For over a century, Boricuas have lived and settled in the U.S., but now, for the first time, there are more acá than allá. Such is not a “natural” phenomena, but part in parcel to an imperial project of power and domination. This is evident in the continual erasure, misrepresentation, or devaluing of our experiences in the mainstream media. If we are acknowledged at all, we are usually described as a small, troublesome “Latina/o exception”- an embarrassing footnote at the margins. Although were were and remain protagonists and key participants in movements for ethnic affirmation and political empowerment, U.S. and Puerto Rico societies know very little about the Boricua Diaspora. Thus, in response to our growing presence and these ongoing injustices, La Respuesta seeks to invoke a claim to our histories and heed a call to announce our stories.
Almost two years ago, in my essay, “Behold, the Boricua Diaspora,” I humbly challenged the Puerto Ricans born and/ or raised in the Diaspora (whom I call “indigenous exiles”) to construct an aesthetic that critically explores who we are and where we’re headed:
“If we construct a New Boricua Diaspora aesthetic we can, with greater clarity, understand who we are and map out possible directions. Quite simply and unequivocally, we can begin to recognize and honor our beauty, particularities, and greatness and heal wounds of self-hate and cynicism. This, for what it is worth, is an invitation to dialogue and to create. Who shall heed the call? Whose art will proclaim, ‘Behold, the Boricua Diaspora, in all its lamentations, in all its glory’?”
The words, “Behold, the Boricua Diaspora,” is in reference to Ecce Homo – “Behold, the Man,” spoken by Pontius Pilate, the Prefect of the Roman province of Judaea as he authorized Christ’s crucifixion. Reading those words I envisioned the Christ, defiant, his head bleeding from a crown of thorns and nearly naked, being revealed as the man, to a laughing crowd. I meditated on how we, as Boricuas – a people who have suffered so much – could attempt to be naked in front of all. Truly naked. To have our people, the islanders, and the rest of the world, read our pains and adversities, our hopes and dreams, our intellect and accomplishments. I dreamed of a Boricua Diaspora seen anew – internally and externally – and a renewed process of catharsis taking shape; of a diaspora unsilenced. La Respuesta magazine is a project to bring life to such a dream.
I was obviously not unique or alone in this desire. The idea for La Respuesta emerged from a trip to Hartford, Connecticut by a small group of Chicago Boricuas. Mesmerized by the murals, restaurants, emblems of El Morro on fire hydrants, and buildings resembling Viejo San Juan, the group could not help but draw connections to their own community’s historic center – Paseo Boricua. The conversation then moved onto how could they, as people of the Diaspora, build a space of dialogue and idea exchange, thus connecting the scattered “Boricuascape” (the places where Puerto Ricans find themselves and build community). For two years, many discussions and hard work ensued and then a motley of writers, artists and activists assembled on January 6, 2013, in Humboldt Park, Chicago to spearhead the task of developing a magazine. Six months and many meetings later, after difficult but inspiring collective work, here we are, with La Respuesta, our “response” to the world.
This magazine does not pretend to be the answer to the multi-layered and complex issues that inflict our people, but it is a complimentary act to the positive and productive work already being done to carry-out the self-actualization, self-determination and linking of the Puerto Rican Diaspora. That being said, La Respuesta aspires to be a source of distinct, complicated, and empowering representations and perspectives for our communities. We will be a space where we document, debate, re-interpret, and retell our histories. We will be a forum where past and emerging intellectual voices grapple with our contexts. And most importantly, we will be a magazine that inspires, motivates, and agitates actions to improve our conditions.
Con mucho cariño y humildad y con todo mi corazón, gracias to all those who made this project and soft launch possible, in both small and big ways. If I forget anyone, I sincerely apologize:
Michael Rodríguez Muñíz • Marisol Rodríguez • Mayadet Patitucci Cruz • Iliana Figueroa • Patricia Johnson • Asher Díaz • Madeline Rodríguez • Dorian Ortega • Jessica Gutiérrez Arocho • Sunyata Altenor • Melissa Duprey • Alyssa Villegas • Jacqueline Lyon • Camilo Matos • Andre Lee Muñiz • Abraham Velásquez Tello • Hector Luis Alamo, Jr. • José Cruz • Elías Irizarry Rosado • Sian Duprey • Bella Vida Letty • Luis Gallardo Rivera