First Book giveaway… #bookofisabel

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It’s my fault, really.

I’ve been too busy with work to really put the time and energy to get more blog posts out. The good thing is that this is always in the back of my head so that when I do want to write something down, I know exactly what to say.

So… I’m giving away some books this month (September 15 – October 15th). I mentioned this on Twitter last week and now I’m doing some follow up. I’ll be giving away 4 books during Latinx Heritage Month. I have been very careful on how I market The Book of Isabel because I’ve wanted to do things differently from Hanging Upside Down and the results are interesting to say the least.

Anyway, the first book giveaway starts… well, right now.

This giveaway is for the followers of this blog. Ya’ll have been so amazing and I want to thank you. So yes, you must be a follower for one… and two… you must comment on this post and tell me what’s the best book you’ve read this year. I will end this giveaway on Friday, September 23 at 9pm EST.

I will announce the winner and then… announce the terms of the next giveaway!

 

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That Amazing Video

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That video is kinda crazy. I say crazy because I guess I had no idea it would get as many views as it has. Of course, I’m not sure why because it IS the Huffington Post and I know that the amount of daily traffic they get must be off the charts to a low level blogger like myself. But when someone tells me that this video was played at a workshop about identity? Yeah, that is kinda crazy.

That video is kinda cool. It’s also pretty funny because I forget that I cannot go into these video shoots with any type of expectation. I was fully aware that I wasn’t the only one in it. In fact, I saw Dr. Marta Moreno-Vega walk out of her session when they were done taping. In fact, two of my fellow Syracuse Alums (Janel Martinez & Ghislaine Leon) were outside of the recording room with me talking how great it was to see each other on that snowy ass day. What is interesting is that we all must have spent 20-30 minutes in our sessions talking about what it’s like to be Afro Latinx. So for the final product to be slightly over 2 minutes was just perfect.

We filmed this on cold February day, the day after Valentine’s to be exact. I wondered how long it would take to produce a video with all of us and it wasn’t until I was in New Orleans in late March that I had an indication it was published. My phone blew up when I was sitting in a conference session I was attending. That is when I knew.

I saw the video for the first time on my phone in a hotel lobby. Headphones in. I was smiling. This, of course, would be the first view of many. I just never thought that I would have so many people tagging me on Facebook. Friends and family were one thing because those who support alway support, but to hear from people I haven’t spoken to in awhile saying they saw that video, took me by surprise.

Many people agreed with the message and cheered it. I never dared to look at comments (unless tagged) because I know better. Other people saw it as a chance to just say hi and catch up. It was a really great time for me. It meant a lot. I’m glad I did it beyond the fact that it means free advertising. lol

I just want to thank Melissa Montanez for bringing us together. Another Syracuse alum that believes in the work we do. So, I do hope that this video continues to get as many views as possible and inspires people to tell their story.

At the end of the day, no one can really define who we are except for ourselves.

Dominican Drake Is Funny? I Have Questions.

Drake-shows-off-dance-moves-in-new-Hotline-Bling-music-videoLet’s put it out there. We all make Drake jokes. That’s what we do nowadays. We can call him soft or call him whatever, but the man continues to take all our money while doing dope shows and destroying Meek Mill. So it’s not too hard to believe that when he came out with a new video for Hotline Bling that the jokes would be plentiful.

I mean, I get it. There is some quirky stuff going on in this video where he seems to dance some sort of jig. The man is feeling himself and the song because it is fire. But then, in the infinite wisdom that is the internet, someone thought it was a good idea to add some Bachata to this. Why?

What I do know is that I didn’t find it funny. Yes, the mostly Puerto Rican dude is saying that he doesn’t find it funny. This actually makes me cringe because I start thinking about how we automatically want to get a laugh at the expense of others. Look, I’m not saying that I never laughed at the expense of anyone. We are all human and we just make bad choices but when I see these videos floating around, I get a bad feeling from them as if that line between laughing with and laughing at us has been crossed.

…and when I say us… I mean Latinos. So my question is why is it funny? Is it because it’s Drake and thus all jokes are allowed? It is because he deemed himself Champagne Papi? To be completely transparent I saw a Cosby Show overlay of this video and I died laughing..so my question is, is that the same thing?

