Saturday, January 31, 2009

One Month Down...

The last day of January and I feel that I need to reflect on how well this New Year is going for me. I gave myself a pretty lofty and broad resolution which was simply, "make myself better". So, I think about how I spent the beginning of this year in New York City with family and friends. It was the end of a very good trip. We got back on the first Sunday of 2009, the ride was perfect, there were no issues. Then my wife gets a phone call that her aunt died. The same aunt she spent time with when we were in NYC. So began our new journey into 2009.

Of course, we had to make arrangements to go back to NYC on a very unhappy note. Which is stressful as it is, but I am the type of person who tries to plan the trip so that I know what to expect from the weather. When first went down, I planned it in such a way that coming and going, the weather was ideal. I could do that with this situation. So a trip that has taken me 4 hours, now took me 6 because of all the snow. The trip going wasn't so bad, but there were times that it got a little scary with white out conditions. I usually take Interstate 17, which is a path of turns that goes through the wilderness of upstate New York.

We stayed in the Bronx, of course, with her grandmother who lives in the projects. This was something that was new for me because I didn't grow up in the projects and always did my best to avoid them. While, I indeed grew up in the Bronx, I was fortunate enough to live in a house until my parents split. So the whole concept of taking a elevator that barely works while holding your breath because the urine smell can choke you is new to me. However, I am not saying my stay was bad. I believe that when you force people to live in cages, the conditions will not be favorable. I will say though, I was able to steal someone's Internet and I was

There is something to be said about reflecting on death when the new year starts. I feel that life is put in perspective when you go to a funeral, particularly of someone that is truly loved by their family. I reflected on my grandparents and my uncle. I also thought about what I would do if someone I truly love were to pass away. It also made me realize that I am not done here on this planet. There are times when I am not sure where I am supposed to go, I do look for those paths to walk on and those bridges to cross.

A somber experience eventually changed to a excited one. We have a Black President. It will take me a while to really get used to saying that. I am still getting used to seeing Barack Obama in the White House. I have arguments with people who think that his agenda is too broad or too unrealistic and if he fails what does that mean. My point is that none of that matters to me. Why? Well because look what just his presence alone has done to us and to the rest of America. Now, when little black boys will be able to say that they can do anything and to me that is worth more than gold.

My work is my life. I love what i do. I love the students. What had been challenging is the thought of leaving where I am so that I can possibly make myself better. The job market isn't the greatest so the possibility grows smaller by the hour. However, I have realized that when opportunity arises, one must take it. Which what makes me writing again so great. I cannot thank the people who have shown me love about this blog. I write from the heart because I am not sure of another way.

I am hoping that good things will come in the next month...

Friday, January 30, 2009

What do I look like?

Once a week I facilitate a group on race relations with students. We talk about different issues that face people of all races. While that conversation is completely confidential, I will tell you that there was an exercise that makes me think about my own place in this world.

In this exercise we are to list 3 stereotypes that are identified with your own racial group. So for me, I need to list the stereotypes that are most common for Latinos. After a discussion on that, list we are to think about which stereotype, if it was ever possible, would we want to get rid. So in basic terms, I would pick the one that hurts the most and if I could make disappear from human vocabulary then I would.

The 3 I listed were, lazy, oversexed, and gang banger (not in the good way). For me picking the stereotype of lazy is a no brainer. I think that there is clear thought in the minds of many that Latinos are lazy and always late. The funny thing is that in the same breath, one would make jokes about Mexicans outside of Home Depot. The oversexed stereotype was something I have heard about Latinos being like the "Latino Lover". I equate this to movies when you see the "tall dark and hansom" Latino man that sweeps the white woman offer her feet with his flowing jet black hair and his accent. Then there is the Gang Banger. This is the typical representation of the Latino Male that we see in a lot of movies with the bandanna, the long sleeve shirt that is only buttoned at the top, with a plethora of tattoos.

