Puerto Ricans are US citizens with US passports, but at the same time, lack certain rights of US citizenship (like voting for President).
Thus, over the course of the 1950s, a total of 450,000 Puerto Rican people from the warm, tropical island to the crowded slums of East Harlem, soon to be known as “El Barrio.”Like within any newfound community of like-minded people, the New York diaspora of Puerto Rican people created a new “Nuyorican” tradition of arts and culture.
Furthermore, taking a closer look at this important migration moment in the history of the United States reveals an overlooked story of Puerto Ricans from the mid-twentieth century that also resonates with many immigrants or migrants of today.
The New York City Puerto Rican community grew and flourished through a mass migration often associated as the result of “Operation Bootstrap,” a strategy intended to industrialize Puerto Rico in order to improve its economy.
The Puerto Rican voice of the 1950s was stolen and rewritten for appropriated consumption.
may seem, on the surface, like inclusivity in storytelling and characters, which was great and relatively true for the 1950s.
While in graduate school this past spring, I engaged in a research paper project on people of color in the 1950s New York City theatre scene.
One of my case studies truly stuck with me personally as an underreported historical happening I felt I needed to share.
The exciting and perhaps most inclusive, anti-racist message of the show, an interracial relationship, is not truly shown onstage to a white audience, to white America, because she was cast with a non-Puerto Rican and non-Latinx actor.
But here’s why we don’t talk about this: Chita Rivera.