CODA XX | A Sea of Tears and a Revolution Part IV, Vernacular
Battery Park, September 20, 2019

Battery Park, September 20, 2019

Dedicated to artists, asylum seekers all across the globe, and Puerto Rico

Part One: A Sea of Tears and a Revolution here

Part Two: Daughters and Sons here

Part Three: Diaspora here.

Part Four: Vernacular

There is something poetic about Friday, September 20, 2019. Who could have predicted that two years after Hurricane María, a climate strike would take place all over the world with #FridaysforFuture led by Greta Thunberg. Her story, her clarity, and poise are magnificent. Her demands are clear. Her purpose has ignited a youth-led global climate movement that is now unstoppable. What better way to spend the anniversary date than for climate justice? 

The memories of all that has occurred since María are present. I do not think there has been a day since the hurricane I have not thought about the storm. It is always in the front or back of my thoughts. But the strike brought a new hue to the many feelings I have about everything that has occurred since then. For one, Greta is right. Climate change and catastrophes will reshape the course of humanity if we do not act.

In just two years, numerous hurricanes have passed through the Atlantic ravaging areas in the coast and the Caribbean, the most recent one, the cruel Hurricane Dorian. My friend Ned reminds me that the worst part of any hurricane, no matter how bad and that in itself is terrible, is what comes after. An after seems to have no end.

Unfortunately, as we all know the aftermath of storms disproportionately hits poor people and disadvantaged communities the hardest The suffering and the people are real. I met many tears from the aftermath of María. I saw and experienced it in New York City. iThe stories came my way by chance through my place of work, Eugenio María de Hostos Community College. The Hostos became a partner of “The Bronx Coalition Supporting Hurricane Maria Evacuees” alongside numerous other agencies and groups mentioned in Part One. The Coalition led the organizing of a welcome fair to support displaced newly arrived families from Puerto Rico that took place at the College on Saturday, March 24, 2018. Before and after the welcome fair other community events took place at Hostos that brought families together through DiasporaXPuertoRico, UPROSE, and Julio Pabón. The months of April, May, and June were critical months for displaced Puerto Rican families living in hotels under the FEMA program. And a lot of people knew it and advocated for them from the legislative to the grassroots level.

UPROSE/#OurPowerNYCPR held a community meeting at the College in late March or early April of 2018. Marta Moreno Vega and Elizabeth Yeampierre spoke powerfully and in truth. Marta took her the time before speaking and then in pure freedom fighter form she went, “Are you seeing how they’re treating our people? Right now we’re going to listen to this sister, and we are going to help her and the rest. We are a community, and we are not going to let our brothers and sisters fall.” Marta was right. A terrible thing was unfolding right before our eyes. She introduced a young woman who had just been told she had to leave the hotel. For no apparent reason and all of a sudden, she had nowhere else to go. Later I found out this young woman had lost her husband the year before in Puerto Rico to gun violence. She was inconsolable as she stood there telling us of her experience in the big city. Her share and tears brought everyone to tears. And at that moment I saw it, the fiber and fabric of the Puerto Rican history weaving more stories into the web of the blood and tears from both here and there. Another story of the past 100 years, here it was before our very eyes. We understood all to well they were facing discrimination, misinformation, and isolation as they dealt with trauma. By the end of the meeting, a protest would get organized to claim for among other things an extension for Puerto Rican families facing evection from the temporary assistance FEMA program in New York City and across the nation. The protest took place on April 19, 2018, in front of City Hall. 

It was during those gatherings I met displaced families of Hurricane María. I learned of a mother who came to New York with an 11-year old son learning to live with a severe physical disability. Back in Puerto Rico, a stray bullet hit the boy at age nine and left him injured for life. Doctors replaced the wheelchair he received at the time of the accident on December 2018. One young woman arrived with her daughter and her bed-ridden mother, who has Alzheimer's. She lost everything. Another sister came to the city with her bed-ridden mother suffering from dementia and her cognitive disabled brother. Another woman, a single mother of three, lost her home and her job, both wipeout by the storm. They had nowhere to turn and decided to take a chance outside. Another single-mother woman lost her home and was trapped living in it and, in her mountain block blocked off from aid for a while enough, she almost died. She left the island to save her daughter and herself.

Then there was the grandmother figure in Dona Margarita. She fed as many people as she could wherever she lived. She and others cooked on the rogue, on a single burner and made feasts. Unable to get medical attention in rural Puerto Rico after the storm, this older adult left Puerto Rico to care for be a broken arm. She wanted to stay, but it was not meant to be. Then, there was the woman who shared that she and her husband and their two children lost everything-jobs, house, schools. After several months they decided to leave. She was pure jíbara beauty, innocence, and goodness. She went on to say she was waiting on a call for a job at a supermarket and then she asked me, ¿Sol, por dónde empiezo? (Sol, where do I start?).  

From then on, I did not turn my back. From a corner of the Bronx I did as much as I could to help and be of support. I could see how much the people of Puerto Rico had been left unattended. And, not just from hurricane María, but for years, and years, and years. It was painful to see the loneliness, the rude awakening, the miseducation, the vulnerability. This was not something I was reading about in the news. I was seeing and listening in the flesh. We had the same problems. We suffered over the same things, aging parents, troubled family members, and lost dreams. I recognized my country and myself in the women, men, and children I met from Puerto Rico. The ability to speak our Puerto Rican vernacular helped. Right there, we met each other in a place not perceivable to the naked eye, a place of understanding in cadence. From that place, I heard their stories, their histories, loved ones, problems, just making it, barely making it, or not making it at all. I looked them in the eye, saw their pain, anguish, desolation, fear, uncertainty, shame, grief. I ate, watched tv, cried, talked history and context with them; and, I did not hide the truths about what they would be facing in this country. 

