Sunday, March 16, 2014

Things Pigs Say: "I'm Not a Pig, I'm Just a Douche."

About a week ago I posted the following on my Feisbuk page:
A friend of mine who happens to be a cop, saw the above image, and posted this in the comments section: "Do you know if violent crime has increased?"

I guess he somehow felt offended by the image. How dare a department require their officers to have cameras on their shirts that can record how they conduct themselves when approaching civilians? Not only that but I didn't see the point of his question. How or why would crime increase if cops restrained themselves from using excessive force? Unless he meant violent crimes committed by cops? I chalked it up to my friend simply being a cop that had seen other truisms about cops on my Feisbuk page. Truth hurts. 

Earlier on my timeline, about a few months ago, I posted a video about a guy that was gunned down after a high speed chase in LA. Once the guy got out of his car, a policeman shot him on site, and the guy wasn't even wielding a weapon. On this video my friend posted something along that lines of, "That peace officer just did a public service, the man they were chasing had ran into a family in the car he hit, and he could have killed him." I snickered at his comment, but I didn't post a response. I knew my friend well enough as an undergrad from college that I knew he liked making inflammatory statements to try to provoke an angry response, at which point he would then laugh, because he felt he had the upper hand, because he'd made the person angry. Don't get me wrong, something had come to mind about "the public service Christopher Dorner," had done during his one man war against policemen, but I refrained, knowing that such a response would give my friend what he wanted. 

I'm not sure how many times a person has to post some type of haterism in order to be considered a troll. But by his comment on the Rialto cops picture, which has his second, I felt he was a troll, and should be dealt with thusly. So again, I ignored his comment and then posted a link about some cops in King City who were busted by the FBI on corruption, for harassing local citizens by impounding their vehicles, and basically feeling that they could do this, because the citizens they fucked with didn't speak Spanish. (King City Cops) I like that Feisbuk allows you to add captions, it's just nifty that way, because I added this with the link: "Pigs to the slaughter . . ." Lo and behold! About 5 to 10 minutes later my friend sent me a direct message through Feisbuk. I had a hard time restraining my laughter. His response was: "I agree with you 100% these men in King City were in the wrong. But for the educated Latino you are you are making ignorant statements. The same ignorant type [of] statement that are made of us Latinos. You have friends and fraternity brothers in law enforcement. You classify all of us under one umbrella that is wrong. Just my thoughts bro."

I couldn't stop laughing. It was funny on many different levels, at least for me. First of all, I posted the pigs comment intentionally because I wanted to get a rise out of him. This was my way of dealing with his trollism. Second his ire was such that he felt a need to send me a direct message. Third he starts his message by stating that he agrees 100% and that the cops were wrong, but it makes me wonder if being part of the brotherhood in blue, he would actually post that publicly in the comments section on my wall. Probably not, because we all know cops cover for each other, and they wouldn't speak out that way, if they want to keep their job and safety. Fourth he tries to provoke me into an argument by calling out for considering myself an "educated Latino" and then uses the word "ignorant," because he feels he knows that I can't stand ignorant people. What better way to provoke someone who disdains ignorant people than by calling him ignorant right? Good bait. This was me -> XD 

My kindly response to him was, "If my posts offend you, you should consider unfriending me. Thanks for your thoughts and perspective." 

Welp! this did not please him, because he probably didn't get the reaction nor response he expected from me. So he wrote the following: "Your absolutely correct, I will unfriend you. Its sad that you will some day influence young people to be disrespectful towards the same people that would risk their lives to help them. Next time you need a cop don't call. Based on your statements, you don't like them, therefore you never ask for their help. If you do that would make you a hypocrite." Again, this was me upon reading his vitriol-> ¡¡XD!!

I replied by saying, "If you want to have a discussion about this we can talk on the phone or in person some day. And I can share my perspective. Not that we'll agree, but who knows we might. We both bring our obvious bias to the topic. When I say "pigs" its for cops who abuse their power. You should take the time to share what you did with me about the King City cops being in the wrong publicly. But if you don't, I understand. And no worries, when I teach I keep my personal opinions about law enforcement to myself. Feel free to continue sharing your opinions and comments. Anyhow if you do unfriend me, I wish you the best. Nice hearing from you." I've learned over the years, you can't argue with stupid, and sometimes you gotta kill stupid with kindness. Alas I don't know if my friend read my comment before he unfriended me. But he was displaying a typical marrano mentality, he was not wrong, he was right, and wanted to get the last word. 

