Things That Matter

Puerto Rico Is Completely Flooded And Could Go Months Without Electricity. Here’s How People In The U.S. Are Uniting Beautifully To Help

Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico on Wednesday, inundating its towns with mudslides and floods and leaving the entire island without electricity. With poles and lines collapsed over many of the island’s streets, it could take half a year to restore power to its 3.5 million inhabitants, and that’s for those whose homes weren’t completely destroyed. Photos and videos keep pouring into social media of demolished residencies, roofless homes and windowless apartments. At least one person has been reported dead.

At 155 miles per hour, the category 4 hurricane was the worst to hit the country in more than 80 years, and it came as the Caribbean island is grappling with its years-long debt crisis. “The San Juan that we knew yesterday is no longer there,” an emotional Carmen Yulín Cruz, mayor of San Juan, told NBC. With trees toppled, roads flooded and buildings shattered, the same can be said of most of “La Isla del Encanto.”

The people of Puerto Rico, the same ones who after getting slammed by Hurricane Irma earlier this month aided other Caribbean islands in need, are in dire need of our help. For those who are able, we urge you to donate money, goods or even blood to the folks of El Borikén. Below, we’ve listed funds, drives and events occurring on the island and across the country where you can help out.

Puerto Rico

To best serve the people of Puerto Rico, it’s crucial to support and donate to the organizations and funds doing work on the ground. Donations to Hurricane Maria Community Recovery Fund will go to people on the frontlines, those supporting low-income communities of color that are often hit hardest yet see the slowest recovery. There’s also ConPRmetidos, a nonprofit based on the island, that started the Puerto Rico Real-Time Recovery Fund. They are hoping to raise $150,000 to provide immediate needs like food, water and shelter to the people as well as assist in long-term recovery efforts. Also, Fondos Unidos de Puerto Rico is a nonprofit organization with a history of providing direct services to the people of Puerto Rico. They don’t currently have an online fundraiser but donations can be sent via mail at: Fondos Unidos de Puerto Rico ​P.O. Box 191914 San Juan, PR 00919.

New York

In New York, Defend Puerto Rico is partnering with two local organizations on the island, Nuestra Escuela and Taller Salud, for a LOIZA Hurricane Relief Fundraiser. The Bombazo-style event, which takes place at the Julia de Burgos Art Center in East Harlem on Thursday, Sept. 21 (today) from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., will include music, dance and art. There’s a $5 suggested donation fee, with all of the funds going to the two Puerto Rico-based organizations. If you can’t make the event, but still want to donate, you can do so at its YouCaring campaign.

Also in Nueva York, Barrio Poetix will host a hurricane relief event on Tuesday, Sept. 26 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The evening, hosted by Puerto Rican poet Mariposa, will include several poetry and musical performances. Organizers are asking for a $10 suggested donation.

For those in the city who can’t attend events but want to send items to Puerto Rico, El Maestro, located at 1300 Southard Blvd. Bronx, New York 10459, and Casabe Senior Houses, at 150 East 121 Street in East Harlem, are taking clothing, non-perishable foods, personal hygiene items, baby supplies, first aid kits and batteries between the hours of 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. from Thursday (today) until Sept. 23.

Florida

Throughout Florida, there are several events and donation drop-offs. Starting Sept. 21 (today), there will be donation drives in Orlando, Greenacres and Tampa. Similar drives will also commence on Friday in Miami and Sept. 29 in West Palm Beach.

For those in Central Florida, the Lake Nona Run Club will host a Re-Building Puerto Rico 5K in Orlando on Saturday, Sept. 30. There’s a suggested donation of $10, with all funds going to assistance on the island. Also in Orlando, Centro Borinqueño, located at 1865 N. Econlockhatchee Tr., Orlando, Florida 32817, will have a blood drive on Saturday, Sept. 23, and Sunday, Sept. 24. On Oct. 1 in Lakeland, instructor Rosa Garcia will host a 90-minute Zumba session dedicated to Puerto Rico relief.

Chicago

In Chicago, The Puerto Rican Agenda is hosting an emergency fundraiser on Friday, Sept. 22 at the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center. The event, which will take place from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., will include live performances, a silent auction and more. There’s a $25 donation required to get in.