Seeing puertorriqueños living in the hotels was very painful, disturbing, and utter destitution. Somehow through that critical transition time and a network of friends and work colleagues, a good crew of displaced families received baby diapers, wipes, and menstrual cycle items. The transition meant choosing to stay in the city and the homeless shelter system or going back to the island with a plane ticket paid by FEMA. The last day to stay or go was June 30, 2018. Different families made different choices, some families stayed, some went back to the island, and others went elsewhere. I met goodness in those hotels, more than my words can describe right at this time. It was not a rosy road, but it was worth it. And I learned that the suffering of the Puerto Rican people is one pain. We simply do not know it at the same time. We got there this summer during the revolution. Here and there and everywhere los puertorriqueños were furious, as we should be, still. But I will end here. This is all I have for the second anniversary of Hurricane María. 

For all the climate refugees unite behind the science.


NFAND | September


Government leaders are failing the world. From nuclear warfare to drone strikes in Yemen to white supremacists gaining power to the Amazon burning to family separation to climate denial, the mighty, rich, and fancy are killing us, the people all across the lands. Seriously, there’s nothing more real than that right now. There’s so much going on it’s hard to pin it all down but, little gestures are happening all around and those gestures are the light in the tunnel.

1 2 3 Andrés has a benefit today to immigrants and families stay together. Crimes against humanity I say is what’s happening at our doorsteps. There is another way and the work of many noble people make that clear. If you can’t attend the benefit, give something, any little amount counts. Link here. Actions for families belong together are happening all over all the time.

Greta Thunberg sailed the Atlantic to make a point. To me, her journey was the grandest gesture. Following Team Malizia has been a life highlight and I’m grateful it happened this year, one of the most painful I’ve experienced. But Greta, in her innocence is mighty strong and she’s trying to make us all understand that the earth is in crisis. We, the people are in danger. Really. She’s asking all of us to join. So join the global strike on September 20. Read here for more information.

Last week some people asked me why I shared the video of “Manta Ray” the song by J. Ralph and Anohni. My response is that, not only is the video a beauty, but “Manta Ray” is the title song for “Racing Extinction,” the documentary, and that’s where we are, at the precipice of something that we are not going to like at all. So the song was added because I thought it matched the intention of Greta’s journey.

What I forgot to include was the lesson plan for #myoceanchallenge (see attachment). Malizia II is also a science lab! Amazing. Check out to read about the work.

Then, two days after #FridaysforFuture/Global Climate Strike, the Silent Procession for Puerto Rico. I will walk not only for Puerto Rico but for all the people in the world who are at the mercy of the merciless.

Live long and prosper,


NFAND CODA | Team Malizia
™ pzimgtwo.png

Greta Thunberg is traveling in an emission-free high-speed sailboat across the Atlantic Ocean while the tragedy of the burning Amazon rainforest unfolds.

She is coming to North and South America to speak at forums like the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York and COPS25 in Santiago, Chile. 

Her uncompromising journey must stand as one the bravest and kindest acts of leadership that we know of today. With her on board, four brave souls-her father, Svante Thunberg, filmmaker Nathan Grossman, Skipper Boris Herrmann, and Team Founder Pierre Casiraghi.

The ocean knows


Engine clean



And purity


“Safe travels queen”



Sail fast and steady

in the boundless ocean

Ahead you sail

With five brave souls


Around the globe glides the sly one.

The song “Manta Ray” from Race to Extinction |

Team Malizia | Read skipper’s statement

NFAND Tere Martínez Repost CODA XVIIII A Sea of Tears and a Revolution Part III, Diaspora
From around the web and  asambleas de pueblo.

From around the web and asambleas de pueblo.

The diasporas I know and see, like all suffering diasporas living in the United States of today and most always, have their hearts divided into parts. Every case is different of course, in Puerto Rico’s case the rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship have coined a well-etched impasse of heads or tales. Each side drilled from layers of fractured prisms. Someone I love and respect reminds me constantly in conversation that the careless toss is called, gaslighted

So much has been kept from us, the people of Puerto Rico. Piecing it together will require asambleas de pueblo and all our love and valor. I see what is happening in Puerto Rico today and it gives me hope that we will get to have a chance to learn our lost past and see ourselves anew. But, against what is happening in this country today, I wonder about everything and, I sometimes think that it might just be us that will need to leave. From over here, what I have come to learn is that as whole la diaspora has been instrumental in keeping Puerto Rican history and culture alive. The many pioneers that paid the way for a better way for others are mostly unsung heroes in Puerto Rico and here in the mainland. The poets, the writers, historians, dramaturges, actors, musicians, dancers, and institution makers have done so much for the history and preservation of Puerto Rico it is something.

For today’s times, there is also Tere Martínez and her Roots and Action project-beautiful and impressive. Please visit the site and learn about the work. They are “building community,” that’s in one of Tere’s moving and beautifully written blogs. Roots and Action add itself to works that aspire to be as whole, encompassing, and empowering as ASPIRA was when it first opened its doors. 

On Wednesday, August 21 the Roots and Action team, Tere Martinez, Barbara Vlahides, Janio Marrero, and Sarah Hoiland are having a fundraiser event at M1-5 Lounge down in Walker St. from 5 to 8 pm. Tere, Sarah, and I are connected through Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College (Hostos). EVITE: Roots and Action Happy Hour Fundraiser for Puerto Rico

What I wrote about Tere Martínez and Hostos back in April of 2017, before María, when we recorded for the Hostos Oral Collective stands today.


CODA XVIII A Sea of Tears and a Revolution Part II, Daughters and Sons
July 2019 from across the net

July 2019 from across the net

PART II-Daughters and Sons

(A Sea of Tears and a Revolution | Part One: Citizen)  | Dedicated to artists, asylum seekers all across the globe, and Puerto Rico

 Daughters and sons of la diaspora come in all forms. It is perhaps reason number one I love New York City. The place where we, “the others,” from all corners of the world and types of backgrounds, have a chance to meet as equals. I really appreciate that, the essence of the lesson.

