In this paper, I provide a critique of the Young Lords by dissecting how the Young Lords shifted Puerto Rican identity from an assimilationist perspective to a politicized and decolonial one. Through understanding Puerto Rico (and consequently, Puerto Ricans) as an extension of what Anibal Quijano calls the 'coloniality of power’, I argue that the Young Lord’s develop a dichotomy between good vs. bad Puerto Ricans, where good Puerto Ricans are affirmed and legitimized as genuine Puerto Ricans, while bad Puerto Ricans are discredited and excluded from the movement. I identify four archetypes to show how the Young Lords divided 'good' and 'bad' Puerto Ricans: Revolutionaries, Passive Dissenters, Traitors, and Martyrs. I examined online archived newspapers published by the Young Lords in New York and Chicago in 1970 and found that Puerto Rican identity is formulated through a process of culturally and politically distancing oneself from “American” identity. This paper highlights the pervasiveness of colonialism as a driving factor in identity formation by centering the unique situation of Puerto Ricans -- what Ramon Grosfoguel calls 'colonial subjects.' Ultimately, this paper asks us to reflect upon how we put meaning behind our identities as we engage in movements of resistance and, by extension, builds upon other critiques of revolutionary movements within the United States.
Rodriguez, Jaylynn M., "Making the Revolution: The Young Lords and the Creation of a New Puerto Rican Identity" (2023). Sociology Honors Projects. 72.
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