In Pedro Pietri's "Puerto Rican Obituary," what seems to be the poet's solution to that community?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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In the 1973 anti-imperialist poem "Puerto Rican Obituary", by Pedro Pietri, treats a very delicate topic in Puerto Rican culture, which is national identity. The main idea that Pietri contends in the poem (under his perspective as an anti-imperialist) is that the Puerto Rican immigrants that moved to New York during the big wave that began in the mid 1960's basically followed the wrong dream: One that was fed to them via the Americanization of the media which presented the US as a form of paradise that would automatically provide them with a better life. This is what coined the term "Nuyoricans": Puerto Rican immigrants which located in New York as their preferred location.

Through his point of view, he offers that Puerto Ricans should quit chasing the American Dream because it does not include Hispanics, nor blacks, nor Asians. The American Dream belongs uniquely to the white American. Instead, Pietri suggests, why not make it better being who you are an making your country a better place. In his own words:

If only they
had turned off the television
and tune into their own imaginations
If only they
had used the white supremacy bibles
for toilet paper purpose
and make their latino souls
the only religion of their race
If only they
had return to the definition of the sun
after the first mental snowstorm
on the summer of their senses

Therefore, Pietri's solution is to turn to national identity and self-pride as the way to truly fin what would make life worth living. No more chasing water-falls nor the dreams of others.  Accept who you are, embrace yourself, and make the best of what you are-not what others expect you to be.

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