Written by Elsabel Rincon
Sit up straight—cross your legs—this is an adult conversation. You have to dress up and wear a dress. Sit still while I straighten/blow dry your hair- Ouch! But it is hot! Chew with your mouth closed, we don’t speak while eating. You are a girl; you can’t be hanging out with all those boys. Your brother will accompany you—But he is younger than me! And change, those clothes are too revealing, cover yourself. This is a private family matter; we don’t discuss family problems outside these doors. Where do babies come from? –Silence. Your father has brought the groceries, put them away. Get dinner started, rinse the rice, cut up the vegetables, mince the garlic. You must study, get good grades, marry and have children. Your husband needs to have a good job and be from a good family—and be of good appearance: light skinned. The best way to prevent a pregnancy is using aspirin—you hold it between your knees. You need to keep quiet, to yourself, and don’t get into other people’s business. Do not question or challenge your elders. The best way to avoid trouble is to stay put in your own home. The actions of any of your kin—including children—will define who you are and your worth. Why are you still not married? You need to find a good husband…you need to find a husband. When are you having children? When will you be having another one? You are having more children?! No one will take care of their children better than their mother. Your diploma shows friends our family’s standing, but you don’t really have to work. You husband is probably stressed bearing all the financial burden of the home. You need to take better care of him. Try again. Try harder.
About the author: Elsabel Rincon immigrated to the US from her native Dominican Republic at the age of 10 with her family. For the past 10 years, she has been an activist for her Immigrant community and an advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. In 2012, Elsabel was the recipient of the Kipp Tiernan Social Justice Fellowship; which led her to found the Migrant Advocacy Project (MAP at Migrantadvocacy.org). MAP strives to validate the impact and potential trauma of the immigrant experience while providing orientation, advocacy and support to recently arrived immigrants. Elsabel enjoys learning languages and speaks Spanish, Portuguese and French. In addition, she enjoys reading and spending time with her family, specially her two young children.