Its funny, because early in his career, my friend did share a couple of incidents where he felt that the person who was his partner was bending the rules a little too much, and/or that he was trying to provoke a person they were in the process of arresting. I wonder if my friend has since assimilated into full-blown marrano status and now simply turns the other cheek when he sees these things. I could have gone onto my friend's page earlier and gone todo troll status on him. For example there was a pic of him having received an award for being an outstanding officer. I could have left a shitty comment on that post, something along the lines of "So how many Hispanic Male Suspects or any other minority for that matter did you shoot in the back to get that award?  But meh. I didn't feel the need to argue with him online, its pointless to try to debate with him online, besides, like I said you can't argue with a pig, they are never wrong. And aside from that as I mentioned I knew my friend well enough, and that's what he wanted. Even his last message was a final attempt to try to goad me into some type of reaction where I would tell him to go fuck himself, but again I wasn't going to give him that, because that's what he wanted.

I could have told him about the incidents involving the cops in my neighborhood, and my mother. Those marranos in my neighborhood need those cameras so that they actually respect citizen rights and don't block their badge numbers when they are asked for them, because even that is an excessive use of force. But my friend probably wouldn't see it that way. I could have pointed to what happened in Anaheim about a year or so ago. I could have even mentioned that I don't need to share my personal opinion about law enforcement with students, because I've had classes where students share their own experiences of unsavory encounters with cops. It doesn't only happen in the barrio, there are marranos in college towns and in nice upper middle class neighborhoods too. There are cops that behave like pigs anywhere you go. Pigs-o-plenty.

When I got my friend's direct message, I could have replied something along the lines of "I posted that on purpose to piss you off, and it worked." And then who knows, we could have had a good laugh about it. But seeing him reply in what seemed to be a genuine perturbed way, was just too much fun to pass up. Maybe he wouldn't have been so offended if I would have posted something along the lines of, "Thank God, the FBI brought these dangerous street terrorists to justice!" Maybe he wouldn't have been so offended if called cops, "Street Terrorists" instead of "pigs." But I think I'll save that one for another incident involving marranos being held accountable for their actions, as rare as that is.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Book Review: LoWriting: Shots, Rides, & Stories from the Chicano Soul

"I have said many times in public and in print that I enjoy publishing books that I would like to read."-Santino J. Rivera in the Editor's Note to LoWriting: Shots, Rides, & Stories from the Chicano Soul.

That's something you have to appreciate about Rivera and his indie publishing house, Broken Sword Publications. When you're publishing things that you would like to read, chances are there are going to be a whole lot of other people who will want to read it as well. I can't think of any book that has combined pictures of lowriders with Chican@ prose. That, in and of itself makes this book unique in a market trying to cater to the masses. You have to appreciate the creative risk taken, but even more so, you have to appreciate Art Meza's photographs and the collection of poetry and short stories in this collection.

The photographs and the flair Meza adds gives the viewer much to appreciate, whether its capturing an image of lowrider from an unexpected angle, to an image of a brightly colored hood ornament. The images are varied, and offer different aspects to be admired, be it in the aesthetics of the vehicle itself, or the aesthetics of Meza's photography skills. One of my personal favorites is "On the Boulevard, San Diego." Its black and white, with the words, "The Boulevard," in neon pink. Other favorites are the "38 Special - '38 Chevy Pickup," "Redrum - '64 Chevy Impala," and "Goddess of Speed - '38 Packard." There are of course too many to name, but I find myself drawn more to the images that capture an aspect of a vehicle, where Meza will take a picture of an old stereo in the lowrider, or the front seat; these images for some reason draw me in, possible due to the prominence of that one specific feature of a lowrider that Meza shows his audience. Meza's photographs are worth the price of the book alone.

Then of course there is also the writing collected within the book. The audience is treated to a great variance of pieces, poetry, short stories, an interview, and essays. There was some feminist ideology in Gloria Morán's piece, "Cruising into the Future." You're treated to some barrio magical realism in "Guero's '49 Chevy Black Bomba and the Hand of God," by Benjamin Quiñones Reyes. Humor in "Chilidogs and Homeboys, To Go Please," by Jim Marquez. The creative writing range was such, that there were plenty of pieces in this collection, that made me to think to myself, "I wish I would have thought of that!" The poetry, of course made me wish I had some skill in writing poetry, and theres plenty of it, like "Chimayó Chevy Pickup, Step Side '69" by Anna C. Martinez; and "The Way I feel" and "Ode to a Cholo," by Tara Evonne Trudell. It could be that I'm just being biased because I have a piece in this book, and as a result I'm giving this book a positive review, but that's not it. The work in this book from the photographs to the prose is quality.

