I’m Not Afraid of Muslims

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I’m not afraid of Muslims. Perhaps because I’m not always watching TV. I don’t buy into the news telling me how to think and feel when I can read various reports and decide for myself.

I’m concerned about Islamophobia and how that will play into world events because history, at this point, is destined to repeat itself. Yes, we’ve seen what happens when a group of people are singled out and possibly rounded up.

I’m concerned about mass shootings. No matter what college I’ve worked for, we’ve had to prepare for these. Drills have been designed to help administrators save lives. We are taught to stay in place and lock down our areas. Active shooters are terrorists but you would never know that from the media.

I’m concerned about trigger happy law enforcement. None of that has changed. People of color are still being targeted. Black people, Latinxs, and Native Americans all suffer at a significantly higher rates. What’s happening in Chicago is systemic terrorism. Sure, I can put it another way but most people won’t like that either. Shall I call it corruption then? No. Institutional Racism? Well, that would be every where.

Did you know Transgendered people are also killed at a higher rate as well? Probably not, but I’m sure you can tell me all about your assumptions on Syrian refugees. How about you read up on the war in Syria instead of watching Homeland.

Let’s put it out there. 9/11 was terrible. I was there. I know people who died. It brought this country together so we can start a war for oil and create the Patriot Act. All of which has increased our Islamophobia. With that said, ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) are terrible people that need to be stopped. ISIL does not represent the billions of Muslims across the globe just like these bad cops don’t represent the entire American police force.

So, If you want to be afraid of something… then be afraid of every thing because something is going to kill us right? Climate change maybe? Oh right, that’s not real either. It’s just hotter outside because of El Niño. Just continue eat fast foods and sugary drinks because that wont kill you. Maybe you’re afraid of Ebola… which bring us right back to refugees.

Nope, wait, I got it. Mexicans. That’s what our issue is. We want to build a wall to keep out the Latinxs who clean the houses and pick the fruit. Those dangerous people are rapists because after all, Americans don’t commit heinous crimes like rape…we just shoot people in theaters.

The thing is, fear has a way of making people say and do stupid things like buy guns or vote for racists. Instead of being afraid, you can be concerned and realize that terrorism has always been there and we’ve always lived our lives. You can reject the idea that refugees are a problem and accept that our twisted way of gun life is troubling.

Just understand that if you’re afraid of a random person who (you think) is Muslim and you’re not afraid of the guy who has an open carry permit (with gun strapped to him) then you are part of the problem. Which leads me to my last point, how do you expect me to be so afraid of Syrians and Muslims when we have to deal with mass shootings and rouge police?

No, I’m not afraid of Muslims. I’m concerned about everything else.

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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.

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.

The Cultivation of My Brand

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This past week I’ve been realized one thing, I am cultivating a brand. I started doing this years ago without realizing it. Once I knew what I wanted to do, I tried my hardest to be as consistent as possible.

I will admit that I had no idea exactly what I was doing but I figured being recognized under one screen name would be the best possible thing for me. This way when someone was looking for my blog they would always be able to find it. That is why my twitter and tumblr are the same. If you play me in world with friends or any game on the iphone, you will know how to find me: latinegro.

It is also that consistency that has also allowed me to have the same message. While, this particular blog tends to get personal at times. I still, for the most part, try to advocate for the recognition of Afro Latinos and to a much larger extent, Latinos. Then there is my overall feeling on the fight against racism and oppression that I have been so out spoken about. I also believe in education and easy access to it. I think that it is our responsibility to help our youth get a better education.10240G Brand Yourself

With that being said, I realize that I never mentioned how I am the president of the Latino Alumni Network of Syracuse University (LANSU). This is something that I’m very proud of but I don’t feel the need to brag about it. Quite simply, there is a lot of work to do to get this organization to where I envision it. Last week, we had our first collaborative event of 2013 that was very coincidentally called: Branding Yourself in the Global Marketplace.

While I also knew about branding myself, It was very interesting to see other people’s opinion on it. It made me reenforce what I had done the week prior to all this, which was using my ability to write to create a theme for LANSU that needs to be solidified. Quite frankly, I have never been comfortable asking for money. Even when I was a telemarketer for brief time in the late 90’s, I had trouble asking for money and that was my job! But, I have a passion for my former students at SU and for fellow alumni. My job is to bridge that gap through networking at the fulfillment of the LANSU Scholarship Fund.

