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Julia De Burgos Had A Short Life But Her Legacy Continues To Inspire Afro-Latinas Today

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Julia de Burgos was a woman ahead of her time. The prolific writer, feminist, and activist — born in Carolina, Puerto Rico in 1914 — excelled in her craft long before anyone was ready to acknowledge it. Her world wasn’t prepared for an Afro-Latina academic that would defy conservative tradition. And so, she challenged it with her words.

Like Puerto Rico in the 1920s and 30s, Julia de Burgos was also coming of age.

It’s as if they were both figuring out who they were going to be and what they would represent. The main difference between the island and de Burgos is that she took broader steps much faster than the island could keep up. In her short life, De Burgos’s accomplished so much despite being born in extreme poverty. In many ways, she was a survivor and a fighter. De Burgos survived malnutrition when her six younger siblings could not. She survived Hurricane San Felipe Segundo, Puerto Rico’s only Category 5 to ever strike the island — when more than 300 other unfortunately did not.

At age 24 she self-published her book of poetry.

In 1939 she released “Poema en veinte surcos” (“Poem in Twenty Furrows”). Even at that young age, de Burgos was already married, a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, and working as a teacher. Poetry, however, was her real love.

Her work dealt with the issues she knew best: poverty, Puerto Rico, and a desire to live.

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One of the greatest revolutionaries! #Repost ¿Sabías que en el 1937 Julia de Burgos añadió la palabra “de” a su apellido para demostrar que sólo ella tenía posesión de sí misma? Julia de Burgos es considerada la poeta más grande que ha tenido Puerto Rico. Mediante su trabajo exploró temas sobre esclavitud, imperialismo, justicia social, y feminismo. Su poesía le dio acceso a los círculos intelectuales de Puerto Rico. Sin embargo, estos grupos no estaban listos para aceptar la equidad del hombre y la mujer. “En mí no, que en mí manda mi solo corazón, mi solo pensamiento; quien manda en mí soy yo”. Poema "A Julia de Burgos", por Julia de Burgos. #WomenWednesday #CorramosNosotras #JuliaDeBurgos #JuliaVive

A post shared by Nuestra Matria Borkén ☭ (@nuestra_patriapr) on

It’s astonishing to know that such a young woman could write so beautifully about her homeland’s disgraceful history of colonization and slavery at the hands of the Spanish. She was a strong advocate of Puerto Rico’s freedom from Spain and becoming a nation. In 1939, De Burgos became a member of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party and also the Secretary-General of the Daughters of Freedom. Her role was seen as controversial, at least by the United States. Writer Molly Crabapple noted that the FBI interrogated De Burgos because they suspected her of being a nationalist and communist.

Biographer Vanessa Pérez Rosario told the New York Times that De Burgos’ notion of what Puerto Rico was more significant than the island could aspire to.

“She already envisioned an idea of Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican identity that was much broader than what was being articulated on the island at the time,” Rosario told the New York Times.

Her thoughts and ideas were too much for Puerto Rico’s elite circle of male intellects, and so, in 1940, she left the island and set for another island, the island of Manhattan. By this time, de Burgos had already published two more collections of poetry and was divorced. She had begun a relationship with a Dominican political exile named Juan Isidro Jimenes Grullón who was her equal intellectually, but not in social status. He came from an affluent family.

“I want to be universal,” de Burgos said to her sister when she arrived in New York City, according to Ms. Magazine. De Burgos did just that and moved to Cuba for a while but returned to Manhattan where she was once again a starving artist this time “facing racial, ethnic and linguistic discrimination.”

Regardless of those harrowing obstacles, de Burgos — who no longer was with Grullón — continued to work as a writer and also a journalist for a local Spanish-language newspaper. Puerto Rico also recognized her achievements and awarded an honor from the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature and an honorary doctorate from the University of Puerto Rico.

In the mid-’40s, De Burgos had remarried though that relationship also ended in divorce.

According to her niece, María Consuelo Sáez Burgos, de Burgos became depressed and turned to drinking. Her alcohol abuse led to “cirrhosis of the liver and respiratory disease.”

