Rosie Perez tired of explaining her culture

rosie_perez.jpgActress Rosie Perez says she got so fed up with trying to explain her cultural background to people that she decided to make a documentary about it, according to Star Pulse:

Rosie Perez was compelled to make her directorial debut a documentary about her roots because she was sick of having to explain her Puerto Rican pride to others. Perez was born and raised in New York but was always taught to take pride in her Latino roots.

After realizing how tough American life can be for Puerto Rican ex-patriots she decided to make a movie about her parents’ homeland. And, while making “Yo Soy Boricua, Pa’que Tu Lo Sepas! (I’m Boricua, Just So You Know!),” the actress recalled childhood memories where she was made to feel stupid – because of her background.


Rosie also sat down with Newsday to answer some questions about the film and her culture, politics and other topics related to Puerto Rico. She made it clear in the interview that the topic of Puerto Rican statehood wasn’t something she was willing to opine about — she’s leaving that up to people who actually live on the island:

The documentary mentions the last time Puerto Ricans voted on their status, whether [the commonwealth] should be less or more incorporated into the U.S. – what is your answer to that question?

My answer is that since I’m not an islander, I don’t really have a right to say which way it should go. It would be like me as a New Yorker deciding if Arnold Schwarzenegger should still be governor.

One of the answers was “None of the above” – what does that mean?

That’s not one of the answers, that’s the popular vote: none of the above. Basically what it’s saying is there isn’t a viable option, in their opinion, that has been presented yet.

They didn’t want it to change but they didn’t want it to stay the same, either?

No, they’re not saying that. That’s your interpretation.

OK, what does it mean?

And that’s part of the problem, and that’s part of the reason why I made this documentary. Everyone had their opinion, and it’s like, why don’t you go and ask the people? They’re making a clear statement. The items that have been brought to the table are not what they want. And I think that the United States should take that into serious consideration and start asking them exactly what they want.

Read the whole interview on Newsday.com.

Via / StarPulse.com and Newsday

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28 comments on “Rosie Perez tired of explaining her culture
  1. Wait, Rosie Perez is Puerto Rican?!? Who knew?!?

    Seriously though, I’m not too sure I understand what she means by “sick of having to explain her Puerto Rican pride to others”. Where people questioning her about it? Is being proud of what you are something you have to defend…by making a movie?

  2. Funny how Latinos are still having to explain themselves into existence to Anglos. Many of us predate los Anglos in North America by a couple centuries, collectively we’re the largest linguistic and ethnic “minority” in the country, and yet we’re still going out of our way to explain who we are to them. The U.S. really is suffering from a literacy crisis.

  3. hated the way Ms. Perez portrayed Puerto Ricans! We are not all ghetto – and we do speak Spanish- not Puerto Rican! The slang and regionalism is common to EVERY language – I can not speak for the uneducated persons you have run into. But our language, español is intact, our island and culture is our pride.

    Puerto Rico is better off economically than any other Caribbean island! I’m glad we are not like Cuba, Dominican Republic or Haiti, free from American influence. Free for what? To live in Cuban or Domincan poverty not the American meaning of poverty, the third world meaning of poverty. We are not victims we are resilient, humble,honest and intelligent people.

    Our ancestry does include strong African roots, but not “black” roots- I have nothing in common with Black Americans not the culture, food, music, values, etc…. (do the research). Besides black can be anyone from the Peruvian indigenous people to the aberigines of Australia, to Pakistan and India.

    The analogy between Pedro Albizu, Che Guevarra and Martin L. King could not be more off the mark.

    MLK was a great hero a true revolutionary- an honest man who saw a day when we would all be free.

    Che Guevarra helped Castro create the Cuba that is today, is that why boat fulls of Cubans risk their lives to come to America and even Puerto Rico- because Che made such a better place for them?

    Rosie Perez had an awesome, bright idea but she politicized it too much. We have so many things to be proud of as a people – don’t bring shame to our people by victimizing us. I am not a Nuyorican and perhaps that is why I can’t share your views. I am Puerto Rican, I speak Spanish, I am not a victim and I have been able to accomplish many of my goals in America. If there is a part 2 in the future – less politics more history more stories of triumph- there are many.

    In all honesty the film left me feeling like a second class citizen- in need of pity. Let’s not bite the victim bait- it does not help anyone. We can recognize that there were wrongs but we can not dwell in the past- we have what many other races were stripped of and even gave up willingly- our culture, our roots let’s grow from it, teach our children our true history.

    Asi lo veo yo!

  4. I must take offense with your implication that Nuyorican = ghetto and poor. I saw the documentary with my mother, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico and who has politics different than my own, and she felt that Rosie Perez did a good job.

