Arizona, Bill of Repeal, Concentration Camps, Congress, Frank Kafka, Gerald Vizenor, McCain-Flake, N.Scott Momaday, Native American, Nazi, Oak Flat, Puerto Rico, Raul M. Grijalva, San Carlos Apache, Sherman Alexie, United States, Vine Deloria Jr, William Gladstone, World War II
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?
In Puerto Rico, Christmas season extends to January 6th, because we celebrate the epiphany with the arrival of the Three Kings to see baby Jesus.
Children young and old, recollect grass during the afternoon of the 5th, and place it underneath their beds. Presents are placed underneath each bed during the night and grass will disappear magically. It’s something like the cookies that are left as snacks for Santa.
We sing songs related to the Three Kings and celebrate it as tradition mandates. Festivals are held for children all around the country.
It’s important to keep traditions alive for future generations. After almost one hundred and seventeen years of being a U.S. territory the American culture tends to rub on “a bit”. Our children mostly have to rely on television commercials to grasp the importance of Christmas, which mainly is how many great gifts we can get.
Christmas is about sacrifice and love.
If you look closely to the story told about the Three Kings, and their travel across the desert. It wasn’t easy, they endured plenty to get to glimpse at God’s grace through his greatest gift.
If one of my professors could read this, he would probably laugh at my face. Saying, “Really?”.
He graduated from one of the top schools in U.S. continental (Columbia) for Liberal Arts majors and he referred constantly at the stories told in the Bible as fiction, or folktales. He didn’t believe for one second in the Epiphany or any other “nonsense” found in the Bible. He had no faith or believed in nothing that couldn’t be proven without doubt. That’s who he was.
Sorry, Dr. Velázquez, but even though I have no reasons for believing, I do.
Believing in something (whatever it is) makes you feel better about yourself and the things and people that surround you.
With the end of Christmas and the beginning of a new year we have plenty of opportunities ahead of us. We can start over, renew and experience fresh starts.
The Three Kings had a mission and they completed it without aborting without giving in to all the obstacles they found in their way. They didn’t give up!
Why should we give up in our quests?
It really doesn’t matter if they are important or not, it’s about if they’re important to you as an individual.
Let’s name our quests and pursue them relentlessly, without caving or giving up.
For some, it could be becoming more healthy, for others buying a new car or being selfless, or pursuing a new career or any other thing. The important part is not caving.
Christmas will be back at the end of the year, just think how good it’s going to feel when you say to yourself,
“Hey, I did it.”
“I conquered my quest.”
The Three King’s festivities are there for the taking. It’s a beautiful story to share with young and old, just grasp and learn from it.
So you see “mis queridos amigos” life is what we make of it and at the end it’s all about believing in yourself and not letting go ever, never allowing others to dictate how you live or what you believe in. Having faith is so much better than believing that the worst will always happen to you.
Conquer your quest and never stop believing.
“Hasta la próxima.”
Sofia Vergara has been ticking me off a bit these days.
It’s probably because of how she portrays the “latina” women. For starters “latina” is all about perspective. All women that live on this part of the world are “latinas” because in one way or another we’re from Latin America. Meaning roughly Central and South America.
Just to be nice, if you consider yourself “latina” and don’t even know Spanish because you were raised in the States it’s okay. Remember that at the beginning of my post I said it was about perspective and there is a fine line there somewhere. To be honest, there are a great number of “latinas” that have been honored for their distinguished work and probably didn’t even speak Spanish either. Some of them were part of the National Women’s History like Linda Chavez-Thompson, Dolores Huerta, Jovita Idar, Sonia Manzano, Ellen Ochoa, and so many others.
I think “latina” women should be from Latin America, but that’s only my perspective.
Coming back to Sofia……
Sofia is in her forty something actress and model (which is gorgeous by the way) and as my grandmother and her peers would say “esta bien conservada”. Which roughly means she’s looking great despite her age.
Each time I would listen to this common phrase of my elders I would think about meat. It’s kind of a coincidence that she was showcased like a nice piece of lean butcher’s meat. We could even say “prime” kind of meat.
Nevertheless, women from this part of the world could be merciless with younger women and if you were in show business you were kind of considered “not wife material”.
When Jennifer López was dumped for a more demure Jennifer Garner my mom was pretty quick to say that JLo was “you know what”. Really Mom?
Every now and then she pisses me off, but it’s fine because she’s a pretty hard worker. When she gets to me is when she tries to pull of the Latina thing. For Pete’s sake she doesn’t even know decent Spanish, she’s more Nuyorican then Latina or even Puerto Rican. Communicating in any language has to be a bit more than just voicing a couple of words with a thick accent. I just bet her kids don’t know anything but a few words they’ve picked up in Dora.
Sorry Jenny but I really can’t see you as a “latina”, having a Puerto Rican abuela or even marrying a Puerto Rican once, doesn’t make the cut.
Coming back to our topic of discussion, women were suppose to be quiet, covered up and as gentle as a summer breeze.
They weren’t suppose to be loud, only women who didn’t know there place were like that. Loud women were considered as “mujeres de la vida alegre”. To translate this idiomatic phrase proves to be hard because it’s suppose to be women of a happy life, but not really.
It’s more like there business is more about pleasure than hard work, if you know what I mean.
I’m not sure I really want to put it out there in black and white.
