Farewell @SyracuseSCPS Speech

Here is the transcript from my speech earlier today. Video to follow later:

Everything happens for a reason. I believe that I have a connection with everyone in this room. In one way or another you, have all been a part of my success over the last 11 years. Whether you have been a friend, a mentor, a mentee, a supervisor, an employee, or just here for the food, I feel that I have shared a connection with every one of you. I have built relationships here that will last me for a long time.

Up until this morning I was not sure if I should prepare remarks or just wing it, but I finally came to the conclusion that I should write my thoughts down so I do not forget what I truly want to say. It has also not escaped me that for the first time in 11 years I can say pretty say much whatever I want and not have to explain my actions to Bridget later. (smile)
Most of you know that I moved up here after the events of 9/11. I came up here feeling a sense of purpose because when I left Syracuse in 1998, I ended up bouncing around job to job without really having that sense of purpose. The only thing I knew when I was first hired was that I missed working in the Schine Student Center. It was the best job I had when I was a student. Now I am going back home with a career and attainable goals that SU has developed.
Clearly, you all can go without the history lesson but I started working here when I was a freshman in 1992. I was the only freshman, in fact, working at the info desk at the time and I worked there for 4 years. I worked all the time to the point where all my friends (including Casey) used to tell me that one day I will end up running this place. Eek!
So here I am….all those years later leaving a place that I have come to love. I have come to admire and respect so many of you (excluding Dave Pennock) that this day is filled with mixed emotions. I look at the staff that I have been working with and I realize that I have a unique relationship with each one of them.
Ryan, who is not here because the state of Massachusetts has extradited him to return to Boston for jury duty, just joined this lovely band of misfits and we bonded the other day. He is getting the my furniture (including the bed) thus ensuring my legacy of never getting enough sleep and coming into work after 9am every day.
My relationship with Becky was always a great one. She used to watch Rocky for me and I appreciated that so much. I have enjoyed our conversations about life and will miss how sensible you can be. I guess I really do not have a joke for you but I am glad you made here on time. (smile)
Jen (sigh), I will miss the looks she gives me during the difficult times. When we are in staff meeting and I have to play my usual devil’s advocate role. I will miss the hair color changes and the simple question of “Why are you leaving here me with these people?”
I will miss Henoc and his singing. He has truly been a fantastic Graduate Assistant and I encourage all of you who don’t know him to get to know him. His charm and politeness will win anyone over…until he plays Adele for 14thtime in an hour. I will miss you buddy. 
Dave Pennock. What can I say about him? 
Moving on, Joe Goings! I have nicknamed him, Jolo. He and I have one of those relationships where we joke on just about everything…except the Chicago Bears. I enjoy his presence because not only does he laugh at all my jokes…he thinks every idea is worth doing! Gotta love that.
Dave Pennock should feel lucky I mentioned his name for the 3rd and last time. He is an A-type personality who believes everything is black and white. The only gray he sees are the Yankees’ road uniforms. I will miss joking on you and with you. I will miss that your face gets so red (particularly your neck) when you are embarrassed. But seriously, we have always known how to just talk about things like baseball and sports to break the mood of a stressful day. But the most important thing I want to say is…Can I have my Inception blu ray back? I mean MY LAST DAY IS TOMORROW.
I met Scott Casanova in 1997. He had long flowing hair like a wookie. He has been a true friend when I needed one. He is my personal Boba Fett. Scott has driven all the way to Hancock, NY to get me when I had a car accident. He has helped me change a tire and fished out my parking card when it fell in between the stick shift in my car. He is the best white friend a person like me can have. I knew with him in the car, I will never get pulled over. I will truly miss Scott although he told me that once Monday comes around everything becomes my fault…
I left  Meghan a little bit later on this list because I want her to get all her tears out the way first. I can sit here and joke about her all day but she has truly been my right hand. She has seen me at my best and my worst and vice versa but I truly believe in her and in her abilities. I will miss you so very much and I have one word of advice: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE STOP DROPPING YOUR PHONES IN SEWERS.
Casey is my brother from another mother. I met in 1992 in summer institute (which is now Summer Start). We took writing 105 together and sat next to each other. That is where a 20 year friendship was born. It was Casey that called me back in 2001 to tell me I should apply for the Facility Supervisor position. I don’t have to say goodbye to you because A) I have the keys to your house, 2) We have a Values Academy presentation to plan and C) True friends never say good bye. That is why you are getting the obesity chair in my office…
Finally Bridget, this woman is the reason why I am the professional I am today. She has always allowed me to spread my wings and has given me the room to learn from my mistakes. I have no jokes for her because the staff will make sure to do that enough already. We have been through rough times and been the shoulders we needed to cry on but if there is one thing that has defined my relationship with her and how real she has been with me. It is something she said to me in 1993 when I was just promoted to the info desk manager, she looked at me said… “You need to make sure that when you hire students to work at the desk, that they are a reflection of the students who walk through our doors” I have always stayed true to that and made sure I was just as honest with my students. I love you, appreciate you, and will miss you.
Before I finish, l want to say that I miss my students and my student employees more than I will ever be willing to admit. They will be with me in my heart and let’s just face it, most of them live in New York and will probably take my open door policy way too seriously. I will miss Student Activities and FASA.  I will miss Debbie and her fabulous suits and Eddie with his fabulous shoes or was it the other way around? I want so say Thank You to Sylvia for really being positive and giving me great advice and I want to thank Colleen for just being Colleen. I also to paraphrase Dr. D (whom I will also miss) by sayin… “I am taking my magazine…and going home…”
For those I do not mention. This isn’t a goodbye…this a cya later. 
Thank you.

