How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, Or Halfie by Junot Diaz: Depiction of Social and Socioeconomic Struggles of Minorities and Lower Income Communities

November 30, 2021 by Essay Writer

In “How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie”, Junot Diaz creates a detailed dating guide for a teenage boy in America. Yunior walks us through this story detailing his methodical approach for what to do during a date depending on the type of girl. Each change he makes is construed as just the variance between the individual preferences of each girl or perhaps the actions of a typical teenager attempting to conceal things he finds embarrassing. Although this seems like the classic behavior of a teenager, his method of following distinct elements with certain details suggests a different motive. Through his attempts in disguising his actions, Yunior alludes to the more profound social and socioeconomic challenges faced by minorities and lower income communities that also challenge relationships. Ultimately, the subsequent changes he makes are geared towards maintaining the naïve view that out-of-towners still have about society and indicative of his longing for a life like theirs.

Like most teenagers, Yunior begins preparing for a secret date by convincing his mother to let him stay home while she goes to visit an aunt. Afterwards, he continues his plan by tidying up his family’s apartment; he mentions hiding several different things, but explicitly emphasizes how to handle the government cheese. He states, “Clear the government cheese from the refrigerator. If the girl is from the Terrace stack the boxes behind the milk. If she’s from the Park or Society Hill hide the cheese in the cabinet above the oven, way up where she’ll never see”. This introductory passage is extremely important because it asserts the significance of government cheese, as well as notable difference between the extent of hiding the cheese from certain girls. Unlike his family pictures or the basket in the bathroom, Yunior clearly defines in what manner he must hide the cheese if the girl coming over is from the Park or Society Hill, as opposed to one from the Terrace. By distinctly expressing how he must ensure the cheese is somewhere his dates would never see it, he begins to illustrate how disconnected these girls, or out-of-towners, are from the distinct reality of his situation.

Despite attending the same school, the separation between Yunior’s and the out-of-towner’s perceptions of society are further supported by his minimal effort to hide the cheese when a girl from the Terrace is going to his apartment. Although he is still slightly embarrassed, he knows girls from the Terrace have a more direct understanding of their environment, as well as a sense of empathy towards this matter and thus he isn’t concerned about being ridiculed. Seemingly, both Yunior and girls from his neighborhood understand how valuable the government cheese is to families in their community and how it shouldn’t be perceived as something shameful. However, when he is expecting an out-of-towner, Yunior exposes his discontent with the cheese due to its blemished connotation as a supplement for the impoverished and insinuates to his true desire for a better quality of life. Nevertheless, he still manages to punctuate how significant government cheese is when he concludes the story by saying: “Put the government cheese back in its place before your mom kills you”. Although he continues to disguise his latent motives with shallow statements, Yunior proves his legitimate understanding of the adverse nature of his circumstances. Despite his conflicting thoughts, his moral logic was ultimately successful in overcoming his lustful sentiments for a girl just to ensure the wellbeing of his family and acknowledging the significant value of the government cheese.

In addition to the economic inequality, Yunior also insinuates another fundamental difference in the family dynamics from both areas. Specifically, in their father figures. This isn’t just seen by how he mentions and describes the characteristics and values of each family from the different communities, but precisely by his lack of reference to one within his own life. Right from the start, you recognize this matter when he says: “Wait for your brother and your mother to leave the apartment”. Although it didn’t seem as important at the time, within this statement Yunior clearly defines the entirety of his immediate family. Otherwise, considering his possibly sensual expectations of the dates, if he was even slightly concerned about his own father arriving unexpectedly he would have surely taken at least some precaution. Furthermore, through the single comment he does make about his father, we can see the spiteful impression that Yunior’s family has of him. “Sip some of the Bermúdez your father left in the cabinet, which nobody touches”. This further strengthens the suspicion that his father abandoned his family, as well as to their degree of anger with him because although his family does in fact know that bottle is in the cabinet, they still refuse to touch it for any reason.

On the contrary, as soon as he begins talking about the out-of-town girls he distinctly mentions how their fathers would most likely be the ones to bring them. Yunior continually highlights his subliminal conception of these girls’ fathers and makes their significance to their family evident. Even more so, he glorifies their fathers by his specific dramatization of a phone call with one; “Call her house and when her father picks up ask if she’s there. He’ll ask, Who is this? Hang up. He sounds like a principal or a police chief, the sort of dude with a big neck, who never has to watch his back”. This is crucial in demonstrating his true emotions by showing his immediate panic after just a simple question and exemplifies how uncomfortable he is with speaking to one of their fathers. He purposely idealizes them by expressing his substantial assumptions based solely on the tone of their voice, especially when he compares one to a chief of police.

Unhappy with his life, Yunior shows us a glimpse of some things that these girls have, but are unfortunately inaccessible to him. Even with something as simple as cheese, he genuinely feels the immense social and socioeconomic divide. He shrugs off being called ‘malcriado’ by his mother, but perhaps he sees himself more in a literal translation of this word, which means ‘poorly raised’. He tries to exude masculinity, but his performance is perhaps just the tragic irony of his real life with an absent father. Yunior suppresses his deep desire for a better life, but it’s clear when you think of the bottle of rum in his cabinet which nobody touches and simultaneously refuses to discard. He knows these things are irreplaceable, but he won’t lose the optimism of attaining them someday.

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