Saturday, February 28, 2009
Bronx Borough Prez Adolfo Carrion Jr., a boricua, is moving on to his new job for the Obama administration. His last full day on the job as Bronx prez was Friday.
Now the race for the new boro prez is heating up. So far, the only one who has announced that he is in the race is Assemblyman Ruben Diaz Jr. City Councilman Joel Rivera has expressed interest. Diaz and Rivera are boricuas.
Here's a WNYC report by Elaine Rivera of what's going on:
Bronxites, the special election for a borough president is an important one. Rather than getting blinded by petty partisan politics and last names, residents should be looking at what the new candidate will offer. What are his or her positions on improving the quality of life in the Bronx? Remember that the South Bronx is still considered the poorest Congressional district in the country. The mayor is expected to announce a special election. Bronx Latinos, this race matters.
Here's the description of what a borough president does as posted at http://bronxboropres.nyc.gov/en/gv/president/index.htm:
"The Borough President works with the Mayor to prepare the annual executive budget submitted to the City Council, reviews and comments on major land use projects, and proposes sites for City facilities within his jurisdiction. The Borough President also monitors the administration of City services and engages in strategic planning for the economic development of the borough. He appoints a representative to the New York City Board of Education and the New York City Planning Commission. The Borough President also appoints the members of the Community Boards and is the Chairperson of both the Borough Board and the Borough Services Cabinet. Among other distinctions, the Borough President sits on the New York City Off-Track Betting Site Selection Board, and is a trustee of the New York City Employees' Retirement System. The Borough President's Office also houses the Borough's Topographical Bureau, which is responsible for maintaining the borough's official maps, and assigning street addresses." -- Clarisel Gonzalez
Friday, February 27, 2009
Senator Serrano yesterday introduced a resolution in the State Senate that honored the life and music of Joe Cuba, a renowned musician who ventured into all aspects of Latin music. The resolution passed unanimously, a testament to the importance of Cuba's contribution to the music and culture of the community he loved so much.
"It is a great privilege to be able to pay my respects to Joe Cuba with this resolution," said Serrano, chair of the Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee. "Joe Cuba's music defines an era."
Cuba is most famously known as the Father of the Boogaloo, a 1960s musical style that mixed African-American and Latino musical traditions. Boogaloo was a powerful reminder of the diversity and vitality of the neighborhood that spawned the style. The fusion of Latin and R&B rhythms exploded onto the popular charts in the 1960s and 1970s, and helped to define the emerging Nuyorican identity of the time.
"As a distinctly New York sound, boogaloo is an important part of the history of El Barrio," Serrano said. "By singing in English as well as Spanish, he was able to introduce Latin music to a wide audience."
Cuba passed away at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City on Sunday, February 15, 2009. He is survived by his wife Maria Calderon, sons Mitchell and Cesar, daughter Lisa and grandchildren Nicole and Alexis.
To see the video "Serrano Passes Senate Resolution Honoring JoeCuba" on the Senate floor:
source: press release from Senator Serrano's office
(photo of Senator Serrano)
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Bronxite Shihan Warixi Soto is a high ranking martial artist, a multiple Hall of Fame recipient and the creator and Executive Director of F.A.S.T. (Female Alternative Street Tactics) and "Secure Your Child."
F.A.S.T focuses on urban survival and has been created to empower and teach women and teen girls how to avoid all forms of attacks and confrontations. The program was created for the streets of New York City. The other program teaches children ages 4-12 street awareness, self protection and self defense. Both programs have been taught throughout the city since 1983. That same year Shihan Warixi was awarded the rank of “Kaiden” in “Miyama Ryu Combat Ju-Jutsu.” The rank is very similar to 10th degree black belt, and it’s the highest rank awarded. Her specialties are anti-rape tactics, live blade knife techniques, and Ju-Jutsu for adults and children.
She has trained and holds certificates in weaponry. She has training in Jodo (the long staff), bokken (wooden sword) and tanjo (short staff).
Q: What got you into martial arts?
A: It was a few things that contributed to my getting into the martial arts. First, I loved Angela Mao, Bruce Lee, and Sonny Chiba. Second, I grew up fighting. When I was little, my father would take me to the fights. Third, I needed to get in shape. You can see it was a few things.
Q: Were you ever a victim of a crime or bullied?
A: Whenever I got bullied, I had to fight or my mom would kick my butt. I grew up fighting. I was the oldest. Sometimes I had to defend my brothers. I’ve always hated bullies.
Q: Were you often the only female in the martial arts class and how did the men treat you?
A: Yes. Some men were really soft, treating my like a real girly girl. Others were really really hard like they wanted me out of there.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I was born in East Harlem and lived there until I was eight. We then moved to the Bronx.
Q: How was it? Were you a tough girl growing up?
A: No. No gangs, No bullying. In fact, I hated gangs and bullies. I was more the athletic type: bike riding, swimming, horseback riding, skateboarding, knife throwing, street basement karate.
Q: What do you teach your students?
A: Wow, there is a whole lot that I teach my students. If I’m teaching my children’s program “Secure Your Child,” then I teach everything from how to walk alone, how to deal with bullies and strangers and much more. I don’t teach children about weapons. When I teach my “Female Alternative Street Tactics” eight-hour program, I teach women how to use everyday items for self defense. I also have a workshop called “Using everyday items for self defense.” There I teach how to use everyday items, including weapons.
Q: Which weapons do you specialize in teaching?
A: I specialize in knife, stick, and Bokken (wooden sword).
Q: Could you tell us the certificates you have received and what is the role of the shihan?
A: I have received numerous awards, really too many to mention. I have been inducted into seven Hall of Fames. My most priced award came from my own peers in Miyama Ryu Combat Ju Jutsu. I was given “The Keeper of the Lost Art” Award for “Woman of the Year” in 2004. Shihan is my title, my rank is Kaiden. It means that I have devoted my life to this art, and I am qualified to teach, and rank. It means “All things passed.” Check out my blog at www.shihanwarixi.blogspot.com .
Q: You seem to have a special bond with children. Why?
