Puerto Rican Culture

Reparations- Yomaira Figueroa

In the Chapter “Reparations” from her book Decolonizing Diasporas, writer, scholar, and associate professor Dr. Yomaira Figueroa uses three novels of a contemporary Afro-Latinx literary corpus (among them Bodega Dreams, our focus) to theoretically engage with the concepts and practices of reparations and decolonial love.

Central Theoretical Arguments

.Ideological structures, orders, and legacies of colonialism subsist (coloniality). (117)

.Calls for reparations must contend with current social and political injustices and dismantle colonialism and coloniality itself. (117)

.Reparations are based on an ethics of valuing differences and the notion that justice-oriented work in the present is valuable in the future. (119)

.Reparations imply that other worlds beyond our imaginations are possible. (119)

.Decolonial love is what fuels the work of decolonization as a political and social project. (120)

.Decolonial love necessitates ethical actions in the face of visible and invisible domination. It requires forging relationships based on love and affinity. (121)

.Bearing witness to violence in the past and in the present is central to achieving a decolonial reparation. (121)

.Practices of decolonial love can be found across communities of color in creative, political, social, and cultural [and religious or spiritual] forms, and act as reparative forces beyond the scope of capitalist accumulation. (121)

.Material reparations must go in tandem with a commitment to transforming both the ideologies and structures of coloniality. (124)

Oral presentations on “Reparations” (Pages 117-135; 145-6) by Yomaira Figueroa

Morel, Ernesto

Reyes, Noelia

Reisgerzog,Nicholas D

Yan, Timothy

Joachim, Taiya M

DaCosta, Alexander

Chain Reactions

Bodega Dreams posits a reparation of the self and reconciliation of community. Quiñonez proposes a reparation of the imagination by decolonial love that goes beyond colonial and settler logics. (118)

Figueroa says that Bodega’s grand vision of real state power and middle-class aspirations helps Julio (Chino) start practicing decolonial love by finding beauty in his neighborhood, love for his community, and respect for their literal and cultural language. (125)

However, she argues that Bodega’s dreams fail because of his reliance on the capitalist model of accumulation and distribution. He believes that reparations for East Harlem will be achieved by mimicking corrupt Anglo political and economic patterns. (127)

Do you agree or disagree with Figueroa? What examples from the novel can you bring to support your views?

Group Discussion

What was a major takeaway from our class?

What was difficult this semester and how did you overcome that obstacle?

Chat Discussion

Send some good vibes and words of encouragement to your classmates.

Asynchronous Assignment on Bodega Dream (Pages 201-213; Book III)

In Book III “A New Language Being Born,” Ernesto Quiñonez closes the case and presents how Julio decides to inform the police about Nazario and Vera’s involvement in the killing of Bodega. He also describes William Irizarry’s funeral and how the people of East Harlem pay tribute to his life and deeds. Lastly, Quiñonez offers a reflection about the vibrancy of the Puerto Rican and Latinx communities and their power of transformation.



In the comment section down below, write a (200-word minimum) response based on ONE of the following prompts (due on 5/10 before the class):


Ernesto Quiñonez starts Book III with an epigraph from Miguel Piñero’s poem “La Bodega Sold Dreams”. What connection do you identify with this central poem of the Nuyorican Movement and the end of the novel?


Why do you think the people from El barrio decided to honor Bodega’s life by remembering his days as a Young Lord above all else?


How Julio’s decision of helping Geran (the old man) and Hipólito (his grandson) and his dream about Bodega, Spanglish, and the evolution of El barrio demonstrates Julio’s new perspective regarding El barrio and Puerto Rican culture.


Respectfully interact with ONE of your classmates’ responses. Do you agree with their points and interpretations? Do you disagree? What other observations about pages 201-213 (Book III) from Bodega Dreams do you want to bring into the discussion?

Bodega Dreams (Pages 158-200; Book II Rounds 8-12)- Ernesto Quiñonez

Entry Question

What topics from the second half of the semester (the Puerto Rican Diaspora) would you like to see included in the final?


Manifest destiny was a widely held cultural belief in the 19th-century United States that Anglo-white settlers were destined —by God, its advocates believed— to expand across North America. The settlers saw the expansion as both justified and inevitable. The Spanish-American war was the last stage in the territorial expansion associated with this ideology of imperial domination.

Arguably the ideology continued through foreign policy that supports neo-colonialism (corporate takeover), religious expansion, and military intervention.

How the title of round 8 and the critical perspective about Manifest Destiny presented by Nazario himself (pages 159-160) points towards a big dilemma regarding underground economies and the dream of Puerto Rican empowerment through ownership and capitalist warfare?

Bodega Dreams (Book II Rounds 8-12)

This last section of Book II involves the confrontation between the main couples in the novel and between competing forces in the turf war. Most of the characters in the novel are in an existential crisis and at the crossroads. They must decide who they trust and why. What relationships are going to be left behind or destroyed, and how to execute their plans for individual and/or collective betterment.

Oral presentation on the novel Bodega Dreams (Book II Rounds 8-12; Pages 158-200)

Wright, Xavier

Yan, Timothy

Discuss how rounds 8-12 present a crisis or full split-ups between the characters down below. What is the significance of these separations for the plot? 

.Julio (Chino) and Nancy (Blanca)

.Roberto (the anointed) and his mother

.Vera and Vidal

.Bodega and Nazario