Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Talk Radio Racists. Mexicanidad in El Lay Music. A Painting, a Poet. On-Line Floricanto.

Taking the Measure of Talk Radio Racists

Michael Sedano

Editorialist Andrés Martinez, from the useful website Zocalo Public Square, warns that the nation is in for a heavy price if all Hell breaks loose in Mexico.

We’ve been a crummy, ill-informed, contemptuous neighbor who coulda done more to help. All the while, Mexico’s neighborliness allowed the US an unfortified southern border and half of old Mexico’s land. It’s an involving analysis that merits a reading.

But Martinez’ analysis of U.S. ignorance comes out of an elite, reasoned side of the intercultural wall separating chicanas chicanos latinas latinos from their compatriots. Another, ugly side, is officially sanctioned hate speech on a handful of insidious talk radio programs.

Everyone knows racist companies buy ads on racist programs. That hypothesis would have little opposition if public opinion, advertising revenue, and audience share were proof. And, because Equal Time over the airwaves is a quaint notion, proving a broadcaster guilty of hate speech would leave the FCC a single recourse: pull the license.

But public opinion is not evidence. And there’s the rub. Despite mounting public revulsion led by the National Hispanic Media Coalition, public opinion lacks authority to influence hate provocateurs to tone it down or shut up. Consequently, the Dobbses and John&Kens keep on selling Cadillacs and groceries.

Not quite. Per newstories linked at NHMC’s site, Cadillac/GM cancelled its ads, regretting ever having supported the John & Ken Show crusade. Grocery chains Ralphs and Vons also stopped advertising, along with a handful of other marketers.

Unfortunately, the NHMC does not provide a comprehensive list of reformed advertisers, together with contact datos. Such companies merit letters or emails of appreciation and support from a sizeable mass. A single letter bringing good news to a customer relations executive is among the rare times an individual opinion gets widespread attention in a company. The dramatic impact of a hundred or a thousand letters could stimulate a bandwagon among advertisers for a taste of that ambrosia. I worked 20 years+ as manager for customer relations in a major corporation, and those letters sure worked wonders.

Hurt feelings nor hugs are ever enough to effect change. Where’s the proof?

The Chicano Studies Research Center at UCLA, in conjunction with the NHMC, has released a working paper advancing a methodology to quantify hate speech on talk radio and other broadcasts. The two think tanks believe they have a useful way to collect, organize, and count evidence that can shut down broadcasting's advocates of ethnic cleansing.

Causality between speech and action cannot be defined by this, nor any study. Still, as Thoreau observed about trouts in milk, some circumstantial evidence compels conviction.

Click here to download a PDF of the full report.

Readers will find fascinating the methodology’s reliance upon metaphor, such as metaphors that dehumanize members of a vulnerable group. The CSRC Working Paper quotes Otto Santa Ana’s conclusion that “These metaphors are not merely rhetorical flourishes, but are the key components with which the public’s concept of Latinos is edified, reinforced, and articulated”.

Metaphors work to teach the unknown in terms of the known, Santa Anna explains. For a public with little to no observational knowledge of chicana chicano peoplehood, hate speech has the capacity to inform the tabula rasa of audiences, from the innocent to the gullibly prejudiced, as well as reinforce the true believer racist.

Hate speech quantifies along twin parallels. Targeted statements of vulnerable groups / their supporters, and lies. In either instance, the motive behind such language is to have listeners engage in some form of activity detrimental to the target or their supporters. Such responses would reflect the project's operational definitions of "hate speech": hate speech is speech that targets a vulnerable group and threatens or fosters the commission of hate crimes against that group, as defined by law.

In the survey period, the Dobbs show targeted raza 91% of the time. The Savage Nation and The John & Ken Show racked in 43% hate speech. The authors explain the surprisingly low share of raza-targeting hate from John&Ken: during the survey period the topic under attack was “south central” Los Angeles, a brown-black colonia.

Noriega and Santa Anna have not yet submitted the methodology into the peer review process for publication. CSRC releases the document now because it helps inform heated public debate about hate speech and some dangerously egregious tactics by John&Ken and their corporate masters, Clear Channel Communications, Inc.

