Hispanic Heritage Month Sparks Discussion About Puerto Rico


The Hispanic Heritage Parade made its way through the halls of West Potomac, organized by Spanish teacher Yamalie Colon. The festival was held for people from hispanic backgrounds. Students danced brought their countries’ flags to the parade, sparking discussion about the Spanish-speaking world.

“I started the parade last year just as a celebration of who we are, making known to West Potomac that we’re here, that we are a positive influence and not a negative influence,” Colon said. “I feel sometimes the word “hispanic” has a negative connotation and I wanted to make sure that the school body knows that we’re happy people, we’re happy to be in this country, but we also come from certain backgrounds just like everyone else in the United States.”

The timing of the parade coincided with natural disasters in the Spanish-speaking world.

“It just so happened that day of the parade, Hurricane Maria hit,” Colon said. “The day before, Mexico also had a very devastating earthquake. It united us hispanics here for common cost to help all over Latin America.”

The moment of silence stood out to Colon.

“It was a time to reflect on our brothers and sisters who are somewhere else suffering but at the same time wanting to be with them,” she said. “We can’t physically be there, but we are there in spirit.”

Colon is passionate about the situation in Puerto Rico after the hurricane.

“It’s a very sad situation, very dear to my heart because all my family is over there,” she said. “As soon as the hurricane hit I couldn’t talk to my family for over a week. I saw how slow the help was getting over there and… it made me angry and sad because these are our lives.”

When Colon found out about Puerto Rico, she knew she had to do something about it, so she sent different kinds of things over there to help.

“Through Facebook I contacted Puerto Rico Federal Affairs of Ministration because I thought it was the best route for people to get help that they need,” she said. “It’s an organization that works for the affairs of Puerto Rico here in D.C., so it felt like that was the best route of the relief to get out to the right people. There are different locations around the area to drop off things that people have been giving me like toilet paper, wipes, diapers, water, dry food and cans.”

Colon is doing everything she can to help Puerto Rico, but she feels that America isn’t doing as much as they could.

”I think there’s some positive and negative–I obviously feel very strongly about some of the leadership in this country and how they haven’t been asked relieve Puerto Rico. If we compare it to what’s happening in Texas with Harvey or Florida with Irma, I don’t feel like they responded quickly enough. President Trump didn’t even step on the island and he’s already making remarks. The day after Harvey hit he was there, the day after Irma hit he was there and it’s been two weeks and has not been there,” Colon said. “He has only tweeted.”