“This is What It Means to Say Pheonix, Arizona”

Oak Flat came into my life through a conversation with my daughter who lives in Arizona.

Even though my fingers tingled to write they were tangled with a hundred ideas and caution was also there. We tend to be afraid to write or even talk about things pertaining our government mainly because instead of protecting their citizen’s free speech, it is crushed and many times throughout history and contemporary news we have witnessed the atrocities that have come upon those who openly oppose and verbalize their disagreement. Protesting has become a risky business.

Nevertheless, thoughts came and went until I was able to write a post about it. Samuel Clemens became my inspiration and fear was thrown to the wind and the birds carried it away.

The San Carlos Apache tribes are only a grain of sand inside all the rest who struggle each day trying to make sense of their lives.  A new generation who try to find their voices in a country where they mainstream or they stay like my four year old nephew/son says, “stuck”.

Stuck in communities that are there, but at the same time are invisible to the rest of the country. As a resident of Puerto Rico relating to this is simple.

Literature provides us with a unique opportunity to discern what surrounds us and as Frank Kafka says, “…books must be the ax for the frozen sea inside us.”. Empathy comes wrapped inside of realms of fiction and nonfiction.  It is what we do after that counts.  Reading opens a completely new line of thoughts and reactions that make us more humane and better citizens across the line.

A society which is more and more individualist has become frozen upon the face of all the  injustices that go on a daily basis in our society and country.

Which took me to looking upon some great Native American writers.  After going around some authors like, N. Scott Momaday, Vine Deloria Jr,  Gerald Vizenor, and Sherman Alexie I found the story “This is What It Means to Say Pheonix, Arizona” written by S. Alexie in an anthology I had home.

Alexie brings to life the struggles and despair that accompany the Native American community across the country.  A country that has demanded they change who they are over and over again.  They were stripped of their way of life and became the first people to be relocated in the also first concentration camps known to the world that range from 1871 to this date.

As World War II came into the lives of Americans and people across the nation, many felt terrible about what the Nazis were perpetrating against the Jewish across Europe, however at home thousands of Native American Indians were struggling with life inside the Reservations.  Realities better off ignored by America.

Cultural and social diversity is not celebrated in America.

Native American Indians, which are by the way the true and only Americans, that go into the city for business or whatever it is they need to go into town for are looked upon with open curiosity and are innocently finger pointed by children as if they were part of a circus showcasing those who were different back in the day.

To top that off, if they think they can build a life for themselves in the mainstream America they can easily end up like Victor’s father, who died in his “trailer” of a heart attack and was there for days before anyone discovered him.  He wasn’t happy in the reservation and went straight into isolation in a city he thought he would rise like the phoenix as the story tells us.

Alexie’s character Thomas Build-The-Fire brings to life the way of the old and the struggles of the new. Written forty-nine years ago it stills has a hold strong today that we are able to witness as the San Carlos Apache rise above their circumstances and occupy the land that is sacred for them.  For a moment, sadness sank in as visions of mining came and went, thinking another lost battle, but they were able to pull off a Bill for Repeal (thank you Raul M. Grijalva) and find people willing to listen in Congress.

They have begun the same journey of discovery that Victor and Thomas Build-the-Fire went through as they tried to get to their destiny in Alexie’s story. It is not going to be easy and they will have to compromise many times along the way.

As the Tribal Council only was able to give Victor one hundred dollars they will also have to penny pinch until they have enough money, that tragically translates into power, to prevail in their battle against a system that clearly has more flaws than virtues.

Specially if you think that Native Americans aren’t even considered rightful citizens for the folks in Washington.  If not, why many of them have only begun voting for the first time as early as  thirty years ago.

Just take for instance the 2010 census in Arizona where they are only a mere 4.5% in a population of 6,392,017.  They are not a population that will turnover an election. However, if the rest of the states unite their voices and much importantly their votes “that” can make a difference.

