Posts in Oral Collective
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 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 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.


NFAND CODA Episode 116 | Minerva Urrutia, clinical psychologist, artist, activist, mentor
Picture taken from an article in  Latino Sports  by Nicole Perez.

Picture taken from an article in Latino Sports by Nicole Perez.

In this episode, Minerva Urrutia shares about what it means to be a caregiver, as it relates to the Puerto Rican immigrant experience, being married, having children, and giving up almost everything to provide for an aging parent. Her tale is straightforward, poised, tempered, and loving. She is history in the talking.

November is Caregiving month and View For Death | Paisaje Para La Muerte is set for Thursday, 1 November 2018, with a presentation reception and talkback with Professor Eunice Flemister at the Longwood Art Gallery @ Hostos. See attached flyer in png format. The book was translated from English into Spanish by Marlène Ramírez-Cancio.

Grateful for Minerva’s time, consideration, and friendship.

Respect your elders.


Ebook on Amazon | Print copies on

Donate to 80grados, Prensasinprisa funding campaign.

Episode 115 | Carmen Matos, aka Bx Queen and caregiver
Carmen Matos - aka Bx Queen

Carmen Matos - aka Bx Queen

I met Carmen very recently at the Mott Haven Bar and Grill and almost instantly we got into a heart-to-heart talk about the experiences that have made us grow up and mature. We quickly realized we had both had the experience of being caregivers.

On she went to share her tale. A sad one, but also uplifting. Sometimes the darkest moments have splendor and therein stood our common ground. Her last line in this conversation is, “sometimes we have to fall to realize how strong we are when we get back up.” Word.

Unfortunately, falling seems to be a must in life and the hardest part is getting back on the road to forward. It is that journey of getting back up that I hold as the crux of the matter and feel compelled to help. The book I wrote is about just that, falling. Falling deep into grief, or as Professor Eunice Flemister told me in a recent talk, “the power of grief.” We so seldom expose it and talk about it; I feel we cheat ourselves out of a chance to connect with one another’s humanity.

It makes sense that Carmen is aka as the Bx Queen. She is stunning, tall, with piercing blue/green eyes, and warm. When you’re with her, you feel like she’s got you. I thank her for her candidness and tears, which are my own.

For the next few weeks, as lead up to share with the world a personal tale, I brace myself with bravery. Unveiling myself is a bit nutty, I haven’t always succeeded in the past when I have, but it is the only way to catch sincerity. And I won’t back down from that way of being. I want to help women caregivers in dire straights, and the only way I had to do that was to open myself for the purpose.

Carmen and the rest of the women voices I’ll be sharing with you all have that, grief, bravery, solid oak dignity, and heart.

Always from the heart.


check it out

Episode 113 | Linda Hirsch, professor +++
Linda Hirsch 2018-09-15 at 21.46.45.png

Episode 113 | Episode 113 | Bringing in some oral history from Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College.

Here is an educator - real and true. Linda Hirsch. Dust of inspiration for the times & #OurPowerNYCpr | Community gathering one-year after Hurricane Maria | Union Square | 20 September - 6:00 p.m.

unnamed copy.jpg

Episode 108 | Modesto Lacén, theater, film, television, and radio actor
Modesto Lacén, hunk

Modesto Lacén, hunk

Modesto Lacén is one of Puerto Rico’s most sought after actors and a native son of the town of Loiza, the island’s Afro-Caribbean soul center. He makes Loiza and Puerto Rico proud for his talent, professionalism and kind demeanor.

Something must have happened in the celestial realm that chased Modesto down when he decided to act for a living, for he’s had nothing but plentiful roles. Roles of men that have passed on and have left a mark on Puerto Rico and Latin history from Clemente to Don Pedro Knight, in multiple performance formats, Modesto keeps at it with eloquence and commitment.

We go at it in this one-on-one in Spanish and sincere Puerto Rican cadence. 