    Part of the huge problem among Puerto Ricans, both on the island and here in the U.S. is the insistance of no relationship with “blackness”. You yourself said it- blackness is more than just U.S. blackness so be so resistant to any connection between Rican-ness and blackness. Having done the research (much research) I can tell you of the strong ties between the blackness and Rican-ness. Arturo Schomberg ring any bells? Jesus Colon?

    My daughter left the film with a sense a pride and she is a child. I’m sorry you didn’y have the same experience.

  5. Megan – blackness? Please tell me what the ties are? I’m sure missing that one.

    If you meant African – then I agree with you all the way! Truth is our African lineage is alot stronger than Blacks in America.

    Beleive it or not there is a HUGE difference, we have more in common with the Espanoles, but none of us (hopefully) go around saying, “we’re European” the white man sees just black or white – let’s not be as ignorant as some of them. When you are so proud of who you are and you know who you are (not learned from a 90minute special) you do not want to lumped into another’s category.

    Have you asked an African if they consider themsleves the same as Blacks?

    Sorry, Maegan, I know you have good intentions in wanting to make the strong correlation, but it’s just not there.

    In fact – I personally think (tell me what you think) that many, many Ricans, especially the men have strong Arab features of course with some exceptions. You know what I mean by Arab right? Jordan. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, etc. Now we all know that because Arabs controlled spain for 700 years many of them obviously, for lack of a better word, mixed. When the spanish came to P. Rico they were from regions of Spain which had heavily mixed with the Arabs, in addition they brought with them Arabs, specifically Lebanese.

    Now just because some of our people may look middle eastern, although there is a clear lineage, would any of us go around saying we’re Arab americans? I hope not

    The same with Black Americans – they were so stripped/robbed from their ancestry that they lost it altogether. Blacks have had to make up their own culture in America, which is amazing – that in such a brief period they have been able to accomplish so many beautiful things, they have truely left an imprint in this world with their music, physical abilities (it sounds racist but its not), beutiful skin, bodies, gorgeous facial bone structure, and massive contributions not only to America, but to the entire world through medical advancements, research, inventions, etc. But honey that’s theirs, not ours.

    Ours is just as good but it’s different.

    Also, you can not compare racism on the island to the one here in America – that I get called negrita, that my brothers’ wife’s family told her not to marry that negrito is true – but that’s where it ends. I spent so much of my life in Puerto Rico and my dark skin was a compliment not an insult, not ever!

    Us P.Ricans have to think better of ourselves, we need to have higher self-esteem and not be impressed with just “being on TV” when it means we are portrayed as non-spanish speaking, thus mumbling idiots, chip on our shoulders, flag waving (not negative), illegitimate baby factory, cousin-dating, clueless about our history, victims. You should (you probably have) read some of Ricardo Alegria’s books. He is by far the best historian on Puerto Rico – he gives you the good, the bad and the ugly- then you decide.

    Cuidate,

    Dawn “Damaris” Maldonado

  6. “Our ancestry does include strong African roots, but not “black” roots- I have nothing in common with Black Americans not the culture, food, music, values, etc…. (do the research). Besides black can be anyone from the Peruvian indigenous people to the aberigines of Australia, to Pakistan and India.”-Dawn

    I am a Black Puerto Rican (probably mixed, but predominantly Black) & PROUD. That’s too bad that you don’t see anything in common with African Americans. I for one can find things in commmon with any ethnic group that I meet. There are those that LOOK for differences, and those that RECOGNIZE the things that we have in common, which there are many. I know I have many things in common with my Black brothers & sisters worldwide; culturally, linguistically, and gastronomically. (but I guess you have to know your culture as well as others to do that.) In this country it is common for us to blame immigrants & Blacks for any & all of our problems, that’s just the way it goes. With most of the blame landing on the most recent immigrants (present day Mexicans) & Blacks. In this country Blacks, Indians, & immigrants are on the bottom of the totem pole. When new immigrants arrive here, they are lumped toghether with these same people. And in an attempt to separate themselves from this negativity they will try to, not physically but socially, separate themselves from Blacks. This is also done so that the new immigrant can prove that they are as “American as apple pie” by ridiculing Blacks. (This is what happened with the Irish & Italians, and now they are accepted as White Americans). It’s just ashame that someone with shared culture and heritage would partake in this as well. I’ve noticed that some Black Latinos will especially do this, because they are often mistaken for African Americans (hence why many will keep their accent forever as not to be confused). As far as language goes just because someone doesn’t speak Spanish doesn’t mean they are not educated. Just because you learned Spanish from your grandmother doesn’t make you anymore intelligent than anyone else. We can’t choose who we are but we can choose to be proud of who we are. Actually Latin Americans in the U.S. who speak broken spanish might actually be the ones that are more educated than those who learned Spanish at home. Their broken Spanish shows that they made a CONSCIOUS decision to learn the language without it being forced on them, despite the daily usage of english. That shows that they chose to learn their roots.