Then it makes me think about how the musical genre of Bachata and those who dance to it are viewed. I think it’s a beautiful form of music that you can really feel with your body. Despite what people think about the relative ease of the 4 step cadence, the dance between people (when done correctly) is a thing of beauty. So, to me, it’s crazy to see Drake’s jig overlapped on a Bachata track. I mean is this how Dominicans are viewed? Is this what you see?

Let me take it a step further. Dominicans are not the only people to dance to this music. Latinos, in general, to dance to this. Also, Bachata is not the only music I’ve heard added to Drake’s jig. Some videos are also using Merengue. So, again, what are we saying? Yes, I know it’s a joke right? Just like the Mexican Word of the Day (as fellow a SU Alum pointed out to me today on Facebook)? Which is my point. I cringe just as much when I someone wearing a sombrero in picture or an ad who is clearly not Mexican.

All I’m saying it’s time to really think about the images we see of ourselves floating around because this is Halloween season. Let’s make that very clear. Cultural misappropriation is going to be rampant. Is this really funny to us? Do we need to reevaluate our sense of humor?

Just know that as we are dying in laughter, GOP candidates like Donald Trump are dying to get rid of us. Latinos struggle with the reality of being visible when it come to deportation but invisible when it comes to our successes. Does a video like this help?

I don’t know, I just have a lot questions.

Everything is Marketing

IMAG1225It seems like one of the golden rules in any business is that you need money to make money. Sure, talent helps if you want people to believe in your product but without capital to invest, selling anything becomes an uphill battle.

Of course there are ways around things and that’s usually what Public Relations is all about. I did a brief internship in a Public Relations firm in Syracuse when I thought that was what I wanted to do. I learned about press releases and how to represent clients without blatantly advertising for them. To be honest, I liked it but I was not mature enough to be committed to the work. However, one thing that stands firm is that no publicity is bad publicity so anything I do in the public eye is book marketing.

At the end of the day it’s all about getting my name out there. Sure I can tweet and instagram the hell out of my book, Hanging Upside Down. I can post on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn all day. I know 90% of those people and they know me. The real challenge is to step beyond that circle into a larger sphere. I knew that from the jump.

Let’s be real, if 90% of the people I knew and follow me on all those social websites actually bought and read the book I would be golden. You would probably see me on Huffington Post Live talking about Self Publishing or better yet, I may be on my way to an actual book deal. But truth is, books are hard to market whether you know your audience or not. People will only buy if they see other people buy. Thus I need to market the shit out of my book. lol

That is why I make sure whatever appearances I make that I have my sharpie and an extra book if possible. I think about the last two appearances I made:

SomosI was on NPR last week for LatinoUSA (click picture for link) where I talked about how I identify myself as Afro Latino. It was a great time for me because this is a show that is narrated by the great Maria Hinojosa. While I was not interviewed by her, I did meet her in person. I made sure that I did give Daisy (my interviewer) a copy of my book with the hopes that she will read it and spread the word on how good it is. The best result for me was my book being said on air to potentially 1000 people. You cannot buy that type of marketing.

Branding and Millennial WomenI also moderated this lovely panel last week. Here are four great young women who are doing amazing things in their fields. I know them all from Syracuse so we have a bond that allows us to have an honest conversation about how they are successful. Now, again, this panel was not about me. I never said one thing about my book or how people should buy. However, there was someone in attendance who had a copy of my book that wanted it signed (I had my orange sharpie that I always carry) and another person who wanted to know if had any extra copies.

These are great ways for me to stay true to my marketing scheme without breaking my bank and to be honest, I haven’t spend the money that I really want to on marketing…yet.

So it makes me laugh when someone tells me that my marketing game is strong because I’m not sure it is. If I can get out of the little cluster of friends and acquaintances I think I have a real shot at my goal of 500 sold this year. We will see.

Protect & Serve? I Have Some Answers.

10599415_10101795369337306_5780719047339870187_nI wrote an article for the Huffington Post asking some questions about Police Brutality in this country. After looking at the events in Ferguson last night. I might have some answers to my own questions.