 On June 4, 2019 | Democracy Now! featured Damning Canadian Inquiry Calls the Murder and Disappearance of Indigenous Women & Girls Genocide. The words of First Nations jurist in British Columbia, serving as Chief Commissioner for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Marion Buller apply also to the entire Northern, Central, Southern, American Continent.

 “…The genocide that has occurred in Canada has been over generations of people—generations of human rights and indigenous rights violations; deliberate underfunding of services and programs to indigenous people; forcibly removing children from their families, children being removed and never being seen again by their own families, by their own communities; forced sterilization of women and girls. The list goes on. But from our perspective and from the legal definition, genocide can be over a long period of time of deliberate state action, that looks different from what we commonly think of as genocide. But it is genocide, legally, nonetheless.” 

 The admittance of genocide and the call-to-action for reparations for women and girls by the Canadian government resonated with me. 

 Lately, a lot has been written about violence against women in Puerto Rico and the women leading the fight. Since the chat, the people now know the aftermath of Hurricane María is a certifiable matter of crimes against humanity of holocaust proportions. 

 I thought about Edwin Miranda’s words, I saw the future it’s so wonderful, there are no Puerto Ricans.

 If it's true for Canada, then same awful truths and precepts as in the United States of conquest, genocide, rape, slavery, empire building, torture, subjugation, building upon sadness the road ahead for more by exploitation apply to us, la (s) diaspora (s). 

 “And so it has come to pass, it is indeed where we hang, this very premise falls on all of us to look at. It reflects the worst type of shine, the one we have never wanted to look at and the one that might just bring us down, the one where brother to brother kills himself and the one where the mighty nation kills us all out of fear from being disappeared.”

James Baldwin

I've been reading a lot, listening to a lot of radio, and watching a lot of videos from and about Puerto Rico. I picked up some stuff for your reference:

Alvin R Couto de Jesus | FB

Apoyemos a que se los 78 municipios de Puerto Rico logren convocar asambleas de pueblo. | Let's support Puerto Rico and in achieving town assemblies in all 78 municipalities.

This guy is something and posting really interesting commentary. You can follow his feed if you are on FB.

AUGUST 9, 2019 | WNYC On the Media
In Puerto Rico, What Comes Next?

By Alana Casanova-Burgess

This is a great piece that captures the past month beautifully-really beautifully.

AUGUST 9, 2019 | Shondaland

Meet the Women Leading Puerto Rico's Feminist Revolution

By Sandra Guzmán

I'm biased about Sandra because she's one of my closest sisters. She's fierce, a truthteller, and she's been busy writing some really important pieces. They are all included in this list.

9 DE AGOSTO DE 2019 | El País

La trama feminista y queer en Puerto Rico

Por Luci Cavallero y Verónica Gago

Watch all three of Karla Claudio Betancourt’s shorts. Tremendo artículo.


La Kakistocracia PNP vs. #WanditaLaMala

Nación Chancleta

Very good and important show to listen. In Spanish. Walo is brilliant. He has the dark humor truthteller shtick down in true Puerto Rican slang-Class A. This particular show is a must-listen. You can follow him on FB, YouTube, iHeartRadio.

AUGUST 7, 2019 | Dissent Magazine

Puerto Rico Remade

By Frances Negrón-Muntaner

Frances is another fierce mind and a sister. She is amazing. Balanced, tempered, a soul of profound understanding.


Toni Morrison was America's conscience, one that's needed more than ever

By Sandra Guzman

6 DE AGOSTO DE 2019 | CNN Español

Este Otro Puerto Rico Parte I

Por Silverio Pérez

6 DE AGOSTO DE 2019 | CNN Español

Este otro Puerto Rico (Segunda Parte)

Por Silverio Pérez

Silverio Peréz is a genius and a national glory-a Class-A wordsmith. Follow him on FB. These two stories are important.

AUGUST 5, 2019 | Bustle

Women & Femmes Leading The Puerto Rico Protests On Their "Permanent Revolution"

By Raquel Reichard


AUGUST 5, 2019 | LatinoUSA

Puerto Rico Is A Presidential Issue That Must Be Addressed


AUGUST 5, 2019 | NYT

The Puerto Rico Governor Started 3 Days Ago. But His Future Is Already in Doubt.

By Edmy Ayala and Patricia Mazzei

The New York Times has covered really nicely. This is one of them pieces I liked. Other follow down below.

AUGUST 5, 2019 | WNYC The Takeaway Host Tanzina Vega

The Political Future of Puerto Rico

with guests Michael Deibert and Yarimar Bonilla

AUGUST 3, 2019 | Truthout

Rejecting Politics of Fear, Marginalized Puerto Ricans Led the Uprising

By Oscar Oliver-Didier

AUGUST 3, 2019 | NYT

After Protests, Will Real Change Come to Puerto Rico?

By Frances Robles and Patricia Mazzei

AUGUST 2, 2019 | LatinoUSA - podcast

Why Ricky Resigned

AUGUST 2, 2019 | MTV

Meet the Women Who Toppled Puerto Rico’s Governor

By Yarimar Bonilla

AGOSTO 2, 2019 | 80Grados

Verano 2019: balances y perspectivas

Por Rafael Bernabe y Manuel Rodríguez Banchs

JULY 31, 2019 | WNYC The Takeaway Host Tanzina Vega

How the Political Crisis in Puerto Rico is Unifying the Puerto Rican Diaspora

with guests Caridad De La Luz, Andrew Padilla, and Samy Nemir Olivares

Thank you for Tanzina Vega, that's all I have to say.

JULY 30, 2019 | The Hill

After Rosselló, Puerto Rico needs democracy — not a 'recovery czar’

By Ariadna M. Godreau-Aubert

JULY 29, 2019 | Washington Post

What’s next for Puerto Rico? A reckoning with its colonial status.

