Lin-Manuel Miranda On His Love Song For Puerto Rico And Unity In the Face of Insufficient Government Aid
Billboard: You’ve been quite vocal on social media regarding getting lack of aid to Puerto Rico, yet there is nothing political about this track. Why?
I don’t know that I agree with you. I wrote this song the day after the hurricane hit Puerto Rico. And one, we realized this storm was the worst storm to hit the island in modern history, and its name was Maria. And that’s the name of my favorite song from West Side Story. So I thought, how can I flip that negative connotation into something [positive] for Puerto Rico?
And the other thing that happened was in the wake of the hurricane, there was this terrible silence where we [Puerto Ricans who live off the island] just didn’t hear anything. The power grid was destroyed, there was no cell service. And what I saw most on Facebook or Twitter were my friends and my family listing the names of towns: “My godmother is in Hatillo; My uncle is in Isabela.” These towns that I know so well because our island is not that big. I thought I could work all 78 towns in Puerto Rico into the lyrics of this song and if we did our job right, these towns will never be forgotten again. It’s the shared ancestry. Whenever you meet somebody from Puerto Rico, you go, “De dónde eres? (Where are you from?) Your town is your identifier. I thought of lyrics that would unite us.
So, that was your political statement: We are all united by our little towns in this island?
Absolutely. And the diaspora – at this point, there are more Puerto Ricans living outside of Puerto Rico than in it – we are all descendants of these towns. That’s where we come from.
What do you think of the government response to Puerto Rico? What could they have done differently?
Here’s the reality: This is an unprecedented disaster and that requires an unprecedented response. I’m hopeful. If you look at my Twitter feed you’ll see little kids breaking their piggy banks and donating to Puerto Rico. You’ll see companies matching donations from their employees. You’ll see teenagers packing supplies. I’ve been so overwhelmed by how giving the American people and people all over the world, have been. If the government could only match the response of its people towards our recovery, we’d be all right. I think it’s been well documented that it’s been slow and it’s been insufficient commensurate to the challenge ahead.
Do you think the government’s relationship with Puerto Rico has changed with this administration, or is it the same as ever?
I know this was the worst natural disaster in 100 years and we still received a fraction of the troops that Irma or Harvey received. Even though there are the additional challenges of being an island, [there’s] all the more reason to be prepared and have a response. Anything short of that is the humanitarian crisis you’re seeing.
Do you feel there is a new pride in being Latin now and even second, third generation Latins are wearing that badge more proudly than before?
You’re talking to the wrong guy about that because there was never a moment in my life where that wasn’t a thing worth celebrating. There are two responses when you are coming to this country from another country. Assimilation or you put your bandera (your flag) around your neck and you get a whistle and go to the Puerto Rican day parade. My family was with bandera, always, even though I went to a school where I was one of the only Latino kids there. But I think that experience is very personal. I know Latinos who don’t speak a word of Spanish and could school me on Puerto Rican history. And I also know Latinos who speak fluent Spanish and couldn’t tell you the first thing. Every journey is personal.
Please message me (messages, not asks) if you see anti-American and white supremacist comments on my posts about Puerto Rico and Trump so that I can block those users from this blog and get that shit out of the notes. No malicious, pernicious distractions or drains on our attention and energy here where we need to be focusing on uniting good people and saving lives.
Necessary clarification: I mean “anti-American” as in the one I already saw saying people–in this case, Lin–should leave the country if they don’t “like” the president. That old classic. Racism was baked into our founding but that idea sure as shit wasn’t, to put it mildly. The exact opposite, and that ideal and practice has been upheld for generations by admirable Americans to whom we are deeply indebted. That user’s statement is anti-everything-good-we-actually-ever-explicitly-started-being-and-somewhat-upheld-and-advanced as a country, so I consider that anti-American af in the only worthwhile sense of the epithet–notwithstanding that it’s a perennial American conservative attack on American dissenters and progressives, etc., go figure. You’re not doing it on my blog content, motherfuckers.
tl;dr direct message me about racists and Trumpism in the notes on my posts so I can block those *censored* cause we don’t fucking need that shit when we gotta be amplifying PoC and fucking saving lives
“The name ‘Maria’ will forever have a different connotation on the island,” Miranda explained to TIME. “Most of us know 'Maria’ as the name of a really great song in West Side Story, a really great love song.” But for Miranda, he saw an opportunity to combine the two — the classic Broadway tale and the current crisis — into a way to help the island of his family’s roots. “My brain started flipping the lyric. 'Say it loud and there’s music playing, say it soft and it’s almost like praying,’ That was half the idea.”
