Monday, December 1, 2008

So long, 2008!

It’s been a wonderful year. We know, that is not what you may be thinking when you check your pockets, but it has certainly been a wonderful year for El Reflejo. As you may or may not know, the newsletter, first published in 2006 was able to resume production after a year-long hiatus.

At the beginning of the last Spring semester, several of us motivated estudiantes convened to plan the most revolutionary act to occur on campus since RAZA’s last Taco Sale: we wanted to publish Chcan@/Latin@ thought and art. We wanted to leave our mark. Pa’ que luego no digán que no hicimos nada.

We’ve begged for donations, thrown two fundraising paris, tabled at a campus event, visited classes, passed out flyers, passed out issues, started a mailing list and now, we are tired.

But that’s why we get a winter break.

The dedicated staff would at this point like to thank you. Thank you $upportive professors and peers, thank you chili pepper department, thank you, oh trustworthy Espie, and of course, thank you Nuestro Señor Jesús...Iñiguez that is, for getting the show on the road and bestowing your Almighty wisdom upon us all.

Y gracias lectores, que sin su respaldo, no tuviéramos ganas de seguir haciendo esto. Pero por favor, tampoco no sean gachos y echenos la mano -- con muchas submissions y dinero! Afterall, it’s the season for giving, or whatever.

Enjoy the break. Enjoy the winter sun, and see you in 2009.


Sincerely,
El Reflejo Staff

Jot@ Diaries: Intro


Chicken Shit

Artist: Adrian _____?

La(tin@) Mala Educación

Fernando Romero


The Latino Education Forum was presented inside the University Student Union Ballrooms on Tuesday, Nov. 18 to address the concerns regarding Latinos and education.

The forum was organized in part by the Chicano and Latino Studies Dept. (CHLS) at Cal State Long Beach. The event included a discussion panel, followed by a question-and-answer session with audience members. The five-person panel was comprised of CSULB faculty, a "social critic", area educators and local politicians. The event provided the opportunity for students, educators, community leaders, and those who work for and on behalf of Latino students to engage in a dialogue that would proactively address the needs of all Latino students.

The panel discussion focused on issues of critical interest, especially those related to student participation, parental involvement, higher education opportunities, cultural awareness and dropout prevention.

The panelists talked about the possible problems and the reasons why Latinos continue to underachieve in education across different measures. The latter part of the forum was spent discussing the viable solutions to combat educational issues which persistently afflict Latino students such as excessive high school dropout rates, low enrollment in post-secondary institutions and the low attainment of baccalaureate and master’s degrees.

CHLS professor José Moreno served as one of the facilitators of the event. Moreno said that the idea for putting together the Latino Education Forum was to bring together an array of viewpoints and have a serious discussion about the problems Latino students are facing in the nation’s educational system.

"The idea for coming together tonight was to be able to engage these folks [panelists] with our ideas and to provide a forum to talk openly about the problems and solutions relating to Latinos and education," Moreno said.

The Latino education gap was exemplified in literature provided to the audience made up primarily of CSULB students. The statistics and numbers attributed to the 2000 U.S. Census cited that for every 100 Latino elementary school students, 48 drop out of high school and only 52 graduate from high school. Of the 52 who graduate from high school, 31 enroll in college. And of the 31 who enroll in college, 20 go to a community college and 11 to a four-year institution. Of the 20 who go to a community college, 2 transfer to a 4-year college. Overall, of the 31 who enrolled in college, either community or four-year, only 10 will graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

When compared to other demographics, Latinos trail in every category of educational achievement. Of the four major ethnic/racial demographics in the U.S., Latinos trailed last substantially. The Latino high school graduation rate stood at 52 percent, compared to African Americans at 72, Asian Americans at 80 and Whites at 84. Post-secondary enrollment had similar statistics for the disparity in Latino achievement. Latinos graduated with a bachelor’s degree at a rate of 10 percent, while African Americans at 14, Asian Americans at 44 and Whites at 26 percent.

The panelists cited different causes for the persistent underachievement of Latinos across different educational measures. Panelist Olga Rubio, professor at CSULB in the Teacher Education Dept. said that factors such as lack of preparation of teachers as well as a "subtractive environment" in the K-12 school system contribute to the underachievement of Latinos in education.

"Some of the critical issues that I see are student and school disconnection. There also seems to be a lack of preparation of the majority of teachers in schools who can help Latino students confront cultural differences," Rubio said.

Social critic Ernesto Caravantes, author of Clipping Their Own Wings: The Incompatibility Between Latino Culture and American Education said cultural differences have played a definite role in Latino underachievement in education. The author cited the disconnection between "Hispanic culture" and the requirements the American education system demands. Caravantes said that the cultural differences of Latinos have not placed education as a priority and have accounted for the educational underachievement.

"Hispanics have put other things before education. Not that they don’t value education, but they have put other things before education," Caravantes said. "Hispanics have primarily placed other things such as family, traditions, solidarity before education."


Caravantes did not present any evidence for his findings, but asserted that his book did not posit a "blame-the-victim" approach toward the underachievement of Latinos in education.

Caravantes said, "I think the discussion could be greatly improved if the word ‘victim’ isn’t used. I’m not trying to blame them, but to simply state that Hispanics as a culture have a list of principle values and education is not at the top."

Former deputy superintendent Rubén Barrón of the Anaheim and Hesperia School Districts, said the educational crisis afflicting Latinos requires more attention.

"The system is not working," Barrón said. "It’s not a national priority. We need to make it a national priority."
Lorena Moreno, Assistant Principal at Demille Middle School in Long Beach said some of the most pragmatic solutions included a wider involvement of Latino parents in schools.

"We need to continue to develop community relations to parents and teachers," she said. "Schools that reach out to parents do better."Rubio said that there also existed a lack of information and of programs designed specifically to alleviate some of the cultural differences Latino parents have, such as language barriers.

The panelists agreed that the underachievement of Latinos in the education system is a complex issue. The cultural and language differences coupled with socioeconomic factors has placed Latinos at the bottom of the secondary and post-secondary educational ladder. The five-person panel agreed that access to information and the change of the institutional education climate through outreach to parents and students will alleviate Latino underachievement in education.

Latinos in postsecondary education have not been keeping pace proportionate with their growth among the general population. Latinos currently make up 15 percent of the U.S. population. The population growth and contribution to the economy makes the improvement of Latino achievement in education vital to the nation’s workforce. ¶

La niña de mis ojos

Anonymous
I rushed home from the university to live the moment on my computer. I planned on YouTubing Obama’s speech as soon as I could lock myself in my room and get on my laptop. On the long ride home, I had been listening to a punk version of "A Change is Gonna Come", thinking it perfect for the occasion. Later, I was delighted to hear him quote the song in his victory speech. "It’s been a long time coming," he bellowed.

And then, in the midst of all the tears of joy and the surreal quality of the night, I kept anxiously refreshing the Los Angeles Times web page for results of the California elections.

I had a headache, but I kept clicking and clicking, getting the most up-to-date results as the minutes went by. Even as I was hearing our president-elect speak in the YouTube video, I couldn’t help but refresh the page. It looked like it was passing, but that was from preliminary results in conservative counties, the web site said. Hope. I clicked again and again until my head hurt so much that I decided to just sleep on it.

In the morning, things were still muddy, but I kept the Internet close. By mid-afternoon however, it was getting clear: voting Californians, well about fifty-two percent of them, had passed the motion that would amend the state’s constitution to define marriage as that which occurs between a man and a woman. That’s when I started to get different feelings about these historic elections.

It was Saturday night after the elections. With the weight of human hate on my shoulders and the thought of comfy chickens, I had a right to be emotionally exhausted. But that was nothing that a good evening spent at my grandmother’s house with all my cousins, aunts and uncles couldn’t wisp away. Yeah.

I was sitting in the living room when my uncle approached me. He got straight to the point.

"What did you vote on Prop 8?"

"What do you think?" I answered him, coolly.

"I think that you voted ‘no’," he replied.

"And you?" I asked, almost reluctantly but unable to refuse his attempt at meaningful conversation.

"I voted ‘yes’ because I do not want my kids to be taught blah, blah, blah, gibberish, blah…" referencing of course, the successful public-schools-will-turn-your-kids-gay-if-this-proposition-does-not-pass television propaganda.

I stared at him for a second. I sighed. I had to try.

"But it’s not going to make them gay. And what’s wrong with that anyway?" I told him.

Then, my other uncle and his wife decided to chime in. That is how, in what seemed like five seconds, a one-on-one discussion turned into a yelling match. Even my mom was trying to help me. After a few minutes of listening to the same circular arguments, I let myself sink into the background. I sat there, sandwiched between these gay-passionate straight folks.

"Gays this! Gays that!"

"Oh, the horror! Fragile little children will get so confused!"

"Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!"

