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"Little Things Are Big" (L3, original), by Jesús Colón

Author: Jesús Colón

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It was very late at night on the eve of Memorial Day. She came into the subway at the 34th Street Pennsylvania Station. I am still trying to remember how she managed to push herself in with a baby on her right arm, a valise [suitcase] in her left hand and two children, a boy and girl about three and five years old, trailing after her. She was a nice-looking white lady in her early twenties.

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Oct 6
Grace Raffaele (Oct 06 2018 11:58AM) : See these Annotations Instructions: https://www.youthvoices.live/annotationsinstructions/ [Edited]
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At Nevins Street, Brooklyn, we saw her preparing to get off at the next station—Atlantic Avenue—which happened to be the place where I too had to get off. Just as it was a problem for her to get on, it was going to be a problem for her to get off the subway with two small children to be taken care of, a baby on her right arm, and a medium-sized valise in her left hand.

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And there I was, also preparing to get off at Atlantic Avenue, with no bundles to take care of—not even the customary book under my arm, without which I feel that I am not completely dressed.

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Woman with a baby in stroller waiting for a train.

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What are our obligations toward others? What influences our decision whether or not to offer help?

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As the train was entering the Atlantic Avenue station, some white man stood up from his seat and helped her out, placing the children on the long, deserted platform. There were only two adult persons on the long platform some time after midnight on the eve of last Memorial Day.

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I could perceive the steep, long concrete stairs going down to the Long Island Railroad and up into the street. Should I offer my help as the American white man did at the subway door, placing the two children outside the subway car? Should I take care of the girl and the boy, take them by their hands until they reached the end of the steep, long concrete stairs of the Atlantic Avenue station?

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Feb 13
Lauren (Feb 13 2020 7:32AM) : this sentence shows the setting [Edited] more

This sentence shows sensory description. It talks about what he sees and it gives the reader a deeper understanding of the setting.

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Courtesy is a characteristic of the Puerto Rican. And here I was—a Puerto Rican hours past midnight, a valise, two white children and a white lady with a baby on her arm [badly] needing somebody to help her, at least until she descended the long concrete stairs.

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But how could I, a Negro

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and a Puerto Rican, approach this white lady, who very likely might have preconceived prejudices about Negroes and everybody with foreign accents, in a deserted subway station very late at night?

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Feb 12
Makayla (Feb 12 2020 8:11AM) : why? more

knowing the climate, and understanding the prejudice that his people face, why would you even consider offering help. I understand that Puerto Ricans must be courteous but you should also be wary of the way people view you

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What would she say? What would be the first reaction of this white American woman perhaps coming from a small town with a valise, two children and a baby on her right arm? Would she say: yes, of course, you may help me. Or would she think that I was just trying to get too familiar? Or would she think worse than that perhaps? What would I do if she let out a scream as I went forward to offer my help?

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Was I misjudging her? So many slanders are written every day in the daily press against the Negroes and Puerto Ricans. I hesitated for a long, long minute. The ancestral manners that the most illiterate Puerto Rican passes on from father to son were struggling inside me. Here was I, way past midnight, face to face with a situation that could very well explode into an outburst of prejudices and chauvinistic conditioning of the “divide and rule” policy of present-day society.

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It was a long minute.

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I passed on by her as if I saw nothing. As if I was insensitive to her need. Like a rude animal walking on two legs, I just moved on, half running by the long subway platform, leaving the children and the valise and her with the baby on her arm. I took the steps of the long concrete stairs in twos until I reached the street above and the cold air slapped my warm face.

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Feb 13
Lauren (Feb 13 2020 7:52AM) : simile more

The author wrote a simile in this sentence which gave the reader an idea of the way he was felling at that moment.

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This is what racism and prejudice and chauvinism and official artificial divisions can do to people and to a nation!

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Perhaps the lady was not prejudiced after all. Or not prejudiced enough to scream at the coming of a Negro toward her in a solitary subway station a few hours past midnight.

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If you were not that prejudiced, I failed you, dear lady. I know that there is a chance in a million that you will read these lines. I am willing to take the millionth chance. If you were not that prejudiced, I failed you, lady. I failed you, children. I failed myself to myself.

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Feb 13
Lauren (Feb 13 2020 7:40AM) : regret [Edited] more

This sentence shows how Jesus regreted not helping the lady. He had second thoughts about whether he was judging her to quickly.

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I buried my courtesy early on Memorial Day morning. But here is a promise that I make to myself here and now; if I am ever faced with an occasion like that again, I am going to offer my help regardless of how the offer is going to be received.

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Feb 12
Ocavio (Feb 12 2020 11:23AM) : Aight so boom more

When the author says “I am going to offer my help regardless of how the offer is going to be received”. The author had a sense of regret when saying this because he didn’t help the white lady. He feels that he could’ve helped her out and she would have thanked him.

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Feb 12
Gabriel (Feb 12 2020 11:26AM) : no cap no cap
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Feb 12
Gabriel (Feb 12 2020 11:26AM) : say less
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Feb 12
Ocavio (Feb 12 2020 11:26AM) : say that

Then I will have my courtesy with me again.

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DMU Timestamp: September 17, 2018 17:21

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Feb 12
Cori (Feb 12 2020 11:21AM) : i believe he was afraid too approach her because of his skin color and he didn't know how she would react to him helping
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Feb 12
Ocavio (Feb 12 2020 11:27AM) : word gee
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