grad school theorizing

in grad school, in class, i’m discussing visual theory, the same as it is always discussed: what is visual, what is reality, what is memory, is photography a science or an art?  it is a circle jerk of supposed intellectual stimulation with no moment of climax.

we never discuss how is image used against people. we never discuss why is it that our language department is so large (the colonization of people by the Spanish) and yet we have so few US Latinx in our program—and me the only one from ohio — at a state school.
we never discuss how the police use photography or video, against the descendants of colonized people who are so huge in numbers that they drive a capitalist market for our academic department, while we are still able to keep said subjugated people out.
what does it mean when a white professor, doesn’t know who eric garner is, yet wouldn’t have their position if it weren’t for the subjugation of black and brown lives?
i don’t want to discuss what do Descartes and Freidburg think of optics and windows, or what do any other dead white men think. i want to hear the voices of those that don’t look like my classmates. i want us to be expected to know the politics of those that make us rich in academic capitalism but are controlled by image and excluded from our discussions.
instead, of looking at the society we live in, we continue with the banality of postulating what Walter Benjamin would think about reality versus nostalgia in images followed by patting ourselves on the back for reading and regurgitating selected chapters of books.

Cinco de Mayo in the Gateway

I live in a neighborhood commercially known as “The Gateway” (read government supported gentrification) although I prefer calling it by the more historical name Weinland Park.

While walking home from the gym last night I saw this advertisement:

Cinco de Mayo at Gateway

I did check out the website and the “events and specials” seem to be discounts on alcohol at two bars, the “Irish” one and the “Mexican” one (Kildare’s and Made Mex).  Which to me is personally interesting because an Irish friend visiting the US called me a couple days ago and asked what this Cinco de Mayo thing was all about.  I told her it was an annoying holiday only celebrated in the US.  I compared it to St. Paddy’s but the difference being in Ireland people have actually heard of St Patrick’s day.

My Mexican aunt who first witnessed cinco de mayo a few years ago, asked me why all the college students were sitting in their yards drinking beers while wearing sombreros.  How would you answer that one?   Anyway, back to the advertisement,  I am offended by it but am having difficulty articulating why, and was hoping my readers could help me out.  On a positive note, it is less offensive than the “spicy” one the North Market had a few years ago:
Cinco D' Ohio


I try to tell people interested in interpreting, that knowing a language isn’t achieved by knowing a vocabulary.  Knowing a language is cultural, it is becoming the language, being part of the ethos, it  is a change in personality and perspective.
Humor is a great identifier of ones culture.  I always realize how I am not so american when I watch American comedies and how I am even less Mexican than I like to think I am when I watch Mexican comedies.

I suck at pop culture. Both Mexican and American. I’ve never seen Star Wars, Pulp Fiction, American Idol and rarely get the references made in American comedies like The Simpsons.  When I watch or listen to Mexican comedies it is even worse.  El Chavo del Ocho doesn’t make me laugh.  I can’t stand La Familia Peluche and have never once laughed during it.  At least with American comedies I sometimes laugh.  However, in both situations I feel a disconnect especially with people around me who look like the are about to lose bladder control from the laughter.  I’ve been watching a lot of Mexican stand-up comedy and joke telling as of late. I feel overwhelmed by a sense of disconnect and sadness.  I am not really Mexican. I don’t laugh at all and it makes me feel like a failure as a Mexican.  I understand what is supposed to be funny but I don’t find it funny.  I attempt to analyze what it is I am missing.

On the rare occasions I do find a Mexican comedy funny, moments after my laughing as ceased, I realize that my laughter happened naturally and I feel a sense of belonging.   Below is a clip from a vulgar, Mexican comedy show.  I laughed and enjoyed it and was pleased with my enjoyment.  Additionally, here is a link to a blog post by a British friend of mine.  She writes about Americans (and my) inability to comprehend dry wit or sarcasm…although I like to think I prefer dry humor to slapstick.

A funny political aside: my mother who has lived in the the United State for 30+ years now, was flipping through the channels and stopped at a speech being given by Rick Perry.  She listened attentively and then looked at me for a cue and asked “Is he real? Or is this The SNL?”   She wasn’t sure if she was supposed to be laughing.

Hispanic Heritage Month

I’ve been asked to describe what it is to be Hispanic. I want to answer with a quote from Cherrie Moraga. We both came from one Mexican parent, one Anglo parent. Both of us struggling with our Xicana idenity and both of us abhoring the term Hispanic.

“I call myself a Chicana writer. Not a Mexican-American writer, not an Hispanic writer, not a half-breed writer. To be a Chicana is not merely to name one’s racial/cultural identity, but also to name a politic, a politic that refuses assimilation into the U.S. mainstream. It acknowledges our mestizaje — Indian, Spanish, and Africano. After a decade of ‘hispanicization’ (a term superimposed upon us by Reagan-era bureaucrats), the term Chicano assumes even greater radicalism. With the misnomer ‘Hispanic,’ Anglo America prefers the Spanish-surnamed the illusion of blending into the ‘melting pot’ like any other white immigrant group. But the Latino is neither wholly immigrant nor wholly white; and here in this country, ‘Indian’ and ‘dark’ don’t melt.”– Cherrie Moraga