: Um… okay. Do you know what they taught in sex education?
K: Not really, cause like, the kids didn’t bother telling us anyways. I guess the teacher told them and “they opted out, don’t tell them.”
D: So, like, between students, would there be talk about that, about sexuality? Would you ever hear from students about sexuality?
K: No, not really.
D: Okay. Do you think it should be taught or?
K: Like sexuality as in, like, straight, gay or like having sex?
D: Both. You can start with one.
K: I think it’s good that they talk about it.
D: Do you think it’s problematic if it wasn’t taught.
K: I think it’s important to teach it just so people don’t make dumb choices, cause like there’s people whose been to the hospital who are like “How am I pregnant, we had sex standing up?” cause they think that means that the sperm won’t go in. I’m like, honey… that’s not how it works so I think it’s important that they teach it.
D: did you receive sex education in middle and high school?
D: Okay. Uh, did they teach abstinence or safe sex?
K: Cause they said the only one hundred percent proof way of not having a child is abstinence, but they’re like, if your gonna have sex, might as well be safe about it.
D: Do you think that’s a healthy
K: I think it’s good, cause not everybody’s religious or stuff like that so abstinence- like I made the decision to be abstinent not even based on religion, just based on myself. So like, I think it’s good that they teach both things.
D: Okay. Do you have access to reproductive services, i.e birth control, education, medication? K: Yes, birth control
D: Family planning? Would you know where to go if you were
K: Like planning to have a family is what you’re saying?
K: No, unless you mean like a doctor
D: Like planned parenthood.
K: Oh, planned parenthood, then yes. Yeah, there’s not that many in Texas. In California, there’s more.
D: Are there any obstacles, or barriers, to getting to these programs, services? K: I don’t have a car, I guess it is the only barrier, but there’s public transportation. D: Do you feel comfortable going to these places?
K: I haven’t gone to one so I can’t say.
D: But let’s say, how about when buying birth control or anything, do you get odd looks or? K: No cause you can get birth control from [inaudible] the doctor.
D: Yeah, but do you get odd looks from them or?
K: No, cause nobody knows what I’m there for.
D: Okay. So did you have anyone to talk to when you became sexually active? K: I have not become sexually active.
D: But- Okay yeah let’s scratch that. Let’s say if you were to become sexually active, do you have anyone to talk to?
K: I guess.
D: Okay. Do you feel like it’d be helpful to have anyone to talk to?
K: Depends on what happens, maybe you need to talk to somebody. But I don’t know. D: SO, how often do or can you visit a doctor?
K: Whenever I need to.
D: Do you feel like there’s any barriers to getting to a doctor at all?
D: Okay. Um, do they make you feel comfortable? The doctors
D: Okay. Are you satisfied with your healthcare?
D: Do you think it can be improved?
K: Well there’s always room for improvement, but I feel like they’re doing a good job. D: Okay. So next, a bit more on family planning. So, do people you know tend to have nuclear families or extended families?
D: Nuclear would be the standard two parent, few children, dog, whatever. And then extended family would be like living in a
K: Like, based off my race, extended. But, like, based on the U.S, nuclear. D: Yeah. What would you plan? Or what do you have in mind?
K: In my mind, it’d be nuclear until, like, my parents would get too old, or my spouse’s parent would get too old so then they could move in with us so we can take care of them. So I guess that way it’ll be extended. Is there any, like- so there’s this stigma of, like, having a nuclear family, or that expectation
K: That’s like the stereotype of the U.S. Yes.
D: Do you feel confined in any way by that? Like, do I have to abide by that or?
D: You understand?
K: Yeah. No, I don’t.
D: Okay. So you do plan to have a family? Correct, right?
D: At what age do you think it’s suitable?
D: So what size
K: -Three kids
D: -of a family?
K: Of my own?
K: And then I don’t- Depending on my financial wellness is how many kids I could adopt. And if I don’t have any of my own kids, then I guess three at least. Yes.
D: Okay. Um, what do your parents want out of your family?
K: They just- They don’t pressure me. I know they want to be grandparents though. So they definitely want grandkids, but they don’t tell me, like, [inaudible].
D: About potential partners: Do your parents put any expectations or, like, who you can or can’t K: They’re pretty open about who I can be in a relationship with. The only thing that they care about is that they’re Christian. They don’t care about their race. They don’t really care about the age of the person, but, like, I think it should be a reasonable age because I also want to care about a reasonable age. They care more about, like, the way the person would treat me, based on it. They don’t want me having to only care for somebody the whole time, or having to depend solely on me. Like, they want someone who is productive and has ambition and stuff like that. So they never really tell me anything physical that they want.
D: Okay. So, do you have to be married first, would you say?
K: I mean, yes. But if I weren’t to be married, I don’t think my parents would disown me or anything.
