These questions/responses are culled from years of email or comment threads. You may find them simply amusing or personally useful.
What is the history of UMX?
The Unapologetic Mexican–as a blog and a character–began on May 1 of 2006 during a time I was feeling a strong urge to show and provide solidarity to others with indian lineage sur la frontera but raised in the USA; with those who had migrated from Mexico and were living as an underclass in the USA; and with all other people perceived by the public and media at large as “Latinos,” or from below “the border.” It is tied to the moment I decided to leave my house and document a demonstration that workers in the garment district of new york were holding, for better treatment. It is born from the days I became active, politically. It is tied to my small connection of dear memories of mi abuelita, my nanita. And my father. And where we come from. It was an act of self love.
Blogging allowed me to push back on the hateful noise I kept hearing and reading in media. It continued on as I educated myself, and began sketching out the shapes of roots and tracks of tears and rivers of blood in the sand, hidden from sight. I explored the living, still writhing, capillaries that attach our cultures, this connection (sometimes shaped like a ravine, sometimes like a bridge) that I feel all Xican@s understand. I shared that with people as I did. It then became a place I and others could engage activism in the immigration reform issue, and served very much as a place to tackle racism in the media and in US culture. Through the blog, I found many opportunities to attend events and share the news of happenings with readers of my blog. It began as a simple motion, like throwing your arms up to knock away a quickly approaching object. It began as a block, it (surprisingly) became a city. Even when I am not here, others still read and remind me that they do. I’m so very grateful that it gives to people, because I’ll admit it really was a selfish thing at the start. I could not keep myself quiet any longer.
What would you say your blog is about today, in 2014?
I felt, after a time, that I had shared my feelings on everything in the news, and that the news wasn’t changing in any fundamental way…only increments of the same lean, and I was becoming redundant. And while writing flurries would bring ad money when I had ads here, I have never been the type to write for rote or for too long for something as mundane as money and money alone. So you will see me write when the spirit moves.
My blogging has slowed down a lot. A lot! It’s not the common style “blog” anymore, where I’ll pound out ferocity every day or even every week. That is not how I feel. Life continually changes shape and as it has, my blogging has served different purposes, taken different forms, appeared in different venues, and has employed many voices. I rotated away from UMX, and also for health issues. The news is a cancer of the mind, and blogging very much relies on regularly immersing oneself in The News as if the product is valuable, credible, and healthy. It is not.
Yet, today I do still want to write about my experience of the world, of life and love…and yeah–about politics, too. But I do see my role evolving here.
So…let’s find out.
What is your blog most definitely not about?
My blog is not about knee-jerk reaction, or about argumentative threads, about defending myself, about being right, about ego, about speaking for anyone else. I won’t engage these things too much. I will delete ugly comments, unless I want to respond to make a point. I want to provide a safe place where we can turn the popular standards on their head. Because the popular standards (in much US media) are overwhelmingly misogynist, small–minded, greed-driven, superficially oriented, racist, bullying, homophobic, mocking of the Different, and hierarchical to murderous degrees.
Are you a US Citizen?
Yes, I was born in the US. In Los Angeles, in 1969. That means I win the golden ticket, having landed en la planeta a bit north of a bloody rumor that winds through the desert and carries barbs and sometimes bullets or sunbaked bones as reminders. However, this does not mean I am better, above, more worthy, or somehow superior to someone without the golden ticket of US citizenship. I simply connected from the womb of a human woman to the skin of the planet earth in Los Angeles, in 1969. That happenstance bestowed certain ideas that were crafted by others upon my self and my life. I never agreed to those ideas.
Are you “Racist Against Whites?”
When it comes down to it, it really doesn’t matter how I personally feel about “whites.” I guess the Wite response would be to say “my mother is white!” or “my wife was white!” but that all misses the point that racism is about treacherously reinforced battle plans, body counts, and psychological violence that-in this and many countries–does not stack up against those seen as “white.”
That’s my smartypants way of saying “people of color cannot, by definition, be ‘racist’ against whites.”
What I am concerned with are powerful systems (banks, police, companies that employ, insure, protect, or don’t) operating half-cloaked in a concerted manner with individuals that have historically served to target certain communities of which I am either a member, or not. (E.g.: Mexicanos, Jews, Women, Gays, Intersexed people, children….and so on.) I’m also concerned with seeing people. And hearing them. Letting some groups of people know I am there for them. And letting others know that I see them.
I have plenty of feelings and personal reflections upon whites, Mexicans, Irish, indigenous, urban, rural, East coast, West coast. But when I speak and act out here it is not a personal issue on your end, unless somebody makes it personal.
I’ve read online that you are “a well-respected Anti-Racist.” Is that true?
I greatly appreciate the positive things people have said about my writing and actions. I do not think of myself as an “Anti Racist.” No. Nor, really, as an “activist.” I do think of myself as a writer, and an artist, and a person with generally strong feelings about my experience on Earth so far, and I spend time thinking about what that means to me as I go on, as I always have. And I act on those feelings. I may smack a racist with words or other manifestations of matter, but I don’t see myself as being in such a category.