The sterotype that I chose to do away with is the lazyness. I look at how hard my father worked and how hard my mother worked and they are far from lazy. I could span the entire length of my family and maybe come up with 1 person that was lazy. But even then that is such a stretch. I also find interesting that people of color (Latino and African Amercian in particular) can be considered lazy when most of us have spent years in bondage building up cities.

What I have been ever fascinated with is what the American view of Latinos are. If you look at movies alone, then you do not have a great view of what Latinos are. You may think that we are all Mexican for one. Clearly nothing wrong with being Mexican but it is hard to shake that when the white majority sees you all in the same light. But, then we get into the discussion of what does Latino look like?

Yesterday, I did the 25 random things that have spread through Facebook like a virus. One of my old friend's participated in this and I found one of his noted to be very interesting."Nobody thinks I'm Puerto Rican so I don't know what a Puerto Rican is supposed to look like." That just floored me because in many of my ways he is my opposite. We even joke about one of my previous blogs about Dark Latinos that he understood the whole notion of not looking Latino. In a seriousness, is there a measuring stick? But he did joke and said we were the Puerto Rican Ebony and Ivory!

Sure, I can give a history lesson on how the Spanish Colonizers, who were white, "discovered" Latin American and killed off 90% of the native population and replaced them with African Slaves. I could also talk about the remain native population intermixing with the Africans and while some were raped or worse by the Spanish. Sure I could go there and say that is why Latinos are all different colors...but why do that? Because if that was the case then...we would be considered part Native American...or worse...BLACK!!!!!!!!

Look, I love my black skin. Nothing wrong with being black clearly! But sometimes being black gets this bad wrap. Like there is something wrong with it. I don't get it. But you know what... I saw some thing the other day that will prove to you that Black is not bad...

Black is in baby! Have a good weeked (although I will be here tomorrow)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

25 Random Things...

So, I have been tagged on Facebook several times to do a posting of 25 random things about me. I decided to do on here as well because Brook was so nice to tag me on her blog. (Which you all must read). These are not in any order, just in the order I think of it.

1. I am a hardcore New York Mets Fan. (enough said)

2. I have a huge comic book collection that dates back to my childhood days

3. I have a dog named Rocky. He is a Lhasa Apso and has diabetes. Yes, they get diabetes. I give him a shot of insulin every 12 hours. When he doesn't get his shot. He pees like a race horse...

4. I am convinced that Papa John's puts crack in their Pizza. That pizza is so good, I cannot even describe.

5. I am addicted to the Nintendo Wii. I love video games as it is but, this one puts the fun back in to gaming.

6. I got hooked on Desperate Housewives...I can't believe that one...

7. Despite the fact that my wife does most of the cooking, I do love to cook. I haven't done it in a while so I think it might be time.

8. I cannot watch the movie: My Dog Skip, without crying. It makes me think of the other dog I had, Rusty, that died 2 years ago. He was 4.

9. I love Facebook games! I take all challengers in Scrabble, Scramble, Word Challenge, Tetris, Bowling Buddies, Who has the Biggest Brain, and Geo

10. I have written several short stories in different genres...few that I actually share with people.

11. As I write this, I have 3639 songs on my iTunes. I love music in all forms. So you could walk in my office and here anything like The Notorious B.I.G., Finger Eleven, Marc Anthony, Alicia Keys, Aventura, Don Omar, Guns & Roses, Kanye West, John Legend....just to name a few...

12. On the subject of music, I love Alicia Keys

13. I am in desperate need of a haircut. Lucky there is a Dominican barber (Hector) who will be hooking me up on Saturday.

14. My Spanish sucks! However, I know just enough to eat, find a hospital, find a bathroom, and find a library (Donde estas biblioteca?).

15. I use to draw a lot. I don't do so much anymore, except in boring meetings. I find myself drawing all types of things...including my co-workers.

