Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Pause

I will not be able to write any substantial blogs for a few months because I am trying to finish my dissertation and graduate, but here are a few things to ponder until I get back to all of you:

1. What might we make of the current trend of falsity? Some basic examples of this include plastic surgery, airbrushing, fake tans, and hair extensions. Other, more elaborate examples, include trolling, The Colbert Report, and ironic websites which purport to be right wing, for example, but which are actually making fun of the people they claim to be. It is the second group of examples I find most fascinating. It takes a very keen eye and mind to recognize what is actually going on, what information can be trusted, who is actually being honest about who he/she is. Why have we become so twisted and tricky about information? Is this useful?

2. I've been hearing that the "recession" has been over for several years now, yet more than half of my students in a recent class raised their hands when I asked how many of them had recently been unemployed or underemployed. Is there anyone who will finally admit that we have been in a depression for decades?

3. Vincent and I have refused to work in education positions where we have to rank students or needlessly test them, we have refused to invest our money in corporations who take part in practices that pretty much enslave people in other countries (no 401Ks here), and we have still managed to eat and write and look somewhat stylish doing it (and we continually watch South Park's episode on SMUG, to guard against that, too, 'kay). Are there other people who have managed to avoid Wall Street or other immoral workplaces and not end up on the actual street? I'd like to know who you are.

4. Finally, for those of us who do have employment right now, we often work all the time, even if we are at home, we have to continually check email, have our phone on in case something comes up - our schedules are not set, we are always thinking of work, even if we are not in the workplace. We have many different tasks to accomplish because our employers are unable to hire the right number of people for the jobs that need to be done. Much of our work goes unpaid, therefore, if we do get vacation time, we cannot afford to get away from the concrete and steel. This phenomenon does not allow us to have leisure time. I'm reading Paul Shepard right now and he, and other scholars he draws from, claim that leisure time is what allowed humans to evolve. We had time to imagine, contemplate, play, process and develop new ideas. I am helping a group of high school seniors write essays that hopefully will show how dynamic they are to scholarship committees and I was horrified to learn that they have no leisure time, I imagine because they are working with me and other tutors during all their free time. What can we do to ensure that we all have time to let our minds and bodies wander? Perhaps that is the only way to come up with solutions to some important problems. I find this extremely important.

That said, I will go back to my constant work. :) Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

DON’T CALL ME SLACKER!: “X” means the spot you drilled and siphoned all our resources for your own pleasure

People who call my generation, the generation that was born around 1965 to 1980, the “slacker” generation are a bunch of weasels who have collectively created a world devoid of: quality bookstores/libraries/public schools; any kind of morally reasonable job pool; and any sort of housing that actually allows folks to create a stable living space. I absolutely HATE anyone who continues using rhetoric that paints a picture of a generation of jerks who sit on their sofas all day watching “The Simpsons” repeats and eating Captain Crunch. That image of what they like to call “Generation X” is wrong, a lie, and spiteful.

Let me address my initial points. First of all, we are teased for not having an extensive vocabulary. Really? Well, what do you expect when all of our book options have been relegated to the local Barnes and Noble or Borders Bookstore?? What do you expect when small booksellers—who choose quality books and not a bunch of romance or self-help crap—have been forced to close because earlier generations of adults thought it was better to have one megastore serve an entire city instead of a variety of specialists stocking their own shops with books they actually read? What do you expect when older generations decided it was not important to teach us to read anymore? “Phonics? What’s the point of that? Let the kid GUESS what the letters sound like!” “Libraries? Why spend public dollars on those when we got a WAR TO FIGHT?”

