Latinas: A Social and Cultural Survey

Asynchronous Assignment on Jaquira Díaz and Ivelisse Rodríguez’s Work

Asynchronous Online Assignment

In her personal essay, Jaquira Díaz suggests that instead of criminalizing students “teachers might de-escalate situations rather than involving the police, prioritizing their black and brown students’ emotional wellbeing and physical safety, as they do with white children.”

Similarily  in her fictional story, “Holyoke Mass.: An Ethnography,” Ivelisse Rodriguez contextualizes the cycles of violence, poverty, and neglect endured by her characters and by Puerto Ricans in the US when she reproduces an ethnography that says, for instance:

“The last to arrive, to work in the tobacco fields, were the Puerto Ricans. They came in the fifties. Not the fifties memorialized on TV. These people came to work. Not in offices. No clean, crisp, white shirts at the end of the day. No nices home to return to by six’o clock. No doting wives. The came to work with their hands. Maybe just like they did in Puerto Rico. Tobacco instead of sugar cane. By the time they came, though, everything was almost gone. All the promise. All the upward spirals. All the paper like gold.” (Page 45)

Rodriguez’s story takes this backdrop into consideration to portrait the entrapments experienced by Veronica, a 15-year-old Puerto Rican during the late 90s. In the story, Veronica experiences how gender and ethnic labels constraint her identity, educational prospects, physical and emotional well-being.


Pick ONE of the following assignment options and post your answer in the comment section below:


Integrating Jaquira Díaz’s arguments analyze the scene at Miss O’Donnell’s classroom in “Holyoke Mass.: An Ethnography” (pages 31-34). Discuss how Miss O’Donnell’s ethnic and gender bias creates an atmosphere of rejection that affects Puerto Rican girls like Veronica.

(250-words minimum)


Thinking of the social analysis articulated in both pieces, discuss how in Rodriguez’s story, Veronica starts to recognize that her possibilities of social, educational, economic, and gender mobility are disappearing.

(250-words minimum)


Pick ONE of the topics listed below, and discuss how these issues are presented by Rodriguez in her story, and how do you relate to these conflicts. Have you experienced something similar? How did you approach the situation? How did you navigate and resisted systemic oppression?


.educational neglect

.lack of resources and stimulus for the youth

.the criminalization of Latina/o/x youth

.patriarchal (machista) dynamics in love relationships

.damaging gender labels

(250-words minimum)

34 thoughts on “Asynchronous Assignment on Jaquira Díaz and Ivelisse Rodríguez’s Work”

  1. Option 3:
    Machismo is presented in the story on page 41-42 and the sexual relationship with Ralfy is described as something not seen in movies. The topic of machismo is well known in the Latinx community and it’s something many women and men continue to struggle and find their ways around stereotypes such as “the man has to provide for the entire household” or “the woman needs to cook, clean and take care of the children”. In most cases machismo goes even further than the typical comments I just mentioned. One topic in particular that stands out to me the most is the machismo that occurs in sexual relationships. Rodriguez describes that Veronica doesn’t know that there can be better sex other than with Ralfy. She describes that Veronica doesn’t think about her pleasure rather than Ralfy’s and that when he’s done he simply rolls over and everything is done from there. Without thinking about Veronica’s feelings or sexual desires, Ralfy can be seen as a machista , someone who only care about being pleasure without considering what his partner feels. I have never experienced a situation such as this one in my personal life. However, I have a friend that is currently in a relationship with a man who I consider to be machista. In one occasion I went to visit her and her husband was home. My friends daughter needed a diaper change and when she asked her husband to change the baby he replied with ” you do it , you’re the mother”, and continued watching tv as if he didn’t realize that his daughter needed a diaper change. Her husband usually interrogates her whenever she leaves the house and in some cases even calls me to ask if she’s with me. I was also told that whenever her husband gets home late from work she must get up to feed him if he’s hungry or have sex with him if he’s demanding it! I’ve tried to approached my friend about her husband being a machista but it seems that it’s normal to her because her mother once told her that the man in the relationship has the last word and whatever he says goes !

  2. Option 1:

    Veronica’s experience in Holyoke Mass reminded me of my own in high school in, El Barrio NYC. I too had a Miss O’Donnell, his name was Paul Schwartz. Each morning before class, the upper-class students were broken down amongst the teachers and met in “advisory” groups, my advisor was Paul. Paul was not a teacher, he was an administrator, a high profile hot shot one like director or something like that. At first, I thought this would be good because he had connections and he could become an “academic plug”. But Paul was always busy leaving very little time for advising his advisory group.

    We were handed off to his secretary, Lorna, and she was a sweetheart and all, but not an academic advisor. Our advisory group was much smaller than the other classes being lead by teachers and it consisted of only myself, another Puerto Rican girl from the Bronx, a black girl from Harlem and two mixed girls from Central Park West… that was it. Looking back, I see a lot wrong with that setting. While other classes were planning for college, we were having study groups for homework. While the other advisory groups where building a lifelong community within academia, we were being excluded before we even had a fair chance to start.

    Veronica was invisible to Miss O’Donnell, and I was invisible to my advisor, Paul and everyone else there it seemed. We were two girls of many more, discarded because maybe, our family history and societal conflicts have already created paths for us. Miss O’Donnell looked at Veronica and saw teenage motherhood, domestic violence, drugs, failure, and generational damage to be continued like a juicy novela. Paul saw the same in me, nothing more. Instead of using their resources to help, O’Donnell and Paul both nudged us in the direction of their failed expectations. It takes a lot for a girl becoming woman to pull herself onto a straight path without help or direction. Girls like Veronica feel invisible, unable, and undeserving. They expect less and they settle for less from others and themselves alike. This disempowerment of our girls keep them at a disadvantage that has to end. Girls of color lack representation and need a circle of supportive women, and men, who understand their struggles and genuinely want to see them succeed.