Because being in the same room with John&Ken, Dobbs, Savage, made me feel dirty, plus owing to the Fall weather's perfection that day, I did a walkabout of the city with my telephoto zoom lens. Click here to see some cool architectural sculpture and a mini Occupy LA procession.

Following is a set of portraits of the proceedings at MALDEF Hq near the LA Theatre Center on Spring Street:

Chon Noriega (left) and Alex Nogales confer on last-minute details. Noriega is Director of UCLA's Chicano Studies Research Center. Nogales, who takes the first speech, is CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

Chon Noriega frames the study.

Otto Santa Anna makes complicated material complicated. His discussion of rhetorical identification and metaphor demands attention, but the reporter from La Opinión sitting next to me doesn't take a note.

Kelly Madison from LA State layers detail in the discussion of racism in media.

Francisco Javier Iribarren crunches numbers and reports on complexities inherent in deriving appropriate commonalities from discourse. Iribarren is Assistant Director of the CSRC.

Noticias 22 gets a head shot with Nogales while a sound man documents the talk.

At Autry: Musicologists Rock Oldies

“Music has charms” and all that sprang to mind Sunday afternoon in the atrium of the Autry Museum in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park. The occasion was the second in a three-lecture series on Los Angeles chicana chicano music, 1945 to 1965.

The final program arrives Sunday, December 11, 2011.

As the series general title promises, “Art Along the Hyphen: The Mexican-American Generation,” Sunday’s program celebrates music and dance for creating linkages between two cultures, despite the oxymoronic potency of that hyphen.

Antonio Gonzalez places an historian's perspective around the music.

During the expository segment, the panelists illustrate how Mexicanness enters awareness of a wider US public through both authenticity and artifice. One presenter relishes myth-breaking disclosures--news to some in the audience--that artists like Huggy Boy or Little Julian Herrera were not chicanos. 

With the audience universally bobbing heads and tapping their feet during snippets of fine oldies, Hope abounds that this awareness of Mexicanidad might influence racist tipas tipos to put aside Jaime Cuervo laws. Maybe Russell Pearce and his ilk John&Ken should be forced to learn some zapateados to alter their perception of Mexicritude.

Argelia Andrade, tarima (dancing surface), zapateado

The panel emphasizes lo Mexicano of the post-war generation’s music and recordings, placing a key emphasis on rock and punk variations of the traditional “La Bamba.”

Heavily Mexicentric today, the panelists promise their final session will wrap up matters spotlighting homegrown syncretism of the east los sound of the 60s. In all likeihood, they'll take a trip down Whitter Boulevard saying “na, na-na na / na, na-na-na na / na-na na / na-na na”. (Leave a Comment below if you can name that tune!)

Like the subject matter, hybridization carries the day in the form of this delightful academic panel refashioned for a relaxed sitting in a family museum. The speakers, doctorate-level musicologist performers, include Hermanos Herrera (whose father accompanied his sons on arpa), Argelia Andrade, Antonio Gonzalez, and Alexandro Hernandez.

The series is one of those small hopeful steps that can generate big waves, if an audience comes to get it. Music and dance, perhaps, might stand in counterstatement to hate speech in competiton for the public mind. Perhaps growing museum membership will afford the cash to archive productions like these for a wider audience. My wife and I joined today to reaffirm that sliver of hope.

Sunday’s perspectives took the Mexican-American hyphen as a correlative conjunction. In its most hopeful sense--and that is what these times of ours require today, no?--the program illustrates ways of injecting charming cultural fusion into a listening and dancing audience.

The historical perspective, provided by linguist and dancer Argelia E. Andrade, “The Historical Performance of Mexican Identity in Mexico and the United States (1950s),” traces commercial origins of popular music to Mexican government initiatives that collected regional music and dance to create an arts industry. Cultural origins--organic she terms them--of music and dance are what they are, property of the people in general, musicos in particular.

Argelia Andrade's zapateado follows the music of father and sons.

