Saturday, February 23, 2013

Why la política in latino fiction and poetry

by RudyG

March on The White House
Photos are of nationwide protests against Keystone XL Pipeline, of which my wife and I attended the Denver march and rally last week. More here.

One question raza writers and poets gets asked, usually by blancos, is why we "put" the politics of the Mexican-American War and other information about repression and rebellion into our fiction, like the latinoamericanos so often do. The easy answer is that culturally and politically we share in the history of U.S. corporate and governmental domination and exploitation.

This answer has always bothered me--not that some raza writers and essayists have not covered it well, but because it seemed to not go the final step, at least in my head. For some reason, this week jelled it better for me.

D.C. rally, 50,000
Below you'll read news and events from Califas, Nuevo Mexico, Tejas, AridZona and Latin America. The content obviously touches, if not more deeply examines, the historical exploitation of mexicano labor, Obama's so-called immigration reform, internationally illegal American torture camps, the ecologically devastating XL Pipeline, and the outlawing in Aridzona of Mexican American studies. How these things negatively affect latinos should be obvious; if not, you can click links to read more.

S.F. rally
What dawned on me was that the reasons for such news and events happen every week, if not day, in the latino communities. It's life for our gente. But do they not also happen every day for Anglos? Yes, but many don't see them as relevant to attend, support or learn about.

Which led me to a new conclusion: it's not that latinos "put" more politics about repression, exploitation and protest into their stories and poems. It's that most/many Anglo artists are behind us, historically, on the curve of learning about their own dire situation, and how and why they should in fact having been injecting la politica into their own fiction.

The result is that our fiction, because it includes the political, tends to be more realistic, and theirs (as a rule), because it excludes a big chunk of reality, leans toward idealism and romanticism in its portrayal of American life.

So, the next time you a latino get asked this question at a reading or conference, you might ask the questioner why his favorite gringo fiction writer doesn't include global warming, ripping the ecological guts out of America's Heartland with the XL Pipeline, exploitation of farmworkers by gringo agribusiness, school board repression of Mexican American Studies, the American gov't's illegal torture camps, for instance. I'm interested in hearing others' thoughts on this.

If you missed it, check Ramos's post yesterday about the film version of Rudy Anaya's novel, Bless Me, Última, that opened this week in theaters. He's got links to find venues an times.

I'm taking my young godson with me, making him put down the video remote and shut off his cell, so that he too leaves more knowledgeable about his gente. Take a kid of your choosing with you when you go, por favor. 

Es todo, hoy.

Farmworkers & Immigration Reform: The Forgotten Ones

The numerous discussions on immigration reform presently taking place between Obama and the Congress that would grant legal status to those living within the shadows of society include some form of legal residency with a possible path to citizenship. This proposed legal residency could take the form of either a visa or green card. The discussions pertain to the eleven million undocumented persons within the country, but the fate of the two million farmworkers is viewed differently by Republicans and some conservative Democrats. Read the entire Latino POV post of February 19, 2013 by Jimmy Franco Sr.

Update: Arizona - The Battle Over Ethnic Studies

PBS's Ray Suarez of Need to Know traveled to Tucson, Arizona, to report on a long-running dispute over a Mexican-American studies program. Mexican-Americans have the second highest push-out / drop-out rate in the nation. That accompanied with the fact that they are the fastest growing demographic in this country with the lowest educational attainment is a crisis not just for the Latino community but for all communities.

Mexican American studies in Tuscon’s public school district, a program created to reach out to ‘at risk’ Latino students was an idea to improve academic performance by teaching literature and history they could personally identify with. Students who never had an interest in school started coming to class.

A University of Arizona study found that in 2010 students in the program were 64% more likely to pass standardized tests than students of a similar ethnic background not in the program. Ethnic studies programs like this have now been outlawed by the state of Arizona, forcing classes to be conducted in a youth center and not a high school. Read the entire report or watch the video here.

The Latin American Exception -
How a Washington Global Torture Gulag Was Turned Into the Only Gulag-Free Zone on Earth by Greg Grandin - excerpts

Gitmo detention camp
Of 190-odd countries on this planet, a staggering 54 participated in various ways in the American torture system, hosting CIA “black site” prisons, allowing their airspace and airports to be used for secret flights, providing intelligence, kidnapping foreign nationals or their own citizens and handing them over to U.S. agents to be “rendered” to third-party countries. The hallmark of this network has been torture.

What’s most striking is that no part of its wine-dark horror touches Latin America; that is, not one country in what used to be called Washington’s “backyard” participated in rendition or Washington-directed or supported torture and abuse of “terror suspects.”  Not even Colombia, which throughout the last two decades was as close to a U.S.-client state as existed in the area. It’s true that a fleck of red should show up on Cuba, but that would only underscore the point of Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, held by the U.S. "in perpetuity."

How did Latin America come to be territorio libre in this new dystopian world of black sites and midnight flights, the Zion of this militarist matrix? After all, it was in Latin America that an earlier generation of U.S. and U.S.-backed counterinsurgents put into place a prototype of Washington’s twenty-first century Global War on Terror. Read the full story here.

Jan. 1948 disaster news
The Deportee Song memorial

From Tim Z. Hernandez comes this:
I’m currently working on a book surrounding the “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos” incident, in which 32 people died, 28 who were “Mexican nationals” and were being deported. This is the incident on January 28, 1948, that Woody Guthrie wrote his famous song The Deportee Song about, and was later recorded by Dolly Parton, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and many others. For details about my book project and the incident, check out the website.

