Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day Prose

I feel that I doing myself a disservice if I did not write on Leap Day. It just marks to me that the last time there was a leap year, I wasn't writing at all. There is also a part of me that reflects on my life four years ago. While I will not get into that, I am just amazed how different my life has changed within the last four years.

Black History Month is just about over. The Latinegr@s Project has done a fabulous job in highlighting Afro Latinos. There seems to be an issue with Latina Magazine again in their definition of Afro Latinos. One person in particular has taken an issues with them and my team will be coming up with a statement about all this shortly. I am not getting into this now, but I am just relay that this is on my mind.

Women's History Month starts tomorrow and I have not done anything for that in the past, however, that will change this year. I have many things on my mind when it comes to misogyny that I need to just get off my chest. I have been saying a few things on Twitter about domestic violence and the use of the word rape. There comes a point in time in which men need to stand up for things wether it be racism, sexism, or homophobia. I plan to have my say in March.

Then there was my debut in The Huffington Post this week. I am overwhelmed by the show of love from my peers and I will strive to make them proud. It took me a weekend to write and then another day to get it edited by my lovely girlfriend. I think she did a great job as a copy editor and pushing me to get to my point. Quite frankly, I wasn't sure what my point was going to be when I started writing it. My plan is to blog once a week.

What I did learn from all of this is that I need to continue to elevate my game to higher levels. I need to push the envelope on conventional thought. My blog for the Huff is meant for me to talk about issues involving my time at Syracuse University. I want to treat that as my professional blog and I intend to do so by highlighting things around me.

Finally, I think a lot has to be said for karma. My last post a few days ago talked about how things happen for a reason. Well, up to this point, I had not expanded on any of the risks I am taking but I found it to be very interesting that one of my roommates is moving out. He got a job in Detroit and is leaving by the end of March. I am happy for him, but why is this interesting? Simply put, I a securing a deal to sell this house and I was going to tell my roommates about it in a few day so they can prepare to move. Amazing how life works huh?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Things are Happening! (The Alchemist Edition)

I cannot stress this fact any more than just coming out and saying it: Everything happens for a reason. I started out this year with specific goals and not only are they happening but the it seems that this road is continuously being paved with more opportunities for me to take advantage of. I cannot help but wonder if these new things that are occurring are a result of pure coincidence or a result of good karmic work being put in.

I have often talked about good omens and following signs when you see them. I often think about The Alchemist and how sometimes the most important thing to do is wait while the universe conspires to work things in our favor. However, if and when those times of waiting do happen, it is how we prepare ourselves that separates those who take advantage of opportunity and those who freeze in fear of the possibilities. 

I chose to take some risks because I cannot continue live a life in stagnation. Looking for good omens and creating opportunities all plays a part in risk taking. The best part about making no more excuses is that everything seems to move at a different rate of speed. When we hold yourself responsible for your own successes and failures, life becomes different. I can sit here and say that perhaps it is my fault that I have not left Syracuse. Sure, the first thing to say is that the job market sucks but what am I doing to adjust to those changes?

So when I decided to use my time in waiting to better myself, things around me begin to change. I am more busy and opportunities seem to pop up whenever. What I am happy about the most (besides dating a totally hot woman), is that I am done talking about what I am going to do because I am doing it. That subtle difference of knowing the path and walking the path produces results that only I can measure. 

The excitement of being a blogger for The Huffington Post has not worn off. It took me all of yesterday to finally narrow down what I am going to write about. For me, my inspiration always seems to hit me when I am about to go to bed. So at about 4:00am I wrote half of my article. I look forward to submitting this entire thing tomorrow and then letting all this soak in. 

Of course, I am writing more now because I need to. It is funny how that works.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Crossing The Threshold

I have been writing this blog for 3 years and I feel that have done my best to get my name out there. I have joined groups, blogger circles, and various other sites in order to promote myself. Yet, I feel that I've always been below the radar when it came to writing blog posts. I'm not in it for the money but as a blogger, I want to see some progression. One of those points, if not the key point, of progression as a blogger is The Huffington Post.

I have viewed The Huffington Post as a symbol of "making it" in the blogging community. I know people who have written for them and have always wanted to get my chance to do that. I feel like "The Huff" is a bigger stage and to a person like me who would love to have bigger audience, this is indeed a grander stage. Today, I was informed that I will indeed have my chance to write for them!

