Saturday, April 24, 2010

I hate Mexicans

Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you ~ Friedrich Nietzsch

There are days in which I hate my own people. Seriously, today was one of those days in which I see the argument other people make against Mexicans and immigrants. I won't go into the details because it's that's not the important part. This isn't the first time I had thoughts like this. I have them almost on a daily basis really, specially in my own community. I write this because when I walk down the street or ride my bike, I see what's wrong with the picture I'm looking at. A homeless man, decaying and gushing out juices from over swollen legs on the corner, next to a high traffic bus stop. His scent bring tears to my eyes and makes me gag at the same time. Gang bangers that would take your life for the few bucks in your pocket, tagging, letting you know this is their territory. People who will never go beyond the capacity of working a dead end job, having kids and contributing to the Latino/a population.

I think about that and more, but at the same time I think about what I'm doing, what my friends are doing and what others are doing, all in the name of helping those people I just stereotyped before. I think about the workshops I've done, sahring knowledge about what it's like to be undoc, passing out flyeres to help people know their rights and a number to call in case something happens to them. Protesting, organizing and planning to help people that make feel like an elitist, shit talking, prejudice ass hole who focuses on the what a few people do, instead of what the over all picture looks like. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Community Organizing

Redunkulous. I have to make up words  to describe the training Dream Team Los Angeles just put together. It was off the hook I tell ya what. All the hard work and planning paid off and the youth that attended our training rocked it. I'm serious. They showed the kind of potential that makes you wonder what they will do later on in their lives once they finish school and make their way into the world.

Truely, it's bitter sweet that there is another generation of youth taking up the cause of fighting for undocumented students, parents and immigrants. You think this would have been a problem that would have been addressed long ago, but even when the DREAM Act passes, work will still need to be done in different forms and the need to help youth come into their own, learn to organize and create change in their communities.

I had the opportunity today to help 8 individuals learn to foster and harness their latent potential by showing them techniques on how to organize, just as my fellow Dream Team L.A. colleagues did with their kids. We helped them find common ground with complete strangers, how to work as a team and how to come together to make things happen for the better, using their own personal talents and drive to make it all happen. Never in my life have I had the honor pass on knowledge and strength to others in all my life. The best part of it all was that I did it all by being me. I took the instructions, made them my own, cracked jokes, gave examples and helped them put all the pieces of the puzzle together. It's like some warm fuzzy feeling inside my tummy, that or I'm just hungry again.

There's no doubt that even though I wish I was somewhere else in my life, this is where I need to be. I work with some of the most amazing individuals who give of themselves to make this happen. They balance their lives and add organizing for undoc youth to their scales. We all have our reasons, but like the training we taught today, we all have a common goal, a shared story and a driving passion that can never be snuffed. Just like the superheroes I love to read about, I'm surrounded and work with people that put them to shame. People that will be influential in the near future, sharing with another generation of kids their experiences, tribulations and the work they do. Life goes around in circles like that. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Heart of a Heroine

"A Hiketeia is an ancient Greek ritual that binds two individuals in a relationship of mutual respect and service for life. Bound by honor to eternally protect and care for each other. One who has the ritual performed for them cannot refuse. Breaking or refusing the oath is subject to punishment directly from the Greek Gods themselves. It's considered the holiest of Greek Rituals. The only thing that can break this holiest of bonds is death itself. The Hiketeia is a Greeks last hope of protection when all else fails." 

I have always idolized and romanticized the idea of heroes/heroines in my mind and heart. Fictional ones that have powers and real ones, who encourage me to continue on in my life and guide me from time to time. In comics, heroes and heroines always have a defining moment in their lives that push them or help them decide to do what they do. At times, that decision comes after personal struggles of not accepting that role, not wanting that role and/or not believing in themselves enough to fulfill that role of a hero/heroine. With great power, comes great responsibility right ? Like any real true hero/heroine, they don't see themselves in that way because to them, they are doing what is right. What needs to be done for the greater good. Being unselfish and giving their lives and souls to everyone else. Heroes/Heroines don't even know they are one because they are too caught up in the cause and struggle they are fighting for.

Heroes/Heroines are those that spur others into actions. That motivate us to continue forward and those that will be remembered for years to come. Their unselfish act meant that thousands more would not have to suffer. I am thankful to say that I have met plenty of heroes/heroines in my life, but not like the one I talked to today. Never in my life have I seen soo much courage, passion and heart exude from an individual that I had to stop to breath and take it all in. I am proud to say that because of their sacrifice, I will grow as a person and follow in their foot steps. I am proud to say that I stand with them, side by side through thick and thin. Today, I met a heroine who will change the face of everyone with her will and heart. I will pray that the universe gives her the strength she will need to continue on. The stamina to face everything that will come her way. Strength beyond strength to return from this trial safe. We stand together on a mountain of DREAMS, telling ourselves it's not as hard as it seems.  

