Moving from one country to another doesn’t necessarily mean moving towards a better life. It depends on how the people manage their lives upon deciding to stay on foreign soil. They may encounter several problems, like cultural shock because of cultural differences, or discrimination from other people. These are all burdens that they have to overcome while adapting to the things that their new home has to offer. These problems were all experienced by two Puerto Rican Immigrants, Jesus Colon and Judith Ortiz Cofer.
They were both strangers in a foreign land, but managed to adapt on how things are done in their new home, the United States of America (Joyce, 2002). Comparing and contrasting their experiences Jesus Colon was born in Cayey, Puerto Rico in 1901. At the age of 16, he stowed away on a boat, S. S. Carolina, and was taken to New York, just like most Puerto Ricans at that time. The year was 1918, the time when most immigrants have no other choice but work on menial jobs. Jesus Colon went into various jobs like working the docks and factories.
During this time, many workers, especially those who were from other countries were branded as “unskilled” workers. They are the preys for discrimination and exploitation by those who run the businesses. Jesus Colon for one has been greatly discriminated, especially because of his black skin color. This left him no choice but to fight for those who are being oppressed by voicing out his opinions. Another Puerto Rican immigrant whose name became known to many was Judith Ortiz Cofer, born in 1952 in Hormigueros, Puerto Rico. She was born to a poor, struggling family.
His father joined the U. S. Navy, and at the age of two, her family moved to Paterson, New Jersey. Being in a foreign land, her family struggled to adapt to its ways. Her mother had difficulty on how she will e able to manage being with a different culture. They move back to Puerto Rico whenever her father goes on missions to other countries. This has caused her a lot of trouble, especially on learning and adapting in her new country. Judith Ortiz Cofer questioned how women are badly stereotyped in the society. They are considered second class to that of men, and were usually seen as others instead of mothers.
Because of that, she struggled to fight her way to recognition, wherein she wanted to stop society from stereotyping women. Similarities and differences There are a few things which Jesus Colon’s and Judith Ortiz Cofer’s experiences differ. One of these is their reasons for discrimination. The main reason for Jesus Colon’s discrimination was his Black skin color and his difficulty of speaking English, despite the fact that he clearly understands the language. This gave him the difficulty to find good paying jobs, and his skills are often underestimated by his employers.
On the other hand, Judith Ortiz Cofer’s discrimination is rooted to her gender, especially when she is being stereotyped as a “common” woman, where she is considered lower that that of men. It can also be because of Judith Ortiz Cofer’s nationality, especially when she is constantly moving from one place to another that she finds it hard to adapt. The similarity between the two is on how they fought these discriminations. Both Jesus Colon and Judith Ortiz Cofer resorted to literary means in dealing with their problems.
Because of discrimination in the job, Jesus Colon resorted to writing about his experiences along with the experiences of other immigrants just like him. This opened the doors for a literary movement called the “Nuyorican Movement,” of Puerto Rican writers and poets living in New York. On the other hand, Judith Ortiz Cofer coped with her problems by means of writing, wherein she was able to publish many books, which all revolved around womanhood. Her works came into mainstream and has acquired great public recognition, not only from the country but also abroad. For me, the more disturbing of these two is the story by Jesus Colon.
His story was an unusual escape in the world he grew up with, only to find that other people would undermine his capabilities to the extent of discriminating his nationality and his skin color. His story was also a good example of rags to riches story, wherein his writings were able to be spread all over the country and gain recognition from most people. It just showed that despite the people who discriminate others, there are still those who support them and would contribute in their success.
Reference: Joyce, A. B. (2002). American Contexts: Multicultural Readings for Composition (1st Edition ed. ): Longman Publishing.