Thursday, July 05, 2012

Fireworks in New Orleans 2012

Melinda Palacio

The week began on a somber, but hopeful note. The humidity and 96-degree weather reminded me of Panama. Like Panama, New Orleans is one of my favorite places, and one of the most unique cities in the world. Many who don’t appreciate the beauty of the river city and its diversity would have written New Orleans off the map when the water kept rising after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The city bounced back and much of the clean-up and rebuilding effort came from immigrants who now call New Orleans home.

Standing with the Southern 32 in front of the Hale Boggs Federal Building in  New Orleans.

Last Friday, I stood with the Southern 32, a group of jornaleros who experienced violations to their civil rights, who chose to stand up for justice.
Jacinta Gonzalez with the Southern 32 and Delmy Palencia with her 16-month-old son Josue.

Members of the community came out to support the Southern 32. Thanks to the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice,, and the organization's vivacious leaders, such as Jacinta Gonzalez, day laborers have a place to call when fear is used to abuse their civil rights.

The types of traps, wage theft, unconstitutional treatment, unlawful arrest, and “payday raids” by immigration agents, tipped off by employers who refused to pay workers or provide safety equipment, is a move out of Arizona’s playbook.

In a powerful speech by Delmy Palencia, 35, spoke to the group about the struggles she has endured. She has been humiliated and separated from her nursing son, and undergone an unconstitutional arrest by ICE. “As women we have to stand up for our children, our families, our communities, and ourselves,” she said. Palencia left behind two daughters in Honduras.

Part of the reason why I wrote Ocotillo Dreams was to bring to light the different types of issues surrounding undocumented workers. 

This week also brought a whirlwind of buzz for the novel, beginning with an interview by Adela Najarro at Letras Latinas, news that Ocotillo Dreams is the book of the month at the Latina Book Club,
La Casa Azul Bookstore's best sellers display.

I am grateful to Aurora Anaya-Cerda for giving me one of the very first book signing events at La Casa Azul Bookstore in East Harlem, two days after I had won the Mariposa Award for Best First Book and received an Honorable Mention in the Historical Fiction category at the Instituto Cervantes in Manhattan. I love New York.

What’s next?

On the fourth of July, Glimmer Train informed me that my new short story was a Finalist in their Family Matters competition and received an Honorable Mention. I earned extra sparklers, according to my friend Jocelyn. After 10 years of rejections from the literary journal, the editors finally gave me a nod. I’m one step closer to winning. And all because I am not afraid of rejection.

Events: Tomorrow in New Orleans, Saturday, July 7, 2012 at 2pm, I join the Poetry Buffet at the Latter Library.


AlvaradoFrazier said...

What a whirlwind you have been in these past months. Felicidades & many more whirls in your writing world.

Anonymous said...

And the good news keeps on coming. You are blessed. Congratulations. What a testament to good writing and hard work! I nominate you for "Author of the Decade".

Maria Melendez said...

Congratulations on the many varieties of good news, and brava to you and others speaking up for justice.

Karin de la Penha said...

Brava, darlin' Verey excited for you. xoxo

Mona Lisa Saloy said...

Congratulations on all your success Malinda! Red Beans & Ricely Happy for you, Mona Lisa Saloy

Karen said...


Concepcion said...

Enhorabuena, Melinda! What a thrill to see Ocotillo Dreams keeping company with Bless Me Ultima, Casa en Mango Street, Oscar Wao, etc. Looks like you've conquered New York, New York! Hooray for you!

Anonymous said...

Melinda, love what you shared about New Orleans and the worker spirit, as well as the great news about your novel and short story!

Anonymous said...