Thursday, March 22, 2007

Climate of Intolerance Stretches Across the U.S.

The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio, Texas, recently came under fire because they put on a play about Che Guevara's last living days. This prompted ADULTS to question whether our tax dollars should fund the arts at all. The link to the NBC blog will show you the intelligent discussion that took place around this issue. Given that arts and arts education funding has been cut to nearly zero in the United States, I found it amusing that anyone still thought we were funding the arts.

One of the things I've noticed along the highways of Texas is that every time I see someone who has been stopped by a cop, the person is usually Black or Latino. No surprise there. That happens everywhere, even if you aren't driving. The difference is in Texas, they make their accusations stick, even if you are fourteen and female.

I have been welcomed, fed and taken care of by wonderful people down here in the South. Poet Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz, who is in New York right now, traveled all the way from Arizona to read at our budding poetry spot at the Guadalupe. June Pedraza, a local poet who started the Sagebrush Review Literary Magazine at the University of Texas at San Antonio, has asked me to read at several events. My friend Laura, who is married to the basist in Second to None, has been so much fun and is a breath of fresh air in Academialand. And the wonderful speaker/poet Nereida Reyes, who is from New York (!), has been nothing but warmth and real deal love. On top of that, my adviser Dr. Bridget Drinka, and the folks at the Hispanic Leadership Program, have been very supportive of my goals.

So I'm sure you can understand when I say that Texas is craaayyyyzzeeee! On the one hand, people have been very appreciative and supportive but on the other hand, I'm sometimes afraid to say a word, to pick that loud vinyl skirt to wear, or to even look at someone in the face. I'm still me, but wow. Being me caused one chick, who is younger and less educated than I, to call me tacky. Being me has caused another chick to question why I would identify with my African ancestry. Being me has been really interesting down here.

What is even more interesting, however, is that a month ago I received an email from a friend on the East Coast who lives in a very liberal city. He saw a Black man being beat up by a policeman while he was walking one evening with his wife. Another Black man who was observing this said something and my friend's wife said that the effort wasn't worth it, in hopes of avoiding the cop's wrath. Despite that, all three of the observers were jailed and are awaiting trial. It seems that it has become difficult to be oneself wherever one may be. Even back East.

Even in California, hateful language and actions have been so strong that they've found their way to my door in the media.

All these things are nothing new, I know. History repeats itself and what has begun to repeat itself is scary. How many more dead? How many more jailed? How many more confrontations of intolerance? How many more children in schools that don't serve them? How many more adults who don't have one idea about how to create life and positivity?

I find solace in the protests. But I would find more solace in the tolerance and compassion of my peers. I would find more solace in knowing that all of us could speak our minds without judgment and fear. I would find more solace in a country that didn't feel the need to silence anyone who might have a different point of view.

I know my parents lived in climates such as this one. I know my ancestors lived in worse conditions. What I don't know is....


Anonymous said...

So long as our society remains primarily heterogeneous (through slavery or immigration), you'll will always find the problem of intolerance. Maybe I'm a pessimist but I don't think the problem will ever go away. I only notice our tolerance for each other is i when we have similiar backgrounds via education, age,cultural, race,regional. And more importantly when it serves our self-interest. I currently moved to New York (July 2006) and never is this more glaringly obvious when it comes to the so-called boroughs of the city. When the 'Metropolis' (Manhattan from my vantage point, a representation of the wealthy) tries to push out the uptown citizens of Harlem by buying up the neighboring property under the guise of Free Trade and Private Property (Gentrification). The Rich only tolerate the Poor until a particular agenda needs to be achieved. In this case generating more money to bring in more sappy tourist. Good Luck on trying to get a handle on intolerance across America but I suspect it will eventually leave a bad taste in your mouth. Oogie

Anonymous said...

Identity politics is the final illusion. If something works it's already obsolete.



Grisel said...

Yes, SinTesla,

I think it is an illusion. Are we seeing these issues in the media to create an illusion of discord? Are we being manipulated in order to keep us from being unified? The truth is we ARE unified, as the united protests will show. Why are we so keen on believing in these categories that others have shaped for us?

EEK! said...

Hey, darlin'! Thanks for sending the link to your blog. You should really, really hook up with my friend Amanda Johnston, Austin poet and all-around badass chick - solidarity in Texas, ja?

Anonymous said...