Are we at war? Yes we are. It is very apparent that the lives of Black people are not valued. We have become targets, actually we always were.

Although the real question is what kind of war is it? Are we talking about the war on guns? Are we talking about the war on crime? Or are we talking about the war on drugs? None of the above. We are talking about a war on Black people. A war on the oppressed. There has been a lot of rhetoric over the past year about people wanting to take back their country. There is no other way to express this and don’t think for a second that because we have a Black President that it changes the status quo in the country. The Civil Rights causes in the 1950/60s never went away.

Did we somehow get transported to District 11? Are we now giving up our youth as tribute so that the rest of the country can feel safe? I was being sarcastic when I asked this but it certainly does not seem far from the truth. I’m tired of seeing lists of all the black people that die unnecessarily in the country. I’m tired of seeing police (or people who think they are above the law) get away with atrocities. I’m tired of our people getting criminalized.

Is it normal for law enforcement in Los Angeles to beat a Black woman on the side of the road? The definition of normal is conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected. The sad thing is that none of what we are seeing is all that surprising. It is shocking but almost expected because we are used it.

Are we being dehumanized? Absolutely. It’s like an older version of cops and robbers where you don’t really care about the criminal. As long as we’re viewed as animals then we will subjected to this kind of brutal and unrelenting behavior from police officers who are heavily militarized. There is no way this happens in the streets of Apple Valley or The Hamptons. We are seen as less human which makes us easier to kill.

The motto of many police departments across the United States is “Serve and Protect” right? Who is being served and who is being protected? Someone commented on my article saying: Police are not here to protect you. There is no legal obligation for the police to protect you. Isn’t that the damn truth. I knew this already because we will never see these scenes in suburbia. A man can shoot up a theater in Colorado and be given the chance to live his life in jail where he gets three meals a day and be deemed as having mental issues. I can tell you right now, the police are not here to serve or protect us, or as another commenter would put it: Protect the 1% and their possessions and keep the 99% in line, very simple.

Mike Brown. John Crawford. Eric Garner. Marlene Pinnock. Ezell Ford. Dante Parker. Rosan Miller. Denise Stewart.

Not Feeling It

49One thing I that I’ve learned about myself is that I’m an emotional writer of sorts. When it comes to my own creative work and this blog, I need to be in a certain mood. When I’m not feeling it, I simply cannot write a word. I’m not sure what that is. Maybe it’s a writer’s block of some kind.

As much as I haven’t written on this blog, I have made up in editing and adding to the novel. I don’t want to think that I can’t do both, but currently I’ve been feeling a certain way about life and things that I normally talk about. I’ve gotten tired of a lot things, mostly to the point that I feel that anything I write about is just redundant. I mean, what else can I really say that I’ve already said? Sure, I can go on a rant about George Zimmerman and how people are finally seeing him for the snake he is despite the fact that he had to (allegedly) hit a white woman for the majority to get to that conclusion. I can go on about my issues with Kanye West and Jay Z but what happens is that people defend their idols without critically thinking about what is going on. I’m just tired of that.

So lately, I have been reserved because I know how powerful words are and how jumping the gun on things without serious thought can effect me and others around me. I have been reserved because speaking out on issues lately has been sort of like yelling in a vacuum. People need to see things for themselves.

It is also not lost on me that perhaps I feel a certain why because I’m getting older. Maybe my world views are changing because of my experiences. This does not mean I’m becoming a conservative, God No! That would be horrible. What it means is that I have been really analyzing myself and the way I do things and I feel that perhaps I’ve been closing myself off to certain things.

A good example of this is two weekends ago I was with some my cousins in the Bronx. These women are some of the most conscious Afro Latinas I know. They are highly intelligent and pretty much embody the type of critical thinking I wish more people had. So we got on to the subject about movies and this is something I feel very uncomfortable about because I haven’t been to a movie theater in long time. The last movie I saw was the train wreck that was Man of Steel.

So, they start talking about 12 Years a Slave and I found myself utterly quiet. I made a vow to myself that I would never pay to watch a slave movie once Django came out and I, sure as shit, wasn’t going watch The Butler either. However, I have forgotten that my family loves to debate and analyze things and I found myself without a voice because I chose not to be a part of this conversation about slavery since I did not see the movie (nor have I read the book which I intend on remedying).

