Section: Spanish Harlem: Professor Hernandez Essay Collection

Directory: New York City History

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 Manuel Hernandez is a professional staff development specialist and works full-time for the Department of Education in Puerto Rico. He is also a culturally relevant text consultant and has given workshops throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and Mexico. He also writes freelance; his commentary essays have appeared in numerous newspapers and site in Puerto Rico and in cities in the United States.

For the last fifteen years, Professor Manuel Hernandez has been a leader in the field of education. He specializes in the area of culturally related texts and their ability to increase academic success.

Some of the areas of expertise are:

· Develop cultural awareness of educators to increase potential academic success (read essays 36, 60 ,66 ,67 and 109)
· Foster strategies that will boost Latino parent involvement (read essays 79 and 80)
· Present a vision on the diversity of Latino education and its development, progress and assertiveness (read essays 72, 86, 108, 114 and 115)
· Strengthen reading and writing skills by using Latino/a literature as a bridge to the American and British classics (read essays 8, 12, 13, 21 and 36)
· Improving literacy in the English Classroom (74, 75, 114 and 115)

· How to write and publish a textbook (

· Latinos and educational reform ( read essays 31, 32, 33 and 35)

(The author is an associate for Souder, Betances and Associates, an English Staff Development Specialist for the Department of Education in Puerto Rico and a professor at the University of Phoenix, Puerto Rico Campus)







The National Puerto Rican Day Parade and the Redefining of a National Identity


"Aquí se habla español, estás en Puerto Rico?"


Divided Identities


Like a Bridge Over Troubled Waters": The Nuyoricans


A Typical American Boy


Education, The Key to Salvation of Latinos


The Puerto Rican Diaspora: History in the Making


La Diáspora Puertorriqueña Haciendo Historia


El Lio De Las Banderas


Todos Somos Puertorriqueños


Alien Ricans


A Mirror of Many Faces: The Literature of the Puerto Rican Experience in the USA"


A Typical American Boy


Sonia Sotomayor: A True Pioneer of History: By Manuel Hernandez-Carmona copyright


Education; An American Journey (Dec.2008)


What Dreams May Come


Puerto Ricans in the United States: A Crucial Force in America

For more essays visit directly the website at:





"To Be or Not to Be Puerto Rican " By Manuel Hernandez

To be or not to be, that is the Puerto Rican question. The recent victory by Fernando Ferrer as a political candidate to one of the most important mayoral positions in the United States has refueled the on-going local debate. Shakespearean Puerto Ricans have once again brought up the dilemma of who is and who is not Puerto Rican. With the United States 2000 Census revealing parallel numbers between Puerto Ricans born on the Island and Boricuas born, raised or living on the Mainland, the debate continues in all means of communication on The Island. Even with recent demonstrations of brotherhood and camaraderie in public demonstrations by Marc Anthony and Chayanne, the issue takes center-stage in daily discussions on the Island.

In his record-breaking concert in Madison Square Garden, Marc Anthony stated that he was a Puerto Rican and an American at the same time. One of the founders of the Nuyorican poetry movement, Sandra Maria Esteves, states in her poem “Here” that she is “two parts a person, boricua/spic, past and present, alive and oppressed”. Jennifer Lopez has broken all paradigms and proudly displays the colors of the Puerto Rican flag in her never-ending videos on MTV and on interviews in international television. United States Ricans have a way of intertwining their dual identities and are not apprehensive about being bilingual and bicultural, but on the Island academics and scholars have perpetuated the discussions on who and who is not and have made it part of their everyday rice and beans.

With tens of thousands of United States Ricans coming back to their homeland to retire and settle down, the situation will only develop into heights yet unknown to Boricuas-kind. The best-selling Puerto Rican author, Esmeralda Santiago, came back to Puerto Rico after thirteen years and was disappointed when her Puerto Rican heritage was constantly questioned: “How can puertorriqueños who have never left the Island accuse us when they allow the American contamination I was seeing all around? There were McDonald’s, Pizza Huts, and so on. I used to think that this was not our culture (Puerto Rican Voices in English, p.163).” Questions about Santiago’s identity came back to haunt her again after she titled her best-selling 1993 memoir When I Was Puerto Rican.

