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And We Grow Fat Upon The Fruits of Their Labor

October 30th, 2009 § 6 comments § permalink

Papi, YoungMY ABUELO AND ABUELA made their way in this América by working the fields for years. That is why I keep the UFW icon and link on my site. This is an important part of my family’s history. Even as a child, my own papi worked the fields with my grandparents for years until my nanita decided it was “time for Juanito to go to school.” (That’s him in the pic to the left.) And then they made that happen.

I don’t necessarily think that it is bad for children to work alongside their parents. Actually, I think that is very good. And missing from what I see in the culture out there. It’s a sad loss. But as long as parents can be teachers in other ways (and not relegate it all to strangers) I suppose not all is lost.

blueberryqueenThis story, reporting on the Adkin Blue Ribbon Packing Company, in South Haven, Michigan, and the fact that many children are doing the work of picking the blueberries that we delectably drop into our desserts kicks off the lede by framing the magnanimous actions of Walmart, who is cutting ties with Adkin. I’m sure this is seen as a great opportunity by Walmart, known to many as the “most anti-union company” out there, a way to boost their image. But what will it do to those families who need that money? Is that really the most righteous thing they can think of doing?

Truth is, I watch these kids picking berries, smart kids who know about pesticides; strong little girl that can carry two buckets at five years old or so, and think to myself they are going to be so much more prepared for life than the little girl who is learning to feel self esteem when handed a trophy and tiara for being “Little Miss Blueberry.” Truth is, I see that little girl stooped over carrying two buckets for measly pay, and then those shots of kids happily eating blueberry ice cream or getting crowned Little Miss Blueberry, and it all feels very wrong. It’s just too symbolic of a larger truth. And anyway, why don’t they go out in the fields and crown the little girl with buckets? SHE is Little Miss Blueberry as far as I’m concerned. And her crown is the sacrifice of what most of us think of as childhood.

Despite the benefits of working closely with your parents, it’s obviously true that it’s egregious and wrong that this is what people are forced to do to live decently in this country. People should not have to enlist all their children to help them earn a living, to barely get by, to get paid by the bucket and not much. We know how spendy those little crates of blueberries are at the store!

But it’s not as simple as punishing the company. That punishes the families, too. Soon, lest we perish as a nation, it is incumbent upon us to open our eyes and begin seeing a larger picture.

We need to realize that this is the price of Capitalism as we know it, today.

The amount of poverty and suffering required for the emergence of a Rockefeller, and the amount of depravity that the accumulation of a fortune of such magnitude entails, are left out of the picture, and it is not always possible to make the people in general see this.”

– Che Guevara

There is no free ride, there is no cheap food, the reason we get delicious berries out of season anywhere in the nation is similar to the reason Madoff got rich. A lot of “little people” get screwed for these conveniences, to make it possible for distributors and retailers to jack up the cost and rake in profit on the sweat of children’s backs. It ain’t just going on in Michigan. It’s going on all over the nation, as the report says. (If you’ve TV, watch the special tonight on Nightline.) And you know what? This is the story of how this nation even got its feet of the ground. Enslavement and exploitation of people just like this, just like today.

Who works these fields? Who built this land? Who builds it today? Who keeps your fruit and vegetables on the table? Who keeps the agricultural engine running? It ain’t Pat Buchanan and it ain’t Mister Perdue and it ain’t Lou Dobbs.

Whenever will we get smart about the world? Stop pretending that economic problems sneak across borders with brown skin? Start staging ICE raids in DC, where the real border thievery goes on? When will we stop playing these little games, selling fake dreams that profess a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, while leaving off the whole truth of all the people that sweat and bled and died nameless to carry that pot there?


Dobbs and Gheen Admit to Inciting Violence

October 29th, 2009 § 9 comments § permalink

drophatePROFESSIONAL VITRIOL-SPEWER Lou Dobbs claims that shots were fired at his house, and that this violence is due to his views on immigration. Implied in his words are the connection between focused ire and public violence.

They’ve created an atmosphere and they’ve been unrelenting in their propaganda,” Dobbs said in reference to pro-immigration groups.

Shots Fired at NJ Home of Lou Dobbs

Get that? It’s the people fighting for the rights and humane treatment of immigrants who are creating a violent atmosphere. Yeah. Nothing like a little projection to help a ghoul live with itself.

Also chiming in is William Gheen, anti-immigrant president of ALIPAC, who tellingly admits in a newsletter that when you create an atmosphere of revulsion and loathing around people, this leads to violence: [my emphasis]

Friends of ALIPAC,

We have just learned that someone has fired a gun at the home of Lou Dobbs, with his wife just a few feet away from the incident. The gunfire followed a series of threatening phone calls.

Lou Dobbs is being targeted by the pro-illegal alien groups and pundits who feel that Dobbs is stopping Amnesty from passing.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti Defamation League, the National Council of La Raza, Media Matters, and Geraldo Rivera of Fox News are using false information to foment hatred towards Lou Dobbs or any American who speaks out against Amnesty or illegal immigration.