That didn’t make feel all that good. I still think that Django has ushered us into an era of slavery movies that will be unsettling considering that most Black actors can’t seem to get a fair shot at movie roles. It is particularly unsettling when you think about how many fans of The Hunger Games series think that all the characters should be white. But in any case, unsettling or not, I have taken myself out the game by not viewing everything as whole.

I pride myself in viewing the world the way I do. I think that I’m not delusional in the way the world operates, however, I have come to realize that all the preaching about anti-isms has an effect. I guess I’m also tired of being frustrated and angry about the things I read and see on the news. I can’t always be angry with the world because I have enough gray hairs as it is. Yet, I think that I focus too much on the negativity which is why I picked the image for this post. If you stare too hard at something…it disrupts your perception of everything else.

I came to this realization yesterday. The first thing I did to improve on my quality of like was take my woman to the movies.

Gods

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Human beings in a mob. What’s a mob to a king? What’s a king to a God? What’s a God to a non-believer who don’t believe in anything? Will he make it out alive? Alright, alright, no church in the wild.

– No Church in the Wild, Kaye West/Jay Z (feat. Frank Ocean)

When we think about athletes, we think about people who live above us. People, whose talents are so great that they are practically divine. For some, that divinity comes out in the door they have smashed open for the rest of us to walk through. Which is why it is so fitting that Mariano Rivera is the last man ever to wear the number 42 in Major League Baseball.

Its only fitting that it’s a (Afro) Latino to shut close out the rich history that an Black man started so many years ago. The repercussions of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947 has forever changed the game. When the flood gates opened in the subsequent years that followed, diversity in the game became the norm and African American paved the way for Latinos. One can say that is a microcosm of what our society has been.

However, Major League Baseball celebrates its diversity better than most organizations. It fosters the spirit of competition (outside of numerous drug suspensions) while maintaing a sense of integrity (outside of numerous drug suspensions). What makes players like Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, and Mariano Rivera so great is because they like Gods amongst men in how the played the game.

But how can we worship these beings that put their pants on just like everyone else? Ponder that question when you think about another competition in Delaware that involves a seven year old girl being stripped of a crown that should be rightfully hers. Jakiyah McKoy’s only crime is of being accused of being too black to be Latino. She is entered into the Little Miss Hispanic Delaware where she wins the crown legitimately but the sponsoring organization, Nuestras Raices Delaware, has blocked her win after an outcry from people claiming that, because she is Black, she is ‘not the best representative of Latin beauty.’ Despite the fact that they cannot confirm her Latinoness, one would just assume that if there is a rule that contestants must have 25% Hispanic blood then that would be something that should have been checked registration.

Alas we are live in a world where Gods are worshipped while stupidity and ignorance create the rules. What happened to Jakiyah isn’t a surprise because Afro Latino live in a space between black and brown. A fluid Identity that allows other people question or origins, our purpose, and our lives. Too black to be a representative of a Latin Beauty? How can we really support such an argument but I forget we live in a world where people think that a show like Modern Family is funny because of a top heavy minstrel act of Sofia Vagara.

That is why we look to people like Mariano Rivera, a dark skinned Latino, that makes all us  believe that perfection is all about hard work and perseverance. A God in his own right that knows how to be humble yet deadly. It will be days like this that Jakiyah Mckoy will learn the difference between being ignorant and being a Goddess.

Latino Heritage Month: A History of Citizenship & Education

la-times_february-19-1946_400x450This may be the first time in about 10 years that I am not directly involved with planning some type of Latino Heritage Month activity on a campus I am employed in. While that may sound like a tragedy in some way given my past involvement, It really isn’t. Perhaps because I reside in New York City, where there are literally millions of Latinos, maybe I don’t have that same sense of urgency as I did as Syracuse. I noticed that Barnard College and Columbia University already has established programming for students to take part and that is what makes me smile.