Aun no he conocido a una sola persona que me diga que Modesto no es modesto. Pues sencillamente lo es…

Personalmente solo conozco a un hombre buena gente, profesional, trabajador y que le ha tocado mucha providencia, que siga así. En esta conversación hablamos como dos buenos amigos y colegas de la industria cultural a la que ambos pertenecemos.

Es linda linda. Gracias Modesto.

Insta @modesto_lacen


NFAND CODA VII | Back from rest: Beauty and Lessons from Dominican Republic

When I was a kid I spent, a good decade traveling to Dominican Republic with my parents. We shared time with Dominican songwriter and composer Cheo Zorilla and his family. The kids – Laura, Paul, Cuchi, and Natalia and I were buddies and we made skits and plays and had tons of fun. Fast forward to 2018. Those four kids, now adults like me,  and I, met again last year and when we saw one another after all those years, no time had passed. No time at all. Grace and Love. I saw them again during my recent trip  to D.R. and it was the same loving feeling.

For the past 40 + years Danny/Dad has done hundreds of acts of social work in Dominican Republic. Cuba too, and Puerto Rico of course, but this story is about D.R. He’s a beast like that, his reach, the depth of knowledge of these lands, and his very noble heart and inclination to bring solace to areas and patches of places where suffering and disadvantage reins, no matter the political climate.

 For the past 20 years, Dad has been asking me to visit Dominican Republic so that I could meet his social work. He never imposed or imposes his wish (es) on me, but rather, as he always asks for things, with a casual loving, “hey, why don’t you come down.” After all these years of him asking me to go, for my very needed 2018 break, I finally made it down to the island.

What a painful lesson to have taken so long. But, I did make it. I’ll sum that up as follows: 1) Perhaps or arguably, Latin America’s greatest songwriter and composer, Rafael Hernández said it best with his song Linda Quisqueya, for Linda it is. 2) I fell in love with Samaná. Look it up. 3) His advocacy and social work in Jarabacoa is something for the books of history. And here goes my micro point. I met these two little Tinkerbell men of Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic, Wilbur and Julio and they stole my heart.

The Tinker Bell boys, Wilbur and Julio

The Tinker Bell boys, Wilbur and Julio

They took my sister and me on a country tour for a day. They showed us plants, showed us and plucked fruits from the trees for us, told us to “hammock” as an action - “vamos hamacar,” and walked us through a long and winding path to a full running river. They got to the river first and when Sabina and I caught up with them, they were naked and bathing and jumping in the water with joy. They asked us why we wouldn’t bathe in the river with them. I smiled and explained that I would watch them making sure they would be safe. They were happy about not having to bathe again at night. I was cracking up hearing them tell each other this fact. Their purity and freedom brought tears to eyes. I was impressed by their physical skill, most notably their cycling skills. They have a little pink bike and they ride it up and down those hills like mini-amateur pros of BMX.

I cycled fiercely for over 10 years. I was a New York City bike messenger in 1997 and consider it to this day one of the best and most liberating professional experiences of my life. Riding down 5th Avenue on rush hour without stopping for red lights, is both stupidly dangerous but THE thing to strive to do, and boy did I do it. Seeing them cycle made me recall the freedom I had then, the simplicity of my life in my early 20s when I was a dancer, an athlete, actress, choreographer, touring artists and a young girl making an honest living and making this concrete jungle my home. Here’s the one picture I have of those bike messenger days with my friend Breed…

Breed and I, summer of 1997, New York City

Breed and I, summer of 1997, New York City

This trip was all about connections. Childhood. What stays inside you. Things that make you remember your purest self. Growing up. Creating yourself from child to adult. Making something of it. One of the lessons from this trip came from seeing these two little men be free despite having close to nothing. Yet, they had something crucial. Their forest, their river, the fruit of the land, and a little bike that can prove to anyone that their stamina and physical skill is all they need to make something out of the day. Such was my experience during my cycling time, and the messaging days specifically. Freedom and skill can go hand in hand.

