Thursday, April 30, 2009

May 1st Events for Immigrant and Human Rights

There are events happening all across the country today in solidarity with migrant and human rights. Check out A New Day for Immigration's website for ways to get involved.


City: Phoenix

  • Time: 8:30 am
  • Location: March from Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum to State Capitol

City: Tucson

  • Time: 8:00 am
  • Location: Rally at the South Gate Shopping Center

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Powerful Latinas to Interview Mamita Mala

Blog'miga Maegan "Mamita Mala", co-founder of and Associate Editor at The Sanctuary, will be interviewed tomorrow as part of the Powerful Latinas series.

>> What kinds of writing does she enjoy the most and what has she learned from the different kinds of writing she’s done?

La Mala is a member of SPEAK! Radical Women of Color Media Collective, that recently put out a CD and accompanying ‘zine and curriculum on women of color issues and activism.

La Mamita Mala is also a poet and spoken word artist, spitting her malaventuras as a radical ‘Rican living in the mami’hood in the Latino Cultural Festival and El Encuentro de Poetas en NY.

>> I’ll be asking Maegan about her poetry, and maybe she’ll even share some of her spoken word with us!
The interview will be held at 8PM Eastern tomorrow - April 29th
¡Felicidades, Mamita!

Sheriff Dupnik Toes The Line of Bigotry

In contrast to Sheriff "Concentration Camp" Arpaio in Phoenix, I generally agree with the stance of Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik's view of the role of local law enforcement and immigration: he doesn't support it.

Immigration is a federal issue in his mind, as it should be; however, remarks he made in light of an appearance before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs last week are unacceptable. After suggesting that legal challenges should be advanced in order to allow immigration checks at schools, Dupnik talked trash about Tucson's southside area, which is predominately latino:

He pointed specifically to the Sunnyside School District where he said as much as 40 percent of the students are illegal immigrants while citing unnamed sources.

Failing schools, high dropout rates and gang affiliation seem to be high in those areas, Dupnik said.

"Sunnyside is I think the area where the problem is most acute," he said.

Tucson Citizen

I'm sick of gringo politicians denigrating the "Mexican" areas of my city. Negative associations slip off the tongue without hesitation because the cultura of barrios are different than some pseudo-preferred, assimilated neighborhood that charges their residents monthly fees to make sure that uniformity and conformity are maintained. Or else.

Sunnyside may have high drop out rates, and yes, there are gangs that operate there, but what makes it an easy target to get support for ridiculous policies like school-based checks of citizenship is the prevalence of latinos living there. Nevermind that drop outs, crime and gang activity are widespread everywhere.

In fact, according to Tucson Police Department's 2007 Crime Density Report, the Oracle Road corridor between Prince and Grant had the highest rate of incidents. Here is the .pdf version overlaying a map of the city. The southside doesn't stand out in any way, you'll notice.

Sheriff Dupnik should apologize to the Sunnyside Unified School District and the residents of southside neighborhoods. As a law enforcement leader in the community, his job is to build the trust of the people so that we can all work collectively as a society to bring about safer schools and barrios, not to snicker down at "them", especially when the facts don't back up his absurd remarks about the safety of certain neighborhoods.

It's all institutionalized bigotry and I'm sick of it. Even worse, suggesting that citizenship sweeps be conducted at our schools is definitely one of those things that would completely unwravel that trust system and erode any political support Sheriff Dupnik once received from southside communities. Unacceptable.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mariachi Bliss in Tucson

Linda Ronstadt makes her return to the Tucson International Mariachi Festival tomorrow night (Friday)! I can barely contain my excitement. She hasn't performed to the home crowd since 1996.

Here's some commentary from the 90s about her inspirations, including la grande Lola Beltran.

On Saturday at the Fiesta de Garibaldi at Reid Park, the following youth groups will be performing. This includes Tucson's crown-jewel youth group Los Changitos Feos, the longest running youth mariachi in los Estados Unidos:
2009 Entertainment Schedule
10:30 Ballet Folklórico Davis Bilingual School
11:00 Mariachi Davis Bilingual School
11:30 Mariachi Anacatlan
12:00 Mariachi Pumas
12:30 Mariachi Mixteco
1:00 Mariachi Nueva Melodia
1:30 Mariachi Los Charritos
2:00 Mariachi Tesoro de Tucson
2:30 Mariachi Imperial de San Diego
3:00 Mariachi Los Tigres
3:30 Mariachi Los Vaqueros
4:00 Mariachi Brillante
4:30 Mariachi Los Potrillos de Cholla High
5:00 Mariachi Los Changuitos Feos
5:45 Mariachi Los Mineros
6:30 Mariachi Master Apprentice
7:15 Mariachi Sonido
8:00 Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High
8:45 Mariachi Los Arrieros
Entrance is only $5.00. Lots of food, crafts and, of course, Mariachi!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

Everyday should be Earth Day.