This is not say that the work is done and I am over it but I think that I need to have a different, more personal, approach to Latino Heritage Month. Many times we call for action without reflection. We get angry over things that occur and we tweet about it and post Facebook statuses but then everything sorta dies down after a few days. I do contemplate if that is because we never really take to reflect on what is really happening in the world. We become more reactionary to much of what happens.

Those reactions distracts us from doing what is going on. So I would like to offer a history lesson on how Latinos had to fight for the education we enjoy today. This is part of a graduate paper I wrote last year. Warning – this is lengthy but I do think it’s worth it:

With California and Texas becoming states in the mid-1800s, there was a need for the United States to determine what it was going to do with the Mexican and Native American populations that it acquired with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The Mexican population quickly became racialized by the standard of the United States, which meant that light skinned Mexicans were considered Caucasian and darker individuals (such as Native American and Afro-Mexicans) were considered Black.

This is important to recognize because this is where many Mexicans drew the line in the fight for equal opportunity. They felt that they did not fall within the racialized context of black and white. In general, most of the separation from the majority was cultural like many of the other immigrants that came before them. Immigrants from Europe that came to the U.S. earlier the century (Germans, Irish, and Italians) went through a similar plight of dealing with culture and language.  However, European Immigrants never had to fight that hard to become assimilated into the American culture and as a result lost many customs and cultural traditions that Latinos fight hard to maintain.

After the Spanish American War in 1898 resulted in the Treaty of Paris (in which Puerto Rico was acquired along with Guam and the Philippines), the United States maintained the attitude that the Latino population needed to become more Americanized by getting a better education and thus learning English. Mexicans in the west were struggling with equal rights in terms of land ownership, while Puerto Ricans and Cubans were dealing with Americanization in the north east. American politicians felt that Puerto Rico, in particular, would benefit from a better education as long as they learned English first. Cuba also fell within the protection of the United States before Fidel Castro assumed power.

The Mexican Revolutionary War from 1910 to 1920 forced many Mexicans to cross the border into the United States to escape the fighting and the bloodshed. This meant a cheaper workforce with the influx of people, but it also meant an educational challenge for school districts. Many districts in California created spaces in schools just to hold separate Mexican classes to address the needs of this new population. The focus was to Americanize Mexican children while teaching them vocational skills needed to make them a part of the workforce. Despite initial protest from parents, the Santa Ana Board of Education was the first to open a Mexican only school in 1919. The rationale being that this separate facility was in the best interest of the children.

In 1917, the Jones Act was passed that allowed Puerto Ricans to be American Citizens, which led to a large influx of Puerto Ricans into the United States. This declaration of citizenship came after years of political struggle over what exactly Puerto Rico was. While statehood was not granted, Puerto Ricans could still enjoy the status of being an American Citizen even though they are often not treated as such. Here is where many of the political issues for Puerto Ricans and Mexicans differ. Mexicans were fighting hard to cross the boarders to be naturalized to escape a war of revolution while Puerto Ricans slowly losing their ability to self-govern.

When thinking about segregation, cases like Brown v. Board of Education in Topeka Kansas in 1954 were critical. However, in 1946 Mendez v. Westminster in California is a landmark court case that changed the landscape for Latinos in Education and set the stage for the latter court case. The most import part of the fight for social inclusion is that most of the struggles for equality in school are mostly invisible. African Americans struggles for desegregation are well documented and well discussed in the history of the United States; however, Mexican Americans have been fighting the legality of segregation since the 1930s. History largely acknowledges the plight of African Americans making it difficult to really see and understand the roles that Latinos, particularly Mexicans played during the segregation era.

Cases like the Independent School District v. Salvatierra in Texas (1930) showed that segregation of Mexicans was indeed happening because of race. However, school districts could get away with this if the basis of the separation was based on lack of English language proficiency. The issue was that the Texas State constitution, which was ratified in 1876, stated that segregation of Whites and colored children was allowed. However, the term “colored” was only meant for “Negros.” Since Mexicans are not mentioned in the Constitution, the court ruled that Mexicans were considered white and thus segregation against them was illegal. The significance of this case was that the lawyers who defended Salvatierra were from the newly established League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). This case provided them with crucial experience they would need in the upcoming years.

