Saturday, September 06, 2014

I Saw Yo Soy Boricua, Pa'que Tu Lo Sepas!, Just So You Know!

I thought I knew everything there was to know about Puerto Rican history before I saw the 2006 documentary Yo Soy Boricua, Pa'que Tu Lo Sepas! (aka I'm Puerto Rican, Just So You Know!). Then halfway through this documentary, my jaw dropped open when I came upon its revelation of a historical event so awful that I was surprised that there was not still a major scandal about it. And if said event had happened in the continental U.S. to white middle-class women, I suspect it would have inspired a major scandal. But since it took place in Puerto Rico and involved poor Puerto Rican women, it joined the ranks of so many historical events that ended up being "forgotten" by most American history books.

When this documentary was first released, it was written off by most critics as just another celebrity home movie. And given the amount of film its co-director Rosie Perez devoted to herself and her various friends and relatives, I could see why some critics reacted like that. Yet it seemed equally obvious that there was a lot more to the documentary than that. After all, Perez also devoted a lot of film to portions of Puerto Rican history that are rarely mentioned in conventional history books (for example, the Vieques protests, forced sterilization, the struggle for Puerto Rican independence, etc.). Granted, it would be nice if she had the time and resources to devote even more film to those subjects but as it was, she had so much ground to cover in regard to those subjects that there was no way she could have done them justice with just one movie. Anyway, it hardly seems fair to blame Rosie Perez for not doing more about these topics when mainstream film directors like Michael Moore have been ignoring these same topics for years.

In any event, you don't necessarily have to be Puerto Rican to find something of interest in this documentary. Nor do you have to be Puerto Rican to find something in the historical events Ms. Perez covers that will make you depressed or angry. And you certainly don't need to be Puerto Rican to hope that all the bad things Ms. Perez mentions in this film eventually prove to be stuff of the past. Because the alternative would be even more depressing than anything you see in this film.

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