  3. Option 3:

    In “Love war stories” by Ivelisse Rodriguez, Machismo is “a strong sense of masculine pride; an exaggerated masculinity” (Merriam-webster dictionary). Rodriguez goes into depth with this when it comes to Veronica and Ralfy relationship and that’s the part that stood out to me because in some relationships, the male wants to be seen as tough and not seem to care. In the story, Veronica goes through different problems in her relationship, different thoughts going through her head about her partner. When Rodriguez starts talking about their sexual relationship and it caught my attention because Veronica doesn’t know about pleasure but the pleasure, she gets from Ralfy, she doesn’t know that there is better out there. “She just thinks that sex isn’t as great as she heard it was. When he finishes, he rolls off her. And it is over just like that. She doesn’t know there can better, just that this isn’t as good”. This stood out to be because Ralfy doesn’t care about how she feels after he is done or before when they get into it. It made me feel disgusted because there are females who experience this and their partner don’t care to make them feel secure, to know that their feelings and concerns matter. It makes the woman feel some type of way as well. Questions going through head and figuring out if what they are experiencing is good for them. In the story, Veronica starts to think her partner is cheating on her or playing her, she thinks that her own homegirls are messing with her man. When she talks to Ralfy about her feelings and her concerns, he tries to flip it on her. “Veronica, baby, please. You keep saying things like that. Maybe it’s you huh? You got another man?”. In this part, I feel like he tried to turn it on her because maybe he is guilty and making Veronica look like a fool because of the pride he has. In my past relationships, I have dealt with men being machistas and everything has to go their way because their man, they got the pants, etc. It was really hard because I couldn’t say what I wanted to say, I have to stay shut because they get the last word and I got tired of that. My feelings weren’t even a matter to begin with and it became a regular thing until I decided to leave and do what’s best for me.

  4. Option 1:
    Miss O’Donnell seems to like the Puerto Rico that she sees in vacation and cruise brochures because they show a Puerto Rico in which there are a lot of white people. This image clashes with the image she has of the Puerto Ricans in Holyoke. She imagines herself being on vacation in Puerto Rico and she will laugh at the people working at the resort she’s staying at because they’re mere peasants compared to her. She also assumes that because she’s white she will be desired in Puerto Rico the way people look at and desire Veronica in Holyoke. Miss O’Donnell likes to pick on and acts very dismissive towards Veronica. She doesn’t even pay attention to what Veronica says despite Miss O’Donnell being the one that called on her. It’s evident that Miss O’Donnell has an ethnic bias due to the fact that she vividly detests Puerto Ricans and considers herself to be above them due to her being white. She also has a gender bias because she not only treats Veronica terribly due to the fact that she’s Puerto Rican but also because she’s a female that is not only attractive but is talked about a lot. Due to Miss O’Donnell acting in such a way towards Veronica so openly in class it clearly creates an atmosphere of rejection towards other Puerto Rican females in Miss O’Donnell’s classes. Other Puerto Rican girls seeing the way that Miss O’Donnell acts towards Veronica will make them not care for the class because they can tell that Miss O’Donnell will not care if they participate in class and will openly mock them for it regardless. This atmosphere also creates an atmosphere in which other Puerto Rican girls in Holyoke won’t even want to go to school since they will have to deal with Miss O’Donnell and her clear bias towards them.

  5. In the scene at Miss O’Donnell’s classroom, the attitude the teacher has towards her student is one that eliminates her sense of self and removes Veronica’s humanity. The teenager is not seen as a young woman, she is seen as something sexual and dangerous, as Diaz mentions in her article, this type of characterization toward Black and Brown girls is what leads to the disproportionate amount of punishment they will receive for regular behavior. As an educator to Veronica, and her guide to social mobility through higher education, Miss O’Donnell should be able to create an environment that accepts and helps her students through the struggles they already face whether it be because of their race or gender or any other aspect of their life. Yet her racial, gender, and ethnic bias demote Veronica to something inhuman, something to be used by others. This has been done to black and brown women for centuries and though she may not realize it, or even care, this teacher is continuing the abuse the young woman feels and locking her in a position that will only continue to hurt her. As shown in the scene, Veronica has to become hard and ready to resort to violence to survive in her community, this combined with the image the criminal justice system sees of black and brown women, which is one of being a criminal, will just lead her down a dangerous path. White Americans like Miss O’Donnell see black and brown people not as people but as things that are exotic, she is willing to vacation in Puerto Rico to celebrate her life as a teacher but refuses to acknowledge the damage she does to the life of her Puerto Rican students.

  6. Option 1-
    Holyoke Mash. -Miss O’Donnell’s thoughts about Veronica been only a Puerto Rican beautiful girl and notes passing around her class that suggest few Latinas will end pregnant creates a horrible atmosphere for Veronica who with reasons responds offended in her way, but her offense is portray as been rude and uneducated. This scene opens a big scenery of the horrible atmosphere and the gender bias these students must face daily. Surely, her students class discussions about dressing and hairs styles of these girls add to the gender bias. Apart of these, her way of thinking even after retirement about Puerto Rico creates a sense of this teacher rejection to other not like her, non-white. Rejection against Veronica was described in the entire reading-competition to survive in a world she did not feel secure or part of it because of her background was sad. While reading this I could not stop thinking that this is nothing old. Few years ago, while in high school the strongest girls to fight according to popularity were either black or Puerto Ricans because of their size and other labels as voice “nasty tones” as mentioned in the reading. Many of our teachers were white but I do not recall they been rude, on my case it were the students-us who had these stereotypes. This made me conclude that regarding the environment we must stand strong not to allow these atmospheres crush us and no to react to defend ourselves but be ourselves and do not let these stereotypes growth on us.

