Interview by Jacqueline Manetta
Name: Dianna Batalla
Where you grew up: Long Island, New York
// What was it like growing up as a Hispanic woman?
Growing up in Long Island, I didn’t really feel Hispanic because Long Island really was a melting pot. I didn’t feel different, and my ethnicity didn’t seem to define me. But, I did feel like my ethnicity defined me when I went to college at St John's. I felt different than everyone else there.
// Have you ever felt discriminated against because of your ethnicity?
Not in the sense of a job. I was actually hired because of my ethnicity and because of the fact that I could speak fluent Spanish. So my ethnicity actually helped me in that sense.
// Have you ever felt discriminated against because of your gender?
I wouldn’t exactly say discriminated against, but I’ve definitely felt treated differently than men. I have had supervisors who are men at my job that made me feel uncomfortable or made me feel as if I was less because I am a woman.
// What is the biggest struggle you have faced as a woman?
Professionally, sometimes my values and morals are hard to maintain at work. It's difficult to be contained at work when I see things that don't match my values and that I don’t agree with. I have to bite my tongue and not speak up because I don’t want to lose my job.
// How did you overcome this struggle?
I overcame this struggle by realizing what is important to me. As long as I am following my morals and values, I realized I can’t control the people around me.
// Explain a time in your life when you felt strong.
Moving from Long Island to Queens. Getting married and getting divorced. All these jumps that I have made in my life have made me feel stronger, as I can accomplish anything.
// Explain a time in your life when you felt defeated.
Probably when I got divorced. I felt weak and tired and defeated. I felt as if I lost, and there was no hope, I felt as if my life was over. It was probably the lowest point in my life.
// How do the obstacles you have faced in your life help build the woman you are today?
In all the different experiences I've had, I’ve learned something from each obstacle I have been through. Going to college, getting my profession, becoming a mother, getting divorced, going back to school at 52 years old. Even though my struggles have taught me a lot, I am still growing.
// Who is your biggest role model and why?
My mom. She has been very strong, and now that I am older, I’ve realized how impressive –– the things she has done really are. She came to this country from Ecuador at the young age of 20 to give her family a better life. Now that I am older, I can really appreciate all the sacrifices she has made for me and my siblings to get us to where we are today. She was brave enough to come to a new country with no knowledge when she was a young adult, and I admire her for that.
// What is your biggest goal in life and how will you accomplish it?
Being the best mother I can be –– is my biggest goal in life. I will accomplish my goal by learning from my mistakes that I have made throughout the years and growing from them. I also try to reflect a lot on how my mom raised me. She raised me to be a strong woman. So, I try to take some of her own parenting styles and incorporate them into mine. - GGH
CONNECTIVITY CONTRIBUTORS REACTIONS
Long Island –– home to polo shirts, golfing, and white BMWs –– or that was the vision I had in mind before reading the interview conducted by Global Girlhood’s Jaqueline Manetta with Dianna Batalla. While reading Dianna’s story, I was immersed in her vividly rich world that quickly dissipated any of my preconceived notions. I couldn’t help but notice her resilience and openness. She reminded me of the kind of woman I aspire to be. I initially expected to hear a great deal about the limitations placed upon her as a Latinx woman. I was happily surprised to hear that this was not the case for Dianna. Rather, she found that her background actually proved to be a tool that equipped her with strengths in life – perhaps a result of her stunningly positive attitude. This perspective also goes to show how there is no unforgiving archetype for any group of people. It is important to step away from ubiquitous monoliths that depreciate unique individuals into a monotonous collective. Dianna’s version of Long Island and being Latinx in Long Island reaffirmed this for me.
The migrant experience is one that transcends time and race, and it is one I know too well. As an immigrant myself, and coming from a migrant community, I relate quite deeply to how Dianna felt awestruck by her mother’s strength and sacrifice in abandoning the familiar and moving to a new country for the future of her kids. I have a similar appreciation for my own mother, and it was beautiful for me to read that this bond between mother and child not only withstands the test of time but flourishes with it.
Dianna’s experience in the workplace has forced me to think about the collective experience of women in the workplace –– especially when just a couple of decades ago –– that role was less established. It fills me with pure happiness to hear how loyal Maria remained to herself and her beliefs despite conformist pressures from the outside world. It is still upsetting to read about gender inequality, and I completely understand the fears Dianna had spoken out. When the cost of speaking out is one’s –– it is no easy matter. As a mother, I am sure this choice was even harder for Dianna to grapple with. It also makes her decision to stick to her morals even more admirable. Despite your situation in life or the obstacles you may face, there is a choice in how one reacts to difficult situations. Time and time again, Dianna chose to do what was right over what was easy. In taking the less beaten path, she is educated, independent, and true to herself. Dianna’s story is one I will carry on with me and continuously return to whenever choosing between pursuing virtue or ease.
- Laeticia Allache
Dianna Batalla has experienced the inequality between women and men in a work setting. For instance, she struggled to stay silent even when her values may be compromised so that she could earn a living to help herself and her family. This story has enlightened me to the fact that inequality affects everyone. Every woman, no matter what age, skin color, or race, will have to go through some sort of discrimination just because of the gender they were born into. However, I love how wonderful Dianna handled these experiences. It helped her become stronger and allowed her to remember that her values should never be forgotten. I believe that her interview will inspire many girls around the world to always remember who they are and what they believe in.
Dianna is also a woman of divorce. I have always admired mothers without a husband. They are strong women who have had to go through what many of us never wish to experience. I admire Dianna for staying strong and using her divorce to strive harder. She was able to go back to school at the age of 52. She went beyond what most people at her age would do. I truly applaud her for everything she has accomplished and for never giving up despite the circumstances she had to face. Dianna Batalla’s story is truly a remarkable one. From her experiences of inequality while she was working, to her divorce, to her going back to school at the age of 52. She will surely make an impact on women everywhere through her inspiring experiences, stories, and actions.