  7. Yet another one missing the entire point on Black vs. African -

    Although I agree with you 100% I’m not sure why the whole blame and immigration thing came up – because I don’t think I ever mentioned that – I am simply poinitng out that we are different. Is one better than the other? Come on? please, not at all – but does that make us the same?

    No way – I guess that in the point of view of Nuyoricans you probably have ALOT more in common with Black Americans thna the islanders – but that comes from your exposure to the American or should I say the mainland culture.

    But it’s completely proper for you to have many things in common with your friends, neighbors, co-workers….. I do too.

    I am probably missing something, like maybe the fact that “famous” (movie-star famous, not home-grown famous, i.e M. Luther King, Sojourner Truth, Cesar Chavez,Luis Munoz Marin) black people have indoctrinated some blacks to beleive they are and forever will be victims – and now we have our own “famous” rican doing the same. I guess if you feel that your black skin (mine too) automatically intertwines you to a particular people, then your culture, traditions, values, history, is perhaps based only on that, the color of your skin.

    I just can’t find it in my heart to say that
    You see I have just as much in common with blonde hair blue-eyed P. Rican as I do with the P. Ricans that look like me – knappy haired, dark brown skin. I do not have that same connection with Anglo-Americans or Black-Americans.

    I can enumerate the differences but I think you get it, no?

    It’s okay to say we are different – it’s not racist we should not feel pity or heaviness in pointing out our differences. What a horrible boring world this would be if all the black skinned people were the same, the whites, and the yellow too. 3 races, 3 cultures, 3 traditions, 3 languages, 3 homelands.

    I am too proud of who I am to water it down and try to be like someone else. Besides, black americans have accomplished so much, I doubt they would want or need us piggybacking on their success.

    P.S. if you don’t think there are such differences pick up any black publication from the last 2-3 months and see how easily we are signaled out as the “latinos” taking jobs from them. Look at the latest polling data that indicates blacks just as much as whites feel that everyone must speak English in America.

    I don’t share that view. Sorry

  8. Megan – blackness? Please tell me what the ties are? I’m sure missing that one.

    If you meant African – then I agree with you all the way! Truth is our African lineage is alot stronger than Blacks in America.

    Beleive it or not there is a HUGE difference, we have more in common with the Espanoles, but none of us (hopefully) go around saying, “we’re European” the white man sees just black or white – let’s not be as ignorant as some of them. When you are so proud of who you are and you know who you are (not learned from a 90minute special) you do not want to lumped into another’s category.

    Have you asked an African if they consider themsleves the same as Blacks?

    Sorry, Maegan, I know you have good intentions in wanting to make the strong correlation, but it’s just not there.

    In fact – I personally think (tell me what you think) that many, many Ricans, especially the men have strong Arab features of course with some exceptions. You know what I mean by Arab right? Jordan. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, etc. Now we all know that because Arabs controlled spain for 700 years many of them obviously, for lack of a better word, mixed. When the spanish came to P. Rico they were from regions of Spain which had heavily mixed with the Arabs, in addition they brought with them Arabs, specifically Lebanese.

    Now just because some of our people may look middle eastern, although there is a clear lineage, would any of us go around saying we’re Arab americans? I hope not

    The same with Black Americans – they were so stripped/robbed from their ancestry that they lost it altogether. Blacks have had to make up their own culture in America, which is amazing – that in such a brief period they have been able to accomplish so many beautiful things, they have truely left an imprint in this world with their music, physical abilities (it sounds racist but its not), beutiful skin, bodies, gorgeous facial bone structure, and massive contributions not only to America, but to the entire world through medical advancements, research, inventions, etc. But honey that’s theirs, not ours.

    Ours is just as good but it’s different.

    Also, you can not compare racism on the island to the one here in America – that I get called negrita, that my brothers’ wife’s family told her not to marry that negrito is true – but that’s where it ends. I spent so much of my life in Puerto Rico and my dark skin was a compliment not an insult, not ever!