Then, my uncle stopped all conversation, marking a triumphant victory for the haters in the room. Thundering with druggie-turned-apostle-of-Christ wisdom, he turned to look at my mother, who was arguing against him. His forehead vein popping, he challenged her. He asked her the make-it or break-it question:

"¿Pero está bien moralmente? Crees eso en tu corazón?"

And I heard my mother falter. I continued to stare at my lap, at that moment feeling quite detached from the world. I knew better than to hold her accountable for anything. I let them keep talking, keep yelling, keep knowing.

But, I’m not the type to let it stay like that. My patience has its limits and I finally decided to interject. I took a deep breath.

"As a…bi…sexual," I struggled to declare. They turned to look at me. "Bisexual" isn’t even the label I like, but given the audience, I wasn’t too concerned with the technicalities. I did it as a sort of plea for authority on the subject, for respect, for a bit of compassion.

And it only made them listen for a few seconds in momentary discomfort. They smiled smugly, as if I was trying to trick them out of their convictions by presenting worthless evidence. They weren’t fooled by my honesty. They resumed the argument and by then, my face was scrunched and I was crying.

I stood up quickly and retreated to my cousin’s room – I had just come out to my family. For the first time in twenty-two years, they seemed to be complete strangers, arrogant inhibitors of love and progress. I wondered how they could be my lifelong support and joy, and then turn into fiery rhetorical wolves at the passing of a petty law. None of this was about marriage. None of it was about civil rights. It was about allowing advocates of tradition to openly express their otherwise politically incorrect homophobia. They needed to sit me down in the living room and tell me what was up because of course, they were able to vote for it on Tuesday. Their too-often-repressed voices had to be heard! I guess.

I sat on my cousin’s bed sniffling. See, this whole "degenerate" sexuality thing is fairly new to me. I just came out to myself this year. Perhaps that is why I couldn’t handle it like a woman with ovaries. It’s so damn fresh.

I got up to look at myself in my cousin’s makeup mirror. I was crying, but I also did not want my eyeliner to run, which is an excellent thought for subduing tears. Stepping in closer, I looked into the peaceful depth of the blue-shadowed, brown eyes that were staring back at me. Like a clairvoyant, I tried to see the future revealed in my misty eyes.

The thought bit, and I asked the forces that be to show me if there was any way that years from now, I could end up with only a taste for boys. I concentrated and looked in deep, but at that moment, I could only see la niña de mis ojos. ¶

Uncovering the Lie

Gloria Anzaldúa

"Some of us take another route. We try to make ourselves conscious of the Shadow-Beast, stare at the sexual lust and lust for power and destruction we see on its face, discern among its features the undershadow that the reigning order of heterosexual males project on our Beast. Yet still others of us take it another step: we try to waken the Shadow-Beast inside us. Not many jump at the chance to confront the Shadow-Beast in the mirror without flinching at her lidless serpent eyes, her cold clammy moist hand dragging us underground, fangs bared and hissing. How does one put feathers on this particular serpent? But a few of us have been lucky – on the face of the Shadow-Beast we have seen not lust but tenderness; on its face we have uncovered the lie."

:from Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Who doesn’t want to save the children?

Iris Arcón

On Election Day, I was checking the polls anxiously waiting to see the results. When I got the results that Obama had won, I cried, but it was a bittersweet victory. The ban of same-sex marriage completely devastated many of us. We received the news along with numerous statistics that African American and Latinos had voted ‘yes’ on Proposition 8. I was furious. Why did Latinos, mi raza, vote against me? Upon hearing this, I wanted to protest in Compton and East LA. I wanted to scream, "How fucking dare you take away my right to marry the woman of my dreams? Who gives you that right? ¿Es mas, a ustedes qué les importa con quien me caso? How can you ban us from having the same rights as everyone else when you know what it feels like to be discriminated? We are all in the same struggle together and you hurt us like that?" Yes, I’ll admit to this anger, frustration, disappointment that I felt towards my community and the black community. I’m not proud of it, but you have to understand it was not easy. It hurt so much. Worst of all, I fell for the lies.

Some people say that California put the propositions on the ballot and that Californians voted as a democracy. Each campaign had a chance to win and now it is over. Pardon mis chilangueadas, but ¡ni madres! The opposing side clearly used many lies to win, especially about schools teaching children "gay things."

Jack O’Connell, the California Superintendent of Schools stated that, "Prop 8 has nothing to do with schools or kids. Our schools aren’t required to teach anything about marriage."

Proposition 8 had nothing to do with altering the school curriculum, but the opposing side made everyone believe that farce. At a family dinner, this was the topic of discussion. The majority of my aunts, uncles, and cousins, all Catholics, believed that it was not their business to interfere with someone’s life. That was where my family, and possibly a lot of other people, hesitated. And that is where all of the lies worked. We must also remember that history has showed us that majority consensus is not always fair.

Then I started wondering, why couldn’t African Americans and Latinos relate to this discrimination? Many Latinos agreed that banning same-sex marriage would not make all of us equal. I feel that LGBT activists did not reach out to the Latino or Black population, and now my community along with the African American community are being blamed. Initially, I too blamed both communities, and I did not question the older, religious groups. It made me wonder if this was for a reason. It would certainly not be the first time that we have been put against each other. Even when I attended the consecutive marches, I felt out of place. I arrived wearing my "Legalize LA" t-shirt wanting to speak up for two groups and "kill two birds with one stone." I felt several faces stare down at it. The primarily white faces made me question so many things. Of course Latinos and Blacks could not relate to this discrimination! The LGBT community did not approach Latinos or Blacks.

My sister, a straight Latina, brought this to my attention. She realized that there were so many commercials for the ‘Yes’ campaign, but where were the commercials for "No on 8" in Latino and black programming? The "Yes on 8" campaign rolled constant commercials stating that they wanted to "save the children." Who doesn’t want to save the children? I even wanted to save the children! Yes, religion played a huge role in this campaign, but there are a lot of religious, Latino families with Queer sons and daughters, and the "No on 8" campaign did not tap into this reality. The LGBT community did not approach my community and now it blames it.

It isn’t until now, with the Day Without Gays movement on December 10th, that I have seen something where the Latino community can relate and understand the similar discrimination. A Day without Gays will be a nationwide Strike and Boycott in support of marriage as a right for all Americans. It was "inspired by the film A Day Without A Mexican and the nationwide strike in 2006 called A Day Without Immigrants that protested against proposed immigration laws." You see, this is what needed to be done ahead of time before harsh, racist remarks were made. I am glad that it is happening, but it only took place after we failed to interact with the Latino community.

I have big hopes that good things will happen. We will overturn the vote. You can see it in the marches that have taken place. A lot of us are pissed off and a lot of us want to do something about it. It is nice to see us all together fighting for this cause. We can only learn from this. We will not turn on our communities. Neither the Latino communities nor the Black communities are to blame. We will not blame the equally oppressed. Instead we will unite; we will all get to see a wonderful wedding day.

¡Que viva la jotería!

TRANS-Migration

For more information on trans-migration issues, please visit: Sylvia Rivera Law Project

Elisa

Anonymous
When I was eleven years old I went to Robert A. Millikan Middle School in Sherman Oaks because I had nothing else to do during the Summer. We couldn’t possibly afford anything fancy like a summer camp and I didn’t really have any friends, so my mom decided to send me to Summer school. She didn’t care about the classes I took, she only wanted for me to have something to do for three months. They had open enrollment back then, so it didn’t matter that I was a poor kid from Van Nuys. I would just have to take the bus every morning and take it back down a three-mile stretch of street.

I had an entire Summer and a slew of choices. I settled on taking "Introduction to Design Concepts" and "Environmental Art" (apparently, they meant murals). There was one other girl who had the same classes and took the same bus home. Her name was Elisa. She was thirteen and therefore an older girl. She had a pretty face, thin and with a birthmark painted on the left side of her face, like the milk you just poured into your café. Her hair was long and wavy, the color of canela. She had fairy-like hands and moved with a swift gentleness that betrayed her personality and her strawberry-scented conditioner.

She had been born in East LA. Her mother was from Guatemala. She had grown up like every child of an immigrant; at the crossroads of two cultures. Constant conflicts with her grandmother had made her strong, though not without a hint of sadness. She had slender shoulders and they were strong and determined. She was always confident, even when she didn’t really believe that she was. She was rebellious and constantly dressed in red, black, and white (this was before The White Stripes). Her studded belt matched her leather boots and her chains jingled with her stride.

When I met Elisa, I considered myself to be what every other 11 year-old girl didshould be; normal. I listened to pop music and I wanted to be popular. Elisa, on the other hand, listened to punk rock, alternative rock, and metal. I started looking for all the rock music that I could find, hoping that I would at least like some of it, and that I could bring back something to talk to her about. Mamá was startled with my sudden changes in music tastes. I told her that I was finally being an individual, breaking free from the pack, and listening to what I wanted to instead of what I was told to (words still too big for me to comprehend just yet).

