Monday, December 28, 2009
Why I haven't written a post about one of the BIGGEST products in the Latino/a community is beyond me. Next to tortillas and beans, Ingles sin Barreras is known by almost everyone. I was listening to Spanish radio last Sunday and an infomercial for another similar product was on. I listened attentively to how the commercial really focuses and plays on peoples personal lives. They do this by repeating and stressing the fact that a person needs English to succeed in the U.S. that they risked their lives and their families to get here, crossing, paying thousands of dollars, looking for a better life etc. They hit every key point, tugging at peoples heart strings and trying to, nay, exploiting them. It works because people listen.
So, a little history on the product then. According to their web site, which has on option to switch the language from Spanish to English, this product is owned by a marketing firm and it started out back in 1988, to help Latinos/as learn the English language to succeed and to better assimilate.
"Lexicon Marketing began in Miami, Florida in 1974 to serve the educational needs of the Hispanic community in the United States. JosÃ Luis Nazar, Lexicon's founder, recognized the need for Hispanics to learn English with an appropriate method, a method that was convenient to use at home and easy to comprehend. As a recent immigrant to the U.S. from Chile, Mr. Nazar knew first hand the difficulties involved in learning English with the available resources at that time. He set about to provide the right tools for Hispanics to learn English and succeed in the U.S by creating his first audiovisual course, "Inglés Sin Barreras", a name that has become a household brand in the US Hispanic community."
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
I think it's good if you smile at somebody and they smile in return
Voluntary love encourages people to create a sense of friendlyness
Love that is unconditional gives us respect as people
However, it is wrong to force love to try to keep it alive
If the strain goes on, eventually it will bloom into the flower called
The deceptively, thorny flower that hurts people
~ con safos ~
Friday, December 25, 2009
"Cama cama cama camaleón yo soy el camaleón Cama cama cama camaleón yo soy el camaleón A mi me dicen el camaleón por que cambio de Color para cada situación yo tengo un color Mejor"
~ My mom is something when she's drunk. Come to think of it, I've never seen my mom drunk. My dad a bunch of times but not her. She works hard and she deserved it :) Anywho, I've made some changes to this place. Ive' had the same layout and color scheme for going on what... . three years ? Damn that's a long time !!
Monday, December 21, 2009
"Best to you. Please stay strong. Do what it takes. Chant. Find an SGI organization. Chant nam myo ho renge kyo. Do what ever it takes to be legal in this country without hurting another, especially a woman who will love you deeply. You can do it."
~ You know that feeling of emptiness and loss of direction you get when you go on break from school or work ? I got a bit of that today, so I spent the day cleaning and organizing things. I looked through all my school stuff and got rid of things I don't need. Online I cleaned out my gmail since I use that the most. At this point, I'm not even going to touch my yahoo account. Pfft screw that. I'd rather be out on the streets doing something. I looked over 726 emails until I was left with 69. Yeah.
But it was cool though, you know because during the process I reread old emails and just went back to that moment in the email. Some of the older emails were of people emailing me in response to this blog, like the quote I put at the top or this one, "Keep up the good work kid. You're fighting the good fight." I needed to read that with the year coming to an end, which is why I made it a point to clean and organize. In some of those emails I also got spam, mentions of things I'm doing now like working with people at UCLA on DREAM Act stuff, meeting friends for the first time and the one that hit the old ticker was emails from other people with no papers telling me how they found this blog, how they related to everything I write about and how glad they are they found someone to share their thoughts with.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Last week I got back my paper, which I posted here, on relating a story from "The Republic of East L.A." to stuff from class. I got an A+, as you can see from the pic. When I got the paper back I had mix feelings. For one, the paper was easy for me to write. I didn't struggle doing it and it all flowed really. Partly because I payed attention in class and did the reading and stuff, still. It felt weird, specially reading her comments about how she really dug what I wrote in tying both the book and class to my personal stuff. I wanted to post it on facebook and be all like, "I got an A+ on my paper. Awwwww yeah !!" but then I said, "no. It's that kind of flashy'ness that takes away from the grade and work you put in, being all loud and proud. It's only a paper." I later ended up telling one person. I couldn't help myself :-)
Thursday, December 17, 2009
I have made peace with myself again and I can tell I am getting older and wiser. I am focusing on going back to the way things were 7 months ago, writing, going to events on my own and living my life. It's great to have someone to share it with, no doubt about it, but that's not where my life is right now. It would seem that there is a universal rule for being in a relationship, from my experience and talking to others about this, and that is that you must be able to stand on your own two feet. This can be interpreted as not living with the parents, having a "good job" and having a stable life. This current chapter of my life doesn't allow for that. I'm transferring to CSUN, GOD WILLING I GET IN ALREADY, and frankly, that's where my money and energy are going.
