I am writing today from within. I write from the roots of my being. I am an American, a Puerto Rican. I am the daughter of an island born on the mainland of a country in turmoil over identity. Today, I see inaction on behalf of other American citizens, on inhabitants of an island in despair. Americans absent from inclusion, they live on an island bombarded by the waters of grief and we are all hurting. Our island is in trouble and we are stranded on the mainland, hopeless, fearful, and desperate.
La isla del encanto, la isla de mi niñez, drowned by a storm— is surfacing for air.
And I see all of us crying out for our people.
I see humanity emerging from the depths of tragedy.
We cry out with memories of a coqui singing, the sounds of parrandas bellowing through the night, el cuatro is the backdrop of my childhood, with trio music cascading through my memories.
I still smell el calor de la lluvia que cae en el verano and I hear my grandmother saying to me, “se caso la bruja, lluvia con sol.” I can’t translate culture. I can’t turn this refrán into something that makes sense in English. Sometimes, I can’t make sense of myself in America, because I am Puerto Rican. The earmarks of our culture lose meaning when we try to translate them.
We try to translate our being, our identity. We try to be American- but we don’t have to try because we are Americans with a dash of sazón.
Our culture is a mixture of history told over the sounds of an island’s melody for decades.
We are American. We are part of this country too; we are the people of a nation that ignores us.
We fight in wars, we work in your business, we are doctors, nurses, teachers, representatives, we even hold a position in the Supreme Court, we are Grammy award winners, Tony award winners, actors, actresses, sports players, musicians, rappers, poets, writers, executives, secretaries, your neighbors, and friends.
It saddens me that the tragedy which has fallen upon the birthplace of my ancestry has devastated the Motherland. But I want you to remember “Esta raza siempre es brava/ Aunque sople el temporal” (Residente, Hijos Del Cañaveral).
Don’t lose sight of the solidarity that has forged from this tragedy. Make an effort to help. Bring attention to the plight of our island; bring attention to the people of the island. Don’t sit down and remain silent, write letters make phone calls, donate money for relief efforts (Donating items is not always the best solution unless you know what is exactly needed. Avoid waste).
Find out where the relief efforts are, change the conversation of the nation unite with others and make CHANGE happen.