People travel, bringing with them their home traditions. Where they land, they pick up and adapt available musical resources. Mix this cultural menudo with money, and the public gets the El Monte Legion Stadium, Art Laboe, Ritchie Valens’ 9-month career, “La Bamba’s” popularity among a general listenership—the recording won the first Grammy for R&B.

Cultural fusion appears not only as a subject matter but in the structure of the event itself. The toned-down scholarly approach assumes folks know about Ricky Ricardo, Disney’s 1940 Three Caballeros, the nature of musical genres. One element that may not have been effective for this audience was bilingualism.

The lead Herrera brother apologizes in advance that an improvisation may contain sexist affront (and would be met by equal insult to numerous sacred cows). Indeed, he sings a Huapanguera in Spanish, in one comic verse calculating a woman’s worth as dos bueyes. No one laughs.

Alexandro Hernández playing a 5-string Jarana

Musicologist performers have abilities that breathe life into audiences and subject matters. When the scholars segued to performers they brought the subject matter into keen focus and a satisfying conclusion. People left excited.

I heard several people extol the content, others take issue. “That’s not what I heard,” one member declared, "Little Julian was Armenian and was adopted by Mexicans."A vinyl collector I know expressed disappointment several rare--perhaps "lost"--artists in his own collection were not listed. Others, like me, smiled in recognition, I grew up with this.

Argelia Andrade and husband dance the finale. Alexandro Hernandez joins Hmnos Herrera and dad.

A notable guest was Frank Zappa’s sister. Zappa composed "Memories of El Monte." She reminisced about her brother’s musical career. In addition, numerous gente participated in the Q&A, sharing personal details of growing up with this music.
Frank Zappa's sister was seated near the door.
I’d like to have fifteen minutes with Antonio Gonzales to help him abandon the “you know” verbalism that severely detracts from appreciating his wealth of knowledge. 

Today's lecture-demonstration comes as the Autry’s role in LA Xicano. See the Autry’s site for details on this important arts intiative. The Autry resides in the northeast corner of Griffith Park in the crossroads of the 5 and 134 freeways, across the road from the Zoo.
Alexandro Hernandez plays his quijada. Shake, rattle, and cool. Click the image for a blow-up.

Argelia Andrade would later call her husband up to dance the finale accompanied by the musicos doing "La Bamba."

Antecedent to Poets Responding: Poet Responds to a Painting 

©CiCi Segura Gonzalez. Used with the artist's permission. 

He allowed himself to go as I stood beside his bed.
All he had been was evident only to me, our hero was gone and everything went dark.
As I mourned I saw the room flooded with colors.
The angel had arrived and did not mind that I was there.
I stared at the colors that were his wings,
and saw him slowly bend down, his wings caressed us both for moment.
And when he finally stood the death shroud was empty.
He finally acknowledged me smiling, he now bore the face of my father.

Angel Guerrero

On-Line Floricanto Mid-November 2011

Was Obama right after all, there is Hope? And Hope starts in that arid zone east of Califas, Arizona?


If Arizona voters can repudiate the father of our nation’s first Jaime Cuervo laws since Operation Wetback, how long can it take for voters elsewhere to change the place of many pueblos’ corazones "by marching in the calles, cantando about nuestra nación, ofrecienda la vida a cambio de armonia?"

Alurista goes on to write, in Dawn Eye Cosmos, that Sam is suicidal and gente don’t have to buy into his "wars of hate and fear and profit." Hijole, either Alurista was right on, back in 1969, or nothing’s changed and it’s time for some rude beast to slouch on.

Now that Lewis has taken Pearce’s carcass out of that big chair, SB 1070 needs to be the next to be repudiated. Francisco X. Alarcón and his co-moderators of the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB 1070 continue to weaponize poetry for ready dispersal. Today the moderators submit work by Ramon Piñero, Sean Penna, Frank De Jesus Acosta, Diana Left, Iris De Anda.

Just as one cannot measure the influence of hate speech on action, one cannot measure the influence of poetry on haters. But poetry works. Bye-bye Pearce. Next: SB 1070. Have a heart, Arizona.

