Every day, teenagers aimlessly scroll through social media to embrace modern fads and decompress. This unending stream of content ravages confidence, converting adolescents’ self-perception into a bundle of likes and comments. As digitization spans the globe, citizens grow detached while neglecting their intrinsic appetite for interaction. Poor mental health in part stems from a jealousy of our peers’ fabricated glamour. Indeed, the scourge traverses borders, as telecom waves corrupt continents with resentment. However, Puerto Rican children face a uniquely dire set of challenges—the territory’s perilous trajectory and noxious ideals may fester within its future leaders.
Machismo rots Latino homes with chauvinism and belittlement. While a progressive dawn sweeps away its grasp, ‘conventional’ family dynamics still thrive in clusters. Recent studies associate hyper-masculinity with “greater anxiety” and “cynical hostility.” Puerto Rican boys often idolize their fathers’ bigotry, reinforcing toxic traditionalism and suppressed self-expression. Conversely, girls grow accustomed to subservience and thwarted aspirations. This critical juncture in development must not be dictated by a prejudiced past; instead, Puerto Rican children should be free to discover themselves with affection and modernism.
An all-consuming identity crisis also pervades Puerto Rico. Distinct in culture, ideals, and politics, the archipelago flounders as a vibrant pariah. Thus, adolescents find themselves torn between the United States, their foreign motherland, and Puerto Rico, the crumbling remnant of imperialism they call home. Miguel Rodriguez, director of the Center for Advanced Studies of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, labeled this dilemma as such: “They are Americans. We are Puerto Ricans. We have (American) Citizenship.” This blunt assessment may ring true among older generations; however, teenagers, while physically detached from the United States, absorb Americana through social media and pop culture. How can Puerto Rican youth, products of western ideology, blossom amid a cultural caveat that engulfs their identity?
The United States government’s negligence partially induced this cognitive-emotional discordance. Tangible reminders of American neglect reverberate across the archipelago, from inadequate hurricane responses to stagnant economic growth. Politicians tout the Constitution in denying Puerto Rican statehood, all the while embedding shame among its adolescents. The territory’s people are not inferior to their mainland counterparts; the federal government’s actions, a supposed beacon of unconditional justice, suggest otherwise.
Puerto Rican children warrant an opportunity to flourish, and admission into the union serves as the righteous course for their wellbeing. No longer would these nascent minds be considered imperialist afterthoughts but rather wholehearted equals. Statehood could unearth an influx of reborn Puerto Ricans–a generation equipped with the logistical support and cognitive firepower to rescue their ailing homeland.
While the prospects of Puerto Rican statehood remain slim, the Biden Administration cannot embrace its predecessors’ complacency. $6.7 billion dollars in educational resources is an admirable step toward justice, yet no standards hold the government accountable for lackluster results. Puerto Rico boasts a 78.8% high school graduation rate, ranking 51st below all US states. A performance-driven approach, that catered to the territory’s unique necessities, would prioritize progress over aimless bureaucratic spending. Politicians feign compassion in a quest for statehood while ignoring the challenges underpinning their pleas. One must question Democrats’ motives if they are to weaponize Puerto Rico as a political pawn. Hollow rhetoric can no longer substitute decisive action—millions of Puerto Rican futures hang in the balance.