I would love to be able to share my experiences with someone else as I continue my journey, but that's not in the cards, something I have to keep reminding myself of every so often. Alas, the lone wolf continues his journey into Valhalla. This past Sunday I was given some words of wisdom, words that I am taking to the heart because she is older and has seen the world more than I could ever hope to right now. She told me what I needed to her, not just her but some other friends as well. I needed to hear that. We all lose ourselves that it's often necessary to reevaluate where we are and what we are doing.
It's getting closer to the end of the year, it's only natural. As always,, I will be chronicling my thoughts and journey on this here blogiddy blog. I may lose some of you and I may gain new people, it happens. This is more for me than anyone else. Stick around. You never know what's next.
Friday, December 11, 2009
For the latter half of the class, she took over and focused on the educational pipe line and things of that nature. Nothing new to me since I've read about that before, but great stuff none the less. Here is some of the stuff we discussed in class. And when I say discuss, I mean she talks, the class listens and says nothing and I'm the only one saying stuff. Not all the time, but I do feel like I dominate the class with my questions. My final for this class is Monday so this is from the notes I made earlier today to study. If you are interested in finding out more, look up Tara Yosso, she's one of the main researchers contributing to this subject. EVERYTHING I MENTION NOT ONLY APPLIES, BUT INCREASES TEN FOLD FOR UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I guess it's a nutural fit that this space starting developing into that diary, rather than just being another blog that regergitates info that others may write about and add my two cents to it. One thing is for sure though, people seem to be getting tired of the, "I'm heart broken, therefore I'm sad and depressed routine." So I'll turn it down not just for people that are tired of reading that, but because it's not healthy to dwell on things like that. Energy is in constant motion, as should I. I've been described as a "relationship kind of guy" so I get in touch with my inner emotions. Moving on.
I was checking out the campus progress email news letter and they mentioned a story in the Washington Post about homeless college students:
Lewis and Wilson are both in their 20s, both college students and both homeless.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
The longer one lives in the past
The deeper the memory they hold onto
The more beautiful the past will become
The beautiful memories will eventually turn into hate
Even if they look ahead, they lose the ability to walk
As long as the heavy chain of regret continues to fetter the heart
As long as the tears of sadness continue to flow
Originally posted on myspace on July 22, 2006
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
safe to say that I almost average out a pic a day. I love taking pics
and sharing them with others. They say things words fail to describe
sometimes. Part of the reason I did it was because I need to move on.
Whether I like it or not. Looking through the pics I can remember what
was going on that day. It also brings up feelings.
At first I said to myself that I should leave them there. That way I
can get use to seeing the past and not have regrets about it and I
don't. I saved all the pics. But it's too much. I lose myself in
pictures of her, which there are a lot of. I don't like the way i feel
inside looking at those pics. Hollow and scortched. I don't understand
why it's hitting me know. I though I was in a good place, but I'm not.
My mind can only be distracted for soo long before I start dwelling on
her again. It's really a horrible feeling. I hate it. It's almost
purpetual because I don't know when it'll stop. I want it to be soon.
Sad face :-(
~ con safos ~
Monday, December 07, 2009
Now for the bad, it's hard to describe and narrow it down because everyday is different. A few days ago I had three dreams in a row, one that I forgot about and two that I remembered. I didn't like the last one because it was at CSUN. Maybe it's anxiety for the change that is taking place, the work that I have done and the five years I've spent at my community college getting to this point. Finals are also next week and that only adds fuel to the anxiety. There's soo many thoughts going through my head, I can't make sense of it all. I wanna sit down and talk to someone about it all and get it off my chest, but instead I find myself, here, writing them out because I know friends are dealing with their own stuff as it is.
