La Respuesta: A New Online Magazine for the Puerto Rican Diaspora

This weekend, we chatted via email with Xavier Luis Burgos, editor of La Respuesta (“The Answer”), a new online magazine dedicated to the Puerto Rican Diaspora. Yeah, we are supporting this magazine because we believe it is important to support these types of initiatives. Read on.

AllHailBoricuaDiaspora

What is La Respuesta? Why now?

XLB: La Respuesta is an online cultural magazine working to build connections among and curate a conversation between Puerto Ricans living in the United States on the issues that affect us and are important to us. This is not to say that what happens in Puerto Rico isn’t important to us, but it isn’t our primary focus. We don’t exclude that knowledge and experiences – on the contrary – we welcome voices from the island. But, we are concerned with cultivating and remaining what it means to be a Boricua in the U.S., especially one who is born and/or raised here, speaking and thinking mostly in English, and negotiating multiple identities and experiences here. We are constructing a space for that internal conversation and to provoke thought on this important (for U.S. and Puerto Rico society) and growing demographic. There are nearly five million of us here and most of us will probably never return to live on the island, but we are not fully assimilating to dominant U.S. culture either. So how do we explain that, engage with that, and build a collective consciousness from there? La Respuesta is one attempt to address this reality.

How do you curate stories for publication?

XLB:This is our second edition so our process is fairly new and experimental. We do know that we want to engage as many folks and experiences as possible, from youth to scholars, activists and artists. We want to incorporate as many voices and identities as possible, from queer and trans folk to santeras/os, our elders, Black and multi-ethnic Boricuas, to name a few. We are attempting to do this while being progressive and critical in thought and product.

Tell us more about your process?

XLB: The process, therefore, is to be both open and intentional in our submissions. We are an eclectic motley crew mostly based in Chicago with great folks across the country, primarily on the East Coast. Therefore, we have lots of diverse contacts. We hit them up for submissions and other contributions that fit our mission and vision. We also give an open call for submissions so that anyone can contribute. The Editorial Core meets and collectively decides which pieces are a good fit for La Respuesta. In this way we get a myriad of submissions and ideas but with a critical perspective on multiple provocative issues.

How can people get the magazine?

XLB: We so wish we could print hard copies as well, but the beauty of the internet is that it’s (practically) free and fairly accessible. So we are an online-based publication, so one could find it at www.larespuestamedia.com and our social media pages. We do want to print special print editions in the future, but their distribution will most likely be via the internet.

What is your vision and where do you see La Respuesta in the context of the Puerto Rican community, both on the island and on the mainland?

XLB: Our vision is this: “La Respuesta strives to produce a mosaic of the cultural, artistic, intellectual, spiritual, and political realities within the diverse Puerto Rican Diaspora. It moves towards building inclusive identities and perspectives that recognize the Diaspora as central to understanding the Puerto Rican people. The magazine aspires to be a significant resource for Puerto Ricans in the United States, offering a multitude of creative and provocative media.”

Personally, my intent is also to provoke, agitate, and engage Boricuas in the Diaspora to think about their communities as constituting a distinct experience that expands the concept of being Puerto Rican. And in many ways, we do. But the trend is to usually understand Puerto Rico as the essentialist, “authentic” center of puertorriqueñidad. In my mind, a Boricua from Queens, NY (like myself), Chicago, Philly, Cleveland, Lorain, Orlando, etc is just as Boricua as any from Borinquen. Of course, not in the same way, but we must celebrate and validate those differences and follow (and influence) where those differences are taking us. We also hope to be a space where the multiple, sometimes parallel and divergent discourses Puerto Ricans are engaged in are discussed. In other words, if you want to know what Puerto Ricans in the U.S. are thinking and doing, La Respuesta is an important place to look.

Is it a political magazine? Do you take a stance on the island’s status dilemma?

