2 Original Latino Stories
TEXT & ARTWORK COPYRIGHTED © 2001 • BY IZZY SANABRIA
The Rainbow People
PUERTO RICANS: THOROUGHBREDS OR MUTTS?
History has taught us that conquerors plundered, raped, killed and destroyed cultures. As conquerors go, the Spaniards were one of the worst and at the same one of the best. They practiced slavery and instituted racism, but unlike the Americans, they were more tolerant of the Indian and African cultures, and even merged with them. And in so doing, created a whole new culture.
As a consequence of the Indian rebellions in Puerto Rico, there is still a very strong strand of Indian genetics present in the island’s racial make-up. There’s European (white, blue-eyed blondes), African (Blacks) and Indian, as well as an overlapping of each. Whereas in Cuba and Santo Domingo, where the Indians were literally wiped out, the population is basically either black or white, and their mixture, Mulattos.
The Spaniards first instituted these racial mixtures, then clearly defined/categorized each group by name, (i.e.) white with Indian- Creoles, Indian and black-Mestizos, etc. However, unlike American and other European slave owners or traders, when the Spaniards fostered children, they also gave them their last names. Of greater importance, they also married the women (due to honor and the strong influence of the Catholic Church).
Another interesting facet of Spain’s racism which differs from American, is their relationship with the blacks and Indians. In America, Blacks were used to fight Indians, The Blacks were led to believe that they were less savage, and even part of the new system, etc. Such policies made the Indians the worse treated group in America.
In Puerto Rico, there was a great deal more homogenization which gave birth to what is today’s island culture. The Spanish influence is of course most prominent. They set the social standards, religion and language. And ironically, though born American citizens (since 1907), the Puerto Rican people continue to vote Spanish as its national language. English is however, a required second language in the schools.
Nowhere is the fusion of the three cultures more evident, than in the music. And where the biggest African influence on the culture is evident. In Cuba, Puerto Rico and The Dominican Republic, the basis for much of its folklore and popular dance music are the African Rhythms. The music is a mixture of Indian and African percussion with Spanish lyrics and melodies.Another interesting irony is that those Caribbean islands are reponsible for keeping the African rhythms and culture alive in this hemisphere. American blacks were deprived of any ties with their African culture. Many years later, black Jazz musicians were exposed to these rhythms and of course immediately took to them like ducks to water and incorporated them into Jazz. It was the doing of Dizzy Gillespie with Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo that recorded a number “Manteca” that started the new musical art form of Latin-Jazz.While America’s racism considered a person “a Negro” if they had any drop of black blood, in Puerto Rico, it was more a matter of skin tone and perhaps passing as white. Being lighter, often meant better education, etc. In essence, looking more like Spaniards. In fact in Puerto Rico there’s a saying that tells it all. “BEING WHITE, IS A CAREER, LIKE ANY OTHER CAREER!"Therefore, Criollos were supposedly better than Mestizos, etc. Another method of separation (or acceptance) was based on hair. Straight hair being good and kinky bad. Therefore, a dark skinned person with straight hair might be considered white. The common denominator has always been the Hispanic culture. As a consequence, Caribbean blacks have always felt superior to American blacks with the argument, “I’m Spanish”! And they felt justified since they in fact had a sense of history and a culture—Spanish or African. The American only had slavery as a reference point. That is, until Haley wrote the book, “Roots” which was made into a successful television movie.Because the Spaniards married the women in the Catholic church, they also instituted and culturally emphasized the importance of the family unit. Again something American blacks were deprived of, since slave owners systematically broke up families by selling them off separately.Puerto Rico did win a short lived independence from Spain, but came under American rule after the Spanish-American war. And this by the way, is why many Puerto Ricans hold resentments toward the United States, especially among the advocates of Independence.Spain’s greatest gift or contribution to Puerto Rico was the creation of “The Rainbow People”. A people and culture Not made up of human mutts of casual inter-racial sexual encounters, but rather blessed with inheriting the blood and cultures of three of the world’s great races. In an ironic sense, if the world ever learns to live in peace, harmony, free of racism and inter-marry, eventually the whole world will look like Puerto Ricans.Imagine a future world, where the average person is genetically comprised of all God’s children. And then perhaps one day they’ll all be standing together, ready to greet visiting aliens from another world as true Earthlings. So ironically, wherever the world is going, perhaps Puerto Ricans have already started the ball rolling.
Invaders, or Gods?
SCIENCE FICTION, OR IS THIS A TRUE STORY?
Imagine yourself holding hands with your mate and children. The sky is alive with slowly moving brilliant colors. A warm breeze touches you and enhances this beautiful moment. You are a peaceful loving person who sincerely thanks God for being alive, at this time, in such a wondrous place. The last thing on your mind is that something could occur that would radically change or endanger your life.
Suddenly, something youve never seen before, comes into focus. Gradually growing bigger and bigger. By now, a crowd has gathered. It appears to be some sort of vessel. You can even start to make out creatures moving about. Finally, they are there. In front of you.
As a peaceful intelligent person, you are curious. But you eye these man-like creatures apprehensively and cautiously. Their bodies are covered by a shiny unfamiliar substance and as they move, the skys colors and rays of the sun emanate from them.
People in panic, run screaming in terror. Others throw themselves down on the ground to worship these Gods. Logically, you realize their obvious superiority, but question their divinity. Your immediate concern are the children. Your human survival instincts prepare to defend them at any cost. If, you have to.
Soon your biggest fears are realized. You see friends die, killed with strange looking thunderous sounding weapons. You witness their magic and start listening to their philosophy. You are forced to perform tasks you hate, dont understand, nor care to. Your whole life has been completely turned around.
Always in the back of your mind, you question the mortality of these Gods. You find others who think as you do, and together, devise a plan, a test. Together you overpower one of the aliens and hold them under water. Just in case he truly is a god, you ask forgiveness, and wait to see if it, or he, rises. He doesnt.
Now you know. You spread the word and start a resistance against the slavery and genocide befalling your people. You do this against all odds, knowing that in the end, their superior weapons will prevail.
Bringing you back to your present reality, I ask you:
Who are they? Where did they come from?
Is this Science Fiction, or could this be a true story?
Would you believe this really happened?
Well believe it. Because this is a true story. It really happened.
This is the story of the Taino Indians. First to defy European supremacy, and fight for the freedom of their home, Borinquen. The island the invading Spaniards on horses wearing shining armor, would eventually rename, Puerto Rico (Rich Port).