I often listen to Michael Berry who is on the fringes of the conservative talk show hosts. One of the distinguishing factors about his content is that he loudly criticizes the culture of “the welfare class” and mocks, and even demonizes those people who look at collective solutions to problems. He goes way beyond a policy analysis an actually has a female character who does “black voice,” who is played by a white man. He often stereotypes those people who he calls “illegal” immigrants. Anyway, you get the flavor of his show.
Today, he was exploring a theory proposed by some academics that blamed “under-performance” of US minorities on elements of their culture. He flat-out rejected any claims of historical oppression and theft of wealth as a cause for minority poverty.
As I listened to the “three factors” that are present in over-performing cultures, which the researchers listed as Jews, Mormons, immigrant Nigerians, Chinese and Indians, I found myself agreeing that these three “factors” probably lends itself to behavior congruent with the US standard for success. BUT I think that some logic and analysis will show that the historical oppression of our people is tied into the absence of these traits, and historical oppression has drained us of the resources available to other ethnic groups.
The authors found that the groups that excelled had a tinge of superiority in their outlook, a vision and sense of destiny. Not surprising when Jews, for example, follow a book that teaches that they are God’s favorite people. Mormons feel that they have the only keys to heaven, etc. As for our people, we look down on ourselves. The middle class look at the children in the barrio and don’t want their kids around them. All classes look in the mirror, see an Indian, and then proceed to equate indianness with stupidity. We use words like “contra-indio” to describe items. Those of us that do make, try to get as far away from our people as possible. They believe in themselves, but not their people. The authors of this study cite a healthy self-esteem that our people have lost collectively as a result of two colonization experiences. It is up to us, in our ceremonies, relationships, protests and rallies to Restore our self-esteem, not to take a corporate track toward “success” but to have that precursor to success as we define it.
Insecurity and Impulse Control were the other two. Hope to address those in another post.
I would like to offer this perspective on science. We should be cautious about using “modern” science as the only yardstick to validate or discard certain beliefs or practices in the tradition. It should certainly be one criteria, but it should not be the only thing. Someone mentioned something about creating a bologna detector or something. I would recommend being cautious about using only science in such a detector. Here is why: 1) science has flaws and produces flawed result at times. I don’t think this can be disputed, so I won’t elaborate. 2) science updates itself and creates new paradigms. imagine re-examining traditions before the advent of Einstein’s revelations. The idea that time is cyclical or that time “bends” would have seemed ridiculous. Had such an idea of time been thrown out and lost simply because it did not concur with euro science, we would think that Einstein’s ideas were really new, and we would have to “adapt.” 3) Science has not discovered everything. I have linked to one example below. If you read closely, there is one small paragraph about rumors and myths that are centuries old regarding small people on Flores island. As applied to us, these “rumors” are oral tradition. Conclusion: rather than “discrediting” those things in oral tradition or la mexicanidad that don’t comport with modern science, what I do is simply put it in a place where I honor it for what it is. When I have doubts about something, I try and say, the “tradition says” or the “ancestors say.” I try to say this, for example, before I say that our traditions says that we are from this land and not migrants from outside of turtle island. Have I been 100% convinced of this? Not yet, but I honor this tradition for the reasons stated above. We should think about changing interpretations, understandings and teachings in terms of doing so over centuries or at least decades. This may take some humility and skepticism of the absolutism of today’s science, but there is value in the traditions, even if not borne out by science. 4) Some (but not all) of what we speak about happens/occurs on a plane or paradigm that is different than what is easily verifiable with the scientific method. I’ll try to draw a parallel: social scientists (especially political scientists and sociologists) have a difficult time with many parts of the scientific method, compared with their counterparts in hard science. They have problems with prediction and experimentation. They use qualitative evidence as well as statistical, quantitative methods. There are just too many variables to be able to have a neat, nicely wrapped end-product as a biologist or chemist might. This does not mean that I look at their hypotheses as invalid, but it does meant that I look at it skeptically, and decide what I believe based on a number of factors, including observations and personal experiences. If we take a leap from the social sciences to the “spiritual” world, the application of the scientific method breaks down even further, and still I choose to believe what I do based on personal experiences, observations, and the idea that science simply hasn’t caught up to some philosophies or ideas; that science often produces flawed results.
Hobbit. Homo floresienses. Indonesia.
