Culture

‘La Borinqueña’ Is The Afro-Latina Superhero The Comic Book World Has Been Missing

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, the man who gave “Guardians of the Galaxy” character Groot a Puerto Rican makeover, is at it again. This time, Miranda-Rodriguez wants to introduce you to La Borinqueña, an Afro-Latina superhero. Her mission: to educate readers about Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.


“La Borinqueña” is Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez’s answer to a growing demand for Afro-Latino representation in comic books.

LaBorinqueña_HD
Credit: Courtesy of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

“After the debut of my first issue for Marvel, Guardians of Infinity #3, I received a lot of positive publicity,” Miranda-Rodriguez told mitú. “Many fans were thrilled to see the new character that I created, Abuela Estela, represented in the pages of a Marvel comic book. She represented the Afro-Latino community of our people, an underrepresented population. Soon after, various Puerto Rican institutions reached out to me, including the Puerto Rican Administrative Affairs office in New York City.”

La Borinqueña’s real identity is Marisol Rios De La Luz, an undergraduate student at Columbia University. Her super powers include controlling tropical weather, teleporting, flying and, of course, superhuman strength. #Badass


Miranda-Rodriguez based the character off the most important women in his life, including his sister, Marisol.

EdgardoMirandaRodriguez_PhotoByDannyHastings
Credit: Danny Hastings / Courtesy of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

Miranda-Rodriguez’s sister was in an accident and paralyzed at 9 years old. He says she is represented in the strength and love of La Borinqueña. He was also inspired by his godmother Iris Morales, who was part of the original Young Lords Party, a Puerto Rican nationalist group, and his aunt Diana Rodriguez Mercado, who is Afro-Boricua. Although the character is a composite of the many women who have inspired him, Miranda Rodriguez wants the character to feel familiar to everyone.

“I especially want readers to see themselves,” Miranda-Rodriguez said. “For too long we have not seen ourselves represented in mainstream media, especially our Latinas. That is why I created “La Borinqueña.” I see my family when I see her, and so do many others.”


And the fans are getting super hyped for the Afro-Latina superhero. Like, SÚPER hyped.

Credit: @nickyshemmick / Twitter

“When we see ourselves, we are empowered,” Miranda-Rodriguez said. “When we are empowered, we represent ourselves positively and can stand as a symbol for social change and the betterment of our people.”


It’s not just comic book nerds that are flocking to the new superhero. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, the first Puerto Rican woman elected to the House of Representatives, is all about La Borinqueña.

Credit: @MrEdgardoNYC / Twitter

Miranda-Rodriguez told mitú that his new comic book is garnering the attention of politicians like Congresswoman Velázquez, and it’s providing him with a platform to talk about the Puerto Rican debt crisis. Velázquez even invited him to her office, where they discussed the debt crisis and her strategy to help Puerto Rico.


Most importantly, Miranda-Rodriguez wants “La Borinqueña” to represent hope for the Puerto Rican people.

Credit: @PRparadeNYC / Twitter

“I thought it was a perfect time to introduce a new character that actually served as a symbol of hope in our real lives, and she is becoming that,” Miranda-Rodriguez said. “My mentor, Iris Morales, always taught me that if we don’t tell our stories, no one else will. “La Borinqueña” is giving me the platform to talk about Puerto Rico’s debt crisis as well as other crises affecting the island.”


And the cover for the comic is a who’s who of Puerto Ricans. Miranda-Rodriguez literally filled in the page with some of the most iconic Puerto Ricans in U.S. history.

LaBorinquena_NoTitle
Credit: Courtesy of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

Hector Lavoe is depicted in the left hand corner waving a Puerto Rican flag as Sonia Sotomayor laughs gleefully over his shoulder. And all the way to the top right corner of the crowd you can see political prisoner Oscar López Rivera observing the crowd with a hushed excitement.


Although La Borinqueña is getting lots of love, she’s not the first Puerto Rican woman to don a superhero outfit.

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 2.55.33 PM
Credit: @ElBlogiante / Twitter

Since the release of “La Borinqueña,” a comic book artist named Omar Casanova has taken to social media to remind people that he created a similar character, Bori Girl, in 2012. A Facebook post by Casanova from 2012 shows an early version of Bori Girl. In another Facebook post, Casanova claims he was contacted by the creators of “La Borinqueña” to “keep quiet” about Bori Girl. Casanova then added that he is not associated with “La Borinqueña” in any way.


When asked about the other artist’s rendition, Miranda-Rodriguez said that the Puerto Rican flag and nationality have been used to create several superheroes over the years:

“Before “La Borinqueña,” there have been quite a few Puerto Rican superheroes, dating as far back as 1975 with George Pérez’ White Tiger for Marvel,” Miranda-Rodriguez said “Many publishers and artists have used the Puerto Rican flag to create other characters. In 2006, Marvel created El Vejigante, designed by my good friend Juan Doe. Also in 2006, under Image Comics, Caliente was introduced in the pages of “Ant #8.” In 2010, Unity Comics introduced Mayor Boricua. In 2011, I designed El Coqui Espectacular for playwright Matt Barbot. In 2015, I developed LAK6 for Darryl Makes Comics. Given that the Puerto Rican flag is public domain, many artists have and will continue to create characters inspired by it. I say the more the merrier.”