...or else

Prerna talking DREAM Act at NYTimes Online

From my post at The Sanctuary
Join the discussion at the New York Times' Room for Debate blog with The Sanctuary's Associate Editor Prerna. There are five featured web-panelists, and as you'll note, some of them have no problem with mass-deportation and racial profiling.

Prerna's bio is powerful because it allows the voice of someone directly affected by political foot-dragging to speak out. This perspective gives the human dimension center-stage to a discussion that is often conducted by either the brain that discounts the familial and cultural toll of inaction, or the rectum that brings tons of defiling b.s. that keeps forward movement at bay.

Link to discussion

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pulitzer for Arizona Journalists' Exposé on Arpaio

Crossposted from The Sanctuary

The East Valley Tribune covers suburban communities throughout the Phoenix metro area's east side and has had a roller coaster year. As with other traditional media sources facing a downturn in demand and economic stability, they have downsized their staff and services.

Well, one of the laid-off reporters, Paul Giblin, snagged the newspaper a Pulitzer Prize yesterday along with still-employed Ryan Gabrielson for their work on the series Reasonable Doubt that chronicled the abuses of Maricopa County's Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Executive editor Chris Coppola, who was managing editor at the time the series was produced, said:

"This series by Ryan and Paul was the result of an exhaustive examination of public records and interviews with numerous sources, including many within the sheriff's office, to shed more light on an issue of growing importance both nationally and right here in our communities. It's gratifying that the Pulitzer judges recognized that effort with this honor.

"I know many of our readers appreciated what this series brought to light, while others were critical of our reporting, but in the end, the Tribune helped engage more people within our community on the topic,'' Coppola said.

East Valley Tribune

The five-part series was a welcomed addition to the conversation about Arpaio's controversial and ongoing abuse of power that has leveraged the Maricopa County Sheriff Office to target migrant workers and latinos by extension. Reasonable Doubt chronicles the effects of MCSO's expenses and personnel assignments, showing very clearly that Sheriff Arpaio fails at his job to maintain safety in the jurisdiction.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Phoenix Pastor Details Border Patrol Beating

This video is stunning:

Pastor Steven Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Phoenix details his encounter with Border Patrol agents at a checkpoint near Yuma off Interstate 8, which is a main route between the San Diego area and Arizona. After telling agents he was a citizen and claiming 4th Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure, Border Patrol informed him that their dogs indicated that there were either drugs or a human being stored in his vehicle...

His window was smashed, he was tased repeatedly, was forcefully detained by agents, and thrown in jail. Pastor Anderson is doing a great service by telling his story.
The father of four says he exercised his consecution [sic] right not to be searched without a warrant. He says that's when he claims agents broke out his passenger and driver side windows.

"Both windows shattered in the same instant," says Anderson.

In excoriating pain, the pastor claims an agents smashed his head into the door and then another threw him on the ground, stepped on his head and tased him once again.

"I felt like his full body weight was just driving my face into more broken glass and asphalt," Anderson explains.

It took 11 stitches to close the cuts on the pastor's face.

CBS 13
More coverage:

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Tucson Town Hall for Health Care

Next Thursday, April 16th, there will be a town hall held at Pima Community College's District Office on East Broadway to discuss the importance of passing universal health care and ways everyday people can effectively lobby their elected officials to cast a vote in support of an overhaul of the system.

The event is sponsored by Health Care for America NOW!, a coalition of groups and individuals that organize around the following principles:

Coverage You Can Afford

  • Health coverage that is affordable for every person, family, and business.
  • Coverage with premiums and out-of-pocket costs based on your ability to pay.
  • Government acts as an advocate, setting and enforcing rules so private insurance companies can’t deny coverage or raise rates based on health history, age, or gender.
Comprehensive Benefits You Can Count On
  • Standard, comprehensive health care benefits that meet your needs from preventive to chronic care.
  • Low out-of-pocket costs (like co-pays) so you can afford to get medical care when you need it.
  • Choice of doctors and hospitals.
Choice of Private or Public Health Insurance Plan
  • Keep your current private insurance plan or join a new public health insurance plan.
  • The choice of a new public health insurance plan is a guaranteed backup that will always be there to ensure quality, affordable health care coverage no matter what.

