American Boricua Wanda Benvenutti

When photojournalists roar back at white supremacy: A common language of visual equality begins with the act of being seen. This current climate of hate, ignorance, and fear strengthens my resolve as I finish the work of American Boricua. This is what I continue to see: People are beautiful. People are equal. Vamos. Photo © Alyssa Hargrove

American Boricua is the first modern visual history of Puerto Rican life in all 50 states of the U.S. Wanda is traveling throughout the country to interview and photograph Boricuas who live, work, love, and carry on the business of being Puerto Rican here in the United States. What most people do not know about Puerto Ricans is that while Puerto Rico has been a part of the United States for nearly 100 years, we are the only Latino group that are born as U. S. citizens that share two lands. What this means is that who we are is rooted in deep tradition, yet living within the U.S. creates cultural transformation and new traditions. The word “Boricua” itself, as a term of endearment Puerto Ricans use for one another, is steeped in history. It is derived from the Native Taino word for the island, “Boriken”, which means “Brave Noble Lord”. It is the essence of that “sabor”, that flavor that makes Boricua culture unique. This documentary project examines how Boricuas define home, family, culture, and identity.

Wanda Benvenutti is a first-generation mainland born Boricua and currently lives in the space between Philadelphia and Brooklyn. Her father Jesus arrived in New York from Salinas, Puerto Rico in 1961. She is a freelance photojournalist who earned a B. A. in English and Latin American Studies from Oberlin College and an M. S. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Her work has been recognized by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the National Press Photographers Association, and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2008 Wanda was named a Seattle City Artist by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and her work can be seen in the book 100 New York Photographers by Cynthia Maris Dantzic.