Monday, February 23, 2009

Marcha Migrante IV

Fernando Romero

Story and video courtesy of Daily 49er available Daily 49er

The pro immigrant-rights group Border Angels made a stop at Cal State University Long Beach on Wednesday, Feb. 4 during Marcha Migrante IV, their fourth annual cross-country trip to Washington D.C. to lobby for comprehensive immigration reform.

Enrique Morones, founder of Border Angels, was at the head of the march. The San Diego-based group is made up of volunteers who work to stop migrant deaths at theU.S.-Mexico border by setting up water stations throughout the desert and spreading awareness about the dangers and deaths at the border, in order to provide aid.

Already in its fourth installment, Marcha Migrante IV is the annual caravan made up of activists and volunteers who criss-cross the nation gathering support to pressure politicians to enact legislation for just and humane immigration reform. The caravan made stops in different cities en route to the nation’s capital including those in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, among others.

The event presented at CSULB was sponsored in part by HSI – Mi Casa: Mi Universidad, Future Underrepresented Educated Leaders, the Chicano/ Latino Studies Dept. and the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition. The reception for the event was held at the Karl Anatol Center and was attended by faculty, students and the volunteer activist and participants of the march. The event included a panel discussion spearheaded by professors, speakers, performers and a video chronicling the daily life of an undocumented student.

Also, testimonials provided by undocumented students told of some of the struggles they encountered as AB 540 students. Two of them, currently enrolled at CSULB are AB 540 students, while the third graduated from CSULB a year prior.

The three testimonials presented different perspectives and different facets of the lives of undocumented students. The testimonials proved to be the highlight of the evening. The university graduate told of the struggles faced by undocumented students who’ve graduated and the inability to find a job for lack of proper documentation. Another student was a prospective graduating senior in the current Spring semester and told of the anxiety and desperation of an uncertain future. The third was a recent transfer to CSULB who also expressed the sentiment of anxiety and uncertainty, but with a dash of hope in light of the new presidency.

The event was capped off with a candlelight vigil to commemorate the lost lives of migrants crossing or immigration-related deaths at the U.S. – Mexico border.

Organizer said their goal of marching to Washington was to persuade President Barack Obama and members of Congress to deliver on campaign promises on the issues of immigration reform. During the event at CSULB, Morones identified three key issues that are at the forefront of the agenda sought by his group and others from the pro-immigration movement. 1) Stop construction on the border fence, 2) end the raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and 3) enact legislation for just and humane immigration reform.

Morones cited that the building of the wall, referred to as the “Wall of Shame,” is causing migrants crossing the border to seep into deserted territories and is one of the main reasons the death toll of migrant crossers has reached an unfortunate level.

“We have got to continue to take action,” Morones said. “The person that is going to make the change is the person that you look at in the mirror every morning. Each one of us has to take action and rise up.” ¶

Slightly Better "Other"

Mojad@s Anonim@s
''Leticia Bravo''

When I was growing up here, in the United States, I was always labeled as an "other". Correction: I was labeled as a slightly better "other." I never quite understood why I received that label, though. Why have I not been an "other" but a "slightly better other"?

More importantly why is it that we keep accepting some "others" and keep rejecting a specific type of "other". Is there really such a thing as a better type of immigrant? Unfortunately, in the United States, there is a more desirable immigrant.

The term "other" has always made me cringe, yet I have always known that I was an "other." I might’ve come to terms with it, or the "slightly better" label might’ve overshadowed the "other" label. "Slightly better" might’ve been an alleviation to my "otherness". I really do not know. I just knew I was not the same.

People knew that I was undocumented, yet I did not receive the same treatment as other immigrants. I have not received the same treatment and I will not. But why is this so? We are all immigrants, right?

Yes, there are certain things that I will not have to face. Yes, there are certain discriminations that I will not have to go through. Yes, I can go under the radar. But the fact that I can go under the radar in no way justifies the faulty immigration system; it has been an advantage for me. Just like with anything that looks at privilege, I have to acknowledge that I had many advantages growing up.

