Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Banner Year for Racism

Jeremy Lin. Trayon Martin. The Hunger Games. President Obama. White History Month. Shaima Alawadi. Ervin Jefferson. 2012: Racism Strikes Back. This is not say it never went away but this year it seems to be back with a vengeance. Perhaps it is the growth of Social Media has allowed me to see how ignorant people are on a grander scale or perhaps we as people of color have gotten so complacent that we forgot what country we live in.

I had a student tell me the other day that she is tired of teaching people about race every day and yet I grow tired of having to teach her civility everyday. Truth be told if we grow tired of having to point out to people the stupid things they say or do then that is another day that the system of oppression that perpetuates racism wins.

This is not just a black and white thing because Blacks and Latinos will cry racism all damn day and in the same breath make a racial slur against Asians. Latinos will be the first ones to say that they are not black but when those salsa or merengue drums start kicking they are out there moving their ass as their ancestors from a country that is not Latin America did centuries ago. I will also admit to you that the first time I was EVER called a Spic was from a Black man, so do not tell met that people of color are not tearing each other down. It is always our responsibility to teach each other.

Yet, as we fight each other, we see the people saying ignorance things about President Obama and how he is the food stamp President. We see the character assassination of Trayvon Martin as if it is a crime to be an unarmed 17 year old walking alone in a Florida gated community. Most of us witnessed Jeremy Lin rise to fame and also being called every Asian stereotype in the book. Speaking of Books…Please get off this blog right now if you read The Hunger Games and did not know that there were prominent Black characters in the book because if you missed that then you will miss the point of this blog. Do you even know who Shaima Alawadi or Ervin Jefferson are?

I laugh at the people who once looked in my face and told me that racism is not an issue anymore. The real problem is that racism never left. People of color got complacent and now it rears it's ugly head and we are all shocked. Facebook and Twitter are showing us the world around us in a digital format of thoughts that people harbor and now we feel the need to act.

I can provide a list of black men who have been unarmed and killed recklessly while we all just sat and watched on the news. Yet, this has been a banner year for racism because it is in our faces on a daily basis since the beginning of the year. We put on our hoodies in honor of Trayvon but what happens if and when El Zimmerman gets justice. Do we stop? Do we get tired of teaching each other again?

We are in March. Perhaps the Mayans were right..the end just may be near.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I'm Still Angry

I'm still angry. I am STILL troubled by all of this. I went to work today and I almost called this student who worked for "Trayvon" and it is not because he looked like him. This kid is a young black male from the city of Syracuse that is only a year older. It makes me think of the flyer I have hanging on my door from the rally the night before that says: We are all Travon.

I am still angry at Geraldo Rivera. This guy was a trailblazer in the 80's that failed at trying to uncover Al Capone's treasure. Look it up, it was the beginning of the end for the so called investigative reporter. It was Geraldo who said that the hoodie that Travyon wore that night was just as responsible for his death as George (Jorge) Zimmerman. After all, a hoodie is a symbol of being a thug, a gangster, or any type of negative stereotype that you can muster up.

So is a hoodie this year's excuse for killing unarmed Black men? A few years ago, a wallet could get you 41 bullets to the body. We like to make excuses for the inexcusable. That is why there are these reports that Travyon was suspended from school and how he is a possible drug dealer. Let's smear a dead teenager who cannot defend himself. Where is his Stand Your Ground Law? Instead we will say that his character is bad and his death was justified.

How about we blame the bag Skittles that Trayon had on him. Perhaps they were too bright and colorful. Maybe they jingled too much in his pocket or perhaps they were really drugs! Let's blame anything except poor innocent George Zimmerman who has a black friend. All of sudden people are coming to his defense saying…oh he is hispanic…he cannot be racist. While that is only partly right, White Hispanics/Latinos can be prejudice as hell. Los Zimmermans don't want this to be considered a hate crime because now we want to use our brown card…."damn those assholes always seem to get away."

What Geraldo and George have in common…is fear. That fear that they will be considered in the white and black conversation. That is why Geraldo's son is ashamed of him because I am willing to bet that little junior loves hip hop. I am betting that he wears his skinny jeans down past the crack of his ass. Papi Rivera doesn't like that because that is too niggerish and I am quite sure there was a conversation on not bringing a black girl home.

Yet, Zimmerman is smarter that you think. See, in Florida, you can carry a gun and kill someone as long as you can say that it was self defense. That Stand Your Ground Law has given those gun touting, second amendment lovers, a reason to kill. He followed Travyon and confronted him. How is this self defense? That is like when you fight back on a bully and the teacher catches you being the aggressor and the bully becomes innocent.

Now the bully has gotten away and the media wants to make Trayvon the aggressor with his gangster hoodie and his poison Skittles.

Monday, March 26, 2012


As I write my next blog for the Huffington Post, I feel obligated to say how angry I am becoming. There are so many things that I am seeing and reading about this Trayon Martin tragedy that it just makes me sick. This whole situation where George (Jorge) Zimmerman has not seen a minute of jail time is unacceptable.

