My Photography saved me…

4 Jan

Photo Stories by Julia’s Portfolio: 

As a victim of a violent childhood that included being abducted and raped when I was only 9 years old, I know I’m lucky to be alive. Right after my attack – when I returned home and none of the 5 adults in my living situation noticed I was in shock – I remember picking up an old Instamatic camera shortly thereafter.  

I was immediately drawn to expressing my emotions through my photography. I remain so grateful that the New York City school system offered me a spot at the High School of Art & Design, where I immersed myself in my craft. 

However, I found it very hard to concentrate at times because of my family’s dysfunction that had me embroiled in my forced adoption, with the adults in my life indulging in excessive substance abuse.

I remember being frightened all the time – frightened of my attacker who threatened he’d track me and, worse, frightened of the people I lived with who were supposed to be keeping me safe.

Thank God I had a camera and a continuing desire to capture images that helped me express the range of emotions I needed to express in a safe environment. Sure, it annoyed me to have to my work graded and critiqued constantly. But, I found ways to satisfy my educational requirements while still photographing just for me and my wounded psyche.

Photography has remained my best friend throughout my life – a passion I can still rely on to soothe me or inspire me, whatever the case may be. These days, I can also count on my collaboration with USA Today newspaper’s website – which features their Your Take section showcasing Photographers like me.

Here’s my most recent visual portfolio; highlighting some of my best work. I’d love to know which images speak to you and would grateful for your support. It is my sincerest wish that you, too, have found a passion in your life that sustains you. NEWYORICANGIRL

When will it be Puerto Rico’s turn?

17 Dec

P.R. Flags at La Fortaleza

It’s been 6 months since I’ve posted on my Blog here. Back then, I found myself so frustrated with both President Obama and my broader Hispanic community in their lack of concern or leadership on issues related to Puerto Rico that I thought it best to step back for awhile.

Last month (November 2014), when Obama announced his very controversial immigration reform intentions – in part, offering relief and hope to my Mexican brothers and sisters – I found myself resentful because he continued to ignore the injustices committed against his legal American citizens living in Puerto Rico.

I almost posted here about my reaction then, but decided that my post from last June was still exactly how I felt and that I knew that I’d already upset my fellow Hispanics enough. It’s not that I’m not empathetic to their plight. It’s just that I’m offended by their lack of sympathy for ours. 

Now, our President has shocked the Latin community with his news today regarding changes to our foreign relations policies with Cuba. He issued a highly visible statement today at 12noon that said – and I quote – “Let us leave behind the history of colonization.”

Seriously, Mr. President? If you really believe your own rhetoric, then I ask you WHEN will it be Puerto Rico’s turn for you and our Congress to finally set our island free – free from our colonial relationship with the United States? All I’m asking you for is EQUAL voting, just like was granted to Washington, D.C. via the 23rd Amendment. Hasn’t Puerto Rico earned the same respect from you and Congress? Can’t you at least debate a 28th Amendment for my people?

When, Mr. Obama, will you make it your highest priority to demand equal voting rights and representation for your more than 3 million legal American citizens living in Puerto Rico who remain marginalized? Please do not forget my People. We’re watching you, now more than ever. NEWYORICANGIRL

Continue to ignore Puerto Rico at your own Risk…

27 Jun

 P.R. Flags at La FortalezaDear Hispanic community, I hate to say I told you so, but I did. Politico is reporting today that immigration reform is dead.

I continue to say that if Congress can continue to treat Puerto Rico (it’s legal Hispanic American citizens) so badly, what makes you think that your community will be treated any differently? To believe this is getting you no where. Rather, isn’t it time you encouraged your organizations to advocate for Puerto Rico – America’s most egregiously marginalized Hispanics?

The payoff here for you is that – with just a Constitution in your hand – there’s a strong argument to be made that Congress is, in fact, obligated to improve it’s treatment of it’s own (already legal) citizens. With so many of our elected officials concerned about securing our nation’s Hispanic voting block, imagine how quickly they’d uplift Puerto Rico if they believed it essential to secure the Latino vote.

You continue to ignore us and you’re getting nowhere. That’s the cold, hard truth. Here’s a link to Politico’s accounting of how immigration reform fell apart…

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/how-immigration-reform-died-108374.html

NEWYORICANGIRL

Video

NEWYORICANGIRL presses U.S. Senator on 28th Amendment…

21 Jun

NEWYORICANGIRL continues her petition efforts for equal voting rights for Puerto Rico; interviewing U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) who states he’d be willing to consider this idea…

My Trip to Puerto Rico Left Me in Tears . . .

12 Jun

P.R. Sunset with Couple

NEWYORICANGIRL Travelogue: Puerto Rico 2014

Tears of joy, tears of frustration and tears of sadness filled my eyes during the week I spent on the island of my ancestors recently. I’ve tried to soothe myself by producing this travelogue video.