I came to the U.S. at a young age, which facilitated my understanding of the English language. I have always wondered what my life might’ve been like if I had come to this country at my sister’s age. When we crossed the border she was 16; I was 4. Knowing what my sister went through and continues to go through, makes me see the absurdity of being labeled a "slightly better immigrant". You (Reflejo readers) can see this within your surroundings, as well. Many of us can see it at home.

So, what happens when I have been labeled a "slightly better other" and I begin to accept it? How can I stop myself from becoming the people that have named me an "other"? There has been an incredible fear and worry inside of me which has risen from this acknowledgement. I am afraid that I have internalized the "other" mentality and that I will see that in future immigrants. I do not want to become that person.

I do believe that a lot of "us" and a lot of non-"us" forget that there are many types of immigrants out there. Linking this to some of the issues discussed in my women’s studies classes makes it easier for me to understand.

It is that same difference that allows us to contribute so many wonderful parts to everything. In the same way that understanding the different experiences of women all over the world is essential to feminism, understanding that there are different experiences for immigrants all over the world is an essential part of comprehensive immigration reform.

This needs to be at the forefront of the reform, because being stuck on the antiquated belief that European immigrants are the best types of immigrants is a rejection of the importance and contribution of every immigrant.

Recently, the thought of becoming a more desirable immigrant has entered my sister’s head and it absolutely breaks my heart; she is a desirable immigrant.

Just a Girl Out Looking For Love

Jot@s Anónim@s

I can see Tila Tequila claiming that her "bisexual dating show," A Shot at Love, made same-sex relationships acceptable and was the curious variable that pushed through the legalization of same-sex marriage in California in early 2008. I can hear my male coworker telling me how the woman who is walking out the door has a beautiful body as he bites his lip, apparently admitting me into the vulgar world of "those who like women." I remember going on a date with a guy recently and hearing the "Ahh…" that follows the admission of a kink; the one accompanied by private thoughts of him and me… and some other chick. The stereotypes and personalities constrict me and it’s like - whoa.

I first came to understand my sexuality in the contemplative solace of a far-away land - I studied abroad my junior year. At that time, I was twenty, 15 pounds lighter and a women’s studies major. I was taking a class titled Sexualities and Feminism, taught by an F-to-M transsexual. The beginning of the course reminded everyone that sex isn’t so black-and-white - intersex people, anyone? We discovered the barbaric lengths to which Western society will go to eliminate the so-called "gray areas" of nature by surgically altering newborn-baby genitalia. We flipped through the history of sexuality, Bible through contemporary politics. If I had done all my readings, it would have been an even lovelier class.

And, in between all this talk of pre-op and post-op, and of using prosthetics to urinate standing up (funnels, anyone?), my dear professor proposed something one morning that began the end of my sexual paranoia and confusion. He proposed that people’s sexualities change based on factors of society, culture and stage on one’s life - that sexuality is not static and that indeed, it is fluid.

It clicked at that moment. All the instances of doubt flashed through my mind like primitive thoughts that I’d been too close-minded to let develop. What had been until then, a desire to classify and fit in somewhere seemed to suddenly dissipate into the sea of enlightenment that was my human mind. I breathed. I was going to be okay.

I brought all this back to the States with me, and it is here that the liberty of my love and desire tinkered with and met the realities of identity. The more I stopped resisting my inclinations, the more it became apparent that in accepting fluidity, I would have to take up a queer identity. It was inevitable because I started getting really annoyed when people assumed I only liked men, or terribly peeved whenever homophobia was expressed. I’d always gotten angry anyway, but suddenly it was personal. So, it is ironic that the identity that had freed me from myself actually trapped me publicly. I didn’t expect that.

Take an innocent act like feeling attraction towards a woman, for instance. Before I gave myself the liberty to look at a woman and feel that attraction, I always felt society’s pull inside me. Look at her. No, wait! What are you doing - she’s a girl! Then, when I gave myself the liberty, the urge to respect her suddenly worried me. It was no longer "looking at her is wrong", but "looking at her is going to freak her out." When I look at women, I would hate to disrespect them and their heterosexuality. I would hate to stare at their boobs. I would hate to stare at their butts. It’s hard to help, sure, but I would hate for a woman to think of me as a creep; it’s happened before.

