Wednesday, March 14, 2012

On the Road for Banned Books: We Meet Rising Political Stars

Arizona has to be among the noisiest states on earth. All that ruido about ethnic studies means no one can hear freedom’s ring. My Sun City motel’s location comes with a set of its own ambient audio.

Warplanes playing war games in early a.m. “Whoooshhhh!” And a few seconds later, the pursuer, “vrrrrrrrummmm.” Wakened by those angry sounds thrusts my memory back to the day the North Korean MiGs buzzed the mountain I lived on. So much for “if it flies, it dies.” Then, a half hour later, USAF F-4 Phantoms buzz us, the first one coming so hard and low it knocks me to the ground. The Phantoms re-establish hegemony over the skies of MiG Alley. Me, I break my eyeglasses falling on my face and in my half-sleep I reach for my face and can’t find my glasses.

I wake a bit more to snuggle into sheets with that weird motel laundry smell. Then “blooooooot! Honnnngggg!” a locomotive whistles its approach then thunders along the tracks bordering the motel. That starts me humming the Gogi Grant oldie “The Wayward Wind,” whose lyric about a lonely shack by the railroad track and the sound of the outward bound making him a slave to his wandering ways now is stuck in my ears.

Wandering, no. Jesus Treviño and I proceed with a plan. Sadly, we traverse the only streets in the world without a Starbucks. Jesus doesn’t get his café con leche and I don’t get my double espresso. But we're in a great mood as the day is beautiful and our road blossoms with fabulous color, the geography interesting all the way to the horizon as we advance at deliberate speed.

But we do have our ways, and our way takes us into Tucson for lunch with Sal Baldenegro, Jr. and Wenona Benally Baldenegro.
Michael Sedano, Sal Baldenegro Jr., Wenona Benally Baldenegro, Jesus Treviño
 Sal Baldenegro, Jr. is standing for a seat in the Arizona legislature that cursed the U.S. with SB1070, banned ethnic studies, and begrudged observances of Martin Luther King Day. “The only way to change it is if we change it ourselves,” Sal says confidently. Win, Sal, and change it all.

Wenona is running for Congress. When she wins, Wenona Benally Baldenegro will be the United States of America’s first, and only, indigenous woman ever elected to the US Congress.

Sal points out that he needs to raise $1000 from 200 voters in his district to qualify for $35,000 in state matching funds. That Arizona can come up with such a creative way to keep corruption out of elections, and yet elect such pendejos as Russell Pearce (whom Sal helped recall), marks one of those contradictions that spells hope for Arizona.

Wenona Benally Baldenegro spells hope for Arizona, for the nation. I think of the eons that Indian people have been in North America. In all that time, for sure not in the most recent 236 years, not one U.S. Indian woman has ever held a seat in the US Congress. Come the primary, Wenona will get at least one vote more than the other side. I’m sure Wenona will earn several thousand more votes than the Republican in the general election.

Unless you live in Sal’s District you can’t help him collect State funds, but your money will support the effort nonetheless. Like Sal's Facebook page for added info.

Everyone can help spell hope for Wenona Benally Baldenegro’s campaign. Sign up at her website to learn how. . You also can Like Wenona's Facebook campaign page.

Today, Wednesday, we’re journeying to Silver City to interview Felipe de Ortego, then to El Paso where we jump on the Librotraficante Caravan bus.

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