    Us P.Ricans have to think better of ourselves, we need to have higher self-esteem and not be impressed with just “being on TV” when it means we are portrayed as non-spanish speaking, thus mumbling idiots, chip on our shoulders, flag waving (not negative), illegitimate baby factory, cousin-dating, clueless about our history, victims. You should (you probably have) read some of Ricardo Alegria’s books. He is by far the best historian on Puerto Rico – he gives you the good, the bad and the ugly- then you decide.

    Cuidate,

    Dawn “Damaris” Maldonado

  9. I am a Puerto Rican born and raised from the island and I have never lived in New York, however I completely disagree with Dawn’s comment. While there are differences between African Americans and people of African descent from countries outside of the US it is completely ridiculous to say that you have NOTHING in common with blacks. The fact that both are of African descent already makes that statement untrue, because that’s a similarity right there. I think that you should be the one doing research honey. Perhaps you have do not know enough about African Americans to know that. Maybe you have watched/read a flawed, stereotypical view of African Americans. Do you think you have NOTHING in common with Spaniards? Probably NOT.

  10. Well because I am an open to learning from others could you please go ahead and tell me the cultural, traditional, social, or even genealogical similarities… Besides the fact that the white man took people from Africa and brought them to every last corner of the western hemisphere, I do not know what this idea that we so much in common with Black Americans. What is it?
    The reason I ask is because here in the US living next to Mexicans, Peruvians, Venezuelans, Black Americans, Africans (the white ones and the black ones), Palestinians, Jordanians, Spanish (españoles)and plain ‘ol white folks – I have yet to find this huge common denominator besides the fact that we are all part of the human race – and I guess in a white world all us “minorities” have in common that we are the “minority”.
    No we can debate it intelligently and again I would love to learn more, so if there is a true correlation- I’d like to know it. It’s important for me to know! I guess that’s probably where Rosie Perez- miserably failed at explaining – What’s a Puerto Rican? – Well, what is it?
    Webster’ Dictionary says: Puerto Rican: being of Puerto Rico (yikes)
    Well then if we can not be Puerto Rican by nationality (where you were born) then how about by culture? Well when I think of culture I think of the following:
    Beliefs as in religion 85% of us, although not me, are Roman Catholic.
    Music: Decimas from Spain, aguinaldos derived from decimas, plena, created by us, and of course Salsa, which comes from Puerto Ricans in New York who used the Cuban influence in Puerto Rico from the 1930’s and rock, plenas, Cuban son montuno, chachacha, rumba and mambo.
    Instruments: el cuatro influenced by Spanish vihuela and guitarillos, el guiro, maracas from the Tainos, panderetas or peandero’s from Africa.
    Dance: Bomba from West Africa, other African dance influences are the cunya, lero and babu dances.
    Language: Spanish from Spain, with a few regionalisms (not the slang) unique to the island and the Carribean.
    Social Forms: 80% of the island votes in the general election, most mainlanders have relatives on the island and visit the island frequently having a place to call home, 54% of the children are born in wedlock and 31% are born to couples living together, the rest are born to single or widowed mothers, the average household size of Puerto Ricans is 3.15, and more
    Is it Holidays? Dia de los Reyes, Eugenio María de Hostos, dia de la abolicion de esclavitud, Constitución del Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, B-Day, Luis Munos Rivera, Jose de Diego, Día del Descubrimiento de Puerto Rico, carnaval, las octavitas, etc. By the way it’s amazing how in Puerto Rico we honor and celebrate Cristobal Colon and he is despised by in most Black social circles (NAACP)
    Tools: Hammacas, pilon, pottery.
    • Is it our DNA/Ancestry that we have in common? “…..”1999 a researcher at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez received a grant from the National Science Foundation to determine the continental origin of the mtDNA of Puerto Ricans through the analysis of a representative sample. The results of the analysis of approximately 300 samples identify 62% as having Amerindian maternal mitochondrial DNA , 30% as having African maternal mitochondrial DNA and 8% as having Caucasian maternal mitochondrial DNA [2]. Conversely, patrilineal input as indicated by the Y chromosome, showed that 70% of all Puerto Rican males have inherited Y chromosome DNA from a male European ancestor, 20% have inherited Y chromosome DNA from a male African ancestor and less than 10% have inherited Y chromosome DNA from male Amerindian ancestor. Making Amerindian and European the two largest components of the Puerto Rican genetic pool. These results cast doubt on the notion that the Tainos disappeared from Puerto Rico by the end of the sixteenth century.
    I can go on but I would like to know what the similarities are.
    As an individual one might have a lot in common with a person like my best friend and I, although she was born in Peru to Egyptian and Italian parents, and is Jewish. We have other things in common like our kids go to the same school, we enjoy shopping, we share alot of the same personality traits, we live in the same neighborhood, etc,

    Perhaps you are correct, I have to do more research on Black americans to understand the correlation. Maybe you can point out some of those traits.