After meeting Elisa, I no longer wanted to be another sheep, another cog in the capitalist society that we had been bred into (I had yet to learn what capitalist meant). I wanted to dress like her, be like her, and just have more things in common with her. Even if I had never decided to try and please her with all my sudden changes in likes and dislikes. She was a catalyst in my life for uncovering a new emotion in me; jealousy.

I will always remember the last time that I saw her…

It was the last day of Summer school and she was going to high school in the Fall. I turned around as the doors were closing, to wave goodbye to her one last time, to try and memorize her face before she left me forever. But she didn’t notice. I watched her profile smile and her delicate wrists slide a piece of her hair behind her ear. She was talking to one of the boys who always rode the bus. To be fair, he was actually very cute, but she still wasn’t looking at me. Me, who she would never see again. As she laughed, her eyes sparkled. She didn’t love me.

I was just the little girl that followed her around. We took the same bus and the same classes, and being her shadow was the most I could really hope for. Even if I was too young to become a good friend, I tried to learn as much as I could from and about her. She radiated with the rebellion that all eleven year-old girls are drawn to. One could even say that she set me on the right track for feminism, equal rights, and critical analysis of established systems. She taught me a lot about myself, and even though I will probably never see her again, I will always remember my first girl-crush. ¶

Those Bloody Days

Yadira Arroyo

i bled
in chunks
and rivers

my vulva
all soaked
stained panties

seven pads
in seven hours
expensive

when i sat
on toilet
it flowed

and my lips
they pulsed
throbbing

aching vulva
bleeding hole
coincides with --

i don't bleed
so bad
anymore

one pad
in four hours
not stressful

a spot
here and there
at ease

at ease
my mind
and my wounded



vagina.

Untitled: Natural Beauty

Monsus

WE ARE PEOPLE OF THE LAND
OUR BODIES SQUARE AND THICK
FLAT AND BROAD
CLOSE TO THE DIRT WE WALK
BECOMING MORE LIKE IT,
DARK, DARKER, DIRT
ONLY NATURAL BEAUTY

The "I" Word

Lorena Romero

Among ourselves we are anything but Indian,

Among ourselves we understand the allure de
ser "mestizo."

Among ourselves we know not to utter our
heritage aloud,

Among ourselves we recognize the shame but do not speak of it.

Among ourselves we have quietly rewritten history,

Among ourselves we pray that no one will find out.

Among ourselves we hate one another for making it difficult to blend in.

Among ourselves we are desperate for affirmation,

Among ourselves we long for pride of that suppressed history.

And among ourselves we hope that being Indian will someday be acceptable.

Contemplative and Hopeful

Anonymous

So, another year has gone by, another notch on my educational belt leaving me one step closer to graduation. Damn, it’s been too long of a trip already. Still, as I reminisce on the past year I find myself wanting, for even with the election of Barack Obama, it feels that this year was lost to politics.

You see, this year has been one of turmoil, with wars around the world, genocide, and ICE raids becoming an unfortunate norm; nothing has been spared. Even the 2008 Olympiad, a competition that has stood for unity saw controversy directed its way before it even started.

Still, with a growing economic meltdown and the failure of the three big automakers hurling along the horizon, all I can think about is what classes I’m going to be able to take next semester. Sad, isn’t it? Among so much, I choose to reduce my focus to so little. This is the reality to most, whether we admit it or not.

Thus, I reminisce and think back to a Raza Student Association general meeting where an Hermanos Unidos member asked for help with the Border Angels organization.

I still remember how I sat there listening to the presentation as he gave the stats on how many people risk all just to enter into the U.S.. It touched home in a way that I truly wasn’t able to express. Hector Gomez, the HU member, mentioned that on average, one traveler gives the ultimate sacrifice for freedom every week. But what touched me most were photos of a grave of the unknowns where they have laid to rest 600+ who have been found in the vastness of the desert between Méjico and the U.S.

Yeah, it is some crazy shit. But the battle isn’t done. You see, as the semester draws to a close and the holidays loom near, while most are just wondering where they will head out to for Christmas and New Year’s, I still remember the days when all I could do was wonder how my family in Méjico was doing. Wondering if I was going to be able to visit them one day and still have the chance to come back, without the assistance of a coyote. Wishing that El Niño Dios would know where I was now and where to bring my gifts.

Thus, I reminisce about this past year and wonder how many more have died along the border, how many have had their families broken due to the "law." How many children will lie in their beds praying on Christmas Eve with only one wish in their hearts:

"Por favor, deja que mi familia, mi mamá, mi papá, mis hermanos y mis hermanas estemos juntos otra vez esta Navidad."

And with this, I hope. I hope that while we count our blessings this holiday season we look back and remember those we have lost. That we look back and pray, to whomever we can, for those whose families that have been broken up due to forces beyond their power.

But most of all that we act, for as this year comes to an end, a new one is just about to dawn. With it comes the promise of a fresh start, new hopes, new dreams, and new mistakes ready to be accomplished and overcome.

As this semester, these memories, and this crazy thing we call the year 2008 comes to a close, let us think back and hope for the future. ¶

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fasting for the Future of Immigrant Rights

Fernando Romero

L OS ANGELES --- On Wednesday, Oct. 15, members of civil rights organizations, activists, students, day laborers and pro-immigrant supporters began what is considered one of the largest hunger strikes in American history at Placita Olvera in advocacy for immigrant rights.

Already into its third week, the hunger strike dubbed "Fast for Our Future," aims to call attention to the oppression, the disrespect of civil rights and unfair treatment of undocumented immigrants by the current Bush administration.

The fast is scheduled to continue for 21 days until after the presidential elections on Wednesday, Nov. 5. A permanent encampment at Placita Olvera has been set up with tents to house the nearly 100 pro-immigrant rights activists and supporters who have fasted intermittently for nearly three weeks.

The fast also dramatizes and coincides with a nationwide effort to gather over 1 million signatures in a pledge/petition of people who are committed to "vote for immigrant rights, fast at least one day, recruit five family and friends to sign the pledge and take action to hold the new administration accountable for our votes," the pledge reads. The pledge will be sent to the winning presidential candidate.

On the first day of the hunger strike, over 70 people came to fast at the encampment on the south side of Placita Olvera, the historic heart of Los Angeles. Fasters have been given on-site necessities such as water and medical provisions for the prolonged hunger strike.

Organizers said that over the course of the hunger strike, people have fasted sporadically, but a core group of a dozen activists have maintained their fast and will continue to do so until Nov. 5.

Organizer Kai Newkirk said, "A lot of the fasters have been coming and going. We’ve had a lot of college students present and some would fast for a couple of days, especially over the weekend and then go back to school on Monday."

The fast is being organized by RISE, a movement of immigrant rights leaders and advocates. The focus of the movement is on non-violent actions to confront the escalation of anti-immigrant raids, unlawful detentions and other repressive measures by the current administration, as well as legislation for a just immigration reform.

The RISE movement was conceived in the non-violent action and tradition of civil rights leader Martin Luther King and farm labor and organizer Cesar Chavez. Organizers and activists of Fast for Our Future assert that the oppression of undocumented immigrants has become the most important civil rights issue of our time. The disrespect for civil rights is reflective of the 60s and actions such as this hunger strike are necessary to shed light on such a vital issue, organizers said.

The repression against undocumented immigrants has become a dreadful fact fueled mainly by xenophobic and anti-immigrant sentiment. According to the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), detentions and deportations have taken a drastic measure in terms of numbers.

In recent years, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) has steadily increased raids and deportations, reaching new records. The Bush’s administration persecution and repression of immigrants has taken an Orwellian characteristic. ICE’s Fugitive Operation Teams have more than quadrupled in the last three years, going from 18 in 2005 to 50 in 2006 and 75 in 2007. Detentions have increased drastically in the last decade going from 5,532 in 1994 to 27,500 in 2007. In the fiscal years of 2007, an estimated 270,000 people were deported, also a new record.

All across the country, ICE agents have routinely breached the civil rigths of individuals. In cities and small towns throughout the U.S., ICE have detained people in their homes, on the streets, on bus stops, and questioned them about their immigration status without a warrant.

Reports show that the encroachment upon these people and further questioning by ICE is based mainly on the person’s skin color and ethnicity. The racial profiling tactic has also resulted in wrongful detentions and deportations of American citizens.

ICE uses raids to send shock waves to immigrant communities and repress rigths. The results are devastating; families are separated, communities are traumatized and losses to the economy are created. According to CHIRLA, some five million children have at least one undocumented parent. Most of these children are U.S. citizens. The intense persecution and oppression of immigrants has torn families apart and separated mothers and fathers from their U.S.-born children.

