Tuesday, June 30, 2009


...a much needed brain break. With the 4th and summer school coming up in the next week, I probably won't be back for a week or so.

See you later!

Monday, June 29, 2009

She's Right: Why Not?

This year, I AM GOING (not going to say planning or trying to go) to the AMC.

Why not help send me and some other lovely ladies? Via Noemi:

AMC. We need to get there.We have fundraised, asked for grants, compromised, felt energized, asked for days off, gotten free airline tickets, borrowed time, overcharged credit cards and emailed/talked/made plans with friends and strangers across the lines.And still call us shameless, we ask for more. Y porque no?

please consider donating to these fine, chingona mujeres

Maegan “la Mala” Ortiz, raising chingona mujeres. Sending single mami love

Elle, southern sistorian, who I shall meet one day even if we live closer than other folks. Oh we shall share a beer very very soon

blackamazon Sydette otherwise known as the bad ass who I love

Fabiola, fabmexicana who guest blogs here, leaving pedacitos de su corazon.
Otra mami soltera de Califabmexicana@gmail.com

Noemi Martinez
spiller of dreams-single mami hermanaresist.com

ms. cripchick
a powerchair-roaring queer radical woman of color
cripchick's weblog

Many of us will be taking part in the Women’s Media EquitySummit on July 16th.At the AMC, we’ll be involved in several different caucuses, meetings and generally raisinga ruckus wherever you may find us. And OUR KIDS WILL BE CAUSING ALL SORTS OF MAYHEM AT THE KIDS TRACK AND IN GENERAL. It will be a sight to see. Things will happen. We will write/blog about it.

On Brisenia Flores

When I was working on my dissertation, I had to read quite a bit of “immigration” literature for my last chapter. One of the books I remember most was John Higham’s Strangers in the Land, because so many others referenced his assertion that throughout U.S. history, nativism and xenophobia have ebbed and flowed.

I remember that, because as I’ve said before, I think we are caught in a peak period and it seems we have been for well over a decade now.

But having the historical perspective to see it as part of a pattern, to know that it might recede some day, does not make it any less painful to live through, especially as we bear witness to the beating deaths of Luis Ramirez and Jose SucuzhaƱay, the disrespect shown to the memory and family of Ana Fernandez,

And the murder of nine-year-old Brisenia Flores.

I heard about Brisenia Flores a few weeks ago, from the Sanctuary, VivirLatino, and via Twitter. She and her father were murdered, and her mother was shot, in their home, in the middle of the night, by people "associated" with the Minuteman Project.

I have been unable to get the words together to write about this child, because of all the thoughts racing through my mind:

Racists still come to our homes and murder us in the middle of the night.

This reinforces for people of color how tenuous the safety of our children is.

We live in a white supremacist patriarchy that claims to value a certain family structure while violently disrupting that structure in families of color.

How long are people going to deny the violence that permeates so much right-wing extremism? What do we expect from people fed on a constant diet of "us vs. them" and "retain-our-privilege-at-all-cost?" Why aren’t more of us repulsed that it’s cloaked in the language of love for “God and country?”

Beyond all the symbolic things, a nine-year-old child and her father were killed because of hatred. Even then, we can’t talk about that without feeling the need to air the murderers’ opinion that Raul Flores, Jr., Brisenia’s father, sold drugs.*

As if the Minutemen need justification to act violently against a Latin@ family and community. As Maegan notes:
The goal [of Shawna Forde and Gunny Bush] wasn’t to observe, document and report as Jim Gilchrist, the leader of the Minuteman Project, has said in trying to distance himself from his associates charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree burglary and one count of aggravated assault. The goal was to use violence against a family viewed as expendable to help further their cause of using violence against those viewed as expendable.

*I have not read anything that backs the truth of that claim, and yet the NYT juxtaposes it with the local Sheriff’s observation that “there is ample drug activity between here and the border.” Now, he doesn’t say that Raul Flores, Jr., is connected to it, but that quote is somehow relevant when talking about the murder of a Latino man who lived near the border.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I Didn't Know "Rest In Peace" Came with a Citizenship Requirement!

ETA: A new note at the bottom

Do you ever just sit back and wonder who and what we are becoming?

When the DC metrorail crash occurred earlier this week, nine people lost their lives. When the list of the names of the dead was released, it contained the name of Ana Fernandez, a mother of six.