Second, we are criticized for switching jobs, or for not having jobs at all. Oh, sure, it’s okay that Generation Y is having trouble finding work, but Gen Xers are LOSERS! We must feel sorry for the grandkids, but our kids are EVIL and LAZY!! For those of you who were perhaps not alive when this whole thing started, downsizing and outsourcing were started when President Reagan was in office, so jobs were already being cut before we even graduated college. Furthermore, the jobs we were left with were morally reprehensible. My own brother Luis was horrified by the way he had to treat clients who had just been in accidents, clients who, as an insurance agent, he had to refuse to cover because of technical this or that. WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT THAT JOB?? It is physically painful to be immoral to people. Oh, sure, there were plenty of kids who were willing to become evil on Wall Street, and look at what THAT ended up causing. If you wanted to go into the humanities, you had to be a COMMERCIAL artist and convince people to spend money on products they didn’t need, or you had to work in schools that ensured learning would be traumatizing to kids, or you had to starve. I’ve been working since I was 11 years old (yeah, I know I've said that before). I’ve worked my whole life and never made anything much, in terms of money, but if I had been paid fairly for all of the work I’d done—teaching, entertaining, writing/publishing, designing, curating—no one would call me a slacker because I’d be living phat. The story out there now is that it is only the CURRENT generation that has suffered for lack of work, but the truth is that there has been very little work for several generations and this is why we all keep going back to school (in hopes of finding better work later on).

Third, how can we possibly create stable lives if we have no affordable housing? Folks have been writing about the housing crisis for decades now, yet people keep putting up $400,000 condos. Can I have a cheap, clean, vermin-free rental, please? No one can afford to live in those condos, anyway, so it’s like you are just keeping the space to yourselves, saying, “Ha! Ha! You can’t live here!”

When I look around, I see very few friends of mine who don’t want to work. Everyone I know works hard and they are quite talented. A great number of my friends work multiple jobs and they take great pleasure in committing themselves to making this world a better place. It is argued that we are not motivated to change things. Well, that’s bullsh**. Our generation was an integral part of the first world-wide protest against a war that happened BEFORE the war began. Our generation was capable of utilizing technology to connect multiple nations in a protest against the worst kind of violent action. We didn’t just sign an on-line petition. Many of us stood in freezing temperatures throughout the U.S. and world in order to protest the Iraq war. Furthermore, our generation was an integral part of making sure our first African American president was elected. I was not given the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. through any school function, something which was common decades ago. No, I went to D.C. of my own volition to be close to the Inauguration. I also went to New Orleans to learn first-hand about the damage done by Hurricane Katrina, even though one of my college professors called the trip “taking a vacation,” even though the semester had already ended (How can someone associated with education think seeing Katrina damage is a vacation??).

A great number of my friends/acquaintances work in education, even though there are more people who criticize education than people who actually try to make a difference in it. My husband works with teens of all races in an arts program, when you know there is no money for the arts. My friend Nova did her thesis on art and education and she opened a gallery in Washington Heights, when many people would never think of highlighting art in that neighborhood because they are racist. An old acquaintance, Jesse, has worked with Puerto Rican teens in Chicago for decades, and he, as a scholar, connected themes in that locale with themes in Ireland (both P.R. and Ireland were colonized—the connection is not that hard to make). My NYC acquaintance, Jenny, has written more plays than you can shake a stick at, despite being a cancer survivor—and they don’t sit on some shelf, they get produced!

This does not sound like a lazy generation to me. Screw you if you think so. Yes, I’m being vulgar because the portrayal of who we are is vulgar. My generation is NOBLE. So many of my peers from Chicago’s Kenwood Academy have pursued noble, caring professions, and many of them donate time and substantial money to causes that ensure that younger folks will make it, too. Where is that in the portrayal of who we are?? Aren’t we the generation that exposed the dangers of an oil-dependent nation? Aren’t we the generation that exposed the dangers of globalization, but were not too insensitive to see the benefits of knowing people from a variety of countries, free of bigotry that previous generations exhibited? Aren’t we the generation that insisted on recycling?? I still remember my friend Jennifer yelling at her dad for putting food waste in with the recyclables. :)

We were given a world without jobs/moral jobs, without affordable housing, without fulfilling education, and with mountainous debt. DESPITE all of that, we’ve managed to care about our environment, care about the lives of people who older generations think are okay to bomb, and care about subsequent generations and the education we provide for them. To me, the meaning of X has nothing to do with slacking or wasting time. To me, X is where the gold is.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Malcolm X, Amiri Baraka, and the Texas-made history book

