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Professor Manuel Hernández
Essays Collection

Address: : 2012 Ernest St. Kissimmee, Florida 34741

Manuel Hernandez was born in Sleepy Hollow, New York in 1963. He completed undergraduate studies at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus and finished a Master�s in Education from Herbert H. Lehman College (CUNY) in the Bronx in 1994. He has coordinated symposiums, produced and coordinated television interviews on the literature written by Puerto Rican and Latino/a writers from the Diaspora. He has done numerous presentations, workshops and seminars on how to integrate latino/a literature in the English classroom. In 2014, he participated in a TedxTalk (Connections) at Southern New Hampshire University. He is the author of three books, , Latino/a Literature in the English Classroom (Editorial Plaza Mayor, 2003), The Birth of a Rican (Imprenta Sifre. 2008) and Living the Kingdom with purpose (Imprenta Sifre, 2013). He is a Language Arts teacher at Osceola School District in Florida.

"Like a Bridge Over Troubled Waters": The Nuyoricans

By Manuel Hernández

According to the New York Puerto Rican writer, Miguel Algarin,(Puerto
Rican Voices in English,p.39), he came to Puerto Rico with fellow colleague
Miguel Pinero in the early 1970's ,and they were speaking in English, Spanish,
Spanglish and a variety of sorts when they heard someone calling them Nuyoricans.
Algarin thought they were using the term in a humiliating way. When my parents
moved back to the Island in 1974, I was immediately referred to as "el nuyorican"
by classmates, relatives and friends. I was confused because I had never
been called like that before. Nuyorican is a combination of the words New
York and Puerto Rican. It was and still is used to identify Puerto Ricans
born and raised in the United States and to differentiate them from Island
Puerto Ricans ("Adios Borinquen Querida" p.90).
Puerto Ricans born in other US cities resent the term because they
were not born in New York City. For some New York Puerto Ricans, it is a
label they prefer not to be associated with. Other New York Puerto Ricans
view the term as connected to Puerto Ricans in New York before or after
their time of birth and residence. Although it is true that the term carries
significant negative connotations, for a strong minority being nuyorican
means pride, dignity and uniqueness. For me, it is like living on a bridge
over troubled waters. It means moving back and forth, to and from, without
the geographical limitations.
Literary critics use the term to identify a group of pioneers, New
York based Puerto Rican poets who grew up in the streets of New York City
in the early 60's and 70's. The literary critic and scholar, Dr. Juan Flores
defines the so-called Nuyorican modality:
Freely bilingual in style and conception, it was written by a
young Puerto Rican who grew up in the streets of New York
City. The poems are filled with that biting defiance and
strident pride that erupted on the literary landscape in
1973 with Puerto Rican Obituary in 1973 (Divided Borders, p.
Most Nuyoricans live on a bridge over troubled waters. The 30,000 feet
highpoint in between the Island and New York seems like the safest place
for them to exist. When they arrive on the Island, they are often called
"gringos". Adapting to the Puerto Rican mentality may become a nightmare
for many. Language and culture become barriers when they return to their
homeland. Some are treated as foreigners and strangers in their own Island
neighborhoods and backyards. Nuyoricans feel disappointed and disheartened
when confronted with ignorance and prejudice in "La Isla". When I was on
the verge of creating a course on US based Puerto Rican literature at the
University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus (English 3285), a debate occured
on the name of the course; they wanted me to call the course, Nuyorican
The bridge has no geographical limitations. Mexicxans
born and raised in the states are treated the same or probably worse by
their native Mexican brothers and sisters. All the social and cultural tossing
and turning, forces the Nuyorican to be on the alert and on the defensive
most of the time. Will Nuyoricans finally mix and blend in to the old melting
pot? Will they give up their freedom to be bilingual and bicultural? These
are only a couple of questions that will remain unanswered. It is no wonder
that many of us feel relieved and at peace when the captain finally says:
"We have reached our highest altitude, 30,000 feet and will be cruising
until we reach our final destiny."