identities

From the Past To Today, Puerto Rico’s Courageous Spirit Continues To Lift The Island Up

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If there’s one word to describe Puerto Rico and the people that have cultivated the land for thousands of years it is resilient. They’ve endured colonization — like most Latin and Carribean lands — natural catastrophes, economic plight, but through it all, they have persevered. Let’s dive into the turbulent history and astonishing way that Puerto Rico continues to thrive no matter what.

The first people of Puerto Rico.

Wikipedia: Arawak Indians

The indigenous group, known as the Arawak Indians (part of the Taíno population), inhabited not only Puerto Rico but also Cuba, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and other islands. They are the first to have encountered Christopher Columbus.

Christopher Columbus colonizes Puerto Rico.

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In 1493, Columbus claimed Puerto Rico for Spain — as he also did with Cuba. The Roman Catholic Church also had a part in colonizing the island of Puerto Rico. In 1521, the island went from being referred to as Boricua (which the Natives called their land) to officially Puerto Rico.

Slavery in Puerto Rico.

Wikipedia

In the 16th century, the Spanish began importing slaves from Africa to Puerto Rico to cultivate their only economic resources including sugar, tobacco, and coffee. The Spanish also captured native Puerto Ricans as slaves as well.

On September 23, 1868, between 600 to 1,000 men attempted to revolt against the Spanish for their independence. This moment is remembered as the “Grito de Lares.” That call for freedom is still celebrated in Puerto Rico today.

The Spanish-American War

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During the Spanish-American war of 1898, the U.S. successfully occupied Puerto Rico at Guánica. The Spanish conceded and under the Treaty of Paris handed Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines, and Cuba to the United States.

The Foraker Act

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In 1900, the U.S. president and other lawmakers signed the Foraker Act, which gave the U.S. more control over the island but also allowed Puerto Rico to have its government.

The Jones Act

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On March 2, 1917, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones Act which automatically granted all people born in Puerto Rico U.S. citizens. The Act also allowed Puerto Ricans to live under the same Bill of Rights and constitution as those living in the U.S. The Jones Act also came with some tax regulations that made it more expensive to import goods from Puerto Rico to the U.S.

Puerto Rico and America, united but not.

After World War II, Puerto Rico experienced several economic and governmental changes. In 1952, Puerto Ricans voted to become a commonwealth of the U.S., which established its own governing constitution. Their new commonwealth status meant that they were still U.S. citizens but were not allowed to vote in U.S. elections.

People flee the island.

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It was also around this time (between 1950 and 1970) that half a million people left the island of Puerto Rico and migrated to the U.S. People have left the island once again, after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. CNN reports that more than 130,000 Puerto Ricans relocated to the U.S. after the hurricane.

Exploring the tourism in Puerto Rico.

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Puerto Rico has always been a popular destination for tourists. At the end of 2016, more than 10 million passengers arrived on the island. Typically, the island generates $4 billion from tourism to its economy. Despite having setbacks including the Zika outbreak and Hurricane Maria, the island has is back in business.

Catastrophes and Tragedies

Wikipedia: Mameyes

The island has been hit hard by natural catastrophes including in 1985 when a landslide in Ponce killed 129 people. While Puerto Rico has experienced multiple hurricanes— the island has had only one Category 5 hurricane and that was the San Felipe Segundo hurricane in 1928. Three hundred people died during that hurricane. In 1899, a smaller hurricane killed more than 3,000 people.

Dual Languages

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In 1993, Puerto Rico declared that the official language of the island would be Spanish and English.

The Economy

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Puerto Rico’s economy has been volatile since Columbus first colonized the island. The tax laws that the U.S. has instilled onto the island resources has made the economy there unstable, ultimately hurting lower class Puerto Ricans. It is because of these laws that Puerto Rico generated billions of dollars in debt. Currently, the island owes the U.S. $70 billion, most of which was caused by a recession and laws that the U.S. implemented.

“Nasty” Politics

Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan (the capital of Puerto Rico), is one of the island’s most prominent advocates. Ever since Hurricane Maria struck the island, she has been taking to social media to show the devastation, what people needed (and still need), and has not backed down even while being intimidated by President Trump.

Obama visits the island.

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You would think that because Puerto Rico is a territory of the U.S. more U.S. presidents would visit the island. They do go on tours worldwide, but not to Puerto Rico for one reason or another. However, in 2011, President Barack Obama made an official visit to the island, making it the first since John F. Kennedy.

Hurricane Maria

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Just weeks after Hurricane Irma grazed Puerto Rico, leaving millions without power, Hurricane Maria landed on Sept. 20 as a Category 4. The island has been in recovery mode since, and while the island is open for business, many people are still trying to rebuild their lives. An estimated 3,057 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria.

Trump vs. Puerto Rico

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, U.S. President Donald Trump did not serve the people of Puerto Rico. He downplayed the deaths, threw paper towels at survivors during his brief visit to the island, and balked at the severity of the hurricane. Relations between Trump and the island remain strained.

