Panamanian Americans (Multicultural America:)
Though finding fame in the United States as a major league baseball player, Rennie Stennett poignantly contrasts through an interview stark differences in inter-cultural relationships he found in the United States as compared to the Central American country of Panama. Rennie was born to a devout Roman Catholic, hard working, lower-income family in the town of Colon in 1951. Like thousands of Panamanians who found employment in the Panama Canal Zone since the canal's completion in 1914, Rennie's father was a tugboat operator.
Panamanian Americans normally grew up to work in low wage jobs, but Rennie was one of the fortunate. Gifted in athletic ability he was recruited by major league baseball scouts and came to the United States in 1969 to play professional baseball. In the off-season, Rennie found employment as a dock checker in the canal zone.
In Panama, racial issues had not been part of Rennie's life, but arriving in the United States he was suddenly faced with brazen discrimination. As Stennett recalled,
It was really tough at first. First of all, where I grew up. . . black and white lived there, and we go to same church and everything and no problems. We never had the kind of race problem they had here. I knew about it by the newspapers. So when I came here, 1 didn't even speak to a white...
(The entire section is 1734 words.)
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