    Dawn “Damaris” Maldonado

  11. I don’t know about Cristobal Colon being “despised” by black Americans, maybe despised is too strong of a word. Rarely is even really talked about. In general, in most places in the US, the government, schools, etc, Columbus Day is no longer a holiday. This is mainly due to the recognition that he did not discover America (already inhabited) and he lied about several things concerning the expedition. The last time I remember “celebrating” or getting a day off for Columbus Day was back in 1990. Maybe it’s different in other parts of the US, I have only live in the Northeast, but here Columbus isn’t a big deal to blacks or whites. He comes up during some Italian celebrations but many scholars now even question if he was actually Italian.
    Just my two cents

  12. I am not Puerto Rican, I’m white, but I am a Graduate Student studying Sociology, with a main interest in Latin America/Caribbean. Since I have lived all of my life in New Jersey and Boston, MA I have specifically been interested in Puerto Ricans, both in the states in on the island. As an outsider, I may be a bit ignorant or bias, but from the start of my interactions with Puerto Ricans, both in US cities and on the island, I have thought that there were several similarities with African Americans. I will say that overall Puerto Ricans living in the US have more in common with African Americans than those living on the island, but they also have more in common with white Americans as they are much more influenced by these people on a daily basis. From being on the island I think that Puerto Ricans there are much more in touch with their African heritage than even African Americans in the sense that African Americans don’t have dances/traditional music that are so extensively and obviously African. Since you stated that you were open to information, and I love discusses these types of things, I’ll post some info. I want to be accurate and not just add my own judgements.

  13. - Geneticist studying African Americans state that the average Af. Am is mixed with about 25% European ancestry and 5% Native American. Although probably not Spanish/Taino,and more significant African ancestry, nearly identical racial mix to Puerto Ricans.(I can provide more info. about this if you would like as the topic was a part of a project by a local Harvard professor.)
    -In sociology courses we often discussed the strong familial ties common to both African Americans and Puerto Ricans.(Close relation with extended family, importance of cousins, godparents, idea of having “relatives” who aren’t actually related by blood)
    -Common law marriage or long term relationships without official marriages is much more common between these two groups than others

    In the US:(Socially)
    -Puerto Ricans and African Americans much more likely to live in poverty (PRs actually more so than African Americans)Actually this is true for the island too as more than half of Puerto Ricans on the island live below US poverty line.
    -unfortuantely many young men are incarcerated at disproportionate rates in both groups
    -Both have disproportionate rate of HIV/AIDs infection, diabetes, obesity (PRs have the highest of all Latinos)
    -Puerto Rican and African American women are more often single mothers than other ethnic/racial groups.
    -Faced similar racial discrimination. Housing discrimination is one of the main reasons so many Puerto Ricans live near or in African American neighborhoods.
    - I have heard Americans speak of Black English, just as I have heard people speak of Puerto Rican spanish as una lengua negra.
    *When it comes to PRs in the US the similarities are extensive, I could list much more).

    Some of these may seen a bit stereotypical and are more my own observations, but
    -both enjoy dancing, and many do so quite well
    -enjoy getting together with family and friends
    -hip hop culture, and hip hop derived music is very popular with both groups.
    -more inclined to believe in/practice spirtual aspects of christianity/spirituality.
    -on average both tend to have more children than whites

    All in all I will AGREE that Puerto Rican culutre is more AFRICAN than African American. But that in itself is a strong connector. “Black” however is not a word idicative of any one country or culture, so “black” could be used to describe a Puerto Rican, an African American, a Brazilian, etc.

    I may post more as I think of some things. It’s actually interesting to me that you don’t think that they are similar.

    Just curious, do you live in the states or the island?

  14. I have lived on the island and currently in the states – and that’s exactly what I wish my fellow P. Ricans would understand that when they place themselves in the same category as another people – in this case African Americans, the negative attributes will be associated to you instead of the positive. The things you mention have everything to do with being poor in America than being white or black.

    The language thing is really offensive to me because EVERY person born in America to immigrant parents will lose much of their language! As a linguist I have never heard the term lengua negra! Most of the Pr’s in America are 2nd 3rd and even 4th generation.

    Just like “nuyorican’s” there are Texans and Chicano’s who are 2nd and 3rd generation Mexicans and do not master the Spanish Language – This is exactly what happened to the Italians, Germans and many others.

