Friday, February 29, 2008

Status queueing

Sharing words from xicanopwr...

"As we strive for reform, make no mistake — we will be confronted with an uphill battle against those determined to keep the status quo. It is important to watch for the dangerous distraction that will pop up between now and March 4. But we must never forget how we got into this situation. And we must never forget the change we need in society will come only through our direct efforts to move the country in a more progressive direction."

Having just watched "Walkout", I'm in a feisty mood, not made better by having to teach Ana Castillo's Massacre of the Dreamers among other books to a web class. what all three of these texts have in common is the exposure of the status quo and the horrifying need by those in power to maintain it. Castillo writes:

Hispanic is nothing more than a concession made by the US legislature when they saw they couldn't get rid of us. If we won't go away, why not at least Europeanize us, make us presentable guests at the dinner table, take away our feathers and rattles and civilize us once and for all... This erroneous but nationally accepted label invented by a white supremacist a resignation to allow, after more that 200 years of denial, some cultural representation of the conquistadors....Until now, in other words, only Anglo-Saxons were legitimate informants of American culture." (Castillo 28)

Hermano at xicanopwr writes "we will be confronted with an uphill battle against those determined to keep the status quo. It is important to watch for the dangerous distraction that will pop up between now and March 4."

And the sellout "Hispanic" cop in Walkout says "Nothing's gonna change. The schools aren't gonna change", to which the Chicanita says "No. But we've changed."

And, in my anger and disgust with Arizona's race and culture issues, and the US' race and culture issues, and our fear-ridden, blindly nationalistic society which is headed to a fearful place because our leaders cannot seem to be able to say "oh SHIT, we're are so fucked up now, and it will hurt to make it right and my GOD, who made all these people feel so entitled to everything so blindly?", in this anger I say "All right. Okay. Maybe we can't change every failing school kick out every racist leader, fix the INS and stabilized wages all at once-- but we can change US and our attitudes and expectations." We can grow and learn, from the Chicanitas, from the workers, from the brothers, from our history and from a sense that we are responsible for assuring our own and our future's survival and thriving.

Let's change. Then let's REALLY change the status quo.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

How to spot a conservative...:)

With huge thanks and tip of the virtual hat to Panhandle Truth Squad, Texas

How to spot a Conservative

Thursday, February 21, 2008
Quick visual identification of a Conservative...

Thanks for posting details about the upcoming Drinking Liberally meeting Spacedark. I'm looking forward to an evening of no stress relaxation out of the lion's den. I don't know about you guys but I enjoy spending time with a bunch of long haired unwashed hippie types. The very thought of communal discourse with like minded individuals got me to thinking about something though. Maybe Democrats are easy to identify. Our slouching, comfortably clothed bookishness does seem to stand out in a world full of belly overhanging splay kneed spitters. Just to let the Ivory Dome crowd in on a little secret though. They're pretty easy to identify at a glance as well.

American Conservatives are chronically unhappy about immigration, the notion that radical Islam represents the whole and not a miniscule fraction of the Muslim faith, the perception that taxes are just eating them alive, the fact that Al Gore scooped them on Global Warming, the general need to do violence to some other nation, sect, or race they dislike, etc... You name it, they hate it. This anger at everything other than upper class white America, combined with pent up sexual energy because they feel guilty whenever they even think about sex, translates into a scowling facial distortion some call Asterisk (first made famous by Kurt Vonnegut) Stress Syndrome or ASS. So the first ID mark of a Neocom...look for the scowl.

Side note: Neocon ASS may not be used as a synonym for the Democratic Party Symbol, the proud American Donkey.

But on to the second quick visual trait of a Republican.

If a Neocon isn't displaying his ASS(holiness) he has only one other mode of self expression. This state I like to call Condescending Orotund Noxiousness or CON. Notice the three letters match the first three letters in the word conservative. This state is marked by a pursed lip preachiness if they're talking, but can also manifest itself in the raised eyebrow, down the nose sighting facial distortion sometimes called the Church Lady stare.

ASS and CON, when filtered through public discourse, result in humorless myopic style of rhetoric used by all Republicans and embodied by their probable presidential candidate, John McCain.

BTW ASSCONS like to believe they are actually humble souls who have suffered greatly in service of the land they love. This false meekness might occasional manifest itself, generally on Sunday mornings only, in an grim humorless Hangdog Expression (HE)

So to sum up...

If HE looks like an ASS he must be a CON.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Why you should never tell people your fears or favorites

--because they either will use them against you or decide that you really CAN argue taste.

What am I learning about the [historical] education of Americans? That, if at all possible, it is far worse than when I went to school. That little is being taught that might really matter in the future or in the here and now. That I should not VALUE education as much as I do sometimes... because it feels like Arizona just likes to bust balloons of optimism and it's painful to see your ideals go pop. It happened in Chicagoland too, but not to the extent it seems to here.

I have spent a good deal of time trying to explain why no one except the Mexicana/os and the bigots in the US know there was/is any "race" problem with a raza face. Why did I decide to teach college only to have to "explain" the very basic information of Chicana/o history and American history? I mean, as in "What do you mean, Mexicans were lynched?!"