  7. Option 1
    Miss O’Donell’s racial bias against Veronica deeply affects the way she thinks about her and groups her according to her bias on her race, rather her own personality. Miss O’Donell’s racial bias categorizes Puerto Rican girls, excluding them from a chance to participate in a good educational environment. In addition, she believes Veronica not to be capable of intelligence and even mocks her when she calls her in class. It’s mentioned how she often fantasizes about her retirement vacation in Puerto Rico, away from Puerto Rican girls like Veronica. She excuses her bias by holding to the belief that Puerto Ricans who live in Puerto Rico are different than her Puerto Rican students. Miss O’Donell’s bias prevents girls like Veronica to have an equal opportunity in education. As I read this, I remembered on how one of my high school teachers would categorize certain students by their race and treat them differently. Hopefully we see these biases and can be vocal about putting a stop to them.

    1. Good analysis of Miss O’Donnell’s prejudices. Although many times they are connected, racial and ethnic bias are not the same. In Rodriguez’s story Veronica’s socio-cultural background as Puerto Rican weights more than her racial identity.

  8. Option Three
    The public school system of the South Bronx offered me a very different experience than a public school in Uptown Manhattan. My school’s lack of resources was evident and I was offered very little opportunity for growth. We had no clubs and only sports, but even then the sports were underfunded with minimal equipment and mediocre coaches. The only reason I felt a drive to graduate and com to college was because of my mother. With no extracurriculars, no college preparation courses, and no mentor program I was left to figure out my life on my own. Although I found the motivation to pursue higher education I understand how many students lose interest. We have teachers that speak of our prospects negatively or simply don’t understand what it is like to be raised in the South Bronx. I was exposed to violence very early on in my educational experience and was taught that this was to be expected of children from my neighborhood. Fights occurred on a daily bases and often times the underlying issues students were facing were never addressed because instead of seeing a guidance counselor they left the school in handcuffs. My public school system did not prepare me for college, I have had to learn so much as I go because walking through a metal detector to get into school is a far different experience than going through the turnstile to get into Baruch.

  9. Option 3:
    In “Love War Stories” by Ivelisse Rodriguez, on pages 41 and 42, the book discusses the issue of machismo that is well known in the Latinx community. Many women and men continue to struggle and find their ways around stereotypes, such as the majority of men have to work many hours to keep the house provided. The majority of women have to stay home and cook, clean, and take care of the family full time. But most likely, racism and unfair treatment can be the cause of those things.

    Concerning the book, my experience happened to me back in middle school through high school.
    It all started when I was ten years old. I was diagnosed with a learning disability called Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In 2003, my parents made sacrifices and decided to move from Westbury, Long Island, NY, to Dix Hills, Long Island, NY, searching for a reliable Special Education Program. I was diagnosed with a receptive and expressive delay at the age of 3. My parents were told by professional doctors that I may never speak coherently and comprehend consistently with my chronological age. However, my faith in God and perseverance proved them wrong. During my time in education, I was placed in a self-contained class with an IEP (Individualized Education Program).

    In my art class, my teacher was very arrogant and racist. When I was trying to participate, she deliberately gave me detention because I did not raise my hand. However, I personally knew the real reason she had to punish, nor did she admit the actual truth behind her mask. I always tell myself that I am better than all the other people filled with selfishness and negativity!

    1. As you noted Celinda, many times patriarchal (male-centric) family and educational structures also showcase racism, gender discrimination, and ableism. Systems of oppression are interlocked.

      Your experience in that art class is also very similar to what Veronica felt in Miss O’Donnell’s class. In both cases, there is a lack of respect and positive mentorship.

  10. Option 3:
    Living in a Hispanic household is very difficult. There are many mothers who still raised their daughters in the old fashion way. The old fashion way is when women are responsible for house chores. They have to cook and clean. They have to make sure that the husband is being treated like a king. That the food has to be done when they come from work. There will be cases when Men would teach their son to scream at their girlfriend if they are not “doing things right.” They should hit them if they talk back. They have to make sure quién es el hombre or quién es el que manda. Machismo is something we see in the Latinx community. Is something that people still follow this and this chain has to break. We see this in Ivelisse Rodriguez’s book Love War Stories, with the relationship of Ralphy and Veronica. I would consider their relationship toxic because Ralphy not really caring for Veronica’s feelings. He only cares about himself. Personally, I haven’t experienced this, but my friend would tell me stories about her grandma. Her grandma married a man who was machista. He would get mad at her if things “weren’t done properly.” He would favor the son over his daughter. That something that Hispanic culture struggle and we can also see it in other cultures where the man favors the son over the daughter. My friend would tell me that he would teach his son that women are meant for cleaning and cooking. This behavior of machismo should stop. We should educate men better than that.

  11. Option One:

    Miss O’Donnell’s ethnic and gender bias creates an atmosphere of rejection that affects Puerto Rican girls like Veronica. This high school teacher seems to be jealous of Veronica’s beauty. She is bothered by all the attention Veronica gets for being beautiful. Ms. O’Donnell fantasizes about going to Puerto Rico when she retires. The author claims that Miss O’Donnell thinks about people in Puerto Rico being “so much more polite and unnoticeable than the Puerto Ricans in Holyoke. And there, she will not see anyone like Veronica. Finally, in the streets, Miss O’Donnell will be the one looked at” (Rodriguez 33). Here, the author indicates Ms. O’Donnell’s desire of being looked at the same way Veronica is. This jealousy is what causes Ms. O’Donnell to see and treat Veronica as a “whore”. She thinks of Veronica as an insatiable Latina girl that would get pregnant by anyone in the school, and so do Veronica’s classmates. Once Veronica realizes that all of her classmates believe she will get pregnant very soon, she feels deeply sad and disappointed. (Only Latinas were in the list of the “who is getting pregnant next”). Veronica retains her tears in front of her classmates and acts like she doesn’t care about their opinion. She knows that the only person that has the power to help her in the classroom is the teacher, Miss O’Donnell. But, as Jaquira Diaz claims white teachers don’t care about their black and Latino students’ emotional well-being and Miss O’Donnell is an example of that.
    The fact that even her teacher thinks the only thing she can do right is getting pregnant makes Veronica extremely sad. That’s a discouraging feeling that can lead her to drop out of school. This is just one example of the many ways rejection can ruin a person’s future.