The days are going by faster and faster and my state of mind shifts from one end to another as if it was a freaking pinball machine. I wake up with the blues, but by mid afternoon I get into a work groove and go on about my day to day stuff. I don't like it. I don't like it one bit because I know what's causing it. My chest feels empty and I know why. It's a delayed reaction to say the least, but I know what's causing it, heart ache. At first I was busy with school work to keep me going and keeping me away from that route. I went out with friends and to events to clear my mind and try to go back to the way things use to be 7 months ago when I was happy being on my own. It's not happening.
It's not messing with my work, but it's there. That empty feeling. It's like, one day I woke up and I realized what had really happened. What I lost and I looked to myself and saw that deep casm that reaches the horizon, it was empty and barron. I realized what I had and it began to hit me. I was in love with someone and I lost them. I know it's love and not infatuation or anything like that. I know that because I feel deep inside my chest and heart. This totally sucks. It's horrible. I hate it. In the past I would spiral into lunacy, but I know better. However, it still can't fix how I feel. I know things get better with time, I've done it before. This time around though, it's not getting any better. Time is frozen. It's like I don't even want to try and be with someone else because my heart won't be in it.
I can find an aztec princess who is into all the stuff I'm into, creative, an artist, active in life and the community, looking at the big picture and helping others, spreading the seeds of knowledge and all that good stuff. I have no doubt in my mind that in the circles that I am a part of I will find someone of that caliber, but I don't want that. I know what I want. I don't need to see what else is out there because I know what I want. Yet, there is a distinct difference in the things that we want for ourselves and what the creator, the universe and life have in store for us. I remember telling a friend that rejection is life's way of saying that even though we want to be THERE, you really need to be HERE. It's hard being alone again. I was alone and happy once and I gotta find a way to get there again. Trying to forget someone you love is like trying to forget someone you never knew. Sad face :-(
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Claw at you
Smell your reached hide miles away from the recesses of their cave
They find you wherever you are
Your emotional emotions draw them to you
You stare in fear, paralyzed waiting to be sliced at the heart
Bleeding out, as your blood runs through your fingers
Escaping and staining the floor, frantically trying to catch it to put it back in
It takes another swipe at you, cutting deeper than before
You search for your detached limb trying to put it back in place
Yet, it doesn't fit the same way it did before
It's uneven, lope sided and upside down
It will never be the same again
The Bear stares at you, arching his back, showing teeth
You stare back with blood soaked hands, questioning his next move
Hearts racing like never before, conflict in the air
Finally, you let the bear finish his job
You embrace his bone crushing jaws as he tears your flesh
The pain comes as relief, freeing you
He eats everything but your heart
Emotional bears can attack without notice at any given time
So keep your emotions in check, less you become the victim of another Emo Bear attack !!!
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
So right now the plan is to take it again int he spring with my other classes, which would mean I would have an insane work load with 17 units. But how can you fail speech when you're giving DREAM Act speeches left and right ? Good question. To answer it, the speech teacher is DICK HEAD !! One of those teachers that uses the class to make up for his failings in life or something to that affect, where the teacher likes to control the class because the world outside the class room treats him like shit.
Always making inappropriate personal comments about his personal views and who he thinks is an idiot. Treats the class like high school kids and creates a tense learning environment. I respect his policy on not taking crap from people and expecting certain things from everyone, however, his teaching is horrid and vapid. He's been teaching way too long and is just holding out for retirement. ANYWAY .... Chicano Studies on the other hand is completely different from the speech teacher with the napoleon complex. This class is molding and cementing the foundation I have been working and building on the last few years.
It's insane the concepts and ideas I've been forming and how it's translating into other aspects of my life. Suddenly becoming a Chicano Studies major is something I'm seriously looking into and considering. Last time I posted my 10 page paper on my dissecting and interpretation of the book we used for class, well this time around it's the same formula but with the book, "The Republic of East L.A." by Luis J. Rodriguez. I loved reading all the short stories in the book, especially the one about a guy who wants to be a reporter, straight outta my alma mater Taco Tech, and how he out scoops the L.A. Times in a story that happened in East Los.
I highly recommend the book to anyone as it's a great read or any of his other books for that matter. I've had the opportunity to meet Rodriguez a few occasions already and it wasn't until I read the book that I introduced myself to him. Great guy and down to earth like you wouldn't belief. ANYWAY... here's the paper I turned in. Six pages and it's on the story called, Pigeons. Sorry for ruining it for ya. I had to tie in stuff from class and handouts.
