This week I conducted several interviews at a riverside park in the Hudson Valley and will highlight the conversation that I had with one particular mother
about culture. The woman that I spoke to prefers to keep her identity and the identity of her children anonymous.
The mother I interviewed suggested that the community should increase support for women in general, but specifically women of color. As a proud Puerto Rican
woman, she expressed her disappointment in the lack of resources that exist for women of color in the Hudson Valley. In the Hudson Valley, an area that is primarily
composed of people from Irish and Italian decent, there are less cultural outlets for
people that are outside of that subset of ethnicity.
“By living here my children lose a part of their culture and culture defines them.” As a resident of Beacon, she spoke of times when she felt that she had no where to turn for child care or financial support, specifically when her parents returned to Puerto Rico for retirement, but she also mentioned a time when her children were disconnected from their culture and did not have cultural resources in the community. Though she was concerned that white-washing would take away the Puerto Rican spirit from her children, every month she holds a dinner with Puerto Rican dishes, which functions as a cultural support group for other single mothers that she has met over the years.
“I am isolated by my status as a single mother, but also by my race and culture. People in this area do not always look at me and automatically show me respect because they see the color of my skin and hear the Spanish I speak and assume that I am taking advantage of every system that I can.”
She explained that as a 2nd generation United States resident her family reinforces the Puerto Rican culture that the Hudson Valley cannot. As a mother, she believes that understanding one’s culture at a young age is critical to the development and motivation levels of her children. Her children have been successful in school so far and she thinks that her reinforcement of cultural ideals in their daily lives allows them to have higher self-esteem and feel comfortable in their skin.
See more about “Racial Transcendence” and other timely topics at the New York Times here [LINK].