Many in the media and friends and associates of mine understandably applauded the repeal of DADT for its human rights contribution and the potential momentum it could offer to a national LGBTQ movement. However, another message was also sent that day: if LGBTQ people want any sort of recognition or civil rights, it is done by including ourselves into this society, not by challenging it.

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So often violence that is in your face, covered in blood, sensationalized on TV, and done by our young people is spoken about. One form of extreme violence that is often ignored is that of people being kicked out of their homes, slowly. In Humboldt Park, with rising rent and property taxes and the greed of city inspectors and real estate developers, thousands of Puerto Ricans have been forced to leave our historic home. Still, many remain despite the obstacles they face.

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Growing up, my grandmother would tell me that if she could be reborn she would be Puerto Rican all over again. Ironically, in conversations on the island’s future political status, she would also say, “Los boricuas son bien vagos,” and cannot survive as an independent nation. How could a woman with so much national pride and dignity at the same time limit our own collective potential? Are Puerto Ricans really lazy?

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“I’m going to put Black as my race,” says Andrew Torres, 16, a student of the Barrio, Arts, Culture, and Communications Academy after school program in Humboldt Park. “But you look white and got red hair!” I exclaimed, with a smile of interest. “Yeah, but don’t Puerto Ricans got Black in us?” he responded with […]

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