Today my abuelo’s cuatro sounds a little louder in my heart. I think it is my subconscious trying to calm me down and ease my pain. Whenever I am angry I try to think of my favorite memories because it eases the pain. Some of those favorite memories have to do with my abuelo.  Yesterday, Harvard released their studies on the number of deaths caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The number was 4,645 people dead and the number continues to rise. In between the 4,645 people, ONE is my abuelo. 4,645 of the people was someone’s abuelo/a, parent, child, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, partner, and friend. The number that the government continued to announce was 64. We all knew it was a lie. We all knew those numbers were not right. However, hiding the fact that the real numbers were 70 times more than the one reported is foul. It hurts. It’s personal. Most of my family would say “yes, it’s sad pero don’t take it so personally” but I always will. I’m not sure if its because I am overly passionate about my island and what is being done to it? But I am taking it personally. I feel like I am mourning all over again. Because if my abuelo would have gotten the aid that he needed, he would be alive. This number would have been lower if the aid would have gotten there. I sit and wonder when will we understand that the problem was not the natural disaster but the colonial strangulation that our island has been enduring for decades.

Why do we continue to look for ways to forgive the government? When do we start holding people accountable? What do we do when our cries for help are not heard? Why are 4,645 deaths not enough for people to realize that statehood is not the option and that this is a product of colonization, assimilation, racism, and xenophobia? Why are 4,645 not enough for people to realize that there is something terribly wrong? The people sitting in Congress, the people sitting in el capitolio and in the white house did not walk with me that brutally hot day on the street behind my abuelo’s casket to bury him. They were not there when my father broke down in front of my abuelo’s casket with his brothers. They were not there when the diaspora was trying to figure out if our loved ones were alive. They were not there when many of us suffered a loss. They were not there in the lines waiting for drinkable water and edible food. They were not there.  They would deny that death toll 4,645 times to save themselves. Because politics is worth more than my abuelo’s life. Because politics is worth more than 4645 lives lost.


500 Years…

September 20, 2017 is a date that no Puerto Rican, mainlander or islander will forget. That was the day Hurricane Maria changed everything and marked our history forever. Thanks to Hurricane Maria, I lost someone very important to me, my grandfather. However, I refuse to think of my grandfather as a statistic but rather as a hardworking, dark skin man who loved his family and his land. Unfortunately, his death led me to take the first plane out to Puerto Rico.

I’m not sure if I should begin my story with the plane ride or when I got back to the island? So, I will start with the plane ride because that was one I will never forget. I have been traveling through plane since before I can walk. There are only two plane rides that marked my life. One was the plane ride that forced me to abandon Puerto Rico when I was 13. The second was the plane ride full of Puerto Ricans, doctors and priests nervously waiting to land in the island of enchantment post-Maria. The woman next to me was explaining that she brought two XL boxes, one with food and the other with batteries. She told me that her mother had not been able to find water and so she was going to travel out to different  towns in hopes of finding drinkable water. The man in front of us  explained how his children lost their house and everything in it. He said he sobbed for days because he had no idea how to help or if they were even safe when all communication dropped. Then, I shared my story and appreciated them not giving their condolences but understanding my pain. All of our stories were different but we had very few things in common. The first thing was, we all were going to Puerto Rico without a plane ticket back to the United States. The second thing was, we all lost something, whether it was hope, patience or a loved one. We did not know if we were going to lose anything else while we were there. The plane ride was silent for the rest of the time until we arrived. We all felt as if the small plane seats were swallowing us whole. Eating what was left of us to spit us back out. Once we arrived we all parted different ways. If they ever find this blog post, I hope your families are okay, your faith restored, your happiness untouched and your loved ones with beating hearts.

Getting off the plane was somber experience as well. I will never forget how abnormally hot it was considering the time of the year. The atmosphere was suffocating or maybe it was my anxiety taking over me. When we got to the airport it was pitch black. You could not see your hand even if it was right in front of your face. The airport had no generators which meant no source of electricity. All of us gasped in shock, we knew that what we were going to encounter was going to be way worse than what we imagined. In the mean time, my anxiety converted into anger. I am not sure if it was anger towards God, if there is a God. Maybe anger towards the 500 years of colonization that has stripped my island naked. Maybe anger towards myself for not having superpowers to fix everything and not see our island or our people suffer. But I was sure about something, I was pissed off and I still am.