A: I love children and truly believe that all the children in the world are my children. Children are loyal, honest, truthful and fun. More adults should try to be like children.
Q: Do you have children and are they also in martial arts?
A: Yes, I have three children. When they were young they were in the art. They ranked in Judo and Ju Jutsu. My daughter still trains.
When she is not involved in martial arts, she devotes time to her love for the Taino culture. She enjoys educating people about the rich history of Boriken. For more information, visit www.kukarey.com. – Ismael Nunez
(photos courtesy of Shihan Warixi Soto)
PowerHouse Arena presents
Latinos in Literature
A fresh crop of Nuyorican authors
7-9 p.m., March 5
PowerHouse Arena, 37 Main St., Brooklyn
(Click on image for larger text.)
Editor's Note: Support our Latino authors.
ALL of these books are also available for purchase at the PRSUN aStore (a way of supporting this Puerto Rico Sun community media project). The PRSUN aStore highlights the work of Puerto Rican writers and artists.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
A petition is circulating online in support of naming 22nd Street and Park Avenue South Richie Perez Way. You are invited to sign the petition. More street names should honor boricuas like Richie Perez who made a difference in the story of this city. The petition is addressed to the local community board.
Councilwoman Rosie Mendez who knew Perez would like to see a street named in Perez's honor during her tenure. The street is in Mendez's district and she will submit the proposal to Community Board 5 at a public meeting on March 5.
Here's the text for the online petition:
To: Community Board 5
We write to urge Community Board #5 to rename 22nd Street and Park Avenue South Richie Perez Way, to pay homage to one of the nation’s greatest advocates, a community leader and longtime activist in the struggle for global social justice and human rights.
Richie Perez was a leading exponent for social justice and political participation. A former Young Lord and National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights co-founder, Richie brought his unique mix of integrity, zeal and unity to the diverse ethnic and racial communities of New York City and beyond.
Born and raised in the Bronx, Richie graduated from the NYC public school system and the City University of New York. He also earned an MA in Business Economics from New York University.
Richie’s commitment to the education of young people began when he taught at Monroe High School and was involved in the movement for community control of the schools. He went on to teach college courses on the Puerto Rican urban experience, the mass media, social policy in the United States, the history of the civil rights, and the history of the labor movement at educational institutions (Richmond, Brooklyn and Hunter Colleges, the College of New Rochelle, Empire State College and the Center for Legal Education and Urban Policy). He designed the course "Urban Reality and Mass Media" for pre-law students at CCNY's Urban Legal Studies Program.
Richie has been a leader in the struggle to eliminate racial bias and to demand accountability in cases of police brutality. He commenced his volunteer work as a member of the Young Lords Party (YLP) established in New York City in 1969. In the 1970’s, Richie created the Committee Against “Fort Apache: The Bronx” which held protests at movie theaters urging New Yorkers to boycott the movie because of the negative depiction and stereotypes of Puerto Ricans.
In 1981, Richie worked with others in creating the National Congress of Puerto Rican Rights (NCPRR), a not-for-profit volunteer organization. It has been a voice and vehicle of empowerment for Puerto Rican people. The NCPRR is a civil rights organization addressing the ill treatment of Puerto Ricans and Latinos by individuals and institutions. Richie chaired the NCPRR’s Justice Committee that primarily worked on issues of police brutality and racial violence. Richie continued his work with victims and surviving family members of police brutality and racial violence until his death in March 2004.
In 1983, the Community Service Society hired Richie in a series of challenging positions during his 21 years of employment. In 1987, he was appointed the Director of Organizational Development and the Voter Participation Project. Thanks to Richie's creativity and tireless efforts, VPP registered over 250,000 new voters in NYC. Since 1992, Richie served as the Director of Political Development and worked closely with CSS' Legal Department on the issue of felon disenfranchisement.
Finally, Richie was a family man, married for twenty three years and raised a wonderful son.
The biggest tribute we, as his “global family” and community, can make to acknowledge Richie’s life commitment to social justice struggles is to co-name the street where the Community Service Society is located and where Richie spent most of his day working on these issues.
To sign the online petition, go to
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Preserving Identity: Puerto Rican Shift from Catholicism to Pentecostalism
An examination of the indirect and direct factors why the change from Catholicism to Pentecostalism allowed the early generation Puerto Rican to preserve their identity in New York City
Presenter: Ramón Ortiz, New York Theological Seminary
6 p.m., Wednesday, February 25
Centro Conference Room 1437 East Bldg.
68th & Lexington Avenue, Manhattan
After boxer Miguel Cotto suffered a bitter defeat in the hands of Antonio Margarito last July 2008, there were some who questioned whether Cotto lost his confidence. At the same time, he lay low for more than 200 days. There was concern that the layoff would make him rusty. But on the night of February 21, he proved everyone wrong at Square Garden in front of a large fan base.
That night Cotto met Michael Jennings from England who came in with a record of 34-2 and 16 knockouts. It was Jennings first time fighting at the Garden. Cotto won every round, scoring with left jabs, shots to the body, two knockdowns in round four and one more in round five. When referee Benji Estevez saw enough, he said no mas, stopping the fight with 2:36 remaining in the fifth round.
Cotto captured the vacant World Boxing Organization Welterweight Champion.
After the fight, there was some talk about a rematch with Shane Mosley who this past January 24th defeated Margarito.
My advice: Cotto relax, train, be confident, but don’t get over confident. – Ismael Nunez
Monday, February 23, 2009
We have a new archbishop.
Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of Milwaukee, as the new Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York.
The new archbishop says he is looking forward to working with the vibrant Latino Catholic Church community here. When I first heard that Dolan was appointed instead of Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves of San Juan, Puerto Rico, I was a little disappointed. I guess the Archdiocese of New York is not ready for a Latino archbishop yet. They decided to name another Irishman (nothing against the Irish), but I think it is about time to diversify the leadership of the church. But I'm feeling good about Dolan's appointment. Hearing him speak today, I got a sense that he is very aware of how important Latinos are to the Archdiocese. It is definitely not a community to be taken for granted. He seems to be a down-to-earth kind of bishop. I hear he's strict on such issues as abortion and celibacy in the priesthood.