I am my father's daughter and try to do the right thing whenever I can, so I want to get Wilbur and Julio a bona fide bicycle. Help me. Send me word. I’m starting an off-the-grid crowdfunding to get them one. They need it so they know, in time, that perhaps, their cycling skills can turn into something, maybe messengers, and protectors of their mountain home, if the world goes bust.

Thank you, father. Thank you to the Fernández Family, Nancy, Marta, Jasmin, Diego, Doña Mayra, Natalia, Cuchi, Amalia, Paul, Nati, José, Fide, Esther, Dariana, and to Wilbur and Julio…I think a part of me always stayed there and I got it back and it's made me feel so much better.

Be grateful and listen to your parents.


Episode 107 | Lourdes Torres, aka Lala, activist, advocate, educator, retiered

Lourdes Torres is a native Puerto Rican from the Bronx. Blond and blue eyed you’d think she was Irish if you passed her by on the street. That’s the thing about Caribbean and Latin American people, they fool the ignorant of history. But back to Lala, her affectionate nickname belies her unapologetic reasons for standing up for her people and a community marginalized and oppressed by a systemic racist system that keeps brown and poor white people down.

This share is one of two others I have with her. We focus here on Hostos Community College and she touches on her experience with the battle against the Fort Apache film, led by Evelina López Antonetty. Lala was a part of that. In fact, watch this YouTube video, of one of the public hearings.

The things that were happening 50-years ago are happening today. Grotesque racism, prejudice, judgment, ignorance, vitriol, some of it invoked in the name of God…

Children in cages, Puerto Rican refugees left out in the cold, Syrian refugees shut out, and all over the world, the poor are escaping strangling conditions only to be punished. I sense a storm forming, a disgusting whirlwind impulsed by white supremacists here and abroad who want a worldwide holocaust. We, the people, have nowhere else to go but here, the promised land is the earth.

Somehow, Lala’s hour-long share addresses all of it. The Bronx in general and the South Bronx specifically can pin itself a speaker who can bring down all the categorical notions and reasoning of sterile people without hearts who refuse to see people different than themselves as equal human beings.

I’ve been working with Puerto Rican families living under FEMA’s TSA program and have found so much beauty and so much nobility, I’ve cried myself to sleep a couple of times thinking how many promises have been broken. I had never experienced the homeless feeding the homeless. The exchange happens with pride and abundance, I’ve eaten their food.

Those small and unseeable good times break my heart for the world. Really does.

Thank you Lala for all you have done and taught many of us.

Be kind, look to give, stand up for injustice, and watch out, for “they” might be going after you next.


Episode 106 | Howard Jordan, attorney, radio host, activist, professor
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Today, Episode 106, Howard Jordan...

Howard has had a long and active career as an attorney, community activist, journalist, radio host and, last but not least, an educator. Aside from being the host of The Jordan Journal (Friday’s 3 to 5 pm on WBAI), Howard is Chair of the Behavioral and Social Sciences Department at Hostos Community College. He’s been around Hostos since its founding days, as part of the movements of people who fought for the survival of the South Bronx.

A true chronicler of the times, then and now, he integrates the progressive ideas that brought about change in the Puerto Rican community of 50 years ago and references the changing demographics of Hostos as a new Pan-Latino identity in the making here in the heart of the South Bronx.

He builds on the small examples while keeping the larger picture front and center. For Howard, the bigger picture shows that communities of color are important and essential.

Diverse communities need one another, and a new era in relating to the collective “brown community” is the responsibility of all of us.

In that sense, Hostos has delivered on its promise and continues to do so.

Gracias Howard, you're one of the coolest people out there.


Epsiode 105 | Chloé Cofresí, actress, writer, playwright
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I met Chloé very recently and was taken with her simplicity and openness. She wrote a play titled, La hija del pirata / The Pirate's Daughter. Chloé is a direct descendant of the rebel pirate himself! 

