Yo Soy Nuyorican… But Not Like You
As we prepare to celebrate our Puerto Ricaness and all of its beautiful intricacies this weekend at the 2010 Puerto Rican Day Parade along Fifth Avenue, I can’t help but wonder if anyone even cares about the struggles – both past and present – of our people…
On any given Sunday in the past history of the parade you might’ve been marching behind the Latin King and Queen Nation who pretended to be an organization for the people, all the while killing their own brothers over drug deals gone badly.
This Sunday you might find yourself marching behind a group of self-professed, self-titled Taínos who are no more peaceful than the conquistadors of Christopher Columbus who cut Yucayeke (village) boys in half and fed the bodies of Taíno babies to their dogs.
I know… it’s a strong statement which makes us all sick to our stomachs.
But the problem is, there is truth behind my words, as I’ve heard one of these self-appointed Taíno chieftains threaten to pull out his glock-nine on anyone he deems an enemy of his people.
I guess he wants to ensure there will be no more genocide under his watch.
The only difference is that the Taínos only responded to violence, never perpetrated it.
To me personally, the Puerto Rican Day Parade is as representative of Latino people as the “Being Latino” Facebook fan page.
Which is to say it serves no real purpose, has no real sense of direction and merely serves as a mirage to make us all feel accomplished. When the truth is we have a long way to go before we should ever dream of raising a triumphant flag of our own red, white and blue design.
Why would I say the PR Parade doesn’t represent me in anyway? Well for one thing, my daughters aren’t represented by the half-naked girls walking around with Puerto Rican flags covering their overtly protruding breasts… barely fourteen years old with enough Sazón to season fifty pernils.
And although a great majority of young Latino males are in desperate need of male role models to guide them into adulthood. I refuse to believe that those showing off their Puerto Rican flag boxer shorts and do-rags are any representation of the next generation of Latino leaders we’ll surely have to find in order to be represented properly in the future of government and corporate America.
The Latino politicians who wave atop $50,000 floats certainly aren’t representing the communities they were voted in to improve upon…
And who the hell keeps inviting the man who changed the laws to be mayor, “Moneybags Bloomberg,” to this event every year? He certainly is no friend to the Latinos in New York, though he certainly puts on a great act every year complete with straw hat and guayabera.
Much like everything else in this world, the Puerto Rican Day Parade has become a big business trying to grab hold of the billions of dollars Latinos spend each year.
As such… the Galos Corporation and the National Puerto Rican Day Parade Inc., have secured the best spots along the parade route for the big money investors, while people trying to spread messages of hope and survival are priced completely out of the parade.
Case in point, the DKMS, can’t even afford a float or a banner to promote its lifesaving efforts for six-month-old Bronx Latina, Sophia Lopez who is in desperate need of a bone marrow donor of Latino descent.
She will certainly die without a match being found… and as she prepares to enter the hospital, possibly for the last time, no one has stepped up to assist in these life-saving promotional efforts.
There is a very real chance that a match could be found in the two-million Latinos expected to cover the parade route. But apparently, Sophia’s life comes behind the hottest reggaetón band whose record label can afford the float, so the young, half-naked little ladies in attendance will show the world just how much Sazón a 14-year-old has.
Are you starting to understand why I don’t exactly feel represented by this parade?
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be proud of our heritage, our legacy, where we’ve been and where we’re going.
But during a time when Latino support and loyalty seems to be non-existent or a very rare find.
During a time when Latinos are flunking out of school at close to 60 percent in many districts in New York.
During a time when we’re suffering from obesity, drug addiction, poverty, homelessness, mental health disorder and many levels of abuse in the home.
During a time when it’s almost illegal to be Latino in some parts of the country…
This man here sees no reason to raise the Puerto Rican flag in celebration.
My loyalty is to humanity…
And when I see so many Latinos failing to show humanity in the simplest way to a six-month-old Latina baby… I see no reason to show solidarity in that. No reason to show my pride in something I’m certainly not proud of. Maybe next year…
Ivan Sanchez is the author of Next Stop: Growing up Wild-Style in the Bronx (Touchstone – Simon & Schuster, 2008). The book is the first memoir released by a major publishing house written by a Puerto Rican from the Bronx. Sanchez is also the co-author of It’s Just Begun: The Epic Journey of DJ Disco Wiz, Hip Hop’s First Latino DJ (powerHouse, 2009). He was awarded the National Novel honors for his first fiction offering and is currently working on several new books about NY Latinos. He is also the co-host of Rebel Radio on Urban Latino Radio.