  12. Option 1

    Stereotypical views and the unwillingness to try and understand different cultures leads people into creating atmospheres of rejection. This is exactly what we see in the classroom scene in “Holyoke Mass.: An Ethnography” where Miss O’Donnell wrongfully picks on Veronica because of her biases and own issues. Teachers play a huge role in the overall feel of their class and the environment they wish to create. By having negative views on Veronica’s looks and her ethnicity Miss O’Donnell influences a lot of the behavior we see from other students where they are purposely creating rumors about Veronica. As a teacher she should instill in her students to be more understanding and kind, instead of picking on someone whose features are non conforming with what they deem to be acceptable for a female. Thinking back on Jaquira Diaz’s argument we can see how members of administration who do not think someone is “ the right kind of feminine” create an environment that influences bullying because the actions they take lead students to humiliate their classmates who majority of the time are black and brown students. I think it is very important to highlight the part where Ivelisse Rodriguez focuses on the internal thoughts Miss O’Donnell has of her retirement and wanted trip to Puerto Rico. In this part she mentions how Miss O’Donnell would finally be the one that is looked at in the streets. The main takeaway from this section is not only that privileged people pick and choose which part of a culture they wish to accept, but they are oftentimes envious of the attention that the physical features bring the women in those cultures which they can not relate to. This ultimately leads them to bring down these girls in order to make themselves feel better about their own insecurities. It is very important for administrators to realize the damage they do by antagonizing students and making it okay for those types of behaviors to take place in their classrooms because they have the power to either create an atmosphere focused on learning, or one focused on rejection.

  13. Option 2:

    The assumptions and biases held by all those around Veronica, in a place she is not only a minority in but seemingly is also looked down upon in, causes a large amount of discouragement for someone of her or a similar ethnic background to gain any social or economic mobility. Especially for someone who is as young as she is, growing up in a hostile environment in which she is not only held to a different standard by all around her, but also expected to fail by even the adults in her life, it makes it much less likely to grow and succeed in life. In the case of this short story by Rodriguez, social and gender biases are very closely tied. Undoubtedly due to an immature curiosity and spite held by the white students surrounding Veronica, the way she is perceived socially is closely related to issues in her personal life and private information which not only causes her grief but also affects her personality from a very young age.

    When a child is affected in this way by their surroundings from every direction, even by teachers and adults who are originally meant to be helpful for the child’s life and development, it becomes depressingly obvious that these biases, and sometimes even hatred for these kids based just on ethnicity and gender lead to people of authority abusing their power and abusic these children in ways that are very clearly immoral and unethical to the extreme. It becomes clear that it’s hard to expect any child in a situation like this to succeed in life, be it in their social lives, or in their attempts to achieve economic success.

  14. Miss O’Donnell’s ethnic and gender bias creates an atmosphere of rejection that affects Puerto Rican girls like Veronica because it pushes girls of color away from the education system. Miss O’Donnell starts off by having a sort of disgust towards Veronica. She diminishes her only to her physical appearance and the disruption it costs. As if a young woman like Veronica doesn’t amount to anything other than school gossip and the lusting from teenage boys. Miss O’Donnell gender bias rejects Veronica as she has the need to humble her, mentally and physically in the class. She rejects her mentally by saying no one would take a second look at her outside of the school and physically by randomly asking her questions, catching her off guard and knowing she won’t really answer. “For a small sense of amusement, Miss O’Donnell calls on Veronica today”. She uses Veronica’s uncomfortable reactions to questions to entertain herself like Veronica is an animal to poke at. This rejection of Veronica is unhealthy because as her teacher Miss O’Donnell is supposed to care for her students and push for their accomplishments. But instead she diminishes them to their physical appearance and mocks them, furthering girls like Veronica away from the education system as her teachers make her uncomfortable. As Javkira explained, girls of color are usually marginalized when they’re not “the right kind of feminine”. In Veronicas case, she’s hyper sexulized by her classmates ,a not so “feminine”trait and she was punished by having the respect for her that others may have had ,specifically talking about Miss O’Donnell, taken away. Her ethinic bias comes from that fact that she doesn’t treat any other girls like this. None of the white students in the school are hated in the way Miss O’Donnell hates Veronica.

  15. Optional 3
    Educational neglect
    The story Holyoke Mass explains the ethical, pregnancy rate, and crime rate at the beginning of the article. This is very similar to the argument of Jaquira Diaz’s article. First of all, I would like to say that school is a very important growth link in the process of growing up. But I don’t think some people have the qualities of a teacher. Perhaps we are living in a time of conflict. For example, in the article Holyke Mass, Miss O ‘Donnell often picks up students of other colors students with no respect. Moreover, when she saw the imagine about Puerto Rico, she could even imagine that the scenery could better set her off as a white person. The psychology is extremely conflicted by Miss O ‘Donnell. Imagine O ‘Donnell being a student or teacher as color of people in a white people school.
    Second, schools often take care of white kids when making decisions and lecture them instead of dropping out, calling the police or making things worse. Jaquira Diaz writes in his analysis, “shown often to be based in part on the perception of girls having violated conventional norms and stereotypes of feminine behavior, even when that behavior is caused by trauma” I think it’s a problem with the education system. It’s a problem with schools trying to make all their student to become ‘white’. This is prejudice. I think this model has a lot of negative consequences for people of color。 For example, I came to the United States since high school. One day I had a conversation with other international students. Then I found that many people are becoming a double consciousness, values under two kinds of social ideology constantly switching. Sometimes feel oneself very contradictory. When some people try to stay in the United States in the long term, they began to reject their original culture and even discrimination against their own race. Because if they don’t, it’s challenging in school and work.
    The last thing I want to say is, whether it’s the education system or the individual, knowledge, and education should not be given with prejudice.

