Fierce

‘The Boricua Way’ Slang Cards Teach Puerto Rican Lexicon Like ‘Brutal,’ ‘Corillo,’ ‘Pichea’ And More

In Puerto Rico, like most Latin American countries, the people have their own lexicon. Local slang, inspired by various languages and cultures, as well as regional pronunciations are heard throughout the Caribbean island. For islanders, it’s a way of life. For travelers, even those coming from other Spanish-speaking countries, it can cause confusion. But for Camelia Rojas, it’s cultural pride and a way to invite others to learn and enjoy what it means to be Boricua.

That’s why Rojas started The Boricua Way, an illustrated art and memento project that explains Puerto Rican sayings, traditions, food and more. The short lessons, which are fun, accessible and humorous, are taught by a bacalaito, salty cod pancake-like fritters beloved on the island, named Pablo. Whether through flashcards or social media illustrations, Pablo the Bacalaito, along with his fritura friends, teaches the “Boricua” way of things — and he’s starting with local language.

“Puerto Rican slang is very funny. We create words every day or give other words new meaning, and only we understand it,” Rojas, 25, told FIERCE. “We take different cultures and languages and mix them together en un pilon and get Puerto Rican slang.”

Courtesy of The Boricua Way

The idea for The Boricua Way came when Rojas, a Trujillo Alto-based freelance graphic designer, was working on her graduate degree at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore. Away from her island, she was often on social media, laughing at memes and videos from her Puerto Rican friends that made her feel, even if for a moment, like she was back home. But the confused looks on her classmates’ faces when she burst out in laughter to jokes they did not understand soon reminded her that she was not. To get her new friends in on the fun, she began explaining Puerto Rican slang and customs in a way they could grasp: art and design.

“I took that approach because I didn’t want anyone to be intimidated by the language. You see the character and laugh and learn something,” Rojas said.

Through a crisp and golden bacalaito, a treat that always reminded Rojas of tropical beach days, she was able to create a scenario for each word that helped her classmates understand the meaning of the language and then the joke and also brought her an unexpected joy and closeness to home.

“When you live somewhere every day, you don’t notice your culture and tradition until you step back and look at it. I realized my identity and culture, and how awesome it is, when I moved to the US and had to explain it there,” she said.

Courtesy of The Boricua Way

Rojas’ class lessons turned into a school project and today is her own small business. Through social media, like Facebook and Instagram, she shares illustrations of Pablo the Bacalaito hilariously explaining the meaning of words like “brutal,” which refers to something or someone being awesome, cool or thrilling, “corillo,” which describes a close group or crew of friends, and “pichea,” which is to ditch or ignore someone or something, among other local terms and expressions.

Posting once a day, Rojas finds inspiration for new content everywhere, from casual conversations with friends that are filled with common slang to suggestions from her followers. She says just living on the island, where culture bursts through music, community and everyday activities, offers her a plethora of topics that keep her project flowing without interruption.

On Wednesday, Rojas released her first product: The Boricua Way slang cards, a set of 24 lesson cards that turn the illustrations fans love online into physical learning tools or keepsakes that teach Boricua jargon and phrases. It’s the first in a line of products that she hopes to begin selling soon, which includes stickers, clothes, T-shirts, tote bags and, hopefully, an educational card game.

Courtesy of The Boricua Way

Rojas, who hopes to get her items sold at airports and souvenir shops, wants her products to be fun, educational tools that could keep tourists who visited the island excited, interested and aware about Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican culture even after they leave.

But more importantly to her, Rojas would like The Boricua Way to be a connection to the island for all the Puerto Ricans living in the diaspora, whether they are longing for home after fleeing the devastation left by Hurricane María or they are second-generation Boricuas who are eager to learn about a culture and land they love but don’t know firsthand.

“I started this because I was in the US and missing home. I want this to be for anyone anywhere who misses Puerto Rico and wants a piece of home with them everywhere they go. I want to give them community, something to hold onto that’s part of their identity, so they don’t feel they lost connection,” she said.

To purchase Rojas’ newly-released The Boricua Way slang cards, send her a DM or email.

Read: This Puerto Rican Illustrator Uses Art To Explore Her Sexuality

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This Boricua Is Being Forced To Defend Her Identity As An Asian-Puerto Rican On TikTok

Culture

This Boricua Is Being Forced To Defend Her Identity As An Asian-Puerto Rican On TikTok

@Keishlaheli / TikTok

People of all sorts of racial identities and backgrounds exist all over the world. However, many people remain ignorant to the ways in which different cultures and races change and take on new identities – especially as mixed race individuals are so often forced to walk a thin line between their identities.

Now, a popular Tik Toker from Puerto Rico is being forced to defend her identity as a Puerto Rican because trolls are accusing her of cultural appropriation. Although she might not look like what many expect a Puerto Rican woman to look like, Keishla is all about educating her followers and giving a voice to mixed race Puerto Ricans.

TikToker Keishla is being forced to defend her identity as a Boricua simply because she also has Asian heritage.

Mixed race communities and cultures exist everywhere. Facts are facts. But it’s obvious that not everyone is willing to accept these facts. Case in point: Keishla – a very popular TikToker, who is being forced to defend her own identity.

Keishla, who was born and raised on the island in the town of Borikén is obviously of Asian descent but she also claims her Puerto Rican identity with pride. Videos addressing the topic have gone viral and the comments that followed show a widespread lack of understanding about the diversity of race in Puerto Rico and beyond.