"We all know anyone can buy a lowrider but pride is something you trade your blood, sweat and tears for. I hope what I have done with my camera here conveys that same pride." Art Meza in the Preface: Low and Slow: Keeping the Tradition Alive in LoWriting: Shots, Rides, & Stories from the Chicano Soul.

Yes, it does show, Meza's pride that is. LoWriting is Chican@ voices and Chican@ pride.

I don't think it needs to be said, but just in case, buy the book, and request it at local libraries and universities. Especially those universities that have Chicano/Latino literature sections, their collections won't be complete without this book, or other books by Chican@ indie publishers for that matter.

A Podcast Interview with Art Meza on Echo Park Forums
Art Meza on Twitter
Art Meza on Instagram
Santino J. Rivera on Twitter
Broken Sword Publications Website

Sunday, February 16, 2014

"Thug" is the New "N-word"

There was a whole lot of hoopla surrounding the Seattle Seahawk's Richard Sherman and his excited outburst after his team's win over the 49ers. A friend texted me and asked me what I thought about the outburst that was followed by the media blitz, referring to him as a "thug." I texted back, "It's just a bunch of cracker ass bullshit. White people can't stand to see a successful minority athlete in the spotlight." My friend texted back: "Yeah: Thug is white people's new n-word." Truer words had never been texted. What I found just as humorous were the people who came to Sherman's defense, citing his Stanford education, his GPA, and how well-spoken he actually is. For me, Sherman's education and his proper speaking skills didn't have to be cited, because the way I saw it, the people making the shitty comments should have been attacked, because they committed a wrongful act. Sherman in my point of view didn't do anything wrong. For me defending Sherman based on his education was as if people were seeking to say that he proved himself to be above the stereotype of a thug, because he made it out of Compton. The way I see it the media was going to attack him because he was black, education be damned.

You don't have to look too far in sports & media related incidents to catch the media referring to some athletes as "thugs," based on something very unassuming the athlete did or said. It's as if they were nitpicking the athletes to have something bad to say about them. There as an incident involving AJ McCarron's mom, and something about Jameis Winston and his inability to speak correctly. I understand, she was upset and was being protective as a mother, because her son didn't win the Heisman, nor did his team make it to the College Football Championship game, but she didn't criticize his ability or skills as QB. If she would've said that he's overrated, yes there would have been controversy, but meh, at least it would stay on him as an athlete, instead she poked at him as a black man.

AJ McCarron's Mom Apologizes "We're far from racist" . . . Not far enough.

Similarly, a year ago Colin Kaepernick was attacked because of his tattoos. Because you know, he liked a tattooed thug n'stuff. Needless to say the controversy came and went. But it was one of those moments where I released a grandiose sigh, and shook my head incessantly for about an hour. Years ago, I recall a Saint Louis Rams QB doing a post game interview. As the reporter conducted the interview, a Rams linemen came over yelled something about the team sticking with this guy as their QB. The following day on Sportcenter, the media found the humor in it, and talked about it good heartedly. The white linemen was just excited because his team had won a game amidst a quarterback controversy. But the white lineman, was not labeled a thug. I repeat NOT a thug.

Colin Kaepernick Tattoos

I'm not sure what it is about white people that they have to go straight to an attack on a person's race than criticizing whatever it is about that person that offends them more directly. For example a friend of mine and I were walking through campus one day, we passed a group of white people, one of whom was trying to get people to sign a petition to prevent the city from allowing the local police department from stopping parties that got out of hand. Many students were upset the new ordinance gave the police the power to stop a party at 11pm if they found it "out of hand." Anyhow, as my friend and I walked by, deep in our conversation, the student with the clipboard, waved it at us and said, "Hey, wanna sign our petition for the anti-party ordinance?" Me and my friend kept walking and talking, not paying him much attention, not that we weren't interested in signing it, we were just caught up in our conversation. As the student went back to talking with this friends, he said, "They probably don't speak English." Me and my friend heard that, shook our heads, and basically called him a "pendejo."

Some Chicano students told me something similar happened to them when they were walking by a booth setup by the university's baseball team. The baseball team was trying to sell tickets or something because attendance was low, so when they offered tickets to these students who said, "No, thanks," one of the baseball players, noticing they were Mexican, said, "They probably only like soccer." Its baffling, that white people always need to turn to some sort of stereotype of our ethnicity, that borders on the racially charged. I have to wonder how many students who were white like the student with the clipboard, and the baseball players at the booth, just ignored them and kept walking. And I wonder if the students said anything about their fellow white students, you know like, "That hotdog and apple pie eating motherfucker." Or you know, "They probably didn't want to sign, because they have to go construct racist comments based on the ethnicity of person." Or if the baseball players thought, "They probably only like baseball & golf like us . . . er wait."