She realized the reason people know about el pirata Cofresí is because of the little daughter left behind after Cofresí was shot to death by the Spaniards. No one ever spoke about her. She took that under considered point and wrote a play. Here Chloe shares how the legacy of the pirate still runs through the family veins. Cholé rescues these voices for herself and for audiences to learn and honor the woman whose life was silenced by history. 

Live long and prosper,


Pull quote from the play’s website:

In 1825, the Puerto Rican Pirate, Roberto Cofresí was shot to death by a Spanish firing squad after being charged as a pirate and enemy of the crown. At his murder, Cofresí left behind a single heir: a young girl of three years old, Maria Bernada. La hija del pirata/The Pirate’s Daughter is a new play I wrote that flows between time to explore the journey of Maria and her female descendants as they search for their own inheritance. Four Latina actors rotate through the five women as their stories move through time, interweaving the Latinx storytelling traditions of magical realism and epic family dramas.

The show is produced by La Pirata Productions together with Hemlock Theatre Co., and has received partial funding as a grantee of the DCA Premiere Grant through Staten Island Arts. We’ve raised nearly $1,500 in addition to the grant, and We are looking to raise an additional $3,500 in the next two weeks to truly make this an event that will never be forgotten. To do that, I am asking for your help. Please click here to donate to La Pirata Productions and become part of our legacy. And, tickets are still on sale but are running out, so don't forget to book your tickets to the show on June 4th at 8 pm! I can’t wait to see you there as we kick off the maiden voyage of this magical show!

Episode 102 | Julio Pabón, business man and activist/advocate
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Episode 102 | In my heart and mind I owe this to Julio.

Julio Pabón is incredible. History. Really. Listen to him.

Dad sometimes stays at his house when he visits New York City, and Dad is not a man to stay at people’s houses, but it’s Julio.

He is jovial, kind, noble, a badass, funny as hell, what a way to tell a story. A natural storyteller. And, he always stands for respect and justice for Puerto Rico. 

This is a chronicle of Puerto Rican migration, New York City, the South Bronx, and earning a life of dignity.

That's all I have. Sometimes, less is more.

May the force be with you,


Episode 98 | Flora Mancuso Edwards, former President Hostos Community College, lawyer
Flora Mancuso Edwards. Photograph by Eduardo Hoepelman

Flora Mancuso Edwards. Photograph by Eduardo Hoepelman

Flora Mancuso Edwards, Former president Eugenio María de Hostos Community College (Hostos ) 1979-1987 

The short version. Earlier this week 45 revealed he didn’t understand the role community colleges played in the country. Alas. Scathing ignorance.

Here is former Eugenio María de Hostos Community College President, Flora Mancuso (1979 - 1987). A woman leader. I hadn’t played a woman’s voice in three weeks, so here it is. A woman leader sharing who was part of shaping and solidifying the course and impact of the institution, this month celebrating 50-years. More broadly this is also about community colleges, public-urban education, and minority-serving institutions in the United States.

The survival and growth of Hostos depended on the actions of a lot of noble people. The South Bronx community in general fought hard for their future on a lot of fronts, and Hostos was part of that ticket. Community colleges across the country are a necessity; they predominantly serve people who might otherwise not have a chance for an education.

Hostos delivered. It made a home on 149th Street and Grand Concourse transforming thousands of lives over the past half-century. That's the truth.


NFAND End of Year Repost - Episode 37 | Soldanela + In Gratitude
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Thank you for your time and consideration throughout this open dress rehearsal process of the project notes from a native daughter. It carries on and slowly growing at the right pace and evolving as I do with it. This was a self-imposed exercise that gave me industry at a time when I needed to strive for a purpose. I was a broken lady then, a year and a half ago. And it worked, and the work, the time, the listening, the writing, the research, the people and their stories have made me a better woman and a better person. 

Today, at year end and eighty-something weeks and episodes later I can sincerely say that NFAND is a "must do" for me, every week, from the bottom of my heart. It's raw and one-on-one, and it is that intimacy that I stand by. And, I stand by all these talks. These people are thoroughbred people. Noble. Tall order. Our stories. 

