The Future of NYC Looks Latino but Puerto Ricans Aren’t Faring Well

According to a report (PDF) by the Community Service Society of NY (full disclosure, I once worked for CSS), the future of NYC is Latino. Hispanics are the second-largest racial/ethnic group in New York City. With 2,290,007 individuals, they make up 27.6 percent of the entire city population, second behind whites, who are the largest racial group at 35.6 percent. Most of the young Latinos in the Big Apple speak English well or very well. however for some of those Latinos, the future looks bleak.

* A greater percentage of Latino youth live in poor and near-poor households than any other racial group. Fifty-six percent of Latino young people live in households with incomes less than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

Interestingly enough, according to the report, it is not the immigrant Latinos that are struggling the most. It is Puerto Rican young people.

Roughly 17 percent of young Puerto Rican men were not in school, employed or looking for work, compared with 9 percent of Dominicans and 8 percent of Mexicans. Of those Latinos born in the United States, only 55 percent of Puerto Rican youth were enrolled in school, compared with 68 percent of Dominicans and 67 percent of Mexicans. Regardless of birthplace, about 33 percent of Puerto Rican families lived below the poverty line, compared with 29 percent of Dominicans and 27 percent of Mexicans

Many will be shocked by these numbers considering some of the relative privileges that Puerto Ricans have over other Latino groups including citizenship and time in the United States. In fact some Puerto Ricans have come down against the report disputing the statement that Puerto Ricans in NYC are worse off than other Latinos. For those of us who are Puerto Ricans in NY we see the disengagement in our communities and in our own families even.

A huge part of the problem is poverty and lack of real investment in Puerto Rican communities. When I say investment I am not talking about the creation of so-called “empowerment zones” which I have seen do nothing but bring big box brand stores to the hood without offering people real career options. I am talking about education, housing, and health. The basics.

Also I would dare say that the in-between colonial status of Puerto Ricans does nothing for our self worth as a people. How can we expect young people to feel affirmed if their very nationality isn’t? How can we expect young people to want to participate in the electoral process, for example, if abuelita back on the island cannot vote because of the second-class nature of colonial citizenship?

I would also argue that as violence against Latinos rises, with a special focus on immigrants, especially Mexicans and those perceived as Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and violence against Puerto Ricans becomes more marginalized.

In NYC, some organizations held a press conference in response to the report, especially the troubling picture it paints of Puerto Rican young people.

On October 31 on the steps of NYC’s City Hall Iris Morales, longtime Puerto Rican activist and educator said:

“We stand with our Puerto Rican young people. It is disheartening to me that the children of New York City’s oldest Latino community have been forgotten. Because of Puerto Ricans’ unique status as both U.S. citizens and immigrants at the same time, Puerto Rican youth experience a unique set of concerns related to self-identity, migration, access to services, and other issues.”

And I think Iris’s quote really resonates and contains part of the answer. While many hate to admit it, clinging to colonial citizenship, the Puerto Rican experience, that of my parents, for example, is an immigrant experience, and that should draw all Latinos to work more closely together understanding that we are all being targeted by the state and that the only way we will grow in power as we grow in numbers is together.

Via / WNYC

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16 comments on “The Future of NYC Looks Latino but Puerto Ricans Aren’t Faring Well
  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention The Future of NYC Looks Latino but Puerto Ricans Aren’t Faring Well | VivirLatino --

  2. yes yes yes mala! i’mma write about this and how it intersects with sexuality and reproductive justice and will quote you! i’m trying to wrap my head around so much right now but i keep coming back to this report. other thoughts i have re: this is the commodification of a PR identity, how racial classifications complicate this for many of us, and how to make sure being PR doesnt become a “risk factor” in some public health research that will use this data to prove such a point.

  3. America has never accepted it’s native people since gringos came in the illegal boat known as The May Flower in 1620. Americans do not get upset with Latino hate or hate crimes that target all Latinos. It’s an acceptable core value for Anglos/African Americans to express hate towards Latinos.

