Inaugural poet, Richard Blanco, discusses modern identity in America. 

Belonging to three countries before he was even 2 months old, Richard Blanco discussed, in a special contribution to CNN, the struggle he has had in finding and embracing his identity. Blanco’s family fleed Cuba in exile to Madrid and soon after, arrived in the United States. His struggle of identity is one that many Latinos have had and continue to face and what he defines as his obsession in his writings. He grew up in heavily Cuban influenced Miami during the 70’s and mentions how his immediate family and those around him yearned for La Patria, their homeland. Another familiar struggle was living in America, but within a Latino community, which caused him to feel as if America was a strange place that he had yet to experience. The mystery of La Patria and of the “real” America were the cause of an internal struggle of who he really is in this world. Something much more personal was his struggle with his career path and sexual orientation, which was briefly mentioned on monday for the first time in a President’s inaugural speech. After choosing a degree in engineering and coming out to his family who were hardly supportive of a gay lifestyle, Blanco constitutes his success in finding his identity “to the essence of the American Dream.” 

The theme of identity struggle has been one that many Latinos have taken on since the days of the New World. As we read thursday about the mestizos, mullatos and mexicans who had to find a niche in the post-independent economies where creoles held a majority of the wealth and political power, there are striking differences and also similar characteristics in their struggle compared to the modern struggle that latin-americans face today. How can we grow from our past and present situations to ensure that future generations won’t have to struggle with an identity crisis?

1 Response to “Inaugural poet, Richard Blanco, discusses modern identity in America. ”

  • What an interestingly important question. I found this post very moving, and timely with the President’s Inauguration today. Of course we are all familiar with the age old “I have a Dream” Speech where MLK depicts a time when racial equality will triumph anger and hatred. However, Reading Mark Wasserman’s portrayal of Mexican Migrants, and how they struggled to succeed economically simply because of racial barriers was heartbreaking. The similarities between the identity struggles of African Americans and Latino Americans are too many to count. Women in both cultures suffered racial discrimination as well, and remained desperately poor. White women were the only ones who headed their own households while casta and Indian women could barely survive enough to feed their children. Needless to say, we have come a very long ways from the trying days of 1811. Obama’s Inauguration today gives me hope that as a Nation we are moving forward to stop discrimination and fight for equal rights for all people . Blanco wrote in this article that his family was not supportive of his gay lifestyle but that being successful in his career despite these circumstances was the “essence of the American Dream.” Indeed it is. Obama stated today in his acceptance speech:
    “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law” —
    So yes, Richard Blanco, you are living the American Dream, because America is led by a fearless, relentless leader who believes in equality for ALL people. So in answer to your question “how can we grow from the past and present situations to ensure that future generations won’t have to struggle with an identity crisis?” – by grabbing hold of the wonderful things already happening in the present; and refusing to let go until we get the results we deserve.

    -Post by : JUDI JACKSON

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