If anything, my friend's comment about the word "thug" being the new n-word, shows that the media and white people in general find new ways to code their racist tendencies & language.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Why I Hate Unions

Teen Social Doom
Unions are great. It's hard to believe that I truly believe that based on the title of this post. My father in fact, as far back as I can remember was a union member, first with the Teamsters, which represented him and many of the other employees at a local cannery. Later when the cannery closed down, laid off its employees and moved it's operation down to Mexico, to make better profits off of their product, through the exploitation of cheap labor, my father was able to find a job working in construction. And even then my dad made sure to join a union. He still works, so he is still a dues paying union member. The union makes sure that my father and other workers that are working construction, but are temporarily laid off, are the first ones that get a call from a company that needs laborers. So thanks to the union, my father has been steadily employed, usually only having to deal with a one-month layoff, before he gets a call to report to a new job site.

Unions haven't only been good to my father, they've been good to us, his family. Whenever he is temporarily laid off, the union provides him and the other laid off union members a box of food from their food bank. On a weekly basis my father would return with a cardboard box filled with random food items that me and my siblings looked forward to, because it was a surprise every week. It could be a mixture of cans of chili beans, beef stew, juice packets, oranges, lettuce, onion, a bag of coffee, cookies, and yes, sometimes even candy. It wasn't quality stuff, but at least we did get some fresh produce, along with cookies & candy! The union would even provide for us on Thanksgiving; every union member would get a turkey. So we were never  without a Thanksgiving turkey. In fact at times we had have one too many Thanksgiving turkeys, because my mom would usually purchase one, while one of them sat in the freezer. But it would work out, because then we'd have a turkey for Christmas. In fact, my mother would usually make tamales for Christmas, so as not to let the second turkey go to waste, my parents made tamales filled with picadillo de pavo. It was one of the best batches of tamales I recall having. So again, labor unions have been good to my father and his family, he gets health benefits, but also priority when it comes to employment.

So why is it that even though unions have provided us with holiday turkeys, boxes-o-food, and steady employment for my papá, I still hate unions? Did I catch some different union man in bed with my mother? No, not at all. Did the union in any way ever disrespect my father? No, never, nor has my dad ever complained about anything relating to the union. Were they ever dirtbags to me? Nope. Did I ever hear some union men discussing the true fate of Jimmy Hoffa, leaving me traumatized, and too scared to speak about what I overheard? Nope.

The only offense that the union ever committed against me was a minor one, looking back on it. But as a prepubescent niño it's funny how its the small things that cause a preteen the most angst and woe. Through their health plan, the union covered plenty of things, our teeth were well taken care of, and if ever we got sick, er well never mind, we didn't get taken to the hospital very much, most illnesses in my parents home, like most Mexican families were resolved with home remedies, two liter bottles of 7Up, "vaporu," the rubbing of an egg over your body, and if all else failed the tried, true and almost-guaranteed chinga, would get rid of the illness. But nonetheless thanks to the union if my parents had ever chosen to take us to the hospital we would have been taken care of well enough, and it wouldn't have cost my dad much. But my disdain toward the union still relates, to the union and the benefits package they provided my father through the company. You see, I am a corrective lenses wearing person. I have been since, I'm guessing the day I was born, because one of my earliest memories was me going to the optometrist, to get glasses. Nice old man. My necessity for glasses did not change as I grew. I continued to need them. Even as a preteen, but as preteen I broke them more often cause I'd be running around with my friends having fun, before alcohol became a necessity for us to have fun.
Well, I'm not sure what happened but we stopped going to the optometrist that my mother used to take me to often, a locally owned business. And instead they started taking me to a chain optometry/lens carriers. The corporations had teamed up to make me miserable. I had to get my glasses replaced, so of course my dad takes me. The check up goes well enough, and then it comes time to pick out the frame for my new prespecrition. So of course I walk over to the thin wire rim frames, because that was the "in" style at the time. If I was going to be a four-eyes, I wanted to be a somewhat fashionable & cool four-eyes. Of course I happily picked out a pair of frames that I liked, and handed them to my dad. He looked at the price and put them back. He walked over to the ladies behind the counter and basically showed them the insurance plan agreed upon by the union and the company he worked for.
Double Ugh
They were more than happy to accommodate him, where upon they took out a box from behind the counter, apparently this was where the frames covered by the insurance were kept. Upon opening the box, I was unsurprised to see nothing I liked. All the frames were these thick, atrocious, plastic frames, usually in black, brown, and a clear plastic, with tints of brownish color circulating throughout the frame. I was appalled beyond fucken belief. I couldn't pick out a frame because I hated all of them. The lady with the box was kind enough to pick one out for me, that she thought looked nice, which I took as a compliment, because she looked young herself, possibly in her mid to late twenties, and was fairly attractive, so I took her word for it. Nonetheless in junior high, regardles of the niceness of the plastic clunkers attached to my face, I was still a four-eyes. As it was I was damned from the start, because I was already this chubby, curly-haired, four-eyed thing, and it seemed that the only way to fix this was with a pair of wire rim glasses. I couldn't do anything about the curly hair, and I blame my father's prominent Spanish lineage for this. Now shake my head at the way my teenage mind worked. If the insurance would have covered some wire-rim frames, I felt I would have been at least a decent looking four-eyes. But no, nowhere in the box were any wire rim frames to be found. Each time I had to get a new pair of glasses because it was time to change my prescription or because I had worn out the older pair or because they had broken during an especially rough recess of running around, I would sit in front of the lady with the box, and as she opened the box I would try to think happy thoughts, hoping, eyes closed, wishing and even willing for a pair of wire rim frames to appear in the box. But alas, God hated me even then, and I believed he plotted with my fathers union, and the company my dad worked for; and I went on believing God was at heart, a man who supported corporations. But the majority of my ire was directed at the union for working out this deal with the company, and the chain optometry business. There were times when I didn't have to pick frames from the dreaded black box, I felt triumphant, because I believed, "yes! now my dad has no choice but to pay for a pair that I want." Sadly, this was not the case, because upon seeing the price of the frame, my dad would tell me to ask the salesperson, if they had anything cheaper. At that moment I would have given anything to pick a frame from the union insurance approved box holding the frames, but at the time my dad worked for a company that didn't have union representation, but still gave them a decent benefits package.

