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Holding the door open

I am a woman of patience. Too much patience, I sometimes think, but in my line of work, it is essential. That being said, I grapple with my tendency to be mild with folks, even as they work my last nerve.  I can occasionally channel my #innermongoose.(A fearless favorite) On a day to day basis, I tend to keep my thoughts to myself.

Since Election Night, I have experienced many emotions. Grief is a messy process and it is different for everyone.
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Through social media, well-meaning friends and  acquaintances have posted, either in their own words or via shared images and articles, that it’s time for everyone to move on.  I have been asked to choose love, to hug more, to open doors for strangers, and even to pray for the president-elect.  I have been questioned about love for my country, regard for unborn children, and even the way I am parenting my child through this crisis.  And, sabes que, I have had enough.  Ya me tienen harta. Tu no me mandas!

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Not you, not anyone, other than the Lord and sometimes my mama or daddy.  Tu quien eres?
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Tu no me mandas.
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I can cry, rant, curse, laugh, and react in any way I want. I can take to the streets in protest. I can declare the president-elect #NotmyPresident.  If you don’t like what I have to say or do, GTFO.  Vete. Largate. Borrate.  Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. I am done.

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This morning, I unfollowed a fellow blogger. She’s likable and well-spoken.  I respect her enough to head out on my way. She’s entitled to her opinions. She is standing strong in them.  So am I. There’s nothing to be gained by trying to change her mind and sharing my judgments with her.  She will believe as she does. I will believe as I do.  With one difference. She has a privilege I do not.  It’s easy to tell people how they should be feeling and acting when it’s safe for you to do so.  The most dangerous of the president-elect’s followers won’t attack her.  While I can exit stage left on any conversation that makes me uncomfortable, I can’t escape reality.

In the days, weeks, months, and years to come, I have to be prepared for the worst that could happen. I have to arm (yes, I said “arm”) my only child with the knowledge and skills to grow up into an empowered woman of color. (Mothering a warrior)These are our lives.  These are our rights. If you can’t understand or respect that, then let’s wish each other well.

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Mothering a warrior

“…But in this country

there is war.”  Lorna Dee Cervantes, from Poem For The Young White Man Who Asked Me How I, An Intelligent, Well-Read Person Could Believe In The War Between The Races 

Within the hour, I will have to wake her.  Last night, her closing prayers were “Bless this mess. Fix it Jesus. Amen.”  My daughter asked, “Who won?” at 1 in the morning, and promptly rolled to her other side so that I could not answer her. Today, like so many other madres, I will have to answer to her and for her.

Mija, like so many little girls in this generation and those that came before her, her own mom included, idolizes Wonder Woman.  We are excited for the movie which premieres in June 2017.ew-ww-39

My daughter has Wonder Woman t-shirts, hats, headband, dolls, and books.  She identifies closely with this character, a woman who is brave, independent, and strong.

I am drawn to the character of Queen Hippolyta, Wonder Woman’s mother, and an amazing woman in her own right.

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In the first movie trailer which debuted this past summer, Hippolyta tells Diana, aka Wonder Woman, “You have been my greatest love.”  In the most recent trailer which debuted last week, Hippolyta calls out “Be careful, Diana” as her daughter embarks on a mission to go to war. Those two soundbites speak to what I’m feeling.  How will I keep the person I love most safe in this world?  How will I protect her?  How will I prepare her to do battle?

The events surrounding the election are no surprise to me.  I have seen the old ways of thinking and hating fester and spread; they never stop doing so.

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While I grieve the harsh truths the election reveals about many people in our nation, I accept reality.  One of the things I told my daughter last night was that now would be our time to fight for what is right. 14938157_1366372526736820_5038582823904846037_n

So our mission begins.

The resurgence of redneckery

“What kind of redneckery is this? “ The question sprung from my lips without much forethought. It was Shark Week and rather than focusing on the gargantuan great whites or terrifying tigers, an entire special, “Voodoo Sharks” placed the spotlight on Blimp, the portly shark hunter, his relatives, and their country ways. Blimp was later featured on the Shark Week talk show, “Shark after Dark,” doing his bizarre Shrimp Dance.  Hollywood has gone south; even the Discovery Channel is milking this pop culture trend for ratings.
While I confess to never watching Honey Boo-Boo, our household is one of millions that are tuning in to the new Beverly Hillbillies. We laugh at the antics of those rascally (and yes, somewhat endearing) Robertsons on the reality hit Duck Dynasty; we recently watched their appearance on Dr. Oz. Still, as more and more reality shows about Southern folks hit the airwaves, I wonder why.  Why now?
I’m no history buff but reading Howard Zinn as a high school junior has made me question historical events, and pop culture in particular, consistently over the years.  Back in the 1920s, usually remembered for the Jazz Age, there was a resurgence of interest in the Ku Klux Klan. The Reconstruction-era hate group was cast as the heroes in the 1915 film, The Birth of a Nation, a movie so popular that President Woodrow Wilson held a screening at the White House. White farmers and working class people felt threatened and disenfranchised by the rise of cities, the growing elite and their culture of glitz and glamour, increasing immigration, and the growing migration of African Americans to the cities.  The movie’s glorification of Southern history, however divisive and racially inflammatory, struck a chord. The Ku Klux Klan began to recruit new members across many states and grew so popular as to host two separate marches to Capitol Hill in 1925 and 1926. When people get scared, they get scary.
We are living at a time of great social and economic change. We are led by a black President. Latinos make up the growing majority of many states. Gay couples can marry.  Even the Pope is calling for a new open-mindedness on the issues of homosexuality and abortion. But for every person who is celebrating these milestones, there is likely someone who feels alienated, undermined, and frightened about the place they hold in society now and in the future. Redneck reality shows about good old boys hearken back to someone’s good old days.  I’m not claiming Bravo will debut a reality show about the Klan’s Grand Cyclops anytime soon; I’m arguing that these shows are appealing for many reasons, including the way they could assuage fears about our changing America.
Pop culture does not merely entertain; it reveals our values, our morals, our doubts. I have the right to enjoy—and question.

