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Rosa Garcia

New York | Owner of Mott Haven Bar & Grill

I am Dominican, born in the Campo of Licey al Medio on January 31st, 1981. I am the oldest of two girls, and as a kid, I loved to play sports, track and also stay out of trouble to avoid a beating. I don’t have a lot of memories of my dad, except for the ones when he would visit from New York to bring us clothes. My mom was a tough cookie. She gave us chores at an early age and I had to help my grandmother clean the house and carry water from the well at the age of 7. She also put me in a knitting class to keep me busy. I had to be perfect in her eyes, especially in math, because I would get hit for every wrong answer I would give her. My mother felt that, because she was always working, my job was to learn math. And if I didn’t, there would be consequences.

What have been your struggles as a Latina?

Being a Latina is a struggle at times, but it is a blessing for me and my kids. Some struggles were because of growing up with a Latina mom. She was always working 2-3 jobs to support my sister and I, leaving no room for “the sex talk”, leaving no room for showing love and affection, leaving no room to teach me much. I had to learn English, make new friends, not be scared of a big city like New York, decide what schools to go to on my own, because my mom did not help me. Being a Latina means we are tough, we get shit done no matter what. You get obstacles, you cry, you get up and figure a way out.

What does Latina Made mean to you?

I am Latina Made because of my mom and grandmother. My mom made me independent, my mom made me tough, my grandmother made me loving, my grandmother made me a caring person, my grandmother made me understand that regardless of all the beatings my mom gave me as a kid, she loved me. Being Latina Made means I made it.

What made you who you are today?

Life made me who I am today – struggles, pain, betrayals, let downs, heartbreaks. But I was determined to not give up, especially now having two girls of my own who depend on me. I am determined to continue to better myself. I am a work in progress and I won’t stop anytime soon.

What advice would you give to young Latinas in our community?

First and foremost, love yourself. Do not allow anyone to ever change how you view yourself in and out. Society can be tough at times, but you need to be tougher.

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