As a woman, I know what it’s like to be under the objectifying male gaze. And while I don’t want to ever fight my feelings of attraction again, I also would hate to imitate that gaze. I know what I think of men who stare at my body with savage lust.

Sometimes I wish we all wore tags. Mine would read: Chicana, feminist, atheist, fluid sexuality. I wish we did, and that it was matter-of-fact and that no one got their asses kicked for it. I would identify other open mujeres and smile at them without hesitation. But I guess that’s what those rainbow accessories are for.

And I write all this to say the following: to love women and men and everything in between is an honest and innocent desire. I want to stop feeling like a freak. I want my sexuality to stop being perceived as a fucking kink. I want my love to be invisible and ordinary, just like yours.

Film Review of 'Che': A-

Fernando Romero

Che, the two-part film portrait of Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, is a hauntingly beautiful effort to one of the 20th century’s most important figures. The film captures the passion, dedication, raw honesty and love for social change that burgeoned within Ernesto “Che” Guevara. With its lyrical beauty and strong performances, the film can be riveting. It is worth seeing for its attention to visual detail and ambitious filmmaking, making it if nothing else, one of the best films of the year.

Click here for trailer The Argentine
Click here for trailer Guerrilla

Nearly five hours long, including an intermission, Che, is a reconstruction of a pair of brutal insurgencies spearheaded by Guevara. Divided into two parts, dubbed “The Argentine,” and “Guerrilla,” Che, is an epic journey of the Argentinean physician-turned-revolutionary who became Fidel Castro’s right-hand man in the Cuban Revolution and then moved on to spread socialist insurgencies throughout the world.

Benicio Del Toro gives a strong performance worthy of an Oscar nomination as a veritable Che. Del Toro embodies Che with such semblance that it leaves the viewer thinking “that is exactly how Che must have been.” We see Che taming his asthmatic coughing fits or reading books between battles. Che is by turns scholar, guidance counselor, drill sergeant, and comandante, and Del Toro makes him a warrior-saint who learns, against his will, to cultivate a gruff bruiser facade. He yearns to be a “true revolutionary, the highest level of humanity,” and it’s no insult to the film to say that Del Toro succeeded in portraying Che.

The first part of the movie, “The Argentine,” details the brutal campaign of the armed guerrilla led by Castro. The movie makes flashbacks to Che and Castro’s first meeting at a safe house one night in Mexico City where the two spent that night perched on a balcony discussing imperialism and oppression in Latin America. There are also intercut scenes of a visit to New York Che made in 1964 to address the United Nations. Dressed in war fatigues creating a contrast to the suit-wearing, U.N. representatives, as if almost stating that even in New York, a town of glitz and glamour and lots of talk, Che remained a man of action and revolution. These particular shots are gorgeous in the grainy mock-antique black-and-white. The speech delivered at the U.N. stands as one of the most dramatic scenes as Che defends himself against a barrage of verbal accusations. “¿Fusilamientos? Si. Hemos fusilado. Fusilamos y seguiremos fusilando. Nuestra lucha es una lucha a muerte. Patria o muerte!” Intense.

The second half, “Guerrilla,” delves with Che’s attempt to start a socialist insurgency in Bolivia. The opening credits detail a map of Latin America in red, highlighted, the way Che must have seen Latin America, like a tinderbox waiting to be ignited. Here, we see Che as a quixotic-vagabond who left his adopted country and gave up everything anyone could ever want to fight on the side of justice. The drama that unfolds in the second half is deadly as Che becomes a symbol for an idealism that was too pure for his own world; an abstract of Marxism and how it only takes one person to change the world.

If anything, the downside is that the film relies too heavily on the diaries Che wrote during the insurgencies in Cuba and Bolivia. Anybody who goes to see Che expecting a handsome survey of his life will be surprised by what’s not there. Nothing about the budding of his radical beliefs which was rather too-lovingly captured in The Motorcycle Diaries, starring Gael García Bernal as an improbably gorgeous Che.

Albeit great acting and scenery, the film may come off as a mere panel of war, with Che and his comrades prepping for battle after battle. Che fights the bourgeoisie on the side of the proletariat, but as his nom de guerre changes from Ramon to Fernando there is little room for emotional attachment. My appetite was whetted to learn even more about Che, in particular how his humane ideals were tested, and compromised.

