Being Puerto Rican

My mother's family is from Fajárdo, my father's family is from Yauco. My mother's lineage is from Spain (last name: Velazquez) and my father's is from Corsica, an island owned by France and the birthplace of Napoleón (last name: Tollinchi).

I learned that Corsicans, (French-Italians), migrated to Puerto Rico in the 1800s and many settled in Yauco as owners of coffee plantations. My family has a rich history, just like any other Puerto Rican.

Being Puerto Rican shows that races and cultures can mix and produce beautiful people, delicious fusions of food, and a blending of ideas and styles.

One thing that bothers me greatly is the disunity amongst Puerto Ricans. Puerto Ricans from New York (Nuyoricans) are looked down upon for not being able to speak spanish (altho many of them do). Chicagoricans and Puerto Ricans from other states do not like to be incorrectly classified as Nuyoricans - they want to maintain their own identity. And Puerto Ricans from the island are sometimes very offended to be classified as a mainland Puerto Rican altogether. In their eyes, they are "authentic" Puerto Rican.

It troubles me because people of other cultures will look at us and all they will see is a Puerto Rican, no matter where we're from. And Puerto Ricans struggle with being treated as second-class in this country. Cubans have achieved a great success: they have worked very hard and have integrated themselves into American society all the while gaining support from many white Americans on the politics of the island.

Our little island, meanwhile, is not under the control of a decrepit old dictator. (If only it was. No offense to Cubans, but Puerto Ricans are born fighters; we probably would've kicked Castro out by now.) No. Our "enemy" is the largest superpower in the world: the United States. This fight was waged long ago. And now the U.S. and P.R. are in a stale marriage, with Puerto Rico wanting to either fix the relationship or get a divorce, and the U.S. ignoring our pleas, too busy having affairs with other countries to care.

Our commonwealth status is beneath us. We are better than this. There are more puerto ricans on the mainland, working hard, opening businesses, contributing to the American economy than there are on the island. Our beautiful little island, our homeland, is sitting in poverty. People who do not understand that Puerto Ricans have tried several times over the last two centuries to achieve independence or statehood accuse us of leeching off of the American government.

In the beginning we fought, but now, generations of dependency and crooked politicians (off the island and on) have led many puerto ricans into complacency. We do not see an end to our plight.

I hope the situation changes. I hope Puerto Ricans can somehow find unity, at least the majority. We are strong at creating institutions and political organizing (look at the Young Lords, our Universities in P.R., our non-profits like ASPIRA). We could do it...if we took ourselves seriously and rise to the challenge.

We shall see. Still proud to be boricua.

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2 Responses Mar 3, 2009

your last name must start with Anton--------

unity is a nice idea for all Puerto Ricans, all Americans, all people for goodness sake. eltmoore - I recognize your point in the turmoil in coping with Commonwealth (or Territory) vs. Statehood. There used to be a much more open and determined cause for independence as opposed to status quo or even Statehood. I don't know which would be more beneficial or how either could be accomplished once and for all. One thing I do believe, there is an identification that is very personalized within every Puerto Rican regardless of place of birth or residency - it is a pride and it should be a positive characteristic representative of our 'mixed heritage'. after all, it is that special mix that is Puerto Rican, which is what I think you were trying to convey.