SOL CON

I usually don’t like to write about work.  Strange thing though as work and passions are intertwining.

Federico, Elena, Lalo

The Revolution is Coming

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.

SOL CON 2015

SOL CON 2015

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.

Music for you

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


Maya Jupiter
It will take about 5 seconds before you realize she is brilliant

Aloe Blacc (video created by Alex Rivera)

Stromae
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.

Third Culture Children and their soundtrack

Third Culture Kids is one of my favorite topics.  A friend was sharing with me (a TCK herself) about a conference she recently went to where a woman was researching on the differences in identity within third culture siblings.  Same parents but depending on age, stage of development, geography and experiences, had skewed their own third culture identity and views although they had grown-up in the same “household” as their siblings.

I’ve most definitely felt this with my own siblings.  The three of us are, in age sequence, one year apart, and we fall under many of the stereotypes of third culture children.  We take longer to finish university, tend to have more formal education than the general public—in our case the 3 of us were in our mid-late twenties when we finished our bachelors, we marry later — in our case none of us are married, multilingual — check, travel more—yup, tend to be leaders within roles we do take — yup.  However, our own views as third culture children and our identities within that are extremely different.

If you were to ask my siblings who was the “most Mexican” of the three of us, they would agree it was me.  As the oldest, I got to travel back to Mexico more with my mother.  I got to go on my own and develop friendships during adolescence that I maintain to this day.  The two of them may visit Mexico but their experience is different from mine as I return to stay with friends, go to my friends weddings, baptisms, graduations.  They return and only stay with family, who culturally they have little in common with–they feel even more out-of-place than me.  However, there are other places they “fit in” better than I do.  Even the views on the economics of the household we grew-up in is quite varied.   Oddly, enough if we were to ask who was the most “American” of the three of us, I am not sure we would agree…in my case I would argue that it is my brother.

My brother was effected by gender and economics (as we all are) and I felt bad for him when he told me his Mandarin was better than his Spanish, and that it was possible that so was his Japanese.  My mother spoke of talking to him on the phone, he exhausted and barely awake with a 12 hour time difference from my mother, she said he kept slipping into this hybrid English-Mandarin-Spanish and that it made no sense and that he fell asleep mid sentence.   My mother it seems with age has slipped back into Spanish, and my brother the longer he lives in Asia the rustier his Spanish becomes.  I worry that one day they will not be able to communicate as effectively as the both desire.

Our experiences are different, our opportunities are different. I remember when I first started to learn Mandarin (which I don’t actually know) I kept dreaming in German, a language I have never been conversational in, but my brain was scattered and nothing seemed to fit right.  Sometimes thoughts fit easily within language without pensiveness other times expressing these thoughts or feelings are a struggle.  There is a struggle to know a concept exists in one language or culture and not another.  That struggle is frustrating when I am dating a monolingual non-TKC, how to explain an emotion or a sentiment when they have no concept of it?  Which may explain the smile across my face when I think of the relationships some of these TKC musicians have.

As of late I’ve been really into the music, art, activism of  the following third culture children, Jarina de Marco, Stromae, and power couple Maya Jupiter and her partner Aloe Blacc.  Jarina de Marco was born to parents from the Dominican Republic and exiled to Brasil then later to Canada. Stromae was born to a Belgium mother, a Rawandan father, in Beligum and from what I’ve gathered in reading, raised in a French community in Brussels but attended a Dutch speaking university.  Maya Jupiter born to a Mexican father, a Turkish mother and spent much of her childhood and adolescence in Australia. Aloe Blaac*** born in the white suburbs of Orange County California to Black Panamanian parents (I say this because I think skin color play a deep role in third culture identity in this country).

***(I’m not actually sure I would identify Aloe Blacc as a TKC rather than more of a child of immigrants but I’ve personally found that black men raised in white communities have much in common with TKC.  To grow-up in America as not white, but within a white community allows you to have an ability to identify with TKCs.  Although, now that I think of it, I had a black-American boyfriend who grew up in a Mexican-American community and he had the ability to identify with TKC identity issues in a way I think most men, within the accepted standard of norm do not have—perhaps just growing-up outside the “norm” allows empathy—this is to say, more simply, what the hell do I know?)

All are political engaged, and globally aware, as tends to happen with third culture children.   It made me smile when I saw that Aloe was active in the Day Laborers Movement (if you recall my sister Cristina Tzintzún is Executive Director of The Workers Defense Project — an organization for Day Laborers in Texas)  I couldn’t help but think, yes, of course he would be supportive.

