I am so humbled and excited that I got invited to be a part of conversation with two men I admire very much. They are intellectuals, activists, pensive with an acumen that I aspire to have. I hope you enjoy listening to this with half of the enjoyment I had being a part of the conversation. Activism Within the Academy
There is a phrase in German, I absolutely love, “Ich habe die Qual der Wahl” it would somewhat equate to “I am being tortured by the choices I have”.
I am very thankful that I have two great opportunities one professionally and one personally but Ich habe die Qual der Wahl. I am unsure which to choose, and I must choose as they are happening on the same date. I have the opportunity to travel to South Carolina and compete in triathlon at the USAT Collegiate Nationals with the OSU team, which I have never done before and may never have the opportunity to do so again. I also have the opportunity to create a summer program for Latino high school students on heritage language development in the medical fields that will give these students access to college credit and exposure to a university campus, and as part of this program am being invited by my department, expenses paid, to the “Midwest Heritage Language Summit: Fostering the Languages of Your Community” conference in Michigan.
Both the triathlon and conference are on Saturday, April 23rd—Ich habe die Qual der Wahl. Yesterday, after talking to my friend I had decided I didn’t want to die having missed out on the opportunity to go to nationals but I am totally okay dying and not having made it to another academic conference. Then today, after talking to my academic mentor I felt I should go to the conference. The conference will have direct impact on the work I want to do not just in the next 3 months but the next ten years.
I am trying very hard to be thankful that I have both professional and personal opportunities but this decision is torture.
I’m not sure succeed is the word…as more so persevere. I have to persevere through graduate school. I am enjoying it but it is sometimes frustrating, difficult, structured in ways I have difficulties understanding and navigating.
My friend 光 visited me the past few days and I was tempted to skip class (something I don’t do—seriously I went the first four years of undergrad never missing a class) so I could spend the day with him. But he reminded me of this:
“Out of 100 Chicano/a elementary school students, 44 will graduate from high school, 26 will enroll in either a community college or four-year university, but only 7 will graduate with a bachelors degree; only 2 will complete a professional or graduate degree and 0.2 will earn a doctorate.
…At full professor level, Latinas made up 1,254 of those positions…and white women held almost 40,000 full professorships.”
(Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac, 2009 )
And yes, he did remind me of those exact numbers as we read from “ ‘I don’t belong here’: Chicanas/Latinas at a Hispanic serving Institution Creating Community Through Muxerista Mentoring“. He scolded me “If ya don’t go you are going to fuck up the statistics, it is vital you go”.
If I don’t go class, my chances of becoming that 0.2 that earn a doctorate is threatened. I have already defied some odds; I am the first woman on either side of my family to graduate high school (first person–male or female– on my mom’s side), I am the first person on either side of my family to graduate from university, I am the first in my family to attend graduate school…and damn it has been a long winding road.
I want to be part of that 0.2% of Latinas that earn a doctorate. When 1 out 4 students in K-12 in this country is now Latino and yet they aren’t represented in academia, and I have the opportunity and privilege to be in that role, it isn’t just something I have to do for me, but for my community. So, yeah I went to class and class was a lot of fun and super stimulating…now if I can just preserver for a few more years.
I have an ability to speak a posh standardized form of English when desired but not so much in Spanish. I have more formal education in English, my Spanish while my first language is very informal, and rather unsophisticated in some circles. My lack of poshness in Spanish or as we’d say ‘fresita’ has been noted while Felipe has visited the last few days. Felipe a Colombian friend and I were once skyping and a Mexican friend (who had unlike me attended wealthy prep schools in Mexico) overheard our conversation and when it ended noted that Felipe spoke “muy culto, muy fino” (very cultured, very refined) and then asked how it was he tolerated my country-bumpkin way of speaking. He wasn’t the last to make note of it and I do in fact speak like someone from the rural mountains of Mexico, or the non-standard/élite form of speaking. It is odd how self-conscious I have been about the “poshness” of my Spanish, the last few days. Felipe hasn’t made me feel this way, in fact he has complimented my way of speaking but I know that unlike with English, it is much more difficult for me to have levels of sophistication (for a lack of a better adjective) in Spanish.
I usually don’t like to write about work. Strange thing though as work and passions are intertwining.
I got to meet Lalo Alcaraz one of my favorite pochos (I haven’t forgotten you Gustavo, Al, Daniel and Laura Luna P). I got to help organize the first ever African-American Latino Comix Expo, SOL CON (here is a cool article about the why of SOL CON in the Washington Post), and as part of it Lalo Alcaraz was one of our 50 artists. It was amazing, and I am not sure I even started to appreciate it until it ended. I knew I was a fan girl (a term I learned this weekend) for Lalo but it was amazing to watch grown men drool over Jaime Hernandez. Grown men, organizers of other comix expos just stared at poor Jaime. I overheard a man, published multiple times himself and recognized in the field say “I just got to carry Jaime’s box. It wasn’t heavy or anything but I got to carry it.” I desperately didn’t want to be that dorky so I actually avoided Lalo…although my concussion also had me out of many of the events. Truth is only comic book I’ve ever bought was Love and Rockets by Jaime Hernandez and his brothers Gilberto and Mario. I bought it for two reasons the name ‘Hernandez’ and the inside seemed to be Mexican-American. As a Xicana growing-up in Ohio I craved anything Mexican-American, anything that was like me.
That is what the artists offered this weekend to so many, and to each other, art and writing about things we could relate to—it was cathartic for many. David Walker (by the way I feel like there are tons of people who are jealous I got to talk to this guy when he is totally awesome and down to earth and I had no clue who he is–still don’t I think) said it this way “I can say ‘it smelled like a hot comb going through hair’ and my audience will immediately know that smell.” We crave understanding, belonging and seeing our self and that is what this weekend provided for me. As well as an appreciation for comix that I hadn’t had before. I am excited to read more, to ask for more comix zines from my friends. I am very appreciative for all that was shared with me this weekend. I am appreciative of the inspiration from people like Tim Fielder, and Raul Gonzalez III and watching them motivate high school students and providing legitimacy in the black brown nerd…not that I needed it but that I crave having it confirmed. I like to say, you might be preaching to the choir but sometimes we like to know we aren’t singing a solo. I am appreciative that I got to organize this and work with John Jennings, Ricardo Padilla and my boss Federico Aldama…because of them I only know Black and Latino Comix.
For my health I skipped the after parties which still makes me sad. Also, because I was so busy during the event I missed out on a lot (including going by the bank to get cash) I missed out on Tim Fielder’s Matty’s Rocket (black super heroes ¡yes! ) I wanted to buy a couple and for a way under-priced $5, Mr. Fielder was doing drawings of fans.
I missed out on having a conversation with Raul Gonzalez III and thanking him for making exciting Xicano characters. These are all things I have to look forward to next year.
A taste of four artists you should know. With these artists this is just a tiny sample of their work and their ranges are wide so go find some of their old and new stuff and enjoy discovering them for yourself.
A video from each:
Jarina De Marco
At the age of five got kicked out of D.R.
Revolution from the start
Baby girl pack your dolls
Next stop Montreal
Parlez vous Français
Oui monsieur I do….mix race, pretty face, we embody all the nations
It will take about 5 seconds before you realize she is brilliant
Aloe Blacc (video created by Alex Rivera)
I was torn which video clip to put here. His song Formidable is one of my favorites and I love the sound he produces with his “R”s (yes the letter R). However in the video I chose,
he has a beautiful way of playing with identity including within gender roles, and breaking cultural standards of normativity and so that is what I am going to roll with.