I am angry because I feel that not of the right enough people take this seriously. Of course, most people of color take this serious because bottom line, Trayvon could have been anyone of us. What gets under my skin is the media's attempt to show a different side of this kid by making it seem as if he was a criminal. This is making it seem as if his murder could have been justified although he was unarmed. Not to mention that he was 17 years old! 

Let's think about Zimmerman. Yes, he is Latino and should I really talk about how racist my brethren can be? I talk about Afro Latinos all the time and the prejudice they face in this country as well as other countries. I would not surprised one bit that he may consider himself white as many Latinos have under the 2010 census. It has been my experience that many of these "white" Hispanics strive to gain the same level of acceptance and privilege that many white Americans have. So many adopt the same racist fears and attitudes of bigoted white people.

The problem is this notion that black people are criminals. Zimmerman thought that Tayvon was up to something and the fact that no one really questioned this is indeed sad. The fact that the Sanford PD has not arrested him is so troubling. This is old news at this point but I feel the need to talk about this because this it has been weighing on my mind even before my trip to Boston. In fact, it has been bothering me so much that I cannot finish my original blog I had set for this day.

Then there is Geraldo Rivera, who made this situation worse with his stupid comments. I just need to get this initial blog out because I feel very unfocused, which brings me to my Huffington Post article. SU students, faculty, and staff got together for a rally today. It was comforting to see that we can come together for a cause. Now it is up to us to do more. I will be addressing all the above issues in a more structured format.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Boston Bound

It is not often that I get excited for business trips but for this venture out of Syracuse, I am totally pumped for. I am going to the ACUI National Conference in Boston. For those who do not know, this is a conference for student union professionals to get together to share ideas and best practices. What makes this exciting is that I get to network with people who do like minded work.

This goes with my motto this year of Investing in Myself. It has been a long time since I haven't been to a conference since 2008 when I took 3 Latino students to the second annual AAHHE Conference in Miami. I did some networking there but not a lot because my life was different then. Regardless, I'm still happy to be able to be in a different environment learning new things.

Networking is very important because it all comes down to who you know in the job market. When you can put a face to a business card or a resume then chances are that person will get at least a longer glance at your job application.

It reminds me of something that happened to me 2 years ago when I was looking to hire a Graduate Assistant. The hiring process is pretty complicated for these graduate students that need to apply to get into the Higher Education program and then try to get an assistantship through a series of interviews. Before the big day there was a reception that allows departments to mingle with potential GAs. I went to the reception to see what the pool looked like because this was the first time I was in charge of this hiring process for my office. As soon as I walked in and got settled, she found me. With a plate a food in my hand, this woman comes up to me and introduced herself with a good handshake and tells me that she is looking forward to our interview. We had a great conversation that left a great impression and I remembered her the next day which lead to me eventually hiring her.

My point is, we never know who we can effect with our presence. The plan is to go to Boston for the educational sessions and mingle those people who can help me be a better professional. The other plan is to get a good feel for other schools as the potential for me to leave SU is always there. I need to make my own contacts and connections. I was commenting to my girlfriend that I have been here for 10+ years and barely know anyone outside of this place, so that needs to change right away.

I am also totally aware that I will be in Boston during St. Patrick's Day, a fact that has not truly hit me yet either. I have never been the one to celebrate it so that means I am up for some good times. That is also why I went ahead and bought the shirt pictured above. Furthermore, I have some family in Boston that I would love to see. This will be my chance to connect and see the city.

If you follow me in my other mediums then expect to see a lot of pictures from my Instagram app. If you know of any places I should go see...please let me know!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Don't Confuse Your Life Task With Your Day Job

"We must learn to lift as we climb." - Angela Davis

It's not very often that I am caught off guard about something. I tend to regulate my emotions to the best of my ability and yet, despite that you can still see my heart on my sleeve. When I took the offer to write for the Huffington Post, I will admit, that I wasn't entirely sure what I was getting into.  I knew that my potential audience would be bigger and my name would get out there more, but I didn't know what to expect in terms of feedback.

It was my girlfriend who told me that I needed to be very mindful about potential comments that I may receive, after all, I do not get very many on this blog and I have become quite used to that. But, she was referring to people who would not agree with my view on life. What she was trying to do was prepare me for potential negativity with the things I write. 

There was a lot of thought put into what I was going to write about in the Huff Post. I wanted to make sure that I was going to be ok with the angle I decided to take, which of course is all based on my time working at Syracuse University. I really wanted to get into my observations and my feelings with working at SU as well as getting to know the students. I wanted to be able to reflect on my experiences as a former student and current staff while giving the reader a glimpse of what I see and do.