It is funny how fast things seem to happen. Yesterday I received an email from my good friend (and former student) Victoria that the Huffington Post is setting up a college blogger initiative and they are looking for students, faculty, and staff to write about anything that has to do with campus life. She thought I would be great and responded. Today, I was told that I they would love to have me and like that...I am in! I am now a blogger for the Huffington Post!

Excited cannot even begin to describe how I feel. I'm trying not to be too hype about it because I have a lot of work to do. I have to figure out what to write and my skills as a writer have to be on point. Do not be mistaken, I am not nervous because it is game on. The lights are on and I am ready to showcase my abilities.

I also feel that this is a culmination of my past efforts. I have to submit a bio. I wrote several times in the past on how difficult it is to do that, but I did get it done (and now I have a reason to update). So now, that is one less thing to worry about. Then I have to submit a picture and that makes me laugh too because everyone asked me why in the world would I need to do a photo shoot? Well, it seems that the things that I have prepared for, has benefited me. 

I will be writing my first blog for them this weekend and we will see what happens from there. I have also made sure that I have someone besides myself reading what I write for grammatical purposes. I have always felt I needed an editor because I just cannot seem to catch all my mistakes. In any case, I am extremely happy on how all this has turned out and I want to think all of you for your continual support.

I also want to send out a thank you to Victoria Chan for sending me that email. I wouldn't have been in this situation had she not thought of me (I owe you Bubble Tea).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why I do What I do.

I am taking this opportunity to write while I am in a relatively bad mood. There are many things going on in my life that are just annoying on a personal and professional level. It also does not help that the Knicks just lost to Miami Heat which just puts me closer to edge.  With this aggression, I want to write about why I do what I do because as this blog gets older, this becomes something that I can point back to time and time again.

My day job has not been really stated. I work at Syracuse University as a member of student affairs that handles events that occur primarily in the student center. I advise 5 student groups ( 2 Latino student organizations, 1Multicultural Frat, 1 Latino Frat, and co-advise NALFO). I donate my time to students and try to guide them in the right direction. I have written several letters of recommendations for awards, employment, graduate schools, and internships. I have become a supervisor, mentor, advocate, psychologist, friend, brother, and in some cases, another dad. I can also be the bad guy, the asshole, and the sarcastic dude that never smiles.

My love for students never dies because I know what it is like to be in their shoes. I know what is like to almost not graduate. I know how it feels to be bored with classes and to be distracted by outside forces like girls and family. I know what it is like to be the only person of color in a class filled with white students and the loneliness that is felt when you have to speak for your race (in my case it seemed I was speaking for Blacks and Latinos). I went through many things and never understood who to go or if there even was someone that I could talk to.

When I was hired 10+ years ago, I wanted to be that person. While I think that I have achieved that goal, I found it difficult to just stop there. I wanted to create something that made Latino students proud. With that came the Latino Listerv (that barely gets used now), I began to advise my first student organization, and then there was the creation of Fiesta Latina. With all that, I was not done. I wanted to do anti racism work because pride of a culture comes from understanding it's struggle.

The Latinegr@s Project was born 2 years ago in a joint effort between me and Bianca. Everyday since then I have been grateful for joining forces with her. My view of educating students broadens to educating the masses (or whomever will listen). Each of these things become extremely hard while not being mutually exclusive. Not all my students are Latino. My adviser role reaches a diverse amount of students just like the blog posts I write.

Yet, I get annoyed when students do not see the full scope of their potential. While, I was there once, the amount of resources has increased; the amount of programs promoting diversity increased and there seems to be very little care shown. As if there is this sense of entitlement where they may be glad programs exist for the sake of existing but not really interested in going. Never is there a thought of what might happen if things like Latino Heritage Month would cease to exist.

I get annoyed when the images of Afro Latinos are never properly shown, which is why I press on with the Latinegr@s Project and its expansion last year. One can never show too many positive images of black and brown people. There is no such thing as being too educated, but what if there are people who just don't want to listen anymore? When I see imagine above I realize that Afro Latinos are truly invisible. When I see things like the video below, I know that racism is an issue (even if you consider your to be a high class Cuban).

It makes me thing of my students who do not recognize that having bad grades because they rather bag "hoes" and smoke weed just makes them a statistic. I do what I do because I have to fight the good fight. I want to show students that their voice matters.

Monday, February 20, 2012

I Promote Divisions?

