Paciencia y Fe means Patience and Faith, and it's a phrase that's used throughout the musical In the Heights. The song by that name tells the story of one of the characters, Abuela, and her immigration from Cuba to the U.S. with her mother.

There are two parts that I want to discuss a little.

The first part (about 1 minute into the song) expresses the ambivalence so many Latino immigrants feel:

Ay, Mama, so many stars in Cuba
En Nueva York we can't see beyond our streetlights
To reach the roof you gotta bribe the supa
Ain't no cassiopia in Washington Heights
But ain't no food in La Vibora

I can't count the number of times I've heard a Latino and/or an immigrant offer a criticism of their life in the U.S., quickly followed by a comment to the extent of "if you don't like it here, go back to where you came from." It seems those people don't realize at that moment that it's completely possible for anybody to simultaneously complain about something about their life in America and love the opportunities presented here. Americans born in the U.S. start entire organizations dedicated to changing aspects of American society, so why are we denied the right to express our own opinions?

Near the end of the song (about 3:45 into the song), there is a line that particularly gets to me:
Ay ay Mama
What do you do when your dreams come true?
I've spent my life inheriting dreams from you

I was five years old when I came to this country, and my parents never let me lose sight of what they came here for: for my sisters and I to get a better education and have more opportunities than we would have in D.R. For immigrant children, a large part of our identities are directly influenced by the goals our parents have for us. At what point do you dream for yourself instead of your parents? Stay tuned for more on that in my next post...

UPDATE: The other posts in this series are: Nina's Story, and Powerless.


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