A historian, he seems to be familiar with the story of immigration and the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of New York. He is still working on his Spanish and hopes to improve it. He knows Italian too and admits he sometimes confuses his Spanish and Italian and prefers to use text when he speaks Spanish. I suspect he will pick up a lot of Spanish in New York City.
Puerto Rico Sun welcomes the new archbishop to our Latino parishes.
Here's the press release:
Archbishop Dolan Appointed Archbishop of New York Retirement of Cardinal Egan Accepted
His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, has appointed His Excellency, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of Milwaukee, to the Archdiocese of New York. Archbishop Dolan has served as the Archbishop of Milwaukee since 2002. He will be the 13th Bishop and 10th Archbishop of the See of New York. He succeeds His Eminence, Edward Cardinal Egan, who submitted his letter of retirement upon reaching the age of 75 on April 2, 2007.
Cardinal Egan has been named Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of New York until the Installation of Archbishop Dolan. The Archbishop will be installed by His Excellency, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States at Saint Patrick's Cathedral on April 15, 2009.
In a statement, Archbishop Dolan addressed New Yorkers, saying, "My brother bishops, priests, religious women and men, seminarians, committed Catholics of this wonderful Church, I pledge to you my love, my life, my heart, and I can tell you already that I love you, I need so much your prayers and support, I am so honored, humbled, and happy to serve as your pastor."
Born in 1950, the oldest of five children to Robert and Shirley Dolan, Archbishop Dolan's education began at Holy Infant Grade School in Ballwin, Missouri, and continued at St. Louis Preparatory Seminary, Cardinal Glennon College, and the Pontifical North American College, in Rome.
Ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of St. Louis on June 19, 1976, Father Dolan then served as a parish priest, earned his doctorate in Church History at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D. C., worked at the Apostolic Nunciature (Vatican Embassy) in Washington, D.C., served on the faculty at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, and returned to Rome as rector of the Pontifical North American College.
He came back to the Archdiocese of St. Louis as auxiliary bishop in June 2001, to be appointed Archbishop of Milwaukee a year later.
source: Archdiocese of New York
(photo courtesy of the Archdiocese of New York)
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
Artists raise money to create 'The Freedom Album' and help Puerto Rican political prisoners and their families
The Puerto Rican Freedom Project will be throwing a fundraiser at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow at the 1199 MLK, JR Union Center, 310 West 43rd St., Manhattan. Proceeds will go toward the creation of "The Freedom Album," a dual CD featuring Puerto Rican artists from the island and beyond, due out early this spring.
The musical compilation is being created to raise funds for the Puerto Rican political prisoners and their families. The current Puerto Rican political prisoners are Oscar Lopez, Carlos Alberto Torres, Haydee Beltran and Avelino Gonzalez Claudio. Suggested donation for the event: $10-$15.
For more information about this project, go to www.prfreedomproject.org or www.myspace.com/freeourpoliticalprisoners.
(Click on image for larger text.)
Thursday, February 19, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, President Barack Obama announced that Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, a boricua, will be the new White House Director of Urban Affairs.
President Obama and Vice President Biden created the White House Office of Urban Affairs to develop a strategy for metropolitan America and to ensure that all federal dollars targeted to urban areas are effectively spent on the highest-impact programs. The Director of Urban Affairs will report directly to the president and coordinate all federal urban programs.
Carrion has served two terms as Bronx Borough President and one term as the President of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO). As Bronx Borough President, Carrion oversaw the creation of 40,000 new units of housing in seven years, 50 new schools, $7 billion in capital and infrastructure expenditures, and over $400 million in new parks and parkland renovation. Prior to his service as Bronx Borough President, Carrion represented the 14th City Council District on the New York City Council and also served as an urban planner at the NYC Department of City Planning and a teacher in the New York City Public Schools. Carrion received his bachelors in World Religions and Philosophy from King’s College in 1985 and his Masters in Urban Planning from Hunter College in 1990.
Congratulations to Carrion on his accomplishment.
sources: Bronx BP's Office/White House Office of the Press Secretary
Photo of Adolfo Carrion Jr. at the Bronx Puerto Rican Heritage Month last November at the Tropicana. (photo by Clarisel Gonzalez)
Here's an announcement of upcoming meetings to meet the candidates next week:
The three candidates for the position of President of Eugenio María de Hostos Community College are Felíz Matos Rodríguez, Natalie Gómez-Vélez, and Wilfredo Nieves.
The candidates will be on campus next week for meetings with groups representing the student body, the faculty, the staff, the administration, and the community at large.
There will also be three open forums at which all members of the Hostos family can meet with candidates individually and ask any questions they may have. These open forums will be held in Multipurpose Room on the second floor of the Savoy Building, 120 East 149th Street.
Here's the schedule:
Monday, February 23, Matos Rodríguez
Tuesday, February 24, Gómez-Vélez
Thursday, February 26, Nieves
All sessions run from 4-5 p.m. each day.
Félix Matos Rodríguez
Félix V. Matos Rodríguez has a distinguished academic, educational, and social service policy career record. Trained as a social scientist, he has worked in foundations, universities, policy centers and government were he has been able to combine his scholarship with social policy, advocacy and change.
On December 31, 2008, Matos Rodríguez finished serving as Secretary of the Department of the Family for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. As Secretary, he formulated public policy and administered service delivery in the following programs: Child Support Enforcement, Adoption and Foster Care, Child and Elderly Protection, Food Stamps, TANF, Child Care, and Head Start. Matos Rodríguez managed a $2.2 billion dollar annual budget and oversaw nearly 9500 employees. Previously, he had served as Social Welfare and Health Advisor to the Governor Anibal Acevedo Vilá.
Matos Rodríguez is an Associate Professor of Black and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies at Hunter College (currently on leave) and teaches courses on Caribbean, Latin American and Latino history. He is also part of the History Department at CUNY’s Graduate Center. Matos Rodríguez served as the Director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College [CUNY] -- one of the largest and most important Puerto Rican/Latino research centers in the US -- from 2000-2005.