So my dear readers, “Hon Dah” welcome yourselves into the lives of these Americans and help them out in any way your consciousness compels you to.  Justice should always be served without delay, if not William Gladstone is completely truthful when he stated that, “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

Without the certainty of being a bit naive I’ve always liked how Captain Planet said as his finishing line after each episode,  “The power is yours.” Which is absolutely true, what remains is, what are we going to do about it?


#Bring Back Our Humanitarianism

Why do we feel the need to pretend things are okay when they are not?

Why do we feel the need to confirm other people’s doings when they are so clearly wrong?

Why do we shrug off things as racism, injustice, selfishness, and so many other  if they weren’t important?

Why do we feel that it’s our duty to stand up for those very far away from our borders when within them so much injustice lies lurking underneath?

It amazes and outrages me a bit, how so many public figures, celebrities even Michelle Obama stood with the poster in front of them, #bringbackthegirls, however nobody speaks of the children and young men in Nogales. We should all pose with selfies that state #Bringbackhumanitarianism

So many question, so few answers.

Many of these questions are rhetorical in a sense.  Their answers lie in our conscious for only us to answer.

young man

Young men at Nogales Border Patrol Facility Center

Whoever has taken a moment to study our vasts world’s history knows that forms of government and laws have been around for way to long.  Hammurabi’s Code set the example for all civilizations who emerged afterwards to have some sort of rules that will would help people leave peacefully among themselves.

A nation that is still very young in so many ways,  don’t you think can learn a thing or two from the errors of past empires and nations?

The troubles we face are burden on our shoulders.  Yesterdays poverty is still a fresh memory as to segregation, civil rights and so many other things that have made our country what it is today.

Don’t Americans come together united for any cause they may seem worthy beyond our borders, now take a minute to think about finding that same sentiment for a cause within them.

I can’t seem to brush off the images of those children that looked like puppies in a pound.  I can’t let it go, it’s going to take time for those images to go away if they ever will.

So you see, “mis queridos amigos”, our world and our life would be so much better if we raised our heads instead of burying it in the sand, if we raised our voice instead of complying in silence, and if we raised our hands in victory  instead of letting them fall in defeat.  Please, let your heart warm towards these children in Nogales and find in your heart warmth and compassion to help them find their way home. Where ever that may be, because that’s what life is all about.




Would you kiss the leper clean?

It’s been a while since any song has touched me, however I was profoundly moved by hearing John Bell’s The Summons.

My daughter sent it to me so I could understand why she wanted to become a minister.  This next fall she’ll be attending Seminary either in Princeton or Chicago.  She’s not going to be the ordinary minister, but the way out of the box one.  She’ll lead protests, rallies and will put herself on the line over and over again, and my heart bleeds just by the thought of it.  However, she is what she is and I’m nobody to put my voice in her head saying, “She can’t do it”.

Her turning point was becoming a volunteer in a church in Tucson, Arizona that became a sanctuary during the San Salvador Civil War.  She got out of her comfort zone and went for it, without full understanding what she was getting into.

She feels strongly about social injustice and is adamant in women’s rights.   As the song’s lyrics go by, there is a part that says, “Would you kiss the leper clean, if I would call your name?”

I’m more than sure she would.

Stephanie is the first from left to right.
Stephanie is the first from left to right.
Thank you Lamp Left Media (Alonso Parra) for such a beautiful picture.

However, this post isn’t about her or her calling.  It’s about the voices inside us, my friends know I’m a strong believer in signs and precisely yesterday as I attended service at my church, the person who was sharing a reflection in our Sunday Bible School (which I usually don’t attend), asked us why we had believed?

How did we become believers,  where and how our calling occurred?

Isn’t the purpose of soul-searching spiritual en-lightning, so we can make a difference in the world that surround us?  Part of the lyrics of The Summons said, “Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around?”.

Some shared stories that seemed to come out of a twilight dimension, others said it was logic, others said that they had heard voices, others said that they had feared to come to the front of the congregation, but had felt the need to move forward.

As I listened carefully to other people, I wondered myself, why was I there?

Does your calling come only once in life or does it come many times?

