Perhaps, Broadway producers of the 1950s also felt the impact of the opportunity to tell the Puerto Rican migrant story or perhaps the inspiration came from a different place. The Puerto Rican voice of the 1950s was stolen and rewritten for appropriated consumption.
Meanwhile, the real issues the community faced as people looking for another shot at life as US citizens coming from a territory were ignored and essentially erased in the eyes of US American mass culture.
Additionally, this cultural appropriation, or inaccurate and superficial use of a marginalized culture for the artistic benefit of white artists and audiences, reveals the fiscal inequity that occurs for artists who create work that does accurately represent their own culture.
This is seen in comparing was produced in 1953, starring the late Míriam Colón and directed by Roberto Rodríguez.
The exciting and perhaps most inclusive, anti-racist message of the show, an interracial relationship, is not truly shown onstage to a white audience, to white America, because she was cast with a non-Puerto Rican and non-Latinx actor.
But here’s why we don’t talk about this: Chita Rivera.
The project was carried out by the Puerto Rican government, mainly Governor Luis Muñoz Marín, but was made possible with funding from US corporations who found tax-exemption by setting up production in Puerto Rico.
By fast-tracking the decline of agriculture—mostly sugar cane production—and igniting the rise of industrialization, the Puerto Rican government gave the United States free rein to open hundreds of factories in Puerto Rico for the manufacturing and exporting of goods, textiles, plastics, and metal items for sale in the United States.
Furthermore, taking a closer look at this important migration moment in the history of the United States reveals an overlooked story of Puerto Ricans from the mid-twentieth century that also resonates with many immigrants or migrants of today.
The New York City Puerto Rican community grew and flourished through a mass migration often associated as the result of “Operation Bootstrap,” a strategy intended to industrialize Puerto Rico in order to improve its economy.