Puerto Rico is in desperate need of help, and U.S. officials don't seem to understand the urgency of the situation.
The acting Homeland Security Secretary has called the dire state of affairs in Puerto Rico a "good news story." Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, countered by more accurately describing the situation as a "people are dying story." But as far as most Americans are concerned, it's much more of a West Side Story.
(I know. That was a terrible joke, but I honestly couldn't help myself.)
Efforts are being made to assist the people of Puerto Rico. The President and the First lady even managed to visit the island despite Trump's busy golf schedule. Melania showed up in an elegant outfit that very clearly said, "I have no intentions of getting my hands dirty, and I better not get wet while I'm here." Though I don't know what she was worried about, because it's been a long, long time since anything got Melania wet.
(I know. I'm so sorry. I don't know what's wrong with me.)
And to his credit, The Donald has taken action. In addition to accusing Puerto Rico of throwing the budget "out of whack" and free throwing paper towels into a crowd as if he legitimately believed the product's absorbent qualities would somehow mitigate the flooding, Trump temporarily waived the Jones Act to ensure that Puerto Rico receives necessary resources and assistance.
Still, it's surprising to see the president dragging his feet while the people of Puerto Rico suffer. After all, Trump used nationalism to fuel his campaign, leaning heavily on his secondhand "America first" slogan. They may be a territory, but Puerto Rico is still a part of the America Trump promised to prioritize.
Unfortunately, only 54 percent of Americans know that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, which may explain why so few mainlanders seem invested in sending support to the island.
And I'm willing to bet that Trump was part of that 46% that didn't know Puerto Rico was a U.S. territory, let alone that Puerto Ricans are American citizens. He's probably just been calling them "Island Mexicans" his whole life. Although, in his defense, Trump is a seventy-one-year-old man, and septuagenarians are notoriously bad at telling POC apart.
It's startling, though, to see that so many people are unaware that Puerto Ricans are American citizens, especially because it's undeniably clear that Puerto Rican culture has had a huge impact on America. Musicians and performers like Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Big Pun, Benicio del Toro, Joaquin Phoenix, Marc Anthony, Rosie Pérez, Aubrey Plaza, Freddie Prinze, Freddie Prinze Jr., and many more have undeniably influenced American pop culture, and they all either hail from Puerto Rico or can claim Puerto Rican ancestry.
And of course there's Lin-Manuel Miranda, who was able to convince millions of Americans to care about a founding father who's been dead for over two-hundred years, yet is still having trouble getting Donald Trump to give a shit about Puerto Rico.
Even Frankie Muniz is of Puerto Rican ancestry. A lot of people forget that. But then again, it turns out it's pretty easy to entirely forget about Frankie Muniz. Sure, we all loved him in the early 2000s. But now, as is apparently the case with most Puerto Ricans, the majority of Americans don't seem to care whether he lives or dies.
Many of these celebrities have stepped up to send aid to the island, and there are talks of a benefit concert in the works, though that sounds like a hard gig. I don't envy the performer who has to get on stage and kick off the show by saying, "Hey, I know that these past few weeks have been filled with a lot of death, misery, and despair. I'm aware that many of you are unsure if your loved ones are still alive or if your government is willing to invest in your safety. These are wretchedly, terrifying, and depressing times, and no one should have to endure what you've endured. But how 'bout you go grab yourself a Bud Light, because tonight, we're only playing the hits!"
Nonetheless, it's inspiring to see American citizens come together and provide for each other in a time of crisis.
That said, Hurricane Maria cause record breaking destruction in Puerto Rico, and the death toll continues to climb. Money's tight, but if you can, please consider sending a donation through whatever organization you deem most reputable.