Anyway, go listen to their music, they are brilliant and we are lucky they share their minds via their music with us.  With these artists this is just a taste of their work and their ranges are wide so go find some of their old and new stuff and enjoy discovering them for yourself.
Here is 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

 

Maya Jupiter
It will take about 5 seconds before you realize she is brilliant

Aloe Blacc (this video was made by Alex Rivera — I’ve blogged about Alex Rivera before..but can’t seem to find the link, he has also been a big supporter of Cristina’s Workers Defense Project and is the artist who made the very moving documentary The Sixth Section AND he was just here in Ohio too to present his work to students in a new project I’ve taken on —I’ll blog about that later)

Stromae
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.

10 years

Blogging is good for me.  I need to remember that.  The writing is almost as essential as the reading and I need to do more of both.

On a bike ride today with my lovely friend Jill, I explained to her that the me in her early-twenties would be a bit disappointed in current me.   You see in my early twenties, I was reading all the xicano literature I could get my hands on. I was blogging, as foolishly as this may seem now, not realizing there are other people on the internet who might read my babbling shit.

I came home one day to find Julio Sueco, a man teaching and researching Xicano studies in Sweden, writing about me on his blog and linking to me in his static blog roll.  Right next to the hyperlink to Elenamary was a hyperlink to Ana Castillo.  Ana Castillo! I couldn’t believe it! A big time Xicana writer and activist!  I was amazed! Dr. Julio Sueco viewed me as a xicana writer and was linking me right next to THE amazing Ana FUCKING Castillo!

I now have a job at a university in a program that empowers young Latinos and is bringing Ana Castillo to campus for a book signing and as the keynote speaker for our Latino students dinner.  I was asked if I would like to join for an intimate lunch with Ana before the days events and of course I have said yes.  The reason I know younger me would be disappointed is because I haven’t read a Ana Castillo or even a Xicano lit book in too long (with the exception of finishing La Perdida today on a recommendation from Ross who I met through the blogosphere years ago). Way too long.  I am not blogging like I used to.  I am not saving my memories.  And more so as my friend Robbie, recently noted “If a writer falls in love with you, then you never die.”   I may never have children. I may never have that one moment that has great impact on the world (although I like to think I have created change via my students and other parts of my life) but my blog is my memoir.  It is where I can reflect on my travels, my adventures, my lovers, my schooling, my politics, me.   Okay, I am drifting into no topic land, so we shall cut it here.  Not sure when my first blog entry was but the oldest ones I do have archived are from January of 2004.  Happy 10 years of blogging to me.

Tsarnaev brothers

I’ve thought a lot about the Tsarnaev brothers and  about how America has reacted to the fact that these were two young Muslim men of Chechen ethnicity. (The Wrong Kind of Caucasian: Despite the Boston bombers having little to do with Chechnya, the media were quick to demonise an entire ethnicity.)

A very close friend of mine who grew up Muslim in Central-Asia in an area
neighboring the Chechnya region, emailed me from abroad and said:

“Yesterday I watched tv, russian news show about this.  So they saying americans wouldn’t believe this is  America’s own blame. I mean they are use to be terrorist is only foreigners but not USA peoples, but this time is terrorists is USA peoples, this guys grown up in USA and graduated [in USA]…”

He is right, Americans don’t see ourselves as having any fault in this. I remember watching a program about Anders Behring Breivik bomber and mass shooter in Norway, and how Norwegians questioned how it was they as a country had nurtured this person into being—of course noting his mental illness.

We need to ask ourselves as Obama put it:  “Why did young men who grew up and studied here, as part of our communities and our country, resort to such violence?”

We, as Americans, have not asked ourselves that.  Last week while at work I was waiting to round and a nurse asked me if she could help me and I explained that was alright, that I was waiting for the already paged physicians.  The other nurse referring to me said “Oh she is she just standing there to stop any mad bombers that might come in.  I’ve always said that the hospital is not a safe place, we have so many foreigners coming here”. I wanted to scream about xenophobia or that perhaps we should have more fear of educated white men who felt jilted by the system—but I said nothing.

