Yesterday I had a talk with a former student who is currently a first year student at an Ivy League university. Since her freshman year in high school, we have connected on our common Latina background, mine Puerto Rican, hers Dominican. Now that she is in college, I continue to feel connected to her as she forges her way as the first in her family to attend college.
During the course of our conversation, she interviewed me for a women’s studies class project on which she is currently working. As we talked, we shared common experiences of facing racism and classism during pivotal moments in our lives. When my family moved from the Bronx to Long Island, I faced racist epithets such as “spic,” “nigger,” and “afro” from children on the playground. The teasing and the bullying didn’t end there though. After our move to Long Island, my Bronx relatives started calling me “white girl.” I was suddenly living in two worlds that didn’t accept me.