Against the backdrop of a cloudless blue sky, the sun washes over an enormous dune and the handful of palm trees that stabilize it.
Against the backdrop of a cloudless blue sky, the sun washes over an enormous dune and the handful of palm trees that stabilize it.

As you drive down the route 466, the spanish -style houses and roadside panaderias start to peel away. The road buckles, plunging towards a white-capped Atlantic. Seaside cliffs rise up, and trees stretch their gnarled limbs into a semi canopy. Driving further still, you reach the remnants of a dune sea as it traces the asphalt. And beyond its sandy, mangrove dotted hills, the sound of the ocean rises as it hammers the shore. This is the Mabodamaca Community Natural Reserve in Isabela, Puerto Rico. …


It’s not harmless banter — it’s immature and offensive

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Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

In high school, the talk around the lunchroom table was peppered with some now-questionable phrases.

It was almost impossible to get through a conversation without a chorus of interruptions — “Ayo!” and “Whoa” the usual two — indicating that you’d fucked up. And when that happened, the only appropriate response back then was to “pause” yourself:

“I could never be vegetarian; I like meat too much. Pause.”

“Yo, can I get another sausage? Pause.”

Any unintentional double entendre, any sentence that could be viewed as vaguely homoerotic, required us to pause the conversation and reclaim our manhood that was now…


A cyclist bikes down a snow-blanketed union square as buildings loom in grey silhouette.
A cyclist bikes down a snow-blanketed union square as buildings loom in grey silhouette.
Photo by Jeffery Blum

It is snowing in New York as I write this. At least, this is what my loved ones tell me. It doesn’t snow here. Here, at the tail end of the West Indies, in the place where the Caribbean sea sidles up to a pounding Atlantic, my winters can barely be called winters at all.

Instead of bitter chill, I awake most mornings to zephyr-like breezes, the trade winds at play off the coast. Palms dance beneath the fat yellow sun, less relentless than in summer, but still bringing sweat to brow. …


Stanley Nelson tells a story that still lives in all of us

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“Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy.” Photo: Netflix

My family is full of storytellers.

Many of us come from families where the yarn of our existence isn’t noted down in some book somewhere. It’s messier. It slips off the tongues of those closest to us, vague in the way of memory. The stories of people we may have never met become real to us.

My aunt Cookie used to tell the story about the night her car died in Williamsburg’s industrial district; it’s one of my favorites. The walk, just a handful of blocks to her apartment on Wyckoff Avenue, became an interminable journey. The neighborhood wasn’t the…


A sport I thought was for ‘White boys’ helped me finally experience the outdoors

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My cousin and me in more than a stack’s worth of gear each. Photos courtesy of the author

Winter mornings in Vermont hit different — always have.

At 6 a.m., the sun is but a whisper on the peak of the mountain. The towers of pine are weighed down beneath a midnight silhouette. The cold — the kind that shoots down into your lungs and then splinters — makes its presence known in the fog that builds against windows. And then, slowly and quietly, shadows emerge from the resort. Some contort themselves into yoga stretches, others huddle over coffee, but they’re all bound by a devotion to the mountain.

I started snowboarding in my early twenties. Before that…


It’s hard to think the superhero would have chosen to go full Sammy Sosa

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“Sunspot” Image: Marvel

With the long-delayed release of Fox’s X-Men film The New Mutants, claims of whitewashing have been lobbed at the film for its casting of the historically Afro Brazilian mutant Robert da Costa, otherwise known as Sunspot. However, this latest incident is not without precedent. For years, comic artists have made Bobby lighter and lighter, subtly erasing his African traits.

But no one has seemed to consider what Bobby feels about the ever-changing status of his skin. In light of this, I’ve penned this open letter to speak directly to Bobby about the issue.

Dear Bobby,

You’re not as dark as…


It will always be a brutal sport, but the answer isn’t a ban

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Jake Paul throws a punch against Nate Robinson during Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. presented by Triller at the Staples Center on November 28, 2020, in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Triller

I love boxing. I love its louder moments, two fighters matching wills and trading shots as lights shine and the crowd roars. I love the quieter ones, too: the sensation of wrapping my hands, the slightest nod of acknowledgment in the locker room after a hard session.

But maybe the thing I love most about the sport is the sound punches make — the hollow crack of a hook echoing through an empty gym, the thudding impact of a fist meeting soft flesh and ribs. …


Just how complex depends on the trifecta of race, culture, and ethnicity

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Photo: Sara Monika/Getty Images

Almost six years ago, on an unseasonably warm day in March, I first met my partner.

She was an editor for our college literary magazine, and we’d decided to meet up at a coffee shop to work on a piece I submitted. Walking into The Bean near Union Square, I had no idea who I was looking for beyond an email and a name. Sarah sat at a corner table; the sun poured through the glass facade behind her. She waved me over, and we spent the next two hours discussing all manner of things. …


It is easy to believe that Puerto Rico cannot stand on its own and needs statehood, but the truth is a more complicated matter

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A woman waves a Puerto Rican flag during a protest against the referendum on the political status of Puerto Rico in San Juan on June 11, 2017. Photo: RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty Images

The clouds in Puerto Rico possess a unique beauty. White and drunk with humidity, their billowy faces tumble over each other; they graze on the horizon more than move over it. And beneath them, almost everywhere you go on the island, you’ll find a flag displaying a single white star shining amid a bed of blue.

But that single star has become a renewed source of contention in political arenas looking to decide once and for all whether that star will be incorporated among the 50 other gems in the crown of America, or stand on its own.

In this…


Removing myself from the process wasn’t an act of defiance. It was just the absence of conviction.

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Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

The prewar buildings of Pelham Parkway in the Bronx are packed closely together, and the recesses between them are always filled with the sounds of the quotidian — pots and pans banging in a mealtime symphony, couples arguing, the drone of a too-loud TV.

But on this day 12 years ago, the noise was different. As I watched the electoral numbers updating in real time on my screen, I heard a joyous scream rise from the alley outside my apartment. The jubilant staccato celebrations ringing from my normally sleepy street confirmed it before the newscast I was watching did. Barack…

Miguel Machado

Miguel is based out of Puerto Rico. When not on an adventure you can find him typing away. https://miguelanthonymachado.wixsite.com/wordsbymiguel

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