D: Are there any stigmas
D: to that you feel about having children before being wed?
K: Yeah, definitely. They’ll just think that, like, if I had kids beforehand that I did everything out of order.
D: Are you concerned about how having a family would affect attitudes in your workplace? K: No.
K: No. I don’t want to work for a place that I have to be concerned about that. D: Let’s say that in the medical field, like, if you have a family, then you’d have to take maternity leave and then devote more time to-
K: I feel like if I were to have a family, I would at least take a year break from working because I’d want to be a present mom. I’m not- A lot of people like “Oh my God. I got to get back to work after I have a kid.” I’m not that type of person. I want to be there to see everything that happens. And I would also, if I’m married, I would want the dad to be there to see a lot of it too, cause you know, paternity leave isn’t a thing everywhere. I would want him to have some sort of paternity leave. So before having kids, I would have to like plan financially to be able to live maybe half a year without getting paid or something like that.
D: Okay. Any concerns about finance when it comes to having a family?
K: Not yet.
D: But in the workplace, would you be concerned about, maybe, your salary stagnating or decreasing?
K: It just depends on what my job is, I guess. If I say as a nurse, then I wouldn’t be too worried, or as a doctor, I’d be even less worried cause they get paid better, so I don’t think so. D: And, do you think the concerns are different based on gender?
K: They can be, but not necessarily. It doesn’t have to be different.
D: Okay. How would you want your family obligations to be divided, in your family? So like K: -Fifty-Fifty.
D: What about with the children?
D: Also, like the chores and everything- How everything’s divided?
K: Well, it just depends on- Are you talking about, in regards with me and my spouse taking care of the child or like the kids having to do stuff?
D: You and your spouse.
K: Oh, then yeah. Fifty-Fifty.
D: Okay. So, let’s talk a bit about Puerto Rico. So, how do you feel about Puerto Rico being a territory?
K: I think that it has its benefits in the sense of, like, there’s a union there and that keeps part of the identity and the culture alive. But, it’s bad in the sense of everything else. D: Can you explain? Elaborate
K: So like, financially, it’s worse. Educationally, it’s worse. Everything is worse. The healthcare is worse. Yeah, cause like the starting salary there is lower than here, even though it’s the same currency. And in some ways it’s more expensive to live there because there is that law about how things have to be shipped to the U.S mainland before they’re shipped to Puerto Rico, so everything has a higher- You have to pay higher for everything that you buy over there. D: How is the culture in Puerto Rico better, you said it was?
K: I think that it’s kept better in the sense of the territory is kept more authentic because if we became a state, then- All of our road signs and everything are in Spanish. Our speed limit is in kilometers, not in, like- Stuff like that. Whereas in the U.S, everything is with miles, everything is in English first. So I feel like it would be a dissociation between the older generation who might only know Spanish. They wouldn’t be able to have an effective way of communicating or living if the language were to change just to English.
D: So would you want Puerto Rico to become a state?
K: Yes. But, I would want them to be a state that’s allowed to have stuff in Spanish, and everything still.
D: Okay, that makes sense. Do you feel like Puerto Rico receives an appropriate amount of discussion?
D: Like, is it pushed to the side.
K: Yeah. Like, we don’t have any legal representation, whereas the states do. So, yeah. There’s no issues being brought up.
D: How does that make you feel?
K: I just feel bad for them, cause I know that if I were to still live there, I would not be represented.
D: What about when you were there?
K: I was seven.
D: Yeah, too young?
D: What about your parents? How did they feel?
K: It was the only thing they knew, so they felt fine, I feel like. But now they know the difference. It’s odd that you can just fly over here and you can vote but over there you can’t vote. D: Okay. How do you feel about Puerto Rico’s portrayal in mainstream media? K: It’s not portrayed as much, but when it is, it’s usually associated with the gangs in New York and stuff like that.
D: So, definitely like a distinction between reality and what’s portrayed?
K: I think so. Yeah.
D: So, onto the hurricanes which was sorta brought up earlier: What do you think about the White House’s response to the hurricanes?
K: It was uncoordinated and not well planned. Like, they paid this lady millions of dollars to help with the relief. She was supposed to package things. And then she was supposed to send thousands upon thousands of packages, but she only sent, like, thirty. And so, a lot of it has been underfunded. Puerto Rico’s streets and everything were already in not the best use. And the states benefit cause they have a monopoly in Puerto Rico. But since it’s a territory, it’s fine. So… cause that’s illegal in the states. So, they didn’t do much cause they don’t want to put money into something that is taking more money. Cause they are in debt because of the U.S, which benefits the U.S.
D: What would you have like to seen done?
K: Well, they first should have gotten rid of the law where they can’t ship things directly to Puerto Rico because of it spikes all the prices when they’re trying to get relief. They should have helped with the electricity. They should have given food. So, you know… basics.
