January 9, 2013
I know most of my readers probably don’t speak or read Spanish. That’s fine. It’s a lovely language and has been used to write some sublimely beautiful prose and poetry in the last few hundred years. This sign, however, is not one of them.
It’s a sign outside a playground in Delware. Nothing too out of place, right? However, if you know Spanish, the bottom half becomes a bit worrisome. It reads:
“You need permission to play in this playground. Violators will be subject to police action.”
Now, I’ve done a little bit of translating in my time. Mary intends to make a career out of out. I’ve seen some lazy, often hilarious translations. This, though, is two totally different messages. It’s not a typo. It’s not a matter of someone pressing the wrong letter on the keyboard. As Addicting Info reported, the sign is in the most conservative section of the Delaware but has a 15.8% Hispanic population. Daily Kos also reported that the school board apparently didn’t know about the signs and they have since been taken down. There were apparently some signs that had the Spanish version and the English version match up and say police action would be taken.
Maybe the people who put them up really didn’t know Spanish and just assumed the translations were accurate. Whatever the case, they were up for a full year. Someone had to have said something. It seems as though the signs went down after the town started getting online flak.
Someone wanted the signs to be intimidating as evidenced by the fact that the white signs also had a proper translation from Spanish to English. This is the kind of crap I’m always talking about. Language has a purpose. It can comfort, scare, or just inform. Why weren’t non-Spanish-speaking children warned of police action if they violated the rules? You should already know where I’m going with this.
Racism is ugly. It’s hard to really understand it if you’ve never experienced it. It can burn a hole in you, make you as untrustworthy and cynical as the people who do this kind of crap. Part of me hopes the superintendant really didn’t know and his show of personally removing the signs was sincere.
But the cynic in me says it’s doubtful. It’d like to be wrong.
And now, for slightly more uplifting things, here are the people who wished they’d had a better December.
Author’s Note: I realize some people prefer the terms “Hispanic” or “Chicano.” I personally refer to myself as “Mexican-American” since I’m a first-generation immigrant. I know we all have our preference, but for the purpose of this article, I’m sticking with Ann Romney’s terminology.
Ann Romney is not running for office, but her recent remarks about the Latino community show the Right’s mentality on minority votes and, on a personal level, showed her contempt for people like me.
At a recent luncheon, Mrs. Romney went on about how Latinos need to understand that the GOP, and her husband in particular, are working in the best interest of Latinos in this country. She gushed over how much damage another Obama presidency will do to us and how we’re just uninformed about current issues and policies.
It’s us, not them, she tells us.
I like to think my arguments are better than just flinging insults or calling names, but I would like to vent a little steam before starting by saying that Ann Romney sounds like any abusive husband on a Lifetime movie telling his battered wife that it’s her fault she’s on the ground doubled over.
Let me explain. Ann Romney said:
“I spoke to women last night and I wanted women to understand how important this election is for their children. But as I was sitting backstage listening, I thought, it’s also very important that the Latino community recognize how important this election is for them.”
I like how she talks about women and mothers and that need to protect the family but seems to think Latinos don’t have those concerns or are somehow different. It sounds like nitpicking her grammar, but it actually makes sense a little later.
“And [Latinos] are mistaken if they think they are going to be better off with Barack Obama as their president. There really is only one way for prosperity, for small business, and that is, this is the simplest way I can say this: If Mitt Romney wins, America wins.”
Mrs. Romney’s assertion that helping small businesses is the best way to help the country falls apart for two reasons. Firstly, she assumes that corporate profits equal social prosperity. They don’t. The top earners in this country have had incredible success in the last several years, but the middle class hasn’t seen significant improvement in THIRTY YEARS. Small businesses are another matter. Yes, they could be doing better, but the self-serving nature of the Romney/Ryan plan is another case. It will hurt not just Latinos, but everyone.
It’s when Mrs. Romney starts talking about why Latinos are specifically deaf to the GOP that I start to put the pieces together.
“You’d better really look at your future and figure out who’s going to be the guy that’s going to make it better for you and your children, and there is only one answer… It really is a message that would resonate well if [Latinos] could just get past some of their biases that have been there from the Democratic machines that have made us look like we don’t care about this community. And that is not true. We very much care about you and your families and the opportunities that are there for you and your families.”
If I may, I would like to address Ann Romney directly.