Arizona and SB 1070

63 years ago today,  five fathers in Orange County won the final ruling on their case that was fighting the segregation of Mexican and Mexican-American students from attending segregated schools. It was ruled that attending segregated schools was unconstitutional and violated the 14th amendment. Mendez v. Westminster was the landmark ruling that set the stage for Brown v. the Board of Education, which ended segregation in schools. In 1994, Proposition 187, police code for murder, was introduced in California and passed, but was later deemed, again, unconstitutional by the courts. But some how here we are again as Arizona passed Senate Bill 1070, "which makes it a misdemeanor to lack proper immigration paperwork in Arizona. It also requires police officers, if they form a "reasonable suspicion" that someone is an illegal immigrant, to determine the person's immigration status." Taken form an L.A. Times article.

Arizona is ground zero for the current immigration debate going on in our country right now. When states pass bills like this, it only shows how badly immigration reform is needed, but the hate and xenophobia hidden between the lines by others. This proof of that. People are angry and full of rage for problems happening to them and those around them. It's not their fault because they're hard working Americans who pay taxes and follow the laws, grill hot dogs on fourth of July and eat apple pie right ? So the problem must rest with those who don't "belong here" right ? Those who immigrated illegally to the country that through NAFTA, made it impossible for them to make a living in their home country. To work in factories that exploit them and their families as they die trying to get across the border only to continue to be exploited in the U.S. as well by people who use laws to scare them and keep them in check, abusing them because they know they won't speak up out of fear.

Blaming immigrants on current social problems has been a tradition of the U.S. for centuries and this is the current state of it. 63 years later and laws are still created because if you get rid of immigrants, the countries problems will be solved. 63 years later and despite all the growth and change the U.S. has made, there are still parts of this beautiful country and people who choose to have a narrow, I'm right, you're wrong, point of view. Segregation never solved any problems, it only makes things worse. "This bill, whether we intend it or not, terrorizes the people we profit from," said Rep. Tom Chabin    

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dream Act vs Immigration Reform

"Dear mother, dear father, you clipped my wings before I learn to fly."

It baffels me sometimes to hear that in the movement for immigration reform, there's still office politics going on. That's why it puzzels me even more when I see/hear that there are people and orgs that would not support the federal DREAM Act, because it conflicts or would set back their work on over all immigration reform.

It comes down to kids and parents. The DREAM Act acts as a down payment for IR, because it would show the benefits of creating path ways for individuals to legalize and adjust their status, contribute to society and set examples that others will follow and make them realize that it's not only a good, but needed.

With thousands of students better off, they will help their families, continuing to work for IR so they too can contribute and change their lives for the better. But for me, it gets more personal and complicated than that. One lesson I have learned the hard way, repeatedly in my life is that you cannot change what you've already done.

When you make a decision to do ANYTHING, make sure you are making the right one and even if you do end up making a wrong choice, stand behind it. Don't regret what you did. It happened, you learn from it and you grow knowing that you've learned from that experience. In life, there is always a choice, whether we see it now or later.

My parents made the choice to come here for their own personal reasons. I didn't. They did what they did in my best interest, yes, but that doesn't justify their decision. The best intentions don't validate decisions. That's why I work for passing the DREAM Act more so than IR. How can I help them when I can't help myself !?

It's as simple as that. My parents made their choice and they accept that. I haven't even made one yet and i've been paying for it since I was seven. I'm first generation and first to do everything in my family. If over night they got legal status, they wouldn't work and contribute back the same way I would by going to school, working, becoming a teacher and continuing on passing on what I know to the next generation of undoc students. I'm selfish because I want to improve my quality of life and the lives of those in my life. I'm selfish because I didn't mOe the decision to be here, but I am making the one to stay, fight and help others like. I love my parents, but in the end, fuck'em. In the end, I'll be helping care for them because even with legal status, they wouldn't know how to retire. They'll always be working.

~ con safos ~

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Outsiders view of the outside

I think it's finally starting to hit me. The realization that as much as I think I'm part of my culture, I'm not. What I mean is that I am a Mexican. I was born there and I identify as one as well. But I am not entirely Mexican anymore and haven't been soo for quite a few years, 18 to be exact. That's how long I've been in the U.S. At the same time, it slipped my mind that I've passed the three year mark of coming to L.A. on a whim, to visit after moving to Utah with my family and sleeping at at friends houses/floors for two years straight.