As we exited the airport we realized our phones had no service. No service anywhere, no way to contact our families to let them know we had arrived. We grabbed a van that took us to the car rental place. As we got there we were told that all federal agents have taken all rentals. They take all rentals, all hotel rooms, all the first airplanes to a land they do not know, to a land they might not even care about, to a land that is not theirs. While us who are lost in the diaspora are in agony and pain dying to simply see our loved ones. But all federal agents have everything booked as if they are doing something, as if they have cleaned the roads, as is they have helped reestablish the signal towers, as if they have have been doing something miraculous. Almost a month after Maria and the roads were still a mess, there was no electricity, no clean water, the signal towers were not fully reestablished and people were still dying. So many federal agents and the federal aid was so slow, you had families burying their loved ones in the backyard. There was no help.

Days after my grandfather’s burial, I stood with my family in line for food and water. We were being marked on our hands as if we were animals, then we were given a box of military food with a half case of water. My friends and family have been eating military food for weeks at that point. They were tired. We were all tired. Every person who has ever fought for human and civil rights was tired. Every person who has lost their life for liberation of all the oppressed was tired. Exhausted. I will not give anymore detail about my trip since it still is very draining and difficult for me to talk about.

Three months after Maria, the death toll is still being falsified, people are still dying, the American rich has created an Exodus, gentrification is the new style, and The US government is creating a slow genocide. I have 500 years of anger built up.

500 years of rape and genocide.

500 years of enslavement of the body and the mind.

500 years of a “white savior”.

500 years of mothers wiping the blood off the floors of their unborn children because of experimentation.

500 years worth of experimenting on the campesinos and campesinas.

500 years worth of trying to dilute our culture.

500 years worth of unsuccessful forced assimilation.

500 years worth of trying to live in a land that is not theirs.

500 years of trying to learn the tongues that are not ours but of our two oppressors.

500 years worth of the mistreatment of our bodies and minds.

500 years of slow genocide.

500 years of killings.

500 years of pain.

500 years of lucha.

500 years of resilience.

500 years worth of anger.

500 years later we are still alive.

500 years later we have a crippling debt.

500 years later we are known worldwide.

500 years later we are still the most impoverished Latinx group in the United States.

500 years later Maria hit.

500 years later the U.S. tries to diminish us again.

500 years later we are still alive.

500 years later we are still fighting.

500 years plus another 500 more we will be here.

500 years later my ancestors are still pissed off. I carry 500 years worth of anger on my shoulders.



All these pictures belong to me.

Our voices are not white

As a double major in Criminal Justice and Political Science, my main focus in both majors is racial issues and colonization. With that being said, I have to be in touch with American history and American politics more than your average person. I am going into my third year of college and I have only seen my ethnicity mentioned ONCE. A strong piece that was written by Assata Shakur on Black and Puerto Rican women in prison. A piece that was written to raise awareness on the mistreatment of women of color in U.S. prison. Anyhow, I have always ached for a piece of literature that would mention my people or the Latino community (as a whole) about how we have contributed to the United States. But U.S. academia has drowned our voices and made them white. My struggles as a Puerto Rican woman are being told by a white person. My history is not taught in school because it is not part of the curriculum. I was not taught about the history of my other peers of color because it is not a part of the curriculum. Then what IS part of the curriculum? The morphed belief that 99.9% of intelligent people in history were white? That whiteness is the only thing that can create something good? That my history, the history of people who look like me is not worthy enough to be taught? The fact that little latinx and black children have to open up a book INDEPENDENTLY and see that they HAVE contributed something to the United States because U.S. academia will never teach them that they have? That most of us have to learn about our history from our family members?