What is the minimum requested or required of you by yourself, your peers and by your family in the area of ethics, morals, education, professionalism, intellectual curiosity, family life, reciprocity, civic engagement and cultural participation? This society does not expect much from our youth and will, therefore, not request or require much in the areas above. Consequently, those who control this society will not implement much to engender high attainment in the areas listed above. It is up to us US to request, require and expect more from our youth and loved ones in the above areas. When you find someone that pushes you to reach your full potential (do your best) in these areas you have found your mate. When you create a society that nurtures your people’s full potential, you are one step closer to self-determination.
I’m not a big fan of Kennedy or any US president’s, but I am a big fan of my dad. I hope to post interviews of his activities in the Raza Unida Party.
Friends, this morning, I was writing a quote as a response to a friend’s facebook post. I could not bring myself to type Hispanic in reference to our people. I usually used the word so-called before the word, but that was often clunky. I just typed H*spanic instead, since it was a quote. Just a thought on how to remember identity without getting sidetracked from another theme like economics.
I was trying to figure out what I would be doing for muertos. There is a lot going on, so I though I’d list them and share the list.
November 2. Rothko Chapel. Renewing Our Chapel for Migrant Rights.
October 26, November 2. Casa Ramirez. Class, then reception for exhibit.
Oct 21-Nov 9. Lawdale Art Center. Celebration.
Nov1-3. MECA. Various events.
Nov 3. Goodrich Jones State Forest Conroe by Danza Chikawa. Miccailhuitl-Fiesta De Los Muertos-Day Of The Dead.
Nov 1 6-9. EESG. Exhibit?
Nov 1 6-9. TBH. Exhibit?
Nov 2 @ 10AM. Evergreen Cemetery. Museo Guadalupe Aztlan
First, I wanted to note that I have not posted much on this blog lately. I have been writing mostly for our xochicuicame (floricanto celebrations) that we hold twice monthly, as well as for a novel that I have been writing in my spare time. I am going to make it my goal to write my notes for my floricanto on this blog as well. This is written in a conversational style, as I will be saying this tomorrow.
Nehuan ni Tehuan.
In this world of interconnectedness, a world in which border are being destroyed, why would anyone want to organize around the traditions and history of a particular people? Shouldn’t we be trying to create multi-cultural organizations? Isn’t focusing only on “your people” backward?
Many years ago, this question bothered me. But I have come to love and to appreciate this question because the person posing it is asking out of a love of brotherhood or a love for justice and both. And so, rather than disdaining this question, I now attempt to answer this question with an open heart, a love of brotherhood, and a love of justice.
To understand why we must focus on our own culture, as least at first, we must understand development in people and in societies. If we fail to understand development, we will fail to understand how to achieve TRUE brotherhood among and between different people.
True Brotherhood/Sisterhood vs. Liberal Brotherhood
Brotherhood and sisterhood is the desire to be on good terms with another person, to trust another person, to love another person and to care for another person. When you are practicing true brotherhood and sisterhood, there is one more requirement: that you respect and care for the ways, traditions and heritage of the person with whom you are seeking this brotherhood or sisterhood. It is more than respect even, it is a desire to see those positive traditions that they bring survive and flourish among their own children, descendants and family.
Liberal Brotherhood on the other hand is the desire to be accepting of another person, only to the extent that they can be like you. And we see this all the time, in electoral politics especially. When white people say, “look at that candidate. He is very articulate. ” what they are saying is that he is very easy for them to understand. We are all very articulate. All of our family can understand us easily, and if they can’t our brothers take the time to understand us. If you seek brotherhood or sisterhood with someone else, you take the time to understand who and what they are. You don’t seek to make them adapt to you. Rather you seek to understand their way, their customs and habits. Liberal brotherhood, on the other hand is the opposite of that. If you are liberal seeking brotherhood, you are looking for someone who can behave like you, without you having to patiently get to know them on their terms. This liberal brotherhood was present in colonization. Some conservative colonizers sought to kill all native people, akin to a modern Nazi or fascist philosophy. Other colonizers figured that some Native people were “human enough”or “good enough” to become Catholics and learn Spanish. They weren’t practicing true brotherhood. They were practicing liberal, colonialist brotherhood. Rather than kill us, they would simply kill our heritage.
