relationships

My Family Members Are Proud Puerto Ricans and Proud Trump Supporters, So We Don’t Have a Relationship

My Puerto Rican heritage has always been one of the most influential aspects of my identity. Like most people from our small little island, I was brought up to be proud and celebratory of all the beautiful traditions and cultural customs my grandparents and great-grandparents brought to the mainland from the island. Summers spent visiting family in large cities and small towns across la isla made me love my Puerto Rican-ness even more, having had the chance to see its wonder and history with my own eyes.

I also have tías and tíos who embrace our identity in similar ways. Raised on the island but now in the States, they have Taíno symbols tattooed and proudly displayed on their bodies and make coquito at Christmastime. They don’t let their Latin names fall out of mouths mispronounced, and are the first people to share the “Hit Like If You Love La Isla Del Entanco” and “Proud Puerto Rican” memes on Facebook. You would know that they were Puerto Rican from a mile away. From that same distance, you’d also see their MAGA hats and signs.

I come from a family that includes a few die-hard Trump supporters.

It’s something I do not understand, cannot relate to, and frankly, find myself incapable of supporting. Donald Trump’s administration has endangered and purposefully offended marginalized groups, only encouraging division among us. Trump himself has mocked, berated, and belittled many, including Puerto Rico and its very people.

He has shamed both the lives lost and survivors of Hurricane Maria, chalked up slow reparations as failures of the island, and supplied its inhabitants with dismal aid, at best. He garbles la isla’s name, equates its citizens as second-class to that of the mainland U.S., and paints their governor out to be a villain. And so to my tías and tíos I ask:

How can you love Puerto Rico, being Puerto Rican, and all that it entails, while also supporting the policy of a man who demeans and expresses hate towards those very things?

During the time of the presidential election, I was a first-time voter living abroad, and I worked to be as informed and involved as I could when it came to mailing my absentee ballot. I wrote online about it to friends back home as much as I could, and shared fact-checking resources and voting information. I wanted to vote in the direction of compassion and justice for all people. For me, that vote wasn’t Donald Trump. But my aunts and uncles feel that he represents everything good about America. “He’s honest,” they’d write to me over Facebook. “He’s not a politician he’s a businessman and that’s what we need in the White House,” “he tells it like it is and doesn’t care if other people don’t like it.” Anything he said about immigrants, especially Mexicans and people from the Middle East, was true to them. As a military family, they supported the Second Amendment unwaveringly, nobody could take their guns. Trans anything didn’t exist, and judging from the most recent posts that I’ve seen from them, all these beliefs still stand.

My aunts and uncles live far enough away that we would see each other here and there.

Most of our interactions are through phone calls and shared photos or posts through social media. While living in Europe, this dynamic became even more important. They are the kind of people who live on Facebook, and always comment “que bella,” “que dios te bendiga,” and “saludos a la familia,” on anything you put online. They’ve mailed me gifts for my birthday, shared some of my writing online like a proud parent, and from what I know of them as their niece, seem to be nice people. I’d mail them postcards and update them on my travels, looking to keep our connection.

I’d notice that when I’d choose to post something political on social media that skewed more liberal, progressive, or even socialist, these same people would suddenly not comment on what I wrote at all, or would make a long winded point of telling me in front of everyone else I follow that I was wrong and with age I would “learn.” Gun control, immigration at the border, abortion and women’s rights, disability and homelessness were all topics that I seemed to be butting heads with my family about online. When I’d go back to posting a photo from vacation on the Italian coast, they’d pour over it with love and smiley faces. They’d tag me in their pro-Latino content and message me prayer chains in Spanish. It was a constant back and forth where I’d get snapped at for my “bad” politics, but praised for the adult I was turning into in spite of it.

By the time the inauguration came around and I was back in the states, I stopped getting those prayer DMs and heart emojis on photos from my extended family.

It was clear that there was a distance between us politically but driven by a clear difference in morality. I felt weird reaching out and receiving love from them in some instances, where, in others, I was the enemy. Last year, when my family started circulating posts shaming the island Post-Maria, tensions online got much worse. Suddenly the island they loved was also a wasteland for corrupt lazy, welfare stealing drug addicts who post-natural disaster couldn’t pull themselves back on their feet even if they tried. I tried to reason with them in the comments of my posts, and in private when the messages they shared about Puerto Rico were too atrocious to discuss on public social feeds. Ultimately unfriended, blocked, and detached, it hurt to see the relationship, despite its distance, dissolve in the only way it really existed.

By contrast, I have other Puerto Rican family members who support Trump, but also openly denounce our culture as they are white passing. I’m disappointed but not shocked by their political choices, as they have shared in the past why they choose not to embrace or identify with their Latinidad. With their dark skin, dark hair, and deep cultural upbringing, my other relatives don’t share this “excuse.” I am particularly off-put by the fact my other family who do claim to love our island and being Latino think that this man’s behavior is acceptable.

It breaks my heart to see people I love, vouch for a man who’d laugh in their faces if he could. It hurts, even more, to see people shun their roots in favor of leaving “PC Culture” behind. The fact that they can with confidence do both–and not see a problem–creates a problem for so many other Puerto Ricans and Latinos who as a result continue to be harassed, ridiculed, and ultimately forgotten. It gives others the green light to join in on prejudice and racism, and it gives policymakers courage in counting us out when our people are among the first to advocate for it. It makes me sad. I think of how we could be united for Puerto Rico and the Latinx community at large in the face of this injustice, and I wonder why it is that for some reason, we can’t. I love them as my family, but it’s difficult to like them as people. There is pain in knowing that our president divides us, but comfort in knowing that friends and even strangers can count on me to be a voice against injustice, even when my family refuses to be.