They have pushed for Lou Dobbs to be fired and since CNN has refused to do that some people are now turning to violence to try and achieve their goals.

The lies and hate coming from these radical pro-illegal alien groups is now manifesting in the form of gunfire fired into the occupied home of an innocent multi-racial family.

What conclusions can we draw from their only now admitting this connection many of us have been trying to underline for so long?

1. Lou Dobbs and William Gheen understand that what they do normally leads to the violence that continues to bring death and fear to our communities


2. They enjoy causing that violence.

But now, ALLEGEDLY, shots are fired near Lou’s house, and they are up in arms talking about this dangerous environment. It is to laugh.

Lou, for the first time in his skanky life, is being held to account by organized groups online and off for the negativity and hostility and vile things he puts out into the air all year. And all he can come up with is calling people “fleas” as a response, go back to his daily demonization routine, and then whine about a violent environment from which he is normally cushioned due to his station, class, and situation.

Live by the sword, Lou?

(PS: Well, hardly a sword. And hardly a bullet, apparently! After all, if the projectile “struck the siding and then fell to the ground,” I’m guessing it was a slow moving BB, perhaps. Which means Lou’s well-layered makeup would have stopped it cold.)


THE CRIME: Sleeping While Chinese

October 29th, 2009 § 3 comments § permalink

NoTaser4CopsEUGENE, OREGON CONTINUES ITS WOEFUL TASER TRIALS, fumbling with this new electric torture device that has cops in a tizzy from coast to coast.

I covered the very first use of Tasers in Eugene, Oregon while working for MTV’s Street Team in 2008. I also covered the fifth use of tasers here in Eugene, when demonstrating college student Ian Van Ornum was tazed to the ground until he had seizures (video here, and embedded below; article here). [slider]What people don’t know about that case is that the Department of Homeland Security had sent its agents into the area, concerned with “Eco-Terrorism,” which in this day and age will basically mean that anyone getting in the way of the profits of industry that harms the environment can be prosecuted as a Terrorist under George W Bush’s insanity-induced lawmaking frenzy enacted during his unfortunate tenure as Fake President. I know this had a lot to do with Ian Van Ornum getting blasted, and there’s actually a lot of storytelling that needs to happen on this instance, but this is a place where money and resources are needed for some on the ground reporting, and I don’t have those resources/money/time, unfortunately. [/slider]

Well, now we have another incident of Taser abuse in Eugene, Oregon (sombrero tip to Angry Asian Man) and believe it or not, it’s by the same cop who tazed Van Ornum. This time, he sent 50,000 volts into the body of a human being for Sleeping While Chinese.

The same Eugene police officer who used a Taser to subdue a protester last year in downtown Eugene is at the center of another high-profile stun gun incident — this one involving a Chinese, non-English-speaking college student whom the officer shocked during an ill-fated confrontation last month in west Eugene. …

This isn’t the first time Warden has faced Taser-related criticism. In May 2008, he used the weapon to control anti-pesticide protester Ian Van Ornum at a downtown rally while another officer struggled to handcuff the University of Oregon student.

Several witnesses charged that Warden unjustly used the Taser on Van Ornum, who was later convicted of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

Van Ornum filed a formal complaint with the city against Warden and other officers involved in his arrest, which prompted a city investigation into their actions.

That’s about the connection to Van Ornum. Here’s the recent result of our new Electric Sadism Machines:

An investigation is under way to determine whether a Eugene police officer overreacted when he used a Taser stun gun to subdue a foreign college student who the officer mistakenly believed was trespassing in a west Eugene apartment.

The male student is a resident of an Asian country who does not speak English. He is involved in a University of Oregon program, but it is unclear whether he is an enrolled student, city Police Auditor Mark Gissiner said.

The incident unfolded the evening of Sept. 22 when a prospective tenant of an apartment on West 11th Avenue saw a man sleeping inside and reported it to police.

The property’s landlord, Timothy Breen of Eugene, said police called him about the initial report. Breen — who said transients had caused trouble at the complex before — met officers at the apartment complex and told them that he believed the unit should have been vacant.

A few minutes later, Breen said, he overheard the sound of a stun gun being deployed. Officers then came outside and spoke to Breen.

It was then that the landlord realized that the two Asian men inside the apartment had picked up keys for the unit from his office about three hours earlier.

The last time Officer Judd Warden was accused of discharging his Taser in an inappropriate way, the Lane County District Attorney pulled some sneaky stuff. Before Cristina Beamud finished auditing the situation to determine if Warden should be disciplined in any way, the DA decided to jump up before she was done and instead charge Van Ornum with crimes. (See second letter for one Eugene resident’s feelings on this—they were not alone, many felt this way because it was a plainly dishonest maneuver.)

The cop was declared righteous, the student deemed criminal, the electricity that laid him to the ground in spasm, validated and just. And so the law and the law’s thugs work hand in hand to prevent a larger sense of justice from playing out, while a young man concerned with toxins in the environment learns a harsh lesson in college. Fighting the power means you are in a serious underdog position and that sooner or later, they will come for you with violence sanctioned by law.