Her death, however, is probably the saddest end to her prolific life. The Times reports that police found de Burgos unconscious on the streets of Harlem. She died at the hospital in 1953. She was just 39 years old. And, because she didn’t have an I.D. when police took her to the hospital, she was listed as a Jane Doe. She was buried in a random cemetery and was finally discovered by her family weeks later. Her remains were later exhumed and taken back to Puerto Rico. Despite that tragic ending, her legacy lives on in her poetry, and more importantly in the people, she continues to inspire.

Fans of de Burgos, or those curious about her work can turn to the following books: “Poemas exactos a mi misma,” “Poema en veinte surcos,” “Canción de la verdad sencilla,” and “El mar y tú: otros poemas (1954).” Most of them are available on Amazon.


READ: 21 Things You Didn’t Know About Celia Cruz, The Indisputable Queen Of Salsa

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Bill Gates, Second Richest Man On Earth, Disagrees With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Marginal Tax Plan

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Bill Gates, Second Richest Man On Earth, Disagrees With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Marginal Tax Plan

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When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez first presented the idea that the rich should be taxed up to 70 percent on all money made after $10 million in a year, there was a clear and loud gasp among the wealthy. How could a young woman of color have the audacity to propose such a thought as to marginally tax the rich more than the poor? The notion of a marginal tax on the rich to help fund the rest of the country was so unusual to former Starbucks CEO and billionaire Howard Schultz that he decided to run for president.

“Let’s be sensible about what we are suggesting,” Shultz said, according to Business Insider, regarding the congresswoman’s marginal tax plan. “Let’s not just throw things against the wall because it’s a good slogan or a good press release.”

Now, another billionaire is speaking out against marginally taxing the excessively rich.

Bill Gates, the second richest man in the world, said taxing the wealthy more than other group isn’t reasonable.

In an interview with the Verge, Gates thinks a 70 percent marginal tax on the rich, which would tax money made after they make $10 million in one year, is missing the “bigger picture” and would lead to other problems. Gates said that a marginal tax on the super rich will only cause them to put their money in off-shore accounts (something the excessively rich already do to avoid paying their fair share), and added that it’s difficult to show who is wealthy because of some people’s money is in stocks, not actual currency.

“Certainly, the idea of government being more effective in terms of how it runs education or social programs, there’s a lot of opportunity for improvement there,” he said. “In terms of revenue collection, you wouldn’t want to just focus on the ordinary income rate, because people who are wealthy have a rounding error of ordinary income.”

He did, however, offer an alternative: “The estate tax and the tax on capital, the way the FICA [Federal Insurance Contributions Act] and Social Security taxes work. We can be more progressive without really threatening income generation — what you have left to decide how to spread around.”

Gates also addressed Ocasio-Cortez tax plan on the “Late Show” and admitted to being biased about the idea.

Stephen Colbert, the host of the “Late Show,” asked Gates and his wife Melinda “There’s a lot of talk right now that maybe billionaires shouldn’t exist, have you heard some of this talk?”

Gates responded by saying: “Well, we might be biased” and added, “I think you can make the tax system take a much higher portion from people with great wealth.” While that response seemed as if he was coming around to Ocasio-Cortez’s tax plan he then pushed back on the idea.

“So I think that’s a great debate,” Gates told Colbert. “I think if you go so far as to say that there’s a total upper limit, that might have more negatives than positives. But, you know, I may have a distorted view of this.”

Hey, at least he admits to it, but there’s an essential element about Ocasio-Cortez’s tax plan that billionaires refuse to see.

History shows that a marginal tax existed between 1957 and 1970s and it worked.

The marginal tax in the past has been as high at 92 percent. The most important part of a marginal tax plan is that not all of the income is taxed at that rate. People are free to earn up to $10 million in a year at the normal tax rate. However, any money generated over the $10 million threshold is then subjected to an elevated tax. The revenue generated by the tax plan, according to some experts, would benefit the U.S. economy and strengthen the middle class. Currently, people are seeing their own tax refunds going down or owning thousands of more dollars to the federal government because of Trump’s tax plan that gave tax breaks to the same ultra-wealthy who don’t want the 70 percent marginal tax.

According to Fortune magazine, a majority of Americans approve of Ocasio-Cortez’s tax plan. Fifty-nine percent of registered voters, 71 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of Independents, and 45 percent of Republicans, all support the 70 percent marginal tax on the excessively wealthy.


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