Saturday, February 26, 2011

MacBook Cometh

This is my first (of many) posts in which I am using my MacBook Pro. If you are following me on twitter then this is not a new thing because I have been talking about my laptop. There is a reason for my lack of posts this month. My Dell laptop met it's bitter end about a week and a half ago.  So I have had to replace that with a MacBook Pro.

My old Dell laptop with
battle scars
It has been a goal since last year to get a MacBook. Money being what it was, I could not afford to do it so I decided to put that on hold until the right time. I also knew that my PC laptop was on its last legs since last spring. There was several things that were not working well.  The screen light went out first. So I had to plug into monitor. Then the connections from the malfunctioning screen to the rest of the laptop broke so it was almost in 2 pieces. 

That is what I was dealing with for about 2 years. I held back on purchases because I did not think it was essential. Technically, my laptop still worked.  I just had to deal with the hardship until the time came in which I can get a new one. I really didn't think that my hard drive would die so I guess I waited a little too long. However, I had been waiting for my Tax Refund so, I didn't really wait all that long.

Funny thing is you never really think about all the stuff you have on a laptop. Thank God that I had already backed all my pictures on a portable hardrive. All my music was tucked away in my iPod and some of my movies were in my iPhone. My documents are all gone. However, my stories and poems are all copied in other places like email. So when I think about it, I really did not lose all that much. Well, at least nothing important.

The government finally decided to pay me yesterday and I promptly bought this Macbook. No, it is not the new one that has just come out. The SU Bookstore was selling this model (which used to be new) with a discount of $350 off with a free printer and an SU thumb drive. I could not beat this and buying it made me happy. I began to realize that this is yet another goal I can scratch off the list. I wanted this laptop for my very hopeful future at Sarah Lawrence.

First, let me say that it is an adventure to get music from an iPod to a Mac. However, I supposed that if it was meant to be easy Apple would have just came up with an app for it. So I have had to get some software for a very small fee and I am finally happy to say that I have about 99% of my songs back. This also makes very much appreciate all of my efforts to collect every piece of music I own.

Which beings me back to my thoughts. 10 years ago when I decided to leave New York City to come to Syracuse, it was an easy decision and in the grand scheme of thing, took minimal effort to move. There were no goals then. I just wanted out because I hated the direction my work career was going and 9/11 made living in the city hard to deal with. I just had to leave.

Fast Forward to 2011 and everything I do has to be a goal. The move back to NYC is becoming this epic deal that involves smaller goals being accomplished. It is funny that when I was 26, I could fly off from the seat of pants and not worry about...the future. Now, I am the 36 and future becomes something worth planning for. This may be one simple MacBook to you, but this is just symbol of what my future brings...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Color Blind Latinos

I am thinking that I am justified in my thinking that some people just don't get it. I know that I am not an expert nor am I a historian but I do read, which means that I have knowledge in several areas. When I can sit here and write blogs about being Afro Latino I am only a reflection of things that I have read, seen, or experienced. I know that in my style of writing there is quite a bit of emotion as well. That is just me, take it or leave it.

Naturally, I will feel obligated to give my opinion when needed about Afro Latinos and it is not a surprise that I always feel like I am teaching someone something  new. So today was no exception by having a disagreement about Afro Latinos on the Being Latino Facebook page.

Being Latino is a blog that celebrates...well being Latino. There is a team of blog writers that post material everyday about various topics. One of today's topics was about Afrolatinos: “The Untaught Story” (video below). It was a very good post by Eric Cortes which can be found here. Of course, on the Facebook page you can make your comments and click "like" if you did indeed like the post. I was a bit intrigued to see any of the feedback, not because of the nature of the blog content, but just to see what people have to say about the topic itself. So, to save time you can view the discussion here.

There were some thing said by a few people that I found interesting. There was the suggestion that the social issues in Latin America was more of a class issue rather than a race issue. That perhaps articles and documentaries like this were promoting division rather than unity. I have heard arguments like this before, on this blog in fact, that pointing out racism creates more divisions. I personally do not beleive this is the case. The fact is that Latinos as a body of people are not unified at all. The color of skin complicates things even further.

As I argued on that site, I think that suggesting that classism is the real issue instead of racism is misdiagnosing the problem. Sure, in most countries like Colombia and Mexico, most Afro Latinos are poor. That is not because of some caste system that was created by the elite like in India. This simply the fact that people are oppressed because of the color of their skin. Unity does not help this because most privileged Latinos simply do not care enough to unify.

Such thoughts about unity and the "let's all get along" mentality simply means to me that many people are color blind. While that sounds ideal on surface because no one sees color because we are all human beings, the fact is no ones sees color! I want you to see my color. I want you to see my culture. I want you to acknowledge that there is a blackness within our culture. Once you get people to acknowledge this, then there is a possibility to unify.

Then there was a comment that Afro Latino blood was not all that prevalent within Latin America with the exception of Colombia, Brazil, and "tiny" islands in the carribean. This was something that set something off in my intellect considering that the same person said the Black Mexicans barely exist in Mexico since they are less than 1% of the population.