In gratitude:

Adriana Teresa Letorney

Alex Rodríguez

Alfonso Díaz

Angel Manuel Soto

Aris Mejias

Arnaldo J. López

Bill Aguado

Bobby Sanabria

Bronislaw Czarnocha

Carlos Gutiérrez

Charlie Vázquez

Claudia Norman

Daniel Maldonado

Danny Rivera

Fernando Guzzoni

Fran’ Ferrer

George Emilio Sánchez

Honorable Congressman José Serrano

Honorable Fernando Ferrer

Howard Jordan

Jane Gabriels

Javier Gómez

Jorge Merced

José Morales

Joseph and Gloria La Morte

Judy Mam

Julia Solomonoff

Kim Sanabria

Lew Levine

Liz Guerra and Hector Gerardo* 

Luis Fernando Coss

Malín Falú

Manny Vega

Maria Nieto

Maria Torres

Marlena Fitzpatrick

Melissa Rendler-García

Native Nations March

Paola Mendoza

Pete “Bariman” Miranda

Rhina Valentín

Rokia Diabi

Rosalba Rolón

Rosary Solimanto

Rosie Berrido

Sarah Sandman

Tere Martínez

Veronica Sánchis Bencomo

Wallace “Waly” Edgecombe

Willie Perdomo

Yaraní Del Valle

End of Year repost of Episode 37 #ADayWithoutAWoman. 

Blessings and providence for 2018.

I look forward to January 20, 2018. I'll be marching with BrickXBrick. Sign up. 

Thank you again. 

Be safe. Be good to you. And stand against Neo-Facisim.



* Correction: Last week, in the share for Episode 84, Liz Guerra was erroneously presented as Liz Torres for 1Freedom. Since corrected on the platform.

Episode 44 | Hostos50 Oral Collective | Tere Martínez, Playwright and Professor
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If the legendary Puerto Rican educator, writer, and patriot Don Eugenio María de Hostos were alive today, I wonder what he’d think of the community college in the South Bronx named after him, that no one thought would make it. Alas.

Just this past Thursday, Eugenio María de Hostos Community College launched its 50th Anniversary Season.

I can't help but believe that Don Eugenio would be proud of what one of the most marginalized and disenfranchised communities to have ever been in United States history did for themselves.

The story of Hostos is deserving of a lot more attention than it has ever received. It truly is an amazing story. A story about the Bronx, New York City and a reveal of margnalized communities. My relationship with the College is long and now very profound. Life changing really. And I’ll share that story as the year unfolds.

But for part one, for the past 8 months, I’ve been coordinating, conducting, and editing an oral history project for and about Hostos Community College - Hostos50. To date, I have interviewed well over 100 people and counting for a grand goal of 200. From former College Presidents Cándido de León and Flora Mancuso Edwards, to Congressman José E. Serrano, and former Bronx Borough Presidents Fernando Ferrer and Adolfo Carrión, to young students with a promising future like Rokia Diabi.

Once a month, for the next year, I’ll share some of these testimonies if you will. The testimonies are moving, sincere, revealing, courageous, some devastating, others empowering, and the story of triumph over adversity. And more relevant than ever.

Which brings me to Tere Martínez. I wanted to start with her because I love her because she has been nothing but noble to me and because her purpose is beautiful and her testimony open and to the point.

Like the song says, I must have done something good, for the grace of God gave me the opportunity to work on this project when we have, arguably, the most despicable crew of racists, sexists, homophobic, fear mongering, science deniers, xenophobes and troglodytes leading the world order.

The point indeed is that the voices emerging from this Hostos Community College oral collective as I’ve heard it first hand, confirm to me yet again that the leaders have it all wrong.

Ignorance judges the so-called “moochers” for being good for nothings. The truth is you find moochers and good for nothings at every level and anywhere you go, is not an exclusive club of poor people of communities of color.

The bottom line is that the power of education is real and access is imperative.