Being American by birth didn’t stop the discrimination against El Centro director
ELYRIA — An American citizen since birth, Victor Leandry still experienced “culture shock” upon moving to Lorain County.
Born in Georgia where his father was stationed in the U.S. military, Leandry lived in a “poor, violent” community in Puerto Rico throughout his teens, he told an audience at the second day of the “Confronting Hate: Creating Community” conference held Tuesday at Lorain County Community College.
When he and a friend moved to Ohio, Leandry said he carried only his luggage and less than $300 in his pocket.
His friend lasted only three days. “He said to me ‘Victor, this is not for me! Who invented the four-way stop?’” Leandry said, to laughter.
Ohio’s gray skies and the idea that plants go dormant in winter were foreign to Leandry: He pulled up what he thought were all the dead plants in the garden of his first residence until a neighbor told him they had only gone dormant in the cold.
(“Looking back, I should have done some studying of Ohio,” Leandry joked.)
The executive director of El Centro de Servicios Sociales in Lorain since 2004, Leandry earned his master’s degree in social work from Cleveland State University and for seven years was the Midwest aﬃliate representative for the National Council of La Raza, the nation’s largest Latino civil rights advocacy organization. He also served as a board member of NCLR, now known as UnidosUS, from 2011 to 2014.
Other laurels he received included being recognized both by the Governor of Puerto Rico for community outreach as a teenager as well as a Distinguished Hispanic Ohioan Leader award from the Ohio Commission on Hispanic/ Latino Affairs in 2008. His presentation Tuesday was part of a day in which guests, on the final day of the two-day conference, heard all about the Latino experience in Lorain County through the lens of prejudice and misunderstanding.
Source: The Chronicle-Telegram Read full articleTags: American, conference, crime, discrimination, hate, Hispanic, Latino, Puerto Rico, USA