Sunday, January 8, 2012

Work It, Fails Before it Works 1989, season 9, episode 176 of the television series, Seinfeld, "The Puerto Rican Day Parade". In this particular episode, we find the crew heading home early from a Mets game where they encounter heavy traffic due the the Annual Puerto Rican Day Parade. Nothing spectacular but the usual occurrences for a Seinfeld episode until a scene with an angry mob of parade-goers damaging Jerry's car flashes before the screen. Then in another scene Kramer says, "It's like this every day in Puerto Rico!" What particularly stands out is a scene which finds Kramer accidentally burning and then stomping on a Puerto Rican flag,

This episode set off much controversy and for good reason. First, Seinfeld was a very popular show with a huge viewership. Second, Puerto Rico, while a colony of the U.S. since 1898 and a tourist destination, was generally unknown to the general U.S. public in terms of any substantive information about its history, culture or people. Given the popularity of the show, it was blatantly negative portrayals of Puerto Ricans on a large scale.

Fast forward 23 years into 2012. Was there anything learned or has it been forgotten? There is still nothing substantive about Puerto Rico's culture, history and people in the classroom. A nearly 114 year relationship between Puerto Rico and the U.S. and barely a mention about the same in history books. Yet, we have another history 'bullet' lesson via a pilot episode on ABC titled, "Work It", which seems to believe it has it down packed with a punchline that takes a jab at Puerto Ricans.

Unlike Seinfeld, this is but a line in a script. Maybe or maybe not. Consider the 'small joke' a stubbed toe which goes completely ignored and becomes gangrenous. Although, it may be a small joke, the joke in itself is a slap at the positive strides many Puerto Ricans have worked so hard to accomplish. At what point do we draw a line on negative stereotypes and show or talk of the positive roles that define the very Puerto Ricans who have accomplished them or are currently working hard to do so? Positive awareness can go a long way and ABC, as a major network, and Amaury Nolasco should demonstrate that responsibly.

In any case, "But I'm Puerto Rican, I'll be great at selling drugs" does not sit well on any level, whether jokingly or not. The onus is on all of us...


Work It Doesn't Work


  1. Efrain,

    I think you are right something so small for some can continue to denigrate our image.

    It is a like a drop of water consistently hitting stone!

  2. I agree with you. The show is a major fail but if the Puerto Rican community doesn't show up to rally in protest of this abusive mistreatment that will be an even bigger fail.