As writer Jesús Colón discovered on a subway journey in new York City in the 1950s, perceptions about one’s own identity and also the identities of rather can impact the decisions world make about one another.

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It was very late in ~ night on the eve of Memorial Day. She came right into the subway at the 34th Street Pennsylvania Station. I am quiet trying come remember just how she regulated to press herself in through a infant on her appropriate arm, a valise in her left hand and two children, a boy and also girl around three and five year old, trailing after her. She to be a nice-looking white lady in her at an early stage twenties.

At Nevins Street, Brooklyn, we observed her prepare to acquire off at the following station—Atlantic Avenue—which taken place to be the ar where ns too had to get off. Simply as it to be a problem for she to acquire on, it was going to it is in a problem for her to acquire off the subway through two tiny children to be taken treatment of, a baby on her right arm, and also a medium-sized valise in her left hand.

And there i was, additionally preparing to acquire off in ~ Atlantic Avenue, v no majority to take care of—not also the customary publication under mine arm, there is no which ns feel that ns am not totally dressed.


As the train to be entering the Atlantic path station, part white man stood up from his seat and also helped her out, place the children on the long, deserted platform. Over there were only two adult persons on the long platform part time ~ midnight ~ above the night of last Memorial Day.

I might perceive the steep, long concrete stair going under to the lengthy Island Railroad and up right into the street. Have to I sell my help as the American white male did in ~ the subway door, put the two kids outside the subway car? must I take care of the girl and the boy, take it them by their hands till they got to the end of the steep, lengthy concrete stairs the the Atlantic avenue station? 

Courtesy is a properties of the Puerto Rican. And also here ns was—a Puerto Rican hours past midnight, a valise, two white children and a white lady through a infant on her arm needing somebody to aid her, at the very least until she descended the lengthy concrete stairs.

But how could I, a Negro1 and also a Puerto Rican, approach this white lady, who very likely could have preconceived prejudices about Negroes and also everybody with international accents, in a deserted subway station very late in ~ night?

What would certainly she say? What would be the very first reaction of this white American woman perhaps coming indigenous a small town v a valise, 2 children and a infant on her best arm? would she say: yes, that course, you may aid me. Or would certainly she think that i was just trying to obtain too familiar? Or would she think worse 보다 that perhaps? What would certainly I do if she let the end a scream together I went front to market my help?

Was i misjudging her? So numerous slanders room written every day in the day-to-day press against the Negroes and Puerto Ricans. Ns hesitated for a long, long minute. The genealogical manners that the most illiterate Puerto Rican passes on from dad to child were struggling within me. Here was I, way past midnight, confront to confront with a situation that could really well explode into an outburst of prejudices and chauvinistic conditioning of the “divide and rule” policy of present-day society.

It was a long minute.

I passed on through her as if I experienced nothing. Together if ns was insensitive to she need. Choose a rude pet walking on 2 legs, I just moved on, fifty percent running by the long subway platform, leaving the children and the valise and also her through the baby on her arm. I took the procedures of the long concrete stairway in twos till I got to the street above and the cold wait slapped my warmth face.

This is what racism and prejudice and chauvinism and also official artificial divisions have the right to do to people and to a nation!

Perhaps the lady was no prejudiced after ~ all. Or not prejudiced sufficient to scream at the coming of a Negro towards her in a solitary subway station a few hours previous midnight.

If you were no that prejudiced, i failed you, to ~ lady. I understand that over there is a opportunity in a million that you will check out these lines. I am willing to take it the millionth chance. If friend were no that prejudiced, ns failed you, lady. Ns failed you, children. I failed myself to myself.

I hidden my courtesy beforehand Memorial work morning. However here is a promise that i make to myself here and also now; if ns am ever faced with an occasion favor that again, ns am walking to market my help regardless of just how the sell is walk to it is in received.

Then i will have my courtesy v me again.2


: the word Negro was typically used in the early and also middle years of the twentieth century to refer to an african American. That use shows the time period. During the 1960s, the hatchet black changed Negro in usual American usage, and also today African American is frequently used rather of black.

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2 : Jesús Colón, A Puerto Rican in brand-new York, and Other Sketches (New York: worldwide Publishers, 1982), 115–17. Reproduced by permission from international Publishers.

What was Jesús Colón’s dilemma top top the train? What were the different determinants he to be weighing in his mind?What to be at stake in Colón’s decision? exactly how did he feel around his an option afterward?Why perform you think he created this story? Why carry out you think Colón title his essay “Little Things space Big”?Create a various ending to the story. What perform you think Colón might have done? just how do girlfriend think the woman can have responded to the activity you have imagined because that Colón? explain the impact of that action on Colón.How carry out your concerns about how others might perceive you affect your actions?