This time, the Officer Judd Warden and the landlord, and probably the state will excuse this as “Well, Jeez. I meant to blast the shit out of a sleeping transient! Not a person who rents an apartment!” and I hope it’s immediately clear how amoral this type of thinking is.

And why is it that the cops—these supposed badasses with jingly guns, darts, masks, cuffs, and training in submission holds—are always blasting homeless people, sleeping people, wheelchair users, shackled people…?????

You really want the nation to fear and hate cops even more than so many do now? Keep at this. Keep zapping people. Keep electrocuting people for “attitude problems” or “fast moves” (like turning away from you), or for sleeping in the wrong place; keep making it clear that being law-abiding isnt good enough anymore. Keep creating a collective mental image of bulletproofed goons shocking vulnerable or already incapacitated people, and handicapped, and pregnant, and elderly, and mentally confused, and homeless people.

Enough of that and one day you’ll need to hire your own protection from those you are ostensibly here to protect!

[This is the video I made while the auditing process—of what was deemed a “test case” by the Oregon Emerald for Taser use in the city—was still playing out.]


Weekly Diaspora: Legislating Hate

October 29th, 2009 § 2 comments § permalink

[For those new to UMX, The Weekly Diaspora is a (paid) article I write for The Media Consortium. It is a column that runs on a few other sites, as well. (Linked at end of post.)]


By Nezua, Media Consortium Blogger

Anti-immigration groups and pundits cling to phrases like “Illegal Alien” because they only focus on foreignness and danger. These extreme factions are all about casting immigrants as what ails our society, conjuring up demons upon which to focus national ire, and perpetuating a subhuman category of being. It’s a convenient distraction from things that are actually endangering our nation. A new web-only series from ColorLines called “Torn Apart by Deportation is the perfect antidote to people like CNN’s Lou Dobbs.

The stories in this series are thoroughly investigated, not sensationalized, and haunting. “Torn Apart” reveals how the push against immigrants in the U.S. is, once all the pieces come together, a cultural death wish on families of color. “Torn Apart” gives faces and feelings to the results of the nation’s post-1996 immigration policies, which made it easier deport undocumented people for any criminal infraction. Two articles are currently available:

  • Home in Name Only” follows Calvin James, who was deported after living in the US since the age of 12, back to Kingston, Jamaica. James is percieved as an undesirable and unwanted part of Jamaican society, which pins its crime rates on deportees. James was uprooted from a loving, productive life in the US and cast into a criminal class spanning two nations.
  • Double Punishment” explores the nexus that people like James find themselves in, where they suffer under a clash of laws that target immigrants and criminals in a justice system already slanted against people of color.

Wiretap tackles the issue of the upcoming census count slated for Spring 2010. The census has become a point of political contention and moved abruptly away from its very practical purpose of counting all people in the country. Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Robert Bennett (R-UT) are trying to add an amendment to an appropriations bill that would include a question about citizenship status to the census form, disrupting the entire well-established process of the census. The move would also cement growing fear in immigrant communities that the census is not to be trusted.

Further, it’s simply too late to raise questions like this. As M. Junaid Levesque-Alam writes, “two congressionally mandated deadlines for registering objections [to the census form as it stands] have already passed.” Surely Vitter and Bennet are quite aware of this. Then again, as Levesque-Alam makes clear, the intended effect of the amendment is primarily “to dissuade undocumented residents from participating in the census out of fear that the information will be shared with other government agencies and lead to deportation.” It is, yet again, one more Republican political maneuver that shows no consideration for the damage such legislation causes.

Misguided and troublesome attempts to legislate hate are rippling out and hurting other communities. America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, H.R. 3200, negatively impacts the African American community in its attempts to deny immigrants access to health care, as TPM reports. And Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) anti-immigrant agenda hurts the working class, according to The Washington Independent. A new report released Tuesday by “three labor and employment advocacy organizations,” points the finger squarely at the Bush administration policies that leave undocumented and legal workers alike open to exploitation.

When workers are afraid to report their employers for abusive practices, they are exploited further. When there is a labor conflict, abusive employers will summon ICE and simply provoke a raid before the dispute is resolved. It adds up to a situation that keeps wages artificially suppressed and many workers voiceless. As Daphne Eviatar writes, “labor complaints are not supposed to lead to retaliation against illegal immigrants.”

Even LA police chief Willam J. Bratton writes that “a person reporting a crime should never fear being deported.” Yet they have good reason to. As the Colorado Independent reported last Wednesday, the 287(g) agreement “has resulted in a ‘sweep of terror,” according to a floor speech given by 2nd Rep. Jared Polis on the same day. His speech came as a reaction to the announcement by ICE last Friday that it was signing 67 more 287(g) agreements.

Irresponsible pundits, racist legislation and exploitative labor conditions are all the symptoms of a nation wrestling with a fundamental truth: United, we stand. Divided, we fall. The healing we need lies not in harsher means to divide or separate, but in a new body of laws that exemplifies that age-old and beloved maxim.