In 1931, the Alvarez v. Lemon Grove School District was held in court in California. This can be argued as being the first real victory against segregation. The Lemon Grove District sought to build a separate school for Mexicans due to overcrowding. The District never informed the parents of this, thus never gained support from the Mexican community. In turn the parents protested and refused to have their children attend this new school that was called La Caballeriza (the stable) by much of the community. These parents wanted to maintain their right to send their children to same schools that Whites sent their children to.

The judge ruled in favor of Alvarez on the basis that the separate school for Mexican children would not be conducive to their Americanization. It was believed that this new school would severely retard their comprehension of the English Language because they would have no one to speak proper English to. He also believed that allowing Spanish speaking children to learn English and mingle with other English speaking students would allow them the best way to be Americanized. In addition, it was also found that California law had no such provisions that allowed for the district to make such a decision.

For years, California was deeply rooted in the idea of segregation. As the Mexican population increased, so was the increased demand of Anglos to create a residential and educational segregation. In 1927 the California Attorney General pushed for Mexicans to be considered as Native Americans whereby placing them under the mandate of de jure segregation. The notion that Mexicans were “colored” and should not have the same equalities as White people seemed to go against the ruling cited in Lemon Grove Case. However, when California Legislature passed a law to segregate Mexicans because they were considered Native Americans, the 1935 School code did not specifically mention them by name:

The governing board of the School district shall have all power to establish separate schools for Indian [sic] children, excepting children who are the wards of the U.S. government and the children of all other Indians who are the descendants of the original American Indians of the U.S, and for the children of Chinese, Japanese, or Mongolian parentage.

Because Mexicans were not mentioned specially, as was the case with other races, school districts in California found it difficult to legally segregate them. Mexicans did not consider themselves Native American, which created a loophole within the legislation.

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A picture of the Zoot Suit Riots

Despite the inequities within the school system and the labor market, World War II was a time in which many Latinos went overseas. It was estimated that over 65,000 Puerto Ricans served in a segregated military. Due to their citizenship, Puerto Rican men were required to register and serve.  Most of them served from the 65th Infantry Regiment. World War II gave many Mexicans pride in their US citizenship. The general number of Mexican Americans that served is unknown because many were counted as White soldiers. However, despite their participation in the war, Mexicans were constantly being linked to issues of crime as much as African Americans were. The zoot suit riots in 1943, where American sailors would drive the streets of Los Angeles looking to strip Mexican youth of their clothing, marked a time of racial tension in California. The battle in the courtroom for equality became even more crucial as racial tensions were mounting outside the classroom.

In 1943, the parents of Silvia Mendez tried to enroll her into Westminster Elementary School in Santa Ana, California, where she was denied enrollment based on her skin color and Spanish surname.  It was lawful at the time for California school districts to segregate all students of color and thus deny them access into schools that were considered all white.  This prompted her father, Gonzalo, to join with other families and file a class action lawsuit against the Orange County School District. LULA took the lead on the case and represented five fathers: Thomas Estrada, Chapo Guzman, Mayo Zambada, Rosame Elcacho, and Gonzalo Mendez.

The basis of the argument was that the school district had violated the 14th Amendment. This is a similar argument made in Brown v. Board of Education that took place seven years later by Thurgood Marshall on behalf of the NAACP.  The Equal Protection Clause within the 14th Amendment states:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States;

What led Judge Paul J. McCormick’s ruling in favor of Mendez was not just the violation of the 14th Amendment, but the ratification of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that guaranteed Mexicans equal rights in the United States. However, this case would be fought again in the appellate court, where the connection of the two historic court cases is made.

For years, the NAACP has been trying to win the battle of segregation in schools using the 14th Amendment as reason for the law’s is unconstitutionality. Until the Mendez v. Westminster, the standard for segregation in schools was the Plessy v. Ferguson case in 1896 that upheld that States had the right to separate, provided that they granted equal facilities. The Mendez ruling was the first successful ruling toward segregation in terms of skin color.  For the most part, segregation for Mexicans was based on cultural reasons. These segregation cases really did not change much for African Americans because there was always a loophole regarding that citizenry and language issues of Mexicans in particular.

