The Sit Down With Andrew Kosinski
When I began researching topics to do my podcast on, I encountered a variety of different subject matter and topics that I could have covered. Although there was a ton of content available to me, I believe that the best way to talk about these social theories is through the lenses of a highly debated social issue going on in the world right now. One issue that really stuck out to me was the issue surrounding Puerto Rico and it’s the debate about whether or not it should be the 51st state of the United States. At the surface of this issue lies economics and politics, but after a much deeper delve into the issue goes beyond money and actually has the potential to massively effect Puerto Rican/United States culture and identity.
Aside from the obvious economic reasons, one of the main issue that Puerto Ricans and people involved in the debate have with becoming a state is the potential impact that becoming a US state could have on the culture of Puerto Rico. Not only would millions of Puerto Ricans be forced into changing aspects of their culture, such as the incorporation of the US national anthem and the potential changing of their official language, but they also face the gentrification and forced assimilation that becoming a US state brings along with it. New trade regulations and structuring could potentially allow corporate America a window into the Puerto Rico’s valuable economy and location, while also allowing it to reshape Puerto Rican culture on the island. This forced assimilation and gentrification of Puerto Rico scares many Puerto Ricans, and is one of the main reasons, among many social issues, for why many people oppose Puerto Rico becoming the 51ststate.
Along with the fear over cultural depreciation, there is also lingering doubt over how the social transition into the United States would function. Although Puerto Rico has the potential to be an economic powerhouse, there are still many issues regarding the social and criminal aspect of society. In 2018 alone, Puerto Rico recorded around 641 murders, making the murder rate in Puerto Rico around four times higher than their United States counterpart. This massive number, and the fact that Puerto Rican and Latino communities are frequently plagued with social issues such as colorism and internalized racism. These issues have made many people wary over Puerto Rico’s admittance into the United States, as their social problems appear to be seemingly worse than our own.
Although there are many examples of racial and social theory existing in the world today, I believe that framing the issue through something as important and close to home as Puerto Rico’s admittance as a US state contextualizes it and places the issue within reach. The social, economic and frequently racial tensions happening and Puerto Rico is an example for the rate at which these issues are happening across the world today. Even though we may not have the exact answer today or tomorrow, we can begin to explore this issue, how to combat it and how to change it by acknowledging the problem and realizing that something exists. I believe that Puerto Rico acts as a window into the world of Latin America and offers us an opportunity to explore the social, racial and economic issues that have consistently plagued these communities throughout history.
I hope you enjoy, thank you!