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I see that this was written several years ago. Please allow me to congratulate you on an accurate depiction of our Neighborhood in Brooklyn. Bushwick to be exact. No not east williamsburg or any of the other gentrified names that the developers will have you believe. Your depiction of the bonds that we all share on that day is synonymous with the struggles our community has faced over the years. Sadly, people only hear about the negative moments that this celebration has had. They seem to focus on two events, and use that to discourage our communications with one another.
I remember when you could do things with pride, wearing the flag, honking your horn, waving the flag, chanting out with thousands of people in Bushwick who shared your pride. Now this has all come to a halt because of the ingenious use of media portrayal. Now, the roads get closed down by 7pm or 8pm (Knickerbocker ave especially), traffic is rerouted causing more traffic, and the passion that once lived and thrived in Bushwick during that day has simmered into a mere sizzle. People are given tickets for having too many flags on their cars, and the reasoning by the police is that it blocks your vision as a driver. I didn't know that placing flags on your rims, on your bumper or on your antenna would cause that.
People from the tristate area would come to Bushwick, to partake in the second portion of the parade as we called it. Cars draped with flags, music pumping salsa and reggaeton filling the streets. Bike riders running up and down Knickerbocker chanting "boriqua hasta la muerte" It was like a second parade, at any given moment, a car parade would take place, car clubs would manage the roads to create safe passage for pedestrians, while everyone in their car with a flag was a Puerto Rican, either by blood, by relation or by love.
Our voices were intentionally loud on that day, as to say we are here, we are not forgotten and we will always be here.
Now, the parade ends, not so many come to Bushwick to be a part of an age old tradition. I miss those days. Now with the planned gentrification, folks only want to enjoy the culture of our neighborhood for the purpose of tweeting and instagramming. Little do they know what our neighborhood endured to get it to this point.
The truth of the matter, is every year, this stream of red white and blue did not belong to the US flag, but instead belonged to Puerto Rico. It was a movement that slowly became nothing more than a movement that was roadblocked.
Bushwick has been my home from my Birth. And no matter how far I move away from here. My Heart will always be here. The memories of the parades in Bushwick will be some of my finest and funniest moments of my life. Thank you for such a wonderful depiction of what was once the highlight of Bushwick.