On my last paper, a gracious reader was kind enough to read the ENTIRE thing, word for word and give me a few pointers, which are highly welcomed, so thank you. He gave me a B+, which is what my teacher gave me more or less. I think I did better this time around. Enjoy.
Are individuals a product of their environment or is their environment a product of the individual ? Both are essential and play key roles in the formation and creation of how individuals identify themselves, others, their environment and how they interact with others and their environments on various levels. The short story, “Pigeons” By Luis J. Rodriguez in the book, The Republic of East L.A. highlights some of the issues that arise when families and individuals from similar backgrounds, grow up in different environments, develop dramatically different as individuals and their perception of not only their environment, but of others as well.
The story is centered around two families, the Duran family, which immigrated from rustic shacks in Tijuana to Boyle Heights in East L.A. and the Lujan family, who immigrated from a small village in Sinaloa to West Covina. Rodriguez uses Mexican stereotypes for his characters personalities and type specific traits to describe them, like character of Monte, from the Duran family, wearing Raiders clothing and having a laid back attitude, and Montes description of his girlfriends mother, Socorro from the Lujan family, as an Indian found in the pages of National Geographic Magazine. He also vividly uses “Spanglish”, English and Spanish combined in conversational speech throughout the story and describing the families personal perspectives growing up in two diverse areas of Los Angeles. The Duran family living with gangs, violence with a heavy Latina/o population, while the Lujans live in the middle of suburbia, where the majority of residents are Anglo.
The different acculturation patterns, described by Hurtado and Gurin in their book, Chicana/o Identity in a Changing U.S. Society, as the degree in which minorities adopt main stream values and customs, are made evident by the fact that this is the over all theme of the story Rodriguez has crafted. In chapter one of the book, acculturation is discussed as it is connected to assimilation, becoming like the majority group. Both the families have similar back grounds, yet because they lived in polar opposite cities, their assimilation and development of their personal identities dramatically differ. Their experiences living in their communities and their interaction with others shape their individuality, as explained by the social engagement model, which is used to understand how individuals define their environment in relation to their behavior and motivation.
When my parents brought me to the U.S. at the age of seven, the first place we lived in was Boyle Heights. From there we moved all over the city living in Watts, South Central, Compton, Inglewood and Long Beach until we finally settled back in Boyle Heights. Never having stability and always being the new kid at school was a double edge sword in terms of my personal development because I alienated myself, but adapted. Living in different, yet similar cities with a heavy African American population also created a feeling of being a minority within a minority. Naturally at such a young age, I adopted habits and mannerisms that are attributed to the African American community. I was still an outsider, but I was able to navigate and survive in that environment. It is safe to say that I assimilated out of need rather than that of personal growth, but none the less my environment and my interaction with it played a key role in the development that is still prevalent in me to this day.
The details of the story are told through a conversation the Duran brothers, Monte and Miguel, have at a birthday party for Benita, the daughter of Montes girlfriend Berta, in East L.A. The rest of the family members are talked about and described in minor detail and only explored in detail when adding to the story. The two families backgrounds are explored in detail as the conversation carries on. Monte, through inner dialogue, describes how the projects they grew up in were riddled with gangs and violence on a daily basis. He described the architecture of the facilities, which aided police when looking for criminals and how they managed to escape the gang life by working hard to make a living. This is viewed as normalcy in East L.A. while at the same time, the Lujans grew up on the other side of town in West Covina. Socorro, the mother of the Lujan family reminisces about life in her village in Sinaloa. She describes the serene and holistic setting of her homeland, running around as a child with her brother, carefree and day dreaming to her hearts content. In her later years, family duty demanded that she leave her village and move to the U.S. with her husband and kids as they found success when they opened their own Mexican meat specialty store (Carniceria). Even though she hates their new life, she remains silent and bears with the changes as the family assimilated.
As Monte succinctly puts it, his family is “puro East Los”, playing on cultural stereotypes about the communities affluent Latina/o/o population. The description of the projects and life there are not only first hand experiences from Rodriguez himself, but also that of internalized oppression. The hand out on concepts and terms describes it as the belief that oppressed minorities believe the dominant's group labeling of them as inferior. The structure of the projects can also be seen as a type of segregation because only gang members and low income families are given housing there. Residents are treated as if they're in faux prisons and are monitored by authorities. In Socorros case, patriarchy plays a dominant role in her chosen silence and bearing with the changes in the environment. In class discussions we had about gender roles, we identified that in the Latina/o culture, oppression of women is common practice. Sandra Ibarra from the East LA Women's Center also reinforced that practice in her class visit/lecture on domestic violence. However, she shows resistance by never learning English and refusing to forget her native language.