  16. Option 3 Machismo
    As a European watching america struggle with its social aspects of life, the term machismo and gender roles have caught my attention a lot. Machismo is a word that comes from caballero, knight “a masculine code of behaviour”. Today we are left with the word machismo which most times has a negative connotation to it and when we take a look at the book “Love Stories” we see how the relationship between Ralphy and Veronica can be considered as a toxic one where, Ralphy does not care about Veronicas feelings and desires, which gives him the “machista” nickname. Also we have created a idea that resolves around the word “macho” where it means to be hard, insensitive and only for yourself. I was born in a country that has a patriarchal hegemony to it. Growing up i was not really able to see that, my mom is a successful businesswoman that always got the support of my father. He followed his own endeavors and would not make things complicated by intervening on each others business. One thing i did notice tho was how my mother worked but she also took care of us, my father helped her on house chores but the majority of the chores were always done by her. She did not mind, or complain, she had this idea that as the mother of the house it was her duty to complete the house chores. That might seem a little misogynistic or “gender role” kind of story and i do agree. But when my parents first met, my dad was the one working long hours as a young man at his job while my mother finished her college education, he did it because he as well was taught that he had to provide for the family and be the man of the house. So why are they not both trapped on this society of “gender roles” where man are taught from a young age, that u need to break your back to work and be able to support a family, u need to work hard to support a family or you are not a real man. Is that unfair to all those little boys that have been fed through their lives the stereotype that they are always competing with their peers, and if u do not belong to a certain class of males you are just simply a loser. Machismo is a problem that harms men and it does so to a point where men are suiciding at alarming rates. Not just a problem for the latinx community but for all men around the world. Consistently attacking men for being macho without realizing or even trying to comprehend the male world we just swing the ax of judgment because man are perceived to be tough. So to finish this, my question for whoever reads this is :” How ca we stop machismo and make men understand, when society itself pushes men towards machismo”?

    1. Option 3 Machismo (edited)
      As a European watching america struggle with its social aspects of life, the term machismo and gender roles have caught my attention a lot. Machismo is a word that comes from caballero, knight “a masculine code of behaviour”. Today we are left with the word machismo which most of the times has a negative connotation to it and when we take a look at the book “Love Stories” we see how the relationship between Ralphy and Veronica can be considered a toxic one where, Ralphy does not care about Veronicas feelings and desires, which gives him the “machista” nickname. Also we have created a idea that revolves around the word “macho” where it means to be hard, insensitive and only for yourself. I was born in a country that has a patriarchal hegemony to it. Growing up I was not really able to see that; my mom is a successful businesswoman that always had the support of my father. He followed his own endeavors and would not make things complicated by intervening in each other’s business. One thing i did notice though was how my mother worked but was still able to took care of us. My father helped her with house chores but the majority of the chores was always done by her. She did not mind, nor did she complain. She had this idea that as the mother of the house it was her duty to complete the house chores. That might seem a little misogynistic or like a “gender role” kind of story and I do agree, however, when my parents first met, my dad was the one working long hours as a young man at his job, while my mother finished her college education. He did it because he as well was taught that he had to provide for the family and be the man of the house. So why are they not both trapped in this society of “gender roles” where men are taught from a young age, that you need to break your back to work and be able to support a family, you need to work hard to support a family or you are not a real man. Is that fair to all those little boys that have been fed throughout their lives the stereotype that they are always competing with their peers and that the exclusion of being part of a certain class of males simply labels them as a losers. Machismo is a problem that harms men and it does so to a point where men are committing suicide at alarming rates. It is not just a problem for the latin community but for all men around the world. Consistently attacking men for being macho without realizing or even trying to comprehend the male world, we just swing the ax of judgment because men are perceived to be tough. So to finish this, my question for whoever reads this is :” How ca we stop machismo and make men understand, when society itself pushes men towards machismo”?

    2. Mateo, you identified how “machismo” or patriarchal behavior is a societal structure uphold collectively by men women, and even perhaps gender non-conforming people. As you said, it is not only an individual mind-frame that organizes domestic and social life but a whole system that benefits men. You argue that it also affects men negatively. There is not a single way or answer to stop gender inequality, inequity, and “machismo” but from the perspective of this class by centering the voices of (Latina) women as they speak, participate in debates, and present their joys in their own terms, a shift in mentality starts to happen.

  17. The criminalization of blacks always has a major setback in the US. The government has often criminalized innocent individuals. This has impacted blacks and Latino youths; the US government builds on humiliating and oppressing blacks and Latinos. This has led to an increase in criminal activities and gangs in the country; the youths tend to come up with gangs and acquire weapons to fight back the police and protect themselves. The police department presumes that any black individual found in a mistake is often guilty and is never given any chance to defend him/herself. This has made the Latin Americans see the similarity in their oppression to the blacks. Rodriguez also undergoes the same scenario; she is accused of a mistake that she has not done. She is not given any chance to prove her innocence.
    I believe that racial discrimination is a violation of human rights; however, it does not seem to be considered; time does not seem to impact the race. I have been in Rodriguez’s situation; I struggled to get a chance at an institution presumably dominant with my opposite race; I got the chance though after a serious pledge. Even though this was a public institution, I had to go through a lot for my admission. They never considered to bother about my potential; all they could see was a criminal and someone unworthy to be in the same institution. To solve this issue of race, we must all admit and accept that racial discrimination is there (Díaz, para 4-5).
    The best solution to such is to avoid fighting back; the fact remains, we can never succumb racial discrimination as individuals but together. Is you can never make any change as an individual; we can only achieve to stand up to this oppression a people.

