Boricua Power: A Political History of Puerto Ricans in the United States

By José Ramón Sánchez | Go to book overview

5
The Young Lords, the Media, and
Cultural Estrangement

He smothered her hurt feelings with hugs, making it into a game,
drowning out her crying with laughter and kisses and silly
smooching sounds. In the tyranny of that moment beat the pulse of
Cesar's neighborhood—the bid for attention, the undercurrent of
hostility for so many small needs ignored and unmet, the pleasure of
holding power, camouflaged in teasing, the rush of love. Then the
moment passed, and Cesar's three-year-old daughter walked back
out into the world and left him behind.1

A great deal of the problem Puerto Ricans have in making real economic and political connections with this society is due to the reality that Americans place such little value on Puerto Rican culture. In this, Puerto Ricans and Latinos differ markedly from African Americans. Another major reason why Puerto Rican culture is often not appreciated is that it does not fit the “interpretative frames” within which the news media make sense of and give importance to different events, issues, and groups (Wolfsfeld 2003, 88). The intermediate or fuzzy nature of Puerto Rican racial identity contributes to this interpretative dissonance.2 The problem is not just, however, that Puerto Ricans are not “clear.” It is that Americans can't see them clearly.

It is in the cultural realm, then, that Puerto Ricans find their most ambivalent and paradoxical relationship to the rest of America. From music to movies to racial identity, Puerto Ricans find themselves partially attracted to the rest of society yet mostly rejected by it. In a variety of different ways, white America has either largely ignored or rejected Puerto Rican cultural expression and values. The result of this curious mix of cultural repulsion and attraction is a further weakening of the Puerto Rican community. Puerto Ricans, on the other hand, are unable to make a clear rejection of a white America that has up to now basically ignored and

-171-

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Boricua Power: A Political History of Puerto Ricans in the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: Dance - A Theory of Power 14
  • 2: The Cigar Makers' Strike - An Economic Power Goes Up in Smoke, 1919 to 1945 53
  • 3: The Rise of Radicalism World War II to 1965 96
  • 4: Puerto Rican Marginalization - 1965 to the Present 129
  • 5: The Young Lords, the Media, and Cultural Estrangement 171
  • Conclusion 210
  • Notes 253
  • Bibliography 265
  • Index 275
  • About the Author 278
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