1.05 – Roots

Maruja Toledo

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CROSS-OVER GENES – For years I have questioned the assumption of what is considered a Puerto Rican woman. The principal reason is that I lack some of the characteristics of the quintessential puertoriqueñidad. Some of these characteristics are the following: Swaying As a young woman, I was aghast as my Puerto Rican friends had a particular sway as they walked. They told me time and again that proper Puerto Rican girls had to sway. Naturally, I practiced and took lessons from the best; to no avail. Instead, I have what my husband of many years describes, for lack of a better word, as a “trot.” He even tried to teach me how to walk correctly since he grew up with six sisters and considered himself a connoisseur in this area. One day, I rebelled. I affirmed my...

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Camille Pedraja

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MY TWO FRONT TEETH – You know there’s something funny about Your teeth when your boyfriend jokes around Saying he can fit a quarter through them. That was five years ago. And I would like to Think that gap has receded. Now only a penny Can fit through which is a progress of 24 cents. After my two front baby teeth fell, the ones That grew made Bugs Bunny – or in modern Times, Spongebob Squarepants- proud. As a kid this things don’t matter, on the contrary, You look cute and you love the attention. My mom said that she would get me braces When I reached ten, but nearly ten years Past deadline, I still have my teeth standing Wide, proud, and greeting the world. I am naturally a goofy person, so I don’t mind My friends or family joking about me being...

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Meganlee Rose Rivera Avilés

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Feelings of a Puerto Rican Girl I feel Puertorrican and that´s why I think that my Puertorrican roots are stronger. The things that make me feel Puertorrican are the delicious food and the pretty beaches. Oh, the food of Puerto Rico is the most delicious in all the world! My hot little plate full of white rice, beans, fried chicken or bistec encebollao (lots of onions) will always be irresistible. I can´t forget to mention the crunchy tostones. That thanks to the plátano plant I can peel a plátano, cut it into rounds, then crush it and finally throw it into the frying pan. But there is nothing more pleasurable than watching my aunt singing and dancing while she prepares the special ingredient, recao that converts the Puertorrican food into a taste of glory and...

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Gabriel Mejia

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I AM WHAT I AM – Colombian I have never felt anything other than a strong sense of Puerto Rican-ism. Well, except when I speak English or when I practice my hobbies. Come to think of it, there are more times I feel as if I’m not Puerto Rican than when I do feel like a Puertorro. For instance when I go to the novena reunions with my father, I feel Colombian. When Maria Francisca makes arepas and Fabio starts arguing with Balbino over how students are so lax nowadays, I can’t help but acknowledge my Colombian roots. Even the way we talk changes ever so slightly when we’re together. My Spanish turns more proper and the words flow from my mouth at a slower pace and in a much more coherent structure. We all sing the novena till we can sing no more and then we...

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Fabiola Robles Juarbe

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ONE MORE REASON FOR BEING PUERTO RICAN – Seated on a comfortable seat in the living room, drinking a cup of hot black coffee and doing word search puzzles is Francisca. In spite of her brownish gray hair and her white skin already wrinkled, she still looks attractive and elegant. I show up in the balcony and shout, “Abuela Panchi!” And smiling, she looks at me and responds, “Here I go mija!” She leaves the coffee cup and the book on the table that is next to the seat and stands up slowly, since the pain in her right knee slows her down.  She grabs the keys sitting on the television set, walks to the door and opens it. When I look at her, she keeps smiling, hugs and kisses me while I ask her blessing. We enter the room, she returns to...

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Diamond Gee Cotto

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  Establishing Myself in Puerto Rico Ever since I was eleven months old, I have been traveling back and forth to Puerto Rico. However, it was not until I was twelve that my mother decided we were going to stay and live in my Grandmother’s house. I will not lie and say that I was not shocked or disappointed. How was I supposed to react? I mean imagine me, a seventh grader, tall but really skinny and with hairy legs (because my mom did not allow me to shave until I was sixteen). I was upset because my whole life was in Virginia where my one true friend since kindergarten lived. My mother expected me just to give up my life (not that I really had one at twelve), learn how to read and write a new language, make new friends and wear a uniform to school. It was...

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