October 25, 2011
The Fox story goes something like this. Schools are banning Halloween celebrations because they don’t want kids eating candy and they want to not exclude anyone who doesn’t believe in the celebration, i.e. immigrants. But allow me to let Ren and Stimpy here to say it far more stupidly than I ever could.
This, of course, ignores various points. Let me go over them rapid-fire style.
The schools are banning candy to help kids eat healthier.
The celebrations are not being banned. They’re being moved to after-school so the parties won’t disrupt classes.
Likewise, kids can still wear costumes, but so as not to distract from valuable class time, the kids may wear the costumes after school.
Some of the kids cannot afford costumes because of tough economic situations, and this led to hurt feelings and isolation. Worrying about other people’s feelings is NOT a liberal conspiracy. It’s called basic human decency.
Now let me get to the one major point of contention for me.
Immigrants are offended by Halloween? If anything, I think Halloween is TAME by the standards of most immigrants. Take me for instance. I come from a culture that doesn’t celebrate Halloween, but instead has a holiday where we lay out altars dressed in food, flowers, and booze so the spirits of our dead relatives can visit us. We INVITE the ghosts in. Little Timmy in his Situation costume? Lame. We deal with real ghosts.
The only reason I can assume an immigrant would be offended or feel left out by Halloween is if he or she did not know what it was. Seeing things like spirits and magic treated like a kid’s game might be offensive to some who hold on to beliefs that treat them as real, and I’m sure a lot of pagans and Wiccans take offense to things like the portrayal of witches. The celebration’s spread around the world, though it’s only here in the States that it seems to have attained the kind of holy reverence once reserved for Christmas. Halloween is not some sacred rite here. It’s a fully commercialized day where kids get hopped up on sugar, get to play dress-up, and women are made to dress like pseudo-hookers.
War on Halloween? Please. If we immigrants are somehow tainting the purity of this Americanized pagan harvest observance, it’s only because we know what the season is really about.
And now, in an effort to make you think nothing but good thoughts, here’s Michael Winslow doing Led Zeppelin with only his sound effects and a guitar. This is the sound of pure, distilled awesome.
September 5, 2011
Okay, so I didn’t figure out this week’s Weekly Muse. I actually feel really bad about that. You stumped me, dear reader, so hopefully I’ll figure out the new set of suggestions.
In the meantime, let’s talk about racial slurs. Grab the popcorn, kids. This is going to be fun, and it features my favorite clown, Becky Boy.
This little rant starts off with some pretty general advice. Be true to yourself, know who you are, and stand for what you believe even as you are pushed by the world to believe something else. Nothing wrong there… and then it goes into strange territory that makes basic logic look like a Lovecraftian nightmare.
Beck claims that when people come after you for your beliefs, they are using radical leftist strategies like Saul Alinsky. He says that when someone tries to correct you or make you think something else besides the truth (the truth being determined by whether or not said belief is held by the Tea Party), that person should be ignored at all costs.
And as you know, Beck had a neat little rally in Israel and followed it up with tours of Africa and South America. Suffice to say, Beck comes across as the kind of man who’s probably still mystified by things like the Civil Rights Movement and all those pesky brown people asking for things “normal” Americans have.
It started when he and his co-hosts, Thing 1 and Thing 2, asked how silly they felt calling blacks “African Americans” when they traveled to other countries.
Beck: “How can people be one thing in one country and nowhere else in the world?”
Cohost 1: “That’s such a great point. What are you supposed to say? Is there a… what is the acceptable term?”
Cohost 2: “We don’t know. We don’t know-”
Beck: “Black. Black.”
Cohost 2: “African British? African-”
Beck: “BLACK! BLACK!”
Let’s back up for a moment. You don’t call blacks “African American” in other countries because they’re not IN AMERICA. Enigma solved.
Secondly, there isn’t ONE term for any group. Some people prefer “African American” because they’d like to identify with that part of their heritage. The same goes for anyone who is Mexican American, Iraqi American, German American, Irish American, whatever. It’s an option, and I understand some people don’t like to think in those terms. They call themselves “American” because that’s how they see themselves. Fine. It’s their choice, and if I called someone “African American” and was chastised for doing so, I would just apologize.