Endorsers and participants of the hunger strike include Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers; Maria Elena Durazo, leader of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor; CHIRLA and students from Cal State Long Beach, among others.

Huerta and Durazo joined the hunger strike and fasted for one day during the three-week period of the fast.Both Huerta and Durazo urged voters and immigrant rights advocates to act on behalf of undocumented immigrants.

As of Friday, Oct. 24, 50-60 people remained encamped at Placita Olvera. Some maintained their fast, while others stayed in support of the cause.

Mariana Mendoza, a 56-year old native of Durango, Mexico, is one of whom fasted for a handful days before medical personnel advised her to abandon the fast. An activist, Mendoza said she began her fast a day prior to the start of the Fast for Our Future campaign. She has worked alongside Border Angels and other organizations aimed at helping the immigrant community. She said she joined the fast because she considers the immigrant issue an important socio/political issue which needs a resolution.

"The main goal of the fast is to bring forth a just immigration reform," Mendoza said.

On the third day of her fasting, Mendoza told how she was rushed to the to Beverly Medical Center. Mendoza, a documented U.S. resident, said she remained committed to the cause

"I felt dizzy, I felt like I was floating. I thought I was gonna die," Mendoza said. "I had gone to the bathroom and started to vomit blood and that’s when they took me to the hospital."

Jorge Valles, a Cal State University Northridge student is one of the continuous fasters. He said he wants to continue his fast until the end of the hunger strike because of his strong commitment to the cause for pro-immigration rights. The 27-year old said that the immigration issue has become one of the worst crises in this country.

"The immigration issue is such that it requires a mass action such as this one to elevate the cause and make it prominent on the agenda of politicians," Valles said. "We needed a big action that was emblematic of what we’re fighting for. That we’re fighting for the most simple rights."

To sign the pledge, go to www.therisemovement.org. ¶
Photos and Video by Fernando Romero/El Reflejo

video

Long Beach Visage

Pablo Ildefonso

Driving down Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach, one will get the impression of a prosperous city. Its shiny World Trade Center and Hilton Hotel glitter the street of Ocean Blvd. It would remind you of Los Angeles in the 80's; the years of excess.

Though driving north in Long Beach, the city begins to change; it seems to have a different face. Starting at the intersection of Ocean Blvd. and Pine Avenue, the buildings spaces are full with shops, nightclubs and restaurants. The further you head north, one can slowly begin to see empty shops with lease signs in front of windows.

According to a recent Long Beach Press-Telegram article, tourism in the City of Long Beach has been bringing a steady amount of money, despite the troubling economy. What brings tourism are the many conventions the city holds throughout the year. Conventions like Electronic Expo, Imprinted Sportswear, and coming soon TRPI 5th Annual Education Conference. These events bring millions of dollars to the city.

city of long beach

In addition, the U.S. Census reports that one-fifth of Long Beach residents live below the federal poverty line. That line being $9,973 annually for an individual and $19,971 for a family of four with two children.

In terms of race, Latinos make 27% of the poverty level, African Americans 25%, Asians 18%, and Whites 9% in Long Beach.

The Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs & Healthy (LBCGH) communities stated that the City of Long Beach in the last 30 years has spent $450 million dollars in redevelopment money. The goal is to redevelop the city into a viable visitor and convention destination. The coalition further adds that redevelopment has failed people because many receive poverty wages, which limits the amount of money that could stay in the local economy.

One of the things the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Long Beach wanted, was to be able to have a financial entryway into the city; with its World Trade Center, the beautiful Hilton Hotel, a new school, and new condominiums to show a nice space in the city. "So anyone coming into the city can see brand new buildings, and brand new condos. And wouldn't have to look at the blight or poverty," said Tonia Reyes-Uranga.

In a People-To-People tour, put togther by LBCGH, Tonia Reyes-Uranga, City Councilmember of District 7, talked a bit further about the tourism industry of Long Beach. "Development has been mostly occurring on the off ramp [of Ocean Blvd] that leads you to Downtown which have been pushing people into the west side and north side of the city where mostly the working poor live," mentioned Uranga.

"After twelve years of an administration focused on trade and tourism, what it brought was low paid jobs in the hospitality industry, in the ports, and trucker industry. They are the lowest paid workers in the industry," said Uranga.
The city has focused its efforts to bring Long Beach up economically through tourism and it has resulted in poverty wages in the industry.

In an effort to revitalize Downtown, the people of Long Beach do not have the income level to start a business. People are having trouble paying the rent. The farther you go north, the less you see revitalization in the city.


You can hear an interview with one of the workers from the Long Beach Hilton Hotel below:

¡Estás borracho!

Nunca me había emborrachado. No voy a decir que no había tomado antes pero pedo, pedo, nunca había estado. He aquí la historia de aquella noche de abril en la que el alcohol me permitió hablar sin algún temor.

Era la boda de un amigo y la recepción fue al aire libre. Era una noche con mucho viento y sorpresivamente fría. Para ganarle al frío, mi amigo propuso comprar una botella de Patrón. Y así fue. Caminamos a la licorería más cercana y ¡Salud! Pa’ que se nos quite el frío y brindar por una vida mejor. ¿Mejor? Así como estaban las cosas en mi casa, la vida me pesaba.

Pero ahí no terminó la fiesta. Seguimos brindando en la que sería la ex-casa del novio. Más Patrón y una que otra Pacífico. Perdí la cuenta de los shots que me tomé, pero fueron más de seis en menos de cinco minutos. Cuando me paré, me sentí como recién bajado de las teacups de Disneyland, bien mareado. Sentía que estaba patas arriba. Fui al baño y ya casi tomaba agua purificada…con pipí y caca. Casi me caigo de cabeza en el excusado. El mundo seguía dando vuelta y yo seguí tomando más cerveza importada.

Se llegó la hora de ir a casa pues ya eran las tres de la mañana y mi amiga nos llevo a la bola de borrachos a nuestros respectivos hogares. En el carro empecé a hablar, hablar y hablar y también a llorar, llorar, y más llorar. Éramos cinco en el carro y todos sólo me trataban de consolar y hasta hice a algunos llorar.

Llegue a casa con los ojos rojos como si me hubiera fumado un toque de la tía María Juana. Prendí la luz de mi cuarto y ¡Sorpresa! Miré a mi mamá y escuche su dulce voz que me dijo: "¡Estás borracho!"

Y con la facilidad de palabra y la honestidad que el alcohol nos regala, sin pensarlo le dije, "¡Sí, estoy borracho!" – "¿Por qué?" Muy consternada me preguntó. – "¡Tú sabes porque!

Estas palabras se convirtieron en una conversación de una hora. Bueno, yo hablé toda la hora. Ella sólo me escuchaba y me miraba con lástima. Me prometió que todo cambiaría, que ella y yo estaríamos bien. Yo le creí. Me sequé las lágrimas, le besé la nariz, y ella me cobijó y en tres segundos el mundo se apagó.

Esa tormentosa madrugada, le dije a mi amá todo lo que mi corazón sentía después de que por una semana entera ella me dijera que mejor quería estar muerta, que como era posible que yo así fuera, que era una vergüenza, estaba mal, que cochinada, ¡Qué asco! ¡Cambia! ¡Haz algo! ¿No tiene cura?

Todo esto pasó por algo que les dije a mis papás cinco días antes de la borrachera. Mientras lloraba y todo el cuerpo me temblaba, prendí el fosforo que incendiaría el fuego que hasta ahora más me ha quemado el alma. Después de esas cinco palabras llegaron noches de culpa, inseguridad, miedo, coraje, impotencia, dolor, pero también valentía, honor, dignidad y aceptación por quién soy. Así que entre mocos y lágrimas saladas les dije: "Pues, es que soy gay."

Pan dulce duro

A quien le corresponde,

Tu eres como pan dulce duro, the worst and most disappointing type of thing. Tú eres el veneno de mi paz, y el tormento de mis sueños. Vienes por unos momentos de placer, con mentiras tú me haces creer que sientes algo por mí. You touched my skin with the softness of your skin, and then of course you touched la de tú novia. You left me marked up, and yet you expect me to hide everything shamefully. Dame otra mordida y a ver qué te pasa. El valor que tienes de verme entre las piernas, hold me tightly all night, and do the same thing to your partner the next morning. I’m not going to mend your ego, to tell you you were great at it or worth it. No te entiendo, tienes todo y todavía quieres más.

¡Si no vas a respetar a tu pareja, respétame a mí!

No soy tuya,
La Miranda Moon

NACCS Joto Conference

Iris Arcon














The Second Annual NACCS, Joto Caucus Conference was a three day event full of great presenters and performers including Cherríe Moraga, an internationally-recognized feminist, Chicana lesbian writer.

The conference was called “Sacred Space Making: Mapping Queer Scholarship, Activism, and Performance,” and was hosted by California State University, Los Angeles.