In fact, a few years ago I actually applied for a scholarship for the union that my dad was a member of, and I wrote about my displeasure about the glasses I had to wear thanks to them. I think that comes to show I hold onto grudges for far too long, and as some friends, family, and strangers have suggested, I need help. But I wrote about that in the scholarship essay, and I think the selection committee must have found my tale of preteen angst and woe hilarious, because they gave me the scholarship. The scholarship didn't rectify my disdain of the plastic clunkers that felt like they had a symbiotic relationship with my face for far too many years. The irony is that, nowadays, four-eyes, or better yet, plastic clunkers for your face are now cool, or better yet, "geek chic"-they call it! You can even spot (c)hipsters with the thick plastic frames. I accepted my fate as an eye enhancing implement wearing person. I no longer cared that I was a life-long four-eyes. I embraced it. And the current pair of glasses I wear, are in fact black, thick plastic frames or clunkers that surround the bottle cap frames I need to see well. I picked them, probably because I'm no longer a teen, nor care what people think about me, but just as important I chose them, because I liked them and I could afford them. That was something I didn't consider very much back when my dad would have me pick a frame from the dreaded black box that housed the frames of guaranteed teenage social doom. I didn't consider that cost was important, when it reality it was, because my parents had other bills to pay and couldn't afford something more to my taste, but my own selfishness didn't allow me to recognize that at the time.


P.S.-I hope I don't receive any hate mail for the my excessive use of "four eyes," I have since embraced it and am proud to call myself a four eyes, because apparently some women think it makes you look smart, which they in turn find sexy.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Professors Just Don't Understand

A student once told me that he was transferring out of the university, to attend a school closer to his hometown. Part of it was that he was homesick, and the other part of it was a property line dispute between his father and a neighbor. I guess it had gotten so heated that the neighbor was constantly talking harassing the student's dad. It got to the point where the student at one point grabbed a baseball bat and used it to try to resolve the dispute by assaulting his neighbor. He didn't hurt the neighbor too badly, but it got the student in trouble with the law and he wasn't sure if his neighbor would then try to retaliate against his father. And thus the student wanted to go back home. The student told me the situation, and my response was in essence sometimes you have to do what you gotta do. The student was a bit taken aback with my response, because I wasn't disturbed by his using of a baseball bat to assault his neighbor. He told me that he had told another professor about his situation, and that professor was appalled, asking, "Why did you use a bat?" When the student recounted this to me, I was appalled that the professor would be appalled that the student resorted to the use of a baseball bat to protect his father, also known as his family. Maybe its just me, but I guess when someone is messing with your family, there is a point where you'll do whatever you can to protect them regardless about the consequences. I'm not sure if the professor ever actually stopped, listened and thought about these things. But I've found myself in similar situations.

