Friday, October 25, 2013

Puerto Ricans - The Forgotten Citizens

Some of you may wonder when reading the title of this post why I am calling Puerto Ricans "The Forgotten Citizens."  Well, there are many reasons why and I will try to go through them briefly in this writing.

Puerto Ricans are people who are either born on the island of Puerto Rico or come from parents who were born on the island.  They are mostly a mix of European, Taino Indian, African and sometimes even Asian races.  Puerto Ricans are hard to classify racially speaking.  They come in all colors.  One can meet a Puerto Rican as white as Casper the friendly ghost with blue, hazel or green eyes; or even a Puerto Rican as black as coal with features found among Africans born in Africa.  Furthermore, there are Puerto Ricans that look Indian, Arab or Asian with their particular eyes, skin tones and bone structures.  Because of this, there can be great confusion on the part of non-Puerto Ricans who mistake them for other races.  This also creates a problem on census forms where Puerto Ricans have trouble identifying with a particular race.

Puerto Ricans are a culturally proud people who love to display their music, food, and flag publicly without shame.  They are festive and it is rare to find an anti-social Puerto Rican. Unfortunately, the history between the United States of America and Puerto Ricans has not been so tidy.  Puerto Ricans were often mistreated by non-Puerto Ricans in the mainland American.  Some in the Catholic Church even gave Puerto Ricans a hard time by making them pay a quarter to sit at Mass, or were forced to attend Mass in a basement or lower church.  Because of this, many Puerto Ricans left and are part of Evangelical or Pentecostal sects.

They were originally under Spanish rule until the United States took the island over and Spain eventually gave it away completely in order to alleviate its debts.  It wasn't until 1917 when Puerto Ricans became official citizens in the United States of America.  In 1948, Congress broaden the citizenship to include all Puerto Ricans born in the States or the Island of Puerto Rico.  Over 75% of Puerto Ricans speak English fluently.  This allows them great flexibility in American life.  However, they are a forgotten people in America.

Democrats and others who identify themselves as "liberals" often push for "immigrant rights" and so on.  They feel that immigrants who came here illegally should be allowed to stay.  A form of amnesty is often proposed in Congress allowing them to stay with full rights and protection under US law.  Naturally, many Americans oppose this because it is not fair for people to come illegally to the nation and then get a free pass to become a citizen.  These critics are often the descendants of immigrants themselves who came from Europe but argue that their ancestors earned their citizenship and did not enter the nation illegally.

Those in favor of illegal immigrants try hard to pass laws to allow them to have licenses, better job opportunities, welfare assistance, earn college degrees and so forth.  However, not much is said of Hispanics who are already citizens, namely Puerto Ricans.  Only about 14% of Puerto Ricans earn a bachelor's degree.  This is not good.  Leaders in the Puerto Rican community often forget their own people and do not encourage education nor advocate for their fellow Puerto Ricans.  Puerto Ricans have suffered discrimination, poverty and other social issues for no reason.  They are American citizens and deserve to be treated as such and not forgotten.

In many instances, illegal immigrants are given priority over a Puerto Rican!  This is absurd and a
complete betrayal to the Puerto Rican people and their status as citizens of the United States of America.  Archbishop of San Juan, Roberto Gonzalez is under fire from Vatican officials for speaking a little more on Puerto Rican rights than he should; however, I don't blame him. Gonzalez was  born in the States and probably knows well the hardships that his people have endured and still endure.  To be a citizen, yet not be; is not something that lifts the morale of any people.  For a Puerto Rican to be wrapped up in red tape when trying to get assistance or an opportunity to live the American dream while an illegal immigrant can easily get help is unfair.

Puerto Ricans have much to contribute to American society as a whole.  Supreme court justice Sonia Sotomayor is an example of what a Puerto Rican can become if he/she is given equal treatment and not treated like a second class citizen while others who are not citizens are put ahead. The Puerto Rican people need a Dr. King figure who will bring about change and respect.  It is disturbing to see Al Sharpton show his face when a controversial issue involves Puerto Ricans and no other Puerto Rican leader is present.

African Americans are not the only group who are harassed and profiled.  Many times, when a Hispanic commits a crime, he is automatically labeled a Puerto Rican despite being Mexican, Dominican, Cuban or what not.  Take Salsa singer Marc Anthony for example who was harassed for singing the anthem at the All Star game.  In some instances, members of other groups purposely pretend to be Puerto Rican in order to fit in society or get opportunities.  They have even stolen the identities of Puerto Ricans which forced Puerto Rico to reissue birth certificates.  Only those who can distinguish between dialects, accents and body language can truly tell who is Puerto Rican and who is not.  Shouting 'wepa' or dancing Salsa does not make one Puerto Rican.  

Moreover, many Puerto Rican elected officials sell out their own people by adopting the "white man's" rhetoric.  This rhetoric includes the Americanization of Puerto Ricans by forcing them to erase their cultural ties and become part of the American collective, so to speak.  It also includes adopting liberal ideologies such as abortion, contraception, gay rights and other agendas that were never part of the Puerto Rican people's philosophy who value life, family and tradition.  Being American doesn't mean one must forget where one came from, nor replace one's values and morals.

I hope the Puerto Rican people are treated better and that they wake up and demand respect. Their needs have to be met and put before that of others who clearly broke laws by entering our nation.

To my knowledge, the breaking of a law means one is a law-breaker or criminal.  Why give preference to law-breakers when you have citizens here who are in need of many things and want to achieve the American dream without being discriminated against or assimilated into another ethnicity?


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