As a proudly outspoken woman of Puerto Rican descent who’s just returned from a charitable trip to that still storm-ravaged island and seen first hand how the current U.S. administration has neglected millions of American citizens, one might have hoped for Rosie Perez to come out swinging in her Thursday Daily Show appearance. (Cue visions of her Do The Right Thing character, Tina, dressing down the occupant of the White House with a contemptuous, “Take care of your fuckin’ business!”) However, the Oscar-nominated Perez, technically there to promote her co-starring role in the new series Rise, instead focused on keeping the ongoing plight of Puerto Rico and its people in the national consciousness. Highlighting the work being done by organizations like Heart 9/11, Perez stressed to host Trevor Noah that, more than half a year after Hurricane Maria essentially leveled the island, not only is more than five percent of Puerto Rico still without power, the daily trial of coping with the hardships exacerbated by governmental neglect have seen suicide rates there rise by as much as a third. Her voice tight with anger despite her pleas for viewers to engage positively by taking up the slack left by the administration’s indifference, she yet summed up the situation with a succinct, “We got shit.”
Referring to the stark disparity between the administration’s response to storm victims in Texas versus that toward equally beleaguered American citizens (mostly of color) in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Perez urged people to check out the searing Politico investigation thereof. Still visibly pissed, Perez refused to even mention the name of the president whose public statements (you know, tweets) reveal the empathy gulf that exists in “that man” (as Perez called him) between the Texas victims and those in Puerto Rico. (Who he accused of “wanting everything done for them,” before he showed up briefly to chuck some paper towels into a crowd and call it a day.) “Don’t throw us paper towels,” snapped Perez, still not deigning to name the person she holds responsible, “We need help.” Continuing, Perez tied her educator’s role in Rise to her 25-year crusade championing arts education in exclusively poorer schools in her native New York, telling Noah, “We have lost the ability for critical thinking, for creative thinking.” Once again pointing the finger at “that man” and his ongoing campaign to undermine public schools, Perez urged Americans to help out their fellow citizens where he who doesn’t deserve to be named and his administration will not.