XLB: It’s political to the extent that all things are political and cultural. Puerto Rican culture and identity are political in that despite colonialism, racism, gentrification, mass sterilization, etc (both on the island and the Diaspora) we still wave our flags proud on the streets (and build monuments to them like on Paseo Boricua, Chicago). And we still call ourselves Boricua. ‘Culture’ is essentially ways of knowing and doing and our culture is political because it exists in resistance to many of those things that seek our destruction. We live a culture of resistance and that, in itself, is political. So, of course, many issues that are seen as divisive and political come out in our submissions. And since we are inherently critical to what many folks may take at face value, consequently, many people involved in La Respuesta are pro-independence. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have differences on what ‘liberation’ and ‘independence’ means, whether its regarding the island’s political status or our Diaspora communities, or how to engage it. Some folks might be turned off by this reality, but one would be hard pressed to find a Boricua cultural magazine anywhere that doesn’t have a progressive, left-wing, and/or pro-independence slant.

How has the response been so far and what are your future plans?

XLB: The response has been amazing. Latino Rebels has been a huge support from the very beginning and so have other Latina/o publications. We are finding what we always knew – there are so many incredible Boricuas in great places, whether in media, the entertainment industry, or academia. And they have expressed that La Respuesta is a place to connect them and share their work. We hope to continue to be this loci of a Boricua Diaspora internal conversation shared with the world. In the future we plan to develop a more solid base (in terms of writers and readers) in places where Puerto Ricans are highly concentrated in and to organize networking event and forums to discuss the issues affecting us.

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Boricuas for a Positive Image Demonstration at ABC Corporate HQ

This Thursday night, a committed group went out to ABC HQ in New York to demand that ABC apologize for its now infamous "Work It" Puerto Rican Drug Dealer Joke and ask ABC that they meet with them to discuss how one of the country's largest networks can begin to portray Puerto Ricans (and all Latinos) in a more positive light.

Photos by Rebecca Beard of RebeccaBeard.com and music is "Boricua en la Luna" by el GRAN SILVIO.

GUEST POST by EdMorales.net: “Work It: The Reactionary Backlash”

 

Originally appeared on EdMorales.net. Reprinted with permission of the author.

Ed Morales is a journalist who has investigated New York City electoral politics, police brutality, street gangs, grassroots activists, and the Latino arts and music scene.  He has been a Latin music Newsday columnist and longtime Village Voice contributing writer whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Miami Herald,San Francisco Examiner, The Los Angeles Times and The Nation. He is a frequent contributor of editorial columns for The Progressive Media Project. For more about Ed (and his bio is IMPRESSIVE, click here).

 

 

Work It: The Reactionary Backlash

“Life would be much simpler if people who are subjected to persistent marginalization and disparagement weren’t so “sensitive” and just took their insults and degradation, or pretended they weren’t really about them. Persistently marginalized and disparaged people should not speak up because they are to blame for their own problems. Identifying with marginalized victimhood prevents them from enjoying the benefits of the American dream.”

These are the voices of the reactionary backlash against the idea of protesting the dehumanizing joke uttered by Amaury Nolasco in last week’s episode of the largely tasteless sitcom “Work It,” soon to be canceled by its creators, the American Broadcasting Company. The reactionary element that still has so much power in American discourse suggests that presenting “the other side of the story” involves the reasonable assumption that well, after all, Puerto Rico is a drug-riddled island, so is the joke really offensive?

A Huffington Post (Latino/a) column puts it this way:

The 3,515-square-mile island has an average of three violent deaths per day. According to U.N. figures for 2008, the island averaged 20.3 murders per 100,000 residents. Mexico, by comparison, had 11.5 murders per 100,000 residents in that same year. And the documented corruption of the island’s police force corruption has even lead to fears of it becoming a ‘narco state.’

The reality painted by these disturbing figures should be a focus of debate among Puerto Ricans, said Mariana Vicente, Miss Universe Puerto Rico 2010, in defense of Nolasco.

“We are not in a position to demand that the media guard our reputation when in our country we don’t even respect ourselves, brutally killing people, firing bullets in the air and so much violence in the home,” she told Primera Hora. “Let’s start out by caring for ourselves and demonstrating the contrary to the rest of the world.”