When it came time to fight the case in the appellate courts, LULAC and the NAACP (along with American Civil Liberties Union, American Jewish Congress, and Japanese American Citizens League) came together to successfully argue the case.  Ninth Circuit Judge, Justice Albert Lee Stephens, upheld the ruling April 14, 1947.  The court stated:

By enforcing the segregation of school children of Mexican Decent against their will and contrary to the laws of California, the respondents have violated the federal law as provided in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution by depriving them the equal protections of the laws.

Thurgood Marshall collaborated with David Marcus, who was representing LULAC on this appeal case that provided some of the framework that Marshall would use in the Brown case in 1954.

Two months after the ruling was passed down, Governor Earl Warren signed a bill repealing segregation in California schools, which lead to the closing of Mexican schools across the State.  This marked a second connection to the Brown case. In 1953, President Eisenhower appointed Earl Warren as Chief Justice to the Supreme Court. It was Chief Justice Warren that wrote the final decision in the Brown case that ended segregation in schools across the United States.

What made this ruling so important was that it broke away from the Plessy ruling of the “separate but equal “doctrine.  While African Americans had continued to suffer under segregation in terms of physical and social equality, Mexican Americans were able to fight successfully against the issues because they were routinely seen as more than Black. However, despite the positive ruling from the Mendez case that was supposed to end de jure segregation, evidence indicated that not only did segregation not end, but that it worsened.

In 1947 Minerva Delgado was denied admission to a school in Texas on the sole basis that she was Mexican. Her grandfather sued the Bastrop Independent School District that was later filed as a class action suit on behalf of all Mexican children within the school district. Delgado v. Bastrop was another pre-Brown case that demonstrated that segregation was more customary than law. Many people in Texas had hope that this case would do for Texas what Mendez did for California.

While the judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff in 1948, segregation of first graders was allowed if there was a lack of proficiency in English. This lack of proficiency made segregation justifiable in terms of separate classes, or maybe even separate schooling altogether.

Despite the various victories against segregation in various school districts in California and Texas, Mexicans were still dealing with isolation within segregated schools well into the 1950s. It is well documented that many of these school districts did not adhere to many of the court rulings until the Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954. However, desegregation was becoming law across the country; segregation based on language became more of the practiced custom.

Sources:

  1. Donato, Rubén. The other struggle for equal schools: Mexican Americans during the Civil Rights era. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1997. Print.
  2. MacDonald, Victoria. Latino education in the United States: a narrated history from 1513-2000. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. Print.
  3. Navarro, Sharon Ann, and Armando Xavier Mejia. Latino Americans and political participation: a reference handbook. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2004. Print.
  4. Pedraza, Pedro, and Melissa Rivera. Latino education: an agenda for community action research. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005. Print.
  5. Santiago, Isaura. “Aspira v. Board of Education Revisited.” American Journal of Education 95.1 (1986): 149-199. Print.
  6. Valencia, Richard R.. Chicano school failure and success: past, present, and future. 2nd ed. London: Routledge/Falmer, 2002. Print.

El Cocolo

blacknessI don’t know. Maybe I am getting too old for this. Perhaps I need to dial the rhetoric down a bit. I have always recognized that I see the world from a certain perspective and my views comes from the type of lens crafted through education and experience. I have never expected my views to be universal and as most of you know that I take criticism and critiques very seriously. I just find myself tired of everything that is going on.

Let me preface this by saying that I lead a very happy life. I’m where I want to be with the person I want to be with. I grateful for my job and my family. I have no complaints about my personal life nor my work life. Believe it or not, I love this country. It has it’s faults but I know I would not have this life if were a citizen elsewhere. However, I feel that what comes across in my words on Facebook and on Twitter is a person who complains about everything that is going on. Let us just acknowledge that there is a lot of incredibly messed (note: I kept it clean) things going on in the world.

I can sit here and take a snap shot of the past 2-3 weeks that have included the Zimmerman Acquittal, the killings in Chicago, Riley Cooper, Don Lemon, Stephen A. Smith, the Darius Simmons trial, and a host of other shit (that didn’t last long) that just makes me cringe. Am I getting angrier? Am I changing or is the world around me seem to be more ominous?  Because I often feel like the only Jor-El in a room filled with General Zods.