A few things impressed me as I grew into the world. It felt to me that some things needed to be confronted, changed, or destroyed while other things were yet to be, and needed to be imagined, explored, created. So that’s what I try to do. Make the world a little bit more as I think it should be in various ways. This will mean different things at different times.
Are you a an Anarchist? A Democrat? An Independent? A Communist?
I changed my voter registration to “Democratic Party” in order to vote for Barack Obama in the 2008 primaries. It has since been changed back. Regardless, I am not a member of any of these parties listed above. I could never be, at least not permanently. I’m not a thing already known and talked about. I just want to speak and imagine and do little things that might resemble a world that doesn’t threaten my sanity. That’s what I am.
But you do stake out very firm political positions. Wasn’t your blog once billed as “The Revolutionary’s Rag”? And wasn’t the design once very red? What about the references to Communist artifacts, like El Machete? You grew up in communal settings raised by dropouts from society, I read. Are you at least a Radical Leftist? Give me something to work with for those who require a label.
I like red a lot. It’s one of my favorite wavelengths. It has less to do with politics than it does with chroma, with photo-kinetic energy, with emotion.
Sociologically and ethically, I do think once a group of people cluster together and call themselves a group and fashion a tribal identity and borders as the US has, then the social body owes a degree of consideration and protection to the poorest and most vulnerable of that group. That, to me, is common sense and common morality, if ever there could be such a thing.
I grew up in communal settings and households and I do think there is much to be said for that, over the haunting isolation that so many practice in a heavily individualist society. But I do not owe allegiance to, nor am I interested in instituting any political paradigm nor religion, specifically.
Politically, yes, I would admit that on the typically discussed “Left/Right” continuum, I am often to the left of mainstream Liberal conversation. Radical? Hmmm. Dunno.
The subhed of the blog (as well as the comic book font it is rendered in) is both a signifier as to what type of political frame to expect as well as a bit of a laugh at myself to keep the head in line.
I think humans (overall) have yet to learn how to take care of themselves and the world, and it is especially clear that Capitalism (as practiced in the US, at least) has not worked out so well for 99% of its own populace, and is collapsing in the nation that has most proudly extolled its benefits. So something needs to be rethought. But what it is, I have no name for.
I don’t like your tone.
Yeah! This part is neither original nor interesting.
Why do minorities expect some special embrace from everyone? Isn’t blogging or talking continually about oppression just some kind of victim shtick?
My journey has always been not just to improve upon the world as I feel I must, it has been at the same time, to better myself. Here and now, I engage both friends and fights to certain ends. Together, as we twist and tumble, we are an alchemy of beauty as well as instability. We are the world reshaping in better ways, and it is not a peaceful process at all times. Even if that is where we aim our feet. We meet now on the stone steps of a gorgeous midnight pavillion. This time next year, the moon will have moved on, and so will we have moved on. Throughout it all, I seek to be truer to myself and the world, both. For that, I need not look for a stranger’s approval nor mark of redemption.
Please note there is no talk of victimhood in that paragraph.
Why are you so singleminded of purpose? Do you think everything has to do with race?
In the U.S.A.? Well. Consider, please, how we began here. Vicious, unethical, brutal and genocidal war on the land’s people. Enslavement of others who have borne the weight of not just that original dehumanization, but the residual and modern and complexly normalized and invisibled (tho just as deadly) hate. Using and discarding and legislating against and bringing violence against the Chinese and Japanese immigrants, after they have given blood and sweat for infrastructure and American wealth. O, man. The few things we all do together that are not affected by these origins and their descendant energies I am happy to feature in this blog, so please submit what those items might be to my contact page and I will consider it.
The truth is, I can see it as a legitimate question if this is the only way you know or perceive me. But think, that’s kind of like asking someone why they use pencils so much if you only see them at their drawing table.
It is a mistake to imagine this blog is a direct translation of me, or that it is All That I Am. It is a place and an energy, and I come here to do certain work. It is hardly capable of communicating the entirety of my being.
If you are curious as to what other shapes I take, please do visit the other places I make words or art. You can find those places linked at the top right of the sidebar or around.
Seriously, though…you write on this stuff a lot. I have a question on ethnicity/race. What’s wrong with being “white”? Am I just stuck in a “bad guy” role if I’m white?
Really, I don’t have answers to these kinds of things. I write from my own experience, not from some desire or ability to help any other person necessarily with their own identification. But I know exploring identity is not easy for anyone, when done the right way. Tim Wise seems to be able to talk to those who identify as white most successfully, though. I can’t make that my center. It’s hard for whites to hear me talk about these things. It unsettles the mind, especially a mind used to thinking of a “Mexican” voice and stance a certain way. Those ones have a hard time even seeing me, the person I am, beyond the decor.
Further, they suspect what is true: I have Something To Gain, which casts doubt on my words in their eyes. Being a Xicano talking about Mexican immigrants or Latino community issues, well—to some, this means I have an agenda. And they are right.
Respect. Truth. Room.
The fact that such simple goals poses me as some kind of radical to more than a few people says so much more about the US culture and typical mindset than anything else I can add! But okay, I’ll grant the label, finally. I do think a radical departure from where we are now as a People is necessary. I do think it’s that, or destruction by our own hands and our own confusion. It doesn’t need to be that way. And that idea is a core of why I write here.