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In mourning Papi, I am also mourning the possible destruction of the Puerto Rico familiar to Papi and me.

By Michelle Carroll On Wednesday, September 20th, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. The following afternoon, we lost Papi. My 101-year-old grandfather passed away in an antiseptic hospital bed in Central New Jersey, hundreds of miles away from Puerto Rico. I believe it was the distance as well as his old age that shielded him from the knowledge that once again the island had been failed by its colonial overseers. In Papi’s last days, he returned to the memories of an island and people untouched by the current devastation. He spoke often of the family returning to Puerto Rico, buying a small home and growing mangoes, plantanos maduros, and aguacate. His death and the aftermath of the hurricane makes his dream impossible. [caption id="attachment_48013" align="alignnone" width="300"] My Papi & Abuela[/caption] Papi was born in 1916 in Santurce, Puerto Rico. He was born less than twenty years after the United States acquired the island as its newest colony and only one year before Puerto Ricans were afforded (second-class) citizenship by Congress. According to family history, his mother was a maid in a hacienda owned by a wealthy Spanish man, a holdover from the previous three hundred years of colonization by the Spanish. Papi’s father, the owner of the farm, was never in the picture. In the 20 years before Papi was born, the United States media began a racist campaign against the Puerto Ricans. In newspapers across the mainland, brown and black Boricuas were described as lazy, simple-minded alcoholics. Racist stereotypes normalized the idea that Puerto Ricans were subhuman, and thus worth less than one white American. These stereotypes allowed for corporations to profit off of the island’s farmland and its people—in the 1920’s, a Puerto Rican farmhand was paid $4 a week compared to the mainland average of $35. After the island was forcibly colonized, the United States’ government and corporations spent the next two decades stripping the island of its resources, agency, and culture.
Related: THE LASTING, RACIST LEGACY OF COLONIALISM ON THE ENVIRONMENT

People eat, breathe, dance, create, work, start families, raise children, love, cry, celebrate and build lives there. It is more than your relaxing destination.

By Angely Mercado Tropical parts of the world are in full-blown hurricane season. Homes and businesses all over the Caribbean have been flooded or razed to the ground by tumultuous winds and water. People have been injured and have died. And despite all of it, I continue to see posts about people saying that they’re sad about potential vacations and beach side resorts being ruined. There are valid reasons to be upset when a vacation has been disrupted by a natural disaster. Those who come from far away have to pay even more for a plane ticket, making a lost vacation a financial loss as well. It’s also horrible for anyone who doesn’t have the disposable income to take a yearly vacation outside of their hometown. I’ve had plans cut short due to illness and lack or even loss of money — it feels awful. But some sentiments communicated online have been from people lamenting not being able to visit the Caribbean for future vacations or bemoaning damages done to beaches and resorts that they thought were pretty. It has triggered some arguments amongst a few women’s travel groups that I’m a part of online and posts had to be taken down since they mainly consisted of people saying that it was horrible that the beaches were ruined instead of providing links to where people can donate food and money to help those affected by the disasters.
Related: THE LASTING, RACIST LEGACY OF COLONIALISM ON THE ENVIRONMENT

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