Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens but are often made to feel like outsiders. And those residing on the island see their identity differently from those living in the U.S. mainland. The future of the island’s political relation to the U.S. is still in question, but many feel their cultural identity as Puerto Rican first. Part of our regular series of conversations on Latino identity, Somos/We Are.
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“Somos” is the name of a series that we are starting where we explore issues of Latino identity. We invite you to tell us how you identify yourself by making a video on youtube, posting a comment here, or leaving a message old-school style on our phone (yes, we have a phone attached to a wall!) at 646-571-1228. Don’t forget to tell us your name and where you’re calling us from. And after you post your video, tell us about it here or tweet us! We love hearing from you.
Alejandro Arbona is a freelance writer, editor, and brand research consultant based in New York City. He was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where people were constantly under the impression he was an American tourist. As an editor for five years at Marvel Entertainment, Alejandro oversaw, among other things, a series of “Fantastic Four” comic books set in Puerto Rico, prominently featuring Old San Juan, the rainforest of El Yunque, the bioluminescent bay of Vieques, and el chupacabras.
Frances Negrón-Muntaner is a filmmaker, writer, and scholar, as well as the director of Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race. Among her books are Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and the Latinization of American Culture (CHOICE Award, 2004) and Sovereign Acts (South End Press, 2010). Her films include AIDS in the Barrio (Gold Award at the John Muir Film Festival, 1989), Brincando el charco: Portrait of a Puerto Rican (Whitney Biennial, 1995), and the upcoming television show, War in Guam. Negrón-Muntaner is also a founding board member and past chair of NALIP, National Association of Latino Independent Producers. In 2005, she was named one of the most influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business Magazine, and in 2008, the United Nations’ Rapid Response Media Mechanism recognized her as a global expert in the areas of mass media and Latin/o American studies. Most recently, El Diario/La Prensa selected her as one of the 2010 recipients of their annual “Distinguished Women Award.”
Ray Suarez joined The NewsHour in October 1999 as a Washington-based Senior Correspondent. Suarez has more than thirty years of varied experience in the news business. He came to The NewsHour from National Public Radio where he had been host of the nationwide, call-in news program “Talk of the Nation” since 1993. Prior to that, he spent seven years covering local, national, and international stories for the NBC-owned station, WMAQ-TV in Chicago. He is the author most recently of a book examining the tightening relationship between religion and politics in America, The Holy Vote: The Politics of Faith in America. Suarez currently hosts the monthly radio program “America Abroad” for Public Radio International, and the weekly politics program “Destination Casa Blanca” for Hispanic Information Telecommunications Network, HITN TV. Suarez was a co-recipient of NPR’s 1993-94 and 1994-95 duPont-Columbia Silver Baton Awards for on-site coverage of the first all-race elections in South Africa and the first 100 days of the 104th Congress, respectively. He was honored with the 1996 Ruben Salazar Award from the National Council of La Raza, and the 2005 Distinguished Policy Leadership Award from UCLA’s School of Public Policy. The Holy Vote won a 2007 Latino Book Award for Best Religion Book.