He has an extensive publication record on the fields of Migration, Women's, Puerto Rican, Caribbean and Latino studies. Matos Rodríguez is the author of Women and Urban Life in Nineteenth-Century San Juan, Puerto Rico [1820-62] [University Presses of Florida 1999; Markus Weiner 2001]; co-author of “Pioneros:” Puerto Ricans in New York City, 1896-1948 [Arcadia Publishers, 2001]; editor of, A Nation of Women, An Early Feminist Speaks Out: Mi opinión sobre las libertades, derechos y deberes de la mujer by Luisa Capetillo. [Houston: Arte Público Press, 2005]; co-editor with Gabriel Haslip Viera and Angelo Falcón. Boricuas in Gotham: Puerto Ricans in the Making of Modern New York City. [Princeton: Markus Wiener, 2004]; with Matthew C. Gutmann, Lynn Stephen, and Patricia Zavella. Blackwell Reader on The Americas. [London: Blackwell Publishers, 2003]; and co-editor of Puerto Rican Women's History: New Perspectives. [M.E. Sharpe Publishers, 1998]. Matos Rodríguez's work has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Urban History, The Public Historian, Latin American Research Review, Centro Journal, Revista de Ciencias Sociales, and the Boletín de la Asociación de Demografía Histórica, in addition to having chapters in several anthologies. He was the founding editor of the series New Directions in Puerto Rican Studies published by University Press of Florida. He has also reviewed manuscripts for Temple University Press, Rutgers University Press, M.E. Sharpe, Blackwell Publishers, Hispanic American Historical Review and the Revista de Ciencias Sociales. He has been a member of the advisory editorial boards of the Latino Studies Journal and New York Archives. Matos Rodríguez expert commentary has been included in prestigious newspapers and publications.
Matos Rodríguez graduated from Colegio San Ignacio High School in San Juan. He attended Yale University as an undergraduate and graduated cum laude in Latin American Studies. He received his Ph.D. in history from Columbia University.
Prior to his work at Hunter College, Matos Rodríguez was a Program Officer at the Social Science Research Council in New York City and a faculty member at Northeastern University in Boston. He has also held visiting and adjunct teaching appointments at Yale University, Boston College, and City University [CUNY].
Matos Rodriguez has also been active in community organizations. He has been a board member of Aspira of New York, Inc.; Phipps Community Development Corporation, and of the Community Advisory Board of El Diario- La Prensa. He has received numerous awards for his community service including a special recognition by New York City’s Council during the 2003 Hispanic Heritage Month and by the New York State Senate and House Puerto Rican Latino Caucus for excellence in education in 2002.
He is married to Dr. Liliana M. Arabia, a dentist, and has two sons: Lucas (7) and Juan Carlos (5).
Natalie Gómez-Vélez is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and an Associate Professor of Law at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law. Prior to her appointment with the law school, Dean Gómez-Vélez served as Special Counsel to Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman of the New York State Unified Court System and as Assistant Deputy Attorney General for Public Advocacy in the administration of New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Gómez-Vélez has also served on the Lawyering faculty at New York University School of Law, as an attorney with the ACLU and the Brennan Center for Justice, and as General Counsel to the New York City Department of Youth Services. Gómez-Vélez began her legal career in private practice.
Gómez-Vélez, a native New Yorker, received her Juris Doctor degree from New York University School of Law (where she was an Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Fellow, and as a member of the Latino Law Students Association Steering Committee). She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Hunter College of the City University of New York (where she graduated summa cum laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa). (In 2007, she was inducted into the Hunter College Hall of Fame.)
Gómez-Vélez recently completed an unexpired term on the New York State Board of Regents, where she served as Regent for the Twelfth Judicial District (the Bronx). She is the former Bronx Representative to the New York City Panel for Educational Policy (Board of Education), appointed by Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr. and serving from 2002-2004. She currently serves on New York’s Statewide Judicial Screening Committee, the New York State Continuing Legal Education Board, and the Board of the City Parks Foundation.
Wilfredo Nieves brings 30 plus years of education experience to his role as president of Middlesex Community College. A long-time community college administrator, his career demonstrates the depth and breadth necessary to provide exemplary leadership in the complex environment of higher education today.
Nieves’ extensive career exemplifies a lifetime commitment to the community college mission. From his early work in student services to his more recent roles and accomplishments as an academic and administrative leader, he has a comprehensive understanding of college leadership. His appointment as President of Middlesex Community College in 2001 positioned him as a valuable contributor to the Middlesex service area and to many national community college organizations.
Nieves serves as an evaluator for the Commissions on Higher Education for the Middle States Association and New England Association of Schools and Colleges. He has received numerous awards for his contributions to education and community service.
Nieves is a committed community leader and is active in many civic organizations. His community involvements have included service on the boards of directors of the National Coalition of Advocates for Students, the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, the Middlesex United Way, and the Portland Visiting Nurse Association. He is on the American Council on Education’s Commission on Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity, a corporator of Liberty Bank and the Middlesex Health System, Inc. and a member of the Middletown Rotary Club.
Nieves holds a baccalaureate degree in Mathematics from Kean University of New Jersey, a Master of Arts Degree in Human Development and the Master of Education in Guidance from Columbia University and a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Rutgers the State University of New Jersey.
source: National Institute for Latino Policy
Puerto Rico Sun wishes all the candidates good luck. Judging by their background, they are all worthy candidates. It is important to select the best candidate to continue the legacy of Hostos Community College in the Bronx.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
This multicultural photo group has grown to more than 400 members from around the world. What I love about the group is that it is truly multicultural.
Our pool features more than 6,000 photos. Selected photos from this group's pool are regularly featured right here in the Puerto Rico Sun blog.
I thank all the members of the Puerto Rico Sun photo group for their contributions. Keep those images coming.