So I just got finished watching Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X,” again—I saw it the day it came out in theaters and probably at least two other times after that. I hadn’t seen it in a while and given that the anniversary of his death was this past week, May 19th, the same day my parents were married, I thought the timing was good. After seeing the film, Vincent mentioned Amiri Baraka’s poem, “The X is Black (Spike Lie),” and I’d never read the poem so I asked Vinny to break it out now that the film was fresh in my mind. I’m not exactly sure how to interpret the poem, but Baraka addresses the opening sequence where a U.S. flag burns into the X symbol, retaining the stars and stripes. Baraka correctly points out that the X would burn black, much like the space devoid of history for African Americans and anyone in the African Diaspora. I believe that Spike Lee was trying to create a space for Malcolm X in our legitimate U.S. history; my younger readers may not realize that when I was growing up, Malcolm X was a historical leper. No one outside of the Black community wanted to talk about him in any respectful way. He was always portrayed negatively. The film changed that. However, it seems that Baraka still feels that despite the goals of the film, ultimately what is done with Black culture is that it is used to create wealth for folks who don’t respect it. The poem implies that the film is a sell-out. If there are any other interpretations of the poem, please bring them on because I am not at all too sure of my own.

I am sure of some ideas, however, that have come up for me. The first is that I have been trying to fill in the X of my own absent history for all of my 38 years. Again, my younger readers and/or students often have no idea what I’m talking about or why it might matter, but as a child, I suffered greatly because I did not know who I was. My grandparents lived in countries outside of the U.S., our family tree was not recognized with well-kept records because we were poor and because our African and Asian/Middle-Eastern ancestral migrations/kidnappings were faint, and my parents did not know much about U.S. culture. As the first U.S.-born in my family, I was expected to adjust to the world without any information about my family, my ancestry or how to navigate U.S. culture. When Malcolm is in jail, it is the first time he is asked to think about who he is, by an Islamic leader, and this is when his enlightenment begins. It is at this time he is able to decide who he wants to become and what he wants to do in the world. When he acknowledges that his history has been erased, it becomes his goal to help others who are also “lost,” as he put it. Most of my students do not understand that we need to know our history in order to know who we are and what we want to do in the world. What Malcolm X may not have realized back then is that nearly everyone in the U.S. has an X. We are all given history with holes, history with an agenda, and this is what allows us to be so divided.

After the film, I told Vincent that today’s world is very different to the world I grew up in, according to what my students reflect back to me. The racial lines are still there—statistics often prove this, as do visits to the poor areas of the Bronx or Cartagena, Colombia, or South Africa—but the movements in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, did make changes. Most of my students have a diverse range of friends and many of my students of color come from middle class backgrounds. Bush’s cabinet had several people of color represented. I did not see these sorts of things as a child, very much. I certainly didn’t see the number of people of color in the media as I do now. However, we must keep Baraka’s message in mind. The changes that we can see, a Condoleeza Rice here, a Jennifer Lopez there, do not fill in the black X. The X is filled in with legitimate study and community. As I wrote before, it took me 38 years to begin to fill in my X. I had to make it to DOCTORAL study in order to find the facts that showed me that yes, there were Middle Eastern migrations to the Caribbean coast of Colombia, which explains why some of my cousins look Middle Eastern. It took persistent questions to finally find out about the African ancestry in my Cuban family. It took years of reading and hunting and privileged access to a university library in order to find out about the Caribs, my ancestors, and how they joined forces with African slaves on the islands and how letters written centuries ago document persistent desires to become independent from Spanish and English rule. This group was so smart and strong, it took brutal force and, ultimately, MIXING to dominate them. That is, we are taught that the Caribs were decimated, but they were not. The Spanish and the English had babies with them in order to secure rule. But wait, I wrote, “we are taught,” but that is wrong. We aren’t taught anything about the Caribbean except maybe a paragraph on the Bay of Pigs. I don’t believe we are even taught about Toussaint L’Ouverture, the man who led a successful slave revolt in the Caribbean (we are told it is the only successful revolt, but who knows). No, all of these facts are left out of history books, even though the U.S. is incredibly dependent on Caribbean resources and should share such information with its citizens.