    1. Inna, while there is a correlation between gang formation, poverty, discrimination, and inequities in society, it’s important to add more analysis and nuances to your ideas of “criminal activities”, possession of arms, “coming up with gangs” and “mistakes.” It’s vital in these discussions to avoid generalizations.

      Regarding your case, it seems that what you are describing is more connected to gender discrimination than race. Although at times racial, gender, and ethnic (cultural) discrimination are connected it’s important to highlight also their differences. For instance, in the story, Veronica suffers from gender and ethnic discrimination. She is discriminated against for being a woman and Puerto Rican.

  18. In both pieces, they express how Latina girls are considered and treated already as adults. That at a such young age they must act older than their actual age. By acting older than what they actually are, they are stripped from their childhood and dreams. It also highlights how Latina girls are stripped from acting like their age. In Rodriguez’s story, Cassandra shows Veronica a book her mother found called The Boys and Girls of Holyoke. This book relates children in Holyoke and what their aspirations are. Cassandra and Veronica participated in this project when they were younger. While many children said they wanted to grow up to be a doctor or dentists, Veronica said she didn’t know. Although she did know what she wanted to be, she didn’t want to seem weak in front of the other children. At a such a young age, she needed to hide and already act like an adult. Now Veronica looking back at the age of 16, she feels her heart heavy. It seems that she has realized that even back then she felt there was no future besides the ones her and her family were currently in. School and authorities made her believe that she would never amount to anything important. So much so that Veronica as a child had already made peace with the fact that she wasn’t going to be a doctor or a dentist at that age.

  19. Option 3

    The prose “Love War Stories,” by Ivelisse Rodriguez brings up the common obstacle Latinx students face in the classroom environment. The protagonist Veronica’s experience is described in great detail by author Rodriguez, who effectively paints a picture in the minds of the reader that Veronica is a victim of educational neglect. Its important to understand what encompasses this idea of neglect in academics. In Veronica’s case, her coy personality makes it hard for her to be motivated to participate. When I was younger I remember feeling this same way, being surrounded by students who frequently participated, making me feel like I wasn’t as smart as them. One particular instance when this happened was when my white History teacher had called on me to participate for one of the few times I raised my hands throughout the semester, with the hope that I would contribute to the discussion, but I was only raising my hand to use the bathroom. What left me embarrassed was my professors to my question to use the restroom, he responded by saying ”you finally raised your hand and I thought you were going to contribute to the class discussion.” The class giggled, but I didn’t pay too much attention because I knew my value to the class. As far as navigating this situation, I just kept my mouth shut and used the bathroom instead of clapping back at the teacher with a clever response. I showed him respect and set an example for other students in the class, and demonstrated what Latinx should do in situations like that, which is to show those in positions of power respect while knowing your value in a given environment. Rodriguez refers to Veronica as an in-between girl, meaning she’s tough on the outside and warm on the inside. When Veronica was questioned about the rumors in the gossip book she played it off like she didn’t care but in fact it bothered her a bit. After the situation with my teacher I had the same ”in-between” attitude when my friends asked me if I felt embarrassed, but I just shrugged it off like it didn’t affect me. I think its a necessity to have tough skin if you’re a Latinx student because you will be tested in ways that will challenge your patience and maybe even your intelligence. It’s imperative to not let people like Miss O’Donnell shift your focus away from achieving your goals.

  20. When I first arrived here in the United States I came here with nothing, my mom worked minimum wage and had to support me for school. We lacked the resources for me to excel in school. I went to a regular public school where a kid was not really motivated by their teachers because many of them did not care about the students. I was a very good student before I arrived here in New York. In Puerto Rico I did great in all my classes, handing teachers great grades, and making my parents and my instructors proud. All the teachers motivated me into doing great. I knew I had a support system there. Then I moved here and that’s when I went downhill. When I was put in my new public school my grades began to go down and my second grade teacher passed me because she did not have the heart to fail me and put me in a class where the teacher would fail me. I was not given the resources to excel in class, I understood no English and barely received any help. My third grade teacher was horrible, she seemed annoyed every time I asked her a question I simply did not understand the language and what we were doing. It was an entire new environment for me and I felt like a burden rather than a student in my classes. At the time I did not know what racism was or discrimination but I realized that she was a racist, we had a couple of white kids in class and when it came to them she was extremely helpful and was very kind. When it came to the minorities she treated us much harder and was stricter with us. Things that she would let the white kids get away with she did not for us. I thought I was a bad student and was not doing anything right but in reality it was discrimination and racism. When the year was coming to an end I had to take my first state exam and I was supposed to be given that test in Spanish but my teacher handed me the English version. I did not complain because I was scared of what she would say so I forced myself to take the exam and failed both my math and English exams. I remember that day clearly and I came out crying because I knew I failed. I connected to Rodrigues because I too felt like I didn’t belong in a place where you are suppose to feel safe and cared about.

  21. Option Three:
    In “Love War Stories” by Ivelisse Rodriguez, the idea of “machista” is presented and discussed between pages 41 and 42. It being well known issue within the Latinx community already irks me and is a topic I occasionally argue with my older family members. Machismo is described as a strong sense of manliness and respect for the man because there is an exaggerated pride of dominance within the culture. For Latinos, it’s a culture that is expected and accepted for many decades where the man goes out and work for the family while the women stay home with the children, cook for everyone, clean the house, wash everyone’s laundry, etc. The man would expect to return with food ready on the table with a beer. In cases were the children are older, daughters especially are taught to set the table and wash the dishes meanwhile the sons would be off playing video games. In Rodriguez’s work, it is evident in Veronica and Ralfy’s relationship regarding their sex life and conversations between Veronica and her mother. The dynamic in sexual relationships for machismo is that the man thinks of himself for his pleasures then moves on. From many years the mothers begin to accept the “machista” culture who then teach their daughters to follow no matter what. In today’s society, this culture still runs today but it is breaking which is great because men have their own hands and feet and can go get what they need. I understand the respect of a man’s hard work for his family or relationships, but there needs to be an equal share of house chores instead of being praised. A woman/mother/daughter works just as hard and needs to be appreciated just like any man/father/son could do. I often get into arguments with my grandmother and older aunts or uncles because they expect the treatment that they were raised in, but with respect towards them I stand my ground and make them understand times are different now where that machismo culture must change and end for good.

