There are many ways to make a difference in our Puerto Rican communities stateside. From institutions to organizations, to festivals and big celebrations. Beyond the collective, are individuals that, be it in group or as one, contribute in important ways to sharing, preserving, and sustaining puertorriqueñidad across states. Representation of the self is also as vital to our understanding of the Puerto Rican voices (emphasis on the plural) that make our diaspora. In this episode of Puerto Rican Voices, we present your three stories of individuals and of one organization told through individual stories. They all stand as examples of the ways individuals come to represent themselves in the community at large.
First up, we present to you the dance and educator Alicia Diaz. Originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Diaz is an Assistant Professor of Dance at the University of Richmond, Virginia, and co-director of Agua Dulce Dance Theater, a dance company running out of New York City. She has performed throughout North America, the Caribbean, Europe, and South America. Through her performances she attempts to both find identity and communicate it to others. She believes that exercising our creativity is the essential core to our humanity. In her work, Deep Listening: The Labor of Identity, she explores her Puerto Rican heritage through the physical motions of dance. In this segment, she speaks on her history with dance, the development of her work, and ultimately the sense of reclaiming her body and her culture.
We then move to Humboldt, Chicago and into the world of artist John Vergara. Contributing his skills as a community artist, Vergara works as a muralist to help positively inspire the community’s youth. His major contribution has been the design of the Humboldt Park Coat Of Arms, later turned into the community official flag, inspired from his interest of the several municipal flags of Puerto Rico. The flag is now prominent in that community, and serves as a bridge between the community and the island. This is a significant feat for an artist, one which he graciously shared with us on a recent visit. We now bring it to you.
Finally, we present the history of the 65th Infantry Regiment (“The Borinqueneers”) through the eyes of the Veterans of Kissimmee, Florida. These veterans gather at the Museum of Military History, a museum started by Kervin and Dave Roberts to educate the public on the impact the military has had on world history. In this segment we focus on the Puerto Rican veterans that have contributed to this museum, looking to represent the impact Puerto Ricans had and have in the military.
That’s it for this week of Puerto Rican Voices. Share these stories with friends and family. As always, contribute to the conversation at hashtag #BoricuasOnline. Represent yourself and the best the Puerto Rican culture has.
© Center for Puerto Rican Studies. Published in Centro Voices on 26 February 2016.