16. My Guidance Counselor (Mr. Heckmen, for my St. Rays Alums) in High School thought I would never get into Syracuse. I fooled him huh.

17. Been working at Syracuse University for almost 8 years now.

18. I have friends up here who attended Holy Cross (Elementary School in the Bronx) with me, which is nuts!

19. I play basketball every Monday in the City Rec League.

20. My father is on Facebook...I just find that to be odd...

21. I have managed to write a post everyday on my blog since I started. I would like to continue that trend

22. I would like to write a book, but since I am a Gemini, I cant decide on what. Not to mention that I may not finish it because I may get bored with

23. My first major in college was History. When I found about is was more about his story (thanks AAS 112), I switched to English...

24. As a student at SU, all my friends would tell me that one day I will end up running the Schine. I did't beleive that. I guess I should have!

25. I met my wife on Yahoo Personals in 1999. Turned out she lived 3 blocks away from in the Bronx and went to Holy Cross. Never met her until then...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Wednesdays are my late days for now at work which sucks, but hey, gotta get paid right? I wanted to break a bit from the norm because quite frankly, just about everyone is talking about the Super Bowl. I am not much of a football fan, I am all about baseball. However, I do follow the game because I do participate in Fantasy Football every year. Anyway, it is that time of year where we all go party at a friend's house.

I am not too excited about this years match up. The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals. I guess if I had to pull for a team then I would pull for Arizona for 2 reasons. The first is that I always love rooting for the underdog (except for when they are playing my team). The Cardinals have not won a championship in my life time, so that qualifies them as an underdog in my book. The second reason, well my brother is a Steelers Fan. So, the best way to get back at the one person who always picks on you...root for the other team!

Other than that, I could careless about the game. I was hoping the Eagles would have done something more but that didnt happen. Hey, it could be worse...Dallas could have made the playoffs. The Cowboys are on the list of teams in professional sports that I Hate. For those interested in that list, I will list them by order at the end of this post.

I am looking forward to the commericals! That is my highlight. I always like to see the new advertisements that make me laugh. Actually, I think this year we should play a drinking game. Every time the phrase "4 Hour Erection" is mentioned, a shot of tequila is consumed. What really sucks though is that the halftimes show are not what they used to be. Ah Janet... That was the greatest Superbowl ever. I don't even know who won! Well, that is not true, I won. I got to see Janet's...eyes.

I digress...

Lets get to this list of teams I hate (in order).

New York Yankees
Philadelphia Phillies (Sorry Brook)
Los Angeles Lakers
Dallas Cowboys
Duke Blue Devils
Atlanta Braves
Miami Hurricanes

Georgetown Hoyas

Sorry to upset people...but it is what it is...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Black Latinos

I want to start off today by saying that I am Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian. My mother is a dark skinned Latina (Puerto Rican) who worked for Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx. More profoundly, she was at the bedside of Betty Shabazz before she passed away. My father is your typical light shinned Latino Male (Puerto Rican/Ecuadorian). He has worked his ass off for Con Edison and is blissfully retired in Florida. I define who I am through them.

The difficulty with being a Latinegro is not knowing where you are placed in general society. I was able to identify with both Black & Latinos growing up. I was able to be on both sides of the same coin. As a little kid in Catholic School for 8 (and 4 more if you count High School), I just went with the flow. However, I remember feeling that I was the ugly kid in class (braces didn't help) and at one point wondering why I wasn't born with the lighter skin or the nice hair. My family would make fun of my pelo (hair) and compare it to Brillo. Not to mention that I would be told that my abuelito (grandfather) was the reason for the bad hair.

A few of my female cousins are light skinned and to be honest, can pass for white. I remember them being told not to date black men. I was never really sure why they would say to them nor why they would say this with me in the room; as a matter of fact why anyone in my family would say it considering that we have some pretty dark people in my family was completely beyond me. As I grew older I began to realize that they were referring to African Americans. Being that I could not tell the difference at that time, I was told that I was not black because I am Hispanic (obviously). My ignorance ran so deep that when a white kid called me a Nigger, I said (and I shit you not) "I am not a black, I Spanish". Yeah his jaw dropped too.

