Back in 1951

Voorhees, NJ

I departed from my beautiful Island of Puerto Rico and joined the Air Force. Back in those days racial bias was an ongoing thing in the United States of America, but not back in Puerto Rico where the color of a person didn't matter as long as that person had money. The bias back home depended only on whether a person was rich or not.

I was sent to Lackland AFB in Texas for basic training. After six months of hard training I was allowed a 12-hour pass off base and while in town I crossed a street as I usually did back home; that is to say, I crossed at the middle of the street rather than at the light, where a policeman was attending to traffic. The policeman saw me and blew his whistle. I turned around and asked him, "Are you whistling at me?" He answered, "Yes, you, Mex, get off the street." I said, "But Mr. Policeman, I am not a Mex." "So what are you?" he said. I answered, "I am a Puerto Rican," and the policeman answered, "Same shirt, get off the street or I'll throw you in the lam."
This event was just one of the few cultural shocks I had as a new resident of the United States of America and while a member of the United States Air Force.

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