Sunday, June 10, 2007

Boricuas for Life

I didn't think I was going to go to the Puerto Rican Day Parade this year -- I never go. I went once when I was a kid and don't recall having had a lot of fun. But a few days ago the importance of "el desfile"dawned on me. The parade came up in conversation at work last week and a rather ignorant white coworker just said "I'm getting the hell out of the city this weekend."

It was then that I decided to be the most proud Puerto Rican in New York. By not going, I figured, I was agreeing with that stupid, hurtful comment. Mind you, I don't find those red, white and blue beads that mark this time of year to be tasteful nor do I think overweight young ladies should wear tight jerseys with our island's flag emblazoned on the front. However, at its core, the Puerto Rican Day Parade celebrates the achievements of a community that really wasn't expected to thrive in this country.

I started thinking about my dad, who came from Puerto Rico in the 50s as a teenager to work in the farms of upstate New York. I also thought of my uncles, none of whom finished elementary school, yet all of them put me, and my cousins, through college. I thought about my cousin Roger who grew up down the block from me and tutored me in math -- I think about how he's given his two children classic Spanish names and how they speak Spanish even though they're growing up on Long Island. I thought about my uncle never letting me leave his house without 50, even 100 dollars, when I was in school. He'd just say "did you buy your books yet?"

That got me to thinking about the Puerto Rican teachers at PS1 in Brooklyn who taught me songs about el coqui and who taught me how to dance bomba y plena. Not to mention one Dr. Maldonado who, at the time when Bart Simpson T-shirts saying "Underachiever and Proud of It" were all the rage called a special assembly to remind us that we were worth more than the $5 it cost to sell our potential away.

That's why I showed up on Fifth Avenue with my flag today, proud that the same wherewithall that brought my family to this amazing city is behind this colossal event. Sure, I went to see Ricky Martin (missed him) and J-Lo (pix below), but I also went to be a part of history. So much can change for a people in fifty years. The parade started with 125,000 people who showed up to cheer the floats representing the different towns of Puerto Rico back in the 50s -- today that number is almost a million. And it was all love today on Fifth Avenue. There were gay couples, there were families, there were teenagers. Everyone was well behaved (I left my fashion-critic hat at home today) and I felt like I was at one big family outing.

And I got to see J-Lo for the second year in a row at a pride rally (see last year's pics here). My goal is to take a formal picture with her by next year.

Enjoy the pics. And if you've never been to the Parade, come around next year.

Took the 6 up to the parade. Channeling J-Lo already.

Other queens.


The one day we show love for the po-pos.

Get that money.

Yes, I do want a job in TV and film production, actually.

Ponce is Ponce, everything else is just parking space.

Priceless because she's not even posing for me.

His flag was way bigger than mine.

Jenny from la cuadra showed up on the ill float with strobe lights and plasma screens playing her music videos. Como se dice FIERCE en espanol?

Picture me to her right next year.

Yours truly (l) and Latino James.


ThatGayConservative said...

"I'm getting the hell out of the city this weekend."

Are you certain you know what he meant by that? As I understand it, it's tough getting around town during the parade. Could that be what he meant?

For instance, I had decided that if Tampa got the 2012 Olympics, I would try to find someplace else to be. Not because I supposedly hate the people, just because I knew that traffic would be a nightmare for a few weeks.

James Henry Bailey said...

Does it matter what he meant? It's another opportunity for the perpetual victicrats to cry foul and feel sorry for themselves.

As far as "hurtful comments" go, that one is pretty mild compared to hate you preach on this site, GCL.

Last April, my mother was coming to visit, and she unknowingly scheduled her arrival date on the Friday before the Boston marathon. I told her she should rearrange her plans and stay as far away from Boston during that time. Was I being hurtful and to the runners and ignorant?

James said...

I think you guys are missing the point -- As someone who lives in NY - no one cares "getting the hell out of town" when there is a St. Patrick's day parade --even when there is a gay parade. They only want to get out when they need to escape from all the gun wielding criminals that frequent such a parade. Can we at least agree that there is a prejudice against non-whites? This is not a liberal or conservative issues and I truly don't understand why you both refuse to even consider that point. It's really upsetting. And by the way, traffic was a non-issue. Unlike a marathon, the parade was contained to Fifth Avenue -- not all 5 boroughs. There is a difference.

ThatGayConservative said...

Can we at least agree that there is a prejudice against non-whites? This is not a liberal or conservative issues and I truly don't understand why you both refuse to even consider that point. It's really upsetting.

It's time to unbunch your panties, but first you have to take that stick out. I don't recall either JHB or I stating that there isn't prejudice against non-whites. I doubt that either of you would acknowledge that there is prejudice against whites, however, but that's a different day.

The point we're making is that it's entirely possible that the guy did not intend what GCL ASSumed he meant. But naturally, when you're a victim and LIVE to be offended, as liberals often do, anything anybody says that you don't like is "offensive" and therefore one should suppress his thoughts and speech. If you don't, the ACLU will goose-step all over your ass.

Sieg Heil, baby!

James Henry Bailey said...

Of course there is prejudice against non-whites. There is also prejudice against non-non-whites. There is prejudice against non-males, and non-females, as well as non-skinny, non-fat, non-tall, non-pretty, non-blond, non-straight, non-gay, non-liberal, non-smart (same as non-conservative) etc. And guess what? It doesn't matter.

If it wasn't for prejudices, the human race would have died out long ago. It is, of course, wrong and immoral to judge a person's character based solely on any of these attributes, but that is discrimination, not prejudice. And everyone's judgment is affected by prejudice. And that's good.

The extent to which you allow yourself to be hurt by such a comment says more about your character than it does the person who made it.

I live in the South End of Boston, which has a large population of Puerto Ricans. Every year, there is a huge festival in their honor no more than 2 blocks from my home-- not the size of NYCs, I am sure, but they close down 2 major streets and party, party, party. I HATE IT! I hate the music, the drunkenness, the muffler-less cars, the traffic, etc. If I could get out of town to avoid it, I would. not because of their non-white status, or that I consider them to be gun wielding thugs. I hate it the same way I hate straight bars, pop-country music, or preppy weddings. I'm prejudiced that way.

Also- your assumption that the person who made the offending comment simply wanted to escape the gun wielding criminals is equally offensive.

Try seeing things from a different point of view. It's not so bad.

James Henry Bailey said...

More to the point of the original post, you say "the Puerto Rican Day Parade celebrates the achievements of a community that really wasn't expected to thrive in this country."- I have a few (serious)questions:

1. Why weren't Puerto Ricans expected to thrive in this country? And, how are they thriving now?

2. How does the PR Day Parade celebrate said thriving? (I ask the same question about Gay Pride every year)?

...a loud, proud, liberal... said...

JHB, GCL- you guys do not get it!! Face it, racism and prejudice are all over the place. White assholes like yourselves don't see it. But it's there! At work, at the bars, on the streets....

You have no business comdemning GCLs comments until you have experienced hateful racist remarks like that first hand.

Keep it up GCL! It's a good fight worth fighting!

...a loud, proud, liberal... said...

sorry- the previous post was addressed to JHB and TGC, not GCL.

Still getting used to the blogging thing.