Here's the link to our Puerto Rico Sun photo group:
Monday, February 16, 2009
by Women of El Barrio members Elsie Encarnación and Alyssa Ruíz
On Sunday January 25, 2009, MTV aired a new episode from its widely popular True Life series entitled True Life: I'm a Nuyorican. According to the network’s website, the show was aimed to demonstrate the difficulties young Nuyoricans face when growing up between two worlds. The show featured three young Nuyoricans and highlighted each of their "struggles" with being Nuyorican. Since the airing of this show, there has been quite the uproar within the Nuyorican community concerning whether MTV presented the "True Life" they proclaim to have depicted. Many self-identified Nuyoricans are offended and upset by the inaccurate representation of an entire community that has fought to proudly identify itself and have shown considerable backlash via internet blogs, petitions and even on MTV's own website.
One of the communities highlighted in the television program was East Harlem also known as El Barrio. The unfair and unjust portrayal of Nuyoricans deeply touch home and even offended us as members of Women of El Barrio/Mujeres de El Barrio (WOEB), a local advocacy group of proud Puerto Rican women that not only support the leadership of Puerto Rican women in East Harlem, but also fight and speak out against the injustices facing our community. We see the True Life: I'm a Nuyorican episode as a disgraceful representation of an entire body of people.
Our biggest gripe with the episode was the neglect to accurately define the term Nuyorican. The expression Nuyorican goes far beyond the geographical definition that MTV offers. The term was coined by the literary and cultural movement that birthed the famous Nuyorican Poets Café in the late seventies early eighties. Poets such as Miguel Algarín, Miguel Piñero, Pedro Pietri, and Sandra Maria Esteves used their poetry as a medium to express the new generation of Puerto Ricans in New York and as a way for them to speak out against the injustices and discrimination they faced. Through this movement came an awareness and a deep sense of pride of what it meant to be Nuyorican.
With the failure to properly define the term Nuyorican we were left with a television show that focused on the negative stereotypes that are constantly perpetuated in media outlets. For example, all three cast members had a burning desire to get out of their unstable and dangerous communities even though we do not all come from or live in threatening neighborhoods. The "only way out" consisted of three options: get out through sports, entertainment, or by joining the armed forces. There was no mention of working hard or educating oneself as other viable choices. We also must not forget that there are Nuyoricans that do not want or particularly need to get out; rather they want to stay and make a difference in their communities. There are even those Nuyoricans that are fighting to stay in their homes due to gentrification.
We as members of WOEB work hard to dispel these negative perceptions of our community and Puerto Ricans through our active involvement and presence in our neighborhood; and it is because of this that we ask for the following: MTV to acknowledge the reaction from the Nuyorican community and apologize for producing and airing a lopsided and erroneous interpretation of a large and proud population, MTV to pull the episode from the air, and MTV to recast and reproduce a more balanced view that would not only be more representative of the Nuyorican community but would also educate others about our history and way of life. We cannot continue to let MTV’s portrayal of the Nuyorican community, with its extremely large viewership, be the only version of our identity. It is up to us to fight back and let our voices be heard.
Editor's Note: To watch the video online that is causing all the uproar, go to
I thought I'd share the link as a FYI and to give people the opportunity to judge for themselves. You can watch the show titled "I'm A Nuyorican" online at MTV. It is too bad that the controversy is giving this particular show more audience than it deserves. Feel free to leave your comments.
To sign the online petition,
THE SHOW IS OFF THE AIR!!!!!!!
Katilia Vélez, on 4/1/09, in Facebook message writes:
CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! YOU DID IT!!!!! WE HAVE RECEIVED CONFIRMATION FROM MTV THAT THE SHOW IS NOT SCHEDULED TO RE-AIR....!!!!!!!!WWWEEEEEEPPPPPPAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!
IN THE COMING WEEKS WE WILL KNOW WHAT THE STATUS IS AS FAR AS PRODUCING A NEW EPISODE WHICH IS HISTORICALLY AND CONTEXTUALLY ACCURATE FOR NUYORICANS.....
YOU MADE IT HAPPEN! FELICIDADES!!!!
MTV TAKES A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION....
BUT--- WE STILL HAVE A WAYS TO GO- WE WANT TO HAVE THEM PRODUCE A NEW EPISODE SO WE STILL NEED SIGNATURES!!!!!!
The best way to remember Joe Cuba is with his music. Enjoy this video posted by neels39 on YouTube.
Here's a news release by writer and musician Aurora Flores about Cuba and his mark in the world of Latin music:
Joe Cuba: The Father of New York Boogaloo has passed
The "Father of Boogaloo," Joe Cuba, passed away on Sunday, February 15, 2009 at 4 p.m. at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York. He was the most popular exponent of the boogaloo, a fused Latino and R&B rhythm that exploded onto the American top 40s charts during the turbulent 1960s & ‘70s. Hits such as “Bang Bang,” “Push Push,” “El Pito,” “Ariñañara,” and “Sock It To Me Baby,” rocked the hit parades establishing Joe Cuba and his Sextet as the definitive sound of Latin New York during the ‘60s & ‘70s. The Joe Cuba Sextet’s unusual instrumentation featured vibraphones replacing the traditional brass sound. His music was at the forefront of the Nuyorican movement of New York where the children of Puerto Rican emigrants...took music, culture, arts and politics into their own hands.
Joe Cuba’s Sextet became popular in the New York Latino community precisely because it fused a bilingual mix of Afro-Caribbean genres blended with the popular urban rhythm & blues of its time creating a musical marriage between the Fania and Motown sound. His was the first musical introduction to Latin rhythms for many American aficionados. The lyrics to Cuba's repertoire mixed Spanish and English, becoming an important part of the emerging Nuyorican identity.
“Joe Cuba’s music validated the developing Nuyorican population whose language and music Cuba captured with his sound,” underlines Giora Breil, CEO of Emusica, the company that now owns the Fania label and who has remastered many of the classics to a new generation of music lovers. “He led the urban tribe,” pointed Breil, “into a united front of cultural warriors that were defining the social and political times they lived in.”
Longtime manager and promoter Hector Maisonave recalls Cuba as ”an innovator who crossed over into mainstream music at an early time. He was the soul of El Barrio. After Joe Cuba, El Barrio is just a street that crosses an avenue.”