I was ecstatic to return to the healing waters of Puerto Rico –  which I crave constantly because they rejuvenate me in a way no other H2O can. 

It broke my heart to be reminded of the beautiful and gracious souls of my people who continue to politely serve the United States without full and equal voting rights and/or representation.

I didn’t want to leave the island when it came time to board the airplane headed back to the mainland. I wanted to stay and fight for what my people have earned and deserve. 

The call to return is a resounding coqui sound in my head that I cannot ignore. NEWYORICANGIRL

 

NEWYORICANGIRL delivers petition to Governor of Puerto Rico…

26 May

P.R. Julia @ Fortaleza:Petition P.R. Delivering Petition

On May 13th, I arrived in Old San Juan carrying my petition comprised of 2,800 signatures; representing people form all around the world who agree that residents of Puerto Rico should be granted equal voting rights as American citizens. It took me less than one year to garner that amount of support (and then a couple of months to plan my trip!). Imagine what we could accomplish if we’d stop obsessing about only the status question for Puerto Rico.

I believe there’s room for those of us who are are passionate about empowering our fellow Boricuas via a campaign to demand that Congress debate a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Just like the 23rd Amendment added in the early 1960s for the benefit of non-state residents living in the District of Columbia, I believe the time has come to grant all the same rights and privileges to the legal American citizens claiming residency in Puerto Rico.

Their right to vote for their own Commander in Chief should not have ANYTHING to do with whether or not they pay federal taxes (as SO many ignorant people use as the #1 argument). It is estimated that 47% of U.S. citizens also DON’T pay their federal taxes but are not penalized by being banned from participating in our nations presidential election every four years. So, should we start mandating that a citizen cannot vote for President if they don’t pay their federal taxes?

Why then continue to disenfranchise the 2 million registered voters on the island – especially as the country now accepts that Hispanics are it’s largest minority group? I’ll tell you why. Because the U.S. Congress is afraid of the significant shift in power that would occur when Puerto Rico (if admitted as a state) would add 2 additional Senators and 4-6 Representatives.

Thus, I say, let’s take advantage of their fear and launch a two-prong approach to empowering the people of Puerto Rico. Let’s simultaneously advocate for equal voting rights at the SAME TIME that we continue to debate the status question. I ask you, what do we have to lose? Seriously, at this point – when Puerto Ricans have been treated as second class citizens for close to 100 years – let’s at least expand the discussion to include other strategies that can empower our people. NEWYORICANGIRL 

Equal Voting Rights for Puerto Rico Petition Update…

16 Jan

IMG_0951

EQUAL VOTING RIGHTS PETITION: CALL TO ACTION!

One year ago, I launched this petition (link above) on MLK’s birthday because I believe he’d agree that any legal American citizen should have the exact same voting rights. Further, I think he would define the current equal voting rights ban that disenfranchises the residents of Puerto Rico (a territory of the United States) as a Civil Rights issue. 

Perhaps he would even agree with me that – because the 23rd Amendment was passed in 1961 (in part) as an acknowledgement that the residents of D.C. were being marginalized (stated by historian, Clement E. Vose, when he said “various factors… residency requirements and social ostracism before the Voting Rights Act of 1965—minimized black registration and voting.”) – that the time has come for our legal Puerto Rican citizens (part of our nation’s largest minority group) to be similarly empowered via another Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

When I launched my petition 366 days ago, I symbolically set my one year goal at 2,800 signatures to correlate with the proposed idea of a 28th Amendment movement; urgently requesting that the U.S. Congress debate this issue. Since then, my campaign has exceeded it’s goal; garnering signatures from people all over the world disappointed in this aspect of our American democracy.

And, to be clear, I’ve said all along that I believe this voter disenfranchisement injustice pertaining to the residents of Puerto Rico is separate and apart from the issue of status (statehood) for the island. Furthermore, the current voting ban of legal American citizens continues to be a stain on our nation’s democratic principles. Surely, our U.S. system of government can resolve this problem without the involvement of the United Nations (where legal action has been sought). 

Motivated by change agents in our nation’s history like Martin Luther King Jr., I’ll now move to the second phase of my 28th Amendment campaign, which will be to deliver this petition to the President of the United States, members of Congress, the United Nations and to all groups, individuals and organizations connected to my efforts herein.

I welcome your support and encourage you to contact me at NEWYORICANGIRL.COM if you’d like to join me in this voting equality movement which, I am certain, is one of my Hispanic community’s most important Civil Rights issues of our time.

Let us work together to empower our fellow Americans with equal voting rights, regardless of which patch of U.S. soil they live on. Many around the world monitor our democracy in action and do not understand why any of our legal citizens are denied the same voting rights that you and I take for granted.

We must do better because our children want to believe that America stands for liberty and justice for ALL.

NEWYORICANGIRL 1/16/14

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