Also featured at Huffington Post, America’s Voice, FDL, Talking Points Memo, Open Salon, DailyKos, Sanctuary, Open Left, Rabble, In These Times Blog, Racewire


The GOP: Leaving No Doubt What They’re About!

October 29th, 2009 § 2 comments § permalink


For the past week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office has been looking for a Republican co-sponsor for an utterly non-controversial resolution honoring the legacy and role of Hispanic media.

None came, his office confirms. On Tuesday, Reid introduced and passed a resolution designating October 25 through October 31, 2009, the “National Hispanic Media Week” in honor of the Latino Media of America.

The Nevada Democrat was joined by Sens. Robert Menendez (New Jersey), Mark Udall (Colorado) and Kirsten Gillibrand (New York) — all of whom are Democrats.

—Huffington Post, Reid Gets No GOP Support For Resolution Honoring Hispanic Media

GOPostrichSquareI’M TRYING TO IMAGINE what the GOP strategy is anymore when it comes to our nation of many peoples. Do they cling so tightly to some 1950s vision of reality that they simply won’t budge, won’t open the lids, won’t peep the new day? Are they of the Ken Burns philosophy: that as long as we recognize whites publicly for achievements, that’s a “universal” statement about everyone?

I’m guessing that by having a black man front the party and use lots of fake street cred noise (like Michael Steele’s throwing in a “bling” there and a “pahty peeple” here, or his blog “What Up” or “Wut B Tha DL” or “Slick Steele” or whatever it’s called today) in addition to their pattern of demonizing Latinos, Mexicans, people of color, and now this move to NOT recognize the growing power of the Latino/Hispanic voice in media, which as they article notes, should not be a controversial one—

I think the elephant as an icon for the GOP has run its course. Here’s my offering:



Torn Apart

October 28th, 2009 § 2 comments § permalink

A NEW WEB-EXCLUSIVE SERIES ON THE EFFECTS OF DEPORTATION on families (of color) and the people who make up those families here in our nation and in the nations to where they are deported is called Torn Apart, by Colorlines. It’s pretty strong stuff.

I like it because it draws clearly and plainly the effects of deportation and you begin to peek around the corner, or I should say, over the border. To these lands utterly foreign, overall, to the people being flown and dumped there. You see how their families miss them here, how often the phone calls home begin to grow less and less…over there struggling for survival, over here, ending up in homeless shelters. Deportees criminalized in two lands, daily errands to take out trash and go to work shattered by exile. No second chance, no appeal. Not even for 20 years.

Again, for what? How does it make a nation safer, you wonder. To multiply pain. It’s just bad math, let alone the morality of it all….


News With Nezua | Something Simple to Share

October 26th, 2009 § 4 comments § permalink

AS ALWAYS, you can find this week’s News With Nezua at my joint, or at La Frontera Times. And for those who prefer a dim viewing room, I’ll meet ya over at the XOLAGRAFIK Theater.

This week’s offering is short, spare, and simple. But I hope still worthy of your attention. Peace, Y’all!


The Weekly Diaspora: We Can Prosper Together

October 22nd, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

[For those new to UMX, The Weekly Diaspora is a (paid) article I write for The Media Consortium. It is a column that runs on a few other sites, as well. (Linked at end of post.)]


By Nezua, Media Consortium Blogger

For the most part, it’s been a good week for immigration reform. The Senate approved a measure that will end the “Widow Penalty,” which rescinded applications for U.S. residency if one’s spouse of two years or less years dies, and on Tuesday, as RaceWire reports, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed legislation that restores the right of due process to immigrant youth.

Now for the not-so good news: The U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has decided to modify, not cancel, its many 287(g) agreements, as the Colorado Independent reports. Cause for celebration on this change may not yet be warranted. The proposed modification does not address the problems inherent to the provision.

According to ICE data, 55 jurisdictions have signed “new standardized agreements” with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 12 others are pending agreement. ICE now requires police officers who turn in undocumented immigrants to follow through on “All criminal charges that originally caused the offender to be taken into custody.” But what measures has ICE taken to eradicate the racial profiling that has tainted the reputation of the 287(g) provision? The ACLU does not feel the modification is enough. And it’s hard to see how it could be. Under the modifications, the police would still be perceived by the immigrant community as prosecutors and potential border guards, not protectors to work with for the good of a neighborhood.

Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio is a perfect example of why the White House needs to cease all 287(g) agreements. Reporting for AlterNet, Isabel Macdonald chronicles the bizarre antics and mindset of the rogue lawman. Arpaio’s 287(g) agreement with the Federal government was recently downgraded. He can no longer perform his “over broad” sweeps, but Macdonald makes clear that this change is mostly symbolic. Arpaio is simply “An official who has come to expect total impunity.”