On the flip side, what I did learn from U.S. academia is that my ethnicity was destined to create crime, to be incarcerated and ridiculed like my other fellow black and brown brothers and sisters. I was never taught in a classroom about figures such as Frida Kahlo, Assata Shakur, Cornel West, and the many others. I had to learn at the age of 20 that Rosa Clemente was the first Afro-boricua to run for Vice President of the United States. I learned that it takes years to find out and realize that my ethnicity is beautiful and has done much for this world. I have learned that for a long time I was getting a colonized version of education. My voice is not white. My voice is the voice of the resistance, the struggle, the hurt and the pre-destined, the smart, the beautiful, and the rich culture. My voice is not the voice of the white men, my voice is not the voice of white-washed academia. It should never have taken me so long to find representation in education. My voice is not white.

“Puerto Rico, my heart’s devotion”

Two days ago I said goodbye to my homeland, Puerto Rico. Each time hurts the same as the first. But this goodbye was slightly different. The reason being was that I went in a moment in which the island needed more help than ever before. Walking through my hometown, Aguada, I encountered a sea of political posters demanding sovereignty. All I could think of while walking through town was that my country screams for an answer to this question about its political status. One-half yells for independence and putting an end to U.S. imperialism while the other tries look away from the horrors while raising the American flag. As if by raising the American flag makes them less Puerto Rican and more American. All while white-America laughs and gives their back to my people like they have done so time and time again.

When I passed by my island’s beaches I would admire the beauty. My land is beautiful, my land is resilient. My land sometimes chooses to ignore the sounds of its chains or maybe it drowns that sound with the sound of the waves. While I admired the beauty I could see the thousands of university students protesting against these violent budget cuts. I could hear the arguments of independence vs. statehood. I’d hear the arguments so loud in my head that I would go under the salt water to ignore it all for a bit. Knowing I did not want to stay under water forever. Understanding that I had to eventually come up to surface and fight for what I believed in the most, the sovereignty of my island.

On a Thursday night, my family and I went to Rincon, another city in Puerto Rico. In the heart of the city, artists get together to exhibit their art every Thursday night. While I was there, two men sat on the stairs and took out a guitar and a conga. As they played music and sang, people around them began to dance, laugh and sing along. Watching them all dance was a quick reminder of how happy we are as people. How much we love the rhythm of our music and how for a split second we can be in bliss. It makes me wonder if people are willing to have our culture watered down? If people are willing to assimilate to a certain extent? If people are willing to ignore the thousands of enslaved and slain bodies done by the colonizers? If people are willing to adopt a history that ignores us? All questions that are not meant to be offensive but questions that should be considered. I left my island knowing two things were certain. One, I would come back, I would help my island no matter how difficult or tedious it might be. Two, I am just as resilient as my ancestors. I have decided that I will not only fight for the inequalities I and other people of color suffer through in the United States but I will help my island of Puerto Rico as well. I will never stop being Puerto Rican. Remember que la lucha sigue.

A foreigner wherever I go.

Lately, I am suffering from an identity crisis. What do I mean?? I mean that I am in a gray area. I left Puerto Rico when I was 13 years old. Since then, people in the United States have made it their job to constantly remind me that I am not and never will be fully accepted here. On the flip side whenever I go visit my homeland, my family and others have taken it upon themselves to isolate me. “You’re a gringa now.”, “You are a traitor to your country!” All these things that are beginning to take a toll on me. If I am not accepted here nor in my homeland, where do I go to feel accepted? Because I am in the United States does not make me a traitor to my country. I am not a “whitified” Puerto Rican woman. What makes me a “gringa” now? That I had no choice but to perfect my English? That I have chosen to pursue a higher education? That I cannot move back to my country because I am still dependent on my parents? Which one makes me a gringa?

Then, on the other side, I am worthless, lazy, and/or an illiterate person because I am not white. I get called “spic”, “beaner” and “arroz con habichuelas”. They constantly remind me that I am different from what they accept. “Take your nasty language back to wherever you came from.”, “You are in America! Speak English!” and “We do not want you here!” If they do not want me here and my homeland isolates me, where do I go? Where do I fit in? Even though I am living stateside, I still have chosen a path that entails me fighting for my homeland’s independence, fighting for our people’s rights. Bettering myself to move back to my home, a home that is beginning to deny me slowly. They want to transform me into a foreigner in my own home. I know that I am not the only person of color that feels this way, I know I am not the only foreigner who is suffering from this. I write this to let you know that I understand you. I am here for you. You are not alone. We will get through this.