Moraga, who has written such great works including This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, Loving in the War Years: Lo Que Nunca Pasó Por Sus Labios (1983).

The conference had several workshops like “Feminism as a Sacred Space for Queer Men of Color,” “Immigrant Lesbians and Gay Men: the Missing Color in the Rainbow,” and “Queer Documenting, Archiving, and Researching.” Other workshops included, “Conectando Nuestras Fronteras: Bridging Queer Aztlán,” Queer Youth at the Forefront of Youth Organizing; Building Safe, Inclusive and Equitable Schools,” “Postcards from La Raza/Postales de La Raza,” “Implementing Queer Chicana/o Latina/o Studies in the CSU System,” and “Ave María Purisima de l@s jot@s: Testimonios on the Intersections of Religion, Spirituality, and Jota/o Identity,”

The last day was dedicated to Moraga. She read her newest work entitled, “Still Loving in the (Still) War Years.” Her piece embodied her Chicana lesbian side once again. After her reading, we got a chance to hear her reflect on the audience’s questions. She scolded us and said, “Why is there no movement? This scares me.”

When she uttered those words, “Queer Aztlan: The Re-formation of Chicano Tribe,” Moraga’s powerful article came into my head. She has been saying it all along. In her, Queer Aztlan, she, “felt the racism from the women’s movement, felt the elitism from the gay and lesbian movement; and homophobia and sexism from the Chicano movement.”

That is why she envisioned “Queer Aztlan.” Moraga reflected on, “ a dissolution of an active Chicano movement. The gradual Hispanization of Chicano students, the senselessness of barrio violence, and the poisoning of la frontera. For (her) ‘El Movimiento’ has never been a thing of the past. Those words were playing over and over in my head. She scolded us and asked “Why is there no movement.”

This question of whatever happened to the movement needs to be brought up again. The movement isn’t dead. It’s just waiting. What’s more important is that yeah, students have heard about the Chicano movement, but so many have not. Why don’t we know any of this information? Yes, that is what the walkouts represent.

Why don’t we know about AB540? Why don’t they know about what SB1301 and Prop. 8 stand for? And I can’t help but wonder are we still in the same place? Have we really not progressed anywhere since the Chicano Movement?

Yes, we all know certain things that pertain to immigration like the infamous May Day march. We all know about the raids, but we haven’t learned anything about queer issues. We still need to learn more.

This brings me to another issue. Will immigrants and queers have to fight the same struggle as the Chicano youth of the ‘60s? We are the students that have embodied the spirit of the Chicano Movement. We keep fighting for the all inclusive classes. We want to read about Cherríe Moraga and other writers like her. We don’t want to have to go to the women’s studies department to learn about queer theory and feminism. We don’t want to have to go to the sociology or history department to learn about all aspects of immigration. Our department should have all of these topics within the curriculum.

So with the current redevelopment of the Chicano studies department, has the department remembered to add immigration, Chican@ Feminism, and Queer issues? More importantly why aren’t we requesting these requirements within our curriculums?

One man asked, “You are a prominent lesbian Chicana writer. Where are all of the jotos? Why don’t we have queer men to look up to?”

La Cherríe left us with this, “You all have to go back home and challenge daddy. ¶

El Mentado Voto Latino

Fernando Romero

Every four years they come. Like vultures almost. It’s a cyclical visit. It’s weird. Seems they only come during presidential elections. Every four years, Latino voters are courted como la niña bonita de la fiesta con la cual todos quieren bailar. Both senators, Barack Obama and John McCain, tell Latino voters what they want to hear. That they care about Latino issues. They talked about their knowledge of Latin American socio-political issues. They’ve held debates for the Spanish media and even spoke to us in Spanish. Never before in the history of the United States has the Latino vote been more sought after.

In a close presidential race, such as this one, it is very likely Latino voters will decide the outcome of the election. It is estimated that over 9 million Latinos will cast their vote on Tuesday, Nov 4. Less than one in ten voters this Election Day will be of Latino descent, but Latino voters are important because they are concentrated in swing states that can decide the outcome of the election.

It makes sense for politicians to reach out to Latinos. Some perceive it as a good sign of the times and of the political muscle Latinos can now flex. Others see it as pandering by politicians trying to secure a burgeoning demographic. While others see it as patronizing, even.

Latinos are coming of political age, and probably face a dilemma. But which is better, being pandered to, or ignored?

The word “pander” is appropriate because it seems candidates are providing some form of gratification for Latinos’ political desires. Both candidates have made promises of making Latino issues, particularly immigration reform, a top priority as presidents. If you’re asking if whether this is pandering, the answer would be yes. Both have made immigration a top concern on their agenda when speaking mainly to Latino caucuses such as the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, the League of United Latin American Citizens and The National Council of La Raza.

But, to pander has a negative connotation and the concept seems highlighted when it refers to Latinos, the largest and fastest-growing minority in the nation. This electorate is familiar with politicians making promises they don’t always keep. Chances are we will see both McCain and Obama favor border security before immigration reform. Both have already favored a measure of building a wall along the US-Mexico border. Now they turn around and say they favor just immigration reform in front of Latino audiences; seems like pandering to me. So Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain, please don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

Patronizing? Yes. The way in which Obama will utter simple phrases in Spanish like “!Sí se puede!” the emblematic rallying cry of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. Or “libertad,” like he did during a speech about Cuba. Uttering a handful of words in Spanish to simply garnish votes comes off as patronizing and will not necessarily get the Latino vote nor the goodwill of 550 million people who live in Latin America.

Patronizing the way in which McCain ran an ad in some the swing states trying to emphasize the contributions Latinos have made to this country. In the ad which ran in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, McCain refers to the military service of Latinos of past and present wars.

John McCain: “My friends, I want you the next time you’re down in Washington, D.C., to go to the Vietnam War Memorial and look at the names engraved in black granite. You’ll find a whole lot of Hispanic names. When you go to Iraq or Afghanistan today, you’re going to see a whole lot of people who are of Hispanic background. You’re even going to meet some of the few thousand that are still green card holders who are not even citizens of this country, who love this country so much that they’re willing to risk their lives in its service in order to accelerate their path to citizenship and enjoy the bountiful, blessed nation.”

To say that it is good that Latinos are willing to risk their lives and die in Iraq and Afghanistan is patronizing to the families of Latinos who have lost a son or daughter in these international conflicts.

Okay, a little bit of background history. The 2000 presidential election was decided in Florida by some 537 Cuban-Americans who voted for George W. Bush. In 2004, it was decided by 67 thousand Latinos in New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada who voted for Bush and not John Kerry. That year, Bush garnished 40 percent of the Latino vote in the swing states, just enough to give him the presidency. That is the lesson; Latinos are deciding elections.

More and more Latinos are becoming a part of the social fabric of this country. More and more are voting. Political parties are trying to lure the Latino vote because in a way Latinos are poised to be an integral part of the future of this country. Latinos are currently 15 percent of the population totaling roughly 46 million. According to projections by the US Census, Latinos will go from 46 million to 125 million in 2050, almost a third of the population. It makes sense that politicians are reaching out so emphatically to Latino voters.

The question is, do the candidates actually care about the issues that afflict the Latino community? Or, is it an episodic care which comes every four years? Every four years es lo mismo. La verdad, yo no se por que la hacen de tanto pedo, si solo nos van a dar atole con el dedo. Yo por eso me quejo y me quejo. No me lo creo todo. Aquí es donde vivo y yo ya no soy un pendejo. As a significant electorate, Latinos need to make the winning candidate accountable for promises made on the campaign trail. Todos unidos tenemos que pedir un cambio. As voters, we need to make our voices heard and assume political power. Many of us still live in la pobreza. Este país se sostiene en la espalda y se mantiene gracias al sudor de nuestra gente.

While not much has changed in regards to the way politicians will continue to pander for the Latino vote, one thing that has changed is the fact that Latinos are now deciding elections and will one day decide the path this country takes. That’s a good change.¶

Mojado Routine

From Monday through Thursday, I fight against the covers in order to get up. Mis lagañas still fresh when I look in the bathroom mirror, wondering why I’m doing this in the first place.

From Monday all the way to Thursday, always the same routine. Living with the parents and feeling too old to keep doing this.

I feel like I’m past my college student prime, but I can’t let that stop me.

Sometimes I wake up early enough to have breakfast. Sometimes I just grab an apple and off I am to the bus stop.

Cold weathers, hot weathers, I’ve endured them all under the buses’ thin-sheet metal roofs. Always staring out the window and dreaming of the possibilities.

Not sure what the possibilities may be, but possibilities nonetheless.

I get to school and lose myself in the sea of colorful faces that seem to be worse off than I am.

I look at my wallet and empty its reminders in my hand to so that I can buy a Rockstar to fuel me up.