The film is an extraordinary effort though; for a man who packed a lot of life into 39 years, it was captured fittingly, but not enough for even a five-hour film. Paradoxically, Che is twice as long than it should have been, but only half the film it ended up being. A quote attributed to one of Latin America’s greatest writers is fitting for the film.

“I could write a thousand years and a million pages about Ernesto Che Guevara.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Once, She Loved a Girl

Jot@s Anónim@s

From: ms. mumbles
Date: Aug 26, 2008 3:22 PM

heyyy load the photos!!! (;
hope you slept well... cuz... i didn't really sleep at all LOL

From: \\\LIKEmeBEFORE///
Date: Aug 26, 2008 3:39 PM

Details, girl!

From: ms. mumbles
Date: Aug 26, 2008 3:57 PM

okay, here it goes.
I got there around 3:30am. we chatted...and chatted some more.
I was sooo nervous cuz, fuck, I haven't kissed anyone other than Gloria for the past year.
So yeah, he said he was nervous too... then he kissed me (:
GREAATTTT!!! Make-out session (soft lips) it was nice.
I hate it when someone shoves their tongue down your throat, ya' know?

Umm...then well, foreplay....(VERY GOOD!!!)
Don't like going down on a guy at all... UHG!!! So yeah, that didn't happen.

Then, he got like a guy (I GUESS) A lil' more rough? Like a rabbit? I guess, lol... dang... I don't miss that AT ALL!!!!

I can think back to all the guys i messed with and I always had this feeling with them...(LIKE FEELING UNEASY. ALWAYS THINKING... 'FUCK... I WISH IT WAS OVER ALREADY CUZ I DON'T FEEL ANYTHING')

SO... that's when i started to miss being with a girl – I was trying to make sure that it wasn't ME missing GLORIA...but instead me missing a girl...
I miss a girl's soft they smell so pretty...their I know their bodies more... I missed it );

So yeah... I didn't even cum with him. Not like that's new, but yeah... I think I’m a complete sleaze...
I don't think that means I won't kiss a guy… but sleeping with them is sooo boring... (I guess like Jessica said... "for Shits 'n' Giggles")

Okay! feedback... cuz it almost seems like I'm having an identity crisis!

From: \\\LIKEmeBEFORE///
Date: Aug 26, 2008 4:41 PM

first of all... you've got game. i give you props for that. :)

I think you're affirming what you like, womyn. you know what you want. being with the guy makes you know what you want. And you did a power play... 'for Shits n Giggles'... that is so awesome.

i felt like i was reading a novel, you should publish this. for real... this is great work. I think people should see this.
you were describing feelings i haven't felt since i met kazu. you know... when it meant something.
you know what you like

From: ms. mumbles
Date: Aug 26, 2008 4:50 PM

wow Luis... thanks
Can't believe I'm 25 and just finding this out about myself...but it's okay though, right?
I guess it did make me feel more almost really wasn't about sex. It was about finding out something. SO I CAN KNOW...

ummmmmm what do you mean by a power play???

From: \\\LIKEmeBEFORE///
Date: Aug 26, 2008 5:03 PM

You were in control the whole time with the guy. you know what you want.

From: ms. mumbles
Date: Aug 26, 2008 5:08 PM

That makes me happy...
you know what I realized? Since I've been getting hit on a lot...from these two guys...then that total drunk chick last night...and Molina...saying what she said (even if nada will ever happen)

it's nice to know...shit. Am I attractive...? Do I still have game? (;

The Vagina Monologues

Julio Salgado

If you spent this Valentine’s Day alone and you’re a straight male, then you only have yourself to blame. This month, the Women’s Studies Student Association sponsored a free screening of the Vagina Monologues. The Multicultural Center was full of young female students and just a handful of males, including my boyfriend and I. I don’t understand straight guys. Here you have the perfect opportunity to mingle with your beloved opposite sex and you screw it up. You could have learned a thing or two about vaginas and what women really want. You could have been seen as the understanding male willing to go outside his box and dedicate an hour to vaginas. Not in a sexual way, but in a very informative way.

