By Vanessa Mari
I come from a very proud family. I was raised to love my culture and my heritage, and for that I greatly appreciate my family. I think this is something very important for Puerto Rican. As a colony from the United States, many feel as if our culture is being lost…as we no longer have an identity of our own. Not only this, but being a colony also takes away our independence and freedom. This is one of the reasons there have formed various misconceptions of Puerto Ricans that I would like to eliminate.
The first term used to describe Puerto Ricans is “Spiks”. This is the nickname Americans gave us because when the first big wave of Puerto Ricans first immigrated towards the United States in the 1940′s (specifically New York) many did not know how to speak the language. Puerto Ricans said “I don’t spik English” and that is how the nickname of Spik came about. What I find ironic is that when people from the United States visit Puerto Rico, they are surprised by the amount of people who know English. And when they don’t, they expect us to know their language, but they make no effort in learning ours. I would like people to stop with this misconception and realize what we are a SLA speaking society and that we are doing our best to learn English in a place that was first colonized for over 500 years by the Spanish.
The other misconception I hear a lot about Puerto Ricans is that we are lazy. This one bothers me a lot because I know so many hard working individuals that have accomplished many great things. I am a hardworking independent woman who is finishing her masters degree. I am aware that there are a lot of people living in projects and others who depend on welfare, but so does many other countries. This is a topic I could write my dissertation on. My last thoughts for this is that believing we are lazy is only promoting self hate and this is the worst thing that could happen to a small community like ours.
When this happens is very important to spread awareness of how beautiful our culture is. I am more than a Spik or a “lazy” person. I am a proud Boricua and I want to people to know where we are located in the map. Even though we are a small island in the caribbean, Boricuas have a big heart and we have accomplished great things. Yo soy Boricua, pa’ que tu lo sepas!