  22. Option 1

    It is believed that a teacher is someone who will help prepare you for the future. However, Miss O’Donnell does the exact opposite by allowing her ethnic and gender bias to control her thoughts. It could be that as an older person, Miss O’Donnell no longer finds herself attractive and ends up feeling jealous because everyone desires Veronica’s beauty. This leads Miss O’Donnell to treat Veronica differently by picking on her in class, knowing that it will make Veronica uncomfortable. Additionally, Veronica does not feel safe and accepted in class. In this place, teachers are supposed to create a welcoming environment where everyone’s ideas are accepted. Miss O’Donnell also believes that Holyoke Puerto Ricans are different from those living in Puerto Rico. She sees Holyoke Puerto Ricans as inferior and firmly believes that Veronica would not “register in someone else’s world” (31). Miss O’Donnell knows that shoes, lipstick color, and shade of hair are important in Holyoke. However, they do not matter outside, especially in Puerto Rico, where Miss O’Donnell believes she will finally be looked at. Knowing that others look down on Holyoke Puerto Rican girls such as Veronica certainly take a toll on their dreams and aspirations because they feel that they will not accomplish anything in life and are forced to settle down for less. When Veronica talked after getting picked in class, Miss O’Donnell started to think about the time left until her retirement and all the things she would do once she retired. Her inattentiveness towards her students clearly shows that Miss O’Donnell had no desire to help her students succeed.

  23. option 1

    Miss O’Donnell’s biases towards Puerto Rican girls like Veronica hinder their ability to learn and grow. Miss O’Donnell had her students on the bottom on her list of priorities. She stereotypes Veronica as a whore and tramp, based solely on her looks. Girls like Veronica are felt like outcast that constantly ridiculed. This not only affects their academics, but also their life. The atmosphere that teachers like Miss O’Donnell create makes the student feel like they are useless. For example, Veronica is known for not participating throughout her student life. With these immoral teachers, how can a student like Veronica even feel comfortable talking. Whenever she did talk the teacher would be in their own world, pretending like the student isn’t there. Veronica has been profiled leading to her peers doing the same. Students like Veronica find it difficult to show their true intentions. Veronica had dreams and aspirations, but when asked she says, “I don’t know.” She hears her peers laughing and too timid to tell the man her dreams and goals. It has been an uphill climb for Veronica since day one. In the personal essay by Jaquira Díaz, she talks about the atmosphere towards black and brown students when a situation escalates. Teachers are assuming the worst and calling the cops, instead of de-escalating the situation as if it were a white student. By calling the cops, teachers are putting their students more at risk. These students now have to come to class, wondering if a cop will come in. This atmosphere and the one presented in Miss O’Donnell’s class give their students a sense of rejection, while ruining their present and future.

  24. Option 1: In Ivelisse Rodriguez’s book “Love War Stories”, Mrs.O’Donnell thinks down on Veronica and her other Puerto Rican classmates. She looks down upon her and the other students because she thinks that her female students are “whores” and “skanks”. This is occurring because Mrs. O’Donnell is unhappy and she looks for a way to scapegoat her problems. As a result, she blames her students. By blaming the kids for her problems she creates an environment in which the female students don’t feel motivated to work hard. We can see this when she chooses Veronica and instead of encouraging her to figure out the answer, only wants to embarrass her. Another big failure of Mrs. O’Donnell is her inability to promote an educational environment. As we can see from the description of the classroom setting, no one really cares about what she has to teach. We can assume that students are likely talking over her, spreading notes, and sleeping. Since the students don’t learn anything during their time in school, their priorities shift to worrying about other students and what they have going on. As a result, these students will not be able to do well later in life such as college or work because they won’t have the proper skills. Also, a more subtle way this upbringing will affect her is she will become unable to show who she really is around other people. Since her reputation is all she has, for at least the rest of her high school career she will hide her feelings deep inside herself.

  25. Option #1

    Throughout the scene In Love War stories, Ivelisse shows how ethnic and gender bias creates an atmosphere of rejection in a high school classroom. Veronica is a young Puerto Rican girl that experiences a pattern of not being seen amongst her peers or teacher throughout her educational life. This pattern tells the reader the way Veronica lacks the confidence in herself to express her intelligence and opinions. As the scene unfolds, Miss O’ donnell picks on veronica to participate and throughout the reading it states: “Veronica speaks inaudibly but then not being able to discern Miss O’ Donnell’s facial expression, she speaks louder rushing her words”. This highlights the negative outcome Veronica shows due to prejudice and discrimination based on her ethnic and gender identity. It can be said that negative diversity experience in classroom can impair students learning and cognitive bias skills the way its seen with Veronica. Her teacher Miss O’Donnell thinks of Veronica as “tramp, whore, floozy and susceptible of becoming pregnant than the other girls”. This also demonstrates the disadvantages women in ethnic groups are perceived with and the inequalities and roles societies have place upon gender and ethnic groups.

    Veronica also experiences bullying from her classmates and is passed a paper of who is likely to be pregnant first with her name listed on paper. Her classmates watch her reaction and in order to not show hurtful emotions of how she truly feels, Veronica disguises her sadness with anger and “presses her nails into her palm from distracting herself from breaking down in front of her classroom and instead shows anger and rolls her eyes to show she does not care. This scene demonstrates the image Veronica needs to show in order to be seen as strong and unaffected by her peers. Moreover, this presents how ethnic and gender bias creates an atmosphere of rejection that affect Puerto Rican girls like Veronica.

