Jose is a twenty-year-old Latino junior whose parents immigrated into the United States from Central America. At the beginning of the narrative, Jose seems ignorant and unaware of his Latino heritage and roots and often considers himself white. He is in a school where almost everyone else is white and has believed himself to be similar to them. He views other Latinos as inferior to himself and even enjoys jokes from his friends in school that are likely to rub badly with other Latinos. He even is embarrassed about his parents not being articulate in English as himself and even looks down upon his brothers who never graduated from college.
Until the day Mr. Connors uses a racially offensive language against him, Jose seems unaware or numb to the reality of being a Latino. Psychologically, Jose is at the stage of self-identity. He is ignorant of his Latino culture and even has a negative attitude towards them because he wants to fit in within the white community where most of his peers in school are from. The narrative Jose denies everything that is natural to him. He avoided the sun so that he could not get darker and even wished that his skin and features were different. The narrative shows his transition from an ignorant young man to an activist against racial discrimination and particularly the Latino heritage within the United States.
Jose transitions from a young man who wishes that he was white and even avoids anything that would make him less white and one who considered himself different or better to one who stands for the respect of Latinos. When he joins college, he attends a meeting of Latino student organization, La Unidad, where his turn around begins. He transitions from one who associates with Latinos just so he does not betray them to one who stops viewing white as successful or any better. He even starts getting into arguments defending the position of Latinos. He argues with his friend Jake and his position is that despite the law speaking of equality, the white community had given themselves a long head start ahead of others and hence without moral authority to speak about equality. At the end of the narrative, he is working in DC as a research assistant for a non-profit organization focused on strengthening the Latino community. He even stands up against Dan, his childhood friend who tries to make fun of him realizing that he is Latino.
Jose’s story is a reflection of the struggles that minority groups have to go through to gain a sense of belonging within the United States. Due to racism, people of color are made to feel inferior and like they cannot be at the same level if not better than their white counterparts. Cultural differences become the focal point for ridicule and discrimination, and even though they claim to give equal chances to all, just as Jose argues, the white community has given themselves a big head start so that equality is just but a word but things are completely different. Immigrants and the indigenous people are not on a level playing ground to be truthful. That is what makes a boy like Jose loathe his people and culture and desire to be white because whites are at an advantaged position within the society.
To resonate with Jose and his struggles, being a part of the minority can be uncomfortable and intimidating. At his age where he is trying to get an identity, it is often likely that one would choose to conform to what the majority view as popular and successful. In helping many other young people that could be feeling inferior and less important because they want to fit in, creating awareness and self-confidence would be my main goal. When young people appreciate their differences and understand that being different does not mean that one cannot achieve their dreams, then the problem of identity will no longer be an issue within our societies.