It's weird to phrase it this way, but it's true. If anything, I'm more Chicano than anything. Around my family, I'm still me, but when I got out to eat with them or I'm in dense Latino/a stores or restaurants, I see people looking at me like I'm an outsider sometimes. Like I'm one of "them." Who ever "them" is. But at the same time something else pushes this notion of not fitting in any more. The way I think and see things now. Before I would just take things as they are, but now I find myself thinking critically about environments. Why things are the way they are, why people do this, thinking like a scholar if you will.

It's a trip to be able to see my growth as an individual and how my thinking has changed over the years, because my families hasn't, and there's a part of me that acts like I'm on an ivory tower. That I know more and know things they will never know about. Seen things and done things that could not understand. This is the biggest hurdle that gets in my way, now more than ever. I catch myself and put myself down because thinking like that won't make any more different that the kind of people who do think they're better than everyone.

It's easier for me to see this change because of constantly being in two worlds, going back and forth. I'm always in the middle. Duality. It's off setting at times, but there is no escaping it. I will forever be in the middle path. I like that though. It suits me perfectly.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Undocumented suicidal tendencies

So we decided that it would be in you're best interest if we put you somewhere where you could get the help that you need." And I go "wait, what are you talking about, WE decided? MY best interests? How do you know what MY best interest is? How can you say what MY best interest is? What are you trying to say? I'M crazy? When I went to YOUR schools, I went to YOUR churches, I went to YOUR institutional learning facilities. So how can you say I'M crazy?"

I remember reading a Buddhist teaching/saying that goes along the route of, if you can't be happy with the current life you have. If you feel that you need something or one to make it all better, that theey will bring you the happiness and content you seek, then when you do have what you are longing for, chances are you will still be unhappy when you get it. It's as simple as that. In my life, I have learned to seek the middle path in life. As undocumented individuals, we live in the middle, neither here neither there. Everything has culminated from years of hardships and personal battles, suicide being on of them.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Undocumented Identities

Sitting here at work, I begin to think to myself on how I introduce myself to others when I tell that I'm in undoc or whenever I'm Sharing my story. My name is ... And I'm undoc or my name is ... I'm ... student and I'm undoc. It's funny to ponder on this because I never give any thought. It just comes out one way or the other depending on the situation and who and how I'm introducing myself to them. It says more than the words one utters. Do you identify as being undoc first or as a person, a student studying a specific field who just happens to be undoc. It's almost like it's ingrained.

To better explain it, I'll use comic characters to explain this. Much like everything else in my life, I use comics to make sense of my life. With superheroes there are types, those who are born with their abilities such as the x men, superman, wonder woman etc. and then there are those who happen to have abilities that are circumstantial. Spiderman, fantastic four, green lantern, the flash etc. That's how undoc students are divided into more or less. Those who have known all their lives and those who have found out later on in their lives. But it's interesting to note that like the x men, who's powers don't manifest until puberty, that's around the same age most kids find out they're undoc.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Culture aftershock

Like a splash of freezing water on my face. That's what it felt like today when I got to USC. I rode my bike there, 12 miles total :-D Anyway, I wanna write this out before I knock out from writing something else. I was tripping out. I've never seen soo many people on beach cruisers at once. It was like a see of madness when people were going to their classes. Like some sort of stampeded. Ohh yeah, I was there for a social welfare conference to preach the greatness that is Dream Team Los Angeles. It was cool, back to my observations. Wow. I'm so use to the bubble that I'm in that I forget what it's like to get out of it.

I've been to other campuses and felt the same thing, but at USC I felt the energy that the school and students project. This feeling of rushing and importance. Like their house was on fire. Everyone plugged in into their worlds, ignoring everyone else, being super rude. Just like East Los zing !! It really is intimidating to be there and even though it sounds redundant and played out, I got that, " I don't think I belong here" vibe. I know better, yet years of conditioning still creep through you know. USC, if you're here it's because you ain't fucking around like at my school. I people watched the whole time and when I was at my table, I wrote "undocumented student org" under a DTLA sign they provided. I wanted to throw out a flag and get people's attention, which wokered because they asked me for more info and signed up for email spam, err updates. One girl thought it was an Aprils fool joke, but I told her that it's not. The highlight of my day was the bike ride really. 12 miles aww yeah.