By Julio Ricardo Varela

JULY 27, 2019 | NYT 

Did Puerto Rican Police Go Too Far During Protests? What the Video Shows.

By Evan Hill and Ainara Tiefenthäler

JULY 26, 2019 | NYT

By Charo Henríquez

Cantar, bucear, perrear y rezar: las protestas creativas en Puerto Rico

JULY 25, 2019 | WNYC The Takeaway Host Tanzina Vega

'The People Have Spoken': Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Resigns

with guests David Begnaud, Frances Negrón-Muntaner, Bianca Padró Ocasio

JULY 23, 2019 | BBC

Massive protests held in Puerto Rico after governor refuses to step down


(BCC’s full list of stories on the island)

JULY 20, 2019 | CNN

Women in Puerto Rico know all too well why Rossello must resign

By Sandra Guzman

JULY 19, 2019 | Counterpunch

It Was Never Just About the Chat: Ruminations on a Puerto Rican Revolution.



Miguel is super witty and nails the description of some very fine and important points.

JULY 18, 2019 | NYT

Puerto Ricans in Protests Say They’ve Had Enough

By Patricia Mazzei and Frances Robles

JULY  18, 2019 | Reuters

More Puerto Rico protests planned as governor resists calls to resign

JULY 13, 2019 | Mother Jones

As Puerto Rico’s Governor Steps Down, a Protest Organizer Is Determined to Not Let “The People’s Fire Burn Out.”

By Justine Agrelo

JULIO 28, 2019 | 80 Grados

Por José Nicolás Medina Fuentes

Congreso del pueblo y asamblea constitucional convocada desde la sociedad civil

80Grados is fierce. I love this piece so much. Una belleza. It captures some essential sentiments that should be talked about more. Some commentators point out they missed including the freedom fighters from el PIP and previous eras, but nonetheless, the piece offers some important anchors. And it is beautifully written in Spanish.

CODA XVII | A Sea of Tears and a Revolution Part One, Citizen
CODA XVII images july 2019 pr revolu tion 17.11.03.png

Dedicated to artists, asylum seekers all across the globe, and to Puerto Rico.


Part One

I’m a New York based puertorriqueña since 1990. This here little story, in parts, is about being Puerto Rican here since then, a bit about the Bronx and Eugenio María de Hostos Community College (Hostos), another bit about the Puerto Rican diaspora in New York City, Hurricane María, the evacuees, about force, artists, the future, and love. 

I remember September 20, 2017 as the date when all of Puerto Rico shook in terror - Puerto Rico is an 8 million people nation, three million in the island and 5 million across the world. The birds eye perspective of the approaching storm ignited a harrowing anguish deep inside me because I knew it would be a defeat. 

It was a sinking feeling that things had changed forever. Because everything changed after Hurricane María, everything. 

As I write these words a revolution is happening in Puerto Rico over years and centuries of tears. A history so subjugated it almost forgot itself. And alas, a form of poetic justice came to pass. Everything we knew was not right was not right. Signs for moral compass read that all Debauchery is simple truth and proof of criminality.  

synonymous of the noun, debauchery: dissoluteness · degeneracy · corruption · vice · turpitude · depravity · loucheness · rakishness · libertinism · immodesty · indecency · perversion · shamelessness · iniquity · wickedness · sinfulness · sinning · impropriety · lack of morals · lack of principles · immorality · impurity · unchastity · lasciviousness · salaciousness · lechery · lecherousness · lewdness · bawdiness · lust · lustfulness · libidinousness · licentiousness · promiscuity · wantonness · abandonment · abandon · profligacy · decadence · immoderateness · intemperance · lack of restraint · indulgence · self-indulgence · pleasure-seeking · hedonism · sybaritism · voluptuousness · concupiscence · lubricity · salacity

Hollow is the pain of the lonely heart. 

On the afternoon of September 20, 2017, I went home from work to watch the news. After the hurricane my house became a command center for connecting people and dispatching as much information coming my way as I could. My parents were in Puerto Rico and my Dad suffered the shingles through Hurricane Irma and María. To keep it simple, it was dramatic. My mother and aunt traveled to New York City six-weeks after the storm. On their first day in the mainland, mom had to go the hospital. Thus, began a hot hospital run for my sister and I for the next year and half. Culminating with mom’s open heart surgery in March of 2019, she had her martial valve replaced and eased of an aneurysm in her aorta. That alone, knocked us out spiritually, physically, and financially.

That first month after the hurricane was critical. It was taking a lot to get help, and puertorriqueños outside watched in desperation how it quickly disintegrated and it became evident that a rescue effort seemed to be assailed. 

In my eyes, credit to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz for her SOS. One of the greatest gestures of courage to come at the right time for a true calamity.

From where I stood, I saw how todos los puertorriqueños up here either became champions or picked up other champions from politicians, to activists, and volunteers. I have never seen such a show of force and love for the homeland. The public denouncement from the Puerto Rican community in the mainland was instant and, it mobilized itself to help not only the island but also the displaced families from Puerto Rico, especially in places like Florida, New York City, Massachusetts, and Philadelphia. For, as the news of the aftermath rescue mission breakdown spread, (that we now know was criminally negligent), the inevitable news of puertorriqueños leaving for the United States began to unfold.

I was very cognizant that what was happening in the New York City was happening all over but, New York City is my doorstep. I know that here, it took local community leadership, elected officials, advocates, activists, foundations, volunteers, and academics to clamor for a justified way to face and manage the crisis of a new wave of Puerto Rican migrants who were destitute. Many families that I later met, came here without any knowledge of where they were coming to and what they would face. It broke my heart. And yet, they decided to stay in a city facing a serious housing crisis. Fueling gentrifying high-rent trends stressing out predominantly disenfranchised communities of color already struggling to stay afloat, are also making it an equal challenge for people with the privilege of language, education, and an honorable job.