I had spent the first few weeks of January really trying to get LANSU’s name out there through twitter, facebook, and Linkedin. I was in a very long meeting with Syracuse University to get what I need established. This almost lead me to forget the other side of my brand: The Latinegr@s Project. This was something that I figured was unforgivable in my book especially with Black History Month. I wanted to create a ripple in the water in a way that I have never done before.

The last time I wrote for The Huffington Post was in July of 2012. It had been weighing on me that I have access to this awesome medium and I was not taking advantage of it. While I had planned on writing my final SU based article in November, there was something about it that just fell through. It wasn’t strong enough.

People ask me all the time “How did you get to write for the Huffington Post?” Well, the answer is networking. I got lucky that I knew someone that knew someone that works for them. When the call went out for new bloggers, my name was given and I was contacted. This is one of those times when being a mentor to a fabulous person like Victoria Chan pays off. I will always be grateful for her because of this and I will always make sure I am there for her when she needs advice.

I was asked to only write about College and Higher Education topics, which I did and struggled with. I have a personal copy editor (my girlfriend) who tears my articles up, demanding I be more clear and concise. I noticed after the 3rd article I posted that there was way for me to submit a blog through Latino Voices (a branch of the Huff). I kept that in the back of my mind knowing that I will have to post about Afro Latinos one day and hopefully they will accept this.

Fast forward to last Friday. As busy as I was, I was debating on if I should even write something or wait until Monday. Most times, I would write a post and it would take a day for me to edit it and go back and forth with how good it may or may not be. I just decided to write something during my lunch hour. It was something really quick and straight forward that was barely 700 words if that. I fact checked it and sent it to my beautiful girlfriend to destroy (I tend to be vague with a lot of typos). She emailed it back with two edits! I was shocked. Later she would tell me that it was the most straight forward article I have written.

I submitted it to Latino Voices around 3pm. I was thinking that, if they do post this, it wont be until Monday. I was almost mad at myself about that because I had waited so long to write it. At 5m exactly…they posted the article. The rest has been a whirlwind of comments and praise that I was not expecting. I did a radio interview with a show out of Syracuse the very next day. It turns out to be the most read blog post I have written ever.

I was asked what was it like to create a brand for yourself? Simply put: Absolutely Amazing.

A Little About Me…

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I feel the need for a little reintroduction. There is so much newness around me that has sparked an array of inspiration so far in 2013. New Office, New Apartment, and New Blog; I have to admit this is going well especially since I am getting new followers. This makes me think about the fact that many people are probably wondering what I am about…and even of you aren’t I should just explain anyway.

First and foremost, I consider myself a Latino man. More importantly, I consider myself Afro-Latino. I know that this term has gotten popular over the years and as plotted out my digital identity, I came up with the name Latinegro (which is something I did not invent). I got the name from Marta Cruz-Janzen who wrote some articles that lead me to write a major research paper for a graduate class I took a few years back. In my mind, she coined the phrase Latinegro and I have been using it every since.

It is important for me to state this because I believe that identity is important. It is one of things that makes us who were are. I cannot tell you how many college student I have run into over the years that simply do not know who they are…or perhaps they do know, but just have trouble accepting it. The acceptance of oneself is so very important in a lifetime because it is that catharsis that will really lead to success. That is why I have made sure I spend much of my blog about race and Afro Latinos in particular.

I define Afro Latino as someone who has African and Hispanic bloodlines (this does not exclude Haitians or Brazilians). This can include just about all Latinos, however, the real difference is their own acceptance. There are many of us who feel that Latinos are not Black or African American. Some will defend this point based on whatever facts they can try to dig up. There is a stigma to be being dark skinned and it a shame, but not all that surprising. What so many Latinos do not understand is that the plight on of the African American is also their plight because we live in a black and white world where you are either one or the other (based on skin color) in most cases.