This lack of enlightening reading brings me to the current issue at hand: history books. Many educators have taken it as a given that the history books we provide our children with are mediocre, at best. As you all may know, a board of useless people recently voted to make our history books even worse than mediocre. This sort of decision leaves EVERYONE in the U.S. with a big, empty X. All of our children are left at a disadvantage when they do not know our relationship with other countries and each other. Some have voiced concern about making white people look bad in history books; sorry, I can’t argue with facts and legacy, but the truth is that there are many white people who have helped create true community and there isn’t any reason why they cannot be placed right alongside the wide range of people of color who are a part of U.S. history. What I am arguing for is not repeating the same mistake that was made with my and previous generations. As it stands, a child who comes through our education system right now will have to repeat the same journey Malcolm X, I, and many others have had to take—a long and beleaguered one to find out who we are, where we came from and what that means in terms of choosing what we want to do in the world. What is the point of that?? Why have I taken over 30 years of time and money just to find out who my ancestors were? At one point, I even had to prove to people that Black folks were taken in slave ships to South America! Shouldn’t that fact be common knowledge?? At the DOCTORAL level, one of my colleagues believed that an exchange of culture between African Americans and Latinos/as did not exist. I understand that Texas is different than Chicago and New York, but even I can see that pachucos wear zoot suits, which were invented in HARLEM. Oh, don’t worry, my colleagues have since changed their tune thanks to three amazing African American female professors in our department.

Which brings me to my final point: Barack, Baraka, and amazing African American female professors. This group of people implies to many that whatever we did in the past worked and that we don’t have to worry about people of color anymore, therefore, we can go back to a “legitimate” history in textbooks. Representation of a few successful men and women of color does not mean that there is one legitimate history. Some argue that we cannot possibly teach the whole of history to students. Why not? My mother, when a student in Cuba, was expected to know the economic points, history, and geography of every world nation. Why can’t we do the same? Why not have each student research his/her own representative country/countries and provide a report and supplementary handout to the class? I don’t care if you are from Ireland, Chile or possibly Zimbabwe—everyone can take a look and attempt to see him or herself on the timeline of life. How can we possibly know where we can go if we don’t see where we’ve been? It’s like trying to read a book starting midway through. It doesn't make sense and you are left with longing for the important information that came before. Oh sure, you can start a soap opera at any time, but that is not the life I want to lead. Inane and shallow is not my thing.

I know some of my students will ask, “What’s the point?” If you don’t know who you are, then you are susceptible to anyone else’s ideas about who you are. You will easily take on a story that is not your own. You’ll take on the story of a person in a movie, or a person in a commercial, or a person in the public eye, and those stories are not complete. Those are very shallow stories and all they do is leave you with empty feelings and, oftentimes, debt. We are creatures who mimic, it is how we learn to talk, walk and act. If we do not know where we come from, we will not mimic the right people. This failure to mimic the right people is why we have the economic crisis we have now. A lot of people were mimicking Michael Douglas in “Wall Street,” thinking that it was perfectly fine to be greedy and steal; it doesn’t matter that he was the villain because he was the most compelling character and that is the character we will mimic. You can only do such acts when you don’t have any grounding. The rest of us who didn't identify with scum, both white and people of color, tried to find jobs that were moral and how many of those exist? Even if you are a teacher, you are expected to test your students with tests that don’t really test anything. If you are in retail or sales, you are expected to trick or profile your customer. If you are in business, you are expected to find ways to cut jobs. If you are in banking, you are expected to charge people to use their money in ways that make you a profit. If you are an artist, you are expected to entertain, as opposed to enlighten. If you choose not to participate in these activities and find a moral job, expect to struggle economically.

