Archive for March, 2012

Which is more effective as a means of getting a political message across? Who has more freedom of speech? Whose manners of speaking are legitimate, or carry the most symbolic power? What are the balances of cultural capital?

The “Star Spanglish Banner” is definitely a more effective means of getting a political message across.  The film illustrates people utilizing their democratic right.  This consists of marches and protests in a non violent manner.  They are also utilizing their freedom of speech by changing the lyrics to the Star Spangle Banner to get their point across.  The short film is satirical.  The goal of a satire is to take a political stand in a funny manner.  Even though it is funny, the audience clearly grasps the social criticism that the video pokes at.

The “Nanny Spanish” video is hilarious, but it is not the most effective means of taking a political stand, because these women have no idea that the teacher is taking a stand against something.

The Democratic Process.

March 19th, 2012

What I am really talking about —whether it is immigration, citizenship, cultural mores, or voting rights—is making it possible for more people to participate in the democratic process.  If these changes come to pass we will witness a radical reordering —for the better—in our country.  For whenever new blood is transfused into our national social and political fabric our nation is enriched and strengthened (779).

Cesar Chavez addresses his ideas on what he feels democracy should consist of.  Chavez believes that everyone should take part in the democratic process in America.  This process entails voting, boycotting, striking, marching, and anything non violent that will get attention.  All of these factors are the given rights of a democratic nation.  Chavez believes that these factors are stepping stones to get the issues heard and we all should utilize them.  He believes that participation is the only way to see change in America.  He believes that change will bring forth a better country for the citizens as well as the immigrants who migrate here.  He also states that America is enriched and strengthened when people can come together regardless of race or color and tackle the political and social issues of the nation.

Just Sad!

March 19th, 2012

If you’re white, you’re right;

If you’re yellow, you’re mellow;

If you’re brown, hang around;

If you’re black, step back;

If you’re just Spanish, you’ll be banished (1074).

In this vey short passage, Nicholasa Mohr introduces a rhyme that the children of New York City would recite.  Apparently, it originated in the south by African Americans. Again, it is amazing how children perceive themselves in society’s eyes.  The fairer you are in complexion the better off you are in society. As I read this, I was reminded of the white doll/black doll experiment.  A rhyme like this is what establishes an inferiority complex in our minority children.  It is sad to see that this is something that actually comes out the mouths of children.  But, it goes to show you how society can affect the way a child thinks and sees his/herself. The color line in America is what holds the country back. In line (4) “If you’re black, step back;” and line (5) “If you’re Spanish, you’ll be banished”, absolutely disgusts me.  I can not imagine growing up in those times and hearing that rhyme.  This will stick with a person for life if you were a black or spanish person because it evokes the feelings of being less than others.

My parents came from Poland and Czechoslovakia, at twenty I ousted myself from my country, foreseeing that the nation would take on something like the air of a general prison; that wasn’t to my taste (I would come to learn that the whole planet is a general prison): I was born in Cuba, where I left no progeny, and I will not return: I am the first and last Cuban generation (1243).

I chose this passage written by Jose Kozer initially because the bio says that he taught at Queens College and is a Latino/Jewish which I found very interesting.  Besides the bio, I found the text in “First & Last” very captivating.  The reader immediately identifies with him being Cuban from a Polish and Czechoslovakian descent.  At the age of 20, Kozer explains that he exiled himself because of the political issues that were happening in Cuba at the time.  He views Cuba as a prison, and this identifies with his lack of freedom in the country.  When he points out “I would come to learn that the whole planet is a general prison”, Kozer is addressing the social struggles that inhabit the earth.  Kozer states that he was born in Cuba but that he will not have any Cuban offspring and he will not return back to that life. He says he is the “first and last” which demonstrates to the reader that his experiences with Cuba left a bad taste in his mouth.  Even though it is his native country he does not have any desire to return there.

A Mother’s Love

March 19th, 2012

You are a woman, Nilda. You will have to bear the child; regardless of who planted the seed, they will be your children and no one else’s. If a man is good, you are lucky; if he leaves you, or is cruel so much the worse for you…And then if you have nomoney and little education, who will help you, Nilda? Another man? Yes, and another pregnancy. Welfare? Yes, and they will kill you in the process, slowly robbing you of your home (1053).

In this passage From “Nilda” by Nicholasa Mohr, a mother on her death bed speaks to her daughter very bluntly about life.  Even though it is avery blunt passage where it may come across as cruel, as a reader it reflected the love that a mother has for her daughter. She does not want Nilda to make the same bad choices in life as she did.  She wants her daughter to be wise before she makes life altering decisions such as having children.  She wants Nilda to be independent economically, so she does not have to depend on any man or the government for assistance.  She tells her to get an education so that she will be able to provide for herself.  She does not want Nilda to get caught up in the stereotypical lifestyle where she has child after child from different men who do not stick around and at the same time relying on welfare to get by.  She tells her that the welfare process will kill you and take everything from you including potential, ambition, and a sense of autonomy.  I really enjoyed reading this passage, because her mother did not sugar coat anything. Her goal is for Nilda to get the message and truly understand that she does not have to
settle in life.

I am Joaquin,

lost in a world of confusion,

caught up in a whirl of a

gringo society,

confused by the rules,

scorned by the attitudes,

suppressed by manipulation,

and destroyed by modern society (788).

