The Distance Between Us

The Distance Between Us is a memoir written by Reyna Grande. Reyna tells the story of her life and the struggles she faced growing up in the 70s and 80s. Reyna for the majority of her childhood lived in a little village in Mexico with her mother and two siblings. Her father had left for the United States when she was about 4 years old and had never returned. While living in Mexico, she lived an extreme poverty having to share her food with her entire family. As she got older, her father returned and took her and her sister to the United States. Grande’s life in the U.S was no more different than it was in Mexico except no she faced discrimination for being Mexican and undocumented.


The most interesting theme of the memoir was how Grande tried to find her identity growing up. As a kid she was proud to be Mexican and even bragged about how her dad lived up north which resulted her getting into fights. At first she had everything a kid could want since her dad would send money but after a while it stopped and it caused her to be more confused. Her mother would send her to work at a families friend house and she for the first time saw an American, which prompted her to wanting to live with her father in the U.S. Once Reyna arrived in the U.S everything she had been taught about her culture had to be forgotten. Since she had arrived undocumented, she couldn’t tell anybody she was coming from Mexico. Her fathered forced her to on speak English which caused Reyna to forget Spanish at a very young age. She ended up bleaching her hair off and skim as she was trying to fit in with everyone at school. Reyna grew up with her half sister who was an American citizen. Her father didn’t force her sister to speak English and was encourage to continue her Mexican traditions. It showed how Reyna’s status forced her to Americanized in order to be protected while her sister was free to be who she wanted.


The memoir did depicted the concept of the “one and the other” as seen in our course. Reyna was seen the as the “other” due to her immigration status and was therefore forced to submit to her fathers commands in order to not be deported. Reyna was given the mentality that expressing herself would lead to tragedy and was therefore forced to become a perfect American. Reyna’s sister Izzy, was seen as a carefree child. Her parents didn’t care about her identity as much because they knew she was protected. She was able to party, get a job and talk to the neighbors. In this situation she’s seen as the “one” because of their status in the U.S. The memoir showed how a lot of immigrants try and become the ideal American and in the process loose their connection and identity to their culture.


Diary of Systemic Injustices: Name and Race Discrimination

For the showcase, I decided to focus on the discrimination many people face during the job interview process. One of the biggest areas where systemic racism is seen is in jobs. From applying to getting the job to the wage you earn all depends on your race. Recently, a lot of teens have been trying to apply to Target because their pay benefits are incredible at least livable for most teens. Over the week one of my coworkers was telling me he had applied for a job at Target. My friend’s name is Michael Johnson just his name it’s obvious he’s American, but not black. He told me how he applied online and decided to not disclose his race because with his name he had a chance of getting the job if they believed he was white. A few days later, he got a call and was interviewed over the phone. Michael ended up getting the job since they were “desperately hiring and was told to come to the store and fill out some paperwork. Well to their surprise, he showed, and they realized he was black, and he said he could tell from their expressions that they were not going to hire him. Yesterday, during our shift he got an email stating that he did not meet the “qualifications”. It’s interesting to see how names and race correlate with one another. A lot of people with ethnic names end up changing it making it more American because it has helped them secure a job. This story took me by surprise because unlike Michael, I know I do not have an American name, so people know from the start, but he is at first given opportunities and then, gets them stripped away when they realize he’s not white. I think it’s very interesting to see how people act based on names. People with more “American” names get better jobs because they seem more capable. While those with non-American names most of the time people of color are given the less desired jobs all due to their skin color and name.

This relates to the theme we saw in week five about implicit bias. Implicit bias can be defined as “the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner”(Banks,1172. There’s a stereotype about names in the U.S that all those who have non-English / American names are inferior to those who do. Most people think that those who have American names are white so there’s a surprise when people of color have American names. This is seen how my friend Michael and thousands of other people suddenly get denied a job because although they have an American name, they aren’t white.


Context Presentation Week 9: The Cultural and Identity Crisis for Adopted Children

  The Leavers, by Lisa Ko, is a book about Deming Guo, a Chinese American living in New York. His mother Polly an immigrant from China abandons him at an early age. Due to these Deming is put in the foster care system and then later adopted changing his name to Daniel Wilkinson. . Deming faces challenges as a kid and then as an adult. From wondering what happened to his mother to economic issues, Deming throughout the novel struggles with his identity as a Chinese American adopted by White parents living in the Suburb.

As Deming is being adopted, his parents encourage him to blend in at school due to him being the only Chinese American attending. Deming slowly loses his Chinese heritage and his language as he has fully adapted to the way of life his adoptive parents live. Deming’s situation is not uncommon in fact, it happens to a lot of adopted children. According to the International Adoption Services, most adoptive parents are white and the two top countries with children being adopted are Russia and then China.

Most adoptee children experience a sense of not belonging when they realize they do not look anything like their parents but also have no similarities to their own race. Dennis an African American woman adopted by white parents realized she had nothing in common with other African Americans when she first arrived at college. She became depressed after both white and black students rejected her, something common with adoptee children. Adopted children also go through racism and stereotypes something their parents do not face. It’s different for adopted children because they grew up in a bubble with their white parents as opposed to being exposed to their race and their culture. Abigail Scott is an example, she had grown up in Berkeley, California with her mother who had Procter her from racism and stereotypes. When she arrived at college, people assumed she wasn’t American and that she didn’t speak English. Scott states that “ She has never felt so Chinese” (5).

For adoptees growing up, they grow through a shock where they acknowledge race is real. A lot of parents because they want to protect their children try to Americanize them so that they don’t face discrimination. Yet, this does more harm than good as it creates a culture and identity issue for the adopted child just like Deming.

Ko, Lisa. The Leavers. Chapel Hill, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2017

Lang, Anne Adams. “When Parents Adopt a Child and a Whole Other Culture.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 8 Mar. 2000,

“The Realities of Raising a Kid of a Different Race.” Time, Time,