I remember my final year in California I was making some decisions, and I was sitting by myself in a secluded area of campus, just ruminating about what lay ahead for me. As I sat there pondering, a recently hired Latino Studies professor was walking by, I had met him earlier that academic year, and figured I could talk to him, and let him know about some of the things I was considering. I told him my situation, and next thing you know he goes into a diatribe, about some shit. At the end of it he asked, "Was that helpful?" I just nodded my head stunned at how he could answer a question, not my question, but a question, and then feel happy with himself for what he believed was helpful advice. I was thinking, man, did this motherfucker even listen to a single word I said before he spilled his word vomit? Nonetheless, he walked off happily for doing his good deed of the day as a fellow brown person in academia, and I sat there perplexed, thinking what the fuck just happened?

I encountered this further in graduate school. A professor knew about my incident with the guards at the jail where my brother was being detained, which I posted about a couple of years ago. At a meeting with my professor at his office this incident came up, and the best he offered was, "They're probably going to make things hard for your brother." This was a serious fucken blow. I had thought about my actions and how the guards might use the incident to make things difficult for my brother, possibly even assaulting him, because they didn't get the chance to assault me. But the fact that the professor brought it up, instead of asking if there was anything he could do, just really irked the shit out of me. If he was really concerned for my brother, he would have offered concern, and possibly even calling the jail, to tell them to not fuck with his student and his family. He has a partner/girlfriend, that's a lawyer for MALDEF no less, and instead of saying "let me talk to her about your incident to see if there's anything she can do or at least recommend," I got that shitty response about my brother. I guess what really kills me about the situation with the professor is that there's all this shit about caring for the students, we're family and bunch of other nonsense. From what I understand, family will pick up a baseball bat and use it on your behalf. The professor didn't do that, he just went on an anti-cop rant. You'd think that would make me feel better, but it didn't, it just reminded me that professors really just don't listen. I have to sit and think, oh please spare me the horseshit you're shoveling at me right now, and I smile and nod, because smiling and nodding is all they really need to see.

On Facebook, something was posted about students that were harassed by cops in New York, and a question posed by someone, was "what do we as educators do about this?" Someone else, an educator posted, "Nothing. Our jobs as educators is to teach, what happens to students outside of school grounds is not our responsibility. Students and their families should take responsibility and file a complaint." Seeing his comment, all I could think is education is fucked with people like him as educators. Not that he didn't have a point, but if we're going to talk about community, it is made up of many different components, and these things ripple, effecting different facets of community, not just the neighborhood, but the many different systems that can be considered communities, such as the community that is the immediate family, friends, the workplace, etc. But educators teach, and thats it.
I guess professors are really here just to teach and really not give a shit about us. That's the way I've had to think about it, because professors have disappointed me. Well, the ones that I've worked with who talk about giving a fuck, but at the end of the day are really ignorant to offer anything other than their anti-authoritarian rants. Now here I am working toward being in their position. Does that mean I'm just going to hear but not listen? Will I go on rants about random shit not having to do with anything, other than me liking the sound of my own voice? Its a dreadful fucking thought, becoming one of those people, always hearing, but not listening, while they give themselves intellectual thumb-fuckings. Academia, love it or leave it.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

This is the Post-Racial Society at Work in the TSA

A few years ago a friend told me about an incident her sister had with the TSA. Her sister wasn't harassed or profiled as she tried to get to her flight. Her sister actually was working for the TSA. Her sister had moved out of California, and to some state in the south, because that's where her boyfriend lived. She was able to get a job working at the TSA, which I'm guessing pays well. However, it wasn't until an incident involving the organization of a potluck that my friend's sister had problems of the kind that involved racism. The racist cuntery that some people continue to engage in, never ceases to amaze me.

You see my friend's sister was putting together a potluck that had a Mexican theme. It wasn't a Mexican theme as in dress up Mexican, it was as in bring a Mexican dish. I'm sure you can imagine where this is going. She had posted the sheet of paper on a bulletin so people could sign up and write in the dish they would be bringing to the potluck. Later when she checked the sign-up sheet there were some racist remarks written on it.

My friend's sister was obviously upset about this, what with herself being Mexican, and she voiced her concern to fellow co-workers, most of whom could care less and said they didn't know who tagged up her sign-up sheet with racist remarks. She went to speak to her supervisor, who upon seeing my friend's sister, told her she'd heard about the incident and didn't want to hear anything else about it. My friend's sister was at a loss. Apparently she even tried speaking to her boyfriend about it, who became annoyed and also didn't want to hear it, because in his opinion she was making it a race thing. What the FUCK?! I can't remember his ethnicity, but a dumbass is a dumbass, is a dumbass.

