Borderland Tweets 3/12/2012

 

 

Looking Into The Mirror

When I was younger I would look into the mirror.

Wishing that my skin were just a little darker.

That my Spanish was a little bit farther along.

Sometimes I felt like I didn’t belong.

Hearing that I wasn’t Mexican because I was light.

Or didn’t speak Spanish just right.

When I was in elementary school I felt that I wasn’t really accepted as being Mexican because I didn’t speak Spanish or didn’t have the right shade of skin.  It wasn’t until middle school that I felt like I actually belonged.  I met my friends that accepted me for who I was. All of us had family from the same part of Mexico, El Valle De Guadalupe.  I accepted that the only person that I should worry about making me happy was I.  My friends helped me realized that there is no set image of what I am suppose to look like or talk. They help me bridge out to join M.E.Ch.A and La Sociedad on campus.

I know who I am and what I stand for and that’s all that matters. The weight caused by the perceived views and pressures slowly lifted as I became more comfortable with myself. I was able to focus more on other things, with out that sense of being judge. My actions and beliefs dictate my identity.

I wake up in the morning now, still looking into the mirror.

Still the same shade of skin and same skills in Spanish.

What’s different from back then to now?

I accept who I am and I smile back at myself in the mirror as I begin the day.

I am not trying to live up to others expectations of how I should look or speak.  I am who I am.

Reflection and Rethinking Retention

Last week I participated in the 2012 Annual California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) conference in Sacramento, CA. CABE, a non-profit organization, was first realized in 1976 to promote bilingual education and provide meaningful educational schooling. It is composed of 5,000 members and 60 chapters who advocate for qualitative education experiences for students who come from a variety of cultural, multi-lingual backgrounds. The conference was composed of keynote speakersworkshops, student art contest, student essay writing contest, CABE store exhibit, and special events. The majority of participants are educators, administrative educators, parents (and maybe a few undergraduate students, although I did not meet any). The workshop that spoke to me the most was about the problem with retention at schools and the damage it does to children as young students and older students. Although it rarely happens, there are a few cases where students who are retain do great in consecutive years, but these are very minimal since there has to be a tremendous amount of support from the teacher, administration, and parents.

I had been waiting impatiently for this moment to come since last semester when I found out I was attending it. I began Thursday as a volunteer, distributing and collecting evaluation forms for a few workshops. In between this distributing and collecting I made sure to attend workshops that seemed interesting. The first workshop I went to addressed the issue of retention, and how many students, whether they are English Language Learners or not continue to be retained. This issue is prevalent in low-income, non-English speaking communities where parents do not necessarily question the teachers because they believe the teacher is always right. Unfortunately, because of pre-conceived misconceptions that some teachers may have about a particular race it is easy for them to give up on the student and retain them. What they don’t know is that when a teacher retains a student, the teacher and other administrative educators involve in the process do not take into consideration the amount of baggage the student will carry with this.

The presenter stated that research demonstrates that when a student is retained, that student is less likely to succeed not because they can’t but because they believe they can’t since they were already retained once. These are also the students that teachers tend to send to the office more often and who are labeled with behavioral problems and with learning disabilities. It is easy for a teacher to subject the student to a label than to work with the student and treat him or her as a human being who may have a slightly different way of learning than the rest of the students.

One of my two sisters’ kindergarten teacher was considering in having her retake kindergarten. I am unsure of the reason why her teacher was considering this. Her teacher spoke only English and could not communicate very well in Spanish with my mom, who cannot carry out a conversation in English. My mom was also unsure of the reason why her teacher was considering in retaining my sister half way through her kindergarten year. My little sister is intelligent and self-disciplined; participating in the Head Start Program (Pre-School) helped to be well prepared for kindergarten. I think what might have occurred was that she probably felt a little shy and didn’t speak much to the teacher. I’m not sure. Now she is in first grade, and she loves to read and write. When school is over her and my little brother participate in an after school program; once she is home she picks up a book to read or she goes straight into writing her own stories. She loves to write. Her current first grade teacher cannot understand why her kindergarten teacher would have wanted her to re-do kindergarten if she is a brilliant student. Had her kindergarten teacher retained her, I don’t think she would have grown as a student as much as she has now.

