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A Reflection of Suffolk Written By An Unapologetic Latina

Martinez amplifies her voice for her fellow student protestors. Courtesy of The Boston Globe.

It wasn’t easy moving to “the Heart of Boston” for school.

For me, the true organs that pump blood through the veins of this beautiful corner of the world live in the array of oils on the shelves of natural hair beauty shops in Roxbury. The Heart of Boston is the sprinkled parmesan on dollar slices from pizza shops in South Boston. It also lives in the sound of children laughing in Dorchester church parks in the heat of the summer.
I was born in New York City among sky scraping landmarks and corner store bodegas where my skin blended in with my caramel and chocolate toned neighbors. When I lived in Miami, my quick Dominican-tongue faded away in the sea of Cuban accents as the sun gifted us all the melanin that we wore proudly. However, when I moved to this particular part of Boston my complexion grew darker by comparison although the sun seemed to have faded.
Before I came to Suffolk, among the largely pale Bostonian faces, I felt fear in raising my voice against those who were quick to judge me by the coarse nature of my hair rather than the validity of my words. Although I am quick to point out the lack of resources for people like me at this university it would be a lie to say that Suffolk’s team of educators did not assist in molding me to become the person strong enough to even write this piece; one that essentially criticizes the marketing team of this very school in the first few sentences. Suffolk’s educators have taught me to be unapologetically Latina, and with the absence of apologies I have curated space for growth.
Thanks to Suffolk, my tongue is no longer weighed down by the color of my skin but is motivated by it. As I reflect on the past few years here, I can affirm that there is a wide range of diversity in our classrooms however this diversity is not reflective on the faculty and staff.
Speaking as a product of the Bronx and Miami – locales full of people who look like me – it takes more than putting people with different skin tones in a room to be called “progressive”. You must act intentionally and with the utmost effort to create a community that holds goals and ideals reflective on the diverse community. Suffolk has put these different people in a room, but still the “unity” in community is simply not there.
While there are educators who have shown me how to critique with poise, there are still those professionals that unknowingly invalidate my voice and others like me every time they call this university inclusive without mentioning that we have so much more work to do. I love Suffolk because I acquired the education and resources needed in order to be heard in this country. A Dominican from the Bronx unfortunately is not as valid as a Dominican from the Bronx with a degree, a proper resume, and a sharp cover letter. Therefore, I use most of my time at Suffolk to remind the community that the heart of Boston is not the state house, a street with two Starbucks, and a pretty new building with floor to ceiling glass windows and Suffolk is made up with more than upper class, white, cis-gender, heterosexual, or able bodied people and we have to start acting like it.
When I graduate next May, I will carry the heart of Boston with me not only with my degree but with my experiences. In every conversation I’ve had with administrators to make this campus more inclusive and with every laugh I’ve shared with friends in the Sawyer Library, I will carry the heart of Boston with me forever.

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