Last night, I watched “In the Heights,” by Lin-Manuel Miranda. He did a terrific job at capturing the inner city life, the immigrants journey, and the power of having a dream. For me, it was an incredible journey down memory lane watching the joy, pain, and sorrow of being Latino in the United States.
...the joy, pain, and sorrow of being Latino in the United States.
My mother came to Nueva York when she was 4. She told us of the racism she encountered. The names she was called—“spic” being the worst. She told of how the Irish and the Italians did not want them in their neighborhoods. My dad came to Nueva York when he was 14. He told me that before he came, he thought America had streets of gold and diamonds on the sidewalks.
Both parent’s families came here to better their lives. They had dreams; they wanted the American Dream of a house, a good job, and a better life for their children. Even though I was born in Nueva York, we lived in Levittown, Puerto Rico when I was 2 until I was 4 in a pink house my grandfather gave to my parents. I LOVED Puerto Rico—its bright Caribbean colors, the turquoise ocean, the drumbeats of the beaches. I loved hearing the coqui at night singing his sweet lullabies as I drifted off to sleep. I was horrified when we had to leave Puerto Rico to move to the Bronx, New York when I was 6. I went from this beautiful tropical paradise to the grey cold of New York City. We ended up at 37 Featherbed Lane, an old Art Deco building that had seen better days.
We spent many days walking down the Grand Concourse with my dad, him pointing out the architectural features of the crumbling buildings. When my abuelita black hair would come from Puerto Rico to visit us, she would take me on her trips to the neighborhood bodega and she would make delicious Puerto Rican meals.
I even remember visiting my cousins in the south Bronx—the old men playing Dominos in the streets and the kids keeping cool with the fire hydrants. We visited our abuela yellow hair, who lived by an elevated train, and I would marvel at how the whole apartment would shake when the trains went by. Lin-Manuel Miranda was able to capture that nostalgia of my childhood and the immigrants dream of a better life. He addressed the diaspora of living in a place called Nueva York, home yet not home—a grey, bleak city BUT that Latinos made it home with their vibrant colors, soul searing music, and family-oriented community. I feel, “In the Heights” is a must see.