As a future education, I will continue to be reflective of my family experiences, and my very own experiences throughout the educational system to promote qualitative educational experiences for my students. Becoming aware of the many issues that continue to deprive student’s development as learners helps me to know what are some prevalent issues affecting our communities, especially those that are most vulnerable in fighting the injustices. The conference was composed of the majority women, which is a representation of the lack of representation within educators. There is a great need for representative role models in the education system.

Additional Resources:

“La Nueva Chicana”: Celebrating Women’s History Month

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“La Nueva Chicana” by Viola Correa

Hey,
See that lady protesting against injustice,
Es mi Mama.
That girl in the brown beret,
the one teaching the children,
She's my hermana
Over there fasting with the migrants,
Es mi tía.
These are the women who worry,
Pray, iron
And cook chile y tortillas.
The lady with the forgiving eyes
And the gentle smile,
Listen to her shout.
She knows what hardship is all about
All About.
The establishment calls her
A radical militant.
The newspapers read she is
A dangerous subversive
They label her to condemn her.
By the F.B.I. she's called
A big problem
In Aztlán we call her
La Nueva Chicana.

March marks Women’s History Month in which women from all over the world are celebrated for their contributions to history, culture and society. In reflection of the month, I was highly captivated by the strong and powerful poem of Viola Correa titled “La Nueva Chicana.” Viola Correa’s has contributed a beautifully written poem that embodies the history of la Chicana we have read about in class in such books like ¡Chicana Power! and Chicana Feminist Thought.  It also uniquely captures the past, present and future of la Chicana woman through the art of poem, an artistic medium that was frequently used by la Chicana as a form of resistance, to foster identity and solidarity by sharing experiences and testimonies.

The poem unites Chicana women from all generations and social classes by focusing on their strength, courage and allegiance to the movement. The lines “The newspapers read she is/A dangerous subversive/They label her to condemn her./By the F.B.I. she’s called/A big problem,” shows that they were viewed as a threat to institutional powers because they were challenging gender/sex roles and sources of oppression (from “La Nueva Chicana”). Despite the threats and danger involved, their role was valuable and it did not deter them from pursuing a political identity. Las Pachucas and Chicana Brown Berets actively participated in activism using many mechanisms like fashion, organizing, and mobilizing to challenge patriarchal structures. Also by creating a collective identity they were better able to tackle and confront inherent inequalities in organizations. Society has painted Chicanas as rebellious by the mere fact that they were being vocal and employing the First Amendment, which declares freedom of speech and the right to assembly. Las Pachucas and Chicana Brown Berets chose to take agency over their lives by also redefining their roles, and constructing a space where Third World Feminism could flourish. What Chicanas accomplished in their time was revolutionary because it was a time where gender norms and sexism was strongly embedded in society, were extremely rigid, and women were physically confined to the home. Society has silenced and kept women invisible, especially men as a manner to legitimatize their power and authority. However Correa addresses it by recognizing that even though Chicana women have a legacy of suffering, they most importantly have a history of resistance. What’s very compelling about her poem is that she does not portray Chicanas as victims or passive, but rather she highlights how ordinary women have played a crucial role in creating change.

Another characteristic of Correa’s poem that I appreciate is that it’s bilingual. It evokes a similar technique found in Gloria Anzaldúa’s book Borderlands/La Frontera where she incorporates multiple languages into her text because language is crucial to the Chicana’s identity. Correa shows that the nueva Chicana embraces who she is, where she comes from and her indigenous roots. The speaker in the poem is discussing the common thread that runs through women’s lives, which shows that she admires their fearlessness and reveals that la Nueva Chicana is every woman. By using words like “mama, sister, and tia” are terms of familial relations thus, implying that there exists a sisterhood of all women. When she says, “See that lady protesting against injustice/Es mi Mama” it is very empowering because she is not only honoring women but encouraging women to continue carrying the torch. There’s a lineage of strong women who in their own way contributed to the progression of the movement, but only through solidarity will women triumph. Lastly, the line “In Aztlán we call her/La Nueva Chicana” is a reclaiming of Aztlan as also belonging to the Chicana. She is reimagining it also as a place where the lineage of warrior women can be traced to and not only to dominant Chicano  men. The overall theme of “La Nueva Chicana” is validating her as a new political subject who deserves to be heard but most of all to empower all women. It is an excellent message that fits in perfectly with Women’s History month.