Famous Puerto Ricans

Instagram/@jlo

There’s no way in hell that we could list all of the famous Puerto Ricans that have contributed to our society past and present. Since we have to list a few famous Puerto Ricans, we can start with Jennifer Lopez, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Roberto Clemente, José Ferrer, Ricky Martin, Esmeralda Santiago, and so many more.

The Best Puerto Rican Foods

Instagram/@puertoricogram

Mofongo, tostones (fried plantains) with garlic, olive oil, and chicharrones or bacon, has to be our top favorite Puerto Rican dish although we can take arroz con pollo, chicken asopao, or roasted pork any day of the week.

A Slow Recovery

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Puerto Rico has made great strides over the past year and a half, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Puerto Ricans in the U.S. — both famous and unknown — have contributed to the success and perseverance of the island. While there’s still lots of work to be done, Puerto Rico continues to rise above tragedy.

Puerto Rico Today

Instagram/@maryv_rojas

One of the most amazing things in Puerto Rico that occurred recently, as the island is still in recovery mode, is that people —mainly Lin-Manuel Miranda — has brought arts and culture back to the island. Through his production of “Hamilton” in Puerto Rico, he will be generating millions of dollars toward arts education for children in Puerto Rico. It’s only another sign that the island will go on as it always has.


READ: Some Puerto Ricans Plan On Leaving The Island To Give Their Family A Better Life, While Others Tell Us They Feel Guilty Leaving

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Once Again, A Study Shows Latinos Continue To Lack Representation In Hollywood

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Once Again, A Study Shows Latinos Continue To Lack Representation In Hollywood

Alfonso Cuarón, 2014 Oscar winner of Best Achievement in Directing for Gravity. (Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images)

Representation is a loaded word when it comes to conversations about diversity in casting, especially when it comes Latinos. The latest study from UCLA’s “Hollywood Diversity Report 2018″, shows the huge disparity Latinos experience when it comes to roles behind and in front of the camera. What makes matters even more frustrating is the reports evidence shows audiences tend to prefer movies and TV shows that feature diverse casts. So what gives and what has to change? Here’s a look at the evidence on why Latinos are being left out of the conversation when it comes to representation.

This year, the Oscars showcased the best of what a prospering film industry that includes Latinos could be, or did it?

UCLA’s “Hollywood Diversity Report 2019” 

The feel-good story of this past awards season was Alfonso Cuaróns’ Oscar-winning film “Roma.” The movie centered on a housekeeper of a middle-class family in Mexico City. Despite high praise, the film received and Cuarón becoming the fifth Mexican in the last six years to win Best Director, the reality for U.S.-born Latinos in Hollywood hasn’t changed.

Latinos account for the largest percent of moviegoers among minorities at 24 percent. Yet when it comes to getting roles, that’s a whole different story. In 2017, Latinos accounted for only 5.2 percent of all roles in the top grossing films. This was hardly an improvement from the previous year which was at 2.7 percent.

When it comes to getting roles on TV shows, it’s the same trend. Latinos accounted for no more than 7 percent of all TV roles when it came to the top shows on broadcast, cable and digital networks.

For those in the industry already, making changes is harder than it looks.

Credit: @StripeyWorm/Twitter

Even when Latino-centered shows like “One Day At A Time” receive critical acclaim, that is rarely enough. This past month news broke that the show has been canceled by Netflix. Despite high praise from critics and fans, the series still has to prove itself.

“We are one of the fastest growing minority groups in country and we are still fighting for our films and scripts to be shown to the world,” independent filmmaker Kenneth Castillo said. “That’s not right.”

Castillo says what’s going on with “One Day At A Time” is an unfortunate thing that proves how even when Latinos create great content, at times it’s still not good enough. “I’ve seen this happen time and time again in Hollywood and we need to have some meaningful dialogue about where as Latinos we stand.”

If Latinos are going to see real progress when it comes to representation, they can’t wait for Hollywood to do it first.

Credit: Reuters/Twitter

There’s no denying that we are entering a new golden age in Mexican cinema with the continued success of Latino directors like Cuaron, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Guillermo Del Toro. But it’s a different story when it comes to U.S.-born Latino directors and actors.

There have been just a handful of U.S.-born directors and actors to break into mainstream success. Statistics also show studios take less chances on Latino-focused films and shows.

Representation is important when it comes to how one sees themselves and how the world perceives them as. As the largest growing minority group in the U.S., Latinos should be near the top of most film studios and getting major roles. But that’s anything but the truth. So this all begs the question, where and how do we see change?

If Latinos are going to see make any progress when it comes to more representation, they’re going to have to do it themselves. Castillo says that Latinos can’t wait for Hollywood to open the gate for more opportunities.

“We have to create our own stories and narratives in this country,” Castillo said. “Grab a camera, write that script and share your own story that Hollywood will never get to tell.”

READ: Latinos Are Still Waiting For Their Own Movie Moment As Hollywood Tries Casting More Diverse Films

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