I guess what I’m really saying is that I grow tired of all of it. While I know that I am not the only one who screams out about inequality of all types, I sometimes get the feeling that I am on an island alone screaming at a ball named Wilson. I know that I could just put my head down and continue writing the novel. I know that I have ability to be completely apathetic about the whole thing and just talk about comic books (although, do not get me started on the lack of Black and Latino writers in Marvel and DC).

Its hard when I have to explain to family about the nature of my blackness. Yes, I am Puerto Rican and Equadorian but what do I look like in the mirror? Moreno? Chocolate? I knew at an early age about how “bad” it was to be dark skinned. My cousins called me Tar Baby and other times I was called a Cocolo (look it up). How I define my blackness is really up to me and I have hard time seeing how being an Afro Latino can be viewed any differently in the eyes of the majority compared to an African American.

So yes, I feel that I fall into the black and white binary that holds America together. I am not in favor of blaming the victims. I am not going to sit here and agree with any notion that because someone like RIley Cooper says the n-word so freely it is because his black teammates say it in front of him and thus it made it easier for him. So does that mean we blame Paula Dean’s cooks for allowing themselves to employed by her? Do we blame Travon Martin for wearing a hoody because that looks thuggish? Do I blame myself for my family calling me Tar Baby?

But, you know what? I complain too much. I am an elitist Latino that couldn’t possibly understand what the world is about. I guess that is the way it is in this Post Racialized society.

The Next Chapter

writingAs I literally write my the next chapter of my novel, I am thinking about the next chapters in my life. My first school year is coming to a close here at Barnard and I have set certain goals for myself that will be set in motion before school starts back up in the fall.

I have the prefect opportunity to start school again and I would like to take full advantage of taking course at Columbia University. The process may be slow since classes are not free and I do work full time but I owe it to myself to get my Master’s Degree. I frequently tell people that I ultimately didn’t want to get my Master ‘s at Syracuse because I was tired of the SU point of view of the world. The other reason is that I would still be there right now if I went all in on that program.

Now that I have an idea of what my work schedule is like, I can plan to take classes accordingly. This will effectively change my life to be able to attend an Ivy League Institution. I had already investigated the possibility of this happening last summer when I was getting ready to be interviewed for my current position so I know what CU has to offer. I think going down this road will allow me to turn the page to the next level of my career.

Speaking of turning the page, I feel the need to say that I have resigned from the Latinegr@’s Project. I know this will come to shock to some because everyone knows how passionate I am about Afro Latinos. I am not going to get into the how’s and the why’s. They are a great group of people that are doing some amazing things. As proof from when I left SU last year, there are times when you just need to move on. I did wish them luck with pushing their agenda and ideas forward into the future. When I think about it, they really don’t need luck, they will be successful with anything they do, I can feel it.

I have also been thinking about the Syracuse University Commencement that just happened last weekend. I truly had mixed emotions about this day. I felt bad that I could not see the students that I’ve been in the trenches with for years. They made it very hard for me to leave and I wanted to show my appreciation. However, this Mother’s Day was the first time I have been with family in a very long time. Graduation weekend has pretty much always fallen on Mother’s Day so I spent 11 years in Syracuse on that weekend.

So it was VERY hard for me to look at all the ceremonious pictures on Instagram and Twitter because there was a part of me that wanted to be a part of that celebration. It reminds me of the discussion and arguments with the knuckleheads. I do miss them. Of course, since most of them live in NYC, I am sure it is only a matter of time until I see them.

I wont even mention that I am turning 39 in less than a month. The big Four-Oh is right around the corner which means all types of cancer tests that I am so not ready for.

The reality of it all is that writing this novel had been a another journey for me. The funny thing about turning the page on an old chapter is that is hard to go back. The story that I am creating draws from so much experience from me as well as the vivid imagination that I was born with. It has opened up some old wounds but also spawned some great ideas for future text. Writing this has been a mixed bag of feelings that has allowed me to think about everything in my life.

One thing is for certain, all this writing has given be a new appreciation for people who do this for a living. I am not even sure what I am going to do about it when I am done, but I suppose I will figure all that out in the next chapter.