Roughly, from October of 2017 to January of 2018 New York City had a slew of organizations and leaders mobilized in supporting and standing up for displaced families from Hurricane María: New York Disaster Interfaith Services (NYDIS), Catholic Charities, New York Police Department (NYPD) New York Fire Department (NYFD), The Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo, The Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Public Advocate and NY Attorney General Letitia James, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Diaspora x PuertoRico, Union Community Health Center (UCHC), Urban Health Plan (UHP), Department of the Aging, Acacia Network, and so many people came forward for the displaced families. All the leagues understood that the displaced families needed us, “la diaspora.”

What a big little phrase, la diaspora. For how long has it been a diaspora? Where does it come from? Who becomes it? How do we become it? Who decides? How does it live outside of Puerto Rico? Can it be unraveled? These are important questions. 

Immersed in news these past few weeks here are some of the voices I love:

Bonita Radio - Carmen Enid goes on early in the a.m., check website for streaming details.

Walt HD - Streams after work hours, 6ish time.

Jay Fonseca - Post various times throughout the day-usually early morning, noon, and at night.

Anibal Acevedo Vilá - everyday from 8 to 10 a.m. Radio Isla 1320.

David Begnaud - Posts throughout the day or breaking news.

 Now…I am no historian, but I have read, seen, and been told a bit. I’ll tell and share in my order. The following are some voice of la diaspora. 

Read here (SOS), listen here (Elba Cabrera part I of II), and listen here (Pete Miranda Part I of II).


CODA XVI: LLP (from April 21, 2019)
“After María” description.

“After María” description.

(First shared on private list serve on April 21, 2019) CODAS are becoming my thing. I’m in a new rhythm for sure. Go back to my last share, CODA XV for reference. I’m swimming new waves, and I don’t want to exploit myself, as I know how to do. Ja! I will be around but will come in-and-out with less rigidity on Sundays. I’m gonna' take it easy and steady and change some things. I don’t want to get dark on the state of the world on Easter Sunday, so I leave with a follow up on After María.

Playing in Shorts: No Short Cuts at TFF After Maria premieres next Sunday, April 28, 2019. Visit the page for times and screenings.

Nadia Hallgren, Lauren Cioffi and I met in a natural way. I’m still piecing my words on what the year 2018 delivered. I can honestly say I wanted so much for this story to be told. Several hurdles later the chance just came to be. And, this is just a peek of a much larger tentacle circumstance. For now, I’m grateful for living the experience with Nadia and Cioffi. Grateful too for the “community organizer” credit. And, thankful for Glenda, Kenia, and Sheila. They remain brave here in the City.

Jesus Lives.


By Chaliana

By Chaliana

CODA VX: A curveball and "After Maria" (from March 31, 2019)
my families.jpg

(First published Sunday, March 31, 2019) My schedule and usual rhythm and flow are off since the year began pretty much because my mother has been struggling with her health. I don’t want to get into the details of it all but it’s serious enough and things are different. The curveball has thrown me off a bit, though I appreciate that it’s giving me time to reflect. And, I thought back to mom’s in-and-out of hospital track since Hurricane María and it’s been about 10 times, a couple of stays for over a month each. I wonder...that brings me to, “After Maria.”

“After Maria” is a short doc by the amazing Nadia Hallgren that will premiere at Tribeca Film Festival on April 28. Here her IG post: Excited to announce my new documentary short @tribecafilmfestival 🇵🇷After Maria 🇵🇷 world premiere on 4/28! Watch what happens when 3 Puerto Rican mothers who are forced to leave the island after hurricane Maria meet in a FEMA hotel in the Bronx. They bond like family and seek stability in their new life as forces try to pull them apart. Produced by @lacioffi Executive producer @rogerrosswilliams edited by @helekearns @jarthster consulting editor @jeantsien @salacuse

I can’t succinctly explain it all, but 2018 was an adventure and the making of this documentary was very much a part of it. So much happened after Maria it’s hard to capture it all, but this work is a tiny peek into what happened after the hurricane to displaced families in New York. Many of them still displaced and living under the NYC Department of Homeless Services temporary shelter housing. Stay tuned for more, because more is coming for “After Maria.”

My last share, CODA XIV the fallen men, was dark and about the future of the University of Puerto Rico. One of the articles I shared was a fiction piece meant to be a worst-case-scenario essay. The worst case scenario is that if the Middle States Commission on Higher Education “flunks” the UPR, then things can turn. I read more and more and see this whole UPR debacle as one of those institutions that could or just might eventually erode. Being that the UPR is an integral part of the livelihood of the island, it is worth any one’s time to read about what is going on. But, the fact remains that between La Junta’s draconian cuts, political pundits, and poor administration, the future of the university is indeed uncertain, and that is a terribly sad thing.

The world as a whole is drowning because of so much ignorance. There’s money for war but not much else…and it shows.

Free Chelsea Manning

Free Papa Renty

Be good to people,

CODA XIV: The fallen men (from March 10, 2019)
University of Puerto Rico, photographer unknown from Humanidades UPRRP.

University of Puerto Rico, photographer unknown from Humanidades UPRRP.

(First shared via private list serve on Sunday, March 10, 2019.) Andrew Bacevich, was a guest on Democracy Now early this week. Look him up if you don’t know him. During his interview, he ended up describing how we, the people of the U.S. don’t care. It was something in his tenor and his delivery, subtle, and though hurtful, it is a truth, and his concern over our inhumane ways is the central crux of his writings. That same day, 7 March, Mr. David Brooks’(no less!) op-ed piece “The Case for Reparations” appeared in The Times. I was indeed taken aback, as I never expected Mr. Brooks to offer such an acknowledgment. The consequences of our worst mistakes are in our backyard sinking in our soil and growing roots. It’s a mad-house of gigantic and catastrophic proportions out there. Other recent alarming reads, news of the closing of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) in April 2019 - a few of the Spanish language articles I read, METRO PR, El Nuevo Dia, 80 Grados. To say that this imminent closure is barbaric is an understatement. In a nutshell, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education did not approve accreditation of the UPR. That decision made it easy for the fiscal control board to make and share their determinations on the future of the country’s only higher education public university system.