There’s a similar social problem with my particular sociological group. I call myself “Mexican American” because I’m a first-generation immigrant. I’m a citizen. I also call myself “Hispanic,” although this is mostly related to race, not nationality. Two or three generations down, if my descendants live in this country, I would have no problem if they just called themselves “Hispanic.” Why? It’s a description of who and what they are.
But Beck and company act as though we’re somehow forced to use the term “African American,” like it’s some kind of federal standard. But let’s keep going as they actually manage to show ignorance of basic tact.
Cohost 1: “Just like ‘white,’ you’d think that-”
Beck: “It’s BLACK. In South America… I mean South Africa, it’s ‘black’ and ‘colored.’ I don’t remember the difference, but there is a difference. One is…”
Cohost 2: “One is indigenous, the other comes from somewhere else.”
Beck: “Yes, and I don’t remember which one’s which, but I think even ‘Indian’ came in. I think it was also like ‘colored’ that meant ‘Indian’ or elsewhere.”
They actually acknowledge that different terms mean different things, that they’re used to refer to different people based on background… and about ten seconds later, they go ahead and ignore that. Pay attention, though. They’re starting to show hints of disgust at people identifying as something other than what these three morons think is acceptable.
Behold the kind of myopic stupidity that usually requires a full-frontal lobotomy.
Cohost 1: “But we have been taught here that ‘colored’ is really a bad thing to say, ‘cause, ‘What color are they?’ Well, okay, so you got us to stop saying that, but in other parts of the world, they still do.”
Beck: “Yeah, and it’s NOT a bad thing! Only here! Why are we made to feel bad? Notice this? ‘African American’ wasn’t made to do anything except try to create a superman. ‘Oh, don’t you try to feel bad about yourself! You’re African American!’ No, you’re an American. Instead of building the country up and saying, ‘Lookit! We all have the right here in this country. Look what might happen with Martin Luther King. That makes you an AMERICAN. Judge not by the color of your skin.’”
I’m actually still trying to figure out what Beck was trying to say in this little ramble. One thought flows into another like a concrete truck into a brick wall. He complains that “African American” is some term designed to make people feel good about themselves, yet he’s one of the major proponents of American exceptionalism, the belief that America is great just because it is America. If you follow the link, you’ll see how racially tinged these believes can get.
And “African American” has nothing to do with skin color. It’s a description of background. Technically, Charlize Theron is African American. That’s her background. And now Beck turns in the insensitivity dial to 11.
Beck: “And you weren’t over in Africa! Your great-great-grandfather was. Your great-great-great-grandfather may have been, but you weren’t! And sure this country SUCKED for blacks. BEYOND sucked! For a long time. But it doesn’t now. It doesn’t now. Be proud to be an American.”
I really don’t know what position Beck holds any more. He keeps saying our country is great, yet he’s ranted about how crappy it’s become. It’s like he’s gorging on cake while complaining it tastes like crap.
Oh, and that bit about blacks having had a hard time? Well, you wouldn’t know it from his show, since he’s talked about how slaves had it nice back in the day. Really.
Cohost 2: “I’ve always felt it’s such an insult. The idea of ‘African American.’ That they for some reason need to have-”
Beck: “Special help.”
Cohost 2: “Not even special help, just a distinction as if they’re different from us. They’re Americans just like us. Hundred percent Americans. They deserve every right, and they have the same responsibility everyone else has.”
Us? Who is “us?” There is no such thing as “average American.” There isn’t, so I can only assume that Cohost 2 thinks whites are the standard American model. It’s like that idiot student in California who said Asians should we glad we let them study at “our” university, as if whites were the standard by which all Americans are judged.
And now Beck shows his hand and we get to the real complaint.
Beck: “The thing is… it makes people afraid. That’s the key. It makes other people afraid. If we’re afraid to say something, and we all are, you’re afraid to say something because you don’t want to offend- Americans are good. Americans are kind. Not all of them. But we are great because we are good. Why do you think we said ‘handicapable’? Because we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. They’ve been using this! It’s our Achilles heel! Have. No. Fear. Dismiss these ‘human rights’ frauds!”
And there it is! It’s not that he’s upset people are being labeled or that labels exist. It’s because he somehow thinks that “they” have made “us” use terms like “African American” so we don’t offend anyone.