Philadelphia

In Philadelphia, UnidosPa’PR will host a meeting and press conference on Thursday, Sept. 21 (today) to introduce the group and provide information on how to get involved. The same organization will host a donors reception on Sunday, Sept. 24 at Fairhill Square Park from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Also in “The City of Brotherly Love,” Norris Square Community Alliance, a community development center operated by women, is taking donations on Thursday, Sept. 21 between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. They are collecting water, batteries, candles, bleach, powdered mills, baby formula, diapers and canned goods.

New Jersey

Puertorriquenos Asociados For Community Organization (PACO) is holding a drive in Jersey City. Locals can donate water, bleach, canned goods, batteries and senior/children’s diapers at the drop-off location on 390 Manila Ave. Jersey City, NJ. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Saturday. On Sept. 29, New Jersey’s DC Social Club will throw a hurricane relief fundraiser from 6 p.m. till closing. A $20 donation will get you indoors for drinks, food and music by Jay La Musica.

Boston

Boston Boricuas are gathering next week on Tuesday, Sept. 26 for a brainstorming session at La Galería, located at 405 Shawmut Ave., from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The discussion will center on how to better support families and friends en la isla. If you’re Boston-based but can’t make it out that day, you can join the conversation by dialing in to 695-475-4120 (access code: 683*3847).

California

In Oakland, Calif., Taller Bombalele’s monthly Bombazo en la Bahia event will this month help fundraise money for relief efforts in Puerto Rico. The jam session, which will include live music and dance, will be at the AU Lounge (2430 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612) from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 24. There’s a $5-$7 suggested donation. Next month, San Francisco’s Por Una Causa will host a perreo to help the island recover from the disaster. The “reggaetón for a cause” party happens on Saturday, Oct. 7 from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. at El Rio, at 3158 Mission St. San Francisco, CA 94110. The tickets are $10 presale and $15 at the door.

Cali-based folks who can’t attend the events but want to assist in relief efforts can donate money to a GoFundMe put together by the Los Angeles-based group Puerto Ricans in Action. All funds will be donated to the following nonprofits in Puerto Rico: ConPRmetidos, Iniciativa Comunitaria, Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico, United Way of Puerto Rico.

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.-based Boricuas have organized a DCRicans For Puerto Rico relief event to help aid the island following Hurricane Maria’s devastation. The event, which will take place at the Hawk ‘n’ Dove in Southeast on Friday, Sept. 22, will include live Puerto Rican folk music. All funds raised will go to the United for Puerto Rico fund.

Cleveland

In Cleveland, Ohio, Puerto Ricans started a drive to support their island. Starting on Sept. 21 (today) and going through Sept. 24, donations can be taken to the San Lorenzo Club at 3415 Clark Avenue in Cleveland between noon and 8 p.m. The group is currently accepting canned goods, baby food, clothing, water, non-perishable items, diapers and pet supplies.

Read: 9 Hits To Get You Hype And Proud To Be Puerto Rican

Let us know what relief efforts are taking place in your community in the comments and consider sharing them on this disaster relief Google Doc.

Puerto Rico Has Declared A State Of Emergency And Left Residents Without Access To Running Water

Things That Matter

Puerto Rico Has Declared A State Of Emergency And Left Residents Without Access To Running Water

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Another crisis is unfolding on the island of Puerto Rico, as a severe drought grips the territory and forces the government to take drastic measures. After a series of major earthquakes and hurricanes, Puerto Rico is now suffering through one of its worst droughts in history.

Water is scarce. And the government is implementing rationing measures that will leave hundreds of thousands of residents without regular access to running water.

Gov. Wanda Vazquez has announced a state of emergency as the government begins rationing water.

Puerto Rico is once again in the headlines for an ongoing crisis that is affecting hundreds of thousands of island residents. On Monday, Puerto Rico’s governor declared a state of emergency as a worsening drought creeps across the territory.

Starting July 2, nearly 140,000 customers, including some in the capital of San Juan, will be without water for 24 hours every other day as part of strict rationing measures. Puerto Rico’s utilities company urged people to not excessively stockpile water because it would worsen the situation, and officials asked that everyone use masks and maintain social distancing if they seek water from one of 23 water trucks set up across the island.

