Nuyorican Puerto Rican
I am Puerto Rican.
I am Nuyorican.
I belong to no one place.
You’re too quiet, mocked the Bronx Nuyoricans in grammar school.
You’re a gringa, sneered the Puerto Rico Puerto Ricans in middle school.
You lack attitude, hissed the Brooklyn Nuyoricans in high school.
World War I – USA needs draftees; USA needs manpower.
Solution: Jones Act, March 17, 1917, Puerto Ricans become United States citizens. Send their men to factories. Send their men to war.
1953, Mayor Wagner proclaims: “I and all New Yorkers would welcome any Puerto Rican willing to work.”
Solution: 75,000 Puerto Ricans migrate to the island of New York.
Streets are not paved in gold. My father becomes a dishwasher.
“No dogs or Puerto Ricans allowed” posted in restaurants he works.
Stay quiet, do as you’re told, don’t make any waves… You need to get paid.
“I like to be in America”
Growing up in the South Bronx, mami kept us kids from playing outside. No friends allowed at home. “See Spot run.” Dick and Jane become my friends.
In Puerto Rico, I found books written in English tucked in Grandmother’s closet. Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite, and Menelaus keep me connected to my English speaking world.
Our attic in Brooklyn contained a treasure box filled with books left behind by previous house owners. Betty Smith and Louisa May Alcott became role models.
The Bronx, Puerto Rico, and Brooklyn run in my veins. English, Spanish, and Spanglish are my tongues.
Images Recreating Identity Scenes:
Affirmative Action, Alcapurria, Apollo 11, Alleluia,
Bicentennial, Bacardí, Botanical Garden, Banana tree,
Coney Island, Corner bodega, Carol Burnett, Cordillera,
Donny & Marie, Double Dutch, Dominoes, Diana Ross,
Ed Sullivan, Earth shoes, Elephants, Es Celia Cruz,
Frisbees, Fire engine, Four Eyes, First Communion,
Gerald Ford, Gilligan’s Island, Great Adventures, Gracie Mansion,
Highland Park, Holy Week, Hula hoops, High-strung Hippies,
Iguanas, Italian Ices, Iris Chacón, I Love Lucy,
Jimmy Carter, Jackie O, Jackson Five, José Feliciano,
Kennedy, Kotex, leche Klim, pro-Keds,
Lawrence Welk, Lipton Soup, Luquillo Beach, Looney Tunes,
Malibu Barbie, Midol, “Mira Nena”, Mango,
National Anthem, Nesquick, Orchard Beach, Orchid,
Palm trees, Palisades Park, Piraguas, Prospect Park,
Quenepas, Quaker Oats, Quinceañero, Quiz Shows,
Richard Nixon, Rivers, Roberto Clemente, Roosters,
Sonny & Cher, Seven Lakes, Salsa, Soul Train,
Tito Puente, Telenovelas, Tree frogs, Thumbelina,
Ugly Duckling, Univisión, Vietnam, Vitarroz,
Walter Mercado, Willie Colón, X-Rays, Xylophone,
Yunque, Yodels, Zapatos charol, Zorro.
I don’t belong to any one place.