Additional Sources:

  • Chabram-Dernersesian, Angie. The Chicana/o Cultural Studies Reader. New York: Routledge, 2006. Print.

 

Borderlands / La Frontera (3)

Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands (1-91)

Reading assignment for Monday, March 12. Your reply (under Comments) is due before class. Remember, you don’t need to answer all or even any of the questions, but your response should demonstrate you’ve done and thought about the readings. Be sure to check and make sure your response posts.

Read Borderlands / La Frontera, Chapters 5 and 7

How does language shape the self? If you have more than one language, consider the question of whether you think differently in one language versus another. Do you communicate differently in one language over another?

Anzaldúa defines what Chicano Spanish means to her. What intersections make up the different languages you speak? How does language move you between one sphere and another, home, friends, public, private? What elements make you identify a space as “home” or “family”?

Define the mestiza consciousness. How is it specific to Anzaldúa? How can it be used universally? How does Anzaldúa define machismo? How is that definition the same as those we’ve read earlier in the class? How is it the same?

How does Anzaldúa connect her theory of consciousness with white culture? What is her position with regard to the intersections of different groups? How does this consciousness related to space / land?

Future Society

The book banning in Tuscon Arizona has plenty of opinions waiting to be expressed but it seems that the biggest concerns at the moment are that of the books being taken out of class rooms, and the cloudy reason as to why it happened at all.  In fact the school at which the books were taken out of has had one of the best programs for Mexican American studies that have continuously improved for the last ten years.  However do to the law that was passed the classes are no longer allowed to teach anything with a central theme of oppression, race, and that are designed for a particular group such as latinos, or even things that could cause resentment towards a certain group.    However it becomes confusing because as one side has the new law behind it while the other side is trying to challenge the law.  There are some good points that were discussed within the video regarding both sides of the arguments such as the TUSD not actually banning any books and instead have basically put them away for the time being while the court decides upon the case.  The books can still be found in the library.  Also reports of Shakespeare’s work “The Tempest” was also banned however that is simply not true.  The people that are trying to save Mexican American studies have claimed that the law has caused this situation to arise in the first place yet it is too vague therefore void.  The fact that no actual examples are given to follow make the law seem unrealistic.  Also they feel as if the program and school is being blackmailed because if they don’t comply with the law it will fine them fourteen million dollars.  That’s a huge sum of money from a school district where the students are not exactly doing the best.  Also do to the technicalities the students are the only ones allowed to legally challenge the new law in place.  The bottom line seems to be that as one side wants to save the course, they want to be able to share the history of a certain people and give people a different way to think and view the world.  However the opposing side is trying to create a future society where people aren’t given a reason to hold resentment towards a certain group of people.   It’s not about hiding information, or banning books, but rather delivering it in a more effective way to actualizing their goals.  Both sides have valid arguments but to choose one side means you have to agree with their purpose.

Sources

1. http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2012/01/17/20120117tucson-district-denies-ban-mexican-american-books.html

2. http://www.tucsonweekly.com/TheRange/archives/2012/01/17/tusd-banning-book-well-yes-and-no-and-yes

3. http://www.democracynow.org/2012/1/18/debating_tucson_school_districts_book_ban

 

CHST 404 Twitter 3/9/2012

Borderland / La Frontera (2)

Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands (1-91)

Reading assignment for Friday, March 9. Your reply (under Comments) is due before class. Remember, you don’t need to answer all or even any of the questions, but your response should demonstrate you’ve done and thought about the readings. Be sure to check and make sure your response posts.

Based on your reading of Borderlands and your study of Chicana feminism in this class, how would you define and construct a mestiza consciousness? What are the advantages of such a construction? What are the pitfalls?

How would you connect the theory in Borderlands to the presentation on Wednesday? How is Anzaldúa constructing the idea of the Chicana feminist self?

