‘Against the Odds’
I always look forward to receiving
your magazine in my mailbox. Your
article in the March issue in the section People & Places, “Succeeding
Against the Odds,” hit very close to
home and I wanted to share my
story with you.
I was born in Puerto Rico, to a
Puerto Rican mother and Dominican
father. My first trip to America was
at the age of 7 when I came to
Bronx, N. Y., to visit my grandmother. A few years later, I found myself a
resident of the Bronx. We think of
America as the land of opportunity,
but being a female Latino from the
Bronx, I felt exactly like [JCPenney’s]
Fernando [Serpa] described it, that I
would be “succeeding against the
odds” or as “digging yourself from
this hole.” In my neighborhood,
Puerto Ricans were viewed as “low”
and Dominicans as drug dealers. My
family was relatively poor. My parents did not graduate from college.
Most of my peers in my neighborhood took the easy way out.
The environmental pressures,
negative stereotypes and my parents’
divorce gave me the “perfect excuse”
to give up. However, I chose not to
8 | DiversityInc June 2007
give up. These obstacles gave me
the energy to succeed, to prove to
non-Latinos that Puerto Ricans and
Dominicans can succeed and that
we don’t all fit the stereotype.
My family was poor. I did not
have the luxury to go to college full
time. So, I found a job that would
reimburse my college tuition.
That meant being an excellent
employee while maintaining a B+ or
better average in order to ensure full
On a personal note, my husband
is Jewish and we have three lovely
boys. I feel that being Jewish adds
yet another potential area for stereotyping and discrimination for my
children. But, this does not stop me
from teaching them to confidently
say they are Puerto Rican,
Dominican and Jewish and that they
can be anything they want to be.
Secretary to the Board of Directors
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
Fighting ‘Passive Racism’
I want to take this opportunity to
applaud you, Luke Visconti, and
those who work with you for taking a
stand in support of diversity in the
workplace and beyond. I view this
publication [as] “vital” in that you’ve
created and allowed a place for people
to correspond (and hopefully learn)
on issues of race. Race and cultural
differences are touchy subjects and
can be uncomfortable for some folks,
but this forum provides a space for
constructive dialogue. I find the articles informative and rather fascinating when I discover how other people
think. I’m also encouraged that some
people irregardless [sic] of their own
background “get it” that people are
human beings deserving of respect
despite being different.
It’s interesting that you’ve pointed
out “passive racism,” which I agree
exists in the workplace today. It’s
tough, but my hope is that with
knowledge, more people would be
open and accepting of each other’s
differences. When you come right
down to it, the only difference[s]
between people are the spices used
in the preparation of their food.
Bank of America
San Francisco, Calif.
“The Business Case for Affirmative
Action,” published in the April issue,
stated that legislation has ended
affirmative action in California,
Texas, Florida and Michigan.
In Texas, a court decision in 1996
eliminated race as an admissions
factor in public higher education.
That decision was invalidated in
2003 as part of the Supreme Court’s
University of Michigan decision.
In Florida, most affirmative-action
programs ended in 1999 by executive
order of Gov. Jeb Bush.
In the May feaure “The Best Way
to Reach Young People: Make
MySpace & Facebook Work for You,”
part of a quote from Dan Black was
inadvertently eliminated. The quote
should read: “We don’t feel a social-networking site is where we should go
to check up on you.”
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