Of course, Latinos have issues specific to them when it comes to immigration and places like Arizona that have made racial profiling a reality. Unfortunately, Latinos are used to this fight. We have been dealing with immigration and access issues well before World War 2. The commercialized version of Latinos look very much like the typical Mexican images you tend to see when we talk about immigration issues in the South West. The idealized version of Latinos tends to be the more the Rick Martin look; light skinned, dark (good) hair, light eyes, and over-sexualized. The less idealized look tends to be the David Ortiz look which is dark skinned, heavy accent, and wool hair (pelo malo). The great thing about understanding race is that Latinos are all three of these which can lead to a lot of scratching heads. The Census Bureau barely knows how to categorize us which leads us not understand what it is we are.

This is why the Latinegr@s Project had to be created. When I co-founded this group it was with the purpose of educating people about Afro Latinos and showing pride in what we are. This where we have lead to the discovery of and within ourselves as well as help people like us discover what they are. This is not just to say that we solely deal with Afro Latinos either. We champion those who are oppressed which is why posts can range from homosexuality to Native Americans.

Well, that seeed like such a long reintroduction, but I figured this is something I need to put on here now. As I get along in my new location here on wordpress, I am sure there will be other things I will feel the need to reiterate. While this blog is mostly about my life, there will be other things that will bleed into my posts. Just wait until I start writing about my other love…comic books.

The Grey

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It seems like everyday I’m finding another grey hair on my face. Which I suppose I am ok with since I am deciding to grow more facial hair. If I get tired of it, I can just shave. Yet, I look at it as proof that I continue to survive from year to year.

I often joke that each grey hair on my head is assigned to various people in my life both past a present that have left their stressful mark on me. However, the obvious reality is that I am getting older. I would like to think that my graying hair means that I am growing in wisdom, but I am not sure how true that is. I feel that I make enough mistakes to keep me young. Of course making mistakes is what being human is all about but, making mistakes usually means that one is out there doing new things.

For some reason when I think about the eventual salt and pepper look I will get (which will be a LONG time from now), I think about my maternal grandfather. I kind of knew, by my hair type, that I would be dealing with a greyish look. My dad has a different hair structure (I still compare him to Danny Trejo) that is very flowing and South American. Mi abuelito had hair that was more traditional with afro Latino…

{Pause}

I want to take a pause here because I am trying to not laugh…really. I mean, look at me trying to be all politically correct when it comes to the quality of the hair certain family members have. I could be really honest and just categorize it the way most people do. My father has good Latino hair that flows like Jesus and mi abueltio has pelo malo (bad hair) that flows like brillo.

{Un-Pause}

I think that I will eventually go back to the clean shaven look since there seems to less grey on my head than on my face. I’m really not that old. I’m staring at 39 in about six months and I feel like I am about 25. Truth of the matter is that being grey is not so bad. I feel like most of my life has been different shades of grey (which by the way…I hate that the book has coined this phrase).

{Pause}

Now that I think about, those are not grey hairs. They are white. Maybe, they seem grey when compared to the black hair. I find that interesting. I mean, I have been called racist by white people so I wonder if there is this psychological thing that does allow me to call a white hair white. Maybe, I am color blind in the sense and don’t want to recognize the importance of a certain color so I just call it grey. Interesting thought.

{Un-Pause}

It’s all good. I think have the wisdom to get through such trivial things like grey hairs. I am just glad that I still have my health. I just hope that I never get to a point where I consider using products to color my hair back to black. Do not get me wrong, both Clyde Frasier and Keith Hernandez are both legends but I’m not doing that little “touch of grey” thing that they have been promoting for years.

I think that when people get older they need to own up to their age and just face facts. Getting crap like botox or any anti-aging things will only end up making you look plastic. I mean, just imagine how they will look during the zombie apocalypse. No one wont be able to tell if they are alive or dead AND that is a damn shame.

I am owning up to my impending age. I think I look good. I can’t help but laugh at the fact that when I was younger two things occurred. The first was that I always cried about being the shortest and the youngest. I would always look too young or small for anything and I hated it so much, I could not wait be old (when you’re a kid being old is 19). The second was the fact that I looks so damn young and nerdy, women never looked at me.

Well, I think now I have the last laugh on both cases. 🙂