At a loss she spoke to my friend about the incident. My friend told me about this incident, because she remembered that my mother worked with an agency that dealt with such cases. I gave her the advice my mother told me to pass on to her, which pretty much consisted of her going up the chain, and then contacting the agency if nothing was done about it. By the time my friend passed on the advice to her sister, she didn't want to deal with it, and just wanted to let it go, because she still had to work there amongst those people, and didn't want to feel uncomfortable everyday at work if she pursued it. I guess prolonged discomfort working amongst some racists was better than the prolonged discomfort that you would feel if you were doing the right thing by doing something about it.

My friend was disappointed that her sister decided to drop the whole thing. This is beyond bothersome.

I guess having a black president in office, makes people forget that this shit still exists. "We're a post-racial society, yay!" Fuck you.

What makes it worst, is that I think we all know the TSA profiles people that are on their way to catch a flight, but when hostility is induced through racism amongst the TSA employees that don't care for a Mexican or her Mexican food-themed potluck, its just a reminder that this country has a looooong fucken way to go.

I had forgotten about the incident, until recently, and when I remembered it, I had to write about it. It's always a hope that through awareness, people will stop with this post-racial bullshit, and/or their chosen apathy toward these type of situations.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Civil Rights Are Non-existent In My Barrio

A young man was shot three times in the back, in my neighborhood. There were people near him as he laid face down on the dirt street; by the time the police arrived they stood around, and a person told them to fucken do something. One of the cops looked traumatized like he hadn't seen a person who had been shot before. The person that told them to fucken do something, started being pushed away from the young man by another cop. A woman held the young man's hand, and tried talking to him, another cop yelled at her to get away because it was a crime scene, she ignored them, the cop checked his pulse, and yelled out, "We've got a pulse." So the woman kept talking to him, and the young man laying face down, taking his last breaths turned his head toward her. Eventually one of the cops called in for an ambulance and took out a first aid kit from his patrol car, to try to assist the young man.

My mother recounted this to me a few days ago, along with some other things. The cop with first aid kit apparently really didn't seem to know what he was doing, because he looked unsure. The cop turned the young man's body over, and placed something plastic in his mouth, possibly to perform cpr. Somehow when the cop raised the young man's upper torso, he either lost his grip or lost his nerve, and the young man's head hit the asphalt hard. A woman in the crowd yelled out, "Oh my God, he killed him!" That's how hard the young man's head hit the asphalt. My mother was trying to film everything on her cellphone but one of the cops came over and told her to turn it off, to which she replied she didn't have to. The cop threatened to take her phone away and keep it as evidence. My mother protested further, but she put her phone down and in doing so didn't save the incompetence she had been trying to record on her cell phone. The young man passed away, the father showed up, but the officers didn't let him go near his son, people were questioned.

The day after the murder, some of the young man's friends gathered in the spot he had passed away. They were having a vigil, paying their respects to their friend. My brother and mother were among the crowd of mostly young men, but eventually some neighbors began to come out to participate. As this was occurring, an Asian cop that patrols the area and is known to intimidate and harass many of the locals showed up, and demand they disperse. He started threatening to arrest people. My mother confronted him, letting him know they weren't doing anything wrong, they were paying their respects for the young man who had been killed the day before. The Asian cop said, he knew what they were doing, and accused them of having a "gang gathering!" My mother said are you kidding me, and asked him to prove it. He pointed to some of the young men and the way they were dressed, typical teen attire in our barrio, the baggy clothing. The Asian cop yelled out, "I know some of you are on probation! If you don't leave I'll arrest you!" Admittedly some of the those young men were on probation, and started to walk away. My mother ignored him and returned to the vigil.

At which point the cop, approached my brother and accused him of being on probation, and said he was going to arrest him. My brother told him he wasn't on probation and therefore couldn't do that. Another cop leaned in and started telling the Asian cop to arrest him, just do it. My brother told him to run his name, so he could see for himself that he wasn't on probation. By this time more cops showed up, my mother approximated ten in total. He ran my brother's name, found that he had an unpaid parking ticket and said he was going to take him for that. Another guy, with a ponytail was called out from the crowd. Apparently he was the older brother of the young man who had been killed. He told the cops he was going to be honest, he was going to give them his name, but he had just gotten out of prison, and was therefore going to show up as being on probation. But he told them he was there, because the young man killed was his brother. The cops didn't arrest him, but they didn't care if he was there to pay his respects, they told him to go home or they'd arrest him regardless. He walked away.

