WHAT MY FAMILY TAUGHT ME ABOUT MY PUERTO RICAN ROOTS & PRIDE
By Nancy Arroyo Ruffin
When I was a young girl I spent every Sunday at my grandfather’s house in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. While dinner brought us together, it was not the principal reason everyone gathered in the railroad-style apartment. The time spent together was critical to nurturing our family bond.
Being part of a large Puerto Rican family instilled in me a strong love for familia, cultura, and orgullo. To me, pride is love for the culture, food, and music. It’s the reason my eyes tear up every time I hear Preciosa or Qué Bonita Bandera.
Cultura is rooted in family traditions like the sleepless nights spent in my abuelo’s house watching the adults make pasteles for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. It was watching my aunts become transfixed to the television whenever “Walter Mercado” came on and revealed to them their fate through their horoscopes.
Orgullo was me proudly wearing the brown leather chancletas with Puerto Rico inscribed on them in bright golden letters. It was being able to brag to my friends that I’d spent my summer vacation on the island even though I could barely communicate with my Spanish-speaking tia. And familia didn’t necessarily always mean someone in your bloodline, but instead could be found in that one friend who you proudly claimed as your cousin even though there was no ancestral relation.
While the island is now suffering the greatest financial crisis in its history we must remember Puerto Ricans come from a long line of hardworking individuals, many who have made indelible contributions to the world, be it on the island or here in the States. There’s a long list of Boricuas who have contributed to politics, science, medicine, music, and the arts. Our contributions are everywhere. It is our responsibility to honor and preserve our history while also adding to it, so that we leave our children a legacy they can be proud of.
My family showed me by their example to be orgullosa of my Puerto Rican heritage while simultaneously teaching me to love everything this great country of ours has to offer. I’ve learned that pride is instilled. It is what you carry with you every day of your life.
Puerto Ricans Who Make Us Proud!
- Poet – Julia de BurgosAstronaut – Joseph Michael AcabaScientist – Olga D. González-SanabriaInventor – Ángel Rivero Méndez (He invented Kola Champagne soda.)Athlete – Roberto ClementeActress – Rita MorenoMusicians – Jennifer López, Marc Anthony, Tito Puente
Supreme Court – Justice Sonia Sotomayor
By the way, the hammock and the cooking grill were first invented and used in Puerto Rico by the Taino Indians.