BETWEEN PUERTO RICANS
“Disparen para que vean como muere un hombre!” Shoot, so you can see a man die. These were the words cried by Hiram Rosado before being executed for being a Puerto Rican nationalist-- a nacionalista-- in 1936. Growing up as a Puerto Rican in New York City, the first notion embedded into your being is to have pride in your culture and it's traditions. Baptism at 3 months old, ears pierced at 1 year, gifts of gold plated bracelets with your name on them for every holiday, and mofongo after church on Sundays. Being that Puerto Rico is a “commonwealth” of the United States, it holds the dichotomy of being both “American” and foreign. While still retaining the same citizenship, being born on the island is a uniquely different experience from being born in the continuous United States of America. In this collection, I explore my experience as a Puerto Rican Afro-Latina born in New York City, while juxtaposing it against the historic and continual mistreatment of Puerto Rican citizens by the U.S. As a nation that heralds freedom and equal rights as it’s basic infrastructure, our modern day United States government continues to act as it’s predecessor had and holds onto the world’s last colony without regarding the rights of it’s people. While a majority of Puerto Ricans continually, and uselessly, vote to stay within the grasp of the United States, the reality is that the U.S. will never let the island become a state. This fact will forever leave Puerto Rico as a nation that can never move forward, bound by chains both culturally and politically. We see this today as the economy of the country fails and culture is leeched out of the land while Puerto Rican’s leave the island in droves. In my research for this collection, I focused on exploring the eras in which the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, who’s platform is to break away from the United States, was it’s most active. After thoughtless massacres of people on the island by the hands of U.S. controlled police forces, The Nacionalistas realized that change could only come about by force and chose to stop participating in electoral politics and start participating in unrestrained revolution. As an island that, I believe, has become comfortable, listless, and inactive, this collection serves as a disruption from the beautiful daydream of acceptance.