Another small, but meaningful step happened recently Milwaukee, as Leticia Miranda reports for RaceWire. Matt Nelson, a Milwaukee small business owner and spokesman for the Milwaukee Police Accountability Coalition, was harassed by police and threatened when he refused to reveal his Social Security Number (SSN) to an officer. Incensed, Nelson “pursued litigation of the officer filing a formal complaint against him,” appealing to the Milwaukee Fire and Commission, who oversees the Milwaukee Police Department.

The commission ruled that the officer was acting without any legal authority and issued guidelines for departments to clarify the issue [PDF memo]. While the Milwaukee ruling is definitely a victory, we must look closer at the many police departments that operate under the 287(g) provision to monitor any “less formal ‘agreements’ to find and arrest people who ‘look’ undocumented.”

Going back to San Francisco’s fight to adopt a measure restoring due process to undocumented youth: Mayor Gavin Newsom passed a law last summer that directs police who arrest undocumented youth to report them to ICE before any trial, leading to the deportation of undocumented youth for any perceived offense that leads them into police custody. The measure to restore due process was passed, and with enough margin to override a possible veto by the Mayor. Mayor Newsom has proclaimed he will disregard the ruling entirely, much like a certain Sheriff.

Writing for Salon, Joe Conason makes a good case for reframing the health care discussion as it pertains to immigrants. He points to the perverse “moral perspective of the nativists and politicians” that leap up to assure everyone that the undocumented will most certainly not be allowed to buy into health insurance. But what about families with undocumented parents and citizen children? It should never be “permissible to let the ‘illegals’ and their children suffer from illness and even die prematurely, so long as their condition poses no threat to the rest of us,” as Conason writes.

Finally, “a new joint U.S.-Mexico” study on children of Mexican parents finds that this demographic is already “one of the most vulnerable sectors in America’s health care system,” as New America Media reports. 86 percent of those studied were U.S. citizens. New America Media’s Odette Keeley questions Yurina Rico, public health editor for La Opinion, as to why these children are so often uninsured. According to Rico, these communities are often isolated from proper information on health care. Rico goes on to say that unfortunately, these disparities in health care are not being factored into health care policy discussions.

The U.S. has long way to go before it acts on the premise that—as lofty as it might sound—we really are one large human family. As Sojourner’s reminds us, even Americans of European origin have immigrant roots, and they’d do well to remember them.

The sooner our laws and health care and police activity reflect the importance of all members of this large human family, the healthier this nation will be.

Also featured at Huffington Post, America’s Voice, FDL, Talking Points Memo, Open Salon, DailyKos, Sanctuary, Open Left, Rabble, In These Times Blog


News With Nezua | Making Sense of Sinsemilla

October 20th, 2009 § 10 comments § permalink

This week’s News With Nezua looks back on the history of Marijuana, the racism involved with its prohibition, and how that prohibition still plays out as oppression on people of color. Also highlighted is the hypocrisy of alcohol and tobacco being so accepted while the benefits of Marijuana are ignored or simply coopted under Capitalism’s purview, while the People are left again to suffer. Finally, I underline the perverse way that the Mexican drug cartels are empowered and thus their violence enabled by our continuing an outdated, ridiculous ban on a substance that so many people use.

NWN videos headlines weekly at La Frontera Times (again, not their fault that it shows up a little late this week), and can always be viewed in a dark room, as well, at the XOLAGRAFIK Theater.

NWN0ct18 Since La Frontera Times runs this vid, and generally, Nuestra Voice picks it up too, I am trying to offer you a little more here at UMX so that I, the originator of the jawnt, am not just another place to see the videos. I guess I can show you the alternative poster stills to the video (that frame you see above in the  player) as a way of both giving you a goodie as well as relieving my frustration that I can’t use all the shots! I really like this red one here, it was my first choice. It feels somewhat like Russian Constructivism to me. And I also really dig hand-drawn art lately, as the stylings of the world are largely being expressed more and more in digital art. And no matter what digital art lacks a certain overly-irregular, tactile, human feel. I think the only reason I didn’t go with it is because I’ve done red a few times lately, at least in the NWN font, and I wanted to go a different way. Or that I wanted to communicate the playful feel of this weeks’ video, even tho a serious topic with an earnest message.

NWN-greenI like the way this drawing worked out, but it ws just a bit too monotone for me in the end, especially after last week’s.

As you may have guessed, a lot of scribbling went into this video. I wanted a break from the facetime stress. Sort of disappear behind the lens again for a bit. And I like the dynamic, I like bringing everything into that world, drawing Anslinger when I have a picture of him I could have used.

You may see a return of this style of video. It did not, ultimately, save me any time to not speak on camera, but it’s fun.

Finally, I got a huge kick out of the fact that the White House made the statement it did yesterday! It really would have been fun if I released this the day I do normally, which would have coincided with their announcement. But a big thumbs up for Barack Obama’s administration on this count. It’s a good step.


The Long War: Faces and Phases of Racism and Justice

October 20th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

halloween costumes

MAYBE YOU’VE SEEN THIS BY NOW. I wonder sometimes if my readers wonder when I don’t comment on stories that seem so very “Unapologetic Mexican.” I think the answer is not simple.