  4. Iam a Puerto Rican female who in secret continues to have a relationship with an African American male for 38 years now. We got married in secret way , his family did not want what they called “N”Ricans” running around with their last names.He beat the baby out of me at the time. I have been kept in the closet all these yrs. Racism towards all Latinos in America is like baseball and apple pie.Why do you think Obama’s Latino Ethnic American Cleansing which deports 1200 Latino humans day from USA citizens or not gets an OK blind eye from UN and USA gov. andWhite+Black American media. No one will call him out on his race plan for Latinos. We are not valued in America like Jewish people,Blacks,Muslims or Gays.

  5. Re: “We are not valued in America like Jewish people,Blacks,Muslims or Gays.”

    None of those groups are valued either, but they speak up more. They call racism over every little thing. We don’t. People waited YEARS before organizing against Lou Dobbs. Any other minority group would have complained right away. We really don’t have independent civil rights groups with articulate, media savvy leaders. The people at NCLR are rather unimpressive.

  6. I think we need an organization that relies on dues paying members rather than on donations from corporations and rich philanthropists. Unless you pay your own way, you will always be a slave to somebody else’s agenda. Latinos as a group have billions in spending power, so this is possible.

  7. Re: ” I have been kept in the closet all these yrs”

    It takes two people to be in a realtionship, and you are allowing yourself to stay with a man who does not value or respect you. Life is too short to waste time on a man like that. Leave him and find a man who loves you and treats you with kindness and respect.

  8. Bianca, sorry I lost track of your comment pero yes. I was actually reading a little more into the report and was disturbed with the gendering issues as well. Bring it. I know you will do a kick ass job.

  9. Best thing to do is vote him out.

    ayup. cuz things were so good for ricans before obama. they had citizenship and everything. and you just know that rican statehood is on the plate of hillary clinton, sarah palin, john mc cain and any other politician that is running for office in 2012. i except things will be resoved soon after the elections. /sarcasm.

  10. If you have such a pesimisitic view of elections, then why do you even bother? If voting is so unimportant, then why is it the first thing they try to take away? Why do they spend so much time trying to purge voter rolls, or get people to stay home? When somebody is convicted of a felony, they immediately lose their right to vote.

    What is so sad is not that you have a different opinion, but the mockery, as if anybody who thinks voting matters is a sucker.

  11. Karen, I have written numerous posts regarding my vision on elections, electoral politics and voting. I have also made speeches at events which have been posted here. So before you make pat statements about what any of us may think please take the time to read.

    That said, I believe that voting is one weapon in a revolutionary toolbox. Alone and in the absence of other tools, it is meaningless, a false crutch of participation in a corrupt system.

    Again I invite you to read some of my specific posts/speeches on voting.

  12. actually, karen, voting is NOT the first thing they try to take away-the right to protest is–witness the latests arrests in Oakland of people peacefully protesting the Oscar grant decision and how the majority of people are being prosecuted for “unlawful assembly”–um, what? I thought freedom of assembly was a right that was protected by the constitution? What does “unlawful assembly” even *mean* within the context of the right to freely assemble? what does that mean that our own courts have nullified the constitution just like that?

    and like mala said–nobody here thinks that voting is for suckers. I voted in this last election, as I have in every election since I’ve been able to vote. What I won’t do is put my entire organizing strategy into the belief that if we all just “do things the right way” (i.e. not be illegal law breakers) things would be ok. I won’t rest my entire belief in the right to human justice on hillary clinton’s shoulders. And I won’t call my mother or my loved ones “illegal” because that might make things safer for me.

  13. Yes, they go after the right to assemble, but usually only when there is violence, or the threat of violence. They don’t want anymore riots. Undocumented/illegal immigrants held HUGE marches all over the country, but they were peaceful and nobody interfered with their right to march. In Los Angeles 500,000 marched and they closed down Wilshire Blvd. Maybe my perspective is skewed because in LA you can assemble. The exception being when the DNC held their 2000 convention here. They arrested many people for unlawful assembly. I think the 1968 Democratic Convention was still in their minds.

    As for your last sentence, I don’t think I used illegal as a noun, but the fact is that they are here illegally. Furthermore, they really haven’t come up with an argument as to why they should be allowed to legalize. Saying that we do the jobs that nobody else will do, is not an argument. The longer this mess remains unresolved the more at risk we are of losing our rights. If the Republicans win in 2012 what’s to stop them from implementing an Arizona type law across the country? Nothing. Maybe you don’t care about losing your rights, but I care about losing mine.

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