  26. OPTION 3:
    Something that caught my attention when reading the short story “Holyoke Mass”, was the brief moment where I witnessed educational neglect. It was during the very beginning when Veronica was clearly being picked on by the rest of her classmates. The teacher, Mrs. O’ Donnell, shows pretty much indifference to the whole ordeal. We can read from the start that she doesn’t really like Veronica that much, not because she hates her guts in particular, but because of the constant gossip that circulates only when Veronica is present. I’m assuming she’s aware of the stuff being told about Veronica, but it doesn’t seem like Mrs. O’ Donnell intends to do anything about it. She doesn’t bother to call her for participation, pretty much giving up on her at that point. The one time she does call on her, it’s done to amuse the professor, implying that she was almost mocking the student at that point.

    Being honest I never really witnessed any type of Educational neglect during my entire academic year thus far. I’ve been part of a Bilingual school for all of my Elementary School years (I went to P.S 89 Q), where almost every classmate I knew came from backgrounds that weren’t completely American. Most of my classmates were Hispanic, just like me. We also had a few people of Asian descent: Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Nepalese, you name it. We were all in the same boat, and as cheesy as this sounds, we all lived in peace and harmony. From what I could remember we were always told to get along with each other, and the teachers were more than happy to teach us that. Those that were troublemakers or had problems learning were always encouraged by the professors to participate, and more often than not, they end up becoming good students.

    I studied in Peru for 7 years after that, all my studies in Spanish. I would end up being a somewhat popular guy, and once again, everyone was in the same boat, all of them being Peruvian. It’s also worth mentioning that my high school was a Catholic school, so getting along with each other, loving and respecting each other, and bonding was greatly encouraged.

    Now that I’ve returned to the U.S for college, I can’t say that I’ve seen or witnessed educational neglect, but it doesn’t mean I’ll be indifferent towards it. Everyone deserves to be listened to, to be respected, and allowed to participate in class. Making a student, who might have been a slacker, into one of the best students by the end of the class, is the best achievement a good professor can reach, and I applaud that.

  27. Option 1:

    Jaquira Díaz’s sheds a light on the issues that Black and Brown girls face in the school systems, that disproportionately punish and abuse these kids, who have done nothing wrong, but live in a society that would see them as criminals or evil. Diaz, discusses the type of racialized environment in which teachers uphold in their classrooms, where they punish black and brown girls for showing emotions that don’t fit their normative and conservative view on feminine culture. In Ivelisse Rodriguez’s “Holyoke Mass,: An Enthnography,” we are given the first person account on the issues that surround Black Latinx girls in schooling and in life, but specifically when these girls are young, but in the eyes of Miss O’Donnell, they are seen as “tramp, whore, or floozy.” When teachers, like O’Donnell are given the role of an educator, they are supposed to nourish, uplift and support their students, but we see that they are only for their white students and not their counter-parts. “But lucky for Miss O’Donnell, she doesn’t have to call on veronica too often. Veronica is one of those girls who doesn’t talk much in class. Since Kindergarten, Veronica has rarely raised her hand, and this pattern of barely doing anything has followed her into her high school years and will inevitably follow her for the rest of her life.” I find this quote important, because if we think about the time this story is set in, we already know that the teachers at that time and even today hold prejudice and preconceived notions of what Black, Brown and Latinx students are capable of doing. They think that we are stupid, and when they call on someone like Veronica, you think they are calling on her cause she will give the right answer, no. Teachers like O’Donnell are waiting for them to say something wrong so they can minimize their opinions or thoughts, making them less likely to ever participate or even want to continue schooling. These preconceived stereotypes and racism that runs deep throughout our own school systems are what hinder girls like Veronica from ever feeling like she fits in or is intelligent enough to feel confident in raising her hand in class. Diaz’s is correct in saying that we must stop this disproportionate punishment and abuse on Black and brown girls, and instead have counseling and a show of more support for our fellow black and brown girls across the diaspora.

  28. Option 1:
    When analyzing the scene at Miss O’Donnell’s classroom scene in “Holyoke Mass: An Ethnography” any reader can see that from her ethnic and gender bias she makes Puerto Rican girls like Veronica uncomfortable. In the reading it right away shows us what she thinks about Veronica and uses words such as floozy, tramp and whore which is bad in itself being that an adult teacher is concerned with the status of a fifteen-year-old girl. This makes the learning environment which is supposed to be a safe one for Veronica and creates a harmful setting for her and all the students like her. Miss O’Donnell also creates a tense environment for her student because she recognizes Veronica as a student does not speak a lot, and has been this way since kindergarten, this creating an issue because doing this makes Veronica feel small and belittled. Veronica is described as talking very low and mumbling, and having Veronica feel small Give back some type of power to Miss O’Donnell. If she has to come at a student in such a way it shows her as insecure for her looks which explain why as a teacher, she would try to re-claim power in another way (which is inexcusable). Miss O’Donnell character as well as how she feels about her students are shown further, when she goes as far to compare Veronica to other girls which to me is very inappropriate to look at and sexualize the looks of a student. Finally, an action that I thought was important to analyze was when she counts down the days to her retirement and has dreamt of what she wanted to do which is go to Puerto Rico and spend the rest of her days away from girls like Veronica and to me this statement is extremely problematic. Veronica is Puerto Rican, which means there are many other Puerto Rican girls who resemble her, Miss O’Donnell wants to go to a country that has girls and women who look like Veronica but yet escape people who look like Veronica. To me this sounds like Miss O’Donnell wants to take advantage of what the country has to offer but sexualize and disrespect the people who come from the country.

Comments are closed.