This week, in particular, I can’t shake away that we are being led and drowned by fallen men. I’m looking for clearings to stay the course and I remembered Mr. Fernando Ferrer’s share for Episode 54. What I wrote about him then, still stands. So unassuming, un hombre sencillo, his time was also being drowned and he to a chance and made a difference. This UPR thing and the fallen men somehow connects to Hostos Community College for me, its history and its reason for being. He has something to say about all that, his life does. And, because it is Women’s History Month I share all three programs of the women Presidents of Hostos Community College - Flora Mancuso, Isaura Santiago Santiago (part I of II) and Dolores Fernández (Part I of II). Without education, you kill a place slowly, the cruelest way to die.


CODA XIII | Alexa Rivera, pianist, composer, bandleader, songwriter (from Feb. 26, 2019)
Alexa Rivera crp.JPG

(First shared via private email 2-24-19) The Jazz Foundation of America (JFA) helped Puerto Rican musicians after Hurricane María since as soon as it happened.

When and how the Jazz Foundation of America and the Baryshnikov Art Center (BAC) partnered, I don't know, but they did and, Alexa Rivera was selected for the BAC artist residency program (fall of 2018). I wrote a little bit about her a few weeks back when the year began - pianist, composer, bandleader, songwriter, and vocalist. Lovely.

I came into the picture through Joseph Petrucelli of JFA. He gave me the opportunity to write about Alexa for "BAC Stories," check it out. That's it today. Live long and prosper, Sol

BAC Stories:

BAC Story by Soldanela Rivera

Alexa Rivera

January 31, 2019

During the dark and silent nights following the merciless Hurricane María, Alexa Rivera sat down at her piano chair and played. Studying music and playing the piano has been part of her life since childhood.

She comes from a family line of artist players and performers of música jíbara, the Puerto Rican counterpart of American bluegrass and folk music; immersion in folk music and rigorous musical discipline, lovingly imposed on her, did her right. When she was most alone, and the island of Puerto Rico was most alone, the piano did not forsake her. Something about the way time stretched and the sounds of the land echoed compelled her. Out in the streets, she felt an unspoken language of brotherhood, and in the still of the night, HIHEAL was born. It is where Alexa delivers as composer, lyricist, vocalist, and player.

The calm after the storm hung heavy in Puerto Rico, and artists suffered tremendously. There was no work and little connectivity for most everyone. And there, where quiet reigned, Alexa journeyed and visualized a musical healing cycle anchored in the image of a tree with roots, trunk, branches, and lush foliage. The musical compositions Over Me and Under Me frame HIHEAL. The musical story moves clockwise with the melodic tune and lyrics of Jíbaro Anciano (Ancient Folk), the heartbeat of this album, dedicated to her grandfather. She writes down jíbaro anciano in the one o’clock position in the picture of the tree describing the musical journey of HIHEAL. Her grandfather represents her first memory of how she learned to love Puerto Rico, her homeland. 

Alexa offers three reasonings about the project’s title. A play on words with the word “hi,” as in a greeting, and inspired by the word “high,” as in altitude. The word “heal” represents recovery. HIHEAL is about healing from a place above the practical world, a space of few words, a space for sound. HIHEAL also references the high heel of a woman’s shoe. Her femininity is cradling her creativity. She is so beautiful her looks may belie her talent and her deep sound. Deep cannot be faked; it is either a part of you or it is not. And Alexa has it. That spark that ignites when she is high in her musings. With her, nothing is gratuitous. There is always a backstory, and the backstory has a backstory, and she feeds them and integrates those mind and heart occurrences into her present sound.

On the second day of her residency at BAC in the Jerome Robbins Theater, Alexa welcomed me with a live concert with sound so vast and deep it brought tears to my eyes. Though very much a musician, Alexa is also a poet and a young weaver of dreams. Her commitment to music is pinned to universal notions of the battle of the self between darkness and light. She has given herself utterly to that notion and has broken free from thinking she has no voice, from feeling trapped within her expressive turf, and has proven yet again that no amount of modern life can substitute for the purity of the piano.

There’s a tune titled If You Want To, and another, Asymmetric, and Here and Now, and Kiss Your Nightmares. Alexa plays horror with love. Her live piano concerto to me ended with Over Me. Her musicality crystallizes maturity, exuding strength from the core melody as she stretched its sounds with her damper's touch. 

On this second day of rehearsal she waits for Matt Geraghty (bass) and Ruben Coca (drums). Geraghty talks through some pointers and begins playing before Alexa plays the keys. She waits for the right time and comes in seamlessly on his cords, and it's magical. Geraghty’s entrance is Jeff Beck-like: unapologetic, spatial, expansive, directional. The Jerome Robbins Theater fills to the brim with the high and low chords of improvised classical piano and rock bass tones so steady nothing falls into discord. Vibrations stay together and the drums pace it all forward. Here in New York City, Alexa's HIHEAL reaches a high performing rehearsal trance dedicated to the present. There is purpose in playing each cycle of the album to its maximum. She and Matt are part of a collective that performs for global unity, creativity, and freedom. Artistically, creatively, and personally, Alexa stands at that intersection with her collaborations and explorations. Whoever she brings together meets humanity through music, where music carries them to weaving chords, understanding, patience, and trust. That’s how you HIHEAL; playing to play, to listen, to accept each other as artists, to fall for a melody that thrusts a sound, so you never forget it, because it belongs to the present, until the very end.

