The Young Lords were a Puerto Rican-American revolutionary socialist political party inspired by the Black Panther Party and based off of a Chicago street gang turned revolutionary group. With branches in Chicago, East Harlem, the Bronx, as well as Puerto Rico, they hoped to reunite the Puerto Rican people in American and their homeland and join in the international revolutionary movement to liberate all oppressed people including workers, women, and Third World peoples.

They encouraged the people to be critical of them because they worked to serve the community and wanted to learn from their mistakes to best help the people. The New York Young Lords were divided into five main sub-organizations:

The Puerto Rican Worker’s Federation took the struggle into places of employment in an attempt to challenge and eventually overthrow capitalist economics. The Lumpen Organization worked with the class of people who, through extreme poverty, were forced into drug abuse and crime, and worked to organize within the prison movement, having direct ties to the Attica Rebellion of 1971. The Women’s Union organized around gender issues in the struggle, incorporating the fight against heterosexism and challenging machismo. The Puerto Rican Student Union organized in high schools and colleges, shifting students away from academia and intellectualism and towards real issues. The Committee for the Defense of the Community handled the people’s survival programs, such as free breakfast, health clinics, as well as helping with legal aid.

Decolonization of Consciousness

I think it is wonderful to have a passion for a profession and become a specialist in a particular field, but I find it not only frustrating but harmful when our categorization of knowledge and education inhibits interdisciplinary connections. For example, I’ve found that learning about the agricultural industry - which really has nothing to do with my major or future career - has enriched my understanding on both a personal and professional level, both as a consumer and an immigrant advocate. In another case, my philosophy professor informed me this week that discussing the hierarchy of man, animals, and nature according to culture or world view is not pertinent in our ethics class, because the concept characterizes a separate branch of philosophy called metaphysics. I believe that the ability to find “common denominators” across disciplines - or see what we all share - is essential for compromise, collaboration no matter our differences (of which there are seemingly many), and ultimately respect and appreciation for diversity. In my college classes we have studied authors from previous centuries who were engineers, inventors, politicians, philosophers, and much more, all in one individual! Yet we look at our leaders today, and their degrees and areas of “expertise” are largely homogeneous.

I believe that the illusion of division is the greatest challenge facing humanity and the world today - whether it be division of peoples or knowledge - and that the cultivation of skills which take advantage of diversity and bring our world together, instead of further apart, is absolutely vital.