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Tuesday, June 13, 2006Que Viva Puerto Rico!
“People were not born to be slaves, even if those slaves were dressed in gold and ate at the tables of their masters. There was a divine principle underlying the situation: human beings had been created free and should, therefore, move in the direction of freedom. The United States had tried to make young Puerto Ricans forget their language and culture -- to make them speak English and think of themselves as North Americans. They wanted to buy Puerto Ricans with banal things. The United States gave Puerto Rico nothing, exploiting the territory 24 hours a day, while it was claimed that Puerto Rico could not survive without the United States. Puerto Rican heads might be bowed, but they were a people who would rise from their knees.”
This statement was made by Lolita Lebron a Boricua revolutionary or terrorist depending on your point of view. Lebron was affected as were many Boricuas by the racism and injustices they faced in this country and in their homeland at the hands of The Americans after they invaded our island, but I’m not getting into politics today. This post is about celebration; the celebration of mi gente, my people.
The point I am trying to make is this; Lolita Lebron was right despite outside influences we as Boricuas still hold fast onto our culture, no matter how long our families have been in this country we still view ourselves as Boricua first and foremost. While we may love this country and the opportunities it has given us opportunities that came with a price, opportunities that we as Boriquas have had to fight for we still love it none the less. We love this country as if it were a favorite uncle, however Borinquen is our mother and the love for one’s mother is above all others.
A BF of mine once got offended when he heard my New York born and raised mother refer to herself as a Puerto Rican. He attempted to correct her calling her a Puerto Rican-American and in turn got schooled by her. She told him,” I am not an American; I am Boriqua besides carbon Puerto Rico is part of the USA. Ask any person of Puerto Rican descent what they are and they will tell you they are Puerto Rican no matter how many generations have been born in this country.” You know the woman is right. There is something about that island that calls out to us. It crosses oceans, and transcends borders. Maybe it is the spirits of our ancestors, maybe it is entrenched in our blood but it’s the one place we all long to be whether born there or not. It is our home.
On Sunday NYC threw a party for in honor of Puerto Ricans and 3 million people of all races came to celebrate with us ‘cause everyone knows ain’t no party like a New York party thrown by Boricuas. Our parade is the biggest in the USA even bigger than Macy’s Thanksgiving Jam. It was a tremendous source of pride to see kids like my siblings embrace their history and wear their pride on their sleeves. Once upon not too long ago when my parents and grandparents were growing up in this city being a Boricua was something you were made to feel ashamed of. As my mami is fond of saying, “once upon a time they dissed us and now they wanna kiss us.” Ya damn skippy they do and why shouldn’t they? We Boricuas have a lot to be proud of.
Today I capped off the love fest by watching a documentary called ¡Soy Boricua Pa Que Lo Sepas! My mom insisted we all watch the documentary together and for my siblings and I it was a chance to have the history my mother has taught us since conception added onto. A chance to see the history of my people documented on film, the real history that is not taught to us in school. For my mother it was a chance to see the familiar faces of her childhood. For my father it was a chance to see the difference his forefathers made in this country. Mom gasped and cried when she caught a glimpse of her mother in the documentary fist raised defiantly in the air shouting, “¡ Boricua defiende lo tuyo!” She tried to see if she could spot herself in marching in a demonstration her mother had taken her to when she was only 7 yrs old. She didn’t see herself but she did see her mother’s cousin being arrested. She saw a several of her mother’s friends. Two stood out in particular because they had taught her how to ride a bike one beautiful summer day. While she knew them as tio pedro and tio Miguel the rest of the world would come to know them as Boricua literary legends Pedro Pietri and Miguel Piñero.
There were so many important aspects of Boricua history discussed in this documentary I urge you all to see it you’ll never look at a Puerto Rican the same way again. Now I fully understand what Lolita Lebron meant. Anyone that knows me knows I wear my love for my people, my culture like a badge of honor. But tonight I fell in love with my people all over again. As one of the former Young Lords said in the film, “ Other Latinos approach me every where I go and they thank me they tell me everything they have in this country they owe to the Puerto Ricans because we were here first we fought the fight for out rights, we paved the way for other Latinos.” So as I sit and write this I tip my hat to all my Boricuas past, present, and future ¡ Que viva Puerto Rico! Yo soy Boricua.
Labels: Puerto Rico
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