In this small passage from a poem titled “I am Joaquin” written by Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, it addresses the struggles that Mexican immigrantsface in this country.  He writes “lost in a world of confusion”, Gonzales is saying that he feels lost in this world or land called America.  He is confused because he can not get ahead due to the economic struggles that Mexicans face in this country. He says that he is “caught up in a whirl of a gringo society”, which is clearly an opposition towards white society in America.  Gonzales is “confused by the rules” that are different for the Mexicans because they do not have equal rights. He also states that he is “scorned by attitudes” which implies his feelings of denigration that arise because of the treatment and mindset of the “gringo” population.  He discusses the feelings of being “suppressed by manipulation” which reveals the exploitation that the Mexicans experience.  Gonzales is not only speaking for himself but for all the Mexicans who are in the struggle of attaining economic and social equality.

I never really thought about the struggles that children face when English is not their primary language.  As I watched the video titled “Immersion”, I could not imagine having to face those struggles everyday.  Moises, who is the main character in the short film, is a Mexican immigrant. Moises is excellent in math and he is preparing for his first state exam in the United States.  He is also probably the most knowledgeable in his class. But, because his English is not well he struggles with the dynamic of the standardized testing because it is in English.  This video made me want to scream, I could not understand why there was not a test in Spanish that could have been provided for Moises.  Latinos make up a large percentage of the population and I think that these tests should be in the Spanish language as well.  However, I do understand that English is in fact the “primary” language of the U.S.  These children should be tested in their primary language until they reach a point where they are comfortable with taking it in English.  I think there needs to be more efforts in establishing an environment where the children are not under this type of pressure at such a young age ,especially in schools or areas where there are many immigrants.

114th street

March 18th, 2012

I sure missed 111th street, where everybody acted, walked, and talked like me.  But on 114th Street everything went all right for a while.  There were a few dirty looks from the spaghetti –an-sauce cats, but no big sweat. Till that one day I was on my way home from school and almost had reached my stoop when someone called: “Hey you dirty fuckin’ spic.” (Thomas 814)


This small passage from Piri Thomas’ From Down These Mean Streets Alien Turf details his life as a child who moves into an Italian neighborhood. Piri brings to light the discrimination that he has experienced while living in a primarily Italian neighborhood.  This type of discrimination was quite common when Piri grew up.  Piri and his family moved from an area where everyone was just like him to an area where he felt alone.  He wrote this particular essay in 1967.  This was shortly after the civil rights movement where people were probably more vocal about their views where race was concerned.  Nowadays, racism is still very much alive but we live in a more “politically correct” era where those types of situations do not happen as often especially not in the North/East coast.  He recalls being called a “dirty fuckin spic” by the neighborhood children, just because he was different than they were.  Piri wrote about his life growing up and having to deal with racial and social conflicts that plagues America even to this day.  I enjoyed reading this particular story because I found the style in which Piri writes, grasps the reader like a movie does.





Earlier this evening I asked my son and boyfriend to watch this video with me.  My son told me that he saw this video two years ago in school and did not wish to watch it again.  My boyfriend and I watched it and this video caused a 45 minute argument. He is still talking as I write this. If I had known it would have created this debate, I would have chosen not to play it.  He does not believe that the whole light-skin/ dark-skin thing exists in this day and age where as I believe it does.  But aside from appearance there are also the negative stereotypes that black women deal with on a daily basis.  With that being said, I am from a Caribbean background where my dad is from Afro-descent and my mom is from Creole/ Spanish descent within the Caribbean.  I grew up resembling my father and having features that look more Afro.  I do not look like my mom or her family where as my sister does.  Growing up we would go to Trinidad every summer.  We stayed mostly with my mom’s family who looks very different from me. As a child, I always felt like I did not belong because my hair and skin was not like theirs.  I did not have that mixture which is praised in the Caribbean. I remember going to the beach and getting my hair wet and not being able to pass a comb through it, where as my cousins and sister were able to comb right through their fine curly hair.  As a child we see this and we feel like that’s what is looked at as beauty, and realistically society’s image of beauty is hardly ever the ethnic black female.  It is not until I got older that I began to embrace the beauty that God blessed me with.  The bottom line is that beauty comes in all forms, no matter what race, creed or color. As I watched 15 out of 20 black children choose the white doll over the black, it saddened me.  It demonstrates how even little children associate white with lightness and black with darkness.  How and where do children establish this way of thinking from especially children of the same color?  Do black children grow up thinking they’re inferior to white children?  Is it society that brings forth an inferiority complex?  We are in 2012 and it is time for things to change.  I just hope that it changes for the better.

They lodge in the best hotels where they are wined and dined, where long conversations take place to deliberate new means of extracting the last drop of energy from the emaciated bodies of workers and peasants from the colony (Colon 502).

In this passage Colon speaks of the exploiters of Puerto Rico, and he exposes the advantages that they experience as they discuss how the workers and peasants will be further oppressed. These oppressors do not care about these workers, all of their thoughts and concerns focuses on having more money in their bank accounts. Their concerns are based on what University or Country Club that their children will attend. These capitalists could care less about the salaries of the proletariat class or the countless massacres that occur because of social inequality.

Grandma, you are there on that beautiful island. You were born there. You have been there all your life. You now have what most people here can only dream about. Don’t let sentimental letters and life-colored photographs lure you from your island, from your nation, from yourself. Grandma, please, please! DO NOT COME! (Colon 499)

In this small passage, Colon writes to his to his grandmother begging her to stay in Puerto Rico where she was born and raised. She lives on an island where most people dream about, a place where they vacation and spend their honeymoon. He wants her to remain true to herself and to her nation. He does not want her to feel as though she is missing out on anything because she does not live in New York City. He understands that she misses her family but still begs her not to leave. He does not want her to be exposed to everyday hustle and bustle of New York. He wants her to enjoy her life on the beautiful island in Puerto Rico where people say “Buenos Dias” and where the people are calm and laid back. He wants her to remain on the island where she can speak her native language of Spanish where she fits right in. He does not want her to be exposed in any way to the elements of New York City. He wants her to realize that America is not all what it is boasted to be.

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