In 1953, Ralph Ellison won the National Book Award for his first novel Invisible Man. It started like this:
“I am an invisible man. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids – and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.”
When we view early 20th century films and notice the “service” characters – the butler, maid, chauffer, cook, shoeshine boy – this view was absolutely correct. But today, in the case of Puerto Rico, our invisibility is much worse: because it applies to the entire island.
Puerto Rico is separated by 1,500 miles of ocean, a language, an indigenous culture, and 400 years of Ibero-American history. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas – but as far as the U.S. is concerned (especially the U.S. Congress) what happens in Puerto Rico, never happens at all.
Here is a simple test. Ask these ten questions to your Anglo friends. No matter how compassionate and well-meaning they might be, do they know that:
The U.S. Congress passes laws for an island that it knows nothing about.
The only voices they hear, thanks to Citizens United, are the lobbyists who line their pockets and whisper the “correct policy” in their ears.
Puerto Rico is facing a crushing public debt. But an even greater danger to Puerto Rico, is that the U.S. governing class has no knowledge – and no interest – in the history of Puerto Rico, or the day-to-day reality of its residents.
They receive “reports” about us from ignorant statisticians, and self-interested consultants.
They create “policy” with information from lobbyists and IMF economists.
They do not have a clue about what they’re doing.
We are too far away.
We are Macondo.
We are worse than an invisible man.
We are an invisible island.
For a history of the War Against All Puerto Ricans, read the book…
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