I am totally not sure about that speculation of the 1% in Mexico but I doubt that is true. There are whole cities like Vera Cruz and Oaxaca that are in Mexico where a large numbers of Black Mexicans. However, are they recognized as citizens? Afro Latinos live in every country within Latin America and the fact that this person cannot recognized that is just lack of education on his part.

Conversations like this is why I press on. There are people that refuse to really see the African side of their heritage. I mentioned that we can all move our hips to salsa with the congas and the zulu beat but there is no way in hell that most privledged Latinos will admit their roots back to Africa. I think it is time for a history lesson...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Waiting Game

“All human wisdom is summed up in two words - wait and hope” - Alexandre Dumas Père

This is where I am right now. Waiting for my fate to be revealed by letter from a school that I am so desperately wanting to go to. I have had a certain quiet confidence about me but, I have not been cocky in my assessment that I would be a good for Sarah Lawrence College. Since I entered my application in January I have been slowing making plans with my life. I know exactly what I am going to do.

However, this is the waiting game. Although I may be one of the most patient people you may ever meet, anticipation of what will happen slow eats away. Sure, the nervousness is starting to set in. I have been trying my best to move on with my life for the past year and a half and it has not been happening (not from lack of trying) at the rate I would like it to. Now I have a real chance to get out of here and I feel the nerves getting tight.

I do not have a plan B at this point. I really didn't have a plan B when I applied to Syracuse either, but I was forced by my dad to apply to schools that I really did not want to go to. I have always been the type that when I want something, whatever is the next best thing does not match up. I can remember as a kid collecting the Transformers and I tried to be as authentic as possible. When other people would buy me similar toys that were transformers but were the bootleg kind, it felt cheap.

What I do not want is to get to the point in which I just leave this place with no job or no school. So failure is not in my thought process at this moment. So I wait. I think about how much I wait on a daily basis. I realize that I have so much patience with people in general. I do not panic in most situations because there is no point. I know that I will find a way. The problem is when other people have my fate in their hands. I am not very good at selling myself and I have the hardest time doing self assessments at work. That is why I had such a hard time to do my bio.

This is where my patience will pay off. I have those people who already assume I have gotten in. I love them but I am not so sure. I do not want to assume a thing. Then there are those who ask me all the time if I have heard anything or when will I hear something.

So let me just say that I did receive a letter from Sarah Lawrence College yesterday stating that they will mail out decisions for my program on March 17. So there. I have a date that is ingrained in my head so much that I am sure I will have a count down at some point in my thought process. What makes this funnier is that I will be in NYC at that time, which means that I will not know about a thing until I come back that Sunday on the 20th. Once again, patience will play a key because I will not call any of my roommates to read me the letter. I need to see those words myself.

Patience is the world I live in.

“Patience and fortitude conquer all things” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Latinegr@s 2011: Laz Alonso

Yet another person that I cannot believe that I did not highlight last year was Laz Alonso. While, I certainly wrote a blog about Zoe Saldana (and they were in the same movie), I clearly missed that opportunity last year. Now, I follow this gentleman on Twitter and I kinda put it out there to see if he would be down for an interview but that was not meant to be. So, like a true blogger, I will write about him

I first saw Laz in a movie called Miracle at St. Anna. This was was Spike Lee joint that came out in 2008 in which Alonso actually played a Afro Latino. The story is about four Black American soldiers who are trapped in a small Italian village in 1944 during the heart of WWII. This move was done very well and I am surprised it did not get more acclaim.

At that point I figured he was bound for something good. Laz Alonso is Afro Cuban and was born on March 25, 1974 (a great year). He is an alum of Howard University that graduated with a degree in Marketing. After working at Merrill Lynch for a little bit, he went after his heart's desire: acting. Laz has been in a number of movies in his career that started in 2000. However, the role that has made him famous comes from the blockbuster move, Avatar, where he played the character, Tsu'tey.

I have to admit, I should have known who he was in this movie and I was just astonished to know it was him. I hadn't seem many movies that he has been in nor much of his television roles. What I do find amazing is that Alonso seems to do his best to play Latino characters in many of the roles he plays. Perhaps not all roles are meant to be Latino, but some is good for me. Like playing Detective Gil Puente in Southland or Detective Ray Di Santos in Captivity. These are the type of characters that are not often seen on television.

When I talk about the fluid identity of Afro Latinos, I am reffering to the ability to go between the worlds of African American and Latinos. It is totally understandable how Laz Alonso becomes valuable in the diversity of roles he could be offered. It is important to note that he is one of very few Afro Latinos in Hollywood.

I think Laz Alonso is an up and coming actor that has not reached his pique and it will be very interesting to see how his career unfolds

Friday, February 11, 2011

Celia Cruz: The Queen of Salsa

It has been such a long week for me and yet the days keep flying by. After the last post, I started searching for pictures of Afro Latinos and I came across the one above. I cannot believe with all the posting that I did last February that I did not write anything about the great Celia Cruz.

