Two Names, Two Worlds | Facing History & Ourselves

Two Names, Two Worlds

Jonathan Rodríguez reflects on his name through poetry. How does his name “place him in the world”? 
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In the poem below, Jonathan Rodríguez reflects on his name. How does his name “place him in the world”? How is it a mask, shield, or container?

Hi I’m  Jon...........No—Jonathan

Wait—Jonathan Rodríguez

Hold  on—Jonathan Rodríguez

My Name, Two names, two worlds

The duality of my identity like two sides of the same coin

With two worlds, there should be plenty of room

But where do I fit?

Where can I sit?

Is this seat taken? Or is that seat taken?

There never is quite enough room is there?

Two names, Two worlds

Where do I come from?

Born in the Washington Heights of New York City

But raised in good ol’ Connecticut

The smell of freshly mowed grass, autumn leaves

Sancocho , Rice and Beans

The sound from Billy Joel’s Piano Keys

And the rhythm from  Juan Luis Guerra

I’m from the struggle for broken dreams

Of false promises

Of houses with white picket fences

And 2.5 kids

The mountains and  campos de la Republica Dominicana

And the mango trees

I’m not the typical kid from suburbia

Nor am I a smooth Latin cat

My head’s in the clouds, my nose in a comic book

I get lost in the stories and art

I’m kinda awkward—so talkin’ to the ladies is hard

I listen to Fernando Villalona and Aventura every chance I get,

But don’t make me dance Merengue, Bachata

Or Salsa—I don’t know the steps

I’ve learned throughout these past years

I am a mix of cultures, a mix of races

“Una Raza encendida, Negra, Blanca y Taina”

You can find me in the parts of a song, en  una cancion

You can feel my African Roots  en la Tambora

My Taino screams  en la guira

And the melodies of the lyrics are a reminder of my beautiful Spanish heritage

I am African, Taino and Spanish

A Fanboy, an athlete, a nerd, a student, an introvert

I’m proud to say:  Yo soy Dominicano

I’m proud to say, I am me

I am beginning to appreciate that I am

Una bella mezcla

I am beginning to see that this world is also a beautiful mix

Of people, ideas and stories.

Is this seat taken?

Or is that seat taken?

Join me and take a seat,

Here we’ll write our own stories 1


How to Cite This Reading

Facing History & Ourselves, "Two Names, Two Worlds," last updated June 17, 2017.

This reading contains text not authored by Facing History & Ourselves. See footnotes for source information. 

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