Visit Alexa's Residency Page

Soldanela Rivera has been a professional dancer, actress, choreographer, television host, production coordinator, teaching artist, project captain, documentary researcher, tour manager; a music, theater, and film publicist, a music concert and theater producer, an adjunct lecturer, and a director of communications for a community college in the South Bronx. She has worked in community centers, educational institutions, historic concert halls, museums, parks, prisons, stadiums, sound stages, and large and small theaters. She is a host and producer of the podcast Notes From A Native Daughter (NFAND), a weekly series of raw conversations about arts, culture, and society with figures from the Pan-American experience.

Soldanela Rivera
NFAND CODA Episode 120 | Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, CUNY Chancellor-designate

I say this past week was a great week for education in New York City and the nation with the announcement that Félix “Felo” V. Matos Rodríguez had been appointed the new Chancellor of The City University of New York. Holy Moly!

The first Hispanic to lead the system. His fan base, which includes me, basically exploded FB with congratulations. My contribution, letting him know he’s now officially a national treasure - a Puerto Rican one I mean...ja! a bit of a joke but not.

But, I’m bringing it back to Hostos Community College because he was the College’s President from 2009 to 2014. And, I am indebted to him for taking a chance on me and giving me the opportunity to work in the field of education. A track I couldn’t have ever foreseen for me when I started out in life. But a track I have come to love and respect deeply in these past 8-years. Throughout the many weeks of these NFAND Sundays, I’ve been on-and-off sharing about my job a bit, presenting voices from the institution that prove how education transforms lives - the beauty of learning in its most sincere and powerful sense.

The time is apropos to share as re-post Chancellor-designate Matos Rodríguez’s talk on Hostos and education. I had the privilege of interviewing him along with the rest of the past Hostos’ presidents for the 50th Anniversary Oral Collective, and it was an amazing experience. One that leaves me with few words, really. Hostos Community College is a very special place with a still under-told story, that shouldn’t be.

You can catch one little bit of that history from the CUNY Chancellor-designate himself right here on Soundcloud.

But, beyond Felo’s Hostos story, his trajectory as an educator and administrator is graced. He delivers with poise, humor, vision, underplayed tenacity, and I can tell you that he does that and more but with humanity. And that is the word.

His appointment is simply an important moment for the field of education.



Hostos Oral Collective on SoundCloud

Soldanela Rivera
NFAND CODA Episode 119 | Alex Rodriguez, artist, writer, sound engineer
Alex Rodríguez

Alex Rodríguez

Alex Rodriguez, producer and emcee:

This conversation was recorded between Howard Jordan (professor, activist, journalist, and lawyer) and Alex Rodríguez a couple of years ago. Jordan was and continues to be the Chair of the Behavioral & Social Sciences Department at Hostos Community College and Alex was enrolled in the Sound Engineering program. Today, Alex works at the Hostos Sound Studio and the rhythm of this share is as real as it comes. A South Bronx native, Alex is lyricist, an emcee, producer, and a full artist at heart. 

Jordan asks and each time Alex goes at it with sincere aplomb and a whole hearted explanation. He fills the gaps with context and personal history and makes his surroundings palpable with word. I’ve been thinking of him for several weeks, his cadence, the hoarseness/softness speed of his voice, and the crux of it-the why of the spoken word, its power and confusion, resonance and displacement, history and the story, tales of souls left heartless and beloved by others. The rest is ignorance and here’s a voice.


CODA XII: Photo gallery | book week in Puerto Rico

Here CODA XII: Gallery of photos | Book week in Puerto Rico.

There’s something about sincere closeness, familial love, and streets you know that simply linger. 

Sit, breathe, and wait a bit. Take your thoughts and imagine yourself abruptly being taken by the ankles as you become a pendulum swinging side-to-side with force. You surrender to the sway. It begins to slow down until the swinging comes to a full soft stop. You drop to a body of water. When you come up for air some of those people and streets, the closeness, are out there and its safe again. That was Puerto Rico last week.

A bounty of grace and love.

CODA XI: The Future
The Future - Daily Wallpaper,  ILTWMT . CC search and license.

The Future - Daily Wallpaper, ILTWMT. CC search and license.

I’ve been thinking about the future — nothing light. But I’ve been thinking...

About the wind when sea levels begin to rise after the artic finishes melting. I’ve been thinking about the whales and asking myself could they truly become extinct. I’ve been thinking about the expensive bombs that are getting built for the next big enemy. That led me to think about how many bombs, old and new, does it take to destroy the world? Perhaps the existing world’s arsenal of arms can already blow up the earth. I’ve been thinking about the lonely, lost, and desperate children detained at the border. I’ve been thinking about the refugees off the coast of Italy risking their lives to reach solid land, opportunity, a second chance. I’ve been thinking about the Puerto Rican families that I have come to know after Hurricane Maria building new lives. I’ve been thinking of the undocumented black and brown students from around the world studying and working in the City preparing for a better tomorrow. I’ve seen their brow, their learning, their smile. I’ve been thinking on how the President of the United States is a white supremacist of authoritarian proclivities. I’ve been thinking about my parent's aging and love and wise life. I’ve been thinking about Wilbur and Julio who got their bikes. I’ve been thinking about the woman caregiver in a desperate situation who I’m going to help through View For Death. I’ve been thinking about the possible and eventual consequences of these threads and other topics and I go down a rabbit hole.

Solace. My heart is mostly always with artists. No one like them/us to express quagmire.

Leonard Cohen’s The Future says it best right now, it is imminent.

Here The Future by Teddy Thompson. His belt feels like my heart right now.

And like the song says, “Repent.”


CODA X: Happy New Year & Three Kings Day +++
Wilbur & Julio con bikes 2.jpg

Good day, fair people:

My sincerest best wishes to all of you for this New Year. Thank you again for reading, listening, and the many kind notes.

CODA X is a hosh-posh of things so ...