I’m not sure about the logic of setting up Ms. Universe as a spokesperson in a political debate, or someone to initiate a serious dialog, but i guess that’s what happens in a celebrity driven culture and the media outlets that promote it. It’s telling that the post uses a link to Fox News Latino to establish the idea that Puerto Rico is in danger of becoming a narco state, and not the more informative piece in the Christian Science Monitor, nor one of its major sources, the DOJ National Drug Intelligence Report , which clearly states that the increase in drug traffic in Puerto Rico has been caused by a shift by Venezuelan and Colombian drug traffickers to points in the Eastern Caribbean to avoid the DEA’s ineffective machinations. It is clear that the drug problem that has exploded in Puerto Rico is not self-generated, unless you think Puerto Rico is such an integral part of the US that it deserves partial blame for the largely disastrous decades-long failure known as the War on DrugsHere’s one argument against that idea: Puerto Rico has never had a single elected representative in Congress who could even exercise the right to vote for or against the disastrous failure known as the War on Drugs!

So, let’s have a debate on this: Should we agree or disagree on the deployment of the War on Drugs? We have no choice in the matter. Should we limit our own consumption? The major cause of the drug problem is the fact that Puerto Rico is a transshipment point for the distribution of drugs to the mainland US, and not the island population’s consumption of drugs. Should we ask Americans to limit their consumption of drugs? Wait a minute..we are Americans. If we stop firing bullets in the air, will that help the DEA shift the transshipment point somewhere else?

I won’t even mention how the current government cut 20,000 government jobs and used Obama’s ARRA (stimulus) funds as a way to boost the island’s employment figures even though their rhetoric claims that the private sector is the best hope for job creation. More jobs = less drug dealers. The absolute silence of the Puerto Rican government on the “Work It” controversy speaks volumes.

Finally, let’s talk about the drug dealers, who make up a tiny percentage of the Puerto Rican people. Let’s talk about how the Amaury Nolasco character was someone living in the U.S., and the fact the overwhelming majority of Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. have nothing to do with drug dealers in Puerto Rico. And let us note that while there have been some Latino characters in network television network shows over the last few years, I can’t remember a single one that was Puerto Rican! Not Ugly Betty, not Desperate Housewives, not Sofia Vergara. The last thing I can remember is that flag burning on Seinfeld, and because some of us chose to speak out they will never show that on the air again. And this really hazy memory of Freddie Prinze. So, when there finally is one, the first thing he says is “I’m Puerto Rican, I’d be great at selling drugs”?

This is not an insignificant grievance that can be compared, as this misguided Chicago columnist did, to the drug-dealing white suburban dealer in Weeds. (“Get a grip,” she says. “If you go around looking to be insulted, you’ll never be disappointed”.) But for every Mary Louise Parker weed pusher, there’s…well, there’s just about every other character on network television to contrast her with! The entire cast of Friends, The Office, Cheers, Seinfeld, Married With Children, How I Met Your Mother, Mary Tyler Moore, Will and Grace, Taxi, The King of Queens, Beavis and Butthead.

As a drug dealer, she is an exception. A shining example of American exceptionalism. The one who can deal drugs and remain attractive and upscale without being imprisoned. For Puerto Ricans, there’s Amaury Nolasco and…no exceptions.

We live in an era where synagogues are being trashed with swastikas, nooses turn up in parks and universities, people are given receipts in fast food places that read Lady Chinky Eyes, young people are committing suicide over their sexual identity, and our freely elected President has been portrayed in every racist way imaginable by right-wing Republican activists. While this backlash cannot be blamed on sitcoms, they demonstrate that somehow messages of intolerance are being transmitted with increasing velocity, and network television shouldn’t be part of laying the groundwork for this.

When is it going to stop? It’s certainly not going to stop if reactionaries discourage people from speaking out against these things, by pining away for a return to time when people weren’t constrained by “political correctness.” Their time, thankfully, is 30 years past.

