Editorials Essentials

Finding Strength After Catastrophe With Hurray for the Riff Raff’s “Pa’ Lante”

It’s hard to wrap your head around the level of destruction that hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and earthquakes have wrought on a relatively concentrated corner of the world, all in such a short period of time. Although the forces of nature are blind, it’s always the poorest that are most vulnerable. Being Cuban, living in Miami, and having friends from most of the affected areas, I’m seeing the effects first hand, particularly in Cuba and Puerto Rico. Centuries of surviving the ravages of past storms, colonial oppression, totalitarian regimes and economic stagnation have actually strengthened the will of our people over generations. But this seems more extreme than ever. Pictures of the destruction are heart wrenching and the recovery will be long and arduous.

This morning, I was listening to one of my favorite albums of the year, Hurray for the Riff Raff‘s The Navigator, and one song stood out more than ever. The whole album is about the Puerto Rican experience in New York, but the song “Pa’ Lante” is an anthem of defiance and perseverance that feels appropriate today and for the foreseeable future, in spite of the lyrics not being a perfect fit. While mainly about giving strength to different groups of oppressed outsiders, from immigrants to the LGBTQ, the rousing chorus of dedications of “Pa’ lante!” which essentially means “go forward,” is what I guess we can all tell each other amid hugs and tears at this moment as we come together. It’s not a journey that will be easy, but hopefully we can find strength in unity. It’s all we have at this point. Please do what you can to help.

You can donate to Puerto Rican hurricane relief funds at United For Puerto Rico, The Miami Foundation, and All Hands Volunteers.

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