Beware of Movements
The story of the Young Lords is intoxicating to many because it resonates with the suffering and aspirations of millions of young people who are outsiders in America. Like the children of NAFTA—migrants from Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America during in the 1980s and 1990s— the Young Lords also underwent the crucible of migration as children. Their parents were the country’s superexploited workers, heavily concentrated in the lowest-paid, dirtiest, and most precarious and dangerous sectors of the economy. And Like migrants today, Puerto Ricans were blamed for America’s problems. As translators and cultural interlocutors between their parents and America’s hostile bureaucracies, the Young Lords gained a second sight. With it, they gave their generation the language and analysis to make sense of the trauma produced by the large-scale economic and political forces that massively displaced their parents from their homeland. They also helped their peers understand their place in American society as exploited, racialized, colonial people and the structural barriers they faced in an increasingly deindustrialized and dilapidated city. In struggle, they discovered who they were and asserted their place in America.
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