Mondays are the worst. May sound like a cliché, but it's true.

My muscles ache from the previous Sunday night’s shift at work, where I have to clean up a kitchen and mop and brush floors. It usually involves bosses younger than me, telling me that I should really pay attention to detail. But I just don’t care enough to listen.

I hate that job. I’ve gotten better offers, but the lack of a job permit in this country stops me from doing anything better.

Selling drugs or hustling my body is just out of the question. It’s too easy, and I like challenges.

My body is tired, but I am restless.

Some friends get headaches when they see my schedule. Always busy. Always doing something.

I tend to look at my hands a lot. Not out of some obsessive compulsion to make sure they’re clean. I like to look at the little scar that I have right above my right wrist.

No, I didn’t try to commit suicide because I’m an undocumented immigrant. Again, that’d be too easy.

I got that scar during the couple of semesters I spent washing dishes at a restaurant in order to pay for my tuition.

That scar is a reminder of where I come from and where I can go.

I look at the scar above my wrist to remind myself that, yes, I’ve had some shitty jobs because of my legal status, but I am in an institution of higher learning because I intend to do more than wash dishes for the rest of my life.

When the day is done and I bus my way back home, I take a deep breath and think about the day’s endeavors.

I like to stare at the people riding the bus. Some stare back, some fall asleep.

I wonder about their lives and what it’d be like to walk in their shoes. I also wonder if they feel the same way. Do you feel the same way? Would you like to walk in my shoes?

XV

Yadira Arroyo

This past weekend was my cousin Erika’s quinceañera. The whole family came out to celebrate her presentation to the “adult” world. My father told me earlier that day that he was not going to drink. At the statement, my mom felt his forehead for a fever and I smirked. In the middle of the party, I reminded him of his proclamation.

“¿Esta no es boda?” he asked with a feigned look of surprise. “Me malentendiste. Dije que solo si era boda.” We all had our fun.

As I stood in the background through the entire day’s events, I could not help but think of my own quinceañera a few years back. I thought about it when we were in the two-quinceañeras-for-one mass (efficiency!), when we went to the East LA park for the princess photo shoot, and later on when I was inebriated and calling forth my otherwise-shunned Jalisco roots by zapateando clumsily. Except of course, that I didn’t really have a quince, in the spectacular sense of the word.

There were several reasons, but perhaps the most controversial was the following: la misa. Although, I was only 14 at the time, I had been a staunch atheist since I was 12.

“¿Cómo vas a tener una quinceañera sin misa?” would ask my mother, puzzled.

“Pues fácil,” I would reply. “Sin misa.”

Or, there was always the more engaging:

“Yadira, ¿qué te cuesta sentarte en una silla por una pinche hora?”

“¡Pero yo no creo en eso! ¿Y si me empiezo a reír?”

Variants of this conversation would continue for a few months prior to the weekend of my fifteenth birthday. Teenage angst took its toll; how I hated religion! The thought of going through with the ceremony seemed hypocritical on far too many levels.

Either way, my mother wouldn’t have it and I wouldn’t have it and so, the potential guests didn’t have it.

Oh yes, the guests. As their only daughter and eldest child, my parents certainly fancied the idea of presenting me to the world, a proper and primp señorita. Herein lays another problem: I was nothing of the sort. I was, at best, awkward at 15 and having been raised in a very private home setting, I kept only a handful of friends. I was almost emotionally indifferent to mere acquaintances, and the thought of hosting these strangers at my big day not only seemed superficial, but quite frankly, annoying. That and I sure as hell did not want to do it in a pink dress, which at the time, my mom believed was the way to go.

And so, unwilling to compromise what were then my super revolutionary ideals, my mind knew that a quinceañera was not for me. Nevertheless, standing in the midst of a barrio upbringing, with its high school amigas, Spanish-language commercial signage and early-morning tamaleros ambulantes in the year 2001, my heart ached for acceptance as a daughter who could be presentable and whom my parents would be proud of.

One week prior to my birthday, my parents caved. As they were sitting on the back doorstep and I was walking from my room to the kitchen, I heard them murmur in all their regret. Months had passed by and not a single proactive move to plan mi fiesta was made; never mind that ideologically, it could not have been. They looked up at me as I walked back to my room and my mother called my name. I looked down to where they sat and they looked back and forth at each other, a bit nervously. One of them finally spoke. With my approval, I was to have a party con DJ and a lavender dress the following weekend.

I know that by speaking my mind and being una niña especial, it will always be difficult to gain effortless acceptance from the eldest bearers of my culture, namely my parents. This fact has been quite painful, but I’ve also always wanted things far greater than the grasp of any social confine could offer. Thankfully, my parents have stood by me, through reluctance and relajo.

While I respect and yes, broodingly envy other muchachitas who have bailado el vals and greeted their guests merrily, having a quinceañera could never be for this “loca”, as my mom so kindly puts it. If being mexicana means being una “buena” hija, or falling neatly into the role of a beautiful, altruistic, obedient and domestic daughter, then my identity is inevitably threatened . But, if it in the context of progress, it also calls on a history of pride and resistance, then I reckon I’ll be just fine.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

List of El Reflejo's Past Issues

So here is the current list of all the past publications from El Reflejo. I was not able to find all the past issues in pdf format. But they are in the process in being converted into pdf and to be posted as well. Thanks for the help Espie.





Volume 1 Issue 1 March 7, 2006
• Volume 1 Issue 2 April 22, 2006
Volume 2 Issue 2 May 7, 2007
• Volume 2 Issue 2 May 21, 2007
Volume 3 Issue 1 March 17, 2008
• Volume 3 Issue 2 April 7, 2008
• Volume 3 Issue 3 May 25, 2008
Volume 4 Issue 1 September 2, 2008
• Volume 4 Issue 2 Monday October 6, 2008

 

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fake Ass Chicanos

Juan Pablo Gómez de Anda

Chicano. The word just ain’t what it used to be. Seems like nowadays anybody could call themselves Chicano and nobody would argue, especially if you’re walking around rocking Aztec tattoos. The term has lost its meaning, its vision, its drive, its purpose, and its very intellectual root.

See, being Chicano doesn’t mean that your parents are Mexican and you were here - it is so much deeper and more important than that. Leaving it as a racial term makes the word generic and mediocre, like calling yourself an American. What is that supposed to mean nowadays? If any “Mexican-American” could call themselves Chicano, we only group ourselves with the lower and lesser parts of “our race”.

My brother gave me a good example that I happen to agree with:

I’ve tried to see us all as one blood, raza, and one family. But then you get that guy dressed in his ostrich-skin suit, gold medals of the Virgen de Guadalupe and an even bigger one of an AK-47, and a huge, sparkly weed plant on the back of his jacket - that’s when I say “Nah, it can’t be”.

So now what? Do you include that person as part of your own, well knowing that he stands for everything you fight against? What about gang bangers? What about wife beaters? What about drug dealers, users and drunkards? Do we let them be a part of us and what we aim for in life?

Of course not! They are not Chicanos. They are fuck ups that shouldn’t have a chance at this precious gift we call life. They only add to the pressure, stress, violence, frustrations, and strife. For me to define you by the same identity I define myself and others like myself would only be me shitting on my own being.

Because being Chicano means you are knowledgeable enough to do good for yourself, your family, and your community. Being Chicano means you help those in need; not in “giving a man a fish”, but in “teaching him how to fish”. We are pushers, movers, and shakers, not those that move with whatever is pushing and shaking us.

We are innovators in whatever we do. Our music, our art, our dances, our very culture should be distinctively and crucially one of our own. We should not be sucked in to make our culture one that we must forcibly assimilate into (Americanism). On the other hand, our culture should not be one in which we keep our eyes locked on our past (in my case, a history based on Mexica/Indigenous culture). Neither does us any good: in the first, we are stuck with the present day bullshit in which we live in. In the latter, we only keep bitching about our20past. We keep yelling “We gotta take back Aztlán!” and come out as nothing but a whining, bitchy population that gets nowhere in action. They are both backward steps and they are both mental and intellectual traps.

The key is to make our own, brand-new culture, leaving our own dent in history. We are a people who don’t take shit from anybody. We are a people who will never compromise or sellout our vision. We are a people who fight for what we know is right, rather than what others believe is right.

This being said, Chicano is no longer a racial term, but a mental, spiritual, and intellectual identity. So now when they come and ask “what are you?”, stand tall and proud and still say Chicano, knowing that it has nothing to do with race. What does it matter, right? What does it matter if you are a good person who fights for what is right and is intelligent enough to know what right is?

So now I’m glad the term Chicano isn’t what it used to be as it has grown and matured into a more powerful and intellectual concept. We Chicanos come together as20brown, black, white, and yellow people seeking to destroy the slave mentality taking over our human race. We do not think of ourselves as “free-thinkers” because there is no such thing - all ideas are in one way or another installed into your mind by different ideas and mediums and could never be free-minded in this society of dishonesty, self-loathing and media dominance. But we are intelligent thinkers, we are spiritual warriors, and we are organic intellectuals.