I am not a crime-fighter. I am not a super hero. I am man with a vision and goal. When one does the anti racism work that I do then one will know that some people misunderstand words and phrases because those who operate within the fabric of the system do not see the birdcage for what it is. It becomes difficult to explain that despite whether or not one may believe that words like "white privilege" is real, it becomes even harder to deconstruct the belief that there is a system of advantage that other have been born into.

As I look over the landscape of the Latinegr@s Project, I do see how I got here. There are a number of people who are glad that we exist and we promote ourselves and the education of others. I am not making this up when I say that more slaves ship landed in Central and South America than it did in the United States. Yet, Latinos refuse to see how they fit in to Black History Month and some African Americans do not even understand that we are closely related in more ways than just sharing project building space.

Michonne is a major
character within the series.

I have been told more than once by more than one person that the things I do and say promote division and that perhaps I am drumming up controversy for the sake of getting attention. I disagree. I am very open in my opinion and criticism of all forms of oppression when I see it. It is not my fault that a company like McDonalds decided to air commercials of African Americans dancing while eating chicken. I cannot possible be the only one who has an issue with this. I have the right to express that and the right to say that The Walking Dead comic book has more Black people in that the television show.

This is not me whining. This is me pointing out things for others to digest. The beautiful thing about living in the United States is that I have the right to say anything I want and others have the right not to listen to me. But, if one is to engage me on any one of these topics, please understand that I know what I am taking about. I did not coin the phrase White Privilege, you can thank Dr. Peggy McIntosh. She is a feminist and white woman. She coined the phrase because believe it or not, it exists! So much so, that there is a conference about it.

Which brings me to this idea that I am promoting division amongst people. That is absurd. Divisions of people already exist an yet no one wants to discuss this. It is like saying this makes it real and being quiet makes it all go away. I promote education and pride within people. We all need to hold and adhere to what we are and what our culture is because it will become lost. I also point things out because there are a plethora of ignorant people out there. Think about Linsanity that has take over New York and just about any sports channel.

I don't think this is funny.
Here is a story of a guy who got cut by thee NBA Teams and then lands on The New York Knicks only to become an overnight icon. This is something that we would normally see in the movies. Jeremy Lin becomes the most popular Asian man in the United States since Bruce Lee. The best part about this is that he was born in this country and yet we see the ignorance of people come out. ESPN fired someone because of it. Not to mention the random things and pictures I see on Twitter that I do not consider to be funny at all. The sad part about it is that black and brown people alike make stupid ass racist comments. I guess 400 years of oppression give us the right to push others down?

Which leads me to my final point about the Matrix. Morpheus said it best: The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it. That system, my friends, is the system of Oppression.

I will let Tim Wise take it from here:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Mid-Februray Free Write

Let me just cut to the chase. I have been busy taking classes and reading. Work has always been the same and I am also taking the time to go to the gym. I will also mention that I have been making the best of efforts to change my diet. Much of this takes up large amounts of time and yet, I still manage to find time to do things like see my awesome girlfriend for a weekend. I am very proud of myself.

Which brings me to this free writing type of update. While I have not written in a while, I have been busy making sure that Afro-Latinos have a voice this month. On Twitter, there was a broad discussion about 2 weeks ago hosted by #latism. The subject was the racial mosaic that is Latinos. I am glad to have been apart of that because the timing seemed to be right for me to be interviewed by Voxxi. It is not all the time that I get to interviewed by an online magazine.

Then, Team @beingafrolatino was invited as guests on the Vanessa Oden Show which is a internet radio show based out of Oakland, California. Along with fellow co-founder, Bianca, we talked about Afro Latino identity and how other people view us. The show was so successful that we did a part 2 this past Monday where we talked more about the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. In these instances there are so many things to talk about that you cannot begin to squeeze into 2 one hour shows. I was told that the podcasts for those shows will be available soon and once that comes out I will share it.

I am also excited to be able to see yet another Salsa Artist come to Syracuse University. One of the groups that I advise called La LUCHA manage to get enough funding to bring up India! This is yet another thing that I have on my plate in my on going quest to promote Latinos. I want to point out here that while I champion the cause of Afro Latinos, I still consider myself to first and foremost a Latino. We all share the same culture although I cannot say the same about social standing within the community.

I also feel that there is just not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. The problem with not making anymore excuses is that free time becomes limited. The reading from this class alone takes up so much time that I can barely watch television. While that is not a bad thing, it just amazes me how I can just forget to watch shows that I am normally used to. I can say thank goodness for the DVR but I barely watch that either because I have so much to read.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Black History X: The Bird Cage

I laugh. I laugh at the ignorance of others and realize that at some point the American Education System has failed so many. I laugh because my sarcasm just does not cover the range of things that I could say to people who just do not know their history nor do they know what goes on around them. This is not limited to the young people in this country either.

