Sunday, August 29, 2004

Who Can Be A Boricua?

. . ."I said, 'But I am African and I am an American citizen; am I not African-American?' " said Mr. Kamus, who is an advocate for African immigrants here, recalling his sense of bewilderment. "They said 'No, no, no, not you.' "

"The census is claiming me as an African-American," said Mr. Kamus, 47, who has lived in this country for 20 years. "If I walk down the streets, white people see me as an African-American. Yet African-Americans are saying, 'You are not one of us.' So I ask myself, in this country, how do I define myself?" . . .-NY Times

Puerto Ricans have the same problem. How many of us born and raised in the states consider ourselves Puerto Rican yet when we visit the island we are deemed other terms? I remember when I was studying abroad and people would ask me where I was from, I'd always say "I'm from New York but I'm Puerto Rican." Then they would say, "no you're not; you're weren't born or raised here." They would then proceed to call me other things like "Nuyo Rican" "Neo-Rican" and some hard core people would even call me "gringo."

In the 21st century, who's to say who can be a Puerto Rican and who can't? There are roughly 8 million Puerto Ricans in the world and nearly half of them reside outside of the island. Is birthplace the only determining factor? Or is being Puerto Rican more of a state of mind? Remember the phrase "Boricua hasta en la luna."

For us "Neo-Ricans" I believe it's more of a state of mind. We in the states are generally more prideful, partiotic and nationalistic. Though we may not speak the language very well, nor have lived on the island, I bet you most, if not all, of us would defend our island to the end. As a line of a poem of a "Neo-Rican" poet says "Yo no naci en Puerto Rico; Puerto Rico nacio en mi."


Anonymous said...

Ay que hermoso es tu pensar...Me da mucho gusto que ames a nuestra isla tan bella. Mi corazon se rompe al pensar que poco a poco el corazon de mi isla muere...

Como dice con poesia Aurora Levins Morales:

I'm not african. Africa is in me, but I cannot return. I'm not Taina. Taino is in me, but there is no way back. I am not European. Europe lives in me, but I have no home there.
I am new. History made me. My first language was spanglish. I was born at the crossroads and I am whole.

C. said...

Boricua y Latinoamericano siempre!!!

bla... said...

It almost hurt me to hear you say (just like it hurts me that I'm writing this in English) that even though you and others were not born in the island, you unlike those who have been born in the island, would defend it even more to the end. It hurt me because in some cases it's true(lets please not generalize). I was born and raise in the island until 14 yrs. of age, then I moved to FL(swampy boring place). I see more and more Puerto Ricans move out of the Island every day, more and more trash it with their words, with the common phrase "Las Cosas Estan Malas..." as if it was hell down there, not realizing hoe great a place it is. I know it's true in some cases because, I used to be like that, until I lost what I didn't know I had.
No, you don't have to be born in Puerto Rico to be Puerto Rican, Knowledge and love is all you need, to me a "newyork-rican" who knows and loves the country is more of a Puerto Rican than those who move away and leave it to, what they think is, rot.

Anonymous said...

If you love it so much, move back and try to make it better. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. I am only in the US to complete my graduate education. It bothers me when people that do not live in the island try to claim some right to dictate the future of those who remain. Those who do not have to endure the consequences should not claim the right to decide the future. Otherwise, you are not invested; your future and your present will not be affected.

I can know about Spain and I can love it all I want. That still does not make me Spaniard.