Like we’re Peruvian?!?

Modern Family line about Peruvians

“Since my mother is Peruvian, German and Italian does this mean I’m bad like Zimmerman? My dad is Polish, German and Scottish American, By the way I look way Whiter than Zimmerman, people think I’m Russian or German…Since Zimmerman is part Peruvian does this mean I’m really bad like him?”  From an answers.yahoo.com post

“George Zimmerman— he’s what, an eighth black, he’s half Peruvian, but he counts as a white Hispanic, so he’s below African-American.”  Ann Coulter

@laloalcaraz Just thought I’d let you know that other Peruvians hate George Zimmerman too.  Tweet I sent July 16, 2013

Being Peruvian has always been an ongoing personal issue and/or topic of conversation and/or writing subject, overlapping and influencing discussions about identity, language, beauty, and politics.  Because Peruvians have only recently become a sizable immigrant population, most non-Peruvian people in the US haven’t understood who we are as a culture and community. This is less complicated abroad. When I go to Peru (actually when I visit any country outside the US), I am an American because I was born and raised in America. (Take that, ‘mericans!) Simple and straightforward, verdad?  If only. 

I take pride in being Peruvian-American.  Even as a teen bemoaning my indigenous features or as a grown woman cringing when I learned George Zimmerman was half-Peruvian (and cringing when I saw his mother Gladys Zimmerman interviewed on Nightline), I love my culture and roots.  Me siento muy orgullosa de mis padres, for raising two college-educated children, but also for instilling in us a respect for our culture. When I was in elementary school and we had to write reports on a country or on an ancient empire, you know I came through with reports on Peru and the Incas.  As a Spanish Literature minor at Cal, I took two courses in Peruvian literature even though I thought the professor was an arrogant jerk. Don’t even get me started on our comida, which non-Peruvians have taken to like fish to water. My mom’s aji de gallina y papa a la huancaina. My tia’s causa.  Mi abuelita’s picante de cuy.  Pachamanca. Can’t forget our musica, the criollo vals played at family friend weddings and even funerals, Afro-Peruvian festejo y lando which I learned to love as an adult, and ever present in my parent’s household, huayno with its blues-like lyrics.  I honor my family history from the mountain village of their childhood to our family life here in California. I love hearing my little girl saying she is Peruvian and Mexican and identifying herself as brown.  

Being Peruvian is wonderful.  And no one, especially not George Zimmerman, can ruin that for me. 

Prayer for hope

“A glooming peace this morning with it brings.
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head.
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things.
Some shall be pardoned, and some punished…” William Shakespeare, Act 5 of Romeo and Juliet
“America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.” Allen Ginsberg
The morning after a tragedy is quiet on many levels.  There is the usual quiet of mornings.  Also there is the lull of reflection.  Of course, there is the silence associated with various emotions: the numbness that accompanies grief, the tense muteness preceding or following rage, the stillness of shock. So often we are at a loss after a tragedy, however close we may have been to those involved.  I didn’t know Trayvon Martin and yet I, along with millions of others this morning, feel the weight of his loss and the failure of the court system in freeing the man responsible for his death. 
When I first wrote about this case over a year ago (Media misrepresentation in Trayvon Martin case), I pondered how my distance from the events led to my misunderstanding and confusion about the events as news. I also pointed out how the many layers of my life experiences impacted my thoughts.  At that time, I knew Trayvon Martin would impact us as a nation.  This morning, I realize Trayvon Martin has impacted me as a person. 

As a mother, as a woman of color, as an educator of at-risk youth, and as a proud American, the verdict delivered  in the trial of George Zimmerman exacerbates the fear, worry, and heartache I have about race relations in my country.  I live in a country where children can be attacked simply because how they look. 
Talented Sebastien De La Cruz, aka El Charro de Oro, came under fire for paying homage to his Mexican culture as he performed his National Anthem. 

Brand-name cereal Cheerios shut down online comments on their YouTube video feed after their charming commercial featuring a biracial family inspired racist reactions. 

I live in a country in which a TV show featuring several Latinas as sexy maids reaps high ratings and positive buzz despite the stereotypes perpetuated. 


So while we battle these issues in the media and the social networking worlds, I trust that our legal system will not be affected by racist images and misconceptions.  I am crushed when I am disappointed. 

Somehow, I carry and hold up hope.   As an artist, I choose to embrace all people as we come together creatively to build community. 


 As a mother and girlfriend, I choose to stay in my community because it offers an opportunity for my daughter to grow up in a different America, one where all people can live together. 
I choose hope. 

This morning, I offer a prayer for hope, the hope that Trayvon Martin’s death was not in vain, that as a nation we recover from this tragedy in the spirit of reconciliation, and that the families most affected by this loss find peace.