Yesterday as I thought about writing on my blog, my thoughts drifted and ended up not writing anything.

However, today when Steph sent me this song, it all came back to me.

I asked myself, why do I continue going back to that building that is as old as I am and continue to sit on the same pew, and listen to the same people?

Is that really what I’m suppose to do?

If I’m truly a believer and God knows I am, is it true that If He did call my name, why haven’t I followed him?


Why am I the same person???

I’m not even sure if I’ve really heard anyone, less God himself calling my name.

Or is it that He has called my name, but I haven’t turned and listened carefully enough?

It’s so easy to fall inside a fantasy world where being a believer is all about attending service every Sunday, saying God bless you, and hugging people just like us.  And so hard at the same time, to step outside this world and truly become believers and reshape all that surrounds us, making it a better place, while putting ourselves out there where we can be harmed in the process.

This is my dear friend, the question of all the questions, how far are we willing to go, if our names were called?


Arizona’s Borders: The New Heartbreak Island

“The country does not realize the menace of immigration.”

Sen.  Albert Johnson (1924)

About a week in a half ago I read a blog post written by Jeb Bush  where he talks about the reasons we need comprehensive immigration reform.  I’m not really going into the perks of his post because if you want to read it, feel free just to click on him name and it will take you directly to The Huffington Post where you can have that pleasure.  My point here isn’t Jeb Bush or any other politic that wants to come into the picture to discuss immigration just because it can guarantee him  time under the spotlight (free publicity), but about what people think about the reform through their comments.

It amazes me how people can be so obtuse when they talk about immigration.

I obviously wanted to voice my opinion as well as two hundred and eighty-seven other  people.  Yet, some of the them were just darn mean, no empathy, not a word of compassion or anything related.  Basically all of them had one thing in common, hatred.  Many would openly say they were immigrants from other parts of the World, but they had entered the United States legally.  How can a person that is coming from Easter Europe compare himself with an immigrant coming from Mexico?  Well if he had lived in the 1920’s certainly he would have had it rough, not so in 2000’s.  The Gang of Eight would have been reduced to the Gang of Three (Henry Cabot Lodge, Albert Johnson and David Reed).  Who were all basically racists and  authors of  the Immigration Act of 1924. (If you think what’s happening now is bad go back in time and you’ll witness how horrible Ellis Island became.)

photo credit: Stephanie Quintana

All this situation is bad enough, but what makes it even worse is some of the people who are part responsible for coming up with this reform.  I’m talking specifically of Marco Rubio.

How can this man son of two Cuban immigrants (Cuba is a different story to tell anyhow, thank you Fidel),  grandson of an illegal alien (Rubio’s grandfather was undocumented from 1959 – 1966), can possibly  join forces with Lindsey Graham (his pal from the grand old party) and agree with his point of “they can’t stay until they learn our language” kind of bull.

Why can’t we not only have one, or two or even three languages, in which we’re proficient?

You think Rubio’s parents (a carpenter and a seamstress) knew the ropes of our language back then?

Have you ever seen the movie Ever After ?  If you have you’ll remember the scene of the ball, where Cinderella is discovered pretending something she is not.  As I thought about Rubio an his proposed immigration reform I pictured him in my mind as the Senate’s Cinderella!  Who’s going to uncover him?  Probably nobody because all the information I’ve shared with you is absolutely public.  Nevertheless, doesn’t it make you think? Why would someone with his background go for this reform?

Well, I’ll tell you what I think!  All this talk about immigration reform is just about dirty old politics. It’s been going around since the federal government took over immigration.  Every time a reform or new legislation comes around it’s usually not related  with the well-being of no one in particular, except the ladies and gentlemen of the Congress.  The sad part is that  nobody is really going to do anything about it and probably just like back then in the 1920’s both parties will gang up together and approve anything they decide is in the best interest of and for “the people”.

Back then Ellis Island became known as the Island of Tears or Heartbreak Island, today it’s the same situation, but this time around its Arizona’s borders.

Doesn’t it make you kind of think  America The Grand?