Sunday, June 10, 2012

Puerto Rican Day Parade




WEPA!!! - an expression used by Puerto Ricans.


Today New York and the world celebrate the Puerto Rican day parade and what a great day it is. Millions upon millions go to see the parade in person or to participate in it.  


It is probably the largest parade in the United States of America.  The Puerto Rican people are growing in the United States of America and are becoming more and more successful.


As the election approaches, both Obama and Romney are keen to this fact and are catering the best they can to Puerto Ricans and all Latinos in order to win their vote.  Let me add that in my opinion the hypocrisy of politicians who march at the parade is disturbing at times.      


As a New Yorker, I am proud to share in this heritage and wish the best for all Puerto Ricans celebrating our shared culture. In the course of life, we must never forget where our roots come from.  The danger of becoming too Americanized to the point that we lose the social identity of Puerto Rican culture is always present.  I've noticed how our youth are preferring English over Spanish and are adopting other forms of music that are not truly part of the Puerto Rican culture. 


Hip hop, Rock, Pop, Reggaeton are little by little distorting the true culture of Puerto Rico.  They are promoting greed, lust and other ideas that are not what the Puerto Rican people are about.  We must teach our youth to keep the values alive. It is also sad to find some Puerto Ricans exhibiting a social identity confusion in an attempt to be different. Each person is unique yes, however, social identity must not be lost.  


It is disturbing to see the parade full of young people adorned with the flag only seeking to see celebrities and do not know any thing about their culture. Ask them about the Taino natives who once inhabited the land, ask them about the Spaniards who came and brought European ideas to the land, ask them about the Africans who were brought there to work by force, or even ask them about the famous Coqui frog or cuatro guitar and they will not have any idea of what you ask of them. 


Ask them about the flag, about musical legends such as, Cortijo, Hector Lavoe, Tito Puente, Chuito, or even Yomo Toro and they will only respond that they know only of Jennifer Lopez, "Daddy Yankee,"  "Wisin and Yandel," Tego Calderon, Marc Anthony or Victor Manuel.   To post baby boomers, perhaps Menudo or Ricky Martin might be familiar.   The roots of Puerto Rican music seem to be fading away. The Irish and Italian people of American seem to have lost most of their cultural ties and I am afraid this will happen to the Puerto Rican people as well. 


Religion is also suffering among the Puerto Rican people with the rise of Protestantism, Atheism, Liberalism and other cults that are challenging Catholicism which has been on the island since the time of Christopher Columbus.  The Catholic Church in America must do more to keep Puerto Ricans in the fold.


Unfortunately decades ago Puerto Ricans were often pushed away from the Church due to fallen human nature.  Masses for Puerto Ricans were far too often celebrated in a "second class" way.  There are stories of how Puerto Ricans used Church basements to have Mass, and were even charged a quarter to sit in the Church pew for Mass!  This treatment forced many to leave and start their own Evangelical/Pentecostal churches.     


More Puerto Rican priests must be made Bishops in order to give the people a sense of belonging.  This will possibly inspire young Puerto Rican men to become priests.  Above on the left is the late Cardinal John O'Connor who always made an effort to be present during the parade.  I am glad to see his successors Cardinal Egan and Cardinal Dolan continuing that tradition.  Actions like this help the Puerto Rican people see that the Church does care for them and that the Catholic Church is for everyone, not just non-Hispanic Whites.  




It seems as well that Puerto Ricans in the USA mainland have become too complacent and are not progressing as much as other cultures have. We only see musicians, singers and boxers being mentioned as the "successful Puerto Ricans," but where are the judges, lawyers, doctors, teachers at?  


Is Supreme Justice Sonia Sotomayor the only Puerto Rican who made it in the legal profession?



I am glad the President of Hostos Community College in the Bronx, Dr. Felix V. Matos Rodriguez was chosen to be the Grand Marshal.  The theme of the parade was Higher Education.  


It is important that Puerto Ricans continue on in their academic career and not settle for a high school diploma or even an Associate's or Bachelor's degree.  About 14% of Puerto Ricans earn a bachelor's degree.  This is not good.  The numbers must be higher.  


Puerto Ricans must aspire to be more.  They cannot develop their identity around music or urban culture.


When will we see a Puerto Rican president or even a Puerto Rican Pope? Boricuas, wake up. Do not settle for a piece of the pie, get the whole thing.  Do not abandon the Catholic Faith of your Fathers and Mothers.  Viva Puerto Rico!

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