Throughout elementary school and all of ninth grade, I lived and attended schools next to the Watts housing projects. At the time, I never realized what that really meant because it was the normalcy. School up to that point did a commendable job of institutionalizing kids in ignoring the plight and decrepit conditions of the schools I attended. Like Monte, I came to accept it as everyday life and like Socorro, I too long for the care free life of the rancho (ranch). For three months before my family made the trek to cross to the U.S. we lived on my great grandmothers ranch while my dad got things ready for the family. At seven years old, I spent my days swimming in the river bed, playing with farm animals and running around all over the place. Having lived both lives, I would choose to go back to the ranch, but I know that eventually I would still end upin a metropolitan area. Last I heard from my mom, that ranch is all but dead of the beauty and life it once had.
As the conversation between the brothers carries on, the different levels of assimilation for each family is made apparent in relation to their environment. Monte describes how the Lujan family, over time changed the pronunciation of their names to a more Americanized form as they also began to lose some of their Spanish speaking skills. Some married Anglos and Monte makes it clear that he is OK with them marrying because he prides himself on not being judgmental. This is because he blames undocumented immigrants for his job troubles, making the community look tacky and referring to them as, “Tijuaneros”. A derivative term that describes people of Mexican decent as poor miscreants who are a plight on society. The conversation escalates as Miguel gives Monte a lecture about how they were called “Tijuaneros” when they were kids and how that made them feel inferior, how they didn't have positive Latina/o role models in their lives and the loss of their community from all the development and gentrification happening around them. The argument finishes as two children are caught killing pigeons for food and Monte uses them as an example of the deteriorating state of their neighborhood. He exclaims that hey have to learn to be American or get out.
It's blatantly obvious that Monte has assimilated and been Americanized to the point that he no longer values his roots and heritage. His claim that he's been unable to find a job because of undocumented immigrants is false founded. According to the report, Latino Policy and Issues Brief: Wage Penalties in Brown-Collar Occupations, from the UCLA Chicano Studies Department from 2003, newly arrived immigrant males living in Metropolitan areas accounted for 29 percent of the labor force. This was predominantly focused on “Brown-collar” jobs, which include waiter's assistants, gardeners, groundskeepers, cooks, farm workers and painters. Since Monte was a foundry worker, he lost his job because of less demand and more automated factories doing his job. The report also says that workers with a 10th grade education and lower tend to make $3,360 less than educated workers. Another report from the NCLR published in 2008 titled, Key Facts on the Food Insecurity and Hunger Among Latino/a Children, found that 12.9 million families in the U.S. are food insecure. This means that the families don't have access to nutritious foods. Some of the consequences of not eating right include children developing language, motor skill, behavior learning and socio-emotional problems. This is why Miguel defends the kids killing the pigeons for food.
Growing up in my family, there were times when just trying to make ends meat was a reality. My parents did their best to make sure we always had food and housing, but things out of their control that included the current economic and working climate. Often times we would turn to eating beans, rice and tortillas for extended periods of time so they could pay the rent. Experiences like that also brought up questions within my self of who am I as an individual and as a member of a larger ethnic group. What I learned at school and watched on T.V. were completely different from what I saw and lived everyday. Essentially, by watching American sitcoms and the Simpsons, I was Americanized to the point that I was able to excel socially and not be made fun of for being Mexican or be called names. I also learned a lot of useless popular culture history that has become invaluable in relating with others about the unique experiences when growing up Latina/o. I retained my roots and culture because of my family, but I assimilated through a paradox of watching T.V., reading comic books and playing video games, creating an anomaly within myself.
An individuals assimilation is tied to their environment, whether it is done subconsciously or not. The intensity of an individuals assimilation and to an extent, Americanization are deemed positive or negative, again depending on the individuals self image and by the recognition of others in the same group. There is no way around it, but it is only after becoming self aware of the process, analyzing it and forming more detailed constructs of one's self image. Not everyone can get to that point and it leads to narrow minded individuals, like Monte who after assimilating, become prejudice against people from his racial group. Perpetuating a cycle of ignorance and hate that prevents ethnic minorities from gaining positive recognition in society.