The United States’ history with Puerto Rico is one of hypocrisy and shame, where a nation that sells itself as a beacon of freedom and democracy has repeatedly denied agency to millions of its own citizens, goading them into violence and poverty. It’s a strange case of cultural myopia, where we are content to deprive people of a portion of their freedom, yet hold them accountable for the fate we’ve steered them into.
This spills out into our politics here in the mainland: Puerto Ricans—and by extension, other Latin Americans—are acknowledged but never listened to. We’re evoked by politicians during elections because of the number of votes we command, then we’re swiftly forgotten unless a Republican wants to talk immigration. We’re championed by white writers in newsrooms, but our actual voices are ghettoized and published under banners like Chica and Pero Like, where we can talk to each other and not gum up the works, at least until one of us makes the next Hamilton.