VIDEO DEL DÍA: Roy Brown y “Boricua en la Luna” (En vivo, 1995)

Para todos los boricuas, encontramos este video de 1995 donde Roy Brown canta una de sus canciones más bellas.

¡Viva Puerto Rico!

Guess Who Sings One of the Best Songs About Latin America? A Puerto Rican Band: Calle 13!!!!

In our quest to educate the leaders of the Tequila Party who say that Puerto Ricans are not qualified to discuss US Latino issues because they are "automatic" American citizens, we offer Exhibit C: LATINONAMÉRICA by Calle 13, one of the best groups to ever come out of Puerto Rico and one of the most amazing Latin American bands in music today.

¡A cantar, René!

Soy,

Soy lo que dejaron,
soy toda la sobra de lo que se robaron.
Un pueblo escondido en la cima,
mi piel es de cuero por eso aguanta cualquier clima.
Soy una fábrica de humo,
mano de obra campesina para tu consumo
Frente de frio en el medio del verano,
el amor en los tiempos del cólera, mi hermano.
El sol que nace y el día que muere,
con los mejores atardeceres.
Soy el desarrollo en carne viva,
un discurso político sin saliva.
Las caras más bonitas que he conocido,
soy la fotografía de un desaparecido.
Soy la sangre dentro de tus venas,
soy un pedazo de tierra que vale la pena.
soy una canasta con frijoles ,
soy Maradona contra Inglaterra anotándote dos goles.
Soy lo que sostiene mi bandera,
la espina dorsal del planeta es mi cordillera.
Soy lo que me enseño mi padre,
el que no quiere a su patria no quiere a su madre.
Soy América latina,
un pueblo sin piernas pero que camina.

Tú no puedes comprar al viento.
Tú no puedes comprar al sol.
Tú no puedes comprar la lluvia.
Tú no puedes comprar el calor.
Tú no puedes comprar las nubes.
Tú no puedes comprar los colores.
Tú no puedes comprar mi alegría.
Tú no puedes comprar mis dolores.

Tengo los lagos, tengo los ríos.
Tengo mis dientes pa` cuando me sonrío.
La nieve que maquilla mis montañas.
Tengo el sol que me seca  y la lluvia que me baña.
Un desierto embriagado con bellos de un trago de pulque.
Para cantar con los coyotes, todo lo que necesito.
Tengo mis pulmones respirando azul clarito.
La altura que sofoca.
Soy las muelas de mi boca mascando coca.
El otoño con sus hojas desmalladas.
Los versos escritos bajo la noche estrellada.
Una viña repleta de uvas.
Un cañaveral bajo el sol en cuba.
Soy el mar Caribe que vigila las casitas,
Haciendo rituales de agua bendita.
El viento que peina mi cabello.
Soy todos los santos que cuelgan de mi cuello.
El jugo de mi lucha no es artificial,
Porque el abono de mi tierra es natural.

Tú no puedes comprar al viento.
Tú no puedes comprar al sol.
Tú no puedes comprar la lluvia.
Tú no puedes comprar el calor.
Tú no puedes comprar las nubes.
Tú no puedes comprar los colores.
Tú no puedes comprar mi alegría.
Tú no puedes comprar mis dolores.

Você não pode comprar o vento
Você não pode comprar o sol
Você não pode comprar chuva
Você não pode comprar o calor
Você não pode comprar as nuvens
Você não pode comprar as cores
Você não pode comprar minha felicidade
Você não pode comprar minha tristeza

Tú no puedes comprar al sol.
Tú no puedes comprar la lluvia.
(Vamos dibujando el camino,
vamos caminando)
No puedes comprar mi vida.
MI TIERRA NO SE VENDE.

Trabajo en bruto pero con orgullo,
Aquí se comparte, lo mío es tuyo.
Este pueblo no se ahoga con marullos,
Y si se derrumba yo lo reconstruyo.
Tampoco pestañeo cuando te miro,
Para q te acuerdes de mi apellido.
La operación cóndor invadiendo mi nido,
¡Perdono pero nunca olvido!

