“I’m not the activist that I was in my twenties; but I’m an artist, now. And one of the things that I have always realized is that about the arts is that art serves to inspire our spirits,” Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez says was the inspiration in creating superhero, La Borinqueña.
US Territory, Puerto Rico is on the cusp of an economic crisis and could use a hero. Officially licensed and endorsed by the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, the proceeds from the comic book wil raise money for their scholarship fund.
Marvel begins the roll-out for their latest project by contextualizing their newest heroine among other celebrated icons. The cover of the first comic book-that will make its debut during the parade on June 12th-depicts La Borinqueña flying through New York above and being cheered on by singer Hector Lavoe, Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotamayor, a freed Oscar Lopez-Rivera, and others.
La Borinqueña-whose name is derived from its national anthem-is truly a representative of her culture. Born in Brooklyn, Marisol Ríos de la Luz grew up in a household in which her father is Afro Puerto Rican and mother of white Puerto Rican decent, that discovers she has super powers when she visits the island. Equipped with the ability to fly, superhuman strength, and the ability to teleport wherever a Puerto Rican needs her, La Borinqueña will fight villains (I personally would find it hilarious if one was Dominican…that’s a New York joke), address the financial crisis plaguing the Commonwealth, and instill unity among the Diaspora.
Personally, I find this to be incredibly dope. As the father to a little girl of color, I love seeing different aspects of childhood entertainment that they have often been excluded from be able to identify with. In 2016, there is a superheroine who my daughter can look and say “She looks just like me!”
Growing up, Timile, my daughter’s mother, had a very difficult time with her own identity. Born to parents and having siblings with dark skin and coarse hair, she told me that she would look at her family on the couch together and never felt as if she fit in. She was light-skinned with “bone straight hair.” Growing up as a military brat, Timile would tell me tales in different parts of the world where children would make fun of her, calling her names such as “Hopi Indian,” and tell her that she was adopted. Because of this, she spent most of her elementary school years finding pleasure in watching all of the other kids play as if it were television…her and her imaginary horse.
The issue plagued her into adolescence and young adulthood as many people perceived her to be stuck-up because of how she looked. I always felt bad for the little girl I pictured as she’d tell me this and would think to myself “I would’ve been your friend.” Truth be told, the reason we began dating was that she had always relegated herself to the background and watching everyone else have fun from afar. I always tried to include her.
Once we found out that Timile’s biological father was a Puerto Rican man from Rochester, I said to myself that our daughter will never feel the way her mother once did. Children are cruel. There will be a day in which someone says something about the color of my daughter’s skin and exclude her for not looking black enough. Someone will tease her about the texture of her hair. One day, some one will say something rude about her mother a) not knowing Cydney’s isn’t alive or b) know she is dead and will say something mean about it.
There’s only but so much “You look just like your mom” is gonna do for my daughter. It’s a wonderful sentiment and something she can hold onto; but there’s no “why” for her to identify with. It’s difficult to associate with a memory that’s based on others’ perception and no recollection of our own. My daughter slightly resembles her father and can see that; but she favors her mother with features I don’t possess. So before that weekend in June, she’ll see me don a hat with the flag on it so that if I put it on her, she can understand that her father is instilling some sense of pride and celebration in who and what she looks like.
There’s a light brown superheroine with fine, yet long, curly hair who from New York that flies around to help others. To me, that is the shit. When it’s time to be a superhero at recess among her friends, she doesn’t have to be Lady Thor, She Hulk, or even Supergirl…she can be herself.