“We’re asking people to please use moderation,” said Doriel Pagán, executive director of Puerto Rico’s Water and Sewer Authority, adding that she could not say how long the rationing measures will last.

The order signed also prohibits certain activities in most municipalities including watering gardens during daylight hours, filling pools and using a hose or non-recycled water to wash cars. Those caught face fines ranging from $250 for residents to $2,500 for industries for a first violation.

Puerto Rico is experiencing a drought ranging from moderate to severe in some parts of the territory.

Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, as of last week more than 26% of the island is experiencing a severe drought and another 60% is under a moderate drought. Water rationing measures affecting more than 16,000 clients were imposed this month in some communities in the island’s northeast region.

The island’s access to water is complicated by the fact that many residents rely on a system of reservoirs in Puerto Rico for water. However, due to budget constraints, several have not been dredged for years, leaving sediment to collect and allowing the excess loss of water. 

Aside from drought, the island is still recovering from a pair of deadly earthquakes and Hurricane Maria.

Credit: Eric Rojas / Getty Images

Over the last few years, Puerto Rico has suffered a one-two punch that has left much of the island’s infrastructure in shambles. In fact, Vasquez cited the lasting impacts of the December and January earthquakes and the coronavirus pandemic as exacerbating the water crisis.

The current water crisis has threatened the safety and wellbeing of Puerto Ricans. The earthquakes also disproportionately impacted the southern region where the drought is most severe. Vázquez also extended the coronavirus curfew for the whole island, which began in March, for three more weeks, making it the longest continuous curfew in the United States so far.

People Are Using Social Media to Highlight Racism On The Islands

Things That Matter

People Are Using Social Media to Highlight Racism On The Islands

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

The world is paying attention to racism in the world right now. The Black Lives Matter movement has gone international and people are starting to call out racism everywhere they see it. This means shining a light on racism on social media to really highlight the issue.

Afro-Caribbean people are using #AquíNoExisteElRacismoPero and #PeroNoSomosRacists to highlight racism.

Social media users are sharing their experiences with racism on the Caribbean islands and the hashtags speak volumes. The hashtags translate to #ButWeAreNotRacists and #ThereIsNoRacismHereBut are being used to highlight racism in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

There is an understood in the Latino community that racism runs deep but it is often ignored. Culturally, it has plagued the Latino community for generations with microaggressions about hair and “bettering the race.” It is something that we need to address and these hashtags are calling it out.

Some Dominicans are highlighting the microaggressions that have existed for as long as time.

Microaggressions are some of the most common and annoying moments of racism around. They are little but when there are enough they really add up fast. They are all around and are said so often that people often ignore them when they are said. “Pelo malo” one of the most common examples of racist microaggressions in the Latino community. It is always Afro-Latinos who have “pelo malo.”

The hair microaggressions are some of the earliest.

Twitter users are coming forward with stories of having their hair relaxed and chemically treated to be “better.” The focus on Euro-centric beauty within the Afro-Latino community is toxic and instilling it in children so young is a traumatic and hurtful experience.

Some people have been able to use the experience to empower themselves.

People who can take a moment like this ad grow from it are the kind of people you want to know. You go with your self-acceptance and love. There is nothing more beautiful than being yourself and learning to love all of you is a journey so many have to make.

There are so many microaggressions that have become far to familiar in our community and we have to fight against them.

Cosas que escuché en mi entorno mientras crecía :"En nuestra familia no hay negros""Mijito tienes que mejorar la raza…

Posted by Stefano Navarro on Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Things I heard in my surroundings growing up:
“There are no black in our family.”
“Mijito you have to improve the race.”
“Marry a white girl.”
“You’re not black, you’re tricky, don’t say that again.”
“I’m not black, I’m brunette.”
“You mean the black I was selling….”
“You work like black.”
“You sweat like black.”
“Your kids came out happily white.”
“You smell like black.”
#PeroNoSomosRacistas

READ: 8 Racist Habits Latinos Seriously Need To Drop