While the family has been "grateful for the genuine expressions of sympathy," they did not expect another effect.

Ana Fernandez's image and name have prompted hateful, harrassing calls from people demanding to know her immigration status.

My personal response was, "Does it matter?"

Have we really sunk so low that we comb through the details of tragedies, looking for things that make us feel "suspicious?"

Have brown skin and a Spanish surname become enough to arouse that suspicion and make us act in heartless, disturbingly inhuman ways? (That question is rhetorical, of course).

Ana Fernandez's family is having to balance their grief with this sudden demand to explain:
Ana's sister said the accusations aren't true.

"Right now, the whole family is in pain. She was here legally, and all her children are legal. They were born here."

They're also having to defend themselves against the stereotypes of lazy immigrants who come here to "live off" others. Fernandez's sister said:
"We all work, OK? And we're going to get through this."

And from one of her children:
"She was always working -- working two jobs. She did whatever she had to to take care of us," said Evelyn Fernandez, her oldest daughter, who is enrolled in a GED program. "She was a strong woman. She never needed anyone to help her."

For the record, I'd like to repeat that Fernandez's family reports that she did have legal status and all her children were born here.*

For the record, large numbers of people with Spanish surnames and brown skin have been in the United States for 160 years now** and in places that would become part of the United States for generations before--at some point, New Spain extended from one coast to another across the southern portion of what is now the United States.

Given that, inferring anything "suspicious" from the appearance and name of Ana Fernandez is not only desperate, it doesn't necessarily make sense.

Except, I guess, in a place fully ensconced and invested in its latest wave of nativism.

H/T Maegan
*I've gone back and forth about writing that, because what I'm trying to say is that the accusations are unfounded, but what I worry it sounds like is, "Because they've met this arbitrary citizenship standard, they have a right to grieve and be treated with respect." Her family should be allowed to grieve in peace and she should be treated with dignity in her death whatever her/their immigration status is.

**I dated that from the Mexican Cession, forgetting to reference the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819, that had the effect of bringing significant parts of New Spain (including Florida) into the U.S., as well.

On the Death of Michael Jackson

The first video I showed my son then. The title seems appropos to how I'm feeling.

(A cleaned-up version of a comment I made here)

As a feminist, as a rape survivor, as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, as someone who once adored the "King of Pop," how do I process Michael Jackson's death?

I grew up in a little southern, rural town where racism was alive and well. Seeing a black person as glamorous and famous as Michael Jackson meant the world to me. Seeing that his popularity crossed color lines--I mean, I remember distinctly thinking, "White girls scream and pass out over him?" They'd have been ostracized in my town.

It's not that I idolized him as some sort of post-racial icon--I don't believe in that shit, not for this country, in our lifetimes--but that here was a symbol that, my God, it wasn't so bad for us everywhere.

Then there were the other, simpler things. I loved his music. I had a crush on him. I thought he was cool without being "hard."

When the allegations came, I was angry at him, because I believed them. I knew what it was like not to be believed as a survivor, and I didn't want to do that to those children.

And I was angry at me, because I believed them.

Thanks to exposes and the nonstop media fascination, I had given Michael my own, hardly professional diagnosis. I thought he was profoundly hurt and always searching for his childhood, trying to live it vicariously through children. I thought he didn't know how to set appropriate boundaries--he really thought of himself as children's "friend." I thought somewhere along the way, he may have crossed the line in a hurtful, heinous way.

So, yes, I was mad at him.

And felt sorry for him.

And cared about him.

And identified with those children and worried about them.

In short, I was confused, felt guilty for caring for him.

I still am confused. But I know news of his death shook me, saddened me unbelievably. I don't know how to deal with it. I can't pretend that I didn't care, that part of me didn't still care a whole lot about an imperfect, sad man who may have done some unforgivable things.

Sometimes, I realize that I'm human, that how I feel won't always be logical or rational or even, to some, defensible.

But I'm not getting on the defense on this one.

I sincerely hope Michael is happy and at peace now.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Where Is Jada Justice?

Update: Police believe they may have found her body

Update II: mzbitca confirmed for me that her body had been found. Rest in Peace, Jada.

Jada is two years, ten months old and has been missing since June 16 from the Gary, IN, area. Jada is "an African-American child about 2 feet 2 inches tall and weighing 35 pounds, with black hair, brown eyes and a light brown complexion."