Infants and Individualism
Being an infant is often akin to being an individualist. When you are an infant, you are unable to contribute to the family. Everything that you want or do is geared toward your own needs or wants. If you want juice, you want it now. Nevermind that mom is cooking or dad is mowing the lawn. You want juice, when? Now. Nevermind that mom is on the phone with work. This is still a necessary and beautiful phase in development. Nobody would say that these infants do not LOVE their parents. They are simply incapable of showing and effecting contributions to the family.
Similarly, this is the first phase in development for any society. This society was created during the advent of the Enlightenment, when Europe was coming out of the Dark Ages. Their first thought in creating a society was the protection of the individual, and this is why INDIVIDUAL rights were protected in the constitution. The society had not fully developed to think about the rights of groups or of other peoples. It was in its infancy in its development, and, like the infant it could only focus on itself. This is not to say that the society, if properly developed, and that’s the key….if properly developed… could not contribute to the human family. But it was, and is, in a stage of development where, like the infant, it is incapable of contributing to the human family.
Development past individualism and toward familalism
Once an infant is developed properly, he or she is then capable of contributing to the good of the family. This may come in many forms. It may come in the form of cleaning, the home, working at a job, or working on the lawn. In any case, this is a beautiful phase in development, when it is done at the right time in the development of a child. This is when one begins to become a man or a woman. Problems can arise when in development, a child is forced to contribute too early or is guided to contribute to the family too late in life. Different types of problems can arise when a child contributes to the family either too early or too late. In any case, these first two phases of life must be experienced properly in order to properly contribute to the next phase.
Community development: the next phase of development
When a man or woman has their family on the proper path, they are then charged with contributing to the community. Let me repeat that: WHEN a man or woman has their family on a proper path, THEN they are charged with contributing to the community. If a man or woman is needed at the home, and instead they are out running for office, going to community meetings or block walking, they are risking the collapse of their own home. It may not hurt them if they are fully developed as a man or woman, but it will hurt them if their identity as a person is connected to their family, because he risks collapsing everything that makes him who he is.
Application to focusing on our own cultura.
What does all this information on personal development have to do with preserving our traditions and seeking a focus on Nikan Tlaka people instead of all people? The questions still remain. Our people and our nation are currently in a that middle phase of development. We understand and practice individualism. We’ve been made to understand individualism by our society and circumstances.
Our goal in this group is to transition into the next phase in development, that is we must transition our community to the phase of contributing to our own family first. If we transition into this phase either too late or too early, it creates a long-term misstep in our own development. After that phase, and once our own family is on a proper path, THEN we can transition to helping create bonds between communities. You see the development of our nation is not much different that the development of an individual.
You see a man or a woman who sees that his family is not on a proper path, if he or she truly loves his family, will not risk dedicating the majority of this time in the community. Of course, he can go to meetings occasionally or attend the occasional event, but if he were to risk spending most of his time in the community, he would risk the collapse of his family, and someone who loves his family would not do that.
The same principle applies to our community. This society is forcing us into individualism. This society is goading us into individualism. It is stifling our development to work collectively toward our solutions, and it does so skilfully and intentionally. We must focus first on contribution to the development of our own community…We must do this first, and we must make sure our people are on a proper path first…THEN we can focus on the larger picture of international brotherhood. Failing to do so risks a collapse of our own house. This doesn’t mean that we can’t focus some efforts on relations with other communities, but it does mean that the bulk of our efforts must be on preserving our own history and traditions, while we still have the opportunity.
So if our own goal is to get our house in order. We have some work to do. We have some work to do. First and foremost, anyone who hopes to care for another must be in a position to do so. We can have the desire to help develop our community, independent of any outsiders or corporations. If we don’t have the means, though, it is only a dream. There is a model of self-help and community development that was popular and effective almost one hundred years ago. It was call mutualismo or mutual aid societies. We are proposing the development of a new one, the Mutualistas Nikan Tlaka. It is a project designed to help our members in their time of need and to invest in their future at those times that they are willing to invest in themselves. We hope to have this operational no later than January 1, and I invite all of our members to consider becoming a part of the project.
Nonchantlaka, thank you for your time.
