Down These Mean Street

Lariassa, Frías Lara

Down These Mean Streets reveals the history of the real life situation of Puerto Ricans in New York City. It is the autobiography of Piri Thomas, son of Puerto Rican parents- a white mother and dark skin father. There is gutter language and continuous Spanish imagery of the hardship of growing up in Spanish Harlem in the 1940’s and 1950’s. He is native-born and his parents are recent immigrants to the mainland from Puerto Rico. He tells the immigrant experience of growing Puerto Rican, the harsh realities of being dark-skinned in the mainland. The family and community struggles under inevitable discrimination and oppression as a submerged population group. They live a life led in outlaw and fringe status. Piri does not hide anything. He narrates as it was in this land of liberty. From the very start he lets the reader, his audience, that on the mainland you must be white on the inside and outside and there are no exceptions to the rules. 

Puerto Ricans in New York City