I think firstly, it’s sort of like why I don’t make the same drawn out post on Cinco de Mayo every year. Sometimes I link back, sometimes I may even totally not post on that day. You begin to feel a bit silly when you write out the same feelings and reasons for doing or not doing on a certain every year like clockwork. We change. The way we approach a day changes. Even if it remains the same feeling in our heart.

Then, too, there’s that feeling like “Oh, boy, I know I should post on this.” And sometimes defiantly responding to that voice is the voice of free will that says “But I am not inspired to blog on this now!” On a job, you don’t normally get to entertain such feelings. But since blogging does not pay me (not here, not in my blog), I can indulge those types of feelings. Thus, I’ve not commented at all on a few issues that have happened this week and provoked my thoughts and feelings, but I may.

illegal alien-thumb-500x375Another layer of my not blogging on very UMX-ish issues sometimes is that the world has changed since I began this, over three years ago. And I, too, have changed. We’ve changed together. One of the ways in which the world (and by “world” I mean the society I meet online through news sites and media messages and blogs and people on software and fones and teleconferences and conventions and conversations in bars, too) has changed is it is paying much more attention to things like this! One payoff (if it can be framed in such a way) to the focused hate and violence that has stepped up from the Normal, is that more “Liberals” and “good people” are saying  “Hey…it’s not cool if Mexicans are called sleaze!” or “Hey, people seem to be blaming a lot of crap on Mexicans and that’s not cool!” or “Hey, there’s a lot of messaging in the media that casts people of color in a gross way. And that’s not cool!”

Because, again, (a big) part of why I came out here and began this blog (which began at El Grito) was to add my voice to what felt like a deluge of anti-Mexican hate. I’m not saying all these voices are “here” forever, or see things as I do, or have the same aim…but overall, there is more company in exactly what I’m writing/saying most of the time.

Now, whereas issues would have once floated in the news ether a long, long time; or where I would’ve felt I was battling with only one or two people by my side, I look to my left and right quickly as I chug from my cantina and notice more and more people at the camp, polishing steel, dancing or eating in this army; unifying their voices behind these types of things. I don’t care why it happened, I’m glad, though. And not that I was alone, but now sometimes I feel okay sitting back because so many voices are carrying the fight. Seriously, just in the last three years I’ve seen a massive wave rise of pro-Latino, pro-immigrant voices, or coalesce. I’ve seen orgs form and I’ve been part of a number of efforts in activism. It’s very encouraging. Hell, the New York Times has written numerous articles just in the last few months that I never thought I’d see on their site.

So given these changes, it can be downright pleasant to keep working on other things, and watch my (proven or incidental) compas rouse up righteous around me. (I laugh at the possible funny chapter title now, “The Incidental Compa.” I think a very small demo would get that humor.)  I’m all “keep at it, I’ll get your back, bringin up the rear!”

But I guess there’s yet another layer as to why I let some things go by—especially things like these costumes that turn Mexicans (we know what that mustache is about) into aliens, that turn human beings into ugly villains, that throw another log of hate on the eternal bonfire of humanity.

MExicanAlienThose masks pretty much say everything about how this culture can make you feel growing up as a person of color. To me, those masks sort of just say it all. They tell you the responses a person of color (Mexican in this case) will get in response to those recurring and early questions you have as an individual in a society when you look around at the We, to see where you fit in.

Are They Like Me? and Am I One of You? and Am I Loved and Am I Special and Am I Beautiful? and Am I Happy to Be Here? and How Should I Add to This Group? and How Can I Return to Society What it Has Given Me?

The “immigration restrictionists” are always trying to pretend that “IT’S” not about “Mexicans” or people of color, “IT’S” about “unregulated immigration” etc. But I think they are a bit too clever when they go so far as to embrace products that draw no such distinction and they show their true face by doing so:

Picture 4

But of course William Gheen (“Psychotic” leader of ALIPAC) and Lou Dobbs stand up for products that underline their own oldwhiteracist/greezysleeezy views.

But we in the Latino comunidad are supposed to be confused about  this message?

I’ll toss a stone or two in the online comment-field fest, and I do more when I can and when I’m moved by imperative or need, and sometimes don’t get enough sleep in doing so. But I guess the final reason I come at some of these incidents in due time is a need to pace myself in all of it, in all the haywire back and forth. This fight won’t end with Lou (even the day I visit his grave to dance on it and yes I will, Lou), or masks in Walmart, or even Walmart, or comment threads that only reinforce that there’s a lot of the “We™” out there that feels the same as it ever did. Though, yes, all those things are parts of “it.”

But “it” is larger and longer and deeper than all of that. This is and has been a long, long war. This foul spirit that rises and repeats and seeks to make mi gente retreat has been tearing at the land and the skin of the face and the hands of my people for hundreds of years.

Still we breathe, still we love, still we grow. Still, we fight.

Tomorrow, we will do the same. And the day after that, so will our children.


Dia de la Luna!

October 20th, 2009 § 5 comments § permalink

LUNITA cracks me up. She is clearly not content to be an audience member. We need to find this little girl some dance classes.

