A lot of people who know me in a personal level, knows I am a proud Puerto Rican. And they also know what I have been feeling about the Puerto Rican Day Parade since well EVER. But this year I am happy to be a family ambassador at the parade thanks to ¡Capicú! So what made me change my mind? I want to share with you my pitch to participate in the parade.
I am Puerto Rican. I love my Island. I love my history and my heritage. I love that we come in all colors and shape. I love our language and our music. There is one thing I DON’T love and it is the way we are represented.
A bit of history: I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. When I was growing up I fell in love with our history (even got the history medal at graduation). As I grew up the only image I had of the Puerto Rican day parade was of people dressed head to toe in a flag. Some of these people hadn’t even been to the island, some of them didn’t know Spanish- but I didn’t care about that. It hurt me that they didn’t know our history. They didn’t know about the Jones Act or didn’t know about el Grito de Lares, or didn’t know about the Taínos. That’s what hurt me. It offended me that they thought they were more proud to be Puerto Rican than me just because they covered themselves in a flag.
I soon discovered I was not the only one who felt this way. To this day, a lot of the people in the Island dislike the Puerto Rican Day Parade. When I moved to New York, I vowed to never partake in the festivities because I felt it didn’t represent my people or me. This also became a bigger concern in 2000 when there were reports of attacks and robbery during the parade.
And then I had kids and I want them to know where they come from. I want them to know my Puerto Rico.
Almost 16 years living in New York and now I want to be part of the celebration. Why? Recently, Puerto Rico has been in the news in the wake of the worst economic crisis the Island has ever experienced. Still, I didn’t think it was important for me to be part of the Parade, until I attended the Diaspora Summit at Centro PR. The summit took place a couple of weeks ago and I attended out of curiosity, since I didn’t think it had anything to do with me. YET, IT HAD EVERYTHING TO DO WITH ME! It opened my eyes to the state of the Island. It shook me to the core. It touched my roots and made me question my purpose.
If there is one thing that stood out the most during the whole summit, was the importance of unity of Puerto Ricans in order to achieve ANYTHING. Even more important during these times of crisis. So, I was presented with the opportunity to participate in the parade. I did my research and the changes to the parade have been so great. The organizers are really working hard to change the old image of the parade and actually create consciousness of the issues in the Island.
I want to be part of the Parade because I have a different perspective. The Puerto Rican Day Parade is part of the Islands history and therefor is part of me. I hope I do get the chance to spend time at the parade for the first time in my life. I think it will have great impact on my life.