Edward’s Interview with Clotilde Brown

Background

Born in Rio Abajo within Panama City, Panama in 1953, Mrs. Clotilde Brown was very lucky to grow up with people of different ethnicities, backgrounds, and cultures. Rio Abajo was a very tight knit community as she had the ability to be able to go anywhere she wanted and had neighbors that cared for you as if you were family.

“When the neighbors saw you doing something that was out of the way, they would talk to you or some of them what they would do is go and tell your mother and then when you come home your mother would ask, “how was school today?” and sometimes by the tone she used you knew that someone went and spilled the beans, so you had to come clean and tell her.”

-Clotilde Brown

Growing up, she raised not only by both parents, but her aunts and uncles as well. Being one of 9 kids, Mrs. Brown was expected to excel in and out of the household. She was expected to do her certain chores around the house and always find a way to get great grades in school. Mrs. Brown has remained a faithful Christian and believes God to be her only role model.

Coming to the United States

Clotilde Brown did not come to the United States until she was already a graduate student in Panama with a bachelor’s degree in Medical Technology. Being in her 20s and living in the United States was not an easy task. Language was never an issue for Mrs. Brown, but unfortunately for her she could not continue a career in medical technology due to the fact that she have to travel to San Francisco to get her certification, but had no relatives there at the time. While she does like the United States, one problem she had was with other Latinos.

“Where I do have a problem in comparison with my country is, for example, back home we don’t care if you are from República Dominicana, we don’t care if you are from Venezuela, we don’t care if you are Mexican. A Hispano is a Hispano. Here I do find that there is more division between Hispanos that speak Spanish. They have a tendency that they want to congregate more towards their own and yes you might speak the language but because your skin is not as light as theirs, they might want to shut you off or [make you feel] you are not hispanic enough because of the fact that you are darker.”

-Clotilde Brown

It’s very upsetting to hear that there is still division amongst Hispanics in the United States. Many Hispanics will not congregate with other types of Hispanics just because they are not from the same country. In an already divided country it sucks to see that people who already don’t get the type of fair and equal care that other Americans do, push each other away.

Emigrating to the United States is not an easy task and finding a safe place to stay can be even harder sometimes. I can only imagine how comforting it must be to be surrounded by people who had to go through the same experience. Finding refuge at work with other immigrants is crucial, but unfortunately that’s not the case for some immigrants in the United States. Journalist, Niraj Warikoo, writes in the article, “Immigrant workers at Michigan greenhouse: We were cheated, tricked into deportation,” about how Mexican immigrant, Eduardo Reyes-Trujillo was unfortunately sent back to Mexico. Warikoo writes, “But he said his dreams were crushed after he and other workers were cheated out of their pay despite working long hours.After they complained, he said that they were lured and tricked by their employer into being detained by federal immigration agents in a Walmart parking lot, and eventually sent back to Mexico” (Warikoo Paragraph 3). With things like this happening in the United States it is very important to have all types of Hispanics united and look out for each other.

Occupation

Unfortunately, Mrs. Brown was not able to work in her preferred field, but this did not stop her from finding a job that she could love. Now working as an underwriter for Nex Cap Home Loans, Mrs. Brown got her start with the help of a lady named Pam.

” she hired me to be a receptionist, but then when she looked at my resume, she was like “no, you’re too smart to be a receptionist” so then she began to help me process loans and then I began to ask questions and then little by little she would put me to do one thing and then she would put me to do something else and then also she saw that the way we work is also different.”

-Clotilde Brown

Learning something new from scratch is not an easy task, but with hard work, determination and discipline Mrs. Brown managed to work her way up in the company.

” If I had to stay another 10 or 15 minutes after work to finish something, I didn’t mind doing it. Meanwhile, people were “Oh I can do it tomorrow.” We have a different set of goals in regards to our working abilities. We are just more…I don’t know. We just want to make sure that we finish what we start, and we do it the best way that we know.”

-Clotilde Brown

Fortunately for Mrs. Brown she works under great management and believes to not be discriminated against for being a Latina women of color. That is not the case, however, for many other Latinas in the United States. We learned in Eva Longoria’s, “Pay Gap by the Numbers,” that Latinas make 45% less than white men and 30% less than white woman (Longoria 1).

Having met Mrs. Brown through my mom at work, I can personally say that she is a very hard worker. Not only have I noticed that myself, but my mom continues to as well. My mom has worked with Mrs. Brown for many years now and has nothing but good things to say about her work. The lessons she was taught at a young age about working hard have very clearly paid off when it comes to the type of work she does.

Home Life

A loving mother of two, Mrs. Brown continues to find a balance between her work and home life in order to maintain a happy lifestyle. In addition, she continues to acknowledge the presence of God in her life and does her best to spread the word of the bible.

Mrs. Brown believes that she does he feminist work a bit differently than others do. She states:

“My feminist movement as a woman is praying about other women to help other women. That’s my feminist movement. It’s more of a spiritual fight because going to the lord about certain issues”

-Clotilde Brown

In class we have learned about countless feminist and certain feminist movements, but what stood out to me in a lecture given to us by Doctor Borgia was the story of Rebecca J. Cole. Rebecca J. Cole was the second African-American woman to get an MD in the United States and went on to open the Women’s Directory Center which helped provide free legal advice and healthcare to abandoned pregnant women. 

It was an honor to listen to the life story of Mrs. Brown and see how far she has come since living in the Dominican Republic.

Full audio clip

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