If anything has become increasingly clear as we share our stories online, as we pay attention to the waves of Puerto Ricans coming and going between the island and the U.S., is the nomadic nature of our people. If boundaries did not exist before for Puerto Ricans as a community, today less so. And yet, this nomadic spirit ushers a strong sense of a collective identity that transcends boundaries. Wherever they are or go, Puerto Rican communities have long had the ability to develop tools to articulate that identity. This new episode of Puerto Rican Voices shows the ways new and old in which our communities have managed to say, to quote one of our great island poets, Juan Antonio Corretjer (or Silvio Rodríguez, or Roy Brown or Fiel a la Vega depending on what generation you were born to), “Yo sería borincano aunque naciera en la luna.”
In today’s Internet era, being Boricua en la luna pales in comparison to being Boricua in the digital arena. When we started sharing the stories of Puerto Ricans via social media, we lived first-hand the power of the Internet not only to spread our voice but also to connect boricuas online. #Boricuasonline, the hashtag and the first panel ever about Puerto Ricans in Social Media, happened because we wanted to create a direct channel to other Puerto Ricans and to understand how Puerto Ricans are communicating and representing themselves in an increasingly dispersed world. We were lucky and humbled to have a panel with some of the top Puerto Ricans in social media today—Julio Ricardo Varela of Futuro Media Group and Latino Rebels, Nuria Net of Fusion and Remezcla, George “El Jibaro” Torres of Sofrito for your Soul and Capicú Culture, Lynn Ponder of Web City Girls, and joining us digitally LeJuan James. This segment captures the panel and incredible behind-the-scenes new insight from these social media pioneers.
In the middle of the 70s, actor, director, writer, and dramaturge Rosalba Rolón yearned to find the ideal tool to showcase the story of Puerto Ricans in New York City. She looked up to other Puerto Rican-founded theaters of the time, such as the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater and the Thalia Spanish Theater, and sought to join a growing movement in New York’s theater scene that saw the birth of several theaters about and for Puerto Ricans and Latinos that stand strong to this day. Add to that a deep desire to connect with the people, to take theater to the masses and Rosalba had in her hands the ideal formula for a Puerto Rican-centric assemble based theater. Pregones Theater was born. Founded in 1979, this South Bronx theater today remains a strong testament of the ways Puerto Ricans find a way to infuse culture and history wherever they may journey. Watch on to learn about the theater’s history and its interesting, and yes nomadic, trajectory.
We finish this episode of Puerto Rican Voices with a look at Nicky Marrero, one of Fania’s greatest timbaleros. If you must know one thing about the history of Puerto Rican music in the United States it must be that salsa, and the strong genre the Fania label came to represent, allowed Puerto Ricans (island and U.S. born) to not only claim their unique identity amongst themselves but share it with the world. Nicky Marrero was at the center of this movement both as a musician and an educator. In this segment, we give you a glimpse of Marrero, unfiltered and at ease, still showing the musical prowess that made him one of Fania’s, and salsa’s, leading timbalero. Along the segment, learn as well about how educators like Nicky Marrero and Aurora Flores are teaching a new generation of Puerto Ricans to articulate their Puerto Rican thing.
From the moon and back, boricuas across the nation steep their surroundings in a good doses Puerto Rican cultures and identities. Their voices echo from the moon and back. Watch on to listen to some of these voices. Share them to make sure others are hearing. We’ll see you in our virtual community, #boricuasonline.
© Center for Puerto Rican Studies. Published in Centro Voices on 16 October 2015.