Semana Santa came and went with a flash this year. The familia gathered for our annual Easter picnic all weekend at a rancho that sits nestled in the Superstition Mountains. Carne adobada, carne preparada, pollo, elk, deer, cebolletas and tripas de leche were scattered across the three placas for most of the day. I'm still feeling the effects of a food hangover.
Chatted with a tío who was going on about Obama and his "racist S.O.B. pastor" - that was fun. He (my uncle) hadn't listened to Barack's speech on race and knows nothing of his background and story. It was frustrating, trying to give a bigger-picture view to someone who is locked in to their caricatured version of a candidate...at least I didn't hear the m-word come out of his mouth - that would have unleashed a bout of verbal violence. Although, I did hear the term "illegal" used as a noun in a later plática. There's something to be said about consistent offensiveness, I suppose.
This was the first time that most of the conversations I had with friends and family was about politics. Perhaps it was due to my recent trip to Washington D.C. Lots of 'why were you there', 'who did you meet', 'website? what website?', etc. Obviously, I need to do a better job of self-promotion.
One of the problems I see, at least here in Arizona among a sampling of relatives, is the cultural amnesia that is prevalent. There is a need to educate ourselves on the history of our people. Beyond that, seize the orgullo that comes from knowing our roots and celebrate their legacies that we blaze each day in our own ways. I see far too many who have allowed a media and social narrative to dominate their thinking that demeans Mexican-American/Xicano identity as thuggery, laziness, and lacking in Good Ole American™ Assimilation. How anyone could allow a cultural oppressor to define their existence is dumbfounding to me.
I see figures like my padre who has never voted and refuses to vote anytime soon as an example of the other extreme. He is quite aware of the history of this region and my family's chord within the greater melody, but sees the government as completely worthless in addressing the ills of our communities in a way that is meaningful or non-intrusive to a way of life that has been cycled for generations. "It's politics - nuthin' but a load of B.S." - can't say that I disagree a lot of the time, but unfortunately for every human rights-oriented voice that stays out of the civic engagement game, a notch is turned up on the megaphone to figures like Russell Pearce and Sheriff Joe.
Don't know about you, but I can't in good conscience let that happen.