For author and “artivista” Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez and his superhero character Borinqueña, it has been an extremely active year making a positive difference in the community. In case you are not familiar, La Borinqueña is an Afro-Boricua character who models the need for everyday heroism that is needed more than ever today. The last time Impacto spoke with him, La Borinqueña had become the face of “Masks for America” a project to raise funds to help provide masks / PPE for the front-line heroes caring for those affected by covid-19.
As of this time, this ongoing project has raised over $500,000 for this cause thanks to the support of thousands of people like you and me. Political leaders and celebrities including actors from Marvel’s The Avengers and Wandavision have also joined this effort. Over 800,000 N95 masks have been distributed all over the United States including Puerto Rico.
Dr. Stephanie Brown and I recently sat down with Miranda-Rodriguez via Zoom and had an exciting conversation about the things he has been doing over the last year serving the community. We also spoke about the power of storytelling and the use of media and technology to make a positive difference in our community especially now during all the challenges we are experiencing. He reminded us that he created La Borinqueña as a college student who is passionate about making a positive difference. He uses narrative storytelling and “the visual imagery of superheroes to address human rights issues affecting us in the real world.” His hope is that this would help generate conversations that lead to solutions to what is happening in Puerto Rico and beyond. His level of influence has grown as La Borinqueña has gone mainstream.
This past year, La Borinqueña was invited to become part of a movement to mobilize Latinos to vote. Miranda-Rodriguez reminds us that if we speak with our grandparents, we will realize that our vote cannot be taken for granted since it has been less than 50 years since President Gerald Ford signed the legislation giving Latinos and other language minorities the right to vote. To help mobilize young people to vote La Borinqueña was animated in a series of bilingual PSA’s inspiring them to vote. Afro-Latina actors Zoe Saldana and Rosario Dawson voiced La Borinqueña in these video spots. This was part of a wider effort which according to a report by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, resulted in over 16.6 million Latinos voting in the November presidential elections. This was an increase of 31% from the 2016 elections, which was double the percentage of increase among other ethnic groups.
Miranda-Rodriguez seemingly has superhero powers like La Borinqueña as he was also involved collaborating with Stretch and Bobbito + The M19s Band on the “Que Bonita Bandera” project to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the creation of the Puerto Rican flag. The project was released in December 2020 and includes a collectible comic book of La Borinqueña, a music video, and a remix of the classic song. Miranda-Rodriguez is passionate about using storytelling to educate the community and help find solutions to the challenges we are facing. He reminds us that “when we tell our own stories we include ourselves in the narrative, we include ourselves in the discussion, and we include ourselves in academic cultural psychological scientific discourse. When we are not telling our own stories we are excluded, we are deleted, we do not exist.”
For Miranda-Rodriguez, a college education is vital to the success of the community. “An institution like Esperanza College could not have existed 100 years ago. That is why it is a new institution. Why? Because community leaders led by Rev (Luis) Cortes saw the need to have institutions that reflected our scholarship that reflected and celebrated our scholars and that’s something that we always have to fight for.” Esperanza College, Pennsylvania’s first Hispanic serving institution, is fully accredited and here in our community helping strengthen the community by preparing more “heroes de impacto y esperanza,” who like Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, are making a positive difference. It offers programs that prepare you in storytelling, media production, web design, mobile app development, health sciences, business, education, criminal justice, and other key areas that are much needed in the community. Miranda-Rodriguez’ growing influence and success serving our community show the power of storytelling.