Here’s the problem. The word “colored” is pretty offensive to a lot of people. It has connotations of a Jim Crowe era. And Beck knows why we use certain terms. He’s discovered the liberal conspiracy.We’re trying to be police thought by using appropriate terminology. And we’re so gorram nice that we fall for things like taking into account cultural and personal sensitivities. How dare we not call them black “colored”? They have color, right?
Note how Beck and company don’t actually understand why the word “colored” is offensive. They just wonder why we don’t all have one word we can use when referring to a particular group. That’d be nice, right? Having a nice, standardized way to strip culture and self-identity, having society determine who and what we are based on government affiliation?
And if you believe that, please register with the nearest Tea Party group. They have some nice tin foil for you to make your new set of hats.
May 6, 2011
When my grandfather died a few weeks ago, it was the third of three people (two family, one a friend), that I had to say goodbye to. It’s been a rough year, what with the financial con-job I worked at for a few months, the wedding next year, and upcoming novel complete with contest, I’ve been stressed like no other time in my life. I wrote two thesis as an undergrad in one year and I still don’t think this matches that level stress.
But yesterday was Cinco de Mayo, Mary’s last day of class, and I felt like cooking something.
I was going to make fish, but I figured I could make some pico de gallo, salchicha, and… I was stuck for a while. What dish could really capture Mexican pride and simulataniously satisfy a 12-hour work day full of class, work, and research papers?
My grandfather gave me the answer…
When he cooked, the man COOKED. Years ago, he gave me the recipe for his carne asada, Mexican grilled meat, and I’ve tried to make it for a long time with little success in replicating his unique flavor. I mean, the meat was good, but it wasn’t the same. It was like a photocopy of a photocopy. It just didn’t feel right.
I think I got it.
When my grandparents cook, there is never such a thing as a recipe. They go more by instinct than anything else. They know the specific parts of the dish much like I would know the overall themes and ideas for a story or poem, but I could never really teach someone one perfect way of getting those ideas down on paper. In the same way, they don’t really measure their ingredients, but instead put them in as needed. It’s taken me years to get this close to the actual recipe. I have it written down, but it’s like trying to learn another language by reading it.
I’m close. So close.
Any self-respecting Mexican knows how to cook. My uncle could make chimichurri from scratch or whip up a caldo de rez to make you forgo vegetables for a month. My grandmother makes delicious dishes with everything from bell peppers to chicken. She’s like Midas with food.
While he was alive, I tried to replicate my grandfather’s recipe. Now, with him gone and only my memories and a piece of paper to guide me, I’ll keep trying to reach that pinnacle of flavor he created so many times for us on special occasions. It’s like kendo training… I’ll just keep going for the rest of my life, getting ever closer to that elusive perfection.
And I’m okay with that.
Years ago, I wrote a poem for my grandfather and his skills. I figured it was appropriate today. Scroll afterwards for the links, and I hope none of you did anything regrettable on Cinco de Mayo.
Dried leaves and sticks,
Crushed color and aroma
From plants I could never pronounce.
Papi kept them in plastic bags and jars,
Autumn in a pantry, an old hechicero’s2 alchemy.
He summoned a nation with each dish:
August heat, like the Tamaulipan desert,
Unyielding, like El Grito de Dolores3,
Or cool and green, like a Cuernavacan4 spring,
Subtle as a pretty morena’s5 wink.
One bite and you thought you’d die
From the cinnamon burn in your blood
And la lengua cortada6 would make you mute.
A bowl of pozole7 was a hundred miles of fields
And boiled muscles under the Aztec sun.
The heat in our tingling veins sang
A slow mariachi ballad,
The living history of our family,
And the old hechicero sat and listened,
While fragrant Mexican autumn filled the room.
1“Ahl-kee-MIS-tah”: Spanish for “alchemist”
2“Eh-CHi-SE-roh”: a sorcerer
3Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest in Mexico, gave what is known as “The Yell of Dolores.” On the morning of September 16, 1810, he rang the church bells and called on the people of Mexico to rise up against the Spanish, calling out “Mexicans, long live Mexico! Long Live the Virgin [Mary] of Guadalupe! Long Live Fernando VII! Death to the evil government!”
4The city of Cuernavaca is known as “The City of Eternal Spring” for its mild weather and seasonal rainfalls.
5Morena(o) is a term for someone who is darker skinned, and most likely has native Mexican blood in their heritage.