Growing up in my house would have never been the same without hearing music from Celia Cruz. It seemed like every family cookout we were serenaded by her various albums. I feel like she had a greatest hits album when I was just a kid. There were so many songs that I could sing when I was kid that I had to search for them when I was adult. I could remember my father making tapes from vinyl and her music was always on heavy rotation.

When I think about the golden age of salsa, which is clearly before I was born, one of the people I think about was Celia. What struck me the most about her music was seeing her perform on tv. I was not used to seeing someone who looked like they could be a member of my family performing salsa on television. I was awe struck almost expecting someone who looked completely different. After all, from what I saw from on Univision, Telemundo, and any album covers were light skinned Latino men with light skinned Latinas.

While I am not too educated on her entire life I do know that she was born on October 21, 1924 in Havana, Cuba. She spent most of her life performing and has earned 23 gold albums. She has won 7 Grammys and while that is impressive in itself, I can only imagine how many she would have one if they recognized her contributions to music early on. I counted over 60 albums to her name and in my research I hear that number could be as high as 80. In any case, she a woman that loved music deeply.

I think about that. Over 60 albums! I personally have 45 of her songs. That is a mere fraction of her collection. That can be so hard to fathom when I think about all the other artists I follow in which I have all their albums. Not to mention that I have none of her recent songs because most of what I have is from what I remember hearing as a kid.

Celia died of a brain cancer New Jersey on July 16, 2003. Her title has not been and will never be revoked. She is the Queen of Salsa.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Latinegr@s Project 2011

I feel that this project is in phase two of it's existence. My partner in crime, Bianca, and I have been talking about what do with this month and what are the next steps to keep this going. Unfortunately for her, I have been so slammed with work that this continues to be an ongoing conversation.

For me, I am going to do what has worked for me. I will continue to weigh on issues that revolve around the blackness of Latinos. I have also decided to use my tumblr to highlight images that will enhance the Afro-Latino experience. This will not take away from the Latinegr@s site either, which is a shared site that anyone can contribute to. 

This is a short month with lots to do and talk about. I cannot guarantee that I will write everyday but I will say that my contributions to this project will be substantial. I think I want to focus more on images of Afro Latinos because as much as I am good with words, pictures can speak louder if used correctly. My point with this is that I do not know everything and I certainly do not want to fake it. I want to explore images that are insightful and post ,on this blog, the ones that make me think the most.

I also plan on doing some interviews with people who are out there doing great work carrying the Afro Latino banner. I may just sit here and write about the culture but there are people out there that promote it in ways that I never could. 

This is about sheer awareness. Black History Month should always be a time when people just become more aware of the things around them. Lack of pride in what we are is one of the main reasons why it is so hard for people to make it.

So in the end, I plan on doing my part in educating myself. I am no where near an expert but I will say that what I learn, I plan on sharing with the rest of you. 

As a reminder.. the submission page for the Latinegr@s site is:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Black History Month or African American Month?

Once again we are here. The start of Black History Month where we get to learn about the past and be hopeful for the future. Last year, I dedicated this blog the Latinegr@s project that, in my opinion, was a great success. Now we turn the page to a new year and the project is still intact. While I will be participating in this project, I will not do it in the same way as I did last year. I will be weighing in more using my own opinions on this month as well as highlighting things and individuals that I did not get to last year.

A few days ago, I was talking to a friend of mine and we were speaking about how her son had to pick a black person to do a report on for Black History Month. This is not that easy of a task if you think about it. There are so many historical figures to choose from that can be quite cliché. However, the choice that her son made (mostly likely with the help of his mother) was Roberto Clemente. Of course, I am all in favor for this choice. Here you have a hero who excelled in baseball as well in his community. I have documented his legacy last year.

He was told that Roberto Clemente cannot be chosen because he is not African American. Really? How much sense does that make? Do not get me wrong, this month is all about celebrating African Americans but I was also under the impression we were celebrating being black. Skin color is something that you cannot change (although Sammy Sosa and Vybz Kartel would disagree with me on this). So my question, is Black History Month strictly about being African American?

Sure I am Latino, but the color of my skin automatically puts me in a group that other poeple consider to be Black. So, I am forced to identify with this group. My skin is very much a part of me as my culture is. So does that mean that Afro Latinos should not be recognized even a little bit? What about Caribbean people in general? Some to the darkest people I know are from the islands. Of course, if we are making it exclusively for African Americans then you are excluding Africans. Is that really the point here?

I am not disputing the validity of this month. I think it is needed, but if any one person or institution is going to put limits on such things then they need to be aware that Black is very encompassing. If it is that hard to understand then make it African American Month. However, I consider this month to be very much like Latino Heritage Month in which explores all different aspect of being Latino. Black History Month should conceivably do the same thing.

I would hate to think that the word black is strictly reserved for a certain people because the Black experience does not have such limits.


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