Literary discourse specialists in colleges on the Island were disturbed by the past tense of the verb to be in the title. Twelve years later and with widespread national acclaim, her local critics have eased the critical tone and now proudly invite her to speak at conferences today in the same arenas where she was questioned in the past.

In Francois Grosjean’s Life with Two Languages, he defines code switching as “the alternate use of two or more languages in the same utterance or conversation”(145). If the use of two languages has been recognized by linguists and academics as a practice with a high degree of competence, how about dual identities? For once and for all, Island Puerto Ricans should understand that it is possible to be born elsewhere and still be a Puerto Rican. An American born on the Island or in any other parts of the world would definitely consider him/herself an American. Jews will always be Jews no matter where they were born, raised or presently reside.

Mariposa, a young New York-Puerto Rican poet sums it up in the second and third stanzas in “Ode to the DiaspoRican”:

Some people say that I’m not the real thing
Boricua, that is
cause I wasn’t born on the enchanted island
cause I was born on the mainland
north of Spanish Harlem
cause I was born in the Bronx…
some people think that I’m not bonafide
cause my playground was a concrete jungle
cause my Río Grande de Loiza was the Bronx River
cause my Fajardo was City Island
my Luquillo Orchard Beach
and summer nights were filled with city noises
instead of coquis
and Puerto Rico
was just some paradise
that we only saw in pictures.

What does it mean to live in between
What does it take to realize
that being Boricua
is a state of mind
a state of heart
a state of soul…




  Dear Miriam Medina,

I enjoyed reading your blog concerning Professor Hernandez's book. I am most grateful to you for having cited my Life with Two Languages.

You may be interested to know that I have just published a general public book on the subject, "Bilingual: Life and Reality".
You can find a description of it here:

Among other things, it has a short chapter on being bicultural and what it means at the level of behavior and identity. I argue in it how important it is for biculturals to be accepted by both cultures and not be forced to choose the one or the other. They belong to both and we should accept them for who they are.

With very good wishes to you.

Francois Grosjean
Professor Emeritus
Universite de Neuchatel, Avenue du 1er-Mars 26,
CH-2000 Neuchatel, Suisse/Switzerland
Web site:



Latino Education and Birthright Citizenship

By Manuel Hernandez Carmona

The debate on birthright citizenship has just begun and legislation threatens to take away the right of immigrants who become an American citizenship by birth. The continuous and unparalleled growth of the Latino population as evidenced in the 2010 United States Census has refueled the Shakespearean question of who is and who is not an American citizen. According to Alan Gomez’ August 12th, 2010 article in USA Today, there is much concern regarding the 14th Amendment amongst US legislators. With the November elections just around the corner, some US legislators have rekindled the issue of birthright citizenship within their constituents.

The amount of children born in the USA to illegal immigrants have leaped to 4 million in 2009, as compared to 2.7 million in 2003. Children born to illegal immigrants are immediately given U.S. citizenship. Because the majority of these children are Latino--this adds to the on-going discussion on whether or not to grant citizenship to illegal immigrants. As the percentage of native born people in the U.S. has dropped for the last forty years, there is widespread worry amongst some US legislators in terms of the benefits that this may represent for issues such as education.

While the economy has taken the vanguard of all the issues discussed today, the US Government continues to ignore the fact that the largest minority in America is not only at an economic disadvantage, but because it is less educated; it is at risk of becoming underrepresented for their lack of knowledge. Although there are underlying factors (teenage pregnancy, illegal immigration, lack of parent involvement, etc.) which derail the educational advancement of Latinos, there is no specific and concrete vision concerning what to do, where to go and how to handle the educational issues of America’s fastest growing minority.

There is a need of an educational policy that meets the academic demands of Latino children. Scientifically based research has reiterated the validity of the use of culturally relevant texts in the English classroom. The increasing Latino High School dropout rate is based on the educational system’s inability to retain the interest of the Latino young adult in the classroom. Without a defined vision for Latino education, America will continue to look for ways to hold back the political and economic power of Latinos in America. Taking away birthright citizenship is just another way to stop the educational opportunities that Latinos and all Americans have a right to receive.