Let me fast forward to college, because I think my point has been made. By this time in my life I have already told myself that I am black Hispanic. What really made me see how I fit in this world was when I had to sort of choose in a non verbal way who I would have to spend my time with. I love being Latino, but I was too dark to hang out with them in college. I just did not feel right. So I hung out with African Americans, but even then I felt a bit out of place. Kinda like a screw that quite didn't fit a hole. Frankly, I thought maybe it was just me. But now I know it is a shared experience.

I don't write any of this for sympathy. I write this because I know i am not the only one who have dealt with this. I have only dealt with this about a fraction of a degree that other Afro Latinos have dealt with it. In my last post I asked the question have you seen a Black Mexican? Well I here they are. Once that tickles your fancy as it did mine, click here for a brief history. The significance of all this is that as much as I may complain about where I stand in this world, I think about places like Costa Chica and Oaxaca. These Afro Mexicans are pretty much invisible to the rest of the world.

Funny my fury of writing my last post I was talking about how seeing if 5 famous Afro Latinos can be named outside of David Ortiz or Rosario Dawson. I am very surprised that I was able to do it. Anyway...I am going to list them: Arturo Schomburg, Celia Cruz, David Sanchez, Tego Calderon, & Gilbert Arenas. I purposely stayed away from baseball because that would have been way too easy.

Monday, January 26, 2009


I have been spending the last couple of days thinking about why I really started this blog. What is the purpose of me writing to a few friends and virtual strangers. When I lived in NYC, I used to blog everyday about life as a New Yorker. I would write about my various mis-adventures in the subway or my experience with how crappy America Online was. Come to think of it there was no cable modems or wireless routers that I have come to enjoy so much. But, I digress. When I finally chose my career path, the time that I once had for writing disappeared.

The last few years have been very challenging for me personally and professionally and what I have discovered is that I did not have a way to express myself. I wrote a few short stories here and there, even did some poetry. All, which I must say, are rather good. But blogging just does something that the other forms of writing doesn't. It is about maintaining a certain discipline. I made such a broad sweeping resolution for New Years which I can only describe as me redefining who I am.

A part of that is me being able to finish something I start, which is hard to do when you are writing a story long or short. Then, there is the part of me that looks for gratification in pleasing others. Some would consider me a pretty nice guy, however I am not writing this blog for the benefit of others. I write for me. To say that I do not care if people read my blog or not would be false. I welcome the criticism because it would make me better. Then it hits me. I want to be better at everything. I felt for years I have just been passing through life just being average. Because I can get away with it.

The best advice I have received was from Juno Diaz, the Pulitzer prize author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, who came to speak at Syracuse University. In his talk, he expressed that he simply did not care about what people thought about his writing. He wrote because that is what he loved to do. Juno was going to do it his way and take as long as he wanted until his writing was good enough to satisfy himself. If you ever read his books, then you would know how amazing he truly is.

The funny thing is, I wanted to be a comic book writer. I wanted to write stories about Latino superheros from the Bronx that saved the world a dozen times over. Even as a kid, I knew that dark Latinos were not represented in any form of entertainment outside of Baseball. Which brings me to the other reason for the blog. I call myself a latinegro, which can be described as a Negro Latino, or a Afro-Latino, or just black. I have come to understand how I am placed in this world, particularly when I started taking Masters Courses in Race and Ethnicity. I have very radical opinions about my people. I once had my father tell me not to date a black woman, in which I can only respond, "that is hard to do when I look like my mother".

Let this not be about my father or any of my family since they are just cogs in a larger society that tells them that having lighter skin is just better. I mean, look at Univision and Telemundo and tell me how many Afro Latinos you see in the Novelas? Better yet, name 5 famous Latino Negros that are not David Ortiz or Rosario Dawson? Here is the best question of the night...Have you ever seen a black Mexican?