The economic struggle is frightening, if you are not aware of your legacy, and even sometimes if you are. You need to know who you are as much as possible in order to have strength to continue to be a positive force, in order to mimic the right people, in order to keep going through the fear. Now that I know myself a little more, I choose to mimic the strong and often outspoken women I grew up with in church, including my mother. I choose to mimic the wild and insightful writers of punk music and lyrics, who informed me when I was growing up as to the reality of what my leaders were doing. I choose to mimic the Caribs, who were not racist and were not sneaky like the colonizers, but who were fierce and determined and amazing storytellers and artists. I choose to mimic my great aunt in Cuba, who claimed her blackness even though it made everyone in her family shun her. I choose to mimic my grandmother in Colombia who made sure her entire family was educated and safe before she died. When I was kid, man, I was like young Malcolm, mimicking movies, getting caught up in junk, hurting people in the process. Knowing my history changed me, and it can help any one of our kids. We owe this to them.

I don’t believe I can tolerate another person having to come up through life as blindly as I did, gathering pieces of themselves at poetry readings, not having anyone to show them a clear path. Poetry readings are great, but they are not enough. If I’d had the opportunity to research my history, to read about my history, to share my history, it would have changed so much. I didn’t hear about Julia de Burgos until I was 29. I didn’t hear about Piri Thomas’ Down These Mean Streets until I was nearly 30. I didn’t hear about Manuel Zapata Olivella, who was friends with Langston Hughes and who traveled South like Thomas, until I was over 35. This is wrong. I don’t want any other kid to not know who he/she is. I don’t care how many countries we’ve come from. We can help our young ones understand what their timeline is. It is not a difficult task. Yes, we have moments that connect us all, but we all belong to different legacies and it is never too much trouble to acknowledge that. Baraka knows about the empty X, I know about the empty X, but the goal should be fill it up as much as we can.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Better Question

Someone asked
the other day,
“What do you do when
your parents ignore you?”

I think the better question is,
“What do you do when
your parents ignore themselves,
ignore what they’ve created,

neglect to tell stories
about grandparents,
foreign lands or traditions,
fail to see why you need this?”

I have come to understand
there is memory pain at the heart
of neglect, a negation of truth,
and fear, terror of what your child

might become with this information.
Oh, the failure of hope!
How it stunts miracles, distorts
communication with our loving children!

Why not show interest in the world
opening to you through blood and pupil?
Listen to the voice that is not yours.
There are faint echoes of you, but it is not you.

Let go of your miserable maze
and listen to new music,
share in its joy and curiosity.
Who are you to refuse a gift?

Ah, but yet we ignore.
What to do when parents ignore you/themselves?
Live, live well, forgive them, if you can.
One day they may know what they said “no” to.


I flip
pinwheel flip over crimson black sticky fake leather armchairs
Superchica flip onto the badass woven gold and ebony weave sofa
flip, flip, flip ‘til the sofa frame cracks and sinks softer
cartwheel on orange shag protected by clear plastic runner
raise my skinny arms high like an Eastern European pixie, pose in my swimsuit, freak Papi out at dinner time with my spazmotic agility so he makes flipping illegal

NOwhere to flip
so I wait outside
outside Mami’s door as she pretends to listen to Pedro Infante while crying, ear pressed against Carlos’ door and hearing Devo sing, “Boy, am I tired!” inside Luis’ door, peeking at gross porno and weed, en el cuarto de Tía, stealing make-up, hoping she’ll notice me, waiting by the front door for Papi to come home from a conference, ready to perform my latest play or song or puppet show just for him

but I don’t got daddy issues
I got freak issues
I want to explode the doors and walls, paint the house the color of the bloated seaweed woman, lime green, black, orange, silver, purple and blue, I want noise, loud and distorted, Machito, Circle Jerks, Black Sabbath, and Leontyne Price,flipping over and over and over, making the house swirl into stars and foam