6“LEN-gwa cohr-TA-da” literately means “cut tongue.” It is an expression used to symbolize the feeling of very spicy meals on the tongue. Even people accustomed to spicy dishes reach their limit when they proclaim they have a “cut tongue.”
7“Po-SOH-leh” is a traditional Mexican dish, similar to a stew, made with cacahuacintle corn, pork, and guajillo peppers. It is often topped with radishes, lettuce, onion, lemon juice, dried oregano, and powdered chili. It has a very strong aroma and taste.
Link time! And yeah, the comic’s hilarious if you know Spanish. If enough people ask, I’ll translate it.
- Neil Gaiman accepted a speaking fee and got called out by a state representative… who promptly apologized for his insult because his mother made him.
- Flo, aka the girl from Progressive commercials, did a commercial that let her show off her other entertainment skills. The video is locked, but it’s interesting to read about the woman behind the advertisement.
- On this holy Friday… I give you 30 cosplay Slave Leia pictures.
- Within this case are the two paths to courage… which do you choose?
- Electronic paper has appeared in shows like Caprica and Firefly. Here’s a sneak peak at the real-life models.
- I think we found the source of the Playstation network problem…
- This is… by far… the SEXIEST thing you will EVER see.
- I wrote about Lady Gaga’s song, “Judas,” a few days ago, and she finally released the music video to go along with it. It’s, uhm… interesting.
- Amanda Palmer, awesome as ever, showing why the best music is not found on the radio. I have to say that I dig the music, even if it’s not the way I first heard her years ago.
- And finally, to get your weekend started right, I give you the most metal puppy EVAR!
It’s time for another sneak peak at Charcoal Streets. In case you haven’t looked over the old stories or wanted to get to them later, all except for Beautiful Lies (Parts 1 and 2) and She Wept Flowers are now only in sample form. That means the whole stories won’t be available again until the anthology is published in a few months, and almost every story published from now until then will only feature a sample.
This little number is about one of the more famous Hispanic legends I heard growing up. Everyone’s heard it. It’s like the girl that got picked up for a dance, then the driver found out she was dead. Everyone’s heard a version of it or maybe knows someone who saw… her.
Well, it’s good to be back, and it’s going to be a very eventful month. Stay tuned for a new article on Wednesday where we discuss just why you don’t mess with fanboys, why Captain Kirk needed to die, and why Hollywood is raping us without us even feeling its tiny, tiny weenie.
Now, on to fiction!
“I always heard she was a killer,” Luz said. The lights and pop-country music blaring from the speakers rattled the beer just enough to create ripples. The clove cigarette between her fingers dropped its ash. Carmen followed the little bundle of burnt cloves and tobacco as it hit the table and Luz said, “Yeah, a killer. See, this woman a long time ago had this guy after her. He owned a ranch or something. He was loaded. She was real pretty, but her husband died or something. Anyway, she had these three kids and no job. Or she worked a job and she couldn’t make a lot of money. Fuck, I don’t know.”
Across the table, Carmen took slow sips of her beer while watching everyone coming and exiting the bar. She said, “You suck at telling stories, you know that?”
Luz flipped her off and said, “One day, some rancher comes along and spots her and says she’s the most beautiful woman in the world. He makes her think she’s fuckin’ Helen of Troy or something. He wants to marry her, but he doesn’t want any kids, and this chick’s got a couple already. Pinche bruto is loaded and can’t afford a fuckin’ nanny or something. Anyway, she sees she could have this guy and everything she ever wanted, so she goes and kills the kids. She drowns them in the river. Or she drowns one and burns the other. I can’t remember. Well, the guy finds out and leaves her because, well, she killed her fuckin’ kids. She goes crazy and drowns herself. When she gets to heaven, they ask where she left her kids. She has to find them or they won’t let her in.”
“That’s a load of crap.”
Carmen and Luz turned to see the woman standing by the table. She had one green and one purple eye. Luz could barely see her true shape, but Carmen picked out the demon for what she was: a humanoid mass of constantly shifting skin tones, hair color and length, and clothes. Carmen didn’t know what Luz saw, but it had to be something appealing and trustworthy.
“Hey, Lilith,” said Carmen. “What’s a cunt like you doing in a dump like this?”