I am writing this blog because the truth hurts.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tired of Excuses (Hi Haters!)

This past Tuesday we all witnessed history as Barack Obama was sworn in as our 44th President. I personally saw it on the big screen with more than 700 students and staff in the Goldstein Auditorium in the Schine Student Center. After that the inauguration, I went up to one of the students I mentor and I told him "No More Excuses". He gave me this puzzled look as if he had not understood what I was telling him. Rather than explain it to him right then in there, I just simply told him to make an appointment.

I have worked with students for more than 7 years now, so I have heard just about everything they can tell me about why they are not doing well in classes, or why they show up for work late. They will tell me things as if I was never a student at Syracuse University. I have thought of theses same lame ass excuses. I truly recognize that we are in a different time here in America.

Anyway to a few points that I want to make. I had to work today (yes on a Sunday), because my area had to train students. I heard excuses of 3 students of color that either were late (one was 1.5 hours late, the other was 3 hours late) or didn't show up at all. I wont sit here and tell you that there were white students that were late or didn't show, because that would not be true. But my issue is, you are in college, in a tough economic time in which there are students who cannot return, and you are late to your job? Fine it is a work-study position. But, if I am not hard on them...who do you think will be worse than me when they graduate?


One has to admit that the first lady looks stunning in that dress. In fact, both those dresses were just fabulous. I am not a fashion expert, but Michelle Obama has made the White House trendy. She got mad love for the way she looked. I was most impressed that she picked dressed from designers of color. Asian American (Jason Wu) and a Cuban American (Isabel Toledo) were made overnight successes for the dresses she wore on Inauguration Day.

But as we know, the haters have to come from some where (Hi Hater). The co founder of The Black Artists Association, Amnau Eele is upset that Michelle Obama did not select a dress from an African American designer. If you think I am kidding it is right here. I have never heard of this group. They don't have a website...I looked.

This man has got to be kidding me. So...I guessing there is still a racial divide somewhere? I mean I know that Latinos in general don't consider themselves all that black (or actually,not black at all), why talk about how it is "our moment" like Michelle Obama is only representing one side of America? I have an answer for you Mr Eele, maybe the dresses she saw from the African American designers were WACK. Just a guess.

Bottom line, the BAA makes all of us people of color look ungrateful because we envy the success of an Asian or the Latino or the African American, etc. So I will dedicate this video to the BAA and will say the excuses of the few shall not or will not deter the driving force of the many.

Gotta love the remix...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It was all a dream...

I do not go to the movies as often as I would like to so when I went to see Notorious, I was hoping to be transported back to the early 90's. I am always amazed when a movie passes my expectations and I was indeed transoported. Notorious not only made me relive my college years but also made me dust off all of The Notorious B.I.G.'s cds. For anyone that is a hip hop fan this is a must see. This is when hip hop felt real.

I will not divulge any details, however I will express a few things:

Lil' Kim protested her role in the film because she not portrayed accurately. Being that the film is not about her to begin with, I think that her role in the film was really not bad. She came across as someone that loved Biggie Smalls, but could not escape the fact that he only saw her as his mistress. Regardless of all that, he respected her and her skills (on mic of course...yeah yeah and that too).

Jamal Woolard, who played Christopher Wallace aka Biggie Smalls, was fantastic. He had it all down, the flow, the heavy breathing, even the laugh. Kudos to him for a great job.

Finally, I am impressed that this wasn't a Sean Combs show. This movie was meant to be about the greatest rapper of all time and it remained that way.