Focusing on the Needs of Latino Students (Content Standards)
by Manuel Hernandez-Carmona

Focusing on the needs of Latino students is making an alignment with the content standards (C.S.) and grade level expectations of each state and school community. Although there are different versions, the core values of the book Christians call Bible are the same. Much like those who interpret the Bible, it is the responsibility of state and city school communities to align their content standards with the specific school needs assessment to which they serve. The alignment does not only come in words but in principle. The New York City Board of Education serves a multi-ethnic and diverse school community of millions of students which spread out in five different boroughs. The Department of Education in Puerto Rico serves primarily Puerto Rican students in seventy-eight municipalities organized in twenty-eight mega school districts. Two different school communities with diverse and unique academic interests but both adhere to content standards and grade level expectations.

The content standards provide an academic platform, and school districts and teachers make the interpretation and adjust accordingly. When the C.S. do not meet the expectations of school communities, the results are not only reflected in city and statewide testing but put a strangle hold on student achievement. How can an English teacher from Chicago teach Shakespeare to a recently arrived seventeen year old immigrant from Guatemala? This is the story in hundreds of school districts in cities across America. Thousands of immigrant children who are not only threatened to be deported but lack reading and the mathematical skills needed to pass city and statewide examinations. Knowing the Spanish language at home is not always a guarantee for these students to take what may seem an obviously easy course since the Spanish spoken at home is usually different from the “Castellano” taught at the school. Content Standards must provide for the diverse academic needs assessment of each community. Ever since No Child Left Behind was created in 2001, the school population in most districts across America has changed drastically. The Latino population continues to surge, but the Law has stagnated and must be changed!

Because NCLB has not advanced, Latino students continue to have retention and suspension/expulsion rates that are higher than those of Whites, but lower than those of Blacks. Regardless of the lower numbers of drop outs, Latino students still have higher high school dropout rates and lower high school completion rates than White or Black students. The role of culturally competent teachers has been part of the remarkable strides that have been made in educating Latino students. Research shows that talented and dedicated teachers are the single biggest contributor to the educational development of these children especially in areas where role models are far and few between.

President Barack Obama has encouraged Congress to work towards comprehensive changes in the NCLB 2001 Law. Latino leaders have been shy about Obama’s desire to change the ten year old law. Focusing on the needs of Latino students is making an academic difference to help improve the quality of Latino children. The 21st century has focused America’s eyes on terror, war and the economy. The empowerment of children in America is focusing towards the improvement of the education of Latino children and all American children as well.

(The author is an associate for Souder, Betances and Associates, an English Staff Development Specialist for the Department of Education in Puerto Rico and a professor at the University of Phoenix, Puerto Rico Campus)

Received 11/14/2011


E-Mail Date: 6/15/2010


This is an update and first call for the professional development workshop on June 26th, 2010 at the Fajardo Public Library from 9:00 am to 2:00pm. First, certificates of attendance will be sponsored and provided by the Borinquen Writing Workshop at Sacred Heart University.

Second, lunch will be provided and coffee, pastries and juice will be available for breakfast. Last, more than enough parking space is available right in front and around the Fajardo Public Library.

Reserve your space now by e-mailing me or calling me at 787-556-2956. More than 30 colleagues have already done so.  Attached is the flyer and pics from the previous activity.



E-Mail Date: 7/7/2010


   A good friend and associate, Dr. Samuel Betances, sent me this final draft. It is a must for those interested in history, civil rights and inspiring stories. I highly recommend it. Enjoy.

On Wed, 7/7/10, Samuel Betances <> wrote:

Attached is the final draft to my essay on Melba Patillo Beals. The essay is aimed at getting urban youth to stay in school and to persevere in their quest to excel in spite of adversity. I hope that you will find it valuable as a resource for your own work.

Dr. Samuel Betances, Senior Diversity Consultant
Souder, Betances and Associates, Inc.
5448 N. Kimball Ave., Chicago, IL  60625
Work:  773-463-6374  Cell: 773-220-0037

Samuel Betances Essay



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