Playwright Eve Ensler wrote the Vagina Monologues after talking to a bunch of women about their vaginas. She talked to Caucasians, Latinas, Black and Jewish women about the one thing it seems they don’t get to talk about often. Ensler’s gift for writing and performing has made this piece of informative art such a classic. The play has gone on to be extremely successful world wide, gaining accolades from celebrities and Oprah Winfrey (come on, la Winfrey is on a whole different category from celebrities.)

My personal favorite was the piece titled My Angry Vagina. I never really thought about certain inventions that have been created by men for women. Ensler hilarious delivery about the cruelty of tampons and the duck-like tools used by OBGYN’s is just dead on. Women have always been seen as the weaker sex. But honestly, until the day that men are able to pop babies out of their assholes, we will never know about the brutality of childbirth. The day that men are able to squeeze a human being from a small orifice in their body is the day that the pill will be given like candy in the Boys Scouts. And that my friends, is an unfair world for the vagina.

Happy Place

Commuter's Corner
Julio Salgado

The water is getting through my slip-on Gap shoes. I don’t necessarily love The Gap, but these shoes only cost me $10. Had I known that The Gap made such crappy shoes, I would have opted for two trash bags instead. I disobey the law at the Artesia station and cross the train tracks before the Metro heading to Downtown Long Beach beats me first. I barely make it to the sliding doors as they’re closing. I hate taking the Metro when is raining. Not because I hate the rain, but because of the obvious inconvenience. Your backpack seems to gain some extra weight and your crappy slip-on Gap shoes fill with water.

I discreetly remove my shoes to try and dry my wet feet with the air. It’s useless so I take out a book and try to fade out the noise behind me.

"Ernesto, stop it already!" a sorta angry, sorta flirtatious female voice behind me screams.

I put my book down and turn my head to try and catch this Ernesto in the act. A young woman wearing a huge men’s jacket and a short skirt is trying to push Ernesto off from her. At first, I wonder if I should come to her rescue. But I can tell that theirs is the kind of love therapists and our mothers warn us about: sick. As Ernesto tries to grab one of her breasts, this woman begins to laugh hysterically. She’s in her early 20s and he’s probably in his late 30s. Her curly brown hair is damp from the rain and it’s sticking to her face.

She looks like the kind of girl who has been waiting for someone to whisk her off from her home, where she was either abused or taken care of. Ernesto has the look of the cholo veterano. Baggy pants with a pair of white Nike Cortezes. I begin to feel like a chismoso so I turn back to my book.

It’s useless. I can’t concentrate because of their constant bickering and loud kisses. I wonder how long they’ve been together and if other Metro riders are wondering the same thing. They don’t look like they’re on drugs. But they sure look like they’ve had a tough life. The young woman’s sad eyes confess the need to be touched. The need to be held. Shit, I want to hug her. He embraces her with the kind of passion you see in the movies.

Despite the cold weather and the rain, the woman is wearing sandals. Maybe they are on drugs after all. They finally get off at Anaheim station. I notice that the man is carrying a sports bag. Probably filled with all of their belongings. I wonder if they’re running away. I remember that there’s a Greyhound station around Long Beach Blvd. but I can’t remember exactly where.
There they are again, arguing over which direction to walk. As the train takes off, the couple becomes smaller and smaller. I secretly wish them good luck and hope that they find the happy place they’re desperately looking for.

Postpartum Collegian

Maria Ventura

As I sit here at my desk in my cramped bedroom, I still have not come to realize that my days as a collegian are over. I have been fresh out of college for no more than a month and already I have been given stern lectures, like demands from my parents to find a job other than Target:

"You need to act like an adult, not a college student."

"Your priorities are not straight."

"You have a degree, now go use it."

Not only that, but now I have to pay rent and to let go of my life at CSULB. I made life-long friends and joined some amazing student organizations as a student. I never realized that it would be so difficult for me to transition out of college. I understand where my parents are coming from in a way. Yes, I do have to transition from being a student to an adult and enter the realm of the real world, but I also feel that once I have left school, the friends I made will no longer be there. Maybe it’s all in my head. Who knows.