flipping is damn illegal, though
so I go
black booted pixie stomping onto buses where mangy men who have been thrown out the house give her wishful money, pull their pants down in public and watch as she leaves them pathetic

spiky shy girl wondering where her freakflipland is, and maybe it’s the concert with all the lookalikes, or maybe it’s the club with all the sweeeet music, and maybe it’s the Keith Haring wall she jacks even though her teacher told her not to go, and maybe it’s the boy who takes her into the forest preserve the boy who she can’t even be brave enough to talk to, and maybe it’s the paint and markers she can only buy with saved lunch money, or blue blue blue windows in the red room at the museum that ignores her, and maybe there’s a door somewhere that tears open into a furry place of teeth and nails and sugar that sounds like the moment when her leg moves at exactly the same time the record spins into a new beat and she is liquid music and strobe light and vibration and flips and flips and flips and there is nothing illegal about it and she is right to search for this door

This is what she does
This is what I did
This is what I do
I look for doors

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Why God Drops Us Out of Windows

so we splat, of course
our body must seep back into earth
twist into mud and burn
turn towards the center molten
revisit the core

sirens wind our minds stupid
others invade, destroy imagination with
twinkling diamond promises and caviar
tunnels winding into shallow waters
restricting rooms
reviled networking

so we spar for cubicles
outside outsourced outwitted outlying
twittering fools fiending for dream
tongues to give voice to
revisionist programming
rivers sonic streaming

see we must splat, set a new course
our body must break, shock
twinge and shake convulse froth
tense into nothing shadow light
reframe itself

bleed and scream into a river of red orange black heat and new horizon

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Candido Veras, the Underdog, or, I Wanna Be Your Dog

I once had a student tell me that he didn't care to know about Caribbean history, that the way the culture in the Caribbean had influenced U.S. culture was not too important, not like the way Latin, for example, had been such a strong influence. He was a young fraternity pledge and drew no connection between the Latin he was learning in his frat to the concept of Latinidad. By the end of the semester, he seemed to have changed his tune, having worked on a group project with a very wise Latina student, but I never forgot the initial stance he had. I never forgot his initial stance because I encounter it all the time, not from the young and inexperienced, but from adults, adults who see the Caribbean as a backdrop to the U.S., not the place that has provided us with food and culture that has influenced everything from jazz to hip hop to how we dance, not the place that provided the first European settlers in the Americas with a sugar economy that allowed countries like the U.S. to grow. To such folks, the Caribbean is a vacation, a colorful backdrop, like a painting in our work environment that we pass by but hardly look at.

The painting you see posted here is much larger than the electronic version implies. It is about 15 feet across and six feet tall. It hangs within the winding staircase that leads to the John Peace Library at the University of Texas at San Antonio. It was created by Candido Veras, an amazing San Antonio artist who also happened to be Dominicano. He died last year with very little fanfare.

I first met Candido on the day Vincent and I moved into the Blue Star Arts complex. As soon as he and his sister saw us, they knew we were Caribbean and we were met with smiles and squeals of welcome. I noticed the Dominican flag in his window and immediately felt at home. Candido treated us like family. When I got sick, he had a special tea for me. At Christmas, he made us pasteles. He showed us all his art and photos he had taken with the mayor and other local dignitaries. He came to our parties and made sure everyone was smiling and laughing. However, our friendship was short-lived because Blue Star management pretty much kicked him out of his space, even though he had lived there since the property opened. Candido had become sick with cancer after having been exposed to asbestos on the property and he implied that management wanted him out for that reason. The last time Vincent and I saw him, he was living in a cold-water loft, kiddie corner from the Alamo. The space was enormous, cool, with neon lettering from the front of the building shining through the curved windows, but the plumbing was bad and there wasn't any heat or proper circulation. It was painful to see him living that way, and I didn't know what to do.