This being said,beginning this day and for all eternities to come -

Forget Chicano as a racial term -

It is an automatic rifle mindset.

Cool Brown Dudes

Most of the guys that belong to Raza remind me of the guys I grew up with in high school. Cool brown dudes who have a passion for sports and a fascination with the female anatomy.

I’ve seen them at the parties. Checking out the girls from Hermanas Unidas and exchanging phone numbers and Myspace Latino addresses. Well, not really. We’re too Americanized to actually use Myspace Latino.
Despite the fact that I am not a Chicano and Latino Studies major, I’ve gotten to know a few of these guys.

But I don’t know if they really know me.
See, I’m gay.
I wouldn’t say right-in-your-face-gay, but definitely gay. I’m the type of gay who is down to chill with the guys and endlessly talk about J-Lo’s butt.
I don’t think I’m that feminine, so I don’t know how many of them know that I’m actually gay. Notice this is the fifth time I type the word gay, which is making me reconsider how much of a gay I really am. But I digress.

The fact that my fellow brown brothers are here for the same reason I am, to get educated and give back to the community, just makes me so proud to share the same room as them, no matter how stained the carpets are or how wiggly the stairs leading up to Raza get.

We brown men, the men who are constantly being portrayed as the gang-banger or the wife beater, are trying to better ourselves by getting an education.
But being a gay Latino can be a bit hard. To try and find acceptance from the same guys who throw the word "fag" here and there and use maricon with a negative connotation towards my people can be quite challenging.

Now, I’m not going to get all gay pride on your brown asses. I just won’t do that. I don’t think I’m all that proud yet. I’m in a stage of my life where I’m still trying to figure out what the future holds for me and wonder when the fuck I am going to graduate already. Managing a job, school and a boyfriend can be tough. But I’m hanging in there.

Like most of you.

I’m hanging in there because I want something better for me and I can’t wait until I am a Latino man with a professional life and leave my parents’ house (yup, still live at home) with a degree that will hopefully make this transition easier.So you see my hermanos, I am not that different from you. We all share the same vision and the same goals. In the eyes of some, we are bound to fail. But we won’t let that happen.

The only difference is that I like to kiss boys. And you guys like to kiss girls. Just like the Catholic Church drilled into our heads. Which probably explains why we are so fucked up in the head when it comes to opening our minds to other people’s sexual preferences. I don’t even think I’m that open. No pun intended, cabrones.

AN UNLICENSED EXPERIMENT

La Malinche


It was a Friday and my big brother Lalo and I were going to Lopez’s birthday party at our local jazz and fondue bar, the Hip Kitty. We were driving down Foothill Blvd. when we saw a crop of blindingly bright lights. Several cars were pulled over and there was a long table set up in front of a portable trailer. The place was infested with cops. Lalo looked over at me and I scanned his face, wondering what we were going to do. He calmly pulled into the checkpoint and the white male police officer leaned in to talk to us.

“This is a DUI and license checkpoint. Can I see your driver’s license?” the police officer asked.

Lalo looked him in his blue eyes and told him steadily, “Actually officer, this is only a DUI checkpoint, and drivers don’t have to show their licenses unless it is publicized to be a license checkpoint.”

The officer looked stunned. He repeated again, “This is a DUI and license checkpoint. Let me see your license.”

Lalo then informed him that officers at DUI checkpoints are only supposed to check if drivers appear impaired. The officer looked irritated.

“Do you want to speak with the sheriff?” he asked Lalo.

“I’d be happy to.” Lalo replied. The officer didn’t appear to believe what he was hearing.

“You want to speak with the sheriff?” he repeated.

“Yes, I’d be happy to.” Lalo said again.

The officer sighed and said “Okay. Pull over there by the other cars.” So, we pulled over and waited for the sheriff.

Something I haven’t mentioned is that we knew that there would be a checkpoint in that place and at that time. See, my brother and I are activists, and lately in our community (the Ontario-Pomona-Claremont-Upland area) we have noticed that there have been a lot of checkpoints. DUI checkpoints, or sobriety checkpoints as they are often called, are meant to deter drunk driving and catch drivers who are under the influence. However, checkpoints that are located in areas with high populations of people of color and/or are conducted in the morning, afternoon, and early evening are not looking for people leaving bars drunk; they are looking for undocumented people.

Lalo had been reading up on the legal aspect of this issue for awhile and in the course of his research he had found that there are two different kinds of checkpoints: DUI checkpoints and DUI and license checkpoints. Whatever kind of checkpoint it is, it must be announced through the press and there must be signs telling you what it is. This checkpoint we were sitting at was not supposed to be for licenses and none of the signs indicated that it was.

Lalo and I talked about the checkpoints a lot:

“What about the fourth amendment?” I had asked him previously.

“Michigan v. Sitz.” he had replied.

The Fourth Amendment is the one that safeguards people against unreasonable search and seizure. Considering the fact that DUI checkpoints garner about 100 cars each which are towed away for various reasons (only about 3% of which are DUI related), the Fourth Amendment appears to be meaningless as of late. That’s where Sitz came in. In 1990 a group of Michigan residents got pissed and sued Michigan police for violation of their civil liberties according to the Fourth Amendment and the Michigan Court decided that they were right. However, the police took it to the Supreme Court who decided that in this case, the public benefit of getting drunk driver’s off the road surpassed what they considered to be the smaller issue of the violation of the civil liberties of the people and actually ruled DUI checkpoints constitutional, as long as they stick to strict guidelines.

Another officer came over to the car and asked Lalo to step out of the vehicle. He grabbed his copy of the bill of rights with the Fourth Amendment highlighted and walked over to the long table. The police were swarming around him and one of them searched him. I watched him speak to an officer on the other side of the table and at one point he lifted the paper he had grabbed and began to read it. The next thing I knew, he was being handcuffed and taken away.


See, the law is funny. So much of what happens is really up to the officer’s discretion, and no officer wants some civilian telling him how he is supposed to do his job. Lalo was put in a holding cell with a $10,000 bail for delaying a police procedure. When the white male officer who originally stopped us came back to the car to tell me they had arrested Lalo, he just kept saying that he should have just shown his license. I told him that my brother was aware of his rights, as we all should be, and asked if I could leave. He looked nervous when he asked me, “Can I see your license?” His face was priceless.

Some of the guidelines that police are supposed to follow are that they have to announce the checkpoints, they have to either stop every car or every nth car (ex: 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc.), they have to also educate the public about drunk driving, they can’t pull someone over just for avoiding a checkpoint, and, if the checkpoint is solely for DUIs, they are only supposed to stop you long enough to determine sobriety. Also, according to the Attorney General if it is a combination DUI and License checkpoint there must be advanced notice in the press and signs at the location.

I ended up showing that cop my license and going to the Hip Kitty. After a few hours, they let Lalo go without bail and I picked him up, but he still has a court date to go to in October. Our hope is to get the criminal charges dropped and sue the police, but we don’t really know what is going to happen. See, Lalo is lucky enough to have a license. But many people do not have licenses and when the police do these checkpoints and ask for licenses, they are really targeting the people unable to receive them, the undocumented.

I probably don’t have to explain the exploitation and oppression that undocumented people have to endure: the lack of financial aid for college, the ICE raids, deportations, detentions, imprisonment, racism and terrorizing by White America. These checkpoints are just one more tactic for the police to find and scare them. If the true reason that the checkpoints are done is to find drunk drivers, then why is the immigrant community so disproportionately affected? And why are only 5 or less out of 100 cars taken for DUI related reasons? Why are the police asking for licenses at non-license checkpoints? And why are not all cars stopped?


I think we know the answers to these questions. So, let’s do something!

Here is a list of things we can do:

1. Check the Crime and Public Safety section of your local paper for checkpoints, set up a Google alert, or sign up for text message alerts on Copwatchla.org. Then, when you find out where the next checkpoint will be, let people know! Make a listserv, post a bulletin, send text messages, make announcements at church, organization meetings or any other groups. My friend’s dad even keeps a sign in his trunk to place around checkpoints so people know where they are. Be creative!

2. Avoid the checkpoints. Technically they are not supposed to pull you over just for avoiding them. That doesn’t mean that they won’t or that they can’t make up an excuse.

Remember, driving without a license is not necessarily an arrestable offense.

1. California Vehicle Code Section 14602.6 says that if a police officer determines a person is driving without a license, or the license was revoked or suspended, the person’s vehicle “shall be impounded for 30 days.”

2. However, there is an appeals court ruling that says they are supposed to give you 30 minutes time to call a licensed driver.

