As a child my mom always taught me to be proud of who I am; to disregard all the negativity that was sure to come my way. As a constant reminder she bought books like Black Beautiful Me and Strong and Black to keep up my self-esteem. It was a good reminder, but because of all the negativity that surrounded me I started to feel bad about who I am. I never thought that I would have been a victim of discrimination moving to such an isolated place, but it comes to show that you will never be rid of the negativity in the world.
Moving to a small town where African Americans are hard to find; a lot of racism was always targeted towards my sisters and I. Attending School was the hardest part; I always saw myself as being beautiful, but walking down the hall being called “that ugly black girl” started to take its toll on my self-esteem. Everywhere I went I ran into discrimination and stereotypes; I was constantly asked if I wanted fried chicken or watermelon, I would have guys tell me “I would date you if you had lighter skin,” or walking in the store and have the word “nigger” shouted and not know where it originated from. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t liked or given the chance to prove myself, but I felt unwanted, like I didn’t belong.
When I had read “The Myth of a Latin Woman” I found it quite relatable to my situation when I had first moved to Cortez. Cofer talks about how she was stereotyped when she moved to America; how she wanted to fit in, but found it difficult because of her traditions and culture. She stresses the fact that nobody really understood her, that movies about Latin and Puerto Ricans were the closest understanding people got to her culture. Cofer then states that all the hard times that she had growing up made her stronger, and more successful. She tells the reader to take all the negative experiences and turned them positive so that nothing is stopping one from being successful.
The negativity was a struggle for me, I wanted to quit public school and start homeschooling. But, I began to learn how to ignore people and not care how or what anybody thought of me. With that idea I became more at peace with myself. I started to look up when walking down the hallways, I learned to just smile and at the negativity. Instead of the hurtful words putting me down I used it as fuel to my flame, motivation in other words, to do better and be successful.