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When it comes to the history of Puerto Rico, shamefully I am a blank canvas. Puerto Rico was allegedly discovered by Cristobal Colon, and other than that I don’t know a damn thing about my ancestral homeland. You wouldn’t expect that they’d teach us much about Puerto Rico in schools here now would ya? According to this book, they weren’t even allowed to have Puerto Rican flags IN PUERTO RICO for awhile, so how can you blame me for not knowing our history?
Those of us who know anything about Puerto Rico, the real history have been self taught. The information is out there, but we have to seek it. No public school here is going to teach you this stuff. Such was my experience with this book by former NY assemblyman, Nelson Denis. I didn’t know anything of the topics I read about.
Pedro Albizu Campos for instance, is a name that I never heard in my life, until reading this book. Vidal Santiago, the Ponce Massacre, all new to me. In fact, the only name I knew was Luis Munoz Marin, and that is because I think the airport is named after the guy.
Again, you can’t blame me for these things though. My family brought me to NYC when I was 5 years old. Though my mom and dad are as Puerto Rican as they come, they never taught me about this historical stories. As a matter of fact, I have been sharing them with my mom. She was under the impression that Marin was a good guy, but based on what I read in this book, he was nothing but a liability to Puerto Rico. A puppet of the country I call home, The United States of America.
I don’t intend to ruin the book for you by putting out details, but suffice it to say that I learned a lot of information that I did not know. The book reads relatively easy, and is backed up by notes and research.
There are some individuals out there who call the book “sensationalist.” One individual referred to it as the Fox News of Puerto Rican history books, and that wasn’t meant to be a compliment by the person. This individual asked me how I could praise the book, and I replied that whether or not it is sensationalism, that I still learned about some items of which I had no clue. Remember, I am a blank page when it comes to our history, so this is all part of my learning process. I intend to read more books about Puerto Rico and to continue expanding my knowledge.
One undeniable truth that we have to acknowledge about this book is that the United States has treated Puerto Rico very unfairly. It really saddens me and breaks my heart to read about things like the gag law, and some of the other atrocities that this country has enacted upon my fellow Puerto Ricans. Though I have often frowned upon violent uprisings, and rioting, I can’t deny that some of the violent actions that Puerto Ricans have taken part in over the course of history were seemingly justified.
Whether or not you are familiar with Puerto Rican history, I’d recommend reading this book and learning some more. I have personally met Nelson Denis, and we both write for Latino Rebels. I like the guy, and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. If you have read it, or read it down the line, please share your thoughts with us! Also, if you have any books you think would help me on my journey, send me those recommendations!