In 1962, Cuba recorded "To Be With You" with the vocals of Cheo Feliciano and Jimmy Sabater whose careers he spotlighted after the bands introductory appearance at the Stardust Ballroom prior to its summer stint in the Catskills.
Born in 1931 in the heart of Spanish Harlem, his Puerto Rican parents arrived in New York City in the 20s. Christened "Gilberto Miguel Calderón," Cuba was a “doo wopper” who played for J. Panama in 1950 when he was a young 19 year old before going on to play for La Alfarona X, where the young congüerro/percussionist replaced Sabu Martinez tapped to play with Xavier Cugat.
By 1965, the Sextet got their first crossover hit with the Latino and soul fusion of "El Pito” (I Never Go Back To Georgia), a tune Cuba recorded against the advice of the producer later to be “broken” by a DJ over WBLS FM in N.Y. The Dizzy Gillespie "Never Go Back To Georgia" chant was taken from the intro to the seminal Afro-Cuban tune, "Manteca." Vocalist Jimmy Sabater later revealed that "none of us had ever been to Georgia." In fact, Cuba later comically described a conversation he had with the Governor of Georgia who called him demanding why he would record a song whose chorus negatively derided the still segregated Southern town. The quick thinking Joe Cuba replied, “Georgia is the name of my girl.”
In 1967, Joe Cuba’s band --–with no horns– scored a "hit" in the United States National Hit Parade List with the song "Bang Bang" - a tune that ushered in the Latin Boogaloo era. He also had a #1 hit, that year on the Billboard charts with the song "Sock It To Me Baby." The band’s instrumentation included congas, timbales, an occasional bongo, bass, piano and vibraphone. “A bastard sound,” is what Cuba called it pointing to the fans, the people, as the true creators of this music. “You don’t go into a rehearsal and say ‘Hey, let’s invent a new sound, or dance.’ They happen. The boogaloo came out of left field. “ Joe Cuba recounts in Mary Kent’s book:” Salsa Talks: A Musical History Uncovered. “It’s the public that creates new dances and different things. The audience invents, the audience relates to what you are doing and then puts their thing into what you are playing,” pointing to other artists such as Ricardo Ray or Hector Rivera as pioneers of the urban fused rhythm.
“I met Joe up in the Catskills in 1955,” recalls nine time Grammy Award winner Eddie Palmieri. “When I later started La Perfecta,” Palmieri muses, “we alternated on stages with Joe. He was full of life and had a great sense of humor, always laughing at his own jokes,” chuckles the pianist. Palmieri pointed to Cuba’s many musical contributions underlining the power and popularity of his small band and bilingual lyrics while providing a springboard for the harmonies and careers of Cheo Feliciano, Willie Torres and Jimmy Sabater. “He was Spanish Harlem personified,” describes Palmieri recalling the “take no prisoners” attitude Cuba had when it came to dealing with those who reluctantly paid the musicians. Recalling their early recording days with the infamous Morris Levy, Palmieri cites the antics of Joe Cuba, Ismael Rivera and himself as the reason for Levy selling them as a Tico package to Fania label owner, Jerry Masucci.
Funny, irreverent and with a great humor for practical jokes, Joe Cuba, or Sonny as he was called by his closest friends, was raised in East Harlem. Stickball being the main sport for young boys of the neighborhood, Cuba’s father organized a stickball club called the Devils. After Cuba broke a leg, he took up playing the conga and continued to practice between school and his free time. Eventually, he graduated from high school and joined a band.
“He was not afraid to experiment,” said David Fernandez, arranger & musical director of Zon del Barrio who played with the legendary Cuba when he arrived in New York in 2002.
By 1954, at the suggestion of his agent to change the band's name from the Jose Calderon Sextet to the Joe Cuba Sextet, the newly named Joe Cuba Sextet made their debut at the Stardust Ballroom. Charlie Palmieri was musical director of the sextet before his untimely 1988 death from a heart attack.
Since then, the Joe Cuba Sextet and band has been a staple of concerts and festivals that unite both Latinos, African-Americans and just plain music lovers in venues all over the world.
In 2003, the following CDs were released:
* "Joe Cuba Sextet Vol I: Mardi Gras Music for Dancing"
* "Merengue Loco" and
* "Out of This World Cha Cha".
In 2004, Joe Cuba was named Grand Marshall of the Puerto Rican Day Parade celebrated in Yonkers, New York. Musician Willie Villegas who traveled with Joe for the past 15 years said, “It didn’t matter where we played around the world Joe would always turn to me and say, To My Barrio…. With Love! " Joe Cuba is survived by his wife Maria Calderon, sons Mitchell and Cesar, daughter Lisa, and grandchildren Nicole and Alexis.
sources: YouTube and Aurora Communications Inc.
Editor's note: Joe Cuba's music is available at the PRSUN aStore:
Sunday, February 15, 2009
For more information,
Bronx Latino: 'A Portrait of the Bronx Artist Community'
Saturday, February 14, 2009
A little about Casiano:
Americo Casiano Jr. is one of the original Nuyorican poets and a key founding activist for the Nuyorican arts movement. He has promoted, produced and coordinated numerous readings and performance series for key arts and cultural organizations in New York City. Among them: El Taller/galleria Boricua (The Puerto Rican Workshop, Inc.), El Museo Del Barrio, Inc., New Rican Village, Inc. the Bronx Council on the Arts and the NuyoRican School Original Poetry Jazz Ensemble, Inc.
A 2003 New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellow, he is also the author of "On the Stand," a poetry book.
Casiano is also the founder and artistic director of NuyoRican School Poetry Jazz Ensemble. The ensemble blends the use of the written verse with contemporary jazz/Latin jazz. It maintains two distinct versions: a traveling theatre ensemble and a performance concert ensemble.
During the show, Casiano will treat listeners with a poetry reading.