How do we want people to feel accepted in our country when ideologies like that
are acceptable enough to say out loud? Do we really think that any person of color
or any Muslim person is fully accepted as American?  What, for example, do we think is going to happen when our country has a whole class of Mexican-Americans who are young adults who have only lived in the USA, don’t speak Spanish, know little of Mexico and yet are considered an “illegal class” here? I feel a sad affection for the Tsarnaev brothers, they too are ni de aquí ni de allá, and I must ask myself did we as a society fail in that someone would want to resort to such an atrocious act?  Had we treated them with more love and acceptance, treated them so that they too not only belonged but were wanted, would they have resorted to this heinous barbarity?

——
Oh and how the authorities handled it afterwards only goes to show how much we fail with our own xenophobia and racism. Falsely Accused in Boston: 3 Examples and What They Should Teach Us (Hat Tip to Chirs Nelson)

mini revolutions

This is the piece I read at the recent blogtitlan feminista gathering in Chicago.  This piece I felt was apropos for the event in that it was about Chicago, and about me finding my independence in the Windy City.  I didn’t want to post it here until I’d read it and until my companion on my mini-revolutions had heard it as well.  It is long but I hope you find yourself laughing and picturing me fierce with emotion.  (The other two pieces I read were Why I, and maybe we, blog   and ay no se que hacer..)

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I like walking down the street with him, holding hands enjoying our contradictions. We are opposites here. The city is his; he is comfortable in its clamorous chaos, while I weasel and fake my way into the big city, leaving my insecurities as the small cow-town corn field, naïve girl behind.   I feel like a grown-up, but you know, the kind that is free? The kind that isn’t concerned about where they need to be, or who they need to be answering to.  I am free; I am a big city woman, not a little girl from Ohio.   I am a woman in Chicago!

We walk into the bank alcove and our hands let go, as he fumbles with his papers to make the atm deposit.  Still in the alcove of the bank, he fixated on his banking, in complete oblivion to the revolution I’m about to instigate.  I am about to start the kind of revolution Michele Serros of Chicana Falsa fame would incite.  You know the story, where she grabs the “Hispanic Vegetables” from the frozen food section and asks why they are cut up so small? Is it because we are smaller? We are less of a people?  She unites the shoppers of the grocery store and they walk out united in the revolution against chopped up frozen food labeled “Hispanic vegetables”.  THIS is the kind of revolution I’m about to start!  Oh, if he only knew about the revolution and wasn’t so concerned with his deposit.

I’m staring into the bank, glaring at six picture frames, and in each frame is a head shot with a name beneath it.  Each frame holds a picture of a white man, named either Mike or Michael.  They are the branch manager, the loan manager, the small business manager etc.

I stare fiercely at the frames; the revolution is boiling within me and it makes me laugh out loud.  Inside the tellers have caught on to my staring.  Mind you again, he is still oblivious to my revolution…he is doing his banking.   I can see the three tellers discussing what it possible is I could be staring at, belly laughing at, and it is decided one of them must approach me and ask.

The lone woman teller walks towards me opens the glass door that separates us, and inquires “Is there something I may help you with?”  I smile, that revolutionary smile, the smile that will get you a chanclaso from your mother, and I respond “Oh no, I am just laughing at the fact that all six of your managers are white guys named Michael”

It is at this moment he comes out of his banking distractions and realizes I am up to something.  The teller, a middle aged plump white lady, looks at me and says “Yeah, we really can’t help how they are named”.  I chuckle again “Yeah, you really can’t help it either that the only people who know how to manage well, are white men”.  It is now her turn to stare, albeit at me, and she is completely dumbfounded.

He of course, has understood that this isn’t going to be a normal banking day.  He pops his hoodie up and with the utmost haste begins to walk out.  I follow him, glowing in the fact that I have started a revolution!

With my head swimming in thoughts of the revolution, he affectionately jests “That’s one more place in Chicago I can’t go because of you.”  I quip “Don’t worry, at the bank, all you black men look alike, they won’t be able to tell the difference and next time, don’t try to be inconspicuous by throwing your hoodie up and quickly walking away.  I hear that doesn’t work well for black men”.

He non-verbally mends the situation by restoring our clasped hands, and I begin to think of all the places he says he can’t go back to because of my many one woman mini-revolutions: the Wicker Park Walgreens, the Logan Square Chicago Deli, all three Sultans, the stop where the blue and orange line connect, and now the bank.  Maybe I have created my independent Chicago woman persona; I’m a revolucionaria without a cause.