Propaganda, 1928, Edward L. Bernays
My own study of astrology has shown me that feelings/emotions are not at all what we think they are... If some planet millions of light years away can change our feelings/emotions then what exactly are we dealing with. Obviously they are exogenous? So what are they? Can only conclude that they are mediums... Archetypal powers...

Just a thought,


beluvid said...

eyem paraphasin tim wise badly here. but until u understand white supremacy everythang else will confound u. we r tha faces at tah bottom uv tha well. & besides racism bein woven inta tha very fabric uv what it means ta be american. unduin it wud mean unduin what it means ta be american. & most folks r not ready fa that. its crazy too. cuz most uv tha school textbook fa schools across tha country cum outta texas. tha control & creation uv tha media & mythoforms that inform our identity politics get born there. fa be it ta ave pepul question & think fa themselves. eye jes saw "mortorcycle diaries" fa tha first tyme. & ta me. it was a testament ta what is possible. tah expansion uv consciousness. uv bein able ta see tha wurld wif ur own eyes. this instead uv what u r beintold about tha wurld. or blk pepul. & eye imagine. those folks u got resistence frum. know diddli squat about che. otha then sumfin they may ave read in an "approved" textbook or corporate media source. che bad. hugo chavez. bad. iran. bad. sadddam. real bad. communism bad. black. bad. bad. bad. bad..... ignorance & intolerate are not so strange bedfellows. stay tha course grisel.

M said...

Surprising that we are still surprised.
Perhaps the comforts & illusions
of American dreams leave us disconnected from history - even the recent histories within our reach.

Motorcycle dreams was a beautiful moment in a larger narrative.
I thought the movie Babel also touched an aspect of that same narrative - in the end the 'moral of the story' seems that privilege crosses borders and the poor balance on a razor's edge in the shadow of the privileged.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but the issue spreads well outside of the borders of this country. I'm a complete pessimest on this issue. I don't see how any of this can change for the better. The world and it's twisted paths, thoughts, emotions, judgements, etc. are so set in place. The thing to do...? I'm simply not sure anymore. Speaking out is always a good thing, but is it really enough? Does it do anything truly positive? The condition of our government, nation, and all of the people who reside in it are disgusting, self-absorbed, and lost !!! It's rather sad, that for all of the supposed intelligence around the world, you would think that people would create, support, and act in ggod faith towards a better existence together. We are all foolish, little people who will eradicate ourselves in due time. Fuck the world of Orwell, we're gonna skip right over that shit into something more evil, dark, and depressing then the issues that we see, feel, and converse about today. Good luck to you all. We're gonna need it. Drew

Anonymous said...

A more helpful paradigm can be drawn by fully explicating the distinctions between feelings and emotions. Feelings are indogenous and emotions exogenous. Emotions can be compared to the autonomic processes of the body even though the regulatory mechanisms for emotions originate outside of the body. The normal autonomic process is a function of the brain, while thought itself takes place in the heart - that is how the ancients saw it, which is why in thier cosmo-mythologies the heart was removed after death and weighed against a feather to effect judgement. Modern society has not only eliminated the category of Mind but has also lost the idea that thought takes place in the heart. The brain is essentially a computer, but computers don't think they calculate. Yogis can intervene in the autonomic process through various disciplines and we can intervene in the emotional process through observational discipline and correctly identifying the influencing agents. By drawing energy into the brain and away from the heart mass social engineering becomes relatively easy. In the 1950s Dr. Delgado placed electrodes directly in the brain. Today they use microwaves. But if undetected intervention into the autonomic emotional process can be used then even microwaves are unneccessary. Actually, this has been happening since the 20s through the corporate application of the work of Dr. Freud. The only way out is to overcome the fear of death. Then not even violence works and freedom is everywhere.

Morton Graham Phibes

Grisel said...

Wow, Mr. Phibes,
Beautiful words from the heart. In Spanish, the word for heart is corazon and that is what influenced the word "coraje" or courage. Another hint that the heart is where it's at. How many times are we told to think with our heart and not our mind and we dismiss the idea as silly hippie stuff. But our hearts are wise with our timeless blood.

Grisel said...

Here's an update on the 14 year old girl who was sentenced to seven years in Texas.,1,1122206.story?coll=chi-news-hed

Grisel said...

Good news!

Shaquanda Cotton, the 14 year old girl from Paris, Texas, was released from jail early because of the nationwide outrage. Yeah!

Cut and paste this link to the Chicago Tribune story:,1,4935841.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed