Tag Archive for racism

Something Rotten is Happening in Holyoke

HolyokeMuralThe debacle in Holyoke continues. A few weeks ago, we published a statement from artist David Flores whose public mural was being denied display in the highly Puerto Rican-populated Massachusetts city.

“On Saturday, September 20, 2014, my Puerto Rican Diaspora-themed piece was commissioned and then excluded from being displayed as part of a public art initiative specifically because of its affirmation of Puerto Rican identity.” – David Flores

A day after we published his statement, the town’s mayor, Alex Morse, responded to the public outcry and decided to give the Boricua-themed public art piece a permanent home in City Hall.

Now the city’s council wants to ban all public art installations. The mayor vetoed this measure. In return, the council is attempting to override this – tomorrow! Read the mayor’s full statement, here.

“Last week, the City Council voted to place a moratorium on future public art installations. I vetoed the order, and tomorrow the Council will decide whether to override my veto. In addition to my veto, I have signed an executive order formalizing the process by which public art may be installed. With this step, I am confident that the Council will choose not to override the veto.” – Mayor Alex Morse.

We should all keep in mind that almost half of Holyoke’s residents are Puerto Rican, but with very few representation in political office and public initiatives. This measure by the city council is in direct response to the controversy over David Flores’ mural, which was created to pay homage to the Holyoke’s Boricua community. In other words, the city’s elected leaders (outside of the mayor) rather trash all public art initiatives than let Latina/os or Puerto Ricans play a role in it. Let’s hope they do not succeed.

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Could the U.S. Government Deport Puerto Ricans?

“Plainly the USA should get rid of this millstone. That’s easier said than done, though. In theory I guess Congress could simply end the “commonwealth” relationship and cut the place loose. In practice this would mean revoking the citizenship of the 3.7 million inhabitants. And what about the five million or so Puerto Ricans who reside in the USA?

Another approach would be to get Puerto Ricans thinking that independence might be a good idea. Perhaps we could try oppressing the place: Make them tenant farmers under absentee landlords, proscribe use of their native tongue, and shut down their churches. Hey, it worked for Ireland.” - How Can We Get Rid of Puerto Rico?

BarrioIcon-Newsletter1x1Ay, nothing seems to surprise me these days, especially when it comes to imperial subjects talking about their colonies. While the above quote and article disturbs me (especially since what the author describes was actually done to Puerto Rico by the U.S. government), I have come to know that the viewpoint does not just belong to extremists, but is part of the mainstream – whether it is said publicly or not. It could also speak to a dangerous trend in political discourse that one day may become official policy.

First, the belief that Puerto Ricans are fully responsible for their (internal)colonial reality allows for Puerto Rico to be in a political limbo with the United States government for over 100 years. Let’s not forget that the archipelago colony is under the legal auspices of the U.S. Congress, as determined by the Supreme Court, i.e. “Puerto Rico belongs to but is not a part of the U.S.” Let’s not forget that there has never been a legally binding referendum (unlike what took place in Scotland) to give its people the opportunity to decide their own future, i.e. self-determination. So, if the author wants to get rid of this “burden”, then they should be pushing the U.S. government to stop practicing imperialism. That also includes taking responsibility for what it has done to the archipelago, namely destroying the local economy for the benefit of its multi-national companies. It’s also curious that the author likes to perpetuate the pathology of the colony’s residents, but forgets the billions of dollars and thousands of jobs the U.S. acquires from the colony – way more than it “invests.” Let keep it real.

Second and, most importantly, the author alludes to a theoretical probability of all Puerto Ricans loosing their U.S. citizenship, including the Diaspora. Yup, you heard me right.

For the last few years, mainstream politicians have been clamoring for the revocation of the 14th amendment, which allows for birth-right citizenship. This is obviously due to anti-immigrant xenophobia. As pathologized colonial subjects Puerto Ricans are racialized as non-white and therefore are also understood as “alien” and “dangerous” to the imperial “body.” If the 14th amendment is ever gotten rid of, then the U.S. Congress could simply strip away the Puerto Rican right to citizenship. Even more – and this might depend on ensuing lawsuits, as well as other factors – is that Boricuas who were born in the U.S. to parents from Puerto Rico could also get their citizenship taken away. That coupled with immediate independence, which the author recommends, could mean that the Boricua Diaspora could be “illegalized” and deported “back” to the archipelago. Scary, isn’t it?

Of course, there is a lot of social, political, and economic factors that need to be considered for what I have described to fully materialize. But the ideas and conditions are out there and, sadly, no one is engaging with them. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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