In the last couple of days, (as noted by some critiques) Jada's case has begun getting more national attention. Her mother was on Nancy Grace's show Tuesday night. And cnn and msnbc sites had articles as of the 23rd, I believe.

Local news outlets have been covering the case.

If you have any information, call 1-800-CALL-FBI

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

One of These Things Is Not Like the Other...

Remember the Loud and Clear post? Consider this an addendum.

Yesterday, the Nixon Library made "more than 150 hours of tape and 30,000 pages of documents" public, much of it online.

One of the things revealed is that, while Nixon didn't make a public statement about Roe v. Wade, he had mixed feelings about the decision. He worried, like so many concerned trolls citizens, that the ability to fuck without one of the biggest "penalties"* would turn women into loose, sex-crazed sluts, thereby unraveling the fabric of the United States:
Nixon worried that greater access to abortions would foster “permissiveness,” and said that “it breaks the family.”

But he did recognize that sometimes, women might need abortions (emphasis mine):
“There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white,” he told an aide, before adding, “Or a rape.”

Because apparently, a white woman having consensual sex with and becoming pregnant by a black man is equivalent to/"just as tragic as" being raped and becoming pregnant. I put it in these terms, not because black women didn't/don't have children with white men, but because this is the combination that has always been seen as "tragic." White southern men, for example, spent many of the early years of the "New South" warning about such relationships and trying to ensure, violently, that they didn't occur.

The newly released recordings also document Nixon's anti-Semitism (as recordings before have done):
The tapes also include a phone call from February 1973 between Nixon and the evangelist Billy Graham, during which Mr. Graham complained that Jewish-American leaders were opposing efforts to promote evangelical Christianity, like Campus Crusade. The two men agreed that the Jewish leaders risked setting off anti-Semitic sentiment.

“What I really think is deep down in this country, there is a lot of anti-Semitism, and all this is going to do is stir it up,” Nixon said.

At another point he said: “It may be they have a death wish. You know that’s been the problem with our Jewish friends for centuries.

It's funny how Republican leaders for the last 50 years or so have been accusing racial/ethnic/religious minorities of "stirring things up" and provoking the attacks on themselves by demanding to be seen, heard, counted. It's the height of privilege-- and evidence of a sad lack of empathy--to view someone's struggle for rights as an inconvenience to your own life and the source of your righteous indignation.

And as to the part I emphasized, note that he is speaking, what, one generation after the Holocaust? I don't even have flippant analysis for that--he was just an asshole.
* Meaning forced pregnancy and childbirth

Monday, June 22, 2009

Really, Justice Thomas, You Don't Have to Go that Far to Prove a Point

Whatever that point is:

Clarence Thomas casts lone vote against Voting Rights Act

In your haste to show all of us unambitious, whining, dependent black folk up, do you even know what the point is anymore?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Demand MS Reunite Mother & Baby Daughter!

Via BfP, this Request for Action from the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (MIRA):
Cirila Baltazar Cruz gave birth to her baby girl in November of 2008 at Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula, MS. She speaks very little Spanish and no English, as her native language is Chatino, an Indigenous language from Oaxaca, Mexico that is spoken by some 50,000 people.

The hospital provided her with an “interpreter” who is from Puerto Rico and does not speak Chatino, the language of the mother. Because of the language barrier and the misunderstanding by the hospital’s interpreter who only spoke Spanish and English, a social worker was called in.

The hospital’s social worker reported “evidence” of abuse and neglect based on the following:

* The “baby was born to an illegal [sic] immigrant;”
* The “mother had not purchased a crib, clothes, food or formula.” (Most Latina mothers breast feed their babies).
* “She does not speak English which puts baby in danger.”

Ms. Baltazar Cruz’s baby was snatched from her after birth at the hospital and given to an affluent attorney couple from the posh Ocean Springs who cannot have children.

The authorities made no effort to locate an interpreter in her native tongue. MIRA located an interpreter who is fluent in Chatino in Los Angeles CA and has interviewed the mother extensively with the interpreters help. The mother has been accused of being poor and not being able to provide for this child. No one has asked the mother to provide evidence of support. She owns a home in Mexico and a store which provides both secure shelter and financial support, not counting the nurturing of a loving family of two other siblings, a grandmother, aunts, uncles and other extended family.