In short, the 28 “deportees” were buried in a mass grave at Fresno’s Holy Cross Cemetery, and during these last 65 years their names have never been on that headstone. It simply reads “28 Mexican Nationals Who Died in a Plane Crash Buried Here.” A big part of my research has been to confirm the names of all 28 people, and with the help of Holy Cross Cemetery we have accomplished this.

We are now going one step further and working to erect a new memorial headstone listing all of their names. The memorial will be a public event at a later date. Right now we are working hard to raise $10,000. This is the total cost of the memorial. Again, if you click on the aforementioned link you will get the details on how to contribute. Also, I want to announce a new opportunity to contribute as well.

Fresno based musician, Lance Canales and I have recorded a new version of the famous song, which includes me reading the names of the passengers. You can now purchase a copy of this song, and all proceeds will go directly to the memorial. Simply click on this link,

Also, we’ll be organizing a concert fundraiser in Fresno, so please keep an eye out for that, too. If you have any questions at all you can contact me.
Thank you all, sincerely…
Tim Z. Hernandez       web:

From Idle No More to Eagle Ford and Beyond: ...

Esperanza Peace & Justice Center
922 San Pedro Ave, San Antonio, Texas
Saturday, March 2, 2013, 10:00am–3:00pm CST

Idle No More is an indigenous rights movement that began in December 2012 in Canada, in response to the passage of Bill C-45. Most famously, Attiwapiskat Chief Theresa Spence undertook a 44-day hunger strike to protest the bill, which weakens treaty rights for First Nations peoples and national environmental protections, giving industry greater access to Native lands and to Canadian waterways. From its beginning in the actions of four Indigenous women, Idle No More has refused to be a single issue movement, with many observers comparing it to the Arab Spring and calling it an “Occupy movement with roots.”

Since it began, numerous solidarity actions have taken place across the world, including here in San Antonio on January 11th and 28th. These actions were organized by a group of residents from San Antonio, Tejaztlan who support the vision of Idle No More—recognizing that indigenous rights are human rights, and that the struggle to preserve indigenous sovereignty and knowledge is crucial to the struggle to protect the planet for its own sake and for all of our children.

In solidarity with First Nations peoples of Canada, our next step is to make urgent connections between the concerns of Idle No More and local environmental justice issues. Please join us for a teach-in March 2nd on INM, the Keystone XL Pipeline, and fracking.

Facilitators include:
Diane Wilson, a 4th-generation shrimper and longtime environmental justice activist who recently completed a 45-day hunger strike protesting Valero’s involvement with the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Krystan Bruce, a seventh generation South Texan from San Antonio who recently returned to her home state to join the fight against the oil and gas industry. In the past, she organized with Black Mesa Indigenous Support to help residents resist Peabody Coal's theft of their land, livestock and water.
Antonio Diaz, a Native rights activist from San Antonio and former Green Party congressional candidate.
For more info, go here.

The Handsome Pepper art show in San Anto
Saturday, March 2, 2013

6:00pm until 9:00pm CST

Born in Mexico D.F., Carlos G. Gómez found his first artistic expression in the “Tex – Mex” culture of the Rio Grande Valley in Brownsville where he was raised. “Brightly colored buildings and the surreal atmosphere of the Mexican border towns gave me the first appreciation of color, line, and the generalization that my chosen images would have to be bold and realistic," explains Gómez. He obtained his B.F.A. at Pan American University and attended Washington State University for his M.F.A. in painting and drawing. He is currently exploring multi-technique painting and drawing. 
A prolific artist with an extensive resume, Gómez is an active curator and currently is the Interim Chair and Professor of Visual Arts at the University of Texas at Brownsville. Gómez was included in Arizona State University Hispanic Research Center publications; Contemporary Chicana and Chicano Art Work: Artist, Works, and Education and Chicano Art for Our Millenium, among others. 

The Handsome Pepper is a celebration of the beauty that for thousands of years dominated the new world. The peppers like the original people of the Americas vary in nature. This body of work looks at the strength and determination of a people metaphorically and places them in typical situations common to all human beings. The pepper icon was chosen due to its impact globally when Columbus introduced it to the rest of the world. The intensity of its flavor and depth of varieties mimic the plethora of new world people. The Handsome Pepper was an idea that came about when a art connoisseur viewed it as an inferior symbol not worthy of hanging.
Gallista Gallery1913 S Flores St., San Antonio, TX.
(210) 861-3646
San Antonio, Texas

Denver's KUVO 89.3fm's Raza Rocks! anniversary

MeCha Reunion by Mecha de WNMU

Let's Get Ready to Create New Great Memories!
April 5-7, 2013 at WNMU
Friday: Tentative: Meet Greet at MeCha Building (T-Shirts)to be handed out!
Saturday: BBQ 11-2pm Location TBA
Saturday: Evening: Appetizers Location to TBA
Sunday Brunch: @WNMU
Please message back if you will be coming for the Great Event I will need you Names and addresses to send out proper invites by March 5th!
This event is brought to you by New and Old MeChistas and WNMU Alumni! This event will be $35.00 per person and the money will go towards the weekend and any money left over going towards the Club. If you would like information about the Event please feel to email me at or call me at 520-227-9507.

Please let me know by the end of the Feb, 23rd, 2013!
Angelica Rojas, WNMU, Silver City, New Mexico

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