What am I talking about? Is Black History Month the issue? Maybe it is and maybe it isn't but my issue is that ignorance is not constrained to just one month. It becomes prevalent as we get close to and into months like this. This really is a month of reflection on where we have been and where we are going. Instead, I feel we live in a world where people actually believe that racism is not an issue anymore. I am not even talking about white people.

I understand that most white people do not understand the intricate system of oppression. I get that they do not see white privilege. I see why they do not understand the black and white paradigm or why the color blind ideology is negative. I expect the responses from them because they are raised in a world that is made for them. But what about our people? What about Black and Latinos who have been white washed to believe that racism is a distant memory that they see in black and white news reels where they see black people being hosed by firefighters in the south?

I have often talked about the color blind Latinos. This is nothing new. The whole idea being lighter skinned in the Caribbean and South America is to obtain a high social standing. We have pretty much the same thing here in the United States when it comes to how black women are viewed. The concept of beauty is to be as light as possible (and as skinny as possible). African Americans should not feel that because Obama is President that we have gone through great strides in "solving" Racism.

On the contrary, racism is at the heart of the issue in the GOP political debates. While it is not being directly said, let's think about the tone of things being said and what we are willing to let people get away with. Newt Gingrich, who is known to say bigoted things, can come out and say that "Spanish is the language of the Ghetto" and where is the uproar? Sure, Newt will say that Mitt Romney fabricated such a statement which begs the question, even if Mitt did, how is this ok to even lie about?  

I can use tons of examples of how Newt views the working poor (who are seen as black), but the one thing that is my absolute favorite is how Mitt Romney is now considered Latino. We as proud Latinos are so eager to claim anyone and of course we should because most Latinos are just as prejudiced against African Americans as white people.

What gets me is that most people don't see the things that are blatantly in front of them, which brings me the the Birdcage Analogy.  A few years ago I read an article by Marilyn Frye called "Oppression." In this article she talks about the oppression that women endure by the hands of men. I have often believed that if one group of people are oppressed then we all are. Even though she focuses primarily on women her Birdcage Analogy fits racial oppression very well:
Consider a birdcage. If you look very closely at just one wire in the cage, you cannot see the other wires. If your conception of what is before you is determined by this myopic focus, you could look at that one wire, up and down the length of it, and be unable to see why a bird would not just fly around the wire any time it wanted to go somewhere. Furthermore, even if, one day at a time, you myopically inspected each wire, you still could not see why a bird would have trouble going past the wires to get anywhere. There is no physical property of any one wire, nothing that the closest scrutiny could discover, that will reveal how a bird could be inhibited or harmed by it except in the most accidental way. It is only when you step back, stop looking at the wires one by one, microscopically, and take a macroscopic view of the whole cage, that you can see why the bird does not go anywhere; and then you will see it in a moment. It will require no great subtlety of mental powers. It is perfectly obvious that the bird is surrounded by a network of systematically related barriers, none one of which would be the least hindrance to its flight, but which, by their relations to each other, are as confining as the solid walls of a dungeon.
Grasp the power of this analogy and realize who the bird in the cage is. There needs to be a general understanding of the system of oppression in this country that is not limited to just people of color. When you do not see the wires of the cage then you do not realize that you are trapped. Like the bird, people think everything is ok in their world and automatically resist the urge to step away from it. Kinda sounds like The Matrix, huh?

It is only when you can step back and see the cage or the system as whole do you realize the grand scheme of it all. The only way to see the entire birdcage is to educate ourselves to these things. Let's not forget the people who own the birdcage are apart of that system. They may not see it that way because the system has been that way for years and they are just doing and benefiting from such a system for centuries that they have no idea that it even is a cage.

I get tired of the unwillingness to understand the need for Black History Month by hearing such a question like, "Why is there no White History Month?" Very simple. Every month is White History Month. The fact we even have to be given a mere month to keep the masses aware that Black people did contribute to this country is just another part of the wire in the cage. Just like when the Tea party wants to ban any mention of the founding fathers having slaves from History Books because it gives a negative view on them. Perhaps the fact that Arizona can ban Mexican Studies should suggest that many people wish to have a color blind education. The funny thing about being color blind is that you see no color but we are are Black and you cannot hide that.

No More Excuses.


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