Although I do very much enjoy her Horse Stance Style. I think she’s on to something.


CNN Loves Lou Dobbs’ Leprous Lies More Than It Values Latino Lives

October 15th, 2009 § 11 comments § permalink

LeprousLou2-by-nezuaIT’S FUNNY. In the middle of June of this year—when Brisenia and Raul Flores were murdered by Shawna Forde and Eugene Bush and nobody was covering it—CNN got a lil bold, via Rick Sanchez, who can be cool on the situation when he wants to be. And by bold, I mean that someone repping his show got in touch with me and asked if I’d agree to being on a shortlist of people to speak/give opinion etc on immigration related matters, or at least this incident specifically. The cat from CNN repping Rick Sanchez’ slot mentioned that they wanted some voices/opinions unlike Lou Dobbs...which made me laugh and in my immediate honest reaction I forgot that CNN was the same station that did both shows and started riffin’ about how that was a pretty low bar and so on and basically was just real about how most people I know think Lou Dobbs is a crazy ass relic etc and only later it hit me that I said this to a CNN person…not that I regret it, I’m glad I got the chance to offer my feelings on good ole lou. But it made me laugh to realize a little later that it was the same channel.

My point is, clearly CNN sees the writing on the wall. And surely they know it’s only a matter of time until Dinosaur Lou ambles off into the acrid back pages of history; that this nation is way different a demographic than Lou imagines, that as fondly we all remember the Cleavers and the Hollies, this is the age of the Obamas and the Garcias! The smart move? CNN really oughtta go balls out for the “We are down with Latinos”; with “We are of this new day,” and just ice Lou, just get with the inevitable and pose like they are ahead of the curve. Because that would gain them a lot of cred, I’d guess, to the Latinos paying attention right now. CNN should just take the cash from the Ad buy that America’s Voice offered them to place this slick lil spot below during their Latino in America special.

But they turned it down. Ouch!

But, but, but what about…what about our shared journey and your sincere desire to “explore the diverse experiences and challenging issues facing Latinos in America”? I’m not feeling the love, yanno?

CNNito! Showing yourself to be in solidarity with the old, old, oldschool-white supremacist’s crew (Arpaio, Rush, Beck, Lou, Buchanan, O’Reilly, Imus, the list goes on, but not for too much longer) soon to exit Cultural Scene Right? and right before your much hyped Latino special? Not a good look, mi gente. Not at all. And you, as TV people, oughtta know this.

But then again, you are making it clear, eh? You don’t really care too much about what it’s like to be Latino in America.


Weekly Diaspora: Moving Immigration Reform Forward

October 15th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

[For those new to UMX, The Weekly Diaspora is a (paid) article I write for The Media Consortium. It is a column that runs on a few other sites, as well. (Linked at end of post.)]


By Nezua, Media Consortium Blogger

A crowd of thousands gathered on Capitol Hill Tuesday, to lobby for and support immigration reform, as Debayani Kar writes for RaceWire. Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus “presented his key principles for comprehensive immigration reform” at the rally. They include:

[A] pathway to legalization for undocumented workers, more effective border enforcement, humane treatment of immigrant detainees, labor protections, improved worker verification system, protections for family unification, improved employment-based visa system, farm worker protections, strengthening of the DREAM Act, and promoting immigrant integration.

Kar writes that Gutierrez’s “ten key principles for inclusion” would be “an important step in the right direction,” though his outline seems “intentionally vague.” The rally and Gutierrez’ planned bill are important milestones as we work towards comprehensive reform. They are also necessary.

Also on Tuesday, Nevada citizens held a vigil to “stress importance of the [immigration] issue,” as Chris Thomas reports for Public News Service. Immigration reform is of critical importance in a state like Nevada, “Where immigrants make up nearly 20% of the population and 14% of the voters.” The vigils were focused on “stopping immigration raids,” which cause great stress to families and often result in detainment of innocent people.

The immigrant community has been historically scapegoated in times of worry or hardship. Today is no different. As Wiretap Mag reports, the Senate Finance Committee passed a health care bill on Tuesday that “explicitly excludes” undocumented immigrant communities. The bill denies the most vulnerable among us “[t]he ability to participate in the insurance exchange that will let consumers shop for coverage,” as M. Junaid Levesque-Alam writes. In other words, it wasn’t enough that taxpayer funds, which working undocumented pay into via payroll and sales taxes, will not be alloted toward the undocumented. The bill disallows these people from buying into any health care plan, even with money they’ve earned. It seems an unnecessary and even cruel step to take.

One has to wonder what drives people to be so destructive and amoral. José Morales at Sojourners thinks it is fear. “Immigration is not a threat to national security; it is a threat to national identity,” Morales writes. He connects the thought deftly to those who “use ‘diversity’ and ‘multicultural’ language” but ultimately avoid “the real task at hand: de-white-supremification” of how we view immigrants and immigration. “Just as post-bellum white southerners feared a black cultural revolution and thus acted in horrific, dehumanizing ways to squelch any inkling of Afro-cultural insurgency,” he writes, “the cultural majority today fears specifically a Latino-cultural revolution which will rob them of their power to set the ‘norm.'”

