Rants ‘n Raves by a Nuyorican Who Calls Herself Bennie

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I wanted to be white?

with 4 comments

Thank you Micha for some inspiration!

When I was about 13, I wanted to convert to Judaism. Why…you ask? I am not sure but I think it had to do with the novel, the Chosen or maybe it was the Diary of Anne Frank. In any case that’s what I wanted to do. But looking back now I guess I know why. You see I had such a low self esteem of myself that I just wanted to be anyone other than myself. Sad isn’t it? I was a spic to many…I was ignorant to most…and I was not going to be crowned Miss America anytime soon.

This was in the 50s and 60s, and my goal then was to assimilate and lose myself within the American culture. In other words I wanted to become “white”. In my case it was not that simple. My features are ethnic. I inherited my father’s wide nose, curly hair, and dark skin. Family members would often dismiss me because I was not white looking. But if I couldn’t change my features, what could I change? I changed the way I spoke. I wanted to sound white in the worse way, and I did this by listening to a lot of radio programs as well as watch tv. My teachers were amazed and wanted to know how come I spoke so well. Back then I felt very proud of myself, but now I feel anger and guilty that I wanted to erase my cultural identity.


Written by Benilda Pacheco Beretta

September 28, 2010 at 9:08 pm

4 Responses

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  1. “[…]now I feel anger and guilty that I wanted to erase my cultural identity.”

    My 2 cents: Give yourself a break. To hold an adult accountable for his/her actions as a 13 y.o., half-a-century after the events, is unfair and illogical.

    To give it a reverse Christian spin: Do unto yourself as you would do unto others. What would you do if someone else had commited the same “crime”, at the same age and at the same time? Forgive and forget, is my bet.


    October 22, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    • I can’t forget, but I can forgive. This is my way of healing. Thanks for your comment. Your blog is interesting. I am a performer/visual artist, and when I applied to college, ages ago, I got in because of my potential. I was one of those students who did horribly in the standadized exams, but worked my buns off in school and graduated third in my class out of 600 plus students. So the college I was applying for decided to take a chance on me and others like me. I am happy to say many became doctors, lawyers, judges, etc. As for me, I dropped out, got married with kids. But after my kids left the nest I finished what I had started and finished two masters at the same time. I have confronted my demons, and I am moving on. There are others like me who have the same experience as I. So sometimes it’s ok to feel, share, and purge oneself :). Thanks again :). Bennie

      Benilda Pacheco Beretta

      October 26, 2010 at 2:18 pm

      • I congratulate you on both achieving your goals and having the strength to fight your old demons. Just one thought for consideration: Are you today the same person as with 15? (In the sense that e.g. you and a hypothetical sister are not the same—not merely in the “you cannot cross a river twice” sense.) For my part, at a mere 35, I would actually answer “no”: I share the memories of “me” at 15, and have a continuity of existence, but going from 15 to 35 I have become so different that I cannot truly consider that 15 y.o. to be me.

        As an aside, I see that my last comment is still in moderation. It appears that WordPress does not automatically approve a comment when it is answered.


        October 30, 2010 at 4:30 am

      • Ok, my mac’s drive took a dive so I have to use my itouch to reply. That said, I will get back to this discussion soon :). I enjoy your writing btw. As a late bloomer in academic discourse, I have a long way to go, but reading your posts gets me motivated to learn more. When I was growing up in the South Bronx I was so scared to open my mouth because of how the kids and even teachers made fun of me. Of course, I have been working all my life to not be afraid to speak up :). Thanks.

        Benilda Pacheco Beretta

        October 30, 2010 at 7:41 am

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