Sunday, October 31, 2010

Something Else To Consider...

Hi all,

I know that I wrote yesterday, but I thought I'd add this to the blog instead of sending out another email to the panlist.

I am bringing this article to your attention, because it points out something I find very interesting: the latino vote. In this case, they are looking at Arizona's famous SB 1070, and we see that while 70% of Latinos are said to oppose the laws... there is still that tricky 30%. And we may wonder to ourselves (or at least, I certainly do) why on earth they could want to oppose it... but the article discusses a husband and wife who don't agree on the topic and each of their sides on the matter.

If you consider the reactions of different floods of immigrants over time, you see something very interesting too. Coming from Boston, I'll use my own city as a prime example. Everyone in Boston knows that for a long long time the Irish migrants (many of whom are still very proud residents of South Boston and call themselves "Southies") and the Italian immigrants (they have spread out more, but they still hold a strong presence in the North End) did not get along at all. This is curious, right? They both came over to the US looking for jobs and faced discrimination from the communities already living in Boston... yet instead of joining together to help, they preferred to be very separate and even discriminatory against each other.

Well, let's look at a time line:
The bulk of the Irish in Boston came over between 1830-50, making up about 1/2 of the total migrants coming to the United States in the 1840s. They came looking to escape the famine, looking for work (and were often denied jobs in the mills of Lowell and other areas in the industries of Massachusetts), lived under squalid conditions... etc.

The Italian population increased significantly after the turn of the century, when they too came looking for jobs and found similar conditions.

What does this space in time mean? What changed to make the Irish and other immigrant groups interested in keeping others out, even when they came from similar backgrounds of suffering?

I dont have the perfect answer, but I have a theory.
When you go through the process of becoming an American and accepting some new customs while leaving some of the old behind, you feel more loyalty to this country than you do to other countries, and maybe even to your own. You find yourself in a community who you relate to, and for you, this is what it means to be American. It doesn't matter that my concept of "American" is extremely different from any of my friends from Los Angeles or Missouri.

So, assuming that the Irishmen in South Boston found themselves integrated into the system, found jobs and suitable lifestyles... they become part of the "us" and the foreigners become part of the "them." Then there was also the threat of more competition for jobs, housing, schools etc. to add another problem into the mix... It is also interesting to see where different immigrant groups voted for more restrictive immigration measures after the periods when their fellow countrymen has stopped coming in such high numbers to the U.S.

Admittedly this is not a perfect comparison: we are now talking about Latinos reacting to other groups of Latinos entering the country. But could the process of assimilation really cause people to support a law that would cause them to be questioned for their racial background whenever they seemed just a little bit too "Mexican?" This then becomes a question of National Identity, and whether or not the US can claim that it has just one national identity... and how do we interpret who is outside of that concept to the point that we as individuals can question their citizenship or loyalty to this country?

The husband says that he defends a system of law and order, which is respectable, but what do you do when laws like the one in Florida that gives migrants from Canada and Europe protection under the law that is denied to people from other countries?

Just some food for thought. This isnt a perfect article, it was just my musings after reading the article. Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Mexiweekend

Hey all!

So I know that a lot of people have been celebrating halloween since Wednesday here at Yale (and it looks like it has been fun!) but somehow my halloweekend turned into a mexiweekend! I have probably done more traditional stuff in the past few days than I did all of last year... and I love it!!

I'll begin with Friday afternoon. Natalia and I took the bus into Fair Haven for our first trip to C-town. And fell in love. We walked right into the produce section and both died from happiness. Chile Verde! Mangos! Chile de Arbol! Nopales! Chile Poblano! Guayabanas! Pan dulce! So many things! We purchased a lovely mix of thi
ngs for our project today (which I will share with you) as well as some feel good things. (Chocolate Abuelita! Tomatillos (for salsa verde that I made for my party this evening), jugo de maracuya...) It was like being back in a Mexican grocery store in el DF! (except cleaner)

We came back from our expedition, laden with goods and agreed on a time to make dinner this evening. Next I went home, and instead of writing my paper on national identities in Tibet, I painted my face. I was going to be a Kandinsky painting, but found myself inspired earlier this week. The product is below:

I went as a calavera! Just like I used to dress up when I was little! But this time, a little scarier. It was really fun! A lot of people were very startled when they first looked at my face, but a lot of people were then interested by it and asked me what all this was about. (Another moment when I loved Yale! So many people were curious and then very interested in the story of Dia de los Muertos!)