    Some of the things you mentioned are stereotypes – but many stereotypes are true. About the closeness – I have not met a single person from ANY Spanish country that does not feel the closeness to distant relatives or even non-relatives – Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Venezuelans, Cubans, Columbians, etc. As a minority that has everything to do with the plight of being an immigrant to this country. Most immigrants arrive to live with other family members until they are able to get on their feet. That is just a fact! This is the same for non-Latinos Italians, Arabs and others.

    As far as the christian/protestant issue that holds true for ALL of latin america, italy, ireland, etc – not only blacks and PRicans,

    Everyone in the WORLD has more children than whites, EVERYONE!

    You say that another thing we have in common is poverty- I don’t know if you know but in that same boat are Columbians, Mexicans, Dominicans, Cubans, many Vietnamese, Laotian, Salvadoran, Guatemalans, okay basically all non-whites, with a few very small exceptions. Although I disagree with the 50% poverty in Puerto Rico because there are differences in the way of life – How does it compare to the other Spanish countries? Mexico median household income is under $7000/year; let’s not even take into account Cuba Guatemala and El Salvador. In addition, African Americans with more exposure to income and education opportunities in the States have a 46% poverty rate. Mexican immigrants with children born in the US are almost at a 65% poverty level.

    I’m sorry but from your point of view you look at a P-Rican, and Blacks live in the ghettos, have a lot of babies, don’t get married and are poor. I think that holds true for every group of immigrants (at least the Latino’s) that enter the US – is that why are alike, or is it that if you are not white then you’re “something else” other than white, well then I guess we can then say we are alike because we are “something else” The American perspective on this is interesting because when you begin to look at most racial minority groups in America, they all share the same poverty rate, housing, education, with very few exceptions perhaps Asians , Indian’s and Europeans immigrants.
    Do you think that perhaps you are thinking more along the lines of all poor, non-white people are the same and have the same socio-economic culture?

    Is being poor a culture? I guess it could be – the culture of poverty. You would then have to say that the majority of immigrants are all the same regardless where they come from, where they end up is what makes the final determination? I disagree.
    My culture goes way beyond what my pocket book indicates – my culture is my heritage, my people, my land (even if it’s an American territory) , my language, the music, the history, the holidays, the landmarks, looking at the map and telling my children, that’s where we are from –that where abuela is and that’s where Tia lives, making the yearly plans to spend yet another Christmas holiday and Los Reyes on the island –which by the way there is no better place to be during the holidays, learning how to make those oh so very complicated and burdensome pastels, and sitting down to enjoy them with the family, which is tías, tíos, abuela, abuelo, primo-hermanos, primos, primos, primos and the primos of our primos, having a blue-eyed great grandfather and a black-skinned grandmother and cousins every color in between, it’s a having an uncle at every single gathering reach behind the sofa and pull out his guiro and the cuatro, and by grandma who has every ailment in the world get up to try and dance that little bouncy dance that they call plena (I seen plena and that ain’t it) , going out on parrandas, seeing this huge pig/hog for 2-3 weeks in my grandma’s “batey” then one day he’s gone and before you know it he’s spinning on open pit fire, when I can’t be there, wondering how good are the fiestas patronales going to be this year, skipping rocks in the creek, catching crab on the beach, wondering if that place was really monkey island and if there were still monkeys there, sitting en “la plaza” (every town in PR has one), watching “la pelea de gallos”, and being chased by one, playing en la marquesina, picking those funny looking oranges, which by the way are NOT orange, but are as sweet as can be, despite the fact we were warned, eating so many mango’s, guayabas and quenepas it made us throw up. Watching some poor soul from “allá fuera” spraying bug repellent all over and screaming at the sight lagartijos and salamandras while the locals laughed it up, most of all it’s coming to the mainland and trying to preserve all those beautiful memories, customs, traditions, stories by digging a whole in the backyard to roast a pig – while the neighbor’s watch in awe, it’s having chicken’s in the backyard of your northwest side Chicago home or knowing someone who has chicken’s in the backyard because “los Americanos no saben criar gallinas”, only to fatten ‘em and kill them for supposedly the “best chicken soup you ever had”, it’s smuggling a coquí in your luggage just to find it’s dead on arrival, it’s seeing all your fellow P.Ricans in the states proudly display their PRican flags, not because they necessarily dislike America but because we come from a darn good place with darn good people, darn good traditions, it’s remembering our past and passing it on to our kids.
    That is why I have a problem when people say we are alike, it’s only to point out the negatives- which are common with the vast majority of poor people in America and around the world. If you knew more about who I am, who my people are, what we hold dear to our heart, you would respect that most of us want to be different, being different keeps us Puerto Rican being all the same makes us American where we are only labeled by economic standing. That’s why I have a problem with PRicans falling for this method of labeling us. I have brown skin and I don’t have a problem with any race/ethnicity especially Black American’s. But I’ll continue to be P.Rican, even if others prefer to surrender their identity to a watered down, politically motivated, social economic version of culture.

