College years boost cultural pride

When I first found out that The Famuan wanted someone to write an article about being a Hispanic student at an HBCU, I reacted in several ways. Mostly, I was excited.

Other times I was confused and I kept asking myself “What do I write about?”

The only thing I can write about is my experience here at FAMU.

My four years have gone by pretty well. No one has yet to make me feel really uncomfortable about my being a Hispanic Rattler.

However, along my trek I have encountered some interesting people.

First up were the curious folks. These were the people who needed help with their Spanish, or reminded me how their best friend back home was 1/8,000 Dominican.

Some of the curious women called me “papi” every chance they had and my nickname provided them with ammunition for countless Scarface jokes.

Next, were the oblivious. They came with a dude- you’re-black-just-like-me attitude that was kind of refreshing.

Finally the ignorant came along. They were my favorite. They would ask me questions like “What do you know about that? You’re Spanish!” They say things like, “The Spanish people in Miami do this, Castro does that,” like all Cubans are part of some secret society working under him.

I had to school them and let them know that Cuba is over 75 percent black, and slavery in Puerto Rico was still going on after it had been abolished in the United States.

Those darts had to either be extremely sharp or thrown with great force, for ignorance raises a mammoth shield.

By the way, my father is a black man from Cuba and my mom is half black, half white, all Puerto Rican, in case you were wondering if I had the credentials for writing this article.

Over the past year I have noticed an influx of not only Hispanic students but students either born in other parts of the Caribbean or possessing roots there.

A walk across the Set shoots me back home for a couple of minutes as it is not uncommon to see Puerto Rican, Haitian, Dominican, and Trinidadian flags emblazoned on a shirt, hanging around a neck or sewn to a backpack.

I remember when finding a decent cup of Cuban coffee in this town was about as difficult as finding Osama bin Laden, but things have changed.

Being here has allowed me to realize how knowing a second language is truly an advantage.

Spanish was a godsend during spring break in Mexico, but we won’t get into that.

More important, being at FAMU helped me appreciate the heritage I once took for granted.

Even though I’ve never had the pleasure of residing in Chateau de Paddyfote or the Sampson Suites, my experience here is one I wouldn’t trade.

When it comes to Hispanics we do not all look like Antonio Banderas or Salma Hayek.

We cannot all dance to salsa music, Believe it or not, we do not all speak Spanish.

We represent FAMU pretty well, being that just like Hispanics, Rattlers come in all shapes, sizes and colors.

Hasta luego.

Aurelio Mitjans, 22, is a senior broadcast journalism student from Miami. He can be reached at