“Fuck you, Carmen,” Lilith said. “I heard they had a special on beer tonight and I overheard la bruja talking about la Llorona. And I hate it when people get the good stories wrong.”
Luz crushed the butt of her clove as she said, “That’s how it happened.”
“And how do you know that?”
“I just do. Everyone knows the story.”
By the time Lilith sat down, her curly, red hair had straightened into jet-black locks and her blouse was a studded leather jacket. She said, “That’s not how it happened. Do you really want to know what happened to la Llorona? She wasn’t some psycho-killer. She committed the greatest sin a mother could commit and she did it out of love.”
Carmen grinned and said, “Entertain us.”
Placing a glass of water on the table, Lilith said, “A long time ago, she was just some woman. Her husband left her and she had to take care of her children by herself, but she couldn’t make enough money to keep everyone fed. She’d starve herself to feed her two escuincles, but eventually, that wasn’t enough, so, to keep them from slowly starving, she did the only merciful thing any mother could do. She took her kids out to the riverbank and drowned them. Then, overcome with grief, she drowned herself. Now, she wanders the streets, searching, hurting people, because she can’t find her children and she can’t accept that she killed them. She’s cursed to forever haunt the world, never knowing why she does it.”
Luz and Carmen looked at each other, and then Carmen waived a waiter to take another drink order.
“That’s stupid,” she said. “Why not give the kids to an orphanage or leave them in front of a church or something?”
Lilith grabbed her glass of water and tapped the rim, turning the contents into deep red wine, and said, “I didn’t make it up. That’s the way it’s been told for years. If you don’t like it, just say so.”
“I don’t like it.”
Smiling and momentarily showing fangs, Lilith sipped her wine. She stopped at the same time Carmen noted the smell of flowers in the bar. They both turned. Luz followed their gazes to the young woman, no older than twenty, walking through the crowd. She wore a long blue and white skirt and a blue hoodie. Carmen and Lilith could smell the thick aura of marigolds, roses, and other flowers emanating from the girl. She walked up to their table and said, “Can I take a seat?”
Lilith moved her chair away from the new arrival. Luz said, “And you are…”
The Girl in Blue started to say something, but Carmen said, “An old friend. I’m sure you’ve met her before.”
Luz said, “No, I don’t think so.”
“It’s okay,” said the Girl in Blue. “People usually forget me. So, what were you ladies talking about?”
“La Llorona,” Carmen said. “Luz and Lilith have two different versions. And they both think they’re right.”
The Girl in Blue giggled as the waitress arrived to pick up the empty bottles. She looked to the new arrival and said, “And what can I get you?”
“Corona, please. Oh, and a new round for everyone on my tab.”
The waitress left and Carmen said, “Why so generous?”
The Girl in Blue said, “I always like taking care of my friends.”
“Even me?” asked Lilith.
“Even you, chingada.”
“Cool,” Lilith said, then quickly added, “So what do you know of la Llorona? You’ve been around a while.”
The Girl in Blue smiled as the drinks arrived. She took a sip from her Corona and said, “She was real. But it’s nothing like what you know.”
Luz giggled and said, “It already sounds like a bad movie trailer.”
Carmen playfully punched her in the shoulder said, “Keep going.”
The Girl in Blue said, “A long time ago, she had a husband. He wanted children, and she wanted to give them to him. They tried for a long time, but she never conceived. She started to think that perhaps God had forsaken her. What kind of woman didn’t bear a child? What kind of woman could not give her husband a son? Then, one day, she was pregnant. It wasn’t by her husband, though. The father was… insistent to say the least, but she never told her husband. She carried the child and he was born. They never had a lot of money-”
“Boring,” muttered Lilith.
The Girl in Blue just smiled and said, “They were happy, though. Her son grew up, but he was killed… and his real father made it all possible. He needed a sacrifice. She watched him die, and in her grief, she wandered, crying out for her son. She never forgave his real father for letting it happen. She never forgave everyone for being used, so she guards little children, protecting them from those who would hurt them, because she wants to be the mother she never was.”
Luz finished her beer. Carmen looked around while Lilith smirked. The demon said, “So she cries and wanders the streets looking for her son?”
“Yes and no,” said the Girl in Blue. “She cries for him and for her other children.”
“Why does she cry for them?”
The Girl in Blue slid her beer away and said, “I have to get going. I have an appointment to keep. I just needed a drink.”
