Jesabel Rivera-Guerra

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Please explain what you do for living.

I am Community Health Director at the American Heart Association. I create strategies to improve heart health in Allegheny County. I also volunteer at the Latin American Cultural Union, where I lead our team in creating strategies to increase visibility of the Latino community through collaboration with different Latino-serving organizations, while preserving and enriching our culture through community-based events.

How important in your identity is being Latino?

I value my identity, meaning that I try to understand it everyday, but I do not let my identity keep me from learning and finding myself in other cultures. I love my language and the way we express ourselves, our music and food and most importantly, our history. Those things are very important to me and I want to preserve it.

Is there something that you particularly value of your nationality or being Latino?

I love the way we, Puerto Ricans, view life and how we protest with music and dancing. “Vive tu vida contento, y así vivirás muy bien, que si te apuras te mueres, y si no te apuras también.” This is a phrase from a plena song that reminds me of the attitude we were encouraged to have when struggling.

Have you been treated differently because of being Latino (in the workplace, in public settings…etc.)?

At the beginning people talked to me like I was stupid. They talked slowly and over explained things. I hated that treatment. It doesn’t happen anymore, but at the time I didn’t say anything and then I blew their minds when I talked and did the work. It doesn’t happen that often, but is still there.