"I Am America" by Ramon Piñero
“America" by Sean Penna
"The Willow and the Moon" by Frank De Jesus Acosta
"A Letter to The Spirits - Please Take Care of the Migra, So We Can Pass" by Diana Left
"This Is Your Wake Up Call" by Iris De Anda

I Am America

by Ramon Piñero

I am America
from the
tundra to

from the
wheat fields
in Kansas
to the orange
groves in

I am America

New York
to Cuzco
Buenos Aires
Eagle Pass

I am America
my sweat
built the
I left
my blood
In Panama
in a canal

I am America
from Macchu Pichu
to Tenochtitlan
from Quintana Roo
to Appalachia

I am America
I left
my body
on the Trail of

I am America
I died on the
Bataan Death March
and in the mountains of

An Aztec
took my
still beating
heart and raised
it to the

I am America
I sleep in
a dead end
covered by

I am America

I watched the
fires in Detroit
and in the
I died at
Wounded Knee
I spent my
early youth
in Manzanar.

I am America

I conked
my hair
in the fifties
and wore
dashikis and
a ‘fro
in the

I was
one of the first
to die
in Vietnam

I am America

I am that
that the
on my
is the
same as
the boot
on yours.

I am America

I rode

I died
in the
Ponce Massacre

I am America

I followed
the fruit
and the

La Caña
Belle Glade
El tomate
in Ruskin
la lechuga
in el Valle
y la uva

I am America

United Fruit
and Dole
me by name

I am America

I sat with
and Martin
I drank
with Marti
and Don Pedro

I am America

from the
Tierra del Fuego
from the Andes
to the
Florida swamps.

I am America

I made
for all
the wrong

I am
that baby
in a dumpster
that junkie
on the
you walk
by me
see me

You call
me many


I am

I am America!

 © Ramón Piñero


by Sean Penna

Do you remember
when you welcomed all
into your heart
with a lover's embrace?

No... I do not remember such things.
Perhaps you would rather hear of the fear
I can instill in the weak....

Do you remember
when you were young,
and not yet jaded…
feeling the passion of revolution...
the passion of freedom for all?

No... I do not remember such things.
Perhaps you would rather hear of my arrogant disregard
for those refusing to be the puppet dancing
at the end of my strings…

Surely you must remember
that all are created equal...
that all are welcome within your embrace
of freedom and democracy?

No… I do not remember such things.
Perhaps you would rather hear of my hidden agendas...
my ways of keeping the sheep penned in
for fleecing or slaughter depending on my whim…

Do you remember
what peace felt like?
When your pride
was placed in your people,
and not yourself?

No… I do not remember such things...

The Willow and the Moon
by Frank De Jesus Acosta
Walk along a wide and winding road
The earth spins and time passes beneath my feet
The road winds and widens, edges worn by the many souls that came before me
And in the distance the willow and the moon draw me forth
In the communal light of the moon, ancestor spirits drum and dance at the willows feet
All at once the tears of every mother and laughter of every child rises within me
The benevolent heart of the woman nation becomes the drumbeat of my journey
While memories, dreams, and visions paint landscapes in stories, poems, and song
The courtship of the willow and the moon, reflect the ebb and flow of life
Filling me with the essence of creation, compassion, passion, pain, and peace
And in the distance the willow and the moon draw me forth
To the place where all sacred roads become one with God in love

A Letter to The Spirits - Please Take Care of the Migra, So We Can Pass
by Diana Left
I set here before my conversation,
an altar.
Look how I am dressed, so special.
Un reboso hecho por Angela, por su
merita mano en Potam.
I know about placing an altar,
in a good way.
I come before you spirits,
to petition, no, to beg.
I beg that you will, to help us!
Les suplico, les ruego, pues sí!
Sí les ruego, es mucha la angustia mía,
mi angustia y la del pueblo es la misma.
Se trata de La Migra.
Disculpen la palabra, pero es
que sí se les puede decir que son
pinches... ésos de la migra.
I am going to leave this letter,
right here on the altar,next to the
candle of the Sagrado Corazón.
Also I leave two silver dollars,
that I have saved.
I want you to take care of La Migra,
take care of it by getting them out.
Out of the way.
La muerte follows them everywhere.
they are out of place, and out of control.
They make people to become dead, alive.
You should see in Alabama too!
Ijole spirit people, I am now begging you!
I am now begging you,because I know you
can help,help us!
You are the spirits of my abuelos,indigenas
I brought a big amount of marigolds, to direct
you straight to them... making a corredor straight
to them.. find them!
Take care of them, keep them away, while
family crosses.
Come to the desert of Arizona -por favorcito!
Espiritus Santos Animas Que Nos Cuidan.
I am making many more altars!
I am making many more altars!
I will make as many as I can,from here
to forever until I can!
Come see what is happening,
with the people, the children,
their casitas are empty, and their faces
are sad.
I leave you this letter.
To the spirits.
For the spirits can help.