Pundit Lou Dobbs fits tidily into this group. His employer, CNN, has been given notice by Latinos nationwide. CNN is revving up to broadcast an annual special called Latino in America with Soledad O’Brien but there’s one problem: Latinos in America are not feeling very warm about CNN thanks to their support of Dobbs, as Roberto Lovato writes for AlterNet. Lovato spent two weeks “talking to Latino communities about Lou Dobbs and CNN,” and what he heard was “an unexpected unity” and an “intense concern” over CNN’s hypocrisy. With the stakes as high as they are for Latinos these days, dealing with a rising number of hate crimes against our communities, those who Lovato spoke to overwhelmingly do not support the idea that “A few hours of serious reporting on Latinos by sunny Soledad O’Brien can make up for thousands of hours of anti-Latino extremism from the dark Lou Dobbs.”

The Colorado Independent reports on the efforts to oust Dobbs by “National advocacy group Presente and an increasing number of regional groups, including the Colorado Latino Forum.” They feature video (below) that award-winning filmmaker and 26 year-old Mexican immigrant Arturo Perez crafted for the campaign. Presente asks CNN to choose between “Lou Dobbs, or Latinos in America?”

Another item that specifically focuses on immigrants is the approaching 2010 Census. Marcelo Ballve reports on the efforts of Senator David Vitter (R-LA), who is “is demanding the 2010 Census ask about immigration status in order to ‘prevent states from counting’ those who entered the country illegally.”

Undoubtedly, those new to our voting rolls and Census counts will become an accepted part of our country before long. Efforts to deny health, opportunity and equality to humans as deserving of these things as you and I, will seem gross and repugnant. Until then, those of us who harbor such a vision must continue feeding progress and building momentum.

Also featured at Huffington Post, America’s Voice, GritTV/FDL, Talking Points Memo, Open Salon, DailyKos, Sanctuary, MyDD, Open Left, Rabble, In These Times Blog


CNN: Stroke You With One Hand, Knife You With The Other

October 14th, 2009 § 2 comments § permalink

A LONG TIME NEMESIS OF THIS BLOG (evident by the inclusion of his name in the UMX header since day one in May of 2006) is under attack! Lou Dobbs comes under more and more scrutiny as the nation tires of his personal vendetta and obvious mental imbalance that skews toward the vile and the hateful. Soon, CNN will be blaring their Latino in America special at us, as if they don’t contribute to the animosity and eventual murder that finds its way to our communities. I don’t watch them anyway, but I do think they need to make up their mind. You can’t have it both ways, CNN. Or rather, you can, and do and have been (like every other corporation in this world) until the People hold you to account. I think that’s what’s happening. So take note.

[PS, this video is pretty tight and that’s cuz one skilled vato produced it.]


News With Nezua | Our Post-Racial Paradise

October 12th, 2009 § 4 comments § permalink

Picture 2HOLA! Let me sweep you away to Racist Island, where nobody EVERRR thinks of vacationing! Wow, what a fun time I had building that particular skit. I couldn’t stop layering on sounds and it really came to life in my mind as a very nasty, sulphurous sort of location where nobody really has much fun at all.

Jerry  Jackalorde (in foto at left) is beginning to take shape as a character. He is now the Official XOLAGRAFIK Post Racial Blogger. I think he first appeared as “Joe Blogger,” in News With Nezua: Crisis In Civility or even before that, before he had a name, he stepped into the frame as some relative of the “White-Half Man” in News With Nezua, Crazy Old White Guys Edition. It will be fun to see where Jerry goes from here, and who else steps in. I have a character or two waiting in the wings, actually. This idea, these ideas tumble and brew for a while, sometimes growing forth from years of play and thought…and messing with my hat collection.

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Picture 7Anyway, I won’t give it all away but I have to note that this News With Nezua vid is twelve minutes and has to be THE most ambitious video I’ve shot in this category yet, if not for a long time altogether. The ideas I set up in the script were challenging, but I love an excuse for a good skit. If I had another week with it, I’d probably add one more skit toward the end, or in some way flush out the second half a bit with less talking-head, but it’s time to move on, no more time for this one.

If it makes you smile or laugh and think at all, I’ll be happy. At the end of these sessions I have to trust in the script that I came up with on Friday, because when it’s 3 am on Monday morning and you are editing your own cursed voice for the fiftieth time on a certain phrase, you can’t even tell anymore if it makes sense! But it was a lot of fun, I’ll say that one more time.

Picture 13

Keep an eye open in the not-too-distant future as I may be working an amigo into the NWN scene for brief hitchcockian camos or whatnot. Which oughtta be fun.

As always, if you prefer to view in a dark room, check out News With Nezua: Our Post Racial Paradise at the XOLAGRAFIK Theater. And just for fun, drop by La Frontera Times to see how they choose to headline this jammie.


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