I never thought that looking for a job would be difficult. I have an idea what I want to do for a career but I decided not to pursue grad school right away and am left finding a job unrelated to my degree in sociology. Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t major in business management or marketing because maybe then I would be better qualified for jobs. I feel that having a Liberal Arts degree limits me to jobs that I am not eligible for. A variety of jobs require 2-3 years of office experience and in some cases, a certification of typing speed? My typing is inadequate. It’s a Catch-22: how am I supposed to get an entry-level job in an office if I don’t have experience?
During the first week that I spent looking for jobs, I was completely unmotivated; I didn’t want to look. I had the stubborn and naïve mentality that a job would just fall on my plate. Well, another week passed, I got motivated and checked out some openings for social workers at some hospitals. I found that a bachelor’s degree in sociology did not make me eligible for the positions. On a given day, I spent about five hours on the computer searching for jobs. Damn.

Then I realized that if I want to find a job, then I need outside resources. I decided to go to the Career Development Center on campus. The counselors there were helpful and their Beach Link job search-engine helped me find a list of potential jobs. Here’s a word of advice to those seniors who plan to go straight to work after graduation: plan ahead at least six months, create a resumé, and practice writing cover letters. Take advantage of the Career Development Center at Brotman Hall. There are a variety of helpful tools to assist a student searching for a job, from mock interviews to scheduled on-site interviews with campus-sponsored companies like Target. They also have workshops that show students how to write resumés and search for fellowships and scholarships. Alumni are granted one full year of free services.

With luck, I was finally called in for an interview at a vocational nursing school. At first I thought "How can I work here? This school is unknown to most people." It was tiny and family-run. The first interview went great and I was called in for a second interview; I have yet to be notified if I have the admissions representative job. I was just happy that I had an interview after two weeks of searching.

The following day I was called for another interview at a life insurance company located by the Long Beach Airport. Supposedly the employer found my resumé on It sounded like a good opportunity and I thought I would probably make bank. I went to the interview and it was going rather well until the interviewer asked if I owned a car. He said I would need a car because I would be visiting clients at their homes. Well, there went another great opportunity down the drain.

Now I am back at square one and hoping that any replies are nearby and that it will not require a driver’s license. I know I need one, I mean, it’s long overdue. I have been practicing but need to let go of that fear of driving or I’ll never get it, hold back my career and limit myself from great opportunities.

This might be the most challenging year of my life.

La desilusión por mis "compañer@s"

Jocelyn Gómez

Hello my friends, I am speaking to you all as Jocelyn Gomez, member of La Raza Student Association. So my opinions are pretty biased, I’ll admit.

Last semester Jim Gilchrist was invited to CSULB by our archenemies at the Conservative Student Union. The reason for his unpleasant visit was to talk about La Raza (Student Association) and Racism, as in Raza is racist.

When this happened, we La Raza Student Association, got support from the Women’s Studies Student Association, the Center for Peace and Social Justice, people from UNITE HERE, the other individuals who came to us to show support. But what happened to my Latin@ organizations? What happened to our Latin@ support and unity that supposedly exists?

I thought brown and very light brown faces from different Chican@, Latin@ and Hispanic groups would come out and say, "La Raza Student Association is not racists."

Not that we need this type of defense, especially against clowns like Gilchrist and Haydes, but at least for show and support. To show that no mater the problems that exists in our small community here at CSULB, we will always be united when someone attacks any of us.

All this time I had the hope that no matter what the petty differences we have, the tensions that exist, (yet some refuse to accept) we would still come together and protect each other. But it didn’t happen.

When real problems come. When a conference such as "La Raza and Racism" comes along, with Gilcrhist as the main speaker, no support was there. We have been a target of the Conservative Student Union ever since its creation and no one seems to say, "don’t mess with our people," just to show some loyalty, I say.

Maybe these other organizations didn’t get the memo. They missed the news, twice. Or is it that they thought it was nothing important to get all rowdy about.

But come on, people give support even when they know it’s not necessary just to let the others know they got their backs.

Think of it this way, like when you go to your aunt’s or other family member’s house and you ask, "How can I help you" just to be polite and helpful, but you really don’t want to help and hope he/she says, "Nada. Sientate a comer."

But you still showed some interest in helping.