And oh hell, let's forget about simple things like teaching Jane Austen or Twain or poe or something... *grumble*

I don't want your guilt. I want your present-day action and an honest assessment of who we are as a people in the US, or if not then the PEOPLES of the US. Smart and not so smart. And please don't ask me to explain Mexico and Mexicans to the non-Mexicans, and don't take my inability to be omniscient as proof positive that you were right in your nativist or ignorant assumptions.

No, this isn't aimed at any person in particular. But the more time I spend in this state (bless your heart, Tucson and Flag!), the more I realize I'm almost tapped out of activist energy. I hope they invent a pill soon so I can take it, but damn, what the fight takes out of you sometimes. But, as one of my students in Chicago once said, "I don't get it. What fight?"

Friday, February 01, 2008

The "Immigrant Ranger"- protest and activist songs

An interesting development in immigration debates... Check it out. Sorry if this has already been posted.

Immigrant Songs Offer New Twist on Old Sounds
By Taki Telonidis

Weekend Edition Sunday, September 16, 2007 - The phrase "protest song" often brings to mind a collage of faces from the past: Maybe it's Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and the civil-rights music of the 1960s, or perhaps Woody Guthrie and his songs from the Dust Bowl days. These balladeers defined their times, and their music was a reflection of the politics, economics and social upheavals of the day.

The debate over immigration rages everywhere, from the halls of Congress to Main Street to the lettuce fields in California. Naturally, it has spawned a new generation of folk songs that speak directly to those with the most at stake in the debate: immigrants themselves. And listeners needn't speak Spanish to get the message.

"Esta Tierra Es Tuya" is the title track from a new album by Sones de Mexico. Band member Juan Dies says that "This Land Is Your Land" kept playing over and over in his head during the demonstrations for immigrant rights of the past few years, so he did some research.

"Woody Guthrie wrote this song in 1940, at a time when migrant workers from the Great Plains were being displaced by drought and the Dust Bowl," Dies says. "They were traveling and looking for opportunities, for a chance to work and feed their families."

Many Mexican migrant workers of today can relate, so Dies decided to translate Guthrie's classic into Spanish, while adding a few lyrics of his own: "In the world there are people who are poor / In the world there are people who are rich / And then there are the others, the travelers / who are seeking an opportunity."

"A song sometimes helps you address something that possibly has no solution," Dies says. "Maybe someone has died, or there's a situation that has no escape. And a song becomes a way to possibly feel that you're not so alone, that other people feel like you do."

An Immigrant's Ballad

Dies has felt this power of music during his travels through the American West this summer. He has been wearing his other professional hat, that of a folklorist, surveying grassroots Mexican musicians in Idaho and Oregon for the Western Folklife Center. In the process, he found that immigration serves as a recurring theme in their ballads.

A corrido is a tragic ballad. Gerardo Sagrero and his band have written a new song called "Corrido de Mi Padre," and it's dedicated to Sagrero's father, who died 20 years ago, while he and his brother were trying to cross the border into the U.S.

"They crossed by the Rio Grande in Texas, and when my father was crossing, he was stepping on some stones and carrying two bags in his hands," Sagrero says. "He slipped, and he fell into the current and was swept away.

"When I was about 16 years old, I liked corridos very much, and I was listening to other stories about people who had problems, who'd died. And that's when I felt I wanted to write a song for my father. What this corrido does for me is it brings back his memory. It makes us remember him."

The new corridos are being embraced by — and in some cases, written by — a new generation of immigrants. Fourteen students and their families at Woodburn High School in Oregon take Dies' corrido-writing workshop. Students can compose songs about anything they want, and immigration emerges as a common theme.

True Tales of Sorrow

Corridos must be true, and they follow a specific structure that includes a headline, the introduction of characters and a moral. Student Tony Ramos wrote his corrido about his uncle, who died crossing the border.

Ramos was a toddler when his parents crossed the border. Now, he wants to become a teacher, so he can educate the next generations who come to America. Ramos pays close attention to the debate over illegal immigration.

"I would get angry at some of the things politicians say: 'Build a wall and keep them out.' But at the same time, I grew up here, and this country has given us a lot," Ramos says. "And it makes it hard to choose what side to be on."

Immigrant farmworkers themselves have written ballads that address the issue. Jose Garcia of Payette, Idaho, wrote one called "Embajadores," which expresses the hope that President Bush will take action to legalize undocumented workers.

Other immigrant farm workers are not as optimistic. Benigno Pedraza sings, "The doors of opportunity are closing in America, so I'm going back to Mexico."

Still others write songs to accompany their political activism. The Immigrant Ranger, as he calls himself, clenches his fist and closes his eyes as he begins a song. He wears a cowboy hat with more than 100 signatures from the people he met four years ago during the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride to Washington.

The Immigrant Ranger has written songs about stowaway Mexicans who suffocate to death in boxcars, and about the hardships of day laborers who freeze on street corners while they wait for work.

Guthrie once said, "If the fight gets hot, the songs get hotter. If the going gets tough, the songs get tougher." Immigrant Ranger vows to keep singing until things change, and he's working with students to translate his songs into English. He wants all Americans to hear his stories.

"I think that if Woody Guthrie were alive today and he heard what we were doing, he'd be very happy," Dies says.

Listen to Latinos Unidos HERE