Meanwhile, there is word in the Gulf Coast community that the “parents to be,” have already had a baby shower celebrating the “blessed arrival” of this STOLEN child!


If you believe this is unjust and outrageous and goes against all moral and religious beliefs and values, please call or write to the presiding Judge and the MS Department of Human Services to STOP this ILLEGAL ADOPTION! Stealing US born babies from immigrant parents is a growing epidemic in the United States. Many Latino parents have lost their children this way!

Honorable Judge Sharon Sigalas
Youth Justice Court of Jackson County
4903 Telephone Rd.
Pascagoula, MS 39567

Children’s Justice Act Program
MS Dept. of Human Services
750 North State Street
Jackson, MS 39202
Call (601)359-4499 and ask for Barbara Proctor

For more information please call MIRA at: (601) 968-5182

MIRA Organizing Coordinator
Victoria Cintra at (228) 234-1697 or Organizer Socorro Leos at(228) 731-0831
This made me so angry and reminded me about this article I'd seen some time ago--different circumstances, same disregard for/devaluing of immigrant women's mothering.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Life, the Update

Thank you to everyone, here, on facebook, and via e-mail, who expressed concern, offered prayers, kind words, good vibes, etc. I have had a tumultuous two weeks, but everything else fades compared to concern for my dad.

Last Thursday, he had the lower portion of his left leg amputated. This time, the wound is healing just fine. They moved him today to a rehab that his doctors promise us is the best in the area. And of course, while I have all the "What can we do to facilitate his physical and emotional healing/get him through this?" sorts of questions, my sister had the practical ones. "Is the place clean? What's their health record like? Are the caretakers kind? What should we do about having a ramp built at home?" I'm smiling as I think of it.

Everything else is coming along. The car probably only needs a radiator. The conference is over and I didn't suck. My grad class dropped to six, but is back at seven, so it might hold. The baby shower turned out nicely. I finished my survey syllabus (wasn't stressing initially cuz I teach it every semester, but condensing fifteen weeks to five? Gulp!). I still have some worries, but am feeling a bit better.

I wish I could hug all of you back and cook dinner for you.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

You Know What?

Today is a seesaw. Some good things accomplished, but not everything. More stressful news--but job-related and nothing serious.

I think I will take a nap, then get up and cook. A whole lot of stuff for my huge extended family. And I think I will take advantage of being in Louisiana and go to the local drive-thru liquor store and order an extra large margarita-strawberry daiquiri mix with lots of salt on top.

Because on days like this, I feel my attitude being horrendous the more I focus on the "serious" stuff. And then I feel bad for my horrendous attitude. And in the end, I am at home and this is the most vacation I'm going to get this summer.

Thank You, Wanda Sykes

...for getting to the heart of why articles like this:

bug the hell out of me.

I won't pretend that I remember all the details of the article--I read it while waiting in the dentist's office. That was a nightmare because I have a jacked mouth and I can't clearly recall much about that day. :-)

I do know the article had a "This group thinks this of her; that group thinks that. Who is she really???" sort of vibe.

Wanda Sykes gets at the heart of the "Who is she really???" question.

H/T Anxious Black Woman

Catch My Breath

Daddy and Deuce 9 June 2009

This is not a good week. I am behind on my interview schedule. I am trying to wrap up the presentation-that-shouldn't-be-a-paper for next week's conference. I am coordinating a baby shower.

And mostly, I am being really, really quiet about my dad. He's been in the hospital for a few weeks now. He complained of a sore foot for a while. The local clinic took his word that it was his gout and prescribed a pain medicine. The people at the dialysis clinic took one look at it, discovered a badly infected sore, and sent him to a hospital. The people at the hospital were bothered by the look and smell of it and sent him to a VA hospital.

They tried antibiotics, then amputated two of his toes and some of the padding on the bottom of his foot.

He is a diabetic, with kidney failure, and congestive heart failure and he still smokes. His circulation is much lower than poor. The site of the amputation is not healing because of inadequate circulation. Today he told us, "They're going to have to amputate it." I thought he meant his foot, which was enough to bring tears to my eyes.

A few more minutes into the conversation, I realized he meant his leg from below the knee down. I stood at the sink in his room, washing my hands, and telling myself, "He is trying to be calm. Don't you dare start crying. Don't you dare."