 Seeing my brother getting harassed by the Asian cop, my mother walked toward them. As my mother approached the Asian cop, some of the people in the crowd began recording with cellphones. Many of the cops took out their flash lights and turned the light toward the cell phone users, so that the light would make it difficult for the crowd to record. My mother asked the cop for his name and badge number, and he replied he didn't have a card on him. Pretty convenient she told him, my mother had faced off with this fucker before, and he never had a card. She then said that's fine, let me see your badge number. He covered his badge. My mother said she wanted all their names and badge numbers, all the other cops followed suit, and covered their badges. One cop eventually offered his commander's card, which she took. The Asian cop told her he could arrest her. She told him, go ahead do it. He walked slowly toward her, and she stood her ground. But she realized that my brother might get angry, and snap if the cop put his hands on her, so my mother turned her back on him, and walked back to the vigil. The cop felt triumphant, and yelled at her, "That's right! Stay on that side of the street and don't come back here!" Little did he know my mother was trying to save my brother from a Rodney King-style beating at the hands of him and his fellow abusers of power bestowed upon them by the badge. My mother called the commander's number, but was sent to a voicemail, of course, and left a message, asking the commander to please tell his officers to stop trying to intimidate and harass the people in our neighborhood while they were holding a vigil. She knew the commander wouldn't return her call, nor do anything about his underlings. Eventually the Asian cop released my brother, but accused him of having called him racist. My brother hadn't called him racist, and my brother told him as much. Another cop leaned in and whispered something to the Asian cop, after which he let my brother get back to the vigil.

The cops stayed there staring down the crowd until they finished. People dispersed, and that was the end of it. My mother told me that at one point she had spoken to the young man's parents after he had been killed. The father relayed a story about his son to my mother. He told her, that his son had been in trouble and was on probation. He had been walking down the street when he spotted the cops, at which point he began to run. His son apparently jumped over a fence, lost his footing, and injured himself when he landed. The cops had given chase, and had managed to catch up to him. The young man had yelled out, "I'm over here, but I'm already hurt!" Apparently one of the cops didn't give a fuck, and kicked him in the back. The son had told his parents about this incident, and in true old-school-traditional-Mexican-parent fashion, the father had told him, "That's what you get for being a troublemaker, cabron!" Having told this to my mother, the father let her know he regretted having said that to his son, after the cops didn't let him approach his son lay dying.

I've lost sleep since my mother told me about what happened with the cops. The cops aren't supposed to cover their badges or refuse to identify themselves. That tells me, they know they're doing something wrong, and are covering their badges to avoid complaints being filed against them. They're taking advantage of the situation, because it's a Mexican barrio, and they believe they can intimidate and harass people without regard for their civil rights. They figure no one is going to complain, because they think working class Mexicans living in the barrio don't knows their rights. However once they confront someone who does know their rights, they try to intimidate them more, by threatening to arrest them. This latest transgression is to me one of the worst, fucking with people while they pay their respects to one of the barrio's sons. As they say in Spanish, "Ya se estan encajando los cabrones."

The community had tried working with the cops to keep the neighborhood safe, but the way the cops wanted to work with the community was by asking them to report anybody they knew violating probation, or if they saw anything suspicious, like a bunch of cholo-looking teenagers hanging out on the street. They wanted the community to turn in their own people. As a result, the community chose not to work with the cops.

I continue losing sleep, angrily wishing I would have pursued a law degree instead of whatever the fuck it is I'm doing here now. That way, I'd at least be able to protect my family in some way from those cops especially the Asian cop who has done a lot intimidating and harassing, and using shady tactics. All I could offer my mother was to contact the local ACLU even though they lag in their response to such cases in our area. She said she had better luck with a local chapter of LULAC. In the mean time I sit here and stew, maybe its because I'm the oldest son, and feel a need to protect them somehow, but am unable to do so. I don't think that Asian cop would ever want anyone to harass or intimidate his mother, nor threaten to arrest her for no reason in particular other than she challenged their authority. But he obviously seems not to care about this, all that matters to him, is control of the people in barrio, and making sure they stay in their place.

I don't know the young man that was shot and killed. My family did, he was friends with my brothers. My mother once found him sleeping in one of our cars after his parents had kicked him out of their home. I hope his murder is solved and may he rest in peace.

I also hope attention is given to the violation of civil rights being perpetrated by the cops in that barrio, and that something is done about it. Wishful thinking.