While La Borinqueña will be making her debut at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, fans will have to be patient to get their hands on the actual comic book.

LaBorinqueña
Credit: Courtesy of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

The National Puerto Rican Day Parade has licensed the image of La Borinqueña for use on shirt that will be sold during the parade. The money will be donated to the NPRDP scholarship fund.

“We are looking for an October 5 release of “La Borinqueña #1″ at a special event that I am curating called Café Con Comics, a free event sponsored by CUNY’s Center for Puerto Rican Studies,” Miranda-Rodriguez said. “This event will include the premiere of the first issue followed by a panel discussion with other Puerto Rican comic book artists from the industry, an art show and a mini-Comic-Con experience.”


To learn more, you can follow Miranda-Rodriguez on Twitter @MrEdgardoNYC or you can check out La Borinqueña created by Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez on Facebook.


READ: The Coolest Character in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Is Now Latino

Share this story with all your friends by tapping that share button below!

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Ricky Martin Opens Up On Being A Queer Latino And Talks New Music In Powerful New Interview

Entertainment

Ricky Martin Opens Up On Being A Queer Latino And Talks New Music In Powerful New Interview

Mike Windler / Getty Images

Ricky Martin has long been an international superstar – even long before ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ took over virtually every airway in the world. But it’s hard to deny that with that song, the Puerto Rican singer entered the global mainstream and ever since he’s been a pop icon.

From being one of the first major pop stars to publicly come out as gay, to acting in popular TV series, and getting married and becoming a father of four, Ricky Martin has always been a very busy man.

And despite a global pandemic that has forced all of us to stay at home and find a ‘new normal,’ Martin has forged a path forward. He recently sat down for an interview with Billboard to discuss everything from new music, the global Coronavirus pandemic, and his identity as an out and proud gay Latino.

Considering we’re all still living amid a global pandemic, the Billboard interview started on this very relevant topic.

Billboard points out that Martin and his family live in a very big and beautiful house in Beverly Hills, which likely makes staying at home a bit easier compared to the rest of us. However, Martin points out that he has a very loud home – with four kids and his mom all living under one roof. But he admits, “…I am very lucky. I am in a comfortable home where my kids can play.”

Ricky Martin is also working on new music. He released Pausa in May, and now as he works on new music the world is a very different place. He told Billboard: “I started working on my music maybe nine months ago. In my mind, the album was going to be called Movimiento, which means movement. But with all this [pandemic], it just told me… “The way it was, was not working. Let’s do it differently.” I have music with rhythm, but I was not going to tell people to move! So I named it Pausa.”

He also speaks about his close relationship with fellow Puerto Rican, El Conejo Malo.

Shortly after Billboard released its history-making cover with Bad Bunny on the the cover, Martin described San Benito as a “Latin queer icon.” Many people – of all backgrounds – took issue with that. But Ricky Martin tells Billboard that “allies are so important. Without them, our fight for equality is impossible. It really tickles me to see Bad Bunny as a gay icon — just like Cher could be. Why not?”

The Puerto Rican singer shared what his coming out experience was like and reveals he never tires of sharing it.

In the interview, Martin is very open about his coming out as gay. The singer came out as gay in 2010, married husband Jwan Yosef in 2017, and together the couple is raising four children.

Rolling Stone asked Martin, 48, what it was like to remain closeted during “the most public, exposed period” of his life.

“I had moments of extreme positivity, and not so positive [moments],” Martin answered. “Life was a bit on steroids in those days. Everything was really intense, but I could take it! I come from a school of military discipline when it comes to training for music, dance, and acting. I started when I was 12. So for me, it was about not being ready to open [up]. When you open an egg from the outside, what comes out is death. But when the egg opens from the inside, what comes out is life. It’s something that needs to come from within. Every time someone forces someone to come out, what you’re doing is you’re destroying the natural flow of the self-discovery.”

When asked what motivated him to come out publicly, Martin said that a kid somewhere in America needs to see positive headlines about coming out.

“Today I woke up to this beautiful headline that I know someone out there is in need of. The headline was something like, ‘I came out. And ever since I’ve been the happiest.’ Something like that, something… My heart is beating faster because I know today a kid somewhere in America woke up needing to hear those words. A lot of people say they get tired of talking about the same thing. Why would I? Are you kidding me? For so many years I had to keep it inside. And then the effect of someone… What people are getting from it in their healing process?”

Billboard also asked Martin his feelings on how the media is profiting and accepting Puerto Rican and Latinx culture.

When asked if he feels that the American media has gotten better or more open to understanding Puerto Rican culture, Martin responded: “We certainly have a long way to go, but the important thing is that we see that there’s an audience that is interested. And it’s up to us to bring [the] education.”

And he’s absolutely right. This year has seen several Latino artists rise to the top of all sorts of charts. Bad Bunny and J Balvin are among the most streamed artists globally and Bad Bunny is one of the most streamed artists on YouTube as well.

Meanwhile, Maluma and Jennifer Lopez are working on a film that will be out early next year. The Emmy’s, VMAs, and other award shows finally had decent representation of artists of color – particularly among the Latinx community.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

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.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com