Episode #13: Laura – Born a Citizen in Puerto Rico but without Feeling Fully American

In this episode of Not an Alien, Laura brings remarkable sensitivity to her description of her experience coming, from Puerto Rico, to the mainland of the United States for college. Having grown up with relative privilege in Puerto Rico, Laura was nonetheless acutely aware of her homeland’s colonial status and the heavy social and economic toll this status was taking on the islands. Still, upon arriving in California for college, she was startled to find herself often categorized as “foreign”, “Mexican”, and therefore probably “illegal”. Growing up in Puerto Rico, her awareness of skin color difference had been secondary to her overall sense of Puerto Rican and pan-Latin American solidarity, but the experience of race prejudice in California led her to develop consciousness about the rights of immigrants and people of color in the U.S. Acutely aware of her in-between status – as a born U.S. citizen, not subjected to the same immigration-related challenges as many of her Latin American friends, but someone who relates more to the immigrant experience, given that her family remains in Puerto Rico, than to the experience of first and second generation Latinos in the U.S. – Laura has embraced her role as an educator and a force for good when it comes to the often misguided perspectives on race and immigration she encounters in California and beyond.

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