Rosa Rincan is a 62-year-old Latina woman from El Salvador. She is now living in Culver City near Los Angeles, California. Due to the struggles, she has faced throughout her childhood and young life, Rincan is extremely passionate about health and making others happy. She has worked in childcare her whole life and continues to work as a nanny. In her free time, she enjoys going on walks and talking with friends.
Rosa Rincan was raised in El Salvador with her older brother in an orphanage run by nuns. Because of her upbringing, one of her main identities is as a Catholic. Rincan describes herself as being raised in a traditional Salvadorean way. She says her childhood had its ups and downs as she had a supportive community but also lived through some tough times. During her childhood at the orphanage, El Salvador was at war with Honduras. Rincan recalls seeing helicopters dropping bombs and having to hide under tables to wait out the catastrophe. Not only did she experience the troubles faced by her nation, but she also went through some personal challenges. At the age of 10, Rincan fell out of a tree and got a cut on her foot. This cut developed into tetanus which is a serious illness caused by the bacteria that lives in soil, saliva, dust, and manure. Rincan’s tetanus put her in a coma, resulting in a two-month-long hospital stay. After regaining consciousness, she was forced to re-learn how to do everything again. Rincan describes this as one of the hardest times of her life.
In the year of 1981 Rosa Rincan began her immigration to the United States. This was a very tough decision for her because she had to leave two little boys in El Salvador. Rincan says her move was exceedingly difficult as she had to remain hidden throughout the whole journey. She reflects on how “they put you in the different trucks. They put us, and I remember they put us in the garbage trucks, in the back of it. To cross us, the group to here, to here. So, it was really hard.” Although this process was exhausting, Rincan says it was necessary as she no longer wanted to be afraid of going outside, or fear of living in her own town. She made the decision to move and although it was difficult, she does not regret her choice. Throughout her immigration process, Rincan describes how she and those she traveled with were terrified of the police, always thinking that they would be caught or asked to show identification. At the end of the journey, Rincan called her brother-in law and he picked her up and helped her start her search for work. She said that at the beginning it was hard not being able to speak English and having to learn all about a new culture, but that she learned and grew from her experiences.
Rosa Rincan’s story reminded me of the statistics shown in the documentary Unsettled. The film states “Since 2016 the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. has been cut by 70%” (Shepard). This statistic is very troubling because the people coming to the United States in search of asylum are often left with no other choice, as they could be in grave danger if they were to stay in their home country. During our interview, Rincan explained how although her journey was difficult, it is far more difficult to immigrate to the United States today than it was back then. Rincan states, “in that time it wasn’t that hard because they didn’t ask you for ID everywhere. Like right now, right now, it’s hard. But in that time, they didn’t ask you for Social Security or ID, it was easier.” After learning of the challenging times and push factor Rincan experienced in her young life, the government’s decision to make the immigration process more difficult astounds me. It troubles me that the government is trying to regress on the progress towards helping and welcoming human beings in need, rather than working on expending refugee and asylum services. Rincan states that if she were to help the American society do better when it comes to supporting immigration, she would put in place a program to help people get here, gain an education, and have access to necessities.
Gender Based Discrimination:
When I asked Rincan about her experiences with gender-based discrimination, she described the inequality in power held between men and women in El Salvador. She described men as being mean to women and thinking they have control over everything. She says that the gender roles were changing little by little but growing up in El Salvador as a woman was tough. I asked Rincan her personal experience with this injustice and she said it did not affect her too much. Her older brother always told her to never let anyone be mean to her or abuse her. She learned from him and kept herself safe.
This part of my interview reminded me of the article “10 Reasons Why Colonialism Strengthened Rape Culture in Latinx Communities” written by Mala Muñoz. This article discusses the history of sexual violence in the Latinx community, the reasoning behind the internalized sexual violence, and why an end has not been put towards this violence. Gender-based discrimination and sexual violence is a large factor that leads many minority women to immigrate. El Salvador has some extreme gender-biased laws and restrictions. Muñoz writes that “a judge in El Salvador sentenced a teen rape survivor to 30 years in prison for giving birth to a stillborn baby.” This is horrifying and makes me extremely glad that Rincan was able to immigrate to the United States and escape this gender-based discrimination and violence.
Latina Pay Gap/ Work Discrimination:
Finding work was difficult for Rosa Rincan as she did not speak English when she immigrated. She says that her language barrier impacted the types of jobs she was able to look for. She shared her experience learning English, explaining that “when I came here. And then I started to work with kids. And I got it little by little.” Rincan was lucky in finding a loving family whom she has worked for as a nanny for over 20 years. When I asked her what she would like in her future, along with some other details, she said that “I want to still be working, a little bit.” This was nice to hear because, despite the challenges in her life, she has gotten to a point where she enjoys her job and lifestyle.
Rosa’s determination and ability to work for so many years reminded me of the articles we read on the Latina pay gap. Elise Gould’s article title says it all: “Latina workers have to work nearly 11 months into 2019 to be paid the same as white non-Hispanic men in 2018”. Gould’s article describes this ethnic and gender pay gap with shocking statistics. She describes how Hispanic women are subject to a double pay gap and the difference between the average Latina and average white man’s paycheck is astonishing. One quote specifically stood out to me in this article, explaining that a “Latina would have to be in the workforce for 57 years to earn what a non-Hispanic white man would earn after 30 years in the workforce” (Gould). This data makes me reflect on Rincan’s determination to continue working. It is unjust that society has not fought to provide her the chance to receive equal pay. Occupational segregation has been working against her and it is inescapable. It is admirable that Rincan has worked for so many years despite societies’ attempts to work against her.
Gould, Elise. “Latina Workers Have to Work Nearly 11 Months into 2019 to Be Paid the Same as White Non-Hispanic Men in 2018.” Economic Policy Institute, 2019, www.epi.org/blog/latina-pay-gap-2019/.
Muñoz, Mala. “10 Reasons Why Colonialism Strengthened Rape Culture In Latinx Communities.” Everyday Feminism, 24 July 2017, everydayfeminism.com/2017/07/colonialism-latinx-rape-culture/.
Shepard, Tom. “Seeking Refuge in America.” Unsettled, 29 Oct. 2020, www.unsettled.film/.