Remember to tune in
Casiano's "On the Stand" is available at the PRSUN aStore:
Friday, February 13, 2009
Philadelphia Attractions, Events and Tours Celebrate Hispanic Culture
PHILADELPHIA/PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ -- Hispanic heritage thrives in Philadelphia, home to the second-largest Hispanic population in the Northeast. Because this market is the fastest growing ethnic group in the Philadelphia region, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, many new arts and cultural opportunities are emerging that celebrate Hispanic traditions. Those who wish to experience the culture and charisma of the city's lively community can find plenty of activities at popular area attractions. Here's a sampling of temporary events and year-round offerings that showcase Hispanic-American
Special Events and Exhibitions:
Opened in October 2008, the Latin Art Gallery showcases an exceptional collection of modern art in a wide range of mediums and themes. Displaying through mid-March 2009 is Los Hijos de la Calle, an exhibition of images by
three photographers from very diverse paths. 305 W. Oxford Street, (215) 975-
In the heart of the Latino community, Taller Puertorriqueno is like a second home for upcoming and established Hispanic artists. From February 6 through April 11, 2009, its Lorenzo Homar Gallery features Diametrically
Opposed Realities in Santurce, Puerto Rico, with works by Harry Hernandez, one of Puerto Rico's most promising young painters. His work incorporates paintings from various forms of media, including projections, digital imaging,
video and photography. 2721 N. 5th Street, (215) 426-3311, tallerpr.org.
Visitors to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology can view a world-renowned collection of ancient Maya pottery excavated nearly 100 years ago. Painted Metaphors: Pottery and Politics of the Ancient Maya, on display April 5 through September 6, 2009, includes about two dozen recently conserved painted vessels and focuses on the ordinary Maya people that lived more than a thousand years ago. 3260 South Street, (215) 898-4000, museum.upenn.edu.
Philadelphia celebrates Hispanic heritage all summer long at Penn's Landing during the popular PECO Multicultural Series. The annual series includes the Hispanic Fiesta (July 11-12, 2009), Caribbean Fest (August 23) and the Mexican Independence Day Festival (September 13, 2009), all featuring food, folklore, crafts, dance and music. Great Plaza, Columbus Boulevard at
Chestnut Street, (215) 922-2FUN, delawareriverwaterfrontcorp.com.
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage All Year Long:
In Philadelphia, nearly 3,000 walls have been transformed with images of heroes, landscapes or inspiring scenes. On the second Wednesday of every month and on select Saturdays, a Philadelphia Mural Arts Tour departs from the Independence Visitor Center to showcase the murals of North Philadelphia, including those found in El Centro de Oro, the heart Philadelphia's Latino community. General public tours run from April through November. 6th & Market Streets, (215) 685-0750, muralarts.org.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art boasts an expansive collection of Mexican works within its walls, including two large Aztec stone sculptures, frescos, prints, photographs and embroidered dress and textiles. And the Mexican Colonial Art gallery displays religious paintings and portraits along with 18th-century Talavera pottery. 26th Street & the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100, philamuseum.org.
The Liberty Bell Center holds the famous cracked Bell and features videos and interactive displays and is staffed by Park Rangers who are on hand to answer questions. The treasured symbol resonates strongly in the Hispanic community where the fight for freedom continues with the arrival of each new or prospective citizen. 5th & Chestnut Streets, (800) 537-7676, nps.gov/inde.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania counts among its treasures many documents on the history and experience of Latinos in Greater Philadelphia dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Visitors can read through the materials to gain a more complete understanding of Philadelphia's heritage and dynamic people. 1300 Locust Street, (215) 732-6200, hsp.org.
The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) makes Philadelphia and The Countryside(R) a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases business and promotes the region's vitality.
For more information about travel to Philadelphia, visit gophila.com or
uwishunu.com, where you can build itineraries; search event calendars; see
photos and videos; view interactive maps; sign up for newsletters; listen to HearPhilly, an online radio station about what to see and do in the region; book hotel reservations and more. Or, call the Independence Visitor Center, located in Historic Philadelphia, at (800) 537-7676.
Source: Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation
Photos courtesy of GPTMC:
Skyline -- A dramatic evening sky view of Philadelphia highlights the contrast of new and old living side by side. In the center of the shot stands the bronze statue of the city’s founder, William Penn, sitting on top of the 511-foot City Hall Tower with its lighted clock. And the newest addition to the skyline, the Comcast Center on the right towers as the tallest building between New York and Chicago. (Photo by B. Krist for GPTMC)
Dancers -- Along with some of the top names in music, hundreds of aspiring salsa dancers dance the day away on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for Fiesta on the Parkway, one of many events taking place during Sunoco Welcome America!, Philadelphia’s multi-day Fourth of July celebration. (Photo by J. Smith for GPTMC)
Fiesta -- The Hispanic Fiesta is held each summer on Philadelphia’s Penn’s Landing as part of the PECO Multicultural Series.
(Photo by R. Kennedy for GPTMC)
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Bilingual, yet still contentious 'West Side Story' headed back to Broadway
Karen Olivo has a leg up as Anita in "West Side Story."
Notice to all those Jets and Sharks nostalgics counting the hours for the "West Side Story" Broadway comeback: the actors aren’t botching the words.
This time around, Maria’s "I Feel Pretty" becomes "[Me] Siento Hermosa" and Anita spits out "Un Hombre Así" instead of "A Boy Like That."
For more, go to this report by Robert Friedman in the Daily News
For the show's site, go to
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Boxing trainer Jose Cotto Talavera, right, and former boxing champion Juan La Porte at the February 7 tribute in the Bronx in memory of the late boxing champion and writer José ‘Chegui’ Torres. Former boxing champion Juan La Porte remembers his mentor as “a true friend who was always at your corner." (photo by Ismael Nunez)
Monday, February 09, 2009
Former PR governor pleads not guilty to corruption
SAN JUAN — Former Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila entered a federal court to the cheers of supporters and pleaded not guilty to campaign finance charges that could send him to prison for 20 years.
U.S. District Judge Paul Barbadoro has said he is concerned about pretrial publicity on the case and as many as 250 prospective jurors will be asked about their exposure to news coverage — something that could extend jury selection for several days.
