Monday, February 24, 2014

Letter of Recommendations to New Board of Puerto Rican Day Parade

Below is the letter personally delivered to the new Board of the Puerto Rican Day parade with recommendations for new and better parade.  TV and press were there on  Saturday, February 22 at the Board's meeting in the Bronx when this letter was read aloud and presented.  Together, we can accomplish many great things.  

                                                      February 15, 2014

Orlando Plaza, Lorraine A. Cortés-Vázquez
Carmen A. Pacheco,  Lorraine Rodriguez-Reyes,
Anthony Diaz, Rosa Gutierrez, Maria Elena Girone,
Louis Maldonado, Ululy Rafael Martinez
Board Members
Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc.

                                                      Re: Community Participation
                                                             And Requests for Input

We wish to congratulate you on your appointment as a Board member of the
National New York Puerto Rican Day Parade.
         To give you some background on our organization’s involvement in this issue, we first began as Puerto Ricans protesting the use of the Puerto Rican flag on Coors’ Beer cans.  After meeting with Coors executives who personally came to our offices and apologized for its insensitivity, we then requested the Attorney General’s examination of the relationship between Coors and the Puerto Rican Day parade.  This began the investigation and the ultimate removal of the prior Board. 
As representatives of various community organizations, we are sympathetic to your mission of a beautiful, transparent, and inclusive parade which we hope to protect from its documented prior abuses.
With that in mind, we arrived at the following recommendations we hope will guide you in understanding the needs of our community:

1. We would like an independent board that holds the President of the Parade and any person who makes decisions affecting the parade accountable to the Board;
2.  We would like a Parade more inclusive of New York City Puerto Rican organizations, more accessible to ordinary folks from the community, and less captive to Corporations, their floats, their slogans and their advertisements; we understand the need for Corporate sponsorships, but not at the expense of National identity and pride, e.g. we do not want our flag on a beer can.

3.  We do not want a community group or organization priced out of the parade because they couldn’t afford a corporate float;
4.  We would like transparency so that the contracts and sponsorships with the Parade Board and Executives would be available for public review and examination;

5.  We would like the scholarship money to be accounted for and put in a fund for public inspection immediately after the parade;
6.  We would like a parade that celebrates the history and heritage of Puerto Ricans and New York, first and foremost.

         This list is not exclusive.  Its purpose is to strengthen the desires of the community with the goals of protecting the parade and honoring its mission. 
         Please contact us to discuss these goals so that we may provide this great metropolis and the Nation with a wonderful and historic parade.   


                                                               Boricuas for a Positive Image

cc:  Eric Schneiderman, Attorney General
       Hon. Melissa Mark-Viverito
       Ramon J. Jimenez, Esq.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


By Ramon J. Jimenez

As I watched the 50th anniversary commemoration of the famous March on Washington of 1963, hearing numerous stories of the terrible segregation in the South, I noticed nothing was said about the North, much less about the conditions in New York City. Two years before the great march, I was bused from a practically all minority school, PS 127 in East Elmhurst, Queens, to an all white school, Junior High School 141 in Astoria, Queens.   It was then that I was introduced to the open vitriolic racism existing in New York City.  Although I have spent a lifetime picketing, marching, and protesting, the first protest demonstrations I ever saw were aimed at me. 

I was a 13-year-old brown-skinned Puerto Rican whose family had moved to East Elmhurst when we purchased a 14 thousand dollar two story brick house at 23-24 97th St.   It was a community in transition as many whites had left or were leaving.   It was comprised of majority working class Blacks with some sprinkles of Latinos. 

I was successful at PS 127, a school two blocks from my home.  I developed many friendships, some of which have lasted for a lifetime.  Among my neighbors in East Elmhurst were Helen Marshall, now Borough President of Queens, Eric Holder, now US Attorney General, Randolph McGloughlin, now famous civil rights lawyer, and later, Malcolm X. 

Astoria was an all white enclave of mostly Italians and Irish, a place where Black and Brown people were not welcomed, where numerous racial incidences had been reported.  East Elmhurst young people knew never to go to Astoria pool without a group to protect them

This was 1961 and the early integration busing initiatives solely involved one way busing, from minority communities to white communities.  The bus ride from PS127 located on 98th St. between 24th and 25th Ave. to JHS 141 in Astoria took about 25 minutes.  Naïve and innocent, I never anticipated the type of reception we would get.  The first thing I observed as the bus arrived was a heavy police presence.  Then, for the first time in my life, I saw a live unruly, rowdy, belligerent crowd. Hundreds of white Astoria residents were shouting every racial epithet at us.  They called us “dirty savages”, “spearchuckers”, “sambos”, with the degrading sound of  “nigger” shouted at us thousands of times.   There was pure unadulterated venom steaming from those streets, as palpable as thick air.   I was in semi-shock as I walked through a cordon of police just to enter the school.  Screams and insults pierced the solid brick building.   One could hear them as the teacher took attendance. The pickets would continue for days, sometimes both mornings and afternoons.  There were numerous racial incidences during the year.  Students were beaten up, spat on, painted white by wild crowds.  The pictures of lynch mobs from down south reminded me of the crowds that greeted me on that day.   It was a year of fear and apprehension.   And it was at that moment that I felt my inextricable, intertwined existential connection with the South.    It was no longer the far-away racial hatred I watched on TV.   Actual hate was heaped on me, and I had no recourse but to adapt to this new reality as a natural part of my life.          

That fact is what connects me to all non-whites to this day.   I live my life in adaptation, with the knowledge that all people of color accept the daily outright and deep subconscious and implied racisms against us in every waking moment of our lives, in every aspect of our lives, and the small drops of accomplishments society has made – even the election of a black president - pale in comparison to the oceans of racism we suffer every single day.   In school back then, I grew accustomed and vigilant to the cruel insults of the white Astorians.  I learned my lesson, and I remain vigilant to this day.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The New South Bronx

Brothers and Sisters-
With this post, I intend to initiate a dialogue regarding the South Bronx in Particular and the world in general. Please follow my musings as we journey through the South Bronx life, a microcosm of life itself.