Divorce wasn’t an option for any of my cousins or myself and when one of my youngest cousins got a divorce it was an embarrassment (which is very wrong by the way). My “mamita” would say, “las mujeres decentes no se divorcian”, because “las divorciadas” were seen as easy ladies. It was worst then the having the scarlet letter on your chest.
Moving on let’s talk about the sex goddess thing that she has going on.
Sex was a tabu for more time then it was suppose to. Nobody talked about sex and whatever you learned you would do like me (when I was in college I borrowed a book from the library) or from friends, and if things were really bad then on your wedding night.
Certainly things have moved on and no longer are so archaric, but there is still a generation of women out there that have all this engraved in our souls so accepting change isn’t easy. We are not sex goddess and that georgeous body of hers has probably more to do with learning to tame her curvs with exercise and diets.
We are a bit more curvier than usual, it comes maybe with the “latina” thing. However, if you are a plain Jane those curves are going to go on “loco” mode after a few pregnancies and all the tasting and cooking of very spicy meals. Which are pretty “sabrosas” or good by the way.
For all of us that don’t have the time for exercise or diets we’re just a lot of nicely rounded ladies.
Finally, I can’t finish without acknowledging her continuous air head type of behavior. She definitely puts us down each time she does that. All of us have to overcome a society where “machismo” is our daily bread and butter.
It’s not easy trying to make in a world where men are worth so much more than us, we’re smart, are demographic is growing professionally and at so many other levels, and I just can’t help myself mentioning our very own Justice Sotomayor.
I may even feel a bit more prouder because she’s from a small town very close to my own. It feels great to have her on that bench.
Bottom line, it doesn’t really do us any good having all that bad publicity. Men can get the wrong idea and it’s really enough with what we have to deal with right now. With immigration so high at least for women from Puerto Rico, which are leaving the Island in huge numbers it’s terrible.
The thing is that there not in show business but, some our engineers, teachers, nurses, accountants, women in the military, etc. etc. etc., and they have to cope with all those awful stereotypes.
My heart goes out for all of those who are coming accross the border looking for jobs in service and elsewhere because they are aliens in the United States.
How many are maybe taken advantage of because men think they are some sort of twisted version of Sofia Vergara.
So you see my dear friends, “latina” women are just like any other gal just with some more curves then others and I’m not even sure that’s a good thing. None the less, next time you catch a glimpse of Modern Family just don’t think of us when you see her, she’s only playing a character that was made up by someone that thought it was really funny and maybe it is in a way because they’ve got some Emmy’s to prove it.
Please, next time you think about a latina don’t conjure Sofia’s image, but look around and find yourself a better example it’s as easy as a Google search.
All of us lead double lives!
Whaaaaaat? That’s you who just said that looong “WHAT” by the way. Don’t click yourself away, well not until at least, I’ve explained myself.
When we listen to the phrase “double life” the first thing that comes to our head, or at least to mine, is cheating.
Well, I’m not going to write about cheating in the “meaningful other” type of relationship, but in our own inner double lives. All of us have voices inside our heads that represent our true self. For instance, hasn’t it happened to you that you bump into an acquaintance, and you say all the right things, but inside you’re thinking probably the opposite of what you’re saying.
The sad part is that the same thing can happen not only to someone you may know, but with your own family or significant other.
If you come to think about it cheating as in a relationship isn’t as hard as you would believe.
Usually as parents of adult children, we say something and we think something completely different. Probably it’s because our opinions or advice are not welcomed or asked for. In my case, I tell my own children whatever is on my mind, even if they don’t like it too much. My husband always wants to play it on the safe side and will be much more diplomatic. I do respect them an awful lot, but I will voice my opinion if they raise a subject I’m concerned about. To be honest, if they don’t raise the subject in a conversation, I’ll be more than happy to bring it to the table.
Even though, now a days I would say I’m a wee more careful on how I say things.
That’s only one aspect of keeping our thoughts to ourselves.
What happens when those thoughts involve something that is basically wrong?
How hard is it to become the persons we are inside without fears or compromising who we are?
In today’s world I would say its darn hard!
We try to play the part of politically correct all the time and lose something along the way. Being honest doesn’t take you places, however saying what others want, will. You need to be careful in your job (specially with your boss), with your friends (if you say or do something wrong or very wrong you’ll end up losing), with your partner, spouse, significant other or what you want to call it (remember you live with them), with your neighbors, your relatives, etc., etc.
It is tricky! Remember the motto, “survival of the fittest”.
As I write this post, my thoughts go back to this special woman from Kansas, her name was Helen E. Baker, she came to Puerto Rico specifically to this little corner of the west side of the Island, during the 60’s, she came way up in the mountain and taught the people here many things.
One of the things that many of us have forgotten is the way she would raise her hand in the middle of any meeting, service or any other thing in fact, to raise her voice when she thought something was wrong.
I still recall her hand straight and still until whoever was leading the meeting gave her an opportunity to talk. Her exact words in Spanish (a language she barely spoke) would always be, “No, no, no, eso no es asi.”. Which is no, it’s not like you’re saying it, and she would go on to explain why?
She passed away during my early twenties, and I’m almost hitting my 5th decade (I get a kick on how that sounds), so she would have had a hard time living among us now a days.
I need to go back to what this amazing woman taught me through example, and not hesitate to raise my hand and voice, to simple say, “NO, I don’t agree with you.”
The catch is my dear friend, that I need to learn to listen completely to who ever is talking before I give my thoughts a voice.
What about you, are you willing to raise your hand? You will be pleasantly surprised on how well it makes you feel!