8 thoughts on “How has discrimination impacted our communities in the United States?

  1. growing up in the Bronx
    Well, I think a lot has been written on this subject. But here goes. Firstly, our neighborhoods have been isolated, provided with less services than others, poorly equipped schools, decaying infrastructure, etc. Our merchants are not given bank loans, community homeowners are not given home improvement loans, etc. Investment in our communities is minimal or non-existent. All of which creates an economically depressed area and this has implications for the people, our people, residing there. Crime and drugs become prevalent further damaging our spirit and demoralizing our youth.

    If there are government monies to somewhat ameliorate these conditions, they never reach us as they are siphoned off through malfeasance and waste among politicians, our own and others who purportedly represent us.

    Secondly, on a personal level, there develops a general sense of being dirty, of being unworthy, of being marginal and depressed. And of course these people, these children, our people, our children are absolutely right in feeling this way. The problem is not in them, however, but it has become their problem.

    The outside perception is one of why do you choose to live this way? Or why do you create these conditions for yourself? Ask a child.

    What happens to self-image, self-esteem, engagement with the world? Where is one’s sense of the possible? Where is optimism?

    Thirdly, where are the jobs? We are traditionally the last to get hired and the first to get fired.

    Yet many of us are survivors and have actually gone far beyond merely surviving this cruel system of selection. Some are permanently scarred, others have been completely spared the hardship by building on the backs of those who came before them. And that’s fine. But why even have our people or any people suffer these conditions to begin with?

    Where discrimination exists and is visible, it can be fought or struggled against. When the discrimination is invisible, it corrupts and destroys without anyone understanding what has happened. Identifying discrimination is absolutely critical to dealing with it. When it is not identified, people blame themselves and that anger and pain–that cry of injustice is turned inward.

    So much energy is spent in just maintaining some kind of equilibrium, of just trying to exist, that there is very little left to devote to other more productive, more creative, more gratifying endeavors.

  2. RE: growing up in the Bronx
    It should be noted that these “ghettos” or more accurate, concentration camps, were first poor white, then black, neighborhoods. After WWII, when the US Govt subsidizes the building of suburbia, the Fed Govt looked the other way when developers came up with “restricted covenants”, i.e., nonwhites were not welcome–after all, what would be the point of white flight! 🙂
    As Juan Gonzales points out in his recent book (HIGHLY recommended), Harvest of Empire, PRs were forced to fit in with America’s race hierarchy–either white or black. Thus, families had members who “passed”, and those who didn’t. The darker members of our group were treated as black, and thus had double discrimination: skin color and accent.

  3. Yeah, what of it?
    Thanks for the little history lesson but how did this affect us? What impact did it have on us? And what effect does it continue to have?

  4. Looking back…..
    I don’t know how often this happens to second generation children of immigrants- but I’m sure some people will identify with my experience, be it child or be it parent. On a Sunday morning after mass, my Mother, sister and myself would go acrossthe streeet from the church to the bakery  to buy pastries for breakfast. I must’ve been around eight years old and remember my mother giving her order to a middle aged Irish woman. ‘”Eh please, give me four Turnover Apples”. I looked up at my Mother and with the tone of a school teacher correcting a dumb kid I said, “Mami you don’t say Turnover Apples.  It’s Apple Turnovers”.  The Irish lady leaned over the counter and looked deeply into my eyes. ‘”I understand what she wants” , then turned away and proceeded to get our order. I felt like I’d been slapped into place verbally. What is known as a “traga me tierra”. My Mother gave me a sly smile of victory but said nothing until we stepped outside. Then she said “Maybe I don’t speak English as good as you, but I get what I want”.  Looking back I still feel embarassed about being such an ungrateful brat, trying to be superior to the very woman who had sacraficed so many creature comforts to give me what she had been denied-a good education. Besides love it is the most important thing a parent can give a child to defend itself in the world of prejudice we lived in during the 50’s. It is still the ticket out of poverty for so many. I thanked you when your were alive and I thank you every day of my life.

  5. RE: Yeah, what of it?
    I always worry about this “so what?” attitude. Just as one cannot understand another human being apart from their background, on a societal/national level, the same applies. To dismiss it as a “little” history lesson says more about the speaker than anything else. I don’t mean for this to come across as a personal atack, just an observation. We seem to delight in historical presentism, and that leads to a short-sighted view. Few problems today are unique, but rather come from a long historical pattern.

    As to how the “little” history lesson can help us: (1) It shows that these problems did not just arise, Medea like out of the blue and (2) by looking at how others before us dealt with the same isues we can learn from their successes as well as from their mistakes or options not taken.

  6. Puerto Ricans and US Citizenship
    I am writing to ask a question that relates to Puerto Rico and the constitution.

    If a baby with Puerto Rican parents is born in NYC and another child is born simultaneously in PR, Do they have the same rights under the constitution.?

    I ask because I have read the decision the Supreme Court handed down in 1922.

    RE: Balzac Vs Puerto Rico.

    258 US 298 (1922)

    Background: On April 10th 1922, the Supreme Court of the United States set a precedent when hearing the case of Balzac vs. Porto Rico. When Jesus M. Balzac was prosecuted for criminal libel. He stated that his rights were violated, under the sixth amendment, when he was denied a jury trial. In the appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that:

    “ Provisions of the Constitution did not apply to a territory that belonged to the United States, but was not incorporated into the union.”

    To me this means that all provisions of the constitution do not apply to Puerto Ricans in PR.

    Am I correct and is this still true today?.

  7. I think your conclusion is right
    This is pure opinion, but it would seem to me that you have answered your own question by citing the case of Balzac vs. Porto Rico. The Supreme Court gave you the answer.

    Without having read the arguments, and simply going on your representation, it would seem that once again the place of the act is relevant in terms of gaging the measure of the law. And this would seem to make sense if one were to reflect on extradition cases and international law. That is, jurisdiction is confined to the borders of a country and may extend under certain special circumstances–i.e. cases involving the military.

    The U.S. Constitution can only guarantee full protection within the confines of the United States. Outside of this, even when U.S. citizens are involved, the laws of the land under which they were assumed to be operating would have force, full force over and above the U.S. Constitution.

    In the case of Puerto Rico, it is significant that in being an unincorporated territory under American law establishes that the U.S. Constitution does not have full jurisdiction but that there are extra-legal rights involved such as those governed by treaty. The fact that Puerto Rico is in international terms a conquered and occupied land with colonial status, means that it does not even have the power to initiate or execute treaties.

    As such, Puerto Rico is a foreign land under American dominion. The fact that the people are statutory American citizens is significant in distinguishing them from natural or naturalized citizens within the incorporated territories of the U.S. and within the U.S. itself.

    When in the U.S. it seems, therefore, that the U.S. Constitution is in full force. Over all its citizens — and there can not be any distinctions made or forms of discrimination.

    However, when abroad, the U.S. Constitution does not have the same extension or reach. Interestingly, the U.S. military may be the governing authority and conflicts may arise between the two. But I believe there are sufficient antecedents to establish reasons of state over and above Constitutional purpose.

    I would think, therefore, just as the recent attempt to hold a presidential election in Puerto Rico was found unconstitutional because Puerto Rico is not a state and therefore has no electoral representation within the Electoral College (states are incorporated territorities as a necessary condition), an American citizen in Puerto Rico, whether he be a statutory citizen or not, will have fewer constitutional protections and rights. Although I would say that the areas in which the Constitution would have no force would have to be tested case by case.

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