yasmin hernandez welcome




Yo Soy tu hijo
de una migración
Pecado Forzado,
Me mandaste a nacer nativo en otras tierras.¿Por qué?,
Porque eramos pobres, ¿verdad?...
Ahora regreso con un corazón boricua
Y tu me desprecías
me miras mal
me atacas mi hablar
mientras comes McDonalds
en discotecas americanas,
y no pude bailar la salsa en San Juan...

-excerpt from "Nuyorican" by Tato Laviera

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Nuyorican
(Soul Rebel: Tato Laviera)

2006
Soul Rebels Series
Acrylic on Burlap

60" x 40"

This is a tribute to Nuyorican Poet Tato Laviera. I first learned of this poem in a Latino Literature class in college, but did not feel its true impact until ten years later when I exhibited at the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico in 2006 and experienced the sentiment Tato writes about in his poem. Unfortunately, there are some (not all) who feel that because I/ we were not born in Puerto Rico, that we then lack "license" to comment on Puerto Rican issues. I received a rude awakening when myself and several other artists who are Puerto Ricans born in the United States were introduced twice at the exhibition as “Latino” and not included as part of the list of other Puerto Rican artists. Although we were told it was an accident, it did not lessen the blow and served instead as a crude reminder that there are those who do not take the words of Juan Antonio Corretjer: Yo sería borincano aunque naciera en la luna. (I would be Puerto Rican even if I were born on the moon.)

Thankfully, at the same event some expressed happiness to know that I would know so much about my Puerto Rican culture and history. The belief is that because we do not live there, we are very much removed from the culture and history. And that could be very true in many cases, but it’s up to us as individuals to maintain our identity. American history tends to dominate even in schools n Puerto Rico. Nonetheless, painting this portrait of Tato Laviera, just weeks after I got back from that trip to Puerto Rico was incredibly therapeutic. It made me consider the experience met by the Young Lords Party when they tried to spread the organization to the island and also the experiences shared by many Nuyorican Poets like Miguel Piñero and Pedro Pietri with their reception in Puerto Rico.
Nuyorican as a synthesis between the words “New York” and “Puerto Rico” embodies both experiences. Though some accuse the term of being a “separatist” word, it is not. It only speaks to the unique experiences and struggles shared by Puerto Ricans in New York. Such struggles often force us to be “hyper-Rican”, as I like to call it, because we are under huge pressure to conform and assimilate. Some of choose to respond to this pressure by resisting it and instead immersing ourselves in our culture proudly and wholeheartedly. This comes from the understanding that if we allow them to take that away, then it will die eventually, we will die eventually. So as described in Tato’s poem you can find pockets of authentic boricuaness throughout New York that has preserved Puerto Rican traditions in spite of the continued Americanization of San Juan.
The style of this work pays tribute to previous generations of Puerto Rican artists from Puerto Rico, who also traveled back and forth to, or even lived in, New York like Rafael Tufiño, Lorenzo Homar and Antonio Martorell. As master printmakers and calligraphers they reproduced the images of our history alongside text to document and preserve our experiences. We are all equally, fully Boricua no matter which side of “el charco” we were born on.

Translation of excerpt to the left:

I am your son
Of a migration
Forced sin
You sent me to be born native in other lands,
Why?
Because we were poor right?
Now I return with a boricua heart
And you reject me
Give me dirty looks
You attack the way I speak
All the while you eat McDonalds
In American discoteques
And I couldn't dance the salsa in San Juan

-excerpt from "Nuyorican" by Tato Laviera

© Copyright 2006-09, Yasmin Hernandez. Under no circumstances should any of the images or content of this site be downloaded, printed or reproduced without direct permission from the artist.