This Is Your Wake Up Call
by Iris De Anda
This is your wake up call
Caracol sounding in the distance
fills the air with vibrations
that shift things
like your mood & perception
your inhale & exhale
because this is not a rehearsal
this is life
This is your wake up call
This is your wake up call
This is your wake up call
Drums beating on the horizon
engaging your senses
on every single atomic level
like your cells & thought patterns
your comings & goings
because there is more to this
this is vida
This is your wake up call

"I Am America" by Ramon Piñero
“America" by Sean Penna
"The Willow and the Moon (Reprise)" by Frank De Jesus Acosta
"A Letter to The Spirits - Please Take Care of the Migra, So We Can Pass" by Diana Left
"This Is Your Wake Up Call" by Iris De Anda

Ramon Piñero. Ex Bay Area poet living in the buckle of the Bible Belt , aka Florida. Where good little boys and girls grow up to be republicans who vote against their own interest. Father of three and Grandfather to five of the coolest kids ever. Niuff said...

Sean Penna currently works in the customer service department of a large company.  He says, "Sitting in a cubicle answering phones is not my dream...I see myself working in a winery, creating something living and vital, in the near future".  Besides poetry, his interests include cooking, wine, banging the drums, and his 2 daughters Andie and Sophia.
He currently lives in Lodi, CA with the acclaimed Chicana poet and writer Nancy Aide Gonzalez.  "Nancy is my muse, the one who told me time and time again to "write that down" whenever I said something meaningful....and finally I listened."

Frank de Jesus Acosta is the principal of Acosta & Associates, a California-based consultant group that specializes in non-profit management, organization capacity-building, fund development, project research/planning/development, and initiative management activities targeting philanthropic, non-profit, government institutions. Acosta is a graduate of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Acosta’s professional experience includes serving as a Sr. Program Officer with The California Wellness Foundation, as well as executive leadership tenures with the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Downtown Immigrant Advocates (DIA), National Center for Community Change, and the UCLA Community Programs Office. In 2007, Acosta authored a book published by the Arte Publico Press Hispanic Civil Rights Series, University of Houston, “The History of Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos, Cultura Es Cura, Healing Community Violence.”

Iris De Anda. I am a woman of Mexican & Salvadorian descent born, raised, and currently living in Los Angeles, California.  I am a revolutionary, mother, wife, writer, activist, practitioner of the healing arts, and co-founder of the company Las Adelitas: Moda, Cultura, Revolucion.  I believe in the power of spoken word, poetry, storytelling, and dreams.  I have been writing for most of my life and this is my ceremony, my offering, and my creation for a better world.  Peace!


Tom Miller said...

“na, na-na na / na, na-na-na na / na-na na / na-na na”. (Leave a Comment below if you can name that tune!)

That would be "Land of s Thousand Dances." I'm sure a poetry scholar could analyze the repetitive one syllable sounds, but for the rest of us, "Got to know how to pony, like Bony Maronie."

Tess Hernandez-Cano said...

Of course, Land of a thousand dances, but I am always late! I can't remember the rest of the line that said, "do the jerk, ...?"

Anonymous said...

Or, it could be part of the lyrics--and title=to the song:

"Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye"--a song written and recorded by Paul Leka; often performed by the "Bananaramas".

msedano said...

dang, anon, always thinking out of the box! and in this case, the east coast instead of the east side. but that's a good one. wrong, but a good one. i will apologize if the next autry lecture reveals leka was actually a chicano from redlands.