I have taken pride and often times I have been humbled by the show of support by fellow alumni and staff when I debuted a couple of weeks ago. There was nothing better to me than to be recognized for my ability to write. I also wanted to use my gift to highlight those who work in the trenches with me. So this is not only meant as a tool to talk about students but the wonderful staff as well. That is what I based the second blog post on. I started looking at things differently after that blog was published.

I have made it a point not to be overly critical of my own work. I go into this whole writing thing knowing that I can always improve because typos are the bane of my existence. I can take people arguing with me when I post something controversial. I know that not everyone wants to hear what I have to say when it comes to Racism and I am ok with that. But, in this particular case, I am writing about my students, the ones that I have a love/hate relationship with because in many ways (and i hate to admit it) they are the closest thing I will have to younger siblings. 

So imagine my surprise when the comments are negative. By no means am I that sensitive, but I was completely caught off guard by the type of responses. I find it funny that I can talk about something that I feel we need, which is more Latinos in Higher Education, and to insinuate that everything that I am saying is borderline racist is laughable. Of course, I made the choice of engaging one person when I just should have let it go as many of my other friends told me. But, what got me was the fact that there were people liking these responses. It made me question a few things.

Cornel West came to Syracuse University this week too. He spoke about the new youth movement and how America's youth are poised for action. He said that at any moment we will be witness to a time period where people will begin to mobilize for justice, much like the Occupy Movement. He talked about leadership and being able to tell the truth and take the truth, but the one thing that I found to be most profound (and there were many) was when he gave advice to students who are looking to make in the word, "Have the courage to be yourself. Don't confuse your life task with your day job." That in itself made me realize that I am doing exactly what I want to do no matter what anyone thinks.

However, it was all brought together by my students. I had 3 students this week ask me for personal advice; things that they cannot ask anyone else. I had one student break my heart when he told me that he felt defeated. He knows what he wants to do but has no idea how to get there. He is convinced that his poor grades will make him a laughing stock. This kid told me that no one knows his story and the hell he has been through in life and all he wants to do is just help other students. What do I tell him? Do I tell him that he is a fuck up? Do I say "pull up your bootstraps, hard work will get you what you want!"

Yes, he needs to put in the work…but how do I help him find his motivation? By doing my job, that just happens to be my life task.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rape is NOT the Word to Play

I have issues with how people generally use the word rape, but more specifically men. Rape is not a word that should be used to describe anything else but what it was intended to mean. It has become apparent to me that rampant use of the word can only suggest that most men do not really know or understand the definition of rape. The only good thing about this is that I will provide a complete definition of the word and why it should not be used with irreverence.

Looking up the word rape on I saw this: the unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse. Let's be clear here, there is nothing about this word that can be used in a positive way. Rape is a violent act in which one exerts the ultimate power over another person. The victims are left broken mentally and physically. In many cases it takes years to recover...if they recover.

There are women that I know that have been raped. I am willing to guess there are more women that I know who have not told me they were raped, which brings me to my point. Saying the word as a way to describe a meaningless act takes away from this horrid experience. I follow so many people who are into sports. The analogies that are used to describe things are unacceptable. For example, when someone does something extra ordinary in a sport I have seen people tweet that "he raped them" or if a team loses by a lot, "they were raped!"

My first question is...really? You mean to tell me out of the words that people can come up with, that this word is one they choose to use? It does make me wonder about the limited vocabulary that men have in general. I treat rape as if its the worst of the four letter words because it is that serious and yet in this patriarchal society we make it seem as if its no big deal. I don't think that our ancestors who have been raped throughout history would feel this word, that describes the ultimate defiling of someone, should be used in such ways.

I am sure that the men who have been raped in jail look at this act in a brand new way. This is not about sex and sexual urges. It is about power and exerting that power over someone. That is why in the olden days taking a woman was a part of the "spoils" of war. That is why the Spanish felt that the taking of the women from either the indigenous or the slave population in colonial time was viewed as spreading the divine seed to make the heathens better.

One has to understand the rape culture by looking at some key statistics. 1/6 women will be a victim of sexual assault. 60% of sexual assault goes unreported. Every 2 minutes someone is sexually assaulted in the US. 15 out of 16 rapists will never get jail time. Tell me what the joke is? I blame men for not really seeing what women go through. Men of color, in particular, need to understand that we already objectify our women by approving the images of the "video hoe" and subscribing to the ideas a woman are no more than a "thirsty bitch". Very rarely is there consideration to the fact that our mothers and sisters are included in the statistical numbers above.

Even the imagery of rape makes the act a joke. In looking for a photo to attach for this blog post, I saw so many joking images about "rape face" that is it appalling and yet, this is the society we live in where we are oversexed and undereducated.

I have said this once and I say it over and over again, more men need to stand up against domestic violence and rape. While domestic violence is a separate issue and a separate blog all together, both of these issues speak to the type of men that we see in this society.

So before you open up your mouth or type your next tweet I encourage to understand the meaning of any word before you make yourself look as ignorant as you probably are.


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