For more, go to
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Meanwhile, 33 percent said their primary language is English. Nobody chose Spanish as the primary language.
The question readers were asked was: What is your primary language?
This is an unscientific poll, but it gives a glimpse of our readership.
Interesting though not surprising.
Saturday, February 07, 2009
El Maestro Cultural & Educational Center in the Bronx
Award winning poet
Américo Casiano Jr.
Special Poetry Reading and Book Signing
4 p.m., Sunday, February 22
1029 East 167 Street
(between Westchester Avenue & Bryant Avenue)
Casiano will read from his book of poetry: "On The Stand." There will be music beginning at 2 p.m.
Doors open at 2 p.m.
Music by 5 En Plena
Dance by Las Princesas del Caribe
There is also an art exhibition.
El Maestro is a center that promotes the Puerto Rican culture and sports.
For more information: (646) 337-6775 or email@example.com.
Friday, February 06, 2009
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Scholarship Awards Program for students of Puerto Rican heritage
Comité Noviembre has always placed special focus on educational excellence as the key to the future of the Puerto Rican community. To this end, in November of 1996 in celebration of its tenth anniversary of Puerto Rican Heritage Month, the Comité Noviembre Scholarship Awards Program (CNSAP) was established. To date, CNSAP has awarded $158,000 in scholarships. The proceeds from the Comité Noviembre Annual Gala Benefit event support the scholarship program.
To be eligible for the CN scholarship award, applicants must be of Puerto Rican descent; have community service experience and extracurricular activity; be enrolled in an accredited college or university by the fall of each year and have a B average or better. The application process includes an application form, an essay, two-letters of recommendations, academic transcripts, a short biographical sketch and a personal interview for finalists.
CN Scholarship Application deadline date: February 13
For more information:
source: Comite Noviembre
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Tune in at 9 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 4, to www.blogtalkradio.com/prsunradio. Aurora Flores is the guest on PRSUN Radio, a 15-minute talk show focusing on themes related to Puerto Ricans and the diaspora. If you can't listen in tomorrow night, the show will be archived and will be available at www.blogtalkradio.com/prsunradio.
Here is Flores' bio as posted at her Zon del Barrio site:
Bandleader, composer, Lead and Coro Vocals
Considered a 21st century Renaissance woman, Aurora Flores is a musician, writer, producer and activist. Raised in a musical family where her grandfather played plena and aguilnaldos on the accordion, her father wrote songs, her mother sang while her brother plays percussion she started as a classical musician playing violin, guitar and bass while singing in the school and church chorus before recording her first album at 15 with the Manhattan Borough Wide Orchestra as head of the bass section while studying bass privately with Frederic Zimmerman.
She went on to become the first Latina editor of Latin New York Magazine in 1974 later becoming the first female music correspondent for Billboard Magazine from 1976 to 1978. During this time she sang in the bands of Cortijo & Maelo y sus Cachimbos as well as a few local groups.
She attended the Columbia School of Journalism before breaking into mainstream journalism, writing and reporting news for television, radio and print before starting a family and her own public relations agency, Aurora Communications, Inc in 1987.
With thousands of articles to her name, Aurora Flores organized her own septet in tribute to the music of Rafael Cortijo and Ismael Rivera called Zon del Barrio featuring some of her own original compositions.
Flores continues to write for various mainstream newspapers and magazines while teaching a Latin music history course and lecturing on the roots of the music.
A cultural consultant, she has written bilingual tunes for the hit children's show, Dora, the Explorer and conducts tours of East Harlem in a cultural, political and socio/economic content. She can be seen singing alongside Tito Puente in the Edward James Olmos Docudrama, Americanos, Latino Life in the U.S.; lecturing in the Bravo documentary, Palladium: When Mambo Was King and in the Smithsonian film accompanying the traveling exhibit: Latin-jazz, La Combinación Perfecta. Flores is currently working on a book based on her experiences in the Latino New York world.
For more information on Zon del Barrio, go to www.zondelbarrio.com.
Remember 9 p.m. tomorrow www.blogtalkradio.com/prsunradio.
(photo by Clarisel Gonzalez)
Tribute to José ‘Chegui’ Torres (May 3, 1936-January 19, 2009)
1965 LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION MEMORIAL- TRIBUTE
7 p.m., Saturday, February 7 (Doors open at 6:30 p.m.)
FREE with ticket
Hostos Community College
450 Grand Concourse, the Bronx
Music by Grupo Folklorico de Ponce and Las Princesas del Caribe
Organized by Ponce Laspina of Juan Laporte's Boxing Gym, Julio Pabon of Latino Sports and Ramon Jimenez of Friends of the South Bronx
Monday, February 02, 2009
The Puerto Rican Photographic Society, NYC chapter, is having its first meeting at 6 p.m., Thursday, February 12, Cemi Underground in East Harlem. We will discuss our local society's agenda for the year.
To join The Puerto Rican Photographic Society's global group on Facebook, go to
For more information on the NYC chapter, go to our Google group at
While this photo group highlights Puerto Rican photographers, it is open to any photographer interested in photography and/or Puerto Rican culture. Membership is free.
Again, our February 12 meeting will be at 6 p.m. at Cemi Underground, 1799 Lexington Avenue @ 112th Street.
administrator, NYC chapter, The Puerto Rican Photographic Society
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Website is www.boricuationradio.com .
The show airs on www.esp51.com.
Call in 718 384 6813/Web Cam/Live Chat
(Click on image for larger text.)
Linda Nieves Powell, author of the book Free Style, is an outspoken advocate against the negative portrayal of Puerto Rican New Yorkers on MTV, which recently aired a new episode of their popular "True Life" series entitled "I'm a Nuyorican."
"Unfortunately, MTV chose to highlight three young people who embrace and embody all of the most negative and damaging stereotypes of the Nuyorican community," writes Nieves-Powell on her Facebook page.
She will speak on her gripe with MTV, her book, her Latino Flavored Productions as well as her other projects today on Boricuation Radio. Tune in.
By the way, there is an online petition circulating related to the MTV show.
Go to this link for more information