On Sunday, June 11, a young Puerto Rican child will stand on Fifth Avenue in New York City dressed from head to toe in Puerto Rican paraphernalia. Even their face will be painted with a Puerto Rican flag as their small hands feverishly wave the flag that on that day, possibly more than any other day of the year, is a symbol of pride and a commander of emotion.
As the child looks to the adults around them screaming and shouting, a profound emotion will fill their very essence. This unprecedented occurrence will be coupled with images of scantily clad women and rambunctious men. Somehow, at some point, the flag of Puerto Rico will become a bandana, a bikini top, and several other unfathomable items. The child will continue to bask in the warmth created by this emotion that will fill every inch of their body. Their adrenaline will soar as it is fueled by the screams and shouts of the crowd.
“Boricua!!” the child will shout, “Wepa!!”
The beauty that is this child growing with pride in who he/she is, is truly inspiring… but there is a catch.
When the fever of this day is over, how will the pride be nourished? Will it be with the truth and history of our culture and traditions? Will it be with explanations of our Indigenous, African, and Spanish roots? Will it be with the installation of values and morals that have their foundation in the preservation of family and respect? Will the remaining 364 days be filled with as much pride as today?
When the fever of the day is over, will it be nourished in such a way that the child grows to be a strong Boricua who contributes in a positive way to society? Or will the child grow with only the aspirations of being a thug who feels that if he waves his flag on Fifth Avenue once a year and screams out “Boricua”, showing his communal sisters that he respects them by invading their personal space, he will be not only displaying but also living up to Puerto Rican Pride?
On June 11, 2017, the aesthetics of our existence will display their commercial potency. However, this potency does not translate into the progress of the people whose backs have been beaten for the financial well-being of those who define wealth in only dollars and cents.
On June 11, 2017, the Puerto Rican community will either come together and reiterate the fact that we will no longer be taken advantage of, or we will come together to show that we happily accept distractions rooted in the celebration of our culture, but which have evolved to exploitations of our existence.
On June 11, 2017, we will either dance to the tune of complacency or rally around the remix of our revolution.
Luz, Amor, y Àsę.
©Dr William Q Ross 2017