    Dawn Maldonado

  15. I apologize if my message was offensive. It wasn’t meant to be. I agree with you that a lot of what I said was true of all latin americans and not just Puerto Ricans, but to a certain extent all latin americans have things in common with African Americans, specifically if you live in the United States. I don’t think all Blacks and PRs live in ghettos,are poor, don’t get married,etc, but unfortunately a disproportionate number of them do. I didn’t just make that up, those are actual statistics. That’s not to put those groups down, because as a sociologist (future sociologist) I am aware that there are socio-historical reasons for that. While it is terrible that those groups, and other persons of color have to deal with those issues, denying the facts does not help. Anyone from anywhere can go to an American city and see right off that Latinos and African Americans make up a large part of the population, specifically in poorer areas.

    I’m not sure why you disagree with the statistic of poverty on the island, but here is plenty of info/sources to support that claim.Here is info about that straight from a Puerto Rican website (www.topuertorico.org) “in comparison with the United States, Puerto Rico is still below that of the poorest state in the mainland, Mississippi. In 1989, Puerto Rico received 72 times more food stamps than Mississippi, half the island’s population currently receives food stamps.”
    From: Equal Justice Magazine (http://ejm.lsc.gov/EJMIssue8/povertyinpuertorico.htm):
    “Despite the rambunctious demeanor of a citizenry always ready for a festival (there are more than 500 a year here), life on the island is no tropical paradise for many of Puerto Rico’s 3.8 million inhabitants. Forty-five percent, or roughly 1.8 million people, live at or below the poverty line.”
    (The poverty level as defined by the HHS in 2004 was $15,670 a year for a family of three, or $18,850 for a family of four.The poverty level as defined by the Census Bureau in 2004 was $14,776 a year for a family of three, or $19,484 for a family of four.)

    Of course they don’t necessarily have third world poverty, but they aren’t a third world country per se and weren’t being compared to one. People should be assessed within the environment they live in, not the world at large. That doesn’t mean that one isn’t poor just because they aren’t poor in a third world country.

    I also agree that many immigrants share the familial attachments of African Americans and Puerto Ricans. I wasn’t saying theses things in a closed minded way. A lot of different groups of people have things in common. The only reason I framed them in the African Americans and Puerto Ricans is because you stated that you didn’t think those two specific groups had anything in common. So of course everyone else has more children then whites and a whole list of things. That’s precisly why it was ridiculous for you to say that African Americans and Puerto Ricans have nothing in common.

    It’s more than just being non-Anglos or “something else” because there are similarities that other immigrant groups don’t share. I don’t think that all immigrants are the same or share the same socio-economic history. However, there is a collective immigrant experience. Just as there is infact a “culture” of poverty.

    A lot of the similarities are not even necessarily things I can explicitly describe. Subtle things show the similarity. For example, I went to a comedy show with an African American friend and his cousin, and one of the comedians was Puerto Rican. He spent a lot of time talking about his family dynamics, things that PRs do,etc. While I thought the guy was funny, my African American friend had a personal understanding of the jokes. He and his cousin would name a relative who did what the comedians relative did. That’s not something I can explicitly peg, but it is a commonality between the two groups that I do not, and probably will never have.

  16. Dawn-

    [ Our ancestry does include strong African roots, but not "black" roots- I have nothing in common with Black Americans not the culture, food, music, values, etc.... (do the research). ]

    What exactly were you responding to here?

  17. What the man was trying to say was that the common traits that we do share are the fact that we do live in poverty have a strong sense of religon and often face the same set circumstances while living in the U.S.But that doen’t mean we should be combinded into one group we are both proud of who we are and where we come from to be grouped into one.At the same time we do have lots of love for one another.And those are the commonality’s we do have together.