But I can help but to think that they chose to ignore it and let us take the attacks on our own.
If there is no real, concrete unity between some of us, we should at least be united in moments like these, when we have, what I think is, one common enemy.

I guess what I am asking for is for hypocrisy. Kind of the one we have now, where we talk to each other, expressed our desire to want to collaborate.

No, maybe not.

I want people to actually get mad when some piece of crap comes to our campus and calls our fellow classmates racists, because we are suppose to go through the same experiences and somewhat of the same hardships. Most of us are from the working or low-income class, and maybe we have experienced some sort of racists attacks.

So if an events hurts one of our own, we should all be like "what gives? Don’t mess with our people!" or something.

And I know people talk shenanigans about us.

I sure as hell have done my share of trash talking, but because I don’t like people talking about us!

I know, it still doesn’t make it right. Tsk tsk Gomez, tsk tsk.

And I don’t like the people say about us:
That when we go to certain meetings (LSU) we are demanding and like to go against other groups, that we take ownership of places (Raza Resource Center) that are not ours, that our men are sexist and childish, and other accusations I don’t know about but I can guess are out there.

In my knowledge, they are not true. We just like to be assertive. We like to make our opinions known. Well other Raza members do, I just like writing about them and hiding behind these letters.

The men we have in Raza are the most progressive men I have met, and all of them are open-minded and respect other people. Our women are also the most progressive and really active. Neither men nor women fit the stereotypes and don’t try to conform to gender roles.

This is who we are. We want people to progress; that is our whole deal.

Well that’s what I think. I just hope we can all count on each other like I heard it was in the old days.

I am no longer expecting much from anyone. I just hope things clear up in the future.

So this is how I feel. Maybe others don’t share the same ideas and concerns I do, not even my fellow Raza members. Maybe I am being dramatic.

But it doesn’t matter, at least you read the article.

A Story in My Mind

Alejandra Villalobos

A story echoes in my mind
And as it does it leaves a legend behind
It slowly cradles in my mouth
And as soon as it begins to come out
My mouth trembles in and out
And as it touches my lips
It disappears into the sky like the rain
into the sea


Daniel Romo

I was in third grade when my mom bought me
A pair of denim pants the color of throw up.
And I told her they looked like throw up.
And she told me that’s what "they" are wearing.
Though she never did say who "they" were.
But I’ve grown up Mom,
And I finally know who "they" are.
— They are young Latino mothers
Who drag their children ‘cross town
From garage sale to garage sale
And then on to Sears
Every Saturday morning,
And push Graco strollers every Halloween
-Sans costumes-
With those Sears bags tied to them
Unabashedly expecting candy
For six month old babies.
And maybe it is for their six month old babies,
And their costumes are simply
Young Latino mothers.
— They are awkward poets,
In the good awkward way,
Quirky educated hipsters who think too much
Ands sport Melton wool caps
Spending hours in bookstores
Talking to themselves under their breaths
In dialects only other good awkward people
Appreciate and understand,
Who take occasional breaks reading published peers
Properly reshelving those peers despite knowing
They’re more accomplished,
Just less connected.
—They are silly girls
Who dress silly, and act silly, and kiss silly,
And smile silly,
Who like serious things
Like good film, good literature, good music,
And good men,
And listen to R.E.M. when they can’t sleep
Contemplating nightswimming
In his too honest not honest enough eyes
And surmise sometimes incorrectly,
They are silly girls who left me.
They are overworked inner city teachers
Going and making the proverbial distance
And difference.
They are suburban white boys nodding
Trust fund heads up and down to Tupac
Who think they have a free pass
To use the "n" word in their wannabe existence.
They are devoted Target consumers.
They are stronger people for being
Victims of unfounded rumors.
They are tenement single mothers.
They are medal of valor brothers,
Crude casualties of mistaken identity.
They are nomadic spirits who spend
Christmas Eve in fast food joints
Fading into Santa Ana sunsets
Like buffalo nickels in wishing wells.
They are Rwandan rebels just growing
Pubic hair unaware that Call of Duty
Is just a video game.
They are biracial presidents.
They are legal and illegal residents.
They are sad stories put to pretty music.
They are the Indians and the Calvary.
They are whoever you want them to be.
They are so fuckin’ stupid.
They are so fuckin’ beautiful.
They are the ones who finally did
Grow up.
And Mom,
They did look like throw up.