I went out and found 2 other people dressed like people from Dia de los Muertos! Including MEChA's very own Jazzmin!! I have a picture of this somewhere that I can put up later.

Anyway, this afternoon I met up with Jazzmin and Natalia and Karen to make Mole Poblano! We labored in the Davenport kitchen, chopping vegetables, cooking chicken and creating delicious smells that caused people in the davenport underground to ask what we were creating. I also made some salsa verde to go with our delicious locally made tortillas (next time we'll make them ourselves?!) and we shared stories with each other about our summers and times at home cooking these recipes with our families.

If you have a chance, go and ask Natalia about her time in Bolivia this past summer helping collectives of women who had been abused and were trying to help others organize to improve their quality of life. She has done some truly fantastic work, and she is an inspiration to work (and cook!) with. We can thank her too for giving me an idea on what to write on this week!

I have to say that this has been one of my best weekends at Yale. It represents everything I hoped I'd find, but wasnt sure that I ever would. In the United States I grew up in a very white area. You had to search far for things like Chiles and Tomatillos. When you found them, they were purchased in bulk to sustain our addiction to salsas, enchiladas, chilaquiles and other magical things. So instead of cooking but myself, I cooked with MEChistas!!! And yeah, we need to do this as a bonding thing again! Next time we're planning to make Tinga! So let us know if you want to join in on the fun!!

So tonight, I have braided hair, braided flowers into it, found images of patterns to draw on my face this evening, and I am sitting in my common room after introducing my suite mates to Salsa verde and mole. They all seemed to like it! Here's to globalism at its best!! and here's to halloweekend/mexiweekend! Enjoy!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Being Super.

Queridos Mechistas,

You've probably heard about the six recent instances of suicide amongst kids who were queer (or were perceived to be queer). In spite of the tragic nature of these suicides, the reaction from public figures and everyday people alike has astounded me. I am forever grateful to these people who instill hope in me. They are my religion.

Here's sex columnist Dan Savage's "It Gets Better Project" (the premise is to get queer people to make videos telling the teenage versions of themselves that it gets better, in spite all the bullying):

Here are some Broadway stars who sang a song about it:

Here's a councilman from Florida urging that political action be taken:

Lastly, here is me telling you that I am writing a screenplay based on the true story of one of the youth who committed suicide. His name was Tyler Clementi. He was a Rutgers freshman who loved music. One day his roommate broadcasted over the Internet Tyler's intimate sexual encounter with another guy. Tyler left a facebook status that read: "Jumping off the gw bridge, sorry."

In my screenplay, Tyler (whom I renamed Zach) turns into a superhero when he tries to kill himself. His enemies are homophobic cyberbullies, his roommate, and most importantly, himself.

So here are some questions (I love lists). Feel free to answer as many or as few as you'd like.
1) What super powers would you endow Zach with?
2) How would you have him confront himself?
3) What/who REALLY killed Tyler Clementi?
4) What super powers would you have if you were a gay superhero?
5) What would you tell your 13 year old self? (You don't have to be queer to answer this question....I'm thinking a lot of us went through rough times when we were I'm really asking you to do an "It Gets Better" video yourself)
6) Who gives you hope?
7) How does this affect us as Mechistas?

Okay, and as a PS....
here's a video of me in high school when I joined a media youth group called SUPAFRIENDS. guessed it, a group for queer youth who invented a superhero identity. My name was flower.CH!Ld and my weapons were flowers/vines that are used like lassos, and daily roses for your average homophobe. My weakness was returning books to the library on time.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Discussion at Indigenous People's Day

