Today is National Puerto Rican Pride Day, and the streets of Manhattan will play host to an estimated two million attendees. I occasionally post about Puerto Rican matters- in the course of working in the South Bronx for fifteen years, off and on (I was a rover, having assignments all over the NYC metro area), I developed an appreciation for Puerto Rican culture. My friends and co-workers, solid working and middle class people who came from humble origins, embraced me and taught me about their music, their food, their solid family values. I was introduced to the music of Eddie Palmieri and reveled in the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater's annual performance of scenes from my beloved Don Quixote. Working Sunday mornings with a solid mountain-born boricua, I ate so much mondongo that another co-worker was convinced that the two of us were 'a couple of drunks'. Puerto Ricans, and the diaspora Nuyoricans, are an integral part of the metro area's fabric- they tend to work as civil servants: police, firefighters, health care professionals, teachers.
This year, though, in the wake of the revelation (no surprise) that almost five thousand people died as a result of Hurricane Maria, the parade takes on a new urgency. This year, the parade will not only be about pride, but about resistance. The Puerto Rican people were abandoned by the federal government, led by a chief executive and a coterie of advisors who have an antipathy for people of color, especially people de la herencia latina. Last month, a Republican candidate opined that Puerto Ricans who settled in Florida in the aftermath of Maria should not be allowed to vote. As a mental exercise, could you imagine a political candidate suggesting that New Jerseyans resettling in Pennsylvania after Sandy should not be able to vote? Actually, PA being a swing state, don't answer that... Not only are Puerto Ricans US citizens, but Puerto Ricans have a tradition of service in the US armed forces. I find it shameful that such loyal Americans have gotten such a raw deal in their hour of greatest need, but I have hope that they will be a major force in reclaiming the government of the nation. Yo tengo fey en la alma de mis amigos puertorriqueños, y esta fey me da esperanza.
This being a post about Puerto Rico, I can't finish off without posting some good salsa, so here is Puerto Rico by Frankie Ruiz:
Al fin, recuerdan que no son olvidados.