When I Was a Puerto Rican

Published: 2021-09-12 06:35:12
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Category: English

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"When I was Puerto Rican" is a great book telling of the change of cultures in a little girl's life. Some things were instilled all through her life and never changed nor were forgotten. She leaves a shack in rural Puerto Rico with hope and promise of a better life in a Brooklyn tenement. In Puerto Rico no one wanted American Imperialism and then Negi gets to be thrown into what America culture is all about. There are many differences and Negi experiences these wide eyed and very observantly through out her child hood.
Negi was taught the basic rules of conduct outside the home early on in her childhood. These are called "Dignidad" or manners, "Buenos Modales". These are very specific, respectful, and represent some of the same ground rules I try to get my own children to live by. Not all I can say I agree with but many could be instilled in people of any culture and that culture would benefit. At a very young age Negi not only did her best to live by these rules of conduct but actually remembered all of these rules. Dignidad were to be used in public with the idea of the same Dignidad being returned to you out of respect.
These rules of public conduct are as follows: never swear at people, never show anger in public, do not stare, do not stand to close to a new acquaintance, address people as either a Don or Dona unless given permission to use their first name, teachers were always to be addressed as Mister or Misses, children were not to speak unless spoken to, children were not to make eye contact with adults, children were not allowed to raise their voices, children were to get permission upon entering or leaving a room, adults were always right especially if they were old, men could look at women anyway they wanted and women could not look at men directly unless they were "puntas" since people talked bad about them anyways, no gossip, tattling, or teasing, and men could address women walking down the street but women were not allowed to address them in return.
I find many similarities in these rules as in America. Some of these rules of conduct have been lost through out time and you can see the newer generations falling away from a lot of these and I will never agree with the woman unable to address a man especially one that is disrespecting her. I see a lot of similarities and differences both in Dignidad. The word Dignidad actually reminds me of the English word dignity. The burial in Puerto Rican society is what I consider to be a very respectful. The way a rural community interacts and helps each other with everyone involved and taking part in a funeral was described in a very beautiful way.

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