D: Do you know, or have you kept in touch, with any of the victims of the hurricane? K: You mean my family? Yeah.
D: Friends, as well?
K: Um, I was seven when I left.
D: Okay. Your family: how do they feel about the response.
K: Well, they’re not surprised by it. They knew nothing was gonna happen. So…
D: Would you say they feel angry, hopeless, or… what is their
K: No, for them, Puerto Rico is practically on it’s own their whole lives. Like, they’ve known that so they didn’t expect the U.S to help. So they’re not mad or anything. They’re just unfazed by it. D: So, I’m sure, as you know, Puerto Rico is still out of electricity, or very low. Food is also scarce, still, but yet the talk about Puerto Rico has left the news cycle. How does that make you feel?
K: I just feel bad for them cause my family is doing okay, but there is definitely people who aren’t. So when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, the U.S sent so many helping teams. Like, they practically rebuilt Houston in the matter of months, but it’s been almost a year and Puerto Rico is still in the same bad state, pretty much. Like, they’ve had other countries help more than they have helped themselves
D: Yeah, that’s unfortunate. Do you feel like Puerto Rico should be talked about more, because they haven’t receive aid in so long? Like, how do you feel about news outlets not covering it? K: I think that they should talk about them, but they’re not gonna talk about them cause they’re trying to get more views, and so they’re gonna put things that are putting people against each other where instead of trying to bring people together cause that doesn’t make anybody tune in to see the drama on the news.
D: Yeah. Do their experiences change your daily life? Like, knowing what they are going through?
K: Um, no, not really. It did that first, but now it had been so long that it’s the same thing. We’re just used to it now.
D: Okay. So onto our final section. Have you been involved in any kind of activism. K: With, like, them?
D: In general.
K: Well, do you mean like governmental activism?
D: It could be as broad as you…
K: Well, my parents and I, and my sister- We all got people in Texas to donate food and out of pocket we paid for food to be shipped to our families and everything and water. And so, that was, like, our way of- but I haven’t been involved in government.
D: When was this?
K: After the hurricane. I don’t know when it was. We got so many packages that it was too expensive to ship all of them so we had to keep the ones with the later expiration dates to space it out. Cause we had to send clothes and everything. Food, water, stuff like that. D: Okay. How did you join? Like, was it difficult or easy to find out about this place? K: Oh no, my parents did it. Like they made it themselves.
D: Oh, they made this!
K: Yeah, like it wasn’t an organization or anything. They just asked people to let other people know. So then people would just- Like, they made a facebook post so people would just drop stuff off at our house and… yeah.
D: Wow, okay. So, there was a community reaction to…
D: Community service, in a sense. So, another- this is very broad question, but- What does social justice mean to you? So, taking in your experience of activism, let’s say like that or what you see on media, what does social justice mean to you?
K: It’s just, like, everybody being treated with the same level of respect and caring regardless of their finances, their race, their past history. So, it’s just equality.
D: Another question: Do you feel empowered in your daily life?
K: I guess so.
D: What would make- What influences make you feel this way?
K: The fact that I’m in college. I’m on my own now. My friends. My family, definitely. And my faith.
D: Do you think society supports or looks down on being empowered, like self-empowerment? K: I feel for the most part they’re trying to promote self-empowerment, but sometimes, like, if someone is very comfortable with themselves and feel self-empowered, then they’ll think of them as being conceited or something like that. But for the most part, I feel like there is an effort being made to increase self-empowerment.
D: Have you ever been, like, supported or, let’s say, suppressed, in regards to self-empowerment? Do you feel like you’ve been suppressed by…
K: I don’t think so, cause if someone’s like “Oh, you’re being extra,” I’m like “Oh well.” It doesn’t faze me.
D: Another question: So, interviews like these or, like, sharing your story is very important to, you know, raising awareness, maintaining community, culture, stuff like that. So, my question for you would be why is sharing our community’s stories important?
K: I think it humanizes the community of people who may be, like, they haven’t been interacted with. So, if you live in a secluded area of I don’t know, Idaho, you’ve never heard anything about them except for what’s on T.V and you hear the stories and they become more human I feel. D: And that would make you support their cause?
D: Is there anything else you’d like to add to that.
K: [shakes head]
D: Okay. What changes would you like to see help support communities of color, more specifically women and gender non-conforming folks.
K: I guess an easy way to start is to provide feminine products for the homeless, cause they get their periods once a month. It’s kind of, like, a dirty situation to be in and you can get really sick from it. So I feel like that’s an easy way to start, or take away the pink tax, if you know what that is. So, that’s an easy….
D: Um. Okay. So the final question: what advice would you give members of your community? K: I guess, just stay true to their culture and themselves, and it’s ok to change. Growth is expected.
D: Okay, that’s all.