Utica Speech: Small Impacts

(My Utica speech from earlier tonight)

Wow! Thank you so much. I have to admit I am a little nervous right now. This is the first time I am really speaking in front of a crowd like this and getting paid for it! I want to that Anthony De La Rosa for contacting me and making this happen. I would also like to thank the Latin American Student Union for bringing me here.

What I want to talk about tonight, is small and meaningful impacts that we make in life and particularly when it comes to Latino Heritage Month.

First I want to say that I met Anthony last May during a event at Syracuse University. You see, I fill many roles over at SU, but my main role an event planner, so anything major that happens within the student center, chances are that either I know about it or I have had a part in planning it. I also serve as an adviser for two Latino student organizations. One is called La LUCHA, which is an undergraduate organization (much like the Latin Student Union) that tries to empower and educate student on issues involving the Latino community. The other organization is Lambda Sigma Upsilon Latino Fraternity Incorporated.

Anthony is a member of LSU and we met at a fashion show/concert (featuring Fabolous) that was co-sponsored by them and another student organization. One of my former students that I am very close with named Melissa (we call her Meli), introduced me to him at this event. At the time, the whole immigration in Arizona issue regarding senate bill 1070 was just beginning to bubble over and I felt that I really wanted to do something that would make a small but meaningful impact.

Which brings me to what I do when I am not working. I am a blogger/poet/activist. I do not claim to be an expert in either of these three and I use them sparingly. I created the current incarnation of my blog in 2009 called, Inside My Head, as a way to release my creative energies. Any writer will tell you that they feel lost if they do not write and there was a period in my life where writing became non existent.

During my thought process of what the blog could possibly be about, I thought about some of the masters courses that I took at SU that had an impact on me. These course focused on the modern education system and how people of color operated within a system that included institutional racism, segregation, and socio economic issues. So in taking these course I ran into an area of study that I really wanted to focus on and that was Afro Latinos. I found this to be a subject very hard to research because there are simply not many people who write about it. In fact, I think I can count one one hand the amount of people that have published educational literature on Afro Latinos.

So I started thinking that if I wanted to make my impact on the world, it needs to it start here. I chose a suitable name that I came across while researching a paper. Latinegro, one word. Not to be confused with Latin-Negro. I am not sure about the rest of you, but when it comes to choosing a screen name, I want it to be unique. I don’t want to have some ambiguous name with numbers at the end of it and may or may not signify something. I don’t want to be called something like blacktino_2010.

Anyway, my blog is about me, of course, and the experiences I have encountered in my life. I very much aspire to be a novelist and I am actually working on one currently. More importantly, I wanted people to be aware of the plight of the afro-latino in this world. We are not just baseball players. I am certainly no Robinson Canoe nor am I Jose Reyes. I wanted to make an impact with my words. I want to educate people that latinos come in different shades despite that fact that we are invisible in place like Univison.