***This event, which will share the perspectives of a diverse group of Houston Latinos, is the first in a series. All Houstonians are encouraged to join us and participate in the dialogue.***
2013 is the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech, delivered during the march on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Racial divides were central to both of these moments that stand out so brightly in American history. These divisions were again at the forefront of the nation’s consciousness, with the election of President Barack Obama. The 2008 election and 2012 re-election of President Obama marked yet another shift in the American Reality with discussion of race often behind closed doors, in the safe space of the familiar. Our hope is to bring what we feel is a long-needed discussion of race and ethnicity and all that it affects, out into the open, to help the community on a local, state and national level, grow into the next phase of existence, with her members enjoying a greater self-understanding and understanding of others. The goal of an ongoing dialogue, in the form of several conversations throughout the year on a variety of topics to include Race, Identity, Color, Slavery and Segregation will hopefully result in a better appreciation and understanding of one another, as we go forward to collectively create a future that benefits all of us, rather than some of us.
The purpose of this series is to examine notions of ethnicity & identity in 2013 from the perspective of various communities that make Houston the most diverse city in the nation. Our interactive panel conversations, made up of diverse community members from many Houston’s ethnic groups, will be framed within the context of ‘The Past, The Present & The Future.’ A vigorous question & answer session will follow each panel conversation where audience members can ask the panelists to expand on previous comments or ask questions of their own. The first conversation in this series will be on May the 6th at 6pm & will feature a diverse panel from Houston’s Latino community speaking about what it means to be Latino in Houston in 2013.
Hear & Now: Conversations on Ethnicity & Identity in 2013 Houston. The first conversation in this series will be on May the 6th at 6pm & will feature a diverse panel from Houston’s Latino community speaking about what it means to be Latino in Houston in 2013.
Talento Bilingue De Houston (T.B.H.) 333 S Jensen Dr, Houston, TX 77003
May 6th, 6pm-9pm
The purpose of this series is to examine notions of ethnicity & identity in 2013 from the perspective of various communities that make Houston the most diverse city in the nation in recognition of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech.
Our interactive panel conversations, made up of diverse community members within Houston’s Houston’s many ethnic groups, will be framed within the context of ‘The Past, The Present & The Future.’ A vigorous question & answer session will follow each panel conversation where audience members can ask the panelists to expand on previous answers or ask questions of their own.
Depending on the society, there are people today who are beaten, killed and shot, when trying to organize the strength of workers. Families are broken apart due to social conditions. For example, the same forces that have brought people here in an undocumented way are the same forces that are splitting them up by deportation. It is not chattel slavery, as was the case in the US, but I argue that it is a form of slavery, neo-colonialist slavery. When you, from birth, take a man or woman and intentionally deny them the tools and the skills to survive, you create a dependence that is akin to slavery. When, by birth, a man or a woman has no guarantee of shelter, no guarantee of food, but rather you give them a guarantee of war, inadequate schooling, no land to produce food, then you have created the conditions of neo-colonial slavery. It is a form of slavery in which the victim may choose his corporate master but in which he is disallowed from deciding whether or not to have a corporate master. Repression varies from region to region, and it depends on wealth, political structure and culture. Nonetheless, UNCHECKED capitalism produces the conditions that give rise to this sort of required dependence all over.
As far as the achieve act: I only know based on news reports the following: the original DREAM act was a good plan. However, it got changed to require military service or higher education, which I had a big problem with. The vast majority of our brothers and sisters could make no use of the higher education provision, which created a situation similar to a draft, I called it a de facto draft. For this reason, I opposed the later version of the DREAM Act. It would put undue pressure on our youth to go and commit to wars of imperialism for the sake of not having their families separated.
However, when Obama pushed deferred action, he did not have these two requirements as the only pathways. This was a big improvement, which I always said was possible. Again, this “improvement” was part of the original DREAM Act and it was also pushed around 2010 by Rep Luis Gutierrez in his proposal. I wrote an opinion piece published by the Chron on my thoughts about the improvement the Obama plan had (and of course the weaknesses as well). Anyway, it appears that the achieve act reverts to the military and higher education as the only options. This sets up a draft for our youth, and I would have to oppose this two. I could accept a pathway to residency instead of citizenship, because history teaches us that citizenship often does not provide the protection it promises anyway. I could not negotiate on leaving the pathway open to high school grads or even maybe those willing to do community service. Residency at least promises that families won’t be broken up, but a narrow military pathway will create aggressive warfare, and I can’t accept that. The achieve act does not even offer residency. It is a revocable visa. When the political tides change, everybody will be vulnerable to deportation again.
In sum, I believe that the achieve act should be discounted, and not used as even a discussion point toward negotiations.