African American Studies


Milagros is a former teacher in the Bronx who immigrated to the United States from Cuba. In her interview, she discussed her experience escaping from Castro’s government as well as the manner in which society had shaped her identity.

Prior to living in the United States, Milagros resided in Cuba for 20 years. She stated that in Cuba, race was not as important as it was in America. Instead, status was determined by which family you had been born into. However, she did say that neighbors in Cuba were like relatives to her family, and recounted incidents where she had met people from her hometown in the United States. Milagros recounts that her family had to move separately from Cuba, and that Castro’s takeover in 1959 changed everything they knew about the island’s culture.

After arriving in the United States, Milagros attended Brooklyn Community College, which she said had a majority Jewish population. Upon her graduation, she took a job teaching in the Bronx—something that her mother said resembled a Cuban tradition where new teachers went to work in the countryside. After two years, Milagros and her mother moved to the Bronx on a permanent basis. Many of Milagros’ relatives were concerned about her living and working in the Bronx given the borough’s reputation for crime and addiction. (As evidence of this sentiment, she recounted a relative hearing about crimes in the Bronx on a radio station, as well as having to convince her mother that they would not see addicts when they moved).

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Milagros Part 1.WMA (20064 kB)
Milagros Part 2.WMA (44234 kB)
Milagros Part 3.WMA (33377 kB)