The other half was including the names of all the island’s towns, as a way to combat the “terrible silence” that greeted the hurricane’s end. “I don’t think I heard from my family until four or five days after,” he explains. Social media was filled with Puerto Ricans seeking loved ones by looking for updates on specific places. “I thought, if I can manage to put every one of the 78 towns in Puerto Rico in the lyric, that’s the song. That’s what unites us all. Because our traditions emanate from those towns, and they’re the source of pride and of power.”
I’ve just got no words. I mean that in the best way. I’ve got no words. Just immense, immense gratitude that @linmanuel is out there in the world, being exactly the kind of person who makes me extra proud to be Puerto Rican. I just… Yeah.
President Donald Trump on Friday played with the pronunciation of Puerto Rico as he saluted Hispanic Heritage Month at the White House. Trump drew out the name in an accented fashion three times — “Pueeeeerto Rico” — telling the crowd, “We love Pueeeeerto Rico.” Then he said it without any accent: “And we also love Puerto Rico.”
It’s one thing if you speak Spanish and prefer to pronounce the name of the place the way it’s pronounced in Spanish… This is not that. You can immediately tell that he repeats it to get a reaction from the crowd. Then in saying “And we also love [English way of saying Puerto Rico],” laughing, he implies that the way Puerto Ricans say the name of their own home is wrong, making it sound like a different place entirely. What a dipshit.
This isn’t just making light of a bad situation, or honouring Puerto Rico’s language and culture, or bonding with Puerto Ricans, and it’s worth examining. Trump has spent too much time ignoring citizens of colour in crisis, and he isn’t allowed to get away with this shit. Language has power.
As someone who dealt with Hurricane Irma and saw the damage it caused southern Florida on my local news, hearing about Hurricane Maria breaks my heart. Dominica was just hit and Puerto Rico is next. These are tiny islands getting hit by this storm. I’m not a very religious person, but even I’ll be praying to whatever deity/deities are listening to help our Caribbean neighbors get through this. Stay strong, my friends.
UPSIDE & DOWNSIDE TO MANIFESTING: Know that the universe is always listening. Listening to your energy, listening to how you feel, listening to what you believe to be true for you. Think of the Universe like Amazon. You place your order and Amazon fulfills it. The person who actually fills your order doesn’t say “She isn’t going to like this, I’m not going to send it because I know she would rather have this other thing”. Amazon / like the Universe isn’t that vested in what you order - it’s only there to fulfill your order, to give you what you’re focused on, what you said in words, energy, attention that you wanted.
If you’re manifesting things you’d rather not have - know that you’re not taking control/care of your energy, thoughts, & beliefs.
UPSIDE: I manifesting an amazing trip to Puerto Rico. We spent 2 days on Vieques Island for free before staying another 5 days on the main island. I attracted a condo on the beach which cost a total of $450 for 5 days. We were traveling with my grown daughter and her friends so we split the cost of the condo 3 ways. Each couple spent $150 or $15 per person per day. We are now in Florida for another week (free housing with family) before we return back to upstate New York.
DOWNSIDE: A week before leaving on our trip and after getting off the phone with the insurance company trying to straighten out some things, I said “My luck, I’ll have asthma issues while in Puerto Rico because things won’t be in order before I leave”
Everything was fine the first 2 days on Vieques Island. Once we hit the main island, I started sneezing, then watery eyes, then the coughing and by the next day I was having an asthma attack.
My husband says - “You know too much to have said that” and I know that’s the case, but I got over it because we’re all allowed to have our moments. I had mine, I didn’t take care of what I sent out into the Universe, but got back exactly what I put out there - In BOTH cases.
I’m sharing this to convey to you how the Universe is listening. Always. To the good and the crap - it’s always listening but even more than that - THE UNIVERSE IS ALWAYS RESPONDING TO YOU - ALL THE TIME - EVERY DAY.
If you don’t like what you’re seeing - you need to change the thoughts and feelings on the INSIDE FIRST and then what you see on the outside will change.
If you’re waiting on the outside to change first so that you can feel better - you’re going to feel crappy for a while because it doesn’t work that way. Change always comes from the inside first.
I’m going to close on a good note with a photo of my daughter (second from the left) and her friends that I took at a waterfall in El Yunque Rain Forest.
Just signed up for the Fandom Loves Puerto Rico fanworks auction! I put my hat in to write Kingsman, Overwatch, and Hockey RPF - a short-ish fic anywhere between 2k-15k! (Though let’s be honest, knowing me, it’ll go long.) I’ll post again here when bidding opens if you’re interested in having me write something you’ve always wanted to see!