  18. That’s our biggest problem as Human biengs especially us americans we want to fit everyone into a certain mold, “All latinos do this or black peolpe are that”
    I am tired of stereo types. There is good and bad in all of us ,whataver color or nationality we may be. Even if we may have something in common like our color it doesn’t mean we have to be or act a certain way. Accept every individual as they are! Get to know me before judging.

    thanks,
    A puerto rican who was born in new jersey

  19. Fuk the yankees in over a decade or so theyll be outnumbered *evil smile* Asi que ya sabeis..a follar sin parar colegas lol

    Un saludo

  20. Dawn is doing what some Afro-Latinos tend to do…pretend they have nothing in common with African Americans so they can appear to be a special “other black” and not have the stereotypes attached to them( Domincians are notorious for this). I caught what she was trying to do from the moment I read her comment. As well she has went to several Puerto Rican/Latino related boards posting her same comments. What kills me is that I am a white skin Puerto Rican and I am VERY proud of my African/black roots and feel that we have alot in common with my African American brothers and sisters. I am married to a black American man and my children are “black”. Its sad that she is a Afro-Latino, but she wants to separate herself as if she is a “better version of black”. Dawn needs to remember that the imagery of any minority that is in the media in most cases will always be negative and the stereotypes were created by the dominant culture as a way to keep blacks and other minorities boxed in. Sure there are people that may fit the stereotypes, but you can find that in any race. You need to take a step out of the hood for a while and turn off MTV and BET, if these are the only indicators of “black” culture for you, Dawn. Take a trip to Atlanta, Georgia . The wealthy,successful, highly-educated, entreprenuerial black Americans there will blow your mind. Black American women in particular, are excelling at records numbers in education and in positions in corporate America so they may have a problem being lumped into a category with you and your type.

  21. “I’m sorry but from your point of view you look at a P-Rican, and Blacks live in the ghettos, have a lot of babies, don’t get married and are poor.” I do think Dawn you have never been to NYC or listened to hip hop or reaggaeton. In the states this is common and most Boricuas I know are quite urban and proud of it. Also Liz the Diva You were right about alot of things but our situation is different. I am Dominican and our culture is different and we are mixed and the reason we stress this is the Haitian element in our culture. If we did not they’re numbers are enough to be running our country. This is why we dont label ourselves as “negro” as mush as “trigueno” or negrito” moreno” etc… Please do your reasearch. Haitians are also notorious for not siding with African AMericans rude, and vote republican in great numbers due to Clinton. We are not Notorious for not acting black we all know we have black blood we just dont abide by the one drop rule. If this wasnt the case why do you think we are very educated and have many successful “black” rappers Faboulous, Juelz Santana, Merlin Santana(actor), Kat De Luna (whos videos has jamaicans for pete sake), AZ , Cassidy. Next time know our culture before you dis you Boricuas are notorious for being jealous of independent Dominicans. As for Dawn come to the states you will get judge like the rest of colored people and see why all of these groups tend to stick together. Also here Inidians Pakistani’s ets… tend to look down on blacks and do their best to act white and distance themselves from blacks just as many so called conservative professional black women today.

  22. I sat and read all the comments and here is my take: Yes, Ricans have closer ties to American Blacks. I do not know where Dawn is getting her information from. I suggest she takes a visit to Caroline and Santirce PR. In the United States, where have Puerto Ricans settled? In black neighborhoods. Puerto Ricans played a significant role in Hip/hop and what is Reggaton? It is spanish hip/hop. At lest 1 out of every b-boy was Puerto Rican
    My family is mixed with Black American,
    Puerto Rican, and Domincan heritage. Other than the fact that my skin is dark, I have no simularities with the African culture. I travel to PR and DR often. Over there, the majority of people look, dress, and act like me.There is a BIG difference when compared to Africans.
    Because I am mixed, I can speak on Dominicans as well. Yes, some Dominicans will adamantly declare they are not black due mainly to sterotypes here in the states. However in the Dominican Republic, they have NO problems being called black. Black is just the skin color. It’s funny-this has been going on for years with people of color. We have no unity. When it is all said and down, the vast majority looks at us all as being “black”. Remember black comes in all types of shades.

  23. You know this is exactly what I have been going through in my life. I am half African American and half Puerto Rican (although my grandfather was a Spaniard). I am not black enough for African Americans and not hispanic enough for Puerto Ricans. So, I just consider myself American. I have much more in common with America than I do with Africa or Spain or Puerto Rico.

  24. Well duh shes latino purto rican…
    but anyone who is disagreeing with her should lay off, those are her thoughts and no one should judge them..because thats what a DoCuMeNtRy is,,to let your thhoughts out and tell about your life; so as for all the steriotypes about purto ricans and “blackness” …dont let your ignorance fuel ur opinion.

  25. The only ignorant one seems to be YOU since you selectively choose what should be posted. Her doc was flat and showed me nothing new about pr people. Deleting posts that don’t agree with you is what the two of you are good at. Fakes. Vivirlatino should be called vivirmentiras.

  26. Petra, our comment policy is clear. Disagreeing with a point of view doesn’t get a post deleted. Defaming people by using their sexual histories of proof or not of their “realness” is wrong. You are welcome to rephrase your comment without personal attacks.

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