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John Oliver Goes To Bat For Latinos Yet Again

Credit: Last Week Tonight/HBO/YouTube

“Help Puerto Rico, it’s just 100 miles across!”

On Sunday, “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver enlisted the help of “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda to not only explain just how much of a clusterf*ck Puerto Rico’s current economic crisis truly is, but to also beg Congress to do something about it.

Things are bad for Puerto Rico. It has a $72 billion debt that it can’t pay. And the U.S. Commonwealth can’t declare bankruptcy — like Detroit did — because of an inexplicable amendment introduced into a 1984 bill by former U.S. Senator and noted dead racist Strom Thurmond.

Puerto Rico’s inability to pay its debt is having real consequences.

Nearly half of the population lives below the federal poverty line, and unemployment is so high that many Puerto Ricans are using their U.S. citizenship to move to the mainland to look for work. As if that weren’t bad enough, the financial crisis has forced doctors to leave and hospitals to shut down right as the island is going through the zika virus epidemic. Things are so bad in Puerto Rico that, as Oliver put it, “It’s like the island is being hit with all the plagues that God felt were ‘too thinky’ for the bible.”

Puerto Rico’s current situation is personal for Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose parents are originally from the island. The certified genius is using the popularity of his play to get more people to care about the crisis. He’s spoken directly to Congress, and he even promised to give U.S. House Majority Leader Paul Ryan a private performance of “Hamilton” just so he and his colleagues could do something. On Sunday’s episode, Miranda once again made a plea, this time by dropping some powerful verses.

“This is an island, 100 miles across. A hurricane is coming and we’re running up a loss,” Miranda lamented.

Congress is currently working on a solution for what to do with Puerto Rico’s debt, but it might not happen before May 1, when Puerto Rico says it will default on more than $500 million in debt payments.

Good on Oliver and Miranda for leveraging their name recognition for a greater cause. On a side note, we’d like to propose that we vote on making John Oliver an honorary Latino at the next meeting. Just think about it: He’s an immigrant that’s making America great, he talks about tragic things with a f*cked up sense of humor, and he also hates pretty hard on Donald Trump.

WATCH: The Next Time Someone Says We Need A Border Wall, Show Them This

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Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

Things That Matter

Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

Photo via George W. Davis, Public Domain

Today, March 22nd marks Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud in Puerto Rico–the date that marks the emancipation of slaves in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, enslaved peoples were emancipated in 1873–a full decade after the U.S. officially abolished slavery. But unlike the U.S. mainland, Puerto Rico celebrates today as an official holiday, where many businesses are closed.

The emancipation of Puerto Rican slaves was a very different process than the United States’. For one, the emancipation was gradual and over three years.

When the Spanish government abolished slavery in Puerto Rico 1873, enslaved men and women had to buy their freedom. The price was set by their “owners”. The way the emancipated slaves bought their freedom was through a process that was very similar to sharecropping in the post-war American south. Emancipated slaves farmed, sold goods, and worked in different trades to “buy” their freedom.

In the same Spanish edict that abolished slavery, slaves over the age of 60 were automatically freed. Enslaved children who were 5-years-old and under were also automatically freed.

Today, Black and mixed-race Puerto Ricans of Black descent make up a large part of Puerto Rico’s population.

The legacy of enslaved Black Puerto Ricans is a strong one. Unlike the United States, Puerto Rico doesn’t classify race in such black-and-white terms. Puerto Ricans are taught that everyone is a mixture of three groups of people: white Spanish colonizers, Black African slaves, and the indigenous Taíno population.

African influences on Puerto Rican culture is ubiquitous and is present in Puerto Rican music, cuisine, and even in the way that the island’s language evolved. And although experts estimate that up to 60% of Puerto Ricans have significant African ancestry, almost 76% of Puerto Ricans identified as white only in the latest census poll–a phenomenon that many sociologists have blamed on anti-blackness.

On Puerto Rico’s Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud, many people can’t help but notice that the island celebrates a day of freedom and independence when they are not really free themselves.

As the fight for Puerto Rican decolonization rages on, there is a bit of irony in the fact that Puerto Rico is one of the only American territories that officially celebrates the emancipation of slaves, when Puerto Rico is not emancipated from the United States. Yes, many Black Americans recognize Juneteenth (June 19th) as the official day to celebrate emancipation from slavery, but it is not an official government holiday.

Perhaps, Puerto Rico celebrates this historical day of freedom because they understand how important the freedom and independence is on a different level than mainland Americans do.

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The New ‘In The Heights’ Trailer Is Out And You’ll Wish You Were In This Latino Fairytale

Entertainment

The New ‘In The Heights’ Trailer Is Out And You’ll Wish You Were In This Latino Fairytale

There is a new “In The Heights” trailer and release date and fans are getting excited (again)! This is the second time that Warner Bros. has released a trailer to tease the release of “In The Heights” but Covid derailed its first release. Here’s to summer of 2021!

Here’s the new trailer for “In The Heights.”

“In The Heights” is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first wildly successful musical before “Hamilton. The show is based in Washington Heights, a Latino and immigrant enclave in New York City where music runs through the streets and the residents.

Usnavi, portrayed by Anthony Ramos, is the protagonist who is central to the community. He runs a bodega that everyone visits and it isn’t long until he and his large community fight back to protect their friends and family.

The story has it all from love to despair to triumph.

Usnavi is in love with Vanessa, portrayed by Melissa Barrera, and their love story grows alongside the community through the summer. At the same time, it seems that Abuela Claudia, portrayed by Olga Merediz, is facing deportation and the community comes to her defense to keep her here.

Miranda and Jon M. Cho, the director of “Crazy Rich Asians,” beautifully captured the resilience and diversity of our neighborhoods. Actors Stephanie Beatriz, Dascha Polanco, and Leslie Grace bring the play to life on the big screen in a big way.

Fans cannot wait to see the new movie offering Latinos so much representation.

People have been anxiously waiting for this moment since 2008. That was the year that Universal Pictures announced their plans to make the movie adaptation of the play. It was supposed to be released in 2011 until Universals Pictures dropped the project. Then The Weinstein Company acquired the rights, however, Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct came to light and Miranda pulled the rights in response. Warner Bros. then got the rights in 2018 and we had our first trailer in 2019. It was slated to be released in June 2020 and the Covid caused the company to cancel the movie’s release. Now, with a deal with HBOMax, Warner Bros. will finally release “In The Heights” more than 10 years after fans were promised a movie.

“In The Heights” will be on HBOMax on June 18, 2021.

READ: The Trailer For ‘In The Heights’ Is Finally Here And It Looks Like A Latino Fairytale

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