I am already feeling the guilt of having made a wholly inappropriate and probably hurtful comment. The doctors had been asking him, since the discovery of the sore, had he stepped on something. He said no, because to his knowledge, he hadn't. A few days after he was hospitalized, my nephew discovered a nail in his shoe. I told him in a teasing way, "Daddy, I done cussed you out! You know you have to be careful with your feet."

It was a little flippant remark on my part. A couple of days later, when we were on the phone, he said something to the effect of, "I can't keep beating myself up, but I was supposed to have a mirror and check my feet."

He didn't need my little inconsiderate comment, because he's been "cussing" himself out, feeling guilty and sad. And I've been thinking, "Why did I say that?"

There's also the fact that my dad is usually this stoic person--when he's been in the hospital before, we've been distraught and worried about getting to see him and he always says things like, "You have a life, a job, kids, etc, don't worry about me," as if that's possible.

But this time, he's been very open about being lonely, a hundred miles away from home (and more than 400 away from me). He was ready for me to come home. Sometimes when I call, he'll sound so tired and I'll say something like, "Daddy, I don't want to wear you out." And a couple of times he's said, "I'm okay. Just talk to Daddy for a few minutes," and I know he's bored and lonely and worried. I talked to my dad for 40 minutes on the phone last week; I don't know if that's ever happened.

I can see the sadness and I wonder if he's thinking about his mortality--he's already older than his father and two of his brothers were when they died. He's worried about walking again and having to go to a nursing home if we can't get the house right.

And I'm worried, worried, worried, too. I have to leave Sunday because my son is going to summer school for math and I have that conference. Honestly, I'd say fuck summer school because he's going to fifth grade anyway, but he has struggled with math since pre-K and he only met three of four standards in math this year, even though he passed it for the year with a B. Multi-step word problems give him fits. He can't miss more than three days or he will be considered a non-completer. The three days I decided he could miss were June 9-11, so I could have some time at home.

Then, he's in summer school until July 2 and I start teaching summer school July 6. When will I have a moment to travel again? My car has 154,000 miles on it, but I can't afford to just up and by two plane tickets to a small rural airport with short notice. There's also the fact that the drive, at least 8.5 hours, by myself, is a bit much for me these days. But how can I not be here for my father's major surgery?

And the conference, my God, I'm cobbling that together bit by bit, but can I be unprofessional for a moment and say that, right now, it seems like the most inconvenient thing in the world to me? My heart is not there. I feel guilty about that as well, because they're paying me a significant sum for a day's work (ok, more than a day, when you count prep, but you know what I mean).

Then there's summer school, which I feel mostly prepared for. But the fall! Two new preps! I've only begun to fight!

I know I'm all over the place, but I needed to vent. I don't know whether I'm coming or going, I swear. I'm just resolved not to cry because if I start, I will not stop until I have a headache that further complicates things.

Even as I type this, I'm trying to put it together in my head. Today is just Wednesday. I can stop dreading this conference, flesh out the admittedly good outline I've already done (the presentation is only 20 minutes and I'm supposed to encourage the participants to engage. Then, the 30-minute workshop I lead afterward will be on how to use related primary source documents). I can do two interviews tomorrow rather than one. I can get someone else to assemble favor bags for the shower. I have lots of help, and we've already done 90% of the work.

But right now, I don't want to be calm. I want to say all the shit that is plaguing me.

Please think of my dad.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Things Heard 2

A few nights ago, my son and I were having a debate while having dinner. He considers himself quite the dancer and gives credit to people like Chris Brown and Omarion. When he told me that, I said, "They're all just copying Michael Jackson."

I thought it would be an off-handed, everyone-knows-that sort of comment.

My child laughed. How good could Michael Jackson be? This new crop of dancers had their own styles! Michael Jackson could not possibly be better than a whole bunch of young dancers whose names he rattled off.

This despite the fact that he himself salivates over the Thriller video.

"Wait," I said, with more than a little attitude, "until we get home!"

When we made it home, I sat him in front of youtube and played four or five MJ videos. He eventually admitted the supremacy of Michael Jackson, but then re-watched a couple of videos.

"What is it?" I asked, because he was all frowned up and staring at the screen.

"He looked a lot better when he looked like us!"
Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...