Soon, Vincent and I moved out of the Blue Star and we lost touch with Candido. I found out he was ill because someone posted something here on the blog about it. Shortly after that, I found out he had passed away. How is it that someone who has their work of art in a government-sponsored institution can simply be forgotten in such a way? His work was excellent and he was always working on new paintings. Candido could not be called a lazy man - dude was always hustling, and doing it with a smile, no matter how sick he was. It is attitudes like the one I referred to at the beginning of this blog that allow this to happen. Candido was not just a talented Caribbean man, he was also a talented American, San Antonian, Texan. Dig? His language, colors, voice, affect the students at UTSA every time they pass by his painting, whether they notice it or not.

And this brings me to my point. I know exactly why Candido was allowed to pass away unnoticed. It was because he lived an alternative lifestyle, he was eccentric and strange, but most importantly, he was a Black Latino who was eccentric and living an alternative lifestyle. Era Caribeno, and we still refuse to see how the people who we have had an intimate relationship with since 1492 continue to influence and inspire us, feed us and provide us with economic opportunity, change the way we think and live. La influencia de los Caribenos. Caribbeans have been placed in the position of flavoring. That is, we add to the mix a bit of spice, but we are not the true substance. At least, that's what people convince themselves.

However, lest you think I'm just on a racial/ethnic tip, let me point out that this is a tendency we all have, regardless of race. For example, it is well known that David Bowie stole/bought ideas from Iggy Pop, Joey Arias, Peter Murphy and Klaus Nomi, but those other guys were never allowed the power of Bowie. It is also well known that Madonna has amazed the world with her brilliance by using ideas from young Black and Latino dancers in NYC, Bjork, and Lenny Kravitz, to name just a few. Bjork and Kravitz have attained their own glory, but they had to allow Madonna to pass their work off as her own (collaboration, my ass). Close to my heart, the punk movement was started by poor kids in England, including the Caribbean ska movement that was popularized there by multiple young Black artists; now, that has been absorbed by watered down acts like Green Day (on Broadway, for heaven's sake) and No Doubt, which stand for the exact opposite of what punk originally intended. I cannot lie - this kind of stuff makes me a hater, hater, hater. I cannot stand when the smaller guy influences the bigger guy and gets no credit. It makes my blood boil thick. I cannot stand that we, at UTSA, get to enjoy Candido's art, yet most of us who pass by it have no idea who he was or why who he was might be important to us. Perhaps, this is why I married Vincent, who always takes the time to find out names and history. There is a reason I call him the librarian.

There are those of us who will never get a ticker tape parade, or accepted into an MFA program, or an Academy Award, or even a memorial event, after we die, at the school where our work hangs. Iggy Pop isn't getting invited to the White House (although, I really think it's a shame cuz I'd pay to see that). But even Iggy Pop has international fame and gets some perks. There are people right now who have international fame but are considered so unimportant by some, that they are homeless. Tato Laviera is considered one of the U.S.'s most important authors, for his poetic descriptions of what it is like to be from more than one place. He is revered in Europe and Africa, to name a few continents. Just a few weeks ago the New York Times ran an article about his homelessness. Luckily, the Latino/a population of writers and family in New York has been holding fundraisers to counteract what has been happening to Laviera, but he has come dangerously close to the fate of Julia de Burgos, the Puerto Rican poet who died unknown in Harlem. She has been called Puerto Rico's greatest poet, by the way, and she forged an honesty in her poetry that few Latinas allowed themselves in her day. For her honesty, she was repaid with poverty and obscurity. How can we do this to these people who have taught us so much?

There should be something, something for the person who was badass, did his/her own thing, didn't kiss anyone's ass to get the grant, always worked hard to be creative without any thanks (or without pay or dignity, in the case of the slaves in the sugarcane fields), who created beauty while being ignored (until the beauty was appropriated for someone else's use), who fed and cared for the unappreciative, whose history was buried or discarded, who found the missing history and brought it to life, regardless.

What is that something, I wonder. It should not be in the afterlife because that's just b.s. We need to tell these folks here and now that they are valuable. I guess that's about all we can do.