Of course this movie got me to thinking, "How different would Hip Hop be today if Biggie was still alive?" While my opinions will be disputed, I am willing to defend them as well. I spent the better part of the night thinking about this and I came up with some these:

- Jay Z would not nearly be as big as he is right now. Neither would Beyonce for that matter...
- Mase would still be in Hip Hop
- 50 Cent & Lil' Kim would have better albums
- Junior Mafia would still be around (The Lox would still suck)
- This can go without being unsaid but, the state of Hip Hop would be better

Can you imagine a song with The Notorious B.I.G., T.I., Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and vocals by T-Pain? Damn, I do miss Biggie (and Big Pun).

Friday, January 23, 2009

Down to my last Ricola...

The funny thing is that I am not that sick. It is this cough that wont go away. It is that type of cough that gets worse when someone makes me laugh. I know exactly when I caught it too. It was 2 Mondays ago during a basketball game I was playing in. You would think I would catch a cold the 2 weeks I was in NYC, since I was all over the place. But no, I catch it from either one of my teammates or the other team we killed. Regardless, I am down to my last cough drop.

It is 41 degrees today and it is like summer. I love how the weatherman will remind us that is was 25 straight days of Arctic weather (I call it ball-freezing weather). I am curious to see how the students respond to this. I know some were happy that it would be above freezing. There is still mad snow on the ground. I would use my snow blower, but it has been frigid outside. I was looking at the icicles on my house the other day. Huge glacier like structures. I broke some off and it look like the crystals from the Superman Movies. I would take pics, but they are really not that pretty.

I am planning on seeing Notorious tonight. Not sure what to expect. Surprisingly, I haven't heard too much about it. Then again, maybe I haven't been paying attention. Usually by now I would have heard something on the SUBlackbook, which is a listserv that I am apart for SU Alumni (who are black...duh). I enjoy the flooding of emails about random subjects, but I do not recall anything about this movie, so I am hoping it is good. I have high hopes for movies because I don't like to waste my money. I have seen a string of good ones too (7 Pounds, Grand Torino, Milk). I would particularly recommend Grand Torino. How Clint Eastwood did not get an Oscar nod is beyond me.

Speaking of movies, I feel I must show this trailer. This hilarious and yes this is a real movie that will be highlighted at Sundance this year:

Today's number is 4. That is the number of gray hairs I have on my face between my mustache and goatee. I have not named them yet, but the day is still young...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It is just one of those things...

This economy is absolutely nuts. I had a conversation with a former student last night and she told me she was laid off on Tuesday. I am like...damn. How are they gonna lay you off on Inauguration day? It made me think that perhaps we do not do enough for our alumni. I can say this because as an alum (of color), I don't feel like I get the royal treatment.

Anyway, I feel somewhat bad about how people are losing their jobs and homes. On one hand, I look at the (formally) wealthy people and think about how many people they needed to step on and over to get all that money. The ridiculous mansions that they live in, that are cleaned by people that look like my grandmother. They lose there jobs and homes and I am supposed to feel bad? I am not so sure. I view it at as the economy balancing the wealth. The rich becoming poor? I am not sure Jesus would feel

On the other hand, I look at the people who are effected by the housing crisis. Those people who got caught up in some housing scheme, in which their rate went from 5% to 15% in a matter of months. I feel bad for those people because I know how excited I was to buy my home. It doesn't help that gas prices went up or the fact that food is rising in prices. Have you seen the price of rice???? Arroz con Pollo is like mad expensive to make now!

Well, enough of that. Clearly I am happy Obama is the president. I spent most of the morning trying to find the right background image for my work computer (Alicia Keys is on my laptop...sorry Mr. President). I came up with this one . Surprisingly, it was hard to find pictures of the many inaugural balls, but then maybe I really wasn't look good enough.

Well, this is my first blog in a very long time. I used to blog when I lived in NYC in 2000 and 2001. I have a few blogs on Myspace, but I don't really do the "myspace thing" anymore. But, I have been looking at some bloggers that have made me think about writing again. So, with that I want to thank Brook for her blog. I will try to update my page in general (like when I am not working...shhh).


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