3. Keep in mind, a lot is up to an officer’s discretion, and the police do not like when you tell them about the law.

Also, know your rights:

1. If you end up getting stopped at a checkpoint, be sober and have a driver’s license.

2. If you do not have a license, ask the officer(s) if you can call a licensed driver to come drive your car home.

3. Take pictures or otherwise document the conditions of the checkpoint. Your attorney may be able to use this in your defense. ¶

Mojad@s Anónim@s

Anonymous ♀

The Matricula Consular: a commonly used ID issued by the Mexican Consulate for Mexican born citizens who reside in California. I got mine when I was almost 17.

I was anxious to go out and use it because I thought, “Hey, I’m finally of “legal” age!” With my Matricula, however, came other dilemmas. What places take Matriculas Consulares and what places do not? You might have recently turned 18, 21, or perhaps you’re past those days and turning a quarter of a century. Whatever your age, the point is that you still like to go out and have fun with your friends. You also want to hit up new and exciting places just like the rest of us. But, we all have experienced the dread of having to show the Matricula, waiting for a possible rejection.

It’s a Saturday night. A friend might say, “Hey, I know of this great new place. I think you’ll love it!” You will definitely be excited, but in the back of your head you will be thinking, “God, I hope they take my Matricula.”

This is why we have compiled a list of Matricula-Friendly Hot Spots, and even some haters in an attempt to inform our community and avoid embarrassing moments of rejection. All research was done by Matricula-holding students.

The Lovers:

LONG BEACH
Cohiba
v2o
Rock Bottom
The 49er
The Bull Bar
Reno Room
Sevilla
Executive Suite
Debra’s (Club Ripples)
Vault 360
Alex’s Bar *depends on their mood

LOS ANGELES
The Catwalk
The Mayan
The Echo
Echo Plex
The Grand
La Cita
Coco Bongo
Sabor Lounge
Vertigos
La Sausa
The Heist

DOWNEY/NORWALK
The Mirage
Hully Gully
The Stardust Club
Anarchy Library
Kelly’s
Sage (Whittier)
Flux (Lakewood)

ORANGE COUNTY
Tia Juana’s (Irvine)
Rumors (Santa Ana)
New Oz (Anaheim)
Bravo (Anaheim)

HOLLYWOOD
Boardner’s
The Troubadour
Rage (West)
Arena (West)
Circus (West)
The Akbar (Silverlake)
Zen Sushi (Los Felix)

HUNTINGTON PARK/ S. GATE
Margarita Jones
La Boom
El Potrero (Cudahy)
El Pescador (S. Gate)
El Parral (S. Gate)
El Rodeo (Pico Rivera)

The Haters:


Clockwork Orange
Beat It
The Saddle Ranch
Elephant Bar
Applebee’s
Que Sera (Long Beach)
The Sandwich
Spaceland
The [fucking!] Nugget

Feedback time! Know any other locales that accept/do not accept Matriculas? Send them in to get loved/burned: el.reflejo.mojados@gmail.

Para mi "peor-es-nada"

Anonymous

Yeah, it’s me again. ¿Quién mas esperabas? ¿La sancha, o qué? Haha, foo’, calm down; no te voy a reclamar nada.

Solo queria decirte que that other night, when you dropped me off, cuando ni siquiera te volteaste a ver si entre bien a mi apartment ‘cause you just drove off? Pues it got me thinking see, it stung in here once more; made me realize que en tus ojos, maybe I’m just some stupid whore. Que en los ultimos meses you lied to and cunningly deceived, pero que dices que me quieres, ay papí lo prometes, que soy la unica pa’ ti.Yet, you don’t kiss me right. Siempre usas mucha lengua. Y cuando te la muerdo en broma, well, let’s not even go there – me dejas en vergüenza.

I always thought I liked you. I guess I really just might. Pero papí, why can’t you just tell me if you’re in a bad mood? You don’t even have to explain it, or talk about it si no quieres.

I just wish you didn’t scream at me and curse that I’m pathetic. Que soy mensa y aburrida, ni tan flaca y mal hablada. Que I won’t put out fast enough por mis tonterias de no quedar embarazada. Que soy confusa e incrédula, yeah, but I believe everything you say. That’s ‘cause I love you baby. I’m true to you, always & forever. You know, like the song says.

People are always talking shit, diciendo que you’re a good-for-nothing porque dejastes el estudio and you don’t support me in MY studies. Dices que I’m just wasting time, what’s the point, si I’m gonna marry you? "Girl, drop that schoolbag," you like to tell me. Like yeah, who am I trying to fool, right?

Anywho, I just had to get this off my chest.

Mis ojos are rojos and my lips are swollen y mi hair’s a mess. I’ll understand if this letter nunca la lees. I know you’re busy and occupied, but when you lose your temper and I’m not here to answer, don’t say I didn’t try.

It’s kind of hard having to live on edge and pretend nobody is listening. Nobody notices when your senses are twisted and your breath is caught short ‘cause you can’t form the words.
In the struggle to be sensible, shy, tu novia querida grapples the trifled language, the painfully extracted sappy phrase:
"I’m fine."

The Latin American Film Series at The Beach

Fernando Romero


The Latin American Film Series began on Thursday, Sept. 25 with the screening of Los Andes no creen en Dios and will continue through Oct. 16 on successive Thursdays at 7 p.m. in the University Theatre at Cal State Long Beach.

The annual film series exhibits four movies made by Latin American filmmakers or produced specifically for Latin American audiences. This year’s theme, “Love Stories: Diverse Visions,” focuses on a compilation of films that present narratives of the intricate idiosyncrasies of love coupled with the socio/political backdrop and settings of Latin America.

Series opener, Los Andes no creen en Dios by Bolivian filmmaker Antonio Eguino was released in 2007 and subsequently screened throughout Latin America. It has the recognition of being the most expensive Bolivian film ever produced. It has received acclaim for its cinematography and was also Bolivia’s submission to the 80th Annual Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film, but failed to make the final cut.

It took more than 23 years for Eguino to premier his latest film after 1984’s Amargo mar. A veteran filmmaker, Eguino makes a comeback with Los Andes no creen en Dios and adds to his repertoire of films including Pueblo chico (1974) and Chuquiago (1977). His films concern the everyday lives of Bolivians threaded with the cultural and socio/political circumstances within that country.

“Los Andes no creen en Dios is an homage to the miners of Bolivia,” Eguino said. “It is an homage to the men and women who dedicated their lives and passions to the mining industry.”

The movie is set in the 1920s and 1940s, when mineral mining peaked in Bolivia.

“I wanted to reconstruct a forgotten age of the Bolivian mining industry,” Eguino said.

With ample artistic license, Eguino recreated and restructured three novels by Bolivian writer Adolfo Costa Du Rels forming the basis for the movie plot.: La plata del diablo, La Misk’i simi (Labios Dulces) and Los Andes no creen en Dios, which later became the title of the film, and gave life to the narrator of this novel turning him into the film’s protagonist.

The film follows writer Alfonso Claros (Diego Bertie) who travels to the small, Bolivian mining town of Uyuni wherein he befriends Joaquín (Milton Cortez). Both friends fall in love with Claudina (Carla Ortiz), the misk’i simi, and get tangled with mining prospector Genaro (Jorge Ortiz) and house madam Clota (Schlomit Baytelman).

Eguino said that his filmmaking is one which reflects about social realities in a region marked by contrasts. He cited that The Andes and most of Latin America is plagued with social inequalities which beg the question of whether or not God exists.
Eguino’s film is one of two dramas to be screened during the film series, the other being Madrigal by Cuban director Fernando Pérez.

Organizer and film and electronic arts professor at CSULB Jose H. Sanchez said the selection for the films is based on diverse criteria.

“The entries are selected through attending film festivals, such as the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival,” Sanchez said. “We also take into account recommendations from film and electronic art students attending film festivals such as the Sundance Film Festival.”

This year’s selections included two dramas and two comedies. Asegure a su Mujer, was screened on Thursday, Oct.2. This film is a 1934 comedy made by Fox Studios and directed by Lewis Seiler. The movie was produced for the Latin American market in the 1930s. Sanchez said that prior to its exhibition at the University Theatre, the film had only been publicly screened once before within the United States.

Cuban film Madrigal by Pérez is scheduled for screening on Oct. 9. This dramatic love story is set in two time periods, the years 2005 and 2020; blending fantasy and reality.

The Latino Film Series will conclude with the screening of Maldeamores on Oct. 16. Directed by Puerto Ricans Carlos Ruiz and Maria Pérez Rivera, this comedic film follows many characters who are searching for romance.
The Latin American Film Series is free and open to students, faculty and the general public. All the films are subtitled in English.

“The Latin American Film Series is an excellent way for us to reach both students and the community. Our goal is to provide an experience that will facilitate openness to and understanding of Latin American cinema and culture,” Sanchez said. ¶