Chorizo and Eggs

Daniel Romo

Surrounded by people of pigmentation
Predominantly lighter than mine,
It’s a must my cultural preservation,
The Latino way I dine.
It’s what keeps me grounded
Like an Incan Fortress
Cemented to my roots.
Deep with heritage
Glowing with pride
A fact I can’t refute.
And despite the quiche and espresso walls
And the variety for which Vanillaland begs,
I prefer to forgo Spinach soufflés,
Opting for my chorizo
And eggs.

Like an Ambulance Chaser

Daniel Romo

I merge on to light speed boulevards
And become intimate with busy streets.
Stealing stories and collecting one-liners
That repeat without permission.
Listen to what they say,
Day to day existence inside a white picket fence
Or black security bars on windows
Both make for a majestic muse.
Not to be confused with envy.
I do long to stroll on sidewalks
In front of the large houses whose lawns
My immigrant grandfather used to mow,
And look through their renovated bay windows
To see what their dreams are made of
But I’ll never know,
Because my mother taught me,
Sunsets over treetops look the same,
And the grass only looks greener,
Because we’re the ones who watered it.
Free to see and be,
A simple nomad I am.

Renaissance Man

Daniel Romo

I’m a Renaissance man.
A modern day beatnik who finds
Romance in grey skies
And bewilderment
In why the suicide rate
Stays so high
In Seattle.
Who shuns laptops
And text messaging,
Preferring to write
With wooden pencils
They keep me closer to
Product of an early 90’s
Northwest revolution
Dressed in apathy
Bathed in flannel.
I’ve not watched Vh-1 in years
And changed the channel long ago
Only to become obsessed
With reality TV,
Watching top, anorexic, wannabe models
Flaunt their sexuality,
And fallen hip-hop heroes
Diminished to the depths
Of actually
Their groupies.
Who YouTubes
"Kimbo Slice" and "backyard fights"
And Googles
"Saul Williams" and "Open Mic readings"
Transforming proper nouns to verbs
Through the superficiality,
And vicarious reality—
It is written and spoken word
That keeps me honest.
For I decode
Keenly folded dreams
Written in shorthand
On the second floor of bookstores
And bucking the system
That comes with
Being a male poet.
My proud pectorals protruding,
To the fact
My manhood’s intact,
And I’m sensitive enough
To feel.
I reject coffee houses
And commercialism,
Yet wonder if it’s a contradiction
To be a devoted
Target consumer.
It’s no coincidence
I’m slow to dispel the rumor—
I find flaws in rainbows
Keeping quiet
Letting Mother Nature know
I can keep a secret.
In a perfect world,
There’d be no secrets.
There’d be no secrets,
No stereotypes
Book burning
High gas prices
American Idol
Dog fighting
Eating disorders
Rosie O’ Donnell
And WAR.
Isn’t that what artists
Strive for?
And while I’m on the subject,
I’ll add cutting funding for the arts
In high schools to the list,
Because billions of dollars spent
On space exploration
Fueled by egos and speculation

I’m a Renaissance man.
A modern day beatnik
Who simply wants to
One step closer,
To a more forgiving world…

The Itch

Yadira Arroyo

i got an itch
on my lower back
on my neck

come scratch it
like i have no soul
fuck it

my nipples tingle
and my eyes narrow,
lock on to a moving target

i am blind and forget
that i am me -
i glide to your throat

with unstoppable
momentum -
i slide to your feet

pushed to feather ice
melting at the mercy of
the steaming flesh

soaring through
accelerated air
i land

so you can
rather easily
bend over

and scratch.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

'El Reflejo' Featured in CSULB's Daily 49er

El Reflejo was featured on the front page of Cal State Long Beach’s Daily 49er on February 4, 2009. Read article here.

Pictured here are some of the staff members, from top to bottom, left to right: Julio Salgado, Maria Ventura, Fernando Romero, Claudia Ramirez, Pablo Ildefonso, and Yadira Arroyo.

(Photo credit: Tiffany Rider.)