As most of us at MEChA know, this past Monday was Indigenous People's day. In writing this post, I knew I wanted to discuss something about the holiday, but as those of us who attended the lively dinner held by our Native American brothers and sister know, it's difficult to choose between the many issues that surround the topic. However, there was a moment that strikes me as particularly interesting, and it occurred before we even started the discussion.
Not unlike many gatherings at Yale, we began by going around the room and introducing ourselves. The procedure, though necessary, was formulaic as always: name, year, college, and subject of study. But probably because of the nature of the event, everyone found it essential to include what kind of not white minority they were. I have personally never seen such personal, political boldness of this kind at Yale. In a way, we were stating quite clearly that any purely white individual would be either quite unwelcome at the event, or at the very least quite uncomfortable. With our statements of minority identity, we shut the room to all majority members who by simple fact of blood would not understand the nature of Indigenous People's day. (Perhaps this is what gave some of us the courage to speak from especially radical, even anarchist, political stances.)
I don't have any analysis of the ethical implications of this act, namely answering whether or not it was right to exclude in the way that we did, but I'd like to hear what you all think of the matter. Don't white people have the right to advocate too? Or is any kind of aid white people provide a form of "neoliberal" (a term thrown around at the table quite a lot) neocolonialism that only reasserts their superiority? If so, what can they do to address the problems? Perhaps address them within their own infrastructures, within the larger, more deeply ingrained systems that created, or at least exacerbated, these situations of inequality in the first place.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I wrote this for a project that someone else is doing, but here is the unedited version (I need to cut it down, but you'll probably run into this again some place else soon)... It's in the general theme of my interests. Well, I'll let you read it and you can see what you think.


This summer I worked in Huixcazdha, Hidalgo, Mexico. It is a village that grew out of a hacienda, and most of the villagers descended from the seven families. I came to teach English and do some development work in a community of 480 people, where most of them work all day long in the fields using farming methods that Americans used during the colonial period. Nearly all of the men from this village had gone to work in the United States for a few years before they returned home with their earnings and built houses for the families they left behind.

I wanted to do something to help, but to be honest, they did more to help me than I could have ever done for them. They are very poor. They have only had electricity for the past 5 years, and clean water is an option once every three days. The families depended on the work of husbands, sons and brothers to feed them each year, but they were happy. They all invited me and the other teachers into their homes and cooked for us. They loaded us with fruit from their gardens when we walked down the cobble stone street by their houses. They offered us places to sit, promises of future meals we could share with them in their houses, and friendship in its purest form. They sent their children to paint murals with me in the public spaces in the village, and soon adults started joining us too, curious to see what we were creating. They came, everyday, to spend 2 hours with us in the dark cement buildings, learning lists of vocabulary that we thought would be useful to them, and repeating the word “thirteen” over and over again.

One day my partner asked them, what do you want to be when you grow up? The kids, all middle school age in this class, stared back at us with blank expressions. The silence was awkward to say the least. Stop. I told her. Stop, I don’t want to hear this answer. But she didn’t. She called on one of the girls, our best student in fact, and she said she didn’t know. A teacher! Of course, Jacqueline will be a teacher! In the tiny school house with the only real teachers in the village. And you? My partner asked one of the boys. Well, what do you think? He replied. Of course I want to be a narco-trafficker. It’s the only way I can make money in this world. And fast too. What could I ever give them to take away this feeling of being trapped and only having this as an option out of their pre-determined paths? I left with a sickening, sinking feeling that day.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What it means to be a child of an illegal alien

Daughter of Jesus Caballero and Macrina Colunga-Caballero, I am the product of undocumented migration; the child of an underground network of imaginaries, of dreams, hopes and aspirations, of desires, needs and necessities. As this child, I am the target of a concrete institution that classifies me as a terrorist, an enemy, an anti-American. Through laws, walls, fences, rivers, watchdogs, I am deconstructed fabric-by-fabric and resembled, manipulated and categorized as a political object; as a worthless bare body. While I try to break from the laws that execrate my existence, I delve deeper into the margin of society. It is in this margin where I find guidance and "ganas." In this margin lie my people, immigrants forced to toil in fields, mothers branded as the best home-cleaning machine, children labeled as societies future criminals. Immigration policy digs deep into my constructed margin. It pierces my semi-bronze skin, and bores into my core, into our core. It cuts, burns, and drills itself into our soul. And though at times, living here proves to be more than just an endeavor, much more than just a painful struggle, the margin is my home. Home. It is where home-cooked tortillas and tamales mingle with Anzaldua, Fuentes, and Subcomandante Marcos. Here is where Octavio Paz's cosmopolitan race, lives, thrives, and flourishes. Yo soy la frontera. I am the skin that burns in the Arizona desert, the tears that pour from frightened eyes that search for hope in a long sewage tunnel, the mouth that gasps for air in car trunk. I am the face of the border, I am the margin.

En Unidad