Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Shadows

I just finished reading this book by Luis Sepulveda called "the Shadow of What We Were" and I've got some thoughts. In this country we are taught American history to basically be all about North America which causes many of us to become patriotic about North America but truly the real heroes are people who come from places like South America, Central America and the Caribbean which are all part of the Americas. Its true that there isn't a country quite like the United States because of its diversity, but its all due to the beautiful cultures and customs that people have brought with them from their own countries. We hardly hear of people like Simon Bolivar, Eugenio Maria de Hostos, or Rigoberta Menchu among so many others. Even when it comes to literature we grow up learning about Charles Dickens and Huckleberry Finn but we are not taught about writers like Junot Diaz, Esmeralda Santiago, Rosario Ferre, etc etc. We come to this country and choose to learn English, to work, and get our education but most importantly we strive to hold on to the struggles of those that came before us, the dreams they had for us to live a better life today. I am proud to say that Puerto Ricans can be considered pioneers of standing up for who we are and where we come from and the importance of knowing our identity. We were part of struggles for things like Latin American programs we can major in at universities, cultural parades, and even cultural centers. The struggles were not easy and I am so grateful right now at this very moment to all those people who stood up for what they believed in-who were willing to put their lives in jeopardy so that the next generation can have access to the history of where they, their parents, and grandparents came from and get to know who they really are. I am thankful for the struggles of my ancestors who fought for liberation from slavery and other injustices. I thank God almighty for truly allowing them to live out their purpose and have us benefit from the fruits of their labor today.

Contemplating on the title of this book, its interesting how most of the people who made a huge difference in shaping this country to include our history were mostly shadows, folks who never made it to the spotlight. We may know the names of a few but I know there were many who were part of that struggle that we may never be able to know by name. I want to pray for all those who were not named and whom we never knew by face nor by memory-but that their accomplishments are evident. I know they are rejoicing in a better place whenever students gather at a cultural center they help to open, whenever a student graduates from a Latin American/Caribbean Studies program, when a Latino wins the Pulitzer Prize for literature, and many other milestones we continue to cross because of their sweat and struggle. I pray that they are rejoicing in the fruits of their sacrifices and that we continue to make them proud.

Freedom is a state of grace, but only if you're free when you fight for it. (Sepulveda, 127)

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