Equal Access to Quality Care

  • Equity in health care access, treatment, research, and resources to people and communities of color and stronger health services in low-income communities.
If any bloggers or other journalists in the area would like more information on credentialing, shoot me an email (man.eegee at gmail) so I can connect you with organizers of the event.
Time: Thursday, April 16 from 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Location: Pima Community College District Office (Tucson, AZ)
4905 East Broadway Boulevard 85709
Tucson, AZ 85709

Sign-up to volunteer/attend: here

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Linda Ronstadt Testifies to Congress

Tucsonan Linda Ronstadt joins other musicians and leaders of the art world today in Washington, D.C. to testify in support of funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. Here is an excerpt of her remarks, courtesy of Mercury News:
For thousands of years human history was passed down the generations using music as a way to remember long sagas before they could be written down. In these modern times, we tend to think of music as an entertainment or something that helps a troop of soldiers to step out smartly in a parade. Music is not just entertainment. Music has a profound biological resonance and it is an essential component of nearly every human endeavor. Oliver Sacks, the noted neurologist, wrote a book called "Awakenings" in which he describes his patients whose brains were severely damaged by Parkinson's disease. These patients were unable to walk, but when music was played they were able to get up and dance across the floor. Music has an alternate set of neurological pathways through our bodies and our brains.

Music programs have a very discernable positive effect on our children's education. A recent survey by Harris Interactive of 450 randomly selected high schools revealed that students who are enrolled in a music program have a 90.2% graduation rate, while those who take no music classes have a 72.9% graduation rate. Christopher Johnson, professor of music education and associate dean of the School of Fine Arts at Kansas University, conducted a landmark study comparing test scores of students in a music program with students who had no music. Professor Johnson later testified before Congress, presenting some eye-opening data: students of all regions and socio-economic backgrounds who studied music scored significantly higher on math and English tests than students who did not study music.

Recently I have been invited to sing at several schools. I agreed on the condition that I not sing from the stage to a large school assembly but rather in the classrooms of first and second graders so that they could hear un-amplified music in a more natural setting the way I experience it in my living room. I know that many of these children don't have families that play music at home. In fact, most of them have had no experience with anything but recorded music. They think music comes out of their television or computer screens, not out of people's hands and mouths. After they got over the shock of discovering that we didn't have volume knobs on our heads or on our acoustic guitars, they settled down and listened to our selection of folk songs from the early part of the twentieth century. These were not children's songs. They were songs about building the railroad, exploring unknown territory and the loneliness of being a stranger in a new land. Afterward, we talked about the stories in the songs and how they might apply to their lives.

There are some excellent programs that promote live performances in the schools and they deserve to be supported. Yo-Yo Ma, the renowned cellist who performed recently at President Obama's inauguration, has volunteered his time to perform in schools with the help of an organization called Young Audiences.

In my hometown of Tucson, an organization called OMA (Opening Minds to the Arts) has made a tremendous impact in helping children of many different cultures and languages to assimilate into the Tucson Unified School District. Children of African refugees, Native Americans, and Mexican immigrants, all have benefited from learning music, the universal language, as they struggle to become proficient in English and excel in their other subjects. In only the first year the program was implemented, the dramatic rise in test scores in schools being served by OMA surprised teachers and researchers alike.

Link to full remarks
Some of my favorite memories revolve around time spent listening to Ronstadt's Canciones de mi Padre album with family and friends. I can close my eyes and hear my long-deceased nana on my mom's side singing Tu Solo Tu to me, or my tata on my dad's side belting out ¡Y Andale!

I even remember tearing up when Linda appeared with Elmo on Sesame Street, singing La Charreada. It was the first time I felt like the rest of the country was paying attention to something so closely connected to my identity.

That album (and yes, I own the a CD, DVD and now digitized version) was my first personal introduction to my mother tongue of Spanish. My parents didn't speak it in our house and barely understand it today due to the hate their parents experienced growing up in the era of Operation Wetback when it was declared open season on Mexicans, regardless of which side of the imaginary line they were born. It's a sad thing, really, and something I've been trying to rectify by studying and re-learning a language that holds an indescribable connection to my soul.

Linda's testimony today is consistent with what I experienced when Canciones debuted in 1987 - a renaissance of cultura, to a new generation that encouraged learning. She was already an established artist in the country/pop world and by doing an album in her native tongue using powerful songs that go to the heart of what it means to be Mexicano, people like me found ourselves memorizing the words to the corridos and boleros, exercising our brains and hearts to make room for another language.

I'm pleased to have the opportunity to see this amazingly talented (and liberal!) woman perform at this year's Tucson International Mariachi Conference towards the end of April. I attended a mariachi serenata performance of hers a few years ago but can hardly contain the excitement for this one. Reading Linda Ronstadt's testimony today, and reflecting on my experience of having music be a guide for deeper education, brings an uncontrollable ¡Grito! from my lips.