What does it mean to you?

Last week I had to hand in a seven-page paper on what it meant to be my ethnicity in the United States. Like all things in an academic setting, there was a list of questions the professor wanted to be answered. One of them was “What does it mean to be your ethnicity?” There are multiple ways to answer this question depending on who you ask. In my case, being Puerto Rican meant a variety of things. Being Puerto Rican meant we are a mixture of Taino, African, and Spanish. We carry our African roots in our foods, our language and even in our music. When you hear the timbales your legs and hips come to life. When you hear the voice of the legendary Hector Lavoe, you cannot help but want to dance and sing along. When you realize that everything sounds better in Spanish half the time. When abuelita waits for you with un cafecito and  pan con mantequilla. Being Puerto Rican meant you feel when your heart is going to explode whenever Puerto Rico wins a medal or participates in worldwide sports. Being Puerto Rican meant understanding that our island has a completely separate identity apart from the United States. Anywhere you go, Puerto Rico is heard of. Understanding that our ancestors had a non-stop fight in trying to gain independence and how our youth is still carrying it out today. Being Puerto Rican means you understand we come in all colors but our skin has the ability to withstand the blazing sun. Dreaming of our clear crystal blue beaches and wondering how did you get so damn lucky to be born in a place like this? Being Puerto Rican means that I am part of Paradise. I was born and raised where the ancestors of colonizers vacation. I was born and raised on enslaved soil. I was born and raised on a soil that is much stronger than it’s oppressor. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, I carry the language on my tongue and the culture on my back. That’s what being Puerto Rican means to me. Yo soy Boricua, pa’  que tu lo sepas!

It’s not you, it’s your stereotypes..

There is no denying that I am a very picky woman when it comes to romances. Especially now that I lived stateside. I have noticed that men hypersexualize me because I am a Latina. It is sickening to think about all the relationships I have terminated before them even blossoming because of this. I remember being 14 years old and having this crush on a boy who was two years older than me. I barely knew how to talk let alone flirt. While we are both exchanging “flirtatious” messages he said, “You being Puerto Rican makes you ten times hotter.” For some reason, I was totally offended. I asked him, “why?” and he said,”Latin girls are hot. Who doesn’t wanna be with a latin girl?”. So, was he talking to me because I was this fetish for many men in the present day? Was he speaking to me because he liked me? The answer was I was a fetish to him and many other men. I remember feeling uncomfortable because all the flirting became completely sexual. It became a comment about my “Puerto Rican lips”, my “Puerto Rican hair” and my “Puerto Rican, Jlo looking butt”. After that faded out, I had many other encounters with men and again, all of them commenting and making slick comments about how I must be fantastic in bed. I would always ask, “Why is that?” and the response would always be the same, “You’re Latina. You women are amazing in bed.” That was my queue to abort the mission. In high school, one of my male friends made it clear to me that he wanted to sleep with a Latina and then, asked me if I was willing. As if my ethnicity is a marketed sex appeal. Then, I began to realize it was. I knew girls who would pick and choose when to say they were Latinas. They always chose to say it when it came down to being more attractive to a guy. It would work like a charm, in a few minutes he would be asking you if you preferred a bed or the inside of his car.

Not only is this something that is just assumed, but us Latinas are portrayed this way even movies, music. In one of Drake’s hits, he has a verse that goes, “Lips so french, Ass so Spanish.” In movies, we are either the sexy maids, the sexy Spanish teacher or the sexy nanny. Everywhere we turn Latinas are oversexualized. There is no escape to it and it carries out to our personal relationships.


“Call me ‘Papi'”, Latinas hear that phrase more than we would like. Plot twist, my language is not a tool that you can use to exploit me for your sexual pleasure. My ethnicity is not your fetish. My culture and my ancestry is not something you can cross off your bucket list as soon as you ejaculate. I am not an object.