I Never Knew How Black I Really Was: Identity

Riana Texeria with her mentor Shirley Rush

Riana Teixeira, mentored by Shirley Rush, presented to a full audience on University Day. “I had the great privilege of working with Miss Riana on a special topics class about identity development,” Rush said. “And this is a result of her semester of work.” Teixeira, who is Cape Verdean, spoke about coming to Presque Isle from Brockton, Mass., and gaining independence. “I was under my parent’s thumb,” Teixeira said. “As a Cape Verdean, you’re taught you’re really supposed to respect your parents’ wishes and follow their path.” Teixeira found herself not liking the path she was on. “I was like OK,” she said. “Let me go somewhere far where I can do my thing and my parents will be a phone call away.”

Deciding she wanted something different from the fast-paced life she had been living, she enrolled at UMPI. “It was definitely a lot of new experiences coming up here,” Teixeira said. “Seeing simple things. The hospitality here is definitely different from Massachusetts, I’ll say that for sure.” But not everything has been so easy transitioning to. “A big thing was realizing I’m a minority,” she said. “That’s not something I paid mind to when I was home because there were so many different minority groups.” She further explains how it never occurred to her the dominant culture to the non-dominant until she moved to Presque Isle. “There’s little things that remind you every day that oh, OK. We’re different,” Teixeira said.

The focal point of her presentation was identity as well as the concept of race being unavoidable. “It doesn’t matter if you’re Asian, white, black, orange,” she said. “You name it. You have a stereotype.” Teixeira went on to explain how who you are in society affects your opportunity. “Little things like your race, like your gender,” she said. “They will open doors and close some doors.” Her powerful knowledge sparked great conversation at the end of her presentation, as well as a strong round of applause.