Cultural Group Presentation by Bertina C. Morris CIT 506-GR1 (51031) Social, Multicultural, Historical, and Philosophical Issues Nova Southeastern University May 17, 2009
PUERTO RICAN CULTURE What is Culture? It is my opinion that culture is the practices, customs, shared beliefs, and social behavior of a particular group of people, which identify the particular place or time to which the group belongs.
Demographics of Puerto Rico Demographics of Puerto Rico: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved on May 13, 2009 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Puerto_Rico Population 3,927,776 Male population 1,887,087 Female population 2,040,689 Population growth 0.47% Birth rate 13.93/1,000 Death rate 7.86/1,000 Infant mortality rate 8.24/1,000 Life expectancy 78.29 years Nationality Puerto Rican Demographic bureaus 2000, United States Census
“ Puerto Rican culture is somewhat complex, - others will call it colorful. Culture is a series of visual manifestations and interactions with the environment that make a region and/or a group of people different from the rest of the world. Puerto Rico, without a doubt, has several unique characteristics that distinguish their culture from any other” http://welcome.topuertorico.org/culture/ (paragraph 1).
“ Although Puerto Rican cooking is somewhat similar to both Spanish, Cuban and Mexican cuisine, it is a unique tasty blend of Spanish, African, Taíno, and American influences, using such indigenous seasonings and ingredients as coriander, papaya, cacao, nispero, apio, plantains, and yampee. Locals call their cuisine cocina criolla“ http://welcome.topuertorico.org/culture/foodrink.shtml (paragraph 1).
“ The major type of music coming out of Puerto Rico is salsa, the rhythm of the islands. Its name literally translated as the "sauce" that makes parties happen. Originally developed within the Puerto Rican community of New York, it draws heavily from the musical roots of the Cuban and the African-Caribbean experience. Highly danceable, its rhythms are hot, urban, rhythmically sophisticated, and compelling. Today, the center of salsa has shifted from New York back to Puerto Rico” http://welcome.topuertorico.org/culture/music.shtml
“ Christopher Columbus landed in Puerto Rico in 1493, during his second voyage, naming it San Juan Bautista. The Taínos, the indigenous people, called the island Boriquén Tierra del alto señor ("Land of the Noble Lord"). In 1508, the Spanish granted settlement rights to Juan Ponce de León, who established a settlement at Caparra and became the first governor. In 1519 Caparra had to be relocated to a nearby coastal islet with a healthier environment; it was renamed Puerto Rico ("Rich Port") for its harbor, among the world's best natural bays. The two names were switched over the centuries: the island became Puerto Rico and its capital San Juan. The United States anglicized the name to "Porto Rico" when it occupied the island in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. This spelling was discontinued in 1932” http://www.everyculture.com/No-Sa/Puerto-Rico.html (paragraph 1) .
“ Puerto Ricans are a Caribbean people who regard themselves as citizens of a distinctive island nation in spite of their colonial condition and U.S. citizenship. This sense of uniqueness also shapes their migrant experience and relationship with other ethno-racial groups in the United States. However, this cultural nationalism coexists with a desire for association with the United States as a state or in the current semiautonomous commonwealth status. Puerto Ricans self-define as a homogenized Taíno, African, and Spanish mixture. Taínos were Amerindians who occupied the island before European domination. Then estimated at thirty thousand, they were reduced to two thousand by the seventeenth century through exploitative labor, disease, native uprisings, and immigration to the other islands. But many fled into the highlands or intermarried: Spanish immigration to the island was mostly male and interracial relations less stigmatizing than among Anglo settlers” http://www.everyculture.com/No-Sa/Puerto-Rico.html (paragraph 2).
Elementary education is legally mandated, but the youth of the population has strained the public education system. Those who can afford it prefer private schooling, which better prepares children for college.
Puerto Ricans distinguish between instrucción (schooling) and (educación) (education). Education transcends schooling. Education is within the province of the family, since an educated person is not someone who has achieved "book learning" but a person who is respectful, cordial, courteous, polite, and "cultured.“
Credentialism is on the rise, and a college degree is required for most positions and for upward mobility. The rates of high school and college graduation have increased in recent decades. The newly acquired importance of higher education sustains the university system, which includes the public University of Puerto Rico and the private Inter-American University, Sacred Heart College, and Catholic University. All these institutions have multiple campuses. People have access to professional training in law, medicine, engineering, and other fields.
Petersburg “ The story of the Puerto Rican people is unique in the history of U.S. immigration, just as Puerto Rico occupies a distinctive—and sometimes confusing—position in the nation’s civic fabric. Puerto Rico has been a possession of the U.S. for more than a century, but it has never been a state. Its people have been U.S. citizens since 1917, but they have no vote in Congress. As citizens, the people of Puerto Rico can move throughout the 50 states just as any other Americans can—legally, this is considered internal migration, not immigration. However, in moving to the mainland, Puerto Ricans leave a homeland with its own distinct identity and culture, and the transition can involve many of the same cultural conflicts and emotional adjustments that most immigrants face. Some writers have suggested that the Puerto Rican migration experience can be seen as an internal immigration—as the experience of a people who move within their own country, but whose new home lies well outside of their emotional home territory “ http://lcweb2.loc.gov/learn/features/immig/cuban3.html (paragraph 1). Factors Influencing Immigration to the United States “ There were a number of reasons for this sudden influx. The continuing depression in Puerto Rico made many Puerto Ricans eager for a fresh start, and U.S. factory owners and employment agencies had begun recruiting heavily on the island. In addition, the postwar years saw the return home of thousands of Puerto Rican war veterans, whose service in the U.S. military had shown them the world. But perhaps the most significant cause was the sudden availability of affordable air travel. After centuries of immigration by boat, the Puerto Rican migration became the first great airborne migration in U.S. history “ http://lcweb2.loc.gov/learn/features/immig/cuban3.html (paragraphs 4).
Spanish and English are the official languages, but Puerto Rico is overwhelmingly Spanish speaking, despite government efforts to eradicate Spanish or foster bilingualism. Puerto Rican Spanish is a dialect of standard Spanish that has its own particularities.
Language is a significant cultural marker of national identity for a people whose
culture has always been under siege because of colonialism. The U.S.
government imposed educational policies prescribing schooling in English
through the first half of the twentieth century; language became part of the long-
standing struggles over Puerto Rico's culture and colonial condition.
Puerto Ricans in the United States have developed a linguistic repertoire that
involves mixing English and Spanish in everyday talk. This code switching has
been stigmatized as "Spanglish" and condemned by language purists, but is
actually culturally significant as an identity marker.