Culture & Identity

Commentary

By Clarisel Gonzalez
Puerto Rico Sun

SAN JUAN - I was told yesterday that I am not Puerto Rican.

Neither is Jennifer Lopez or Marc Anthony I was told.

Why?

Well, I was told by a "real Puerto Rican" that none of us are Puerto Rican because we were not born on the island.

I was offended.

This "Puerto Rican sister" told me that Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony and no other person born in New York or anywhere in the states is a "real Puerto Rican." "You just see yourselves that way," she said. It was not the first time I heard comments like that about Nuyoricans, but it was the first time that someone told me that to my face.

I heard this coming from the mouth of what I perceived to be a boricua sister who doesn't see me as boricua. I don't see her as a sister anymore even if she was born on La Isla del Encanto and sees herself as a "real Puerto Rican."

Whatever.

I have been living on the island on and off since 2000, but I have identified as Puerto Rican all my life. My mother and father moved to New York City in search of better opportunities just like many Puerto Ricans did. They had me in New York, and I grew in the South Bronx. But they instilled in me a deep love for the island.

And, I grew up bilingual, bicultural.

As a journalist, a large part of my mission has been striving for better and fairer coverage of Latino issues and more opportunities for journalists. That is why I am now running this Puerto Rico Sun cultural blog.

As a teacher, I have served Hispanic students in Trenton, N.J., and on the island.

I currently work as an English teacher in Santurce's Barrio Obrero, and my students are Puerto Rican and Dominican. I see it as a way of giving back to mi gente.

Now, I am told I am not even a "real Puerto Rican."

I disagree.

I am a proud Puerto Rican. I am American. I am a New Yorker.

I know who I am, and I am giving back to mi gente.

Or, should I just go home to New York (where I belong) to do that?

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