introduction
Translating Televisual ‘‘Blackness’’
It was a time when we were islanders, and the sea, on every side the sea,
was our only frontier. We lived surrounded by water and submerged in family
tradition. And we have always been good, my brother and I. We ran in the
solitude of our house, playing with American toy soldiers, Spanish decks
of cards, and with dreams of leaving forever. We were growing up in the
brightness of Puerto Rican mornings and in the shadow of the trees that
shaded houses full of shadows in the stupor of identical and tranquil
afternoons of Santurce in the fifties.
Magali García Ramis, Happy Days Uncle Sergio
And in this warehouse that Pedro borrowed and that has an interior, I mean,
an inside part, his best friends are waiting for him, I mean, Lindbergh, Moncho
Tarralla, Glostora, Chan el Cabro and Jalisco. . . . Jalisco is the artist who came
from abroad, so we can sell the telenovela abroad. . . . You know how it is!
El lince de la barandilla in Pablo Cabrera’s 1980 play
La verdadera historia de Pedro Navaja
Ok, and now you are going to look at the camera and you are going to say these
very simple lines: ‘‘bunga, bunga, water.’’ Remember the character . . . give me
more flavor . . . more . . . it is the Caribbean, more . . . rhythm.
Javier Cardona’s 1997 performance piece You Don’t Look Like
On September 14, 1994, after forty years of local programming Telemundo’s
network affiliate in Puerto Rico (wkaq–channel 2) began to broadcast Mifa-
milia (My Family), the first locally produced situation comedy in the history
of Puerto Rico’s commercial television featuring a fictional ‘‘black’’ family.
According to one of Mifamilia’s production members, the show’s idea origi-
nated after witnessing the commercial success of U.S. ‘‘black’’-oriented situa-
tioncomediessuchas TheJeffersons and TheCosbyShow.However,themedia
professional noted that contrary to these U.S. programs, in Mi familia ‘‘there
is no color, there is nothing established. The show is about a Puerto Rican
family, period.’’1
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