Puerto Rican comic book superhero La Borinqueña’s costume was added to the Superheroes exhibition at The Smithsonian in Washington D.C. this month.
Puerto Rican graphic novelist and Marvel writer Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez created the comic book character in 2016 and she made her first appearance at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade with a costume featuring the colors of the Puerto Rican flag.
“It’s overwhelming. It’s really surreal. When I walked up to the display, I was brought to tears of joy,”Miranda-Rodríguez told NBC Latino.
The Afro-Boricua born and raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn starts off as Marisol Rios De La Luz, a Columbia University undergraduate student studying earth and environmental science.
During a semester studying abroad at the University of Puerto Rico, she gets a chance to explore local caves where she finds five crystals which she unites. Consequently, Taino mother goddess Atabex appears before Marisol and she summons her sons Yúcahu, the spirit of the seas and mountains and Juracan, the spirit of the hurricanes who give Marisol superhuman strength, the power of flight, and control of the storms.
La Borinqueña’s name comes from Borinquen, the name given to the island by the Taíno indians, the indigenous community that lived there prior to Spanish colonization. It’s also the name of their anthem which includes the lyrics “Es Borinquén la hija/la hija del mar y el sol” that hearken to the superhero’s own connection to nature.
Miranda-Rodríguez’s character is the only superhero in the exhibit that was created and published independently and is not part of a large comic book imprint like Marvel.
The exhibit includes Superman’s costume, Captain America’s shield, Batman’s mask, and Wonder Woman’s costume, who was famously played by Mexican-American actress Lynda Carter in the ’70s series The New Adventures of Wonder Woman.
“Our museum audiences are very enthusiastic about encountering Wonder Woman and La Borinqueña in the Superheroes display and the costumes provide an opportunity to show that American superheroes are not bound by race, ethnicity or gender,” said Melinda Machado, the communications and marketing director at the National Museum of American History. “The Smithsonian recently launched #BecauseOfHerStory, our American Women’s History Initiative, so the opportunity to borrow and display these two costumes as we approach the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote is fitting.”
The display is also timely considering the real-life Puerto Rican women making their mark in U.S. politics, according to Miranda-Rodriguez.
“To have this exhibit in Washington, D.C., is a complete affirmation of the power that is emanating right now with Puerto Rican women such as (Supreme Court Justice) Sonia Sotomayor and the new generation with (New York congresswoman) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” he said to NBC Latino.
The exhibit runs through September and the inclusion of a Puerto Rican superhero is an empowering message that speaks to the presence of the Boricua community in the U.S., according to Miranda-Rodriguez.
“One of the things I want to do with my work is to continue to keep Puerto Rico in the national discourse. The exhibition reminds all Americans that Puerto Rico is a part of the United States and there are three and a half million American citizens living on the island and another six and a half million across the States,” Miranda-Rodríguez said to NBC Latino.