(Vamos caminando)
Aquí se respira lucha.
(Vamos caminando)
Yo canto porque se escucha.

Aquí estamos de pie
¡Que viva Latinoamérica!

No puedes comprar mi vida.

Dear Tequila Party, A Little History Lesson About Puerto Rico

On the anniversary of El Grito de Lares and in the interest of sharing some actual real information about Puerto Rico to those who claim that Puerto Ricans are not qualified to discuss issues of immigration and Latino discrimination because they are automatic American citizens (i.e., The Tequila Party), we share the following links videos for your education pleasure. Puerto Ricans are a proud people, a people that have been facing a political paradox for centuries. We will not tolerate ignorance from fellow Latinos. Learn and report back to us. Hasta la victoria, siempre.

What is El Grito de Lares? See what P'alante Latino has to say today.

What to know more about the 1917 Jones Act, which granted (most say imposed) US Citizenship on Puerto Ricans? Read this.

Want to know why the current political climate of the United States would never allow for Puerto Rico to become at 51st state? Go here.

Want to learn more about the island's own immigration issues? This is a great piece. 

What about the history of Mexican and Puerto Rican relations in the United States? Here is a piece about how the Brown Berets and the Young Lords helped increase consciousness for Latino discrimination in the 60s and 70s.

Want to see some videos? Here you go. The first one is the original Puerto Rican national anthem, which was cleaned up when Puerto Rico's political leaders started cozying up to the United States.

 

Here is a speech by the great Don Pedro Albizu Campos, one of Latin America's greatest nationalists and the legendary leader of the Puerto Rican nationalist movement.

Finally, here is a special video that uses Roy Brown's Boricua en la Luna (A Puerto Rican on the Moon) to show the TRUE PRIDE of Puerto Rico. Basically, this song, modeled after a poem, basically says the following: I WILL ALWAYS BE PUERTO RICAN, EVEN IF I LIVED ON THE MOON.

So to The Tequila Party and your claims that Mexicans are the only Latino politcal force in this the United States, keep spreading your ignorance about the essence of Puerto Rico. Keep spreading Latino disunity. Puerto Ricans are over 7 million strong now and growing, and they will not stay silent.

VIDEO: Un tributo al fabuloso Roberto Clemente

Mientras los jugadores latinos de hoy en día ganan su plata y no dicen nada (o no les importan tres carajos) sobre la crisis de inmigración en Estados Unidos, estos mismos jugadores se deben acordar de que sin Roberto Clemente, el beisbolero latino todavía sería un ser extraño en la Ligas Mayores.

Hoy celebramos la herencia de Clemente. ¿Por qué? Es fácil: Roberto se nos fue demasiado rápidamente como una llama de vela. Si estuviera vivo hoy, estamos seguros de que Clemente estaría gritando por la justicia con un orgullo latino que penetrará todos nuestros corazones.

¡Que viva Clemente! Esperamos que les guste este tributo.

VIDEO DEL DÍA (4 de agosto): El boricua Fernando Varela con “Por ti volaré”

Rebeldes, por supuesto la vida y la música de este mundo son más de la música punk y rap. Hoy presentamos el fabuloso joven boricua Fernando Varela y su voz angélica.

 

Fernando es una estrella subiendo en los cielos.

VIVA PUERTO RICO LIBRE, COÑO

Yo sería borincano aunque naciera en la Luna. ¡Es hora de despertarse, Puerto Rico!

Presentando al nuevo talento boricua: El fabuloso FERNANDO VARELA

No hay muchas garantías en esta vida. Sí, por supuesto, como se dice en inglés, “the only two sure things in life are death and taxes.”

Pero, a veces, se encuentra algo muy especial en este mundo, algo que nos inspire y que nos dé esperanza para una vida mejor.

El joven cantante Fernando Varela, nacido en Santurce, Puerto Rico, es alguien especial. Una voz que nos llega desde los ángeles. ¿No los crees? Les presentamos las pruebas:

Y esta: