Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Cause

Last year while having a conversation over a couple of beers with my roommate he mentioned to me, that an old friend of his had just been released from prison and had gotten in touch with him. That friend contacted my roommate to harangue him about "the cause" he had left behind. You see, my roommate and his friend used to be a in gang together. What "cause," you might wonder.

Well, the farmworker and raza cause of course. You see the red gang has based some of their ideology and symbolism around the farmwoker and United Farm Workers struggle. Years ago, I remember walking past my brother's bedroom, and I saw the UFW flag on his wall. Although I wasn't super familiar with the interconnectedness between the red gang and the labor union, I knew a big reason it was on his wall wasn't because he necessarily sympathized with the farmworker struggle, was a union member/volunteer, let alone a farmworker, I knew he had the flag on his wall because it was red.

[Mexican American Red flag with Eagle]
United Farm Workers are not a gang.

My mother was a UFW volunteer and activist. Therefore she had amassed quite a collection of UFW memorabilia in the form of buttons and flags. When my brothers began to get caught up in the red gang ideology, they began wearing UFW buttons. They would talk about being down for "the cause," just not around me, because they knew I didn't play that bullshit. But my mother had heard them talking to friends and telling them how their mother had been down for "the cause." My mom was upset about this and explained to them, that she was never a chola, and the UFW had nothing to do with gangs. But my brothers in turn tried to explain the red gang's history and affiliation to the union, to which my mother just shook her head, as in, "Estan pendejos."

This is UFW memorabilia, NOT gang paraphernalia 
I personally did not know how the red gang had twisted the UFW mythology to accommodate their own agenda. Seeing the red union flag in the bedroom, I knew it had nothing to do with allegiance to the union. It was all about the colors. And I also understood that the red gang saw themselves as the Mexicanos in the northern California who were embattled with southern California Mexicanos. According to them they felt looked down upon because the Mexicanos from the south like LA, would look down upon them for working in agriculture. That was where my knowledge of the decades long "war" between raza began and ended.

I recently read, Blood in the Fields: Ten Years Inside California's Nuestra Familia Gang (2014) by Julia Reynolds. Through her book I learned how much the red gang tied their own ideology or more specifically agenda to the United Farm Workers and the labor movement since the gang's beginnings. It was more than just about the colors and the symbolism. It's not to say that the gang was a natural extension of the UFW and consisted of people who tried to steer toward the UFW's cause. Not at all. It was just something they sympathized with being that many of the young Mexican Americans in Salinas, actually were farm laborers. Later, the Mexican American laborers evolved from being a group of Mexican American laborer friends and into a gang, it became convenient to associate their cause with the UFW's symbolism and "raza" rhetoric when brainwashing other Xican@ youth. But really that's where the affiliation with "the cause" ended. Some of the men Reynolds interviewed in the book seemed conflicted, believing in "the cause" but not knowing where "the cause" for the raza began, and "the cause" for gang profiteering began, because that's how blurred the lines were. They were both one and the same. And who was the enemy? Well Mexican@s from southern California of course!

Some of the older men and men who had left the gang, interviewed by Reynolds, were able to disentangle the web of deception, and admitted that the true "cause" for the gang was basically making money through criminal activities. It had nothing to do with Cesar Chavez's ideology of non-violence. Again, the red gang's association with the UFW and raza speak, is just a convenient way to persuade Xican@ youth toward their "cause."

What is truly insane for me, is that growing up, the first thing I knew about Mexican agricultural laborers (besides my parents being farm laborers themselves), was the UFW and their struggle. I had friends in the red gang, but I had never heard or seen much about the UFW or anything else pertaining to labor struggles. It was mainly just about making sure that you wore your red t-shirt or belt to let it be known who you were affiliated with. But I noticed that with my brothers and their friends, they have grown up learning about the UFW through the gang. That is they learn about the gang first, and then through the gang they begin to learn about their historical roots and how they tie to the UFW and farmworker struggles. This is mind blowing, because there are generations of Xican@s learning about the UFW "cause" and using their symbols based on what they hear from the red gang. Blurred like a motherfucker.

Did you know Cesar Chavez was member of the red gang? Well not in that he got jumped in or that he is the founder of the red gang, but because he's a Xicano from northern California! We need to go and tell Rodolfo Acun~na to update the next edition of Occupied America to make sure he highlights Chavez's time as a norte~no!



Either Chavez is spinning in his grave or if he were alive and did not adhere to his own ideology of non-violence, he would probably be bitch slapping quite a few Xican@s down with "the cause."

I really have no words for the whole rationale. All that comes to mind when I have family who are trying to explain the red gang's ties (or "the cause") to the UFW is for me to say, "Estas mas pendejo, que baboso."

But going back to my roommate who had moved on from gang life, and was now living far from Salinas; after he told me about the friend who had castigated him about forgetting "the cause," I asked him, "What was the cause? Terrorizing and killing your own people?" He looked dismayed and just said, "Yeah,"

Reynolds' book tells the history of the prison gang, Operation Black Widow, but also about those out on the street specifically focusing on Salinas, and Mando, a young man who killed a drug dealer, under the orders of a shot caller, who was working as an informant for the FBI. The informant gave the green light while under the FBI supervision, which takes Reynolds through some bureaucratic crap, where the FBI refuses to acknowledge that they allowed this to happen under their watch. You might be familiar with the case if you have watched the Gangland episode that focuses on the same subject. If you want to get the gist of the book, the Youtube video below is a documentary about the same topic. Reynolds wrote the documentary and released it through PBS in 2006.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Barbershop Chiste and Cuento

Over the years barbershops have provided a space for conversation. Where you can chat it up with your barber about local chisme or a place where at least the barbers know your name. I'm not the most conversant person, but whether here or in the Midwest I enjoyed sitting waiting my turn to get my haircut, while the barbers eithber joked with eachother or told stories to the customer they were giving a trasquilada to. Barbershops can be like the bar you frequent where the bartender remembers you whenever you come in, except they won't yell out "Norm!". I can't really complain about any of the barbers I've interacted with. Although I'm sure some might complain about their clients if they feel they didn't get a fair tip. 

I haven't had a steady barbershop in some time. Recently I started going to a local shop, and I was reminded that barbers have some great stories and jokes. When I first walked in to the shop, the barber, was working on an older man, just shooting the breeze. I sat down as the barber began to tell him a joke. The joke went along the the lines of, "There was this apartment building. And one day the devil is walking by and he decides he's going to set on fire. So he does. The building is burning up and there's people running out, and people dying in the fire. But there's one woman who is just sitting there. The devil looks and at her, like, 'What the hell.' So he walks up to this woman and he tells her, 'hey, can't you see the buidling is on fire? Aren't you afraid of being burned to death? Why don't you try to run out?' The woman looks at him, and says,'No I'm not afraid of burning to death. Do you want to know why?' The devil looks at her, and asks,'Why?' She replies, 'because I'm married to your brother.'"

Personally I had never heard that joke, so I thought it was great.

Not  long after, the barber had finished cutting the man's hair. It was my turn to sit in the chair. As I sat down another man walked in to get his haircut as well. He and the barber clearly knew eachother, and started chatting. Apparently the man, was currently on worker's comp due to an injury he had suffered at work. The injury was bad enough that the man is unable to do any of the physical work the man had done before, He is now talking with a lawyer, becuase he's afraid about being fired, since it sounded like he had mainly done hard labor most of his life. Anyhow the barber began to give his own account of an incident in which he suffered a workplace injury (before becoming a barber) and sought out compensation since he would no longer able to do the work he  had done for ~20 years. 

The barber talked about having to haggle with the company lawyer about a settlement. The company lawyer apparently offered him $5000.00 and said, "Five thousand dollars is a lot of money. With all that money you can go back to Mexico, buy yourself a taco stand and you can be set for life, because you'll have your own business." 

The barber, musta had the same perplexed look the devil had when the woman sat there as the building burned. 

The barber's response to the lawyer: "Sounds good. But I tell you what, I'll take the  deal only if you come with me to Mexico." 

The lawyer asked him why.

The barber told him, that if he thinks he can live off five thousand dollars, then he should be able to do the same if he thought it was such a great deal. The barber then told him he was a fucken asshole. Although as it turns out the barber is Salvadoran (alos possibly a U.S. citizen) and seemed a bit offended about being grouped as a certain type of Latino, just because he is brown. He said the lawyer was clearly upset about being called an asshole and kicked him out of the office. Things ended up working for the barber, he got a settlement and was able to get trained as a barber.

By this point the barber was finishing up my haircut. So I didn't get to hear any other stories or jokes. But a couple of things came to mind, like the oral tradition of passing down jokes, but even these things relating to racial or social issues. Encounters with the ignorant masses.

In my hometown my old barbers had seen military action in Vietnam and Korea. They recounted bits of this to me. Other times it was baudy jokes. Either way barbershops have been great places for cuentos and chistes.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Barrio Abides

Abelardo wrote an interesting essay about the barrio. I interpreted his essay as being about space. This is possibly because my background is mainly in literature, and we tend to read into texts and apply a whole bunch of "-isms." It's been some time since I read that essay, but it's in Here Lies Lalo.

But Abelardo's essay is just a way for me to segue into this post about the barrio and what an interesting and sad place it can be. Interesting in that it tends to right the wrongs committed against the people who live in it. Sad because sometimes those who live in it suffer unjust punishment, and they go without any comeuppance.

For example, in my hometown, the barrio rectified a situation. A young man associating himeself with a gang came into my barrio, running his mouth about a rival. The young man who was in my barrio running his mouth got shot. He survived and apparently told the police who shot him. The police arrest the suspect. The young man who surived the gunshot kept coming back into my neighborhood. You would think after running your mouth in rival territory you would think twice about coming back to run your mouth. Apparently the huevos on this young man were huge, or he just couldn't stay out of our neighborhood for whatever reason. I think he had family there which gave him another reason to keep coming back. Regardless, he made no bones about flaunting his gang affilitaion. One other time he came back and he was with a friend, looking at  some cars that were up for sale. These cars usually get parked at a corner, across the street from a local market. As he was there looking at the cars a few guys from the neighborhood and rival gang walked up on him, and assaulted him. As far as I know he managed to walk away from the assault. I'm not sure if the other young men were friends of the person he accused of having shot him or if they just saw a guy who they recall running his mouth and decided in typical gang fashion to rectify the situation. Anyhow, barrio karma caught up with him, and the end result was that he was assaulted. I don't know if he still comes to the neighborhood, but if he still does after that, it's no longer about huevos, it's about gran pendejismo.

Another example is of a cop driving through a neighborhood in Salinas. If you weren't in the know, last year a couple of cops killed a Mexicano with hedge clippers. According to the officers involved the man was being "erratic." When they told him to put down the hedge clippers he kept walking away from them, and they blew him away. They claimed self-defense. Gun versus hedge clippers. Why they didn't try to use a taser first, I don't know. Trigger happy? A working class Mexican life means nothing? I don't know. This has been endemic of Salinas PD and Monterey County Sheriffs for some time though. And they have gotten away with it for many years. Anyhow, this time around the people of Salinas didn't stand for it they protested and as usual the police department responded in riot gear, dogs, and shotguns, threatening to shoot people as they pushed them back. I have a friend whose mother still lives in neighbhorhood in Salinas. He recounted how an officer in a cop car was patrolling their street, when suddenly his cruiser started getting pelted with objects. The officer was scared as fuck according to my friend. The barrio was apparently still upset about the unjust killing of the man with hedge clippers, and a couple of others who had been gunned down, before him. The barrio didn't let this go. The cop survived the encounter with the barrio, but it came to show the barrio doesn't forget.

And the barrio is cruel to its own. As I heard about a man pushing a cart selling paletas, but was threatened by some adolesecents. The man ran away, and the young men took some of their spoils, by taking a bunch of the paletas for themselves. I don't know if a police report was ever filed or if the man got to keep his job as a paletero after the incident. Or if maybe he started protecting himself by carrying a weapon with him. What happened to him is fucked up, it shouldn't have happened and it just shouldn't happen.

I get nostalgic about the barrio. But then I shake my head at it for some of the mamadas that happen to it's own residents. It protects, it gives, but it also takes.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween Is Over

I've been having a difficult time of  late, when it comes to coming up with blog topics. Maybe it would be easier if this were a topical blog. Like about sports, maybe specifically football. Or ranting and raving specifically about politics. I dunno.

I think it's the everlooming things already on my mind and a multitude of others that have not permitted me to think about different things to write about. Or maybe it's that I've been becoming one of the binge watching masses. How many hours of a tv show does one need to watch in order to be considered a binge watcher?


But at least this gives me an excuse to go to a coffee shop, sip a hot caffeinated drink, and wade through my thoughts.

Halloween is over though. Unfortunately. I think I just realized that October  is my favorite time of the year. Maybe moreso when I was in the Midwest, as I have lamented the changing colors off the leaves, in the past. But it's also the horror films. It's the mood. Which will probably bring me back to something on religion and the day at some point. Or maybe now that I'm out in California, I'll say November or December are my favorite months of the year, depending on the amount of rain or how cold it gets. I used to dread California winters. People tend to underestimate the winter weather in California, believing that the entire state is in a consistent stage off sunniness.

Not in the town I grew up. We had a heater in our home. But my parents never turned it on, to save money. Those cold mornings were biting. Turn on the hose and the water wouldn't run, because it had frozen in the  pipes. Or it would take a while to come out the other end of the hose, but before it did, froze chards of water would shoot out first. The Midwest was cold. No doubt. Freezing, even, literally. But when my California hometown winters whipped you in the face, it would sting. In the Midwest I didn't feel winds like that.

I enjoyed the rain and the grey gloomy weather. Reading a book in that weather makes me nostalgic for being a teenager, being in my bedroom reading comic books on my bed. Sure if you had to to go to school and got drenched it sucked. But being indoors and just listening to the rain prattle away, as I followed the adverntures of four would-be Superman subsitutes, as the orginal had died about a year before, and this storyline would lead to the eventual return of the original, is something I miss. I've been accused of writing runo-on sentences often. That was one of them. Anyhow this was long before I drank coffee regularly, which would add to the coziness and comfort.

I could  maybe shift to writing about the freakshow that is current run for president. Especially on the Rebpublican side. The dicho my mom used, "Que haiga un loco y no dos," comes to mind.

Or I can write about another cop getting caught on video being abusive. None of my former cop friends have tried to engage me in a debate about any of this. Their brothers in blue are making my case for me. Go figure.

But anyway, Halloween is over.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

I Didn't Know This Would Be An Emoticon/Emoji Post Until I Started Writing

I've been at a loss for words since I've been back in California. I'm not sure what it was about being out in the Midwest that inspired me to write more often, other than my own zeal to explore my interest in free writting through blog format. Well that, an my laptop still has a line of static running through it. It must have to do with ever looming deadlines and feeling a level of stress that only comes with being a graduate student in academia. Our futures aren't really set. I've met some great professors I thought were tenured, but somehow only ended up stuck with full time contracts. Renewed every few years. One professor received recognition for being an outstanding educator, yet nowhere near the job security only afforded to the current few in academia. I guess this is where that whole you have to love teaching thing comes in.

Let me abrutly change topics. I've been told that lately I speak in emoji or emoticons. 😕 Which tends to be true. I had not really noticed until it was pointed out to me. As I tend to do, I began to think about why I did this. Overanalyzed. Well for starters, I became a first time smartphone owner over the summer. So there's that. Now I have more emoticons at my disposal as opposed to having to create them manually. You remember how to do those things right? Remember? -> :) (-_-) :(

Part of this is a fault of the smartphone. So many different symbols and images to express my thoughts and feelings. There's even a poop 💩 emoji and what I imagine to be a passing gas 💨 emoji! But as I soon found out, some of these emoticons might look different depending on the type of cellphone software (ios vs android). My cellphone is an android device. But as I type this, I'm using an ios device though. So maybe it's best to just keep typing out my emoticons manually. Let me do this to myself (-_-).

Anyhow just a short a short disorganized over (psycho)analysis of my use of emoticons/emojis. Probably because I didn't have much else to write about. There I go over analyzing again.

Mexican Emojis image from:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

You Know You're Mexican, Right?

I asked my nephew if he knew he was Mexican.

I was driving him to soccer practice. I had been wondering if my nephew and nieces knew or understood that they were Mexican@s. That is, if they knew that both of their parents were Mexicanos, therefore that they were also Mexican and that the Spanish spoken in their family, was because they were Mexicanos. Or that their family engaged in certain traditions, like say, a rosca during the holidays, or the celebration of Tres Reyes Magos. They were Mexcianos, and they simply growing up in the U.S. and speaking English didn't make them American in the eyes of others.  Not only this, but I wondered if they would lose their Mexican identity through assimilation.

I guess I was wondering this because I noticed that my nieces and nephew mainly spoke English. They understand Spanish when it's spoken to them, but they reply exclusively in English. Well, unless it's their grandfather, who only knows Spanish, so my two older nieces reply in Spanish (mostly), but my nephew will either respond in English or he'll shrug his shoulders or make some other gesture that shows he gets what his grandfather is saying (kinda sorta).

This is somewhat strange to me. Especially considering how me, my sisters, primi@s have all grown up speaking Spanish as our first language. We are all for the most part bilingual, and Spanish was the dominant in our homes. English was the for the school, the teachers and our friends. It's even more strange to me that they mostly speak English, because my nephew's father is a Mexicano, who came not speaking a word of English. He's a laborer. A roofer to be exact. I'm guessing over the years he might have picked up some English along the way being around his boss, an Anglo. Or maybe from being around his children who all mainly speak English. I hear him speak to his kids in English, and he does have an accent. Somewhat thick. But his English isn't very choppy. Unlike my own father who still does not speak a word of English and similar to my nephew has to gesture to show that he understands, but has difficulty communicating his own thoughts in English.

It's not just an issue of language though. To get into everything that it means to be a Mexican@ through language, culture and history would be burdernsome. And something that we all would not agree on. Mexicano from Mexico versus Mexicano from the United States, anybody?

But knowing the history, culture, and language  are simply surface-level things, we can't just understand that we are Mexicanos, or know names and dates learned through Chicano/a Studies courses, without thinking critically about larger social issues, historically and presently.

But I had to wonder if my nephew and nieces know and understand that they are Mexican@s. As it is my nephew's father has had to adjust his language to accomadate this childrens preference. Will my nieces and nephew assimilate at such an early age that they will never know what it means to be a Mexican@. Or maybe I should rephrase that. Will they ever know what it means to be Mexican@ to me? Will they ever be as introspective as I am about the things I noticed and associated with my parents as Mexican@s? Such as hardworking, labor activists, Spanish speakers, La Virgen de Guadalupe, Catolicos, etc.

Maybe it was also the Xicano in me that was hoping his nephew would understand that he was Mexicano. Hoping that he wasn't so fargone thanks to assimilation that he considered himself just an American. And yes, by all intents and purposes he could be just an American . . . well, you know if a certain sect of America is okay with a Mexicano born in the United States, calling himself an American. You know, because he's not Anglo.

Calling himself American would be fine, but not knowing that he is a Mexicano does bring me a sense of bewilderment. I hear him speaking in English to all his friends, chatting with fellow gamers in English, and watching the Cartoon Network/Nicktoons/DisneyXD. So the thought crossed my mind, "Will he grow up thinking he's simply American, and never understand that he is in reality a Mexicano? Is my family over the next few generations going to lose it's Mexican identity, through children and grandchildren that grow up in an English speaking counry and everything that entails its popular culture?"

Maybe that would never happen, because as I've seen over the years. Those who want to embrace everything that encompasses our Mexican identity (history, culture, language, etc.), will do so, because they will meet others who have alredy done this, or they will take a Mexican-American/Chican@ Studies class at the university, and learn about their culture and history, and possibly begin to remember and (re)embrace not only their Mexican identiy, but their familys as well.

So as I drove my nephew, I wondered, and evevntually asked, "You know you're Mexican, right?"

My nephew, looked at me, nodded his head and said, "Yeah."

I smiled.

That was all I needed to hear.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Genius Comic Book: The Only Medium In Which Cops Have Actually Been Portrayed as the Bad Guys

I've been wanting to post on my blog about more of the issues  involving cops this past year. I, like everyone else have an opinion about what has been happening. From Michael Brown's death, Freddie Gray, the Mckinney Pool Party Cop Incident, Walter Scott, and the convictions of cops who have actually gotten taken to jail or are being convicted of murder, and the many others who continue to get off and found not guilty, or involved in a justifiable killing of another man. Or even the New York police department literally turning their back on Deblasio as he gave a speech for two officers that were themselves murdered in the line of duty. But plenty has already been said about this.

As all these incidents were occurring, I found myself watching a film, I can't remember which film it was, but my mind started to wander and wonder, about cops in films. I started to wonder why there was never a film about bad cops. Yes, there are films about bad cops, they might usually be playing the villain to the hero good cop. And at times there's films about cops who walk the middle ground between good and bad, but do the bad to arrive at a the good. A great example of this would be in a show like The Shield. Or more recently on True Detective, where you see (in both seasons), at least one of the main characters assaulting someone in order to get information that will lead them to their next clue. You see similar things in comedy films or shows about cops, the way they threaten someone in order to get laughs, when in reality these things actually do happen to some people. It's not so funny if you watch Ken Burns documentary, The Central Park Five.

All of this is to say that you rarely if ever see a film in which cops are just bad, vile villainous people who violate our civil rights, and get away with murder in barrios. Even though as we have been seeing this past year, that there are many that behave that way. To my memory I have never watched a film where cops are being actually killed as part of the plot, because they are evil & horrible. There is a sense that only cops can kill other cops in films. In Street Kings, Keanu Reeves played a cop that walked that fine line, and at the end of the film is still a hero, because he killed other dirty cops in some kinda intricate plot that I forgot about. But we never see people that are having their rights violated or being assaulted, and having family members killed ever take up arms against the cops to dole out justice. It's interesting to see that nobody in Hollywood ever picked up on this. I think there's been such a serious belief that cops can't do any wrong, and that only other cops could ever bring other cops to justice, because our justice/judicial system works (?). And if that's how Hollywood portrays cops, then you better believed that's how the rest of the nation thinks about cops also. They can't do any wrong, maybe we did something wrong to get our rights violated, or you know, killed.

So, that long drawn out diatribe, is because I noticed this about films, but I did find a medium where you see people in the ghetto taking up arms against cops, it was in a comic book. The comic book is Genius, written by Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman, with art by Afua Richardson.

Here's a plot summary:
"What if the greatest military mind of our generation was born to a people who are already supremely conditioned to wage war, who know nothing but violence since birth, and must continually adapt to new predators in order to survive? What if the second coming of Alexander the Great, of Genghis Khan, of Napoleon, of Patton...what if it was a teenaged girl from South Central, L.A. named Destiny? And what if she decides to secede three blocks of the 'Hood from the Union? Who is going to take it back from her and her army of gangbangers? Who CAN?"

The only reason I read it, was due to the revolutionary undertones. I really hate being a critic. But there's that part of my brain that read this, and I was thinking okay this is good, but then there's these other things that aren't good about it. 

It is first and foremost unique in that it's what I mentioned, a neighborhood taking action for themselves against a police force that abuses it's power. No bones made about it in this book, it's a war between people in the ghetto and cops. 

I'm not sure if this was the first writing effort by the creative team, but the story overall was a bit off. I get that they were trying to make Destiny the main character, this great military mind, but even in that regard the story is a bit off. What I cared for more was this character that sees wrongs occurring in her neighborhood, she usurps power from the local gang leaders, then consolidates power, and turns the attention to a common enemy - the police. If that would have been the story, it would have worked on it's own. But I had sense that they were trying to make Destiny an exception in the neighborhood, as if she were born special, and that only she could bring her neighborhood to the point they had arrived. As if nobody else in the neighborhood could have gotten fed up and decided it was time to go to war against law enforcement. But it is possible, that because the book was written by a couple of white guys, they were only thinking in terms of, "hey you know what would be cool? How bout we make her the greatest military mind of her time, but heres the twist . . . BUT she was born in the GHETTO!." And from there the writers are imagining other stories that can come out of this, or the conclusion or climax (Spoiler Alert) and how she will be sought out by her own government or shady secret organization within her government in order to sponsor her and use her for their own interests. But at the end of the story, we never know if Destiny's actions will lead to change in the neighborhood or for reform of the police department not even a panel with some characters looking enlightened by the actions this character and others in her neighborhood partake in. Destiny does ask that the government to give the people in her neighborhood immunity if she turns herself in. There is that. But what about the police department? Will they be investigated?

On Twitter I asked the writers if there will be a followup to their mini series, and in response they said they are working on it. I'm genuinely interested to see what they do with Destiny's character. I'm actually wondering if they will return her to her neighborhood, or if it was simply a novelty that was supposed to lead to "bigger" things, like Destiny leading a battalion into middle east to secure U.S. oil interests. Maybe some of the loose threads will be tightened up in the second volume.

In the meantime here are some of the more interesting scenes in the series issues:

This is from the Genius Pilot Season issue published back in 2008 (Available on Comixology for free). Pilot Season was done by Image Comics imprint Top Cow comics to test books out in the market. A few books would be released, and fans would buy the issue(s), and then vote on which offering they believed deserved it's own ongoing series. Genius did not get picked up in 2008 for an ongoing, It would later be published as a mini series on August 6th, 2014, a few days before the death of Michael Brown (August 9, 2014). The opening page above is just incredible for me. Going into the series, I didn't know what to expect. That first page I was thinking okay, this is very different in comparison to other narratives about cops. And as is it turned out it wasn't because it was about cops, but about the community that the cops terrorized. 

Then the pages that followed, kept it coming, and we are introduced to Destiny, the military genius. Hence the title.
I found the above page interesting, due to the exchange between the character Chavonne and Destiny. Destiny is speaking formal English instead of slang. I don't know why, but this page kinda threw me for a loop. In later issues it is shown, that Destiny is well read, but I'm not sure what the writers were trying to do here. She can exist in more than one space due to her ability to keep it real with her language or be formal (which she later uses in a different space)? Theres that cynical part of me that digs a bit more, because the writers are Anglo, and I can't help but wonder. Overthinking it? 

The cops are very one dimensional. They're getting killed off without remorse, and of course it makes me think about how cops, possibly view some of us in ghettos or barrios, really most of us as minorities might be one dimensional and that might be why are quick and willing to shoot us in the back, and leave us laying out on the street for hours, without remorse. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it.

The end of the Pilot Season issue. Destiny making it very clear, that winning one battle against the cops was just that, they are just getting started waging war.

I really dig the image of a young Destiny with the gun, having already made the decision that she was going to wage war, and everything she did was simply training to prepare her for it. And it is apparent by the captions, that she decided to act a young age.

One of the better scenes in the book, acknowledging the reality of what going to war means. After a battle some of Destiny's men try to turn on her, but she uses her words to diffuse the situation. 

Another great image.

I mentioned earlier about Destiny shifting from one space to the next based on her language. Here's the other scene, now more formal in order to infiltrate the police department, which the writers acknowledge as social engineering. Great scenes like this where the writers seem to be thinking about some deeper issues are few and far between.

Showing the media getting involved, but also showing the other side of the story. That of the community, living in the ghetto and being terrorized by the police.

And probably my favorite page of the series. Destiny speaking to her audience and letting them know this could happen anywhere at any moment. And maybe this had more impact on me due to recent events. We have seen people getting fed up with police brutality and cops getting away with murder;  the people have begun to wage war against law enforcement, at times through peaceful protests and at times through violence.


Excuse the white background and the font on some of this, I don't know what I did, but couldn't fix it.