Getting back to how I met Anthony. I wanted to take a picture of Me and Meli with a sign that said. “Do I look Illegal?” I had seen other people on Facebook and Twitter do this. I wasn’t trying to start a revolution, I just wanted to make a small statement, to make a small impact on how people saw the immigration issue. Just because Mexicans in Arizona were going through this did not mean it did not effect Puerto Ricans or Dominicans in New York. I was going to post this on my blog and talk about Racism and Latinos. Previously, I wrote a letter to Arizona on my blog protesting this whole ridiculousness. So what ends up happening is that Meli Anthony and another LSU member Josh all get in front of a camera and we take several pictures. I thought is was great. I was going to post it and be all proud of myself. Needless to say, I am still waiting for those pictures. (Josh? -_-)  However, I did take one of myself that I ultimately posted.

But, something happened after that. Josh went back to his campus at Morrisville. Anthony went back to this campus and on facebook about a week later…I start seeing all these videos and of people from these different campuses taking these photos! It turned out the Josh and Anthony decided to do something about it! I was in awe because I could not even get my own students to do this! I could not beleive I made an impact with two people that I did not know very well. (but we are facebook friends and I follow them on twitter too..)

That was my point. I made a small impact that turned out to be something bigger than me. Now, again, I am not going to sit here and take credit for the whole idea that is not mine. I am just glad I made people think because after I saw what they did…I posted their video on my facebook and on my tumblr…just to get exposure. Guess what happened? Other people within my scope of facebook friends were posting these types of pics on their profile. Impact. This is the type of impact we need to make for Latino Heritage Month every year.  Most people may not notice it all that much but it does make a difference to those who do notice.

This year I made my impact when I sent out a challenge to all bloggers on September 14th. A Latino Blog Challenge. 30 Days. 30 Topics. To celebrate Latino Heritage Month…and yes I do say Latino Heritage Month not Hispanic Heritage Month. We do not live in Spain. We are Latinos in America.

Once again I am trying to make a small impact just on my readers and it turns into this thing where 5-6 fellow bloggers joined in on this challenge. Some of which I never met or know until now. They took my challenge and during the height of it, were posting right along side of me. So anyone can read what each one of us had to say about each given topic.For the sake of time I will not list all 30 topics but here were some that made things very interesting.

Day 1 – What I love most about being Latino
Day 3 – Favorite Spanish food (which is Maduros…are they on tonight’s menu?)
Day 6 – A Poem (original or quoted)
Day 8 – Latino Racism
Day 12 – Do I speak Spanish? (uhh…no)
Day 13 – Afro Latinos you see everyday
Day 16 – What I know about indigenous cultures (i.e.Tainos)
Day 20 – Latino Stereotypes I wish I could change
Day 23 – Hispanic or Latino..What do you prefer?
Day 24 – Should Puerto Rico be a State?

Now, those were the top ten that I enjoyed writing the most. The funny thing is that at the end of the 30 Day Latino Blog Challenge, I learned that Latino Heritage month was indeed 31 days. (whomp whomp). What still gets to me the most, is that I feel Latino Heritage Month received attention outside of academia. While not everyone finished…I think that attempt was made which satisfied me and ultimately justified my reasoning for creating this blog challenge to begin with, but let’s face it, It is REALLY hard to write for 30 days straight.

So, What does this mean to you? Very simple. Be sure to set your goals in life on what you want to do. Being Latino is simply not good enough. When you try to make an a small meaningful impact in whatever you are passionate about…you will witness how that impact becomes like a snow ball rolled from on top of a mountain that gets larger with momentum as it reaches its ultimate point of impact.

I would like to leave you all tonight with a poem that I wrote on Day 6. I call it:
Negro Mestizo

Yo soy Latino
related to Taino
bred from parents
whose blood line
runs deep
of ancestry
Negro Mestizo
Inca. African. Spanish. Taino.
a combination
of cultures
ingrained in history
a conglomeration
of pride
a beacon into the past
rolled into a man.

A representative
A superlative
without explanation
cultura optimo
taking the best
parts of four
dividing it by two
and passing it down
Afro Latino
Negro Mestizo
Latin Negro
a product of my people
with all parts equal

My Name is Anthony Otero…latinegro you can find me on twitter and on blogspot. Thank you!