Puerto Ricans are known for their fiery personalities and sass; we don’t take anything sitting down and if you mess with one of us, the entire village comes at you. It’s hard to explain to outsiders how much we value the clan matriarchy, even when there is still a very strong machismo entitlement embedded in the way we go about our lives. The women grow up to be resilient, feisty, and fierce because of the constant manipulation of their intentions and capabilities by the men in their lives. This is harder to understand and overcome when you are an educated female, with credentials that would make anyone bow down to a male with similar clout and background; we have to fight twice as hard to earn every inch of recognition, respect and professional courtesy.
It’s not fair, not just, nor necessary but it is the reality. Whenever some political pundit tries to slam AOC, (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), or any woman and minority, I feel the burn and applaud her clapbacks. The latest hashtag war spoke to me because it is hard work to just be in a society that wants you to out your head down and stay quiet.
In my case, I need y’all to understand that the 🇵🇷💪❤ pride flies high, especially because as a territory we are tired of being treated as second or third class citizens just because of our Latin ancestry and origin. We are caught between two worlds, belonging to both and not being able to claim what is rightfully ours with dignity and equal rights.
For those who don’t realize what the “Latina Thing” is, here’s a snapshot of what it is to be one of us:
- When you earn the right to brag, you do so. If you don’t brag, even slightly, you are doing something wrong.
- Nothing is private. Every one knows everything about you, and if they don’t, they’ll ask those who know.
- Your grades get posted on the wall with your name attached to them since you are 4 years old. Academic success, followed by professional bliss is the Puerto Rican dream.
- Our full names include a middle name, and two last names, paternal and maternal (because we trace lineage and heritage on the mother’s side as well) and we DO NOT change our names when we get married. We don’t have masters and we don’t belong to anyone but ourselves. Get used to it.
- Salaries get discussed and analyzed to ensure everyone is getting compensated appropriately unless there is seniority or other factors at play (union mentality).
- If someone doesn’t like you, the tell it to your face and greet you the next morning like nothing happened. Violence is mostly one on one: if my beef is with you, notice will be given to resolve any differences peacefully or in the parking lot.
- We don’t use thirds or fourths to deliver messages, unless it is juicy gossip. (Guys love to do this too.) Second hand info is common and must be verified before acting on it. Unless you trust the person.
- If someone likes you, they will defend you to the death! There is nothing more Latin American than loyalty towards friends and selected family members.
- We fight back. We tell people what we think and we don’t care about the consequences. Our clap backs can become the thing on legend. Passionate till the end.
- We do apologize, in a very veiled and subtle way, but we won’t give you the satisfaction of admitting you were right.
- We don’t ramble. We passionately curse you in a monologue diatribe that starts naming all the sins you’ve committed against us since day 1, for which you have neither repented or realigned your behavior to make up for.
- If you are consistently right, people start trusting your judgement even when you are wrong. We rely on herd mentality and we tend to forget trespasses quite quickly.
- We criticize each other, correct each other in public, real-time, and we laugh about it over dinner or drinks. We actually make it a point to make fun of people when they take themselves too seriously.
That being said, head the wise words of my mother: “People will be ruffled by your confidence and way of being because it brings out their insecurities. They will envy your intelligence, misconstruing your kindness or compassion as duty, as something they are entitled without gratitude or respect, and will always hate you for being the only one that comes to their aid when they want someone else to save them from themselves.”
To AOC, and all the other ladies out there hustling, keep doing the Latina thing. Never stand down, never surrender, and never stop raging against the dying of the light.
Women make us better. 🔥