As a Puerto Rican who has worked at Tufts for the better part of a decade, I was heartened to read Sara Kessel’s April 22 Opinion article: “The issues of statehood in D.C. and Puerto Rico are not the same. Stop conflating them.” I commend her for writing about this often ignored topic, and I share her view that D.C. and Puerto Rico should not be thoughtlessly lumped together. Furthermore, I join the Puerto Rican student quoted in the piece in asserting that independence is the only option that respects Puerto Rican nationhood, and that being absorbed into the country that invaded the island 123 years ago is not a truly decolonial outcome.
I add a challenge to the entire Tufts community, and especially to the many committed and passionate students who care about justice: Think about, talk about and act on the issue of Puerto Rico’s status. For too long, Americans have thought that it’s not their place to do so, but that’s an abdication of a political and moral responsibility. For better or worse, Puerto Ricans are your fellow citizens, and our future lies squarely in the hands of politicians that, crucially, only you can elect. Moreover, the colonial history between the United States and Puerto Rico is as much your birthright — and your burden — as any other aspect of America’s past that demands your attention in the present.
I expect and welcome disagreement on whether statehood or independence is best for Puerto Rico. But we should no longer accept indifference and inaction on a matter of social and racial justice that remains an enduring stain on American democracy.
Communications Specialist, Tisch College of Civic Life
Alberto Medina has worked as the communications specialist at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life since 2013. Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, but now based in the U.S., he writes about Puerto Rico’s political status and can be reached at [email protected]