Read: Walking With The Dead On Día de Los Muertos

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The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

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The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

There’s no denying that the world looks a lot different now than it did in 1947. And while the list of all of the positive changes that the decades stretching between now and then have done for the world and minorities, a recent campaign is also highlighting the ways in which our current president could take some notes on certain values the United States held dear during this time. Particularly ones that had been pressed for by one of our former presidents.

As part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor Policy” effort, he worked to promote positive and healthy relations between the United States in Latin American countries.

At the time Rooseveltaimed to ensure that the North, Central and South American countries avoided breaking under the influence of Axis countries during World War II. As part of this campaign, Roosevelt comissioned a Spanish and a Portuguese version of the U.S. national anthem. According to Time Magazine he also “recruited Hollywood to participate in this Good Neighbor Policy; Walt Disney went on goodwill tour of South America, hoping to find a new market for his films, and ended up producing two movies inspired by the trip: Saludos Amigos (1942) and The Three Caballeros (1944). The Brazilian star Carmen Miranda also got a boost, and her role in The Gang’s All Here made her even more famous in the U.S. And alongside these cross-cultural exchanges, the U.S. government decided it needed an anthem that could reach Spanish speakers.”

According to NPR, Clotilde Arias, wrote wrote the translation at the end of World War II, was born in the small Peruvian city, Iquitos in 1901 and moved to New York City to become a composer when she was 22-years-old. Her version of the anthem is now part of an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Now in an effort to support Latino communities affected by the coronavirus, the non-profit We Are All Human Foundation’s Hispanic Star campaign commissioned the a remake of the song.

Hoping to raise awareness of its Hispanic Recovery Plan and efforts to help to connect Hispanic small businesses and workers with resources during the pandemic, the campaign brought the old recording from obscurity.

For the song, the 2019 winner of the singing competition La Voz,  Jeidimar Rijos, performed “El Pendón Estrellado.” Or, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

The song has already received quite a bit of comments and support on Youtube.

Hang in there, fam. We can only get through this together.

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A 9-Year-Old Girl Was Detained By Border Patrol On Her Way To School

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A 9-Year-Old Girl Was Detained By Border Patrol On Her Way To School

A 9-year-old U.S. citizen was separated from her mother for 36 hours after agents at the border accused her of lying about her citizenship.

Like thousands of students in our country, Julia Isabel Amparo Medina’s daily commute requires her to cross the U.S. border.

The fourth-grade student attends Nicoloff Elementary School in San Ysidro, California and was in a carpool to school from her home in Tijuana when she ran into traffic. Medina, was commuting to school in a car driven by her mother’s friend Michelle Cardena, Cardena’s two children and her own older 14-year-old brother, Oscar. When the long line to get into the U.S. seemed to be jampacked upon their 4 a.m arrival, Cardenas instructed the kids in her car to walk to the border. She assured them that when they reached it, she would call them an Uber to get them the rest of the way to their school.

But Medina and her never made it across the border or to school that day.

According to the New York Times who talked to a Customs and Border Protection spokesman, two Amparo and her brother arrived at one of the San Ysidro port of entry facilities for pedestrians at 10:15 a.m. last Monday.

Upon their arrival, Amparo and her brother presented their U.S. passports to a CBP officer who soon accused her of being someone else. Note: Amparo’s passport image which was taken years before so she did not look exactly like herself. They also accused her brother of smuggling.

A CBP spokesperson has said that Amparo “provided inconsistent information during her inspection, and CBP officers took the 9-year-old into custody to perform due diligence in confirming her identity and citizenship.”

After CBP officers the confirmed that her brother was a U.S. citizen, he was permitted to enter the U.S while his sister stayed behind. It wasn’t until 6:30 pm on Tuesday, that Amparo was confirmed to be a U.S. citizen as well and was released and admitted to the U.S. to her mother.

Speaking to NBC7, Amparo said she was “scared” of her detention and that she was “sad because I didn’t have my mom or my brother. I was completely by myself.”

According to Amparo’s mother Thelma Galaxia, her daughter claims that she was told by an officer that she and her brother would be released if she admitted to being her cousin. Galaxia claims that officers also convinced her son Oscar to sign a document that Amparo was his cousin and not his sister.

When Galaxia was alerted that her children had been detained she contacted the Mexican consulate.

After being notified by the consulate that her daughter would be released at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. While the family felt relieved to be grateful to be reunited with their daughter, Galaxia says the separation should never have happened.

Over the weekend, Twitter was swift to express their outrage over the incident.

Some even expressed their dismay of having a similar situation happen to them.

Many are using the incident as an example of the racial issues plaguing so many U.S. citizens like Amparo.

So many of the comments included outside opinions from those who have yet to experience the direct targetting of ICE.

Over all, nearly everyone was quick to point out the saddest aspect of Amparo’s experience.

Read: Preschool Students Are Doing Active Shooter Drills And I Guess This Is The New Normal Now

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