10 Ways to Show Puerto Ricans Love

It has been a week since Maria set itself on the shores of Puerto Rico, wreaking unprecedented havoc on an already vulnerable population. Many people still do not have power, food, running water, or access to medical attention.

It took this administration an agonizing amount of time to lift the Jones Act and start providing aid to the devastated people. My own grandmother and other family members among them. It took her four long days to get word to us that she is ok and still many others here in the states have yet to get that comfort from their own as hundreds of Boricuas are still unaccounted.

So many people want to show us love and support and with no power and no communication, figuring out how has been a challenge. It has taken me a few days to really flesh out what I wanted to say here. All tragedy affects me deeply but this tragedy is particularly personal. I needed to get this right.

I have been watching the responses, that have ranged from true sympathy to outright callous indifference. Many people spoke more loudly of over ruined vacation plans than for the victims of this disaster.

Others still are just at a loss as to what can be done. In response to them, I have compiled this list:

Learn about us

This morning I woke up to a NY Times post that said: “Nearly Half of Americans Don’t Know Puerto Ricans are Fellow Citizens.” That means “Many Americans don’t realize that what happened in Puerto Rico is a domestic disaster, not a foreign one”

In other words, out of sight, out of mind.

I think the best way to show us love is to make an effort to learn about us. Puerto Rico is more than just San Juan, salsa music, and the beach. Our relationship to the United States is one of control and abuse. Still, our culture is rich and historical contributions abundant.

Keep talking about us.

There is too much tragedy and it always seems to be happening at once. It is very easy to get swept up in the next thing, completely forgetting about current events. However, several people have died waiting for aid this week. The slow response and lack of media attention is to blame.

Another way to show love is to talk about this among your friends, share your feelings about it on social media, shout out your love of the people and let others know you are paying attention to this too!

Push your local reps to action

If you want to take more aggressive actions, get on the phone with your local representatives and ask them how they are supporting the people in Puerto Rico. Tweet/email or Facebook contact can be effective too. If you are unsure of what to say, copy and past the following:

@{insert name} Have you been following the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico? What are you doing to show your support? #ALLEYESONPuertoRico

Learn the lay of the land

puerto-rico-municipalities-map

I know that this could have been lumped in with #1 but bear with me. Puerto Rico is much more than just San Juan. It is a large island with more than one type of terrain. Getting around on a regular day can be a challenge, now that Maria has shut down roads, closing off access to entire portions of the island, rescue and relief will be an even greater challenge. Please keep this in mind as you see supplies shipping out.

All of it will be going to San Juan but it will still need to be distributed to some of the most rural parts from there. Understanding the lay of the land will help put the enormity of the situation in proper context. It is going to take consistent, concerted effort to rebuild. Don’t let them stop after San Juan

Reach out to local organizations on the ground

There are many competent, capable leaders on the ground in Puerto Rico working tirelessly to orchestrate relief efforts and they are being met with opposition at every step of the way. Reach out to them, ask them what they need, how we can help, what can we communicate to others, and respond accordingly.

This is important, especially since we are unable to get any direct communications out to our people direct. We need to support those we can communicate with and help them help the victims.

Check in on your friends

There are still so many of us who have yet to hear word of loved ones. It is heart wrenching and given the lack of any media attention, knowing exactly what is going on has been difficult.

When there is finally news, it is usually images of utter devastation. The heart-break is real and so is the pain. Check on your people, let them know they have your support and that you are watching right alongside them. This has been the only way I have gotten through all of this upset and grief.

Share posts about what’s going on

The best way to get people the help and support they need is to keep people paying attention. If you see news relevant to what is happening, share it. If you have friends still looking for their family, post about it. When we keep #ALLEYESONPuertoRico we ensure rescue and relief comes and beyond that we ensure they rebuild.

Center the most vulnerable

As we mobilize to support the efforts in Puerto Rico, lets always center the most vulnerable groups first. Ensuring children, the elderly, disabled, and disadvantage are protected and cared for as we move along. The truth is, many people come out of the woodwork to exploit tragedies like this. If  you carry any privileges what so ever, use them to cover and protect these groups.

Start a fundraiser

My first recommendation is to give directly to friends and family on the island. If you do not know any one there personally, than donating to a local organization will work too. There are many organizations you can support (outside of the Red Cross) that ensures aid is given directly to the people.  Do your homework, find out where money and resources are being spent and how people can access this help.

Help repeal the Jones Act

The Jones Act, was meant to control shipping by US vessels but what it has done is made it twice as expensive to ship things from the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico. It is a way to control islanders and limit their resources and it serves no other purpose than to stifle and already bankrupt economy. Although there has been a temporary lift, it would benefit ongoing rebuilding  efforts if the Act was repealed all together!

You can mention a repealing the Jones Act to your local representatives as well but BrGOL will be hosting a round table to give you more information around this, so stay tuned.


In the meantime here is a list of groups doing rescue and relief work in Puerto Rico:

Help Puerto Rico: A List of Trusted Organizations Providing Aid

 

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