Shannon L. Ortiz
In this section I want students to recognize the effects of being removed from one's native land and the necessity to create a new identity within one's new surroundings. Here students will look at new materials and then synthesize it with information they have already studied at different points within the unit. I want students to consider: How did the term Nuyorican develop? Why was it necessary to create a new Puerto Rican identity in the United States? What cultural conflicts does this create between the United States Puerto Rican and Puerto Ricans native to the island?
Students will watch the film "Soy Boricua Pa' Que Tu Lo Sepas". This film begins by examining the origins of the Puerto Rican Day parade in New York City, as film director Rosie Perez revisits her family's history beginning in Puerto Rico and ending in New York. Throughout the film Perez examines the complex relationship Puerto Rico has as a colony of the United States and how it culminates into the growth of the Nuyorican that exists in New York today. This includes the question of statehood vs. independence on the island. Perez explores the early movements in the early to mid 20
century that attempted independence from the United States and were countered with violence. Still Perez sees the importance of the American experience and how shapes the way mainland Puerto Ricans have established themselves in the United States
Students will also read the prologue from Esmeralda Santiago's memoir When I was Puerto Rican entitled "How to Eat a Guava". The students will have had some exposure to her experience from section one of the unit. This excerpt shows Santiago grappling with the reality of diaspora. As she stands in an American supermarket she notices guavas for sale and begins to reminisce on her experiences as a child eating guavas in Puerto Rico. She decides not to by the guava because she is "no longer a child" and decides to instead buy "the apples and pears of my adulthood"
. I want students to examine this excerpt and consider the different literatures they have been exposed to. I want them to question: How has diaspora influenced the way Santiago reflects on her childhood in Puerto Rico? What can be inferred by her inability to buy the guava in the United States? Was her choice a good one?
The final reading assignment will be the poem "nuyorican" by Tato Laviera. In this poem Laviera reflects on the distance diaspora has caused between him and Puerto Rico. Laviera prose demonstrates his vulnerability and shock by the island's lack of empathy for him being a Puerto Rican from New York. This is illustrated through admittance of feeling "bad, indignant" as Puerto Rico "scorn[s] me," and "attack[s] the way i speak" despite the fact Puerto Ricans are "eating mcdonalds in american discotheques"
. Laviera contends that he only can find cultural comfort in New York which still honor's Puerto Rico's "presence, preserving all of your values"
I want students to examine the complexities about Puerto Rican diaspora posed in the poem. Students should question the irony in the Americanized Puerto Rico harshly judging the nuyorican's. I want students to question: How does Laviera respond to returning to Puerto Rico? Is his reaction valid? What are the positive and negative results of Puerto Rican diaspora based on the reading?
In using these three pieces to end the unit, students will be able to see multiple instances of diaspora within the Puerto Rican community. I want them see that experiences and reactions vary.