Guest Speaker Readings

Catherine S Ramírez, “Crimes of Fashion: The Pachuca and Chicana Style Politics,” Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism Vol 2, No 2 (1-35)

Dionna Espinoza, “Revolutionary Sisters”: Women’s Solidarity and Collective Identification among Chicana Brown Berets in East Los Angeles, 1967-1970

Reading assignment for Wednesday, March 7. Your reply (under Comments) is due before class. Remember, you don’t need to answer all or even any of the questions, but your response should demonstrate you’ve done and thought about the readings. Be sure to check and make sure your response posts.

What are the connections you see between Chicana feminism, style and community?

Setting the Stage

This is part of a longer blog series, which you can find links to the previous as well as the next blog posts at the bottom of this blog. 

Forty four years ago students were walking out from schools in a reaction to the racism they faced in school and as a way to demand educational equity.

At the same time, being in the middle of all the excitement of the Chicana/o Movement, at Loyola-Marymount University, before the formal merger of Loyola University and Marymount College to today’s LMU, we find the United Mexican-American Students (UMAS) of Loyola- Marymount , precursors to today’s Moviemiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Atzlan (MEChA) de LMU, coming together working towards the development and establishment of a Chicano Studies Department at Loyola-Marymount.

Looking through the university’s archives, I came across the original Proposal for a Chicano Studies Department presented by the UMAS of Loyola-Marymount. In this document, there is a letter addressed to the Loyola Faculty, a suggested structure and recommendations for the department, as well as the students’ rationale behind the kind of department they wanted.

In the letter to the faculty, the UMAS community addressd the lack of progress made towards the creation of the program which has brought them to suggest and propose the program based on research they have made. In the letter, we find the students expressing that “the need [for the program] is recognized by some, ignored by others, opposed by others and disguised by the rest.” So from this we can already get an idea of what kind of reaction they were getting from faculty and the Loyola-Marymount Community as a whole. Some were supporting the students and what they wanted while others were against or neutral to their wants and the situation created on campus. With that in mind, I wonder who were their allies and how did they go about in showing their support.

As for the structure and recommendation to the program the students knew what they wanted and had some expectations they hope were going to be respected in the implementation of the program. They wanted a structure that would understand the Chicano mentality with courses in “history, sociology and literature readings for a general understanding of the Chicano’s heritage and background.” They were also fighting to be respected as students through the integrity of the work they can produce as well as the subject itself.

The United Mexican-American Students of the Loyola-Marymount wanted a Chicano Studies Program  ”completely autonomous or structurally attached to an Ethnic Studies Program.” As far as the rationale they used to defend their position, the students presented both sides of the issue on whether the Chicano Studies department should be a stand alone department apart from Ethnic Studies or part of it. So in order to respect the integrity of the subject, since it was “too extensive to be squeezed into Ethnic Studies,” to avoid competition with other groups for attention, and to provided better funding to sustain itself on, were the reasons the students presented to avoid it being part of Ethnic studies. While the only reason to integrate the department into Ethnic Studies was that unity would be its outcome as it would be a “power base for continuation of program; Chicanos and Blacks are capable of sharing the program,” which goes to show the diversity present at the time, but more importantly they go on to say that the unity would leave the programs vulnerable to unhealthy competition further weakening the programs.

And so the students had expressed what they were expecting to see.

Sources:

Loyola University. Student Affairs Record Group. UMAS Proposal, 1968. RG 7, Record Series E:  Student Organizations, Box 5. Loyola Marymount University Archives, Department of Archives and Special Collections, William H. Hannon Library, LMU, Los Angeles.

Photo:

top left: http://imagine2050.newcomm.org/2010/03/02/english-only-policies-threaten-civil-rghts/

bottom right: http://content.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/hb838nb5c1/

Read more:

The Birth of the Chicana/o Studies Department, Students Propose a New ProgramFrom Chicano Studies Department to Mexican-American Studies Degree ProgramCapstone Project Gone BlogSo You Want to Take Introduction to Chicana/o Studies?So Let’s Put Some of the Pieces Together