A nation of emigrants within the nation of immigrants

I wanted to find a resource that dealt with issues of immigration, nationalism, and Latino identity. US-PuertoRicans.org provided an interesting perspective on those themes within the Puerto Rican experience  in the United States.

The web site bills itself as “a multimedia community dedicated to the Puerto Rican Diaspora — a place for discussion and learning, for stimulating imagination, and promoting solidarity.”[1] US-PuertoRicans.org encourages writing submissions, links, and nominations for featured organizations from its readers. The site includes two historical narratives of Puerto Rico, current geographic distribution maps, news stories, political rallying cries, user-produced content, and links to other related organizations. The content exists to explain and support the continued common identity among Puerto Ricans, and also to keep cultural ties as the population becomes more geographically diverse.

Immigration is vital to the Puerto Rican story, with more Puerto Ricans now living in the United States than on the Island. A two-way migration has been taking place since the late twentieth century, with Puerto Ricans immigrating to, and emigrating from, the United States. They are now settling all over the country, rather than concentrating in historic strongholds. This Diaspora seems to be viewed as a success, but also a cause for concern among Puerto Ricans. US-PuertoRicans.org has a Google Maps feature that shows population distribution by state and certain cities. The feature works as a way to show the history and current state of Puerto Rican life in America, and can also help to keep track of communities all across the continent as the Diaspora continues.

Distribution of Puerto Ricans in the United States. Source: US-PuertoRicans.org

Finding their people now spread farther across a country which sees them as “perpetual foreigners,” the web site participants look for solidarity. [2] The shared heritage of Puerto Ricans is one of the most important aspects of the site. The “History Matters” area gives two historical narratives (one describing migration trends and the other detailing political movements) that provide a context for a shared heritage. Pages dedicated to Puerto Rican community and political issues, arts and culture, and self-identity are made to inform and contribute to the Boricua culture as a whole.

US-PuertoRicans.org also shows the balance that many Latino nationalities face in forming their own identities within the larger group. It is evident that there is a sense of “the other” between different Latino descents in Junot Diaz’s “Fiesta 1980,” in which the father’s mistress is referred to only as “the Puerto Rican woman.” Puerto Ricans take great pride in their Taino heritage — a poll on the web site asking the name users wish to claim for Puerto Ricans in the U.S. reveals that users have overwhelming chose either Boricua (49.4 percent) or Puerto Rican (45.2 percent). [3] The top choices won out over terms Latino, Spanish, or Hispanic. Conversely, US-PuertoRicans.org features issues that have just as much weight with the entire Latino community, such as a stance against new Arizona immigration laws.

[1] US-PuertoRicans.org, “welcome,” www.us-puertoricans.org, (accessed on 5/3/2010).

[2] Matthew Frye Jacobson, Roots Too: White Ethnic Revival in Post-Civil Rights America, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2006), 315

[3] US-PuertoRicans.org, “Which do you most use to refer to members of the Diaspora,” online poll, http://www.us-puertoricans.org/index.php?option=com_poll&task=results&id=15, (accessed 5/3/2010).

3 thoughts on “A nation of emigrants within the nation of immigrants

  1. Nice, I like the google maps application. Mapping has seemed to be a common element of the standout exhibits and sites we have looked at this semester.

  2. I think the statistic about more Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. than actually in Puerto Rico is very interesting. I wonder if there how their cultural identity has changed as the U.S. population has grown. I know that in the case of Swedish immigrants, almost 100 years ago, there was a distinct change in how they viewed themselves as Chicago grew to have the second largest Swedish population in the world.

  3. Saying immigrants is not correct as all Puerto Ricans are migrants. As we have been U,S, citizens since 1917, we migrated here to the U.S., we did not immigrate from another country. Please read up on this in JIBAROSOY.COM.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s