She left a few bills on the table and stood. Lilith said, “Same old shit?”
The Girl in Blue said, “Going to see a friend I haven’t seen in a while. So yes, same old shit.”
She left Sonny’s and walked into the cool night. She pulled her hood up as a large Caddie pulled up with bone-thumping bass. The three men inside put out their cigarettes and walked out towards Sonny’s. One checked her out. The other walked right inside. The third took his jacket off and revealed the large Virgen tattoo on his chest.
The Girl in Blue wept black petals. Flowers withered behind her as she walked into the Via Rosa night and let the hood cover her tears and muffled cries.
Want to read more? Just visit the main Charcoal Streets page and take a look at the complete stories, samples, and other fun features, and stay tuned in 2011 for the release of the first volume of collected stories!
September 6, 2010
Sorry for the short post, but moving actually involves a lot of work. Who knew?
Is the white man going extinct? That’s the whisper I’ve been hearing to explain the surge in white conservatives in this country. They’ve always been there. Some voted Republican, but although the Tea Party is still a very small political minority, the anger they’re spreading into the public airwaves and all over the internet is astounding. The last time a group of people who shared the same ethnicity showed this kind of passion for a cause…
Well, all I can think of are the civil rights movements and pretty much any instance of a people being oppressed.
But are the Tea Partiers being oppressed? Have their rights been taken away? Is anyone trying to take their guns? Are they living in a world where conservative Caucasians are looked down upon as second-class citizens?
No. No. Double no. Hell, no.
So why the hysteria? What has changed? Well, we have a black president, current minority races are gaining more and more representation and power in society, and old stereotypes and roles in society are vanishing. Mixed-race is becoming not just more socially acceptable, but it’s more common. I’m part French and I have cousins that have some Italian blood in them. La Raza is becoming a reality, little by little, and it’s all of us.
All in all, it’s a more progressive society. I mean, look at me. I’m a Mexican immigrant who’s done a pretty good job integrating into society. I expect I’ll contribute something to this society by combining the old and the new. Charcoal Streets uses Hispanic myth and original backdrops to tell a story of life on the border, a setting that rarely gets attention.
And this is the kind of thing that is terrifying white conservatives. They’re not on the top of the food chain. They’re not in control. That’s a scary thought for anyone. Whenever I hear Beck, Palin, or pretty much anyone white and in a position of privilege talk about this country being stolen, being taken away from what it mattered, no longer recognizable, I want to find out what they mean.
At what point where in an American Utopia? It’s never happened.
Have we changed? Of course. We’re always changing.
Is this no longer the America they remember growing up? Correct. Childhood memories always make things seem more pleasant. I recall Mexico as a land of sunshine and games, but looking back at old pictures and hearing family talk, thingd were tough in ways I never would have seen.
This wave of conservatism, a far more right-wing version than even Reagan, is acting like white skin makes you a victim. And I’m sorry, but if you’re Caucasian, Christian, and conservative, you have a lot of unspoken privilege. Those attitudes are shifting, though. I mentioned how every few decades, we manage to fund another group to target and make the scapegoat for everything that’s wrong with out country. White America has never been there, mostly because they’re always the majority.
Fast-forward a few decades and they’ll be a minority group. Hispanics will likely be the largest cross-section of America. Think maybe we’ll go after the white man for the state of our country at that time, whatever it may be?
I hope not.
I’m just here to tell all my Caucasian readers that, if the races mix or some procreate faster than others, it’s not big deal. Besides, you’ll like minority status. You get your own history month. Hate crime laws apply much more readily. You get to congregate in groups and talk about the injustices of your race without sounding racist.
It’ll be fun!
- I’d seen this amazing Star Wars song and video a while back, but I just saw it again and it deserves to be shared. It’s also one of the catchier tunes I’ve heard in a while. Oh, and slave Leia dancing and break-dancing Stormtroopers are always a hoot.
- To my fellow gaming nerds out there, here’s a list of a few things D&D Game Masters can and SHOULD learn from God of War III.
- I know people are concerned about the mosque near Ground Zero, but I was unaware so many people were equally concerned about the… “mosk.”
- If you’ve ever been frustrated with the rules of the English language, now you can find out where these laws were created!
- Finally, check out some sage advice from a cartoon princess to young girls. See you all Wednesday!