A- The first NFAND share of the year happens to fall on Three Kings Day. It has been years since I celebrated the date and remembered being a child the day before the Three Kings arrived, I would go to the patio to get grass for the camels. That was the magic...and yesterday on the eve I celebrated with beloved families from Puerto Rico, most of them displaced by Hurricane Maria, who are building new lives are officially new residents of New York City. My job was to open pasteles and help with the cleanup. Full credit and gratitude to Diaspora X Puerto Rico, Comité Noviembre, PRParadeNYC, and We Stay/Nos Quedamos for making it happen.

B- Update on Wilbur and Julio. The Tinkerbell boys are getting their bikes thanks to Babette Audant, Lauren Gretina, Tina Hazelo Breitbach, Ileana Infante, Dolly Martínez, Raul Martínez, and Lisa Oropeza. The drop-off will happen next weekend when my dad holds his yearly Three Kings gift giveaway in the mountain of Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic. Pictures will follow.

C- Pregones Theater, my beloved theater family, is seeking a Development Director. This place is special. You or someone you know could work with talented, smart, caring, lovers of words, writers, dramaturges, musicians, actors, and some of the classiest arts leaders I have ever met. And that, as many of you know is a huge statement for me. Let me know if you know of anyone who wants to learn about this opportunity. I will circulate the job notice via targeted emails, but I wanted to send out a shout-out here this morning.

D- Another job notice came my way and the cause is dear to my heart. Caregivers. R.A.I.N is looking for a Program Manager/Community Outreach Worker. The goal of the job is to “To improve the well-being and quality of life of caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease and related Dementia. To decrease Caregiver stress and increase information and awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease and related Dementia.” This job notice will also get circulated via targeted emails, but just in case you know of anyone, let me know so I can share the full breakdown.

E- Gente, I’m super happy to announce that View For Death | Paisaje Para la Muerte is having a book launch party date in Puerto Rico on 30 January 2019 at Fundación Luis Muñoz Marín (7:00 p.m.). A formal invitation is forthcoming.

F- Thanks to Joseph Petrucelli from the Jazz Foundation of America I was given the opportunity to write a backstory for pianist, composer, lyricist and bandleader Alexa Rivera for her Baryshnikov Arts Center residency. Once they publish I will share the write-up and the interview we recorded. She is lovely.For now, her new single Jíbaro Anciano has a video.

Lastly, NFAND is getting a tune-up and interviews will begin in February. I’m going to be working with the students in the sound engineering program at Hostos and they're not back until the end of the month. I might share some back conversation as of next week, but for now, I'm back for Sunday mornings shares I and look forward to year three of Notes From A Native Daughter.


CODA IX: humanity

I’m spent. I’m signing off until after the New Year. Year 2018 has been my busiest year yet. The beginning of the year was still about the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria. A lot of pieces to pick up. From taking care of mother and aunt to then working with displaced families in the City, to publishing View For Death, 2018 has been about caring for people’s dignity, including my own. And, I’m still working on getting Wilbur and Julio their bikes. So let me know if you want to join that collection.

There are some dark and sinister things going on in this country, and the world really. But here, this thing at the border vomits on dignity and humanity. Some of the best reporting I’ve read lately, and I read a bit, is coming from Paola Mendoza for Families Belong Together. She has been documenting the Caravan and the hurt with such love, so beautifully written, it brings tears to my eyes. She has been searingly capturing the stories of these refugees like no one out there. Go check it out if you haven’t already. Refugees all across the globe deserve better. They deserve for their humanity and dignity to be held like when you hold a bird with broken wings in your hand. 

Connect to humanity. Not only because ’tis the season, but because we are all we’ve got, the earth is the only land we’ve got, and it belongs to all of us. We all have red blood.

Be good. With love,


NFAND CODA Episode 118 | Oscar Rivera, photographer, artistic director EnFoco

Leadership succession in the Bronx arts and culture sphere is a thing to look at, write about, and discuss. The future does matter. This is a subject I’ll delve into in 2019. I’m pre-preparing my year. For now.

Oscar J. Rivera is an example of that tomorrow for EnFoco. Since 1974 EnFoco has supported visual and photographic artists of color in underserved communities. But, the borough is changing, leaders are aging, and the promise of these imperative spaces and projects need us and younger minds to carry out the next 40-years.

This was the undercurrent feeling I was left with after my convo with Oscar. Young, purposeful, real, he’s a man with a caring eye and heart. He travels from Brooklyn to the Bronx to make it to the office and is quickly becoming an inter-borough creative connector. Love him for it. December’s Nueva Luz photo journal is The Queer Issue with Oscar’s touch from beginning to end. To purchase or check it all out visit EnFoco’s website, and listen to us with perfect sound, here.

With gratitude for the Lenape Indians, original holders of Manhattan.


NFAND CODA Episode 117 | Bernardo Ruiz, documentary director and producer


Alexa Rivera @ the Bronx Music Heritage Center 11-11

Trina Bardusco has a new blog!

View for Death on sale.

Episode 117 | Harvest Season |  Screening @ DOC NYC 11-13 and 11-15 IFC Center

“Harvest Season” is about caregivers. I said I would dedicate these weeks to caregivers and their stories. This is a short story about the storyteller of California wine country, as seen and told through the ones that care for the harvest year-in-year-out. Arduous work. Dedicated focus with knowledge of respect for the seasons. Out in the wine country, anything can happen. A crop is never assured, as is nothing in life really, but gusto, bravado, and the need and will to carry on.

In his latest documentary feature “Harvest Season,” Bernardo again unfolds a multilayered story that points at U.S. immigration laws, labor history, and American history. The nuances come out of the stories as if they were made to boil only they surface naturally because knowledge is passed down from generation; sacrifice is what it takes to make it in the land business, and an entire industry would not be able to subsist without immigrant labor.

In Bernardo’s stories, there is always a moral compass appearing without effort. It comes one second at a time. As the scenes pass, fractions of a seconds end up as large lapses of beats, reasons, and purpose. Such is “Harvest Season.”

Bernardo reaps what he has sowed, which is a lot of humanity, dignity, and history to makes us proud.