Thanks to Lin Manual Miranda for inspiring this blog post.
Sixteen years ago, the world came together in a way I’d never seen before in my life. I was filled with a sense of comfort. I felt stronger. I certainly stopped feeling alone.
Since then, the world has seen other terrorist acts, they’ve seen cities destroyed by tornadoes, hurricanes and fires. And yet again, the world came together to help. It restored my faith in humanity each and every time.
And now we have Puerto Rico….
The excuses so many people made as to why this or that didn’t happen was the problem, and when it was explained, the answers were almost identical. “All you people want is for someone to take care of you.” No one thought that of Florida or Texas.
No. We don’t need any one to take care of us. We are a strong people witnessed by the many reports that have been out there. NOT FAKE NEWS, regardless of what #45 says.
Let me tell you a little story about a recent experience I had with my family.
The island was definitely in crisis. Prices were up, stores were shut down. But there were no beggars on the street, because people take care of their own. We went to a restaurant. We know the fancy ones may cook the island food but it’s not the way our parents cooked it, so we went to the tiny restaurants. And sure enough, with each bite of food, we’d close our eyes and relish the tasteful delights of our ancestors gifts. Then when we asked for dessert, the woman took our order and left. Fully trusting that no one in the restaurant would take anything. She came back with our desserts.
That was odd.
“Did you have to go out and buy it?” We asked.
“No, we are going through terrible times so we decided instead of closing our restaurants that our neighbor would cook parts of the meal and this way we can remain open.”
Our appetizers was from the restaurant across the street by a husband and wife who had inherited the business from their parents. The delicious desserts came from the woman on the other side of the restaurant who had opened her business two years ago and could not afford to lose the income she was making. So all three businesses came up with the plan to help each other in order to exist and remain opened. No, we don’t want any one to do everything for us. We can manage.
We grabbed a bunch of business cards and spread them every where we went. We made friends in the pool, they had the card and would tell us of the delicious meal they had the night before and how they would be bringing their friends that evening. Before we knew it, every one we had met by the pool had eaten there and were not disappointed. Even my doctor went there.
This is just an example of how our people helped each other through the fiscal crisis they did not create.
No, the island is not filled with Welfare lazy people as many have said. No, the island isn’t filled with women who have children by five different fathers living off government assistance. Truth be told, isn’t that like most cities in America? Puerto Rico is not the only place where this happens, but suddenly it happens to be to those who are ignorant and racist. There I said it. AND WHAT?
Yes, there is crime. Is there crime where you live?
Yes there are those in power that take advantage of the people’s money, is that happening where you live too?
Is their racism? I’m sure there is. But I haven’t seen it. Because all Puerto Rican’s come in different sizes, shapes and colors.
I did notice that men love their women to be voluptuous and as they walk down the streets, they hold each others hands proud to be in each others companies.
I did notice the cruise ships heading for the local Artists taking in the local culture and dancing every time un Jibarito would start to play his music. They didn’t know the dance, but they felt the music and that’s all that’s important.
Then Hurricane Maria came like no other.
And all that beauty was gone. What the press doesn’t show you is how people created tents and began to cook, not just for their families but for the families down the road. We don’t want you to do everything for us. We need help.
Then #45 comes after he lifts the Jones act ten days later which he did immediately for Florida and Texas. But he only lifted it for ten days. Because we aren’t worth as much as Texas and Florida.
Then #45 came and said Katrina lost many more people than you and he had to ask the person next to him for the number?
To add insult to a people who were already suffering, he even said that Puerto Rico was costing him a lot of money. And that matters now because?
He didn’t visit the island. Did he dirty his shoes? Did he go to a town to see the devastation? No he stayed close to his plane. Afraid to catch a Puerto Rico Disease? He came a good ten days after if not a bit longer but not before he went to a golf tournament, because we didn’t matter and a trophy did.
I think #45 thought he was at a football game throwing paper towels to the people who were paid to be there. Why do I say that? Look at the picture closely. Mostly every one had cell phones correct? If there was no power, then how were they able to take those selfies and pictures? Someone was smart enough to charge those phones for the great Kodak moment that would prove to the world that #45 is not heartless. And for that they received paper towels, perhaps a few batteries and a free charging station until the great orange one and his puppets left. Even when he bid someone adios and said, “Have a good time,” what did he think they were doing all this time? Have a good time? Doing what? Cleaning out mud, trying to set up a home base to live in until provisions are brought in? Have a good time?!!!!
Knowing my people, before long, someone will bring out their congas, their maracas… and start the music of the island to bring joy to all and to remind them that they will persevere. ALMOST LIKE PRAYING….
And what did I do for my island? I don’t need to brag here, but I certainly did not throw paper towels to any one and certainly did not hope they all had a good time. And let us not forget because apparently #45 did, Puerto Rico was hit by a Hurricane just a week before. The island was prepared, for THAT hurricane. It needed time to prepare for Maria but that is a BIG factor many fail to remember.
Yes we know that Puerto Rico is an island surrounded by water, lots and lots of water because that’s what makes an island.
But the Island of Manhattan is also surrounded by water and sixteen years ago, no one asked if there was a Puerto Rican in the rubble or if a Puerto Rican needed help, so they could move on to someone more valuable. Sixteen years ago we were one nation, one country, one race, THE HUMAN RACE. And we took care of each other.
And for those that like to scream FAKE NEWS!
I wrote this. I had family there that were relocated here. We are still missing two family members and the news doesn’t look good.
But we are survivors… we can do this… we are asking for basic needs, we are asking for our roads to be cleared so supplies much-needed can get to us. We are asking for humanity.
And here is a bit more understanding for those of you that still believe it’s an island with lots and lots of water…
From Lin Manual Miranda…
Most of the lyrics to “Almost Like Praying,” the benefit single for Puerto Rican hurricane relief organized by Lin-Manuel Miranda, are the names of towns in Puerto Rico, passionately sung and rapped by a multigenerational assembly of 20 American and Latin-American musicians including Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Luis Fonsi, Juan Luis Guerra, Rubén Blades, Gloria Estefan, Camila Cabello, Ednita Nazario, Fat Joe and Rita Moreno. The music is multigenerational, too, bridging reggaeton, salsa and Broadway, with Mr. Miranda singing lines from the “West Side Story” song named, like the hurricane, “Maria.”
“I was acutely aware that the name Maria, which is the name of my favorite song from ‘West Side Story’ would forever have a destructive connotation as a result of this natural disaster, so my mind began flipping lyrics from ‘Maria’ to figure out how we could flip this tragedy into something positive, which is why I reached out to Stephen Sondheim for his permission to use it.” Lin Manual Miranda
The lyrics of “Almost Like Praying” immediately kick off with lines from the West Side Story tune with Hamilton creator Miranda belting out,
With “Maria” at its backdrop, “Almost Like Praying” proves to be deep-rooted in terms of its origin. Not only is Maria, unforgettably, the name designated to the Category 4 disaster that ravaged the island, but the inference also borrows from the fact that the tale of West Side Story was one that incorporated a largely Puerto Rican cast.