April 28, 2010
To the Arizona State Legislature,
I want to make sure I understand what it is your new law on immigration will do. If police have reasonable cause to stop someone they feel is an illegal, they may ask for documentation proving citizenship. That’s the main point in a bill that has such redundant mandates as claiming that illegal immigrants are committing a crime (that’s already a crime) and that the state of Arizona may sue the police if they aren’t doing a good job (you’re going to sue yourselves). You will also require legal immigrants to carry identification that verifies they are, in fact, legal immigrants. That would include me if I ever went to Arizona.
Are we all on the same page now?
I’ve gone on and on about how Texas has such a bad reputation. We keep doing stupid things like backing up a governor who wants to secede and making stupid changes to our textbooks. When I said I wanted us to stop being so stupid, I didn’t mean to imply I wanted someone to be stupider.
More stupid… Oh, crap, it IS something in the water.
How exactly will you be enforcing this policy? What constitutes reasonable doubt in a state where one third of the population is Hispanic? Will you be arresting and searching people based on suspicion of Mexicaness? Driving while brown? What?
Let me make something absolutely clear. I am an immigrant. A *legal* immigrant. I have the papers, social security card, driver’s license, W9 forms, and work-related stress like every other American. I want tougher immigration laws, but I don’t want them to be at the expense of those of us that have run the obstacle course to get where we are.
“But Michel,” I can hear you say, “if you’re here legally, you have nothing to worry about, right?”
Wrong. I do. It’s been a while since I took social studies in eighth grade, but I seem to remember something about the Fourth Amendment.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
In modern Americanese, this means law enforcement must have reasonable cause to search for and ask me for documentation. This is why even the almighty Lenny Briscoe needed a warrant.
If a guy with dark skin is wet by the Rio Grande and he’s holding a bag with all his belongings, I bet you he didn’t just compete in a wet t-shirt contest. If a brown guy is driving a beat-up truck and is speaking Spanish, that is not probable cause.
Want to know how I know?
Could you tell the difference between a recent immigrant and an illegal immigrant? For years, we’ve had the national debate on whether we should teach dual language courses to students from other countries. I guarantee that many of these kids do learn English, but they will continue to speak Spanish at home. In fact, if you were to go into a recent immigrant household, you’ll find it a rough approximation of the life the family enjoyed in their native land.
I’ve lived here for years and I can’t tell who is a citizen and who isn’t a citizen. Are you going to go by accent? Well, there goes half the state. You could always go by clothes, like this knucklehead in Congress suggested.
Just say it, Congressman Bilbray. You’re looking for the sombrero, sarape, and guaraches. Newsflash: We don’t all look like Speedy Gonzales!
Do we need to do something about immigration? Of course, but we have to walk a fine line. This law will catch a lot of illegals. Do you mean to tell me that naturalization is not good enough? I am not equal to my fellow citizens and must carry a document stating I am here without breaking the law if I go to Arizona?
At what point did we forget about “innocent until proven guilty?”
And one more thing… You keep saying this isn’t about racial profiling. Will you be looking for Chinese immigrants too? Hey, I’m not really brown, but I could pass for western European. Think maybe I’m some socialist usurper? My girlfriend has some Middle Eastern blood in her. Think she could be a member of that infamous Mexican al-Qaeda?
There’s already been an incident because of this new law. It hasn’t gone into effect and you already detained a natural-born citizen because he didn’t have his birth certificate.
There is no way to enforce this law without racially profiling. And there is no way to get results without detaining law-abiding citizens. Do you wonder why, after 9/11, we didn’t start rounding up Muslims and general brown people just in case? Since blacks make up such a large section of our prison population, do you think anyone’s seriously considered just planting microchips on blacks or asking them to prove they’re not violating that parole you assume is the reason they’re out on the street? Better yet, let’s put those microchips into the illegals! Yeah, that should solve our problems!
There is an immigration problem in this country. Don’t think I don’t know that. I see it first-hand. However, what you’ve done is a few steps shy of Japanese internment camps. You’ve ignored any notion of integration for the legal immigrant community. If the Hispanic community is mad it’s because we’ve been targeted. This is like performing an appendectomy with a Glock.
May your lawns grow wild and your babies feral as your gardeners and babysitters are arrested, you weak-willed, sycophantic bastards.
You can read Part 2 here.