Category: Multicultural Identity

Our Son’s Heritage Board

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When we found out we were pregnant with our son I wanted him to be proud of who he was.  I wanted him to celebrate his beautiful, and colorful diversity.  His multiculturalism, and his heritage.

It wasn’t until he was 3 1/2 years old that I  found a great way to talk about race, and where he came from.  I came up with the idea of creating a “heritage board” for him.

We went on from where he was born, where Mami and Papi were born; we put pics of us up, and glued some other pics of maps, and things typical to the region (flags, mango from PR, Tainos, Palmetto tree from SC, etc.)

 

When explaining to him that Mami was Latina and that Papi was Black… making him Black and Latino, he laughs and says “Momma, my shirt has black lines not me!”

I laughed too, and left it there. He was too young too understand this.   He had already been to Puerto Rico like 3 times before he was 3 years old so I showed him the maps, and let him scribble to his heart’s content.

His heritage board hangs proudly on the wall of his room, and we often go over it.  We will both looking forward to adding fun things about his culture and heritage on his board as he gets older.


A Puerto Rican Wedding Tradition: “Capias”

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Being engaged, and getting to marry the love of my life was one of the happiest days of my life. Planning a bicultural wedding was so much fun that I actually wanted to bring everything about my Puerto Rican heritage to our wedding! (Shells, and all! But I’ll leave that for another post!)  
I wanted to incorporate my Latin culture to our USA wedding.  The one thing that I really, really wanted to share with my husband’s side of the family were the famous “capias.”   
The “capia”  is a  wedding souvenir that the bride gives to her guests. The one pictured is from our wedding. I still have a few that I’m keeping. These capias are truly special, they are a labor of love, a gift from Mami.  She made them in Puerto Rico, and brought them to me for our wedding.  
The “capia” is made with a thin satin ribbon with the bride’s & groom’s name; and wedding date engraved on them.  The ribbon is placed on a lace or other material with a decorative piece on top. A pin is included so that the bride can put it on her guests as a corsage or boutonniere. This way the bride is able to see all her guests, and give them a wedding souvenir.

Featured on Worldwide Culture Swap:  “Puerto Rico – The Capia Custom.”

Embracing Your Roots and Culture

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As I look at my son, and see the beauty within him: that he’s a child born out of love, and brought into this world with the richness and greatness of having three cultures: Black, Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian. I reflect upon my own life; my roots and culture. I was born in New York, to a Puerto Rican mom, and an Ecuadorian dad. As far as I can remember I was always proud of roots, my culture; heck I was even more thrilled that I had another culture other than being Puerto Rican. As an adult, I am still proud of my roots, and continue to embrace where I came from. So now that we have a son, I want to instill in him this same pride.

Unfortunately, not everyone embraces their roots and cultures; and most of the time deny it. Puerto Ricans are mixed race of Spaniards, African slaves, and Taíno Indians (native indians). Even my own aunts and uncles (on my Mom’s side) denied that there could be any “black” in them; but science came back to prove them wrong.

My Grandmother participated in The Origins of the Mitochondrial DNA of Puerto Rico Project, sponsored by the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez campus. They were conducting a series of DNA study and interviews about issues related to heritage and race in Puerto Rico. The professors Dr. Anayra Santory and Dr. Luis A. Avilés, were leading the investigation and visited my Grandmother at home, and requested her authorization to conduct a DNA testing with a strand of her hair to determine her race.

Every member in the family kept saying that my Grandmother was Spaniard, and my Grandmother herself said she was a Taíno Indian. She has a elongated face, light-caramel skin, straight hair, long nose. The test results came back, and the results were in “drum roll please” she was African. Wow, I was happy that I was Puerto Rican, Ecuadorian and now African! My other family members, not so much (I even mailed them a copy of the report! {giggles}); even my Grandmother wasn’t thrilled with the results, oh well! It is what it is, right?

Which brought me to think of phrase that I often heard back in Puerto Rico: “¿y tu abuela aonde ‘ta?” Which means “and where is your grandmother?”

This my beautiful Mother with my beloved Grandmother.

These are the DNA results:

In Puerto Rico, there’s a lot of racism amongst the Puerto Ricans. The dark-skinned Puerto Ricans will ask “¿Y tu agüela, aonde ejtá?” (where is your grandmother?) to the lighter-skinned Puerto Ricans to remind them of their mixed heritage: African. Especially when they deny their roots, and the color of their skin. At the end of the day, there is no denying your Abuela (therefore, your ancestors).

A good friend of mine shared this poem with me (that I had long forgotten). You can find the Spanish version here.

English translation:

Dinga and Mandinga By Fernando Fortunato Vizcarrondo

And your grandma, where is she?

Yesterday you called me Negro, And today I will respond to thee: My mom sits in the living room, And your grandma, where is she?

My hair is kinky, Yours’ is like silk, Your father’s hair is straight, And your grandma, where is she?

Your color came out white, And your cheeks are pink; Your lips are thin, And your grandma, where is she?

You say that my lips are big And they’re always red? But tell me, in the name of the Virgin, And your grandma, where is she?

Since your girl is white, You take her out a lot… And I feel like yelling to you: And your grandma, where is she?

You like Foxtrot, And I like ‘Bruca Manigua’, You display yourself as white And your grandma, where is she?

You are white on the outside and got into High Society Fearing that someone may get to know The mother of your own mami. Here, who does not have Dinga has Mandinga ha ha ha haaa! So again, I ask you, And your grandma, where is she?

Yesterday you called me Negro, Wanting to embarrass me. My grandma steps out to the living room, And yours hidden from everybody. The poor woman is dying Seeing herself so abused. Even your dog barks at her If she ever steps out to the living room. And I know her very well! Her name is Mrs. Tata You hide her in the kitchen, Because Negro is really… she.

The English translation was found here.

We’re not the only race that has a mix of different races, and sadly enough many deny their race, or where they come from; therefore, not embracing their roots and culture. I encourage you to look deeper into your family roots, you’d be surprise where you really come from.

And your grandmother where is she? “¿Y tu agüela, aonde ejtá?”

Would love to hear about your own experiences and thoughts. Please comment and share!

Welcome! ¡Bienvenidos!

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Welcome to “Discovering the world through my son’s eyes” where I will share with you how we try to teach our son how diverse, and wonderful our world is. Teaching him a love for books, life, and different cultures. Helping him expand his horizons and his view of the world, thus helping us “discover the world through his eyes.”
Saludos y bienvenidos a “Discovering the world through my son’s eyes” (Descubriendo el mundo a través de los ojos de mi hijo) dónde compartiremos con ustedes como intentamos educar a nuestro hijo en cuán diverso, y maravilloso es el mundo. Enseñándole el amor por los libros, la vida y diferentes culturas. Ayudándole a expandir sus horizontes y su visión del mundo, que a la vez nos ayuda “descubrir el mundo a través de sus ojos.”