Keishla’s parents were born in China and later migrated to Puerto Rico, she explains in several videos. Some users, however, refused to accept the facts.

Keishla has had to deal with many ignorant comments across social media, but she’s got thousands of supporters also.

Ever since she launched her TikTok channel, users have come for Keishla and her identity and many have accused her of cultural appropriation.

While apparently trying to invalidate Keishla’s identity as a Boricua, one user wrote, “Lol u may consider her Puerto Rican but I don’t. Blood is more important than how she acts to me she can copy us but will never be us.”

And in typical Keishla fashion, she had the best response: “I respect your opinion, even though it’s a shitty opinion.”

Despite all the ignorance and trolls, Keishla has also seen an outpouring of support from fellow Boricuas, Latinos, and others among her more than 53,000 TikTok followers. The conversation has even moved over to Twitter, where many are supporting her identity while also addressing the hate from others.

“There’s a whole ass history of Asians in Caribbean culture,” one user wrote.

“Asians worked next to the slaves in the sugar cane fields in Cuba. Cuba has one of the oldest China towns in the Caribbean. So many Caribbean people have Chinese descent. Y’all don’t know how colonization work.”

Keishla is not alone: the Chinese have a long history on the island of Puerto Rico.

Credit: U.S. Library of Congress

Much like the mainland United States, Puerto Rico is a diverse community of cultures and races from all over the world. Anyone in the island or anyone who visits will notice right away that there is a major Asian community. Although it’s particularly conspicuous in the restaurant industry – with the traditional comida criolla – that’s not all. The Chinese community has contributed to Puerto Rico’s culture and economy in many significant ways.

Today, there are tens of thousands of Chinese Puerto Rican’s on the island. And although the most recent Census data only reports Asians as making up 0.2% of the population, many academics believe the count to be much higher.

Chinese migration has a long and varied history in Puerto Rico, with it reaching its peak in the late 1850s to 1880s. Many were fleeing war and economic devastation, and hundreds of thousands made their way to the U.S. – including Puerto Rico.

Some of these Chinese immigrants went instead to the Caribbean, though—some first to Cuba, where they were incarcerated due to labor revolts, then to Puerto Rico, where they served their sentence in what was essentially slave labor, working on major infrastructure projects.

So, what do you think? Do you agree with Keishla? Let us know in the comments.

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Donald Trump Compared His Son’s ‘Proud Latina’ Girlfriend To Eva Perón After RNC Speech Where She Claimed Puerto Rico Isn’t Part Of The United States

Fierce

Donald Trump Compared His Son’s ‘Proud Latina’ Girlfriend To Eva Perón After RNC Speech Where She Claimed Puerto Rico Isn’t Part Of The United States

Chip Somodevilla / Getty

We might all be proud Latinas but not all Latinas are so proud of Kimberly Guilfoyle.

The girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr. has proven herself to be a controversial figure on both sides of the Democratic and Republican aisles. The American attorney, prosecutor, and television news personality has made waves for her part on the 2020 presidential campaign trail as she stands by her man and his grody dad. She even showed her support during a very loud appearance at the Republican National Convention wherein she made claims of being a “first-generation American.”

Her booming speech at the 2020 Republican National Convention quickly went viral and prompted a comparison to Argentina’s Eva Perón from Donald Trump. As well as backlash from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) who gave her a major fact check.

While critics found Guilfoyle’s speech to be
“over-the-top,” at the very least our so-called “leader of the free world” loved every bit of it.

According to reports, soon after her speech, Donald Trump called Guilfoyle and praised her for her speech. He even compared her to Eva “Evita” Perón.

“That was fantastic…so amazing,” Trump told Guilfoyle on the reportedcall. “So much energy…so much passion.” According to The Daily Beast, the president said “nobody could have done that but you,” and called her “my Kimberly.”

Eva Perón was the former first lady of Argentina from 1948 to 1952. In 1976 Andrew Lloyd Webber made her story into a musical called Evita. Trump has apparently been a huge fan of the musical.

While Trump loved the speech Ocasio-Cortez was quick to slam Guilfoyle for her speech and the ignorance that she delivered during it

AOC took Guilfoyle to task for calling herself a child of immigrants and a “first-generation American.”

“My mother Mercedes was a special education teacher from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. My father, also an immigrant, came to this nation in pursuit of the American dream,” Guilfoyle recalled in her speech.

The claims, like many made by the Trumps, are only partly true. While Guilfoyle’s father is from Ireland, her mother was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico which makes her a U.S. citizen.

“The woman the GOP picked as their ‘proud’ Latina … didn’t seem to know that Puerto Rico is already part of the United States,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a Twitter.

AOC, also a proud Boricua, noted that Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens by birthright for over more than a century.

The lawmaker slammed Guilfoyle for supporting the Republican portrayal of Latino Americans as foreigners despite the fact that they are U.S. citizens.

“It reflects their belief that Latinos aren’t real citizens,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

Guilfoyle who is a former Fox News pundit received quite a bit of backlash for her RNC speech last week in which she shouted into a camera. Even memes were born of the event which was not done before a live audience. They want to destroy this country and everything we have fought for and hold dear,” Guilfoyle shouted during her theatrical event. “They want to steal your liberty, your freedom!”

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