I’m a Puerto Rican man, born in Puerto Rico but a resident of New York City since I was 5 years old. I am what many consider Nuyorican, a life-long New Yorker who came from Puerto Rico.
I look back on those times with a mixture of nostalgia and loathing. Nostalgia because during those times is when I forged lifelong friendships. Watching my son grow up today, in a different environment, I know that he will never experience the types of connections I did growing up. On the plus side, he will not experience some of the really bad things I experienced in those years.
These days when I see people complain and blame the government or the white man for their problems, I think back to those days growing up in the South Bronx. You see, my family was poor; we had welfare; we received food stamps when food stamps were actually stamps; we got on the cheese line; we had Medicaid and Section 8 housing assistance. This is how I grew up, not any different than the way these folks complaining are coming up. The difference between us is that I refused to remain in those circumstances: I wanted to be a man who stands on his own two feet; I wanted to provide more for my son, and I did not want to be constantly surrounded by violence.
When I hear a man that is my age and physically healthy complaining about a lack of opportunity, complaining that he had no chances in life, and in some cases telling me I am privileged, it makes me sick to my stomach. Many are quick to blame the white man for all of their problems. They say that the white man put drugs in their neighborhoods to kill them all – genocide. They say that the white man put guns in the neighborhood so they can kill each other. They say that the white man forces them to live in this squalor and prevents them from advancing. It’s so easy to blame someone else for your own shortcomings, isn’t it?
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