Category Archives: Politics

Stay Woke

Standard

.
The night is black
Our skin is black
Yet the world flashes
With lights
That are red and blue
As the world wakes up
To an orchestra of sirens
After the introductory
Boom boom boom.
And your son or your daughter
Your brother or your sister
Your nephew or niece
Comes to you and says,
“I heard the fireworks.
They woke me up.
I see the reds
And the blues in the sky,
But I don’t see the big boom.
Where’s the spark?
Where’s the explosion?”
And you look that child
Deep in their eyes
And you realize
“Baby, that’s exactly
What I’m trying to find.
That’s the thing I ask myself.”
And you aren’t feeding him lies.

You truly think to yourself
When will people see the spark?
When will they hear an explosion?
When will my brothers and my sisters
Wake up and see the red and blue hues
For what they really are?
Those alarms don’t mean
Music to my ears.
They make opportunity
For my fears.
The fact that the badge to me
Is more of a warning
Of the devil in blue
Than an angel on earth
Means we need to wake up.
We have to rise from our slumber
And make our own explosion,
Our own thunder.

Now why is it that our children,
Who can’t even vote,
Are dying in the name of America?
Why are they dying in America?
And why is it
That when they die
Our protests are seen
As hyperboles and jokes?
Why must they die
For our people to wake up?
For their people to wake up?
Because if I wear
A black hoodie and blue jeans
That means
I’m the director
Of the city’s crime scenes?
Because “protect and serve”
Can be exchanged
For “project and slay”?
Why is there a new case each day?
At least that’s how it seems
With the most recent of things.
There’s always a new one.

Hashtag rest in peace my angel.
Hashtag you got your wings.
Hashtag never forget.
Rest in peace
Because we haven’t found it here.
Rest in peace
Because we’re still restless.
Rest in peace
Because dying is the only way to get it.
That’s the price of peace?
Death?

The irony of the land of the free
And the home of the brave.
Where our people
Fear the youth
And dark skin.
Where the new slaves
Are still shackled in chains.
Where our leaders
Pray we stay sleeping.
Land of the free
And home of the brave.
One nation under God.
One nation together
As long as we stay divided
From bottom to top.
One nation united
As long as you stick to a curfew,
Walk on sidewalks,
Stay away from skittles,
And find a way to hide
The melanin you inherited
From your dad and/or mom.

Now call me selfish,
But with a father who looks Arab
And a brother who knows he’s black.
My father is named Martin.
My brother is named Martin.
I’m just grateful
I’m not hashtagging
Rest in peace to my Martins.
Because I know all too well
No one is safe
Unless I have the right friends,
Know the right places,
And disown the ancestors
Who make up my faces,
I’m not safe.
My family is not safe,
My friends are not safe,
My fellow Americans are not safe.
All college educated,
All clean records,
All good people,
But no one is safe.

Officer, what was my crime?
Was it the fact that I was out at 1am
With my brother
On my way to Taco Bell
Because I was hungry?
Or was it the fact that my skin
Blends more into the night than yours?
And I can’t deny it
My roots aren’t from the land of the free
And the home of the brave.
You’re right about that, Officer.
I’m no Native American
Because I can’t trace my ancestry
To the Iroquois or the Cherokee.
I just know I was born on U.S. soil
That was stolen from the Spanish
In a war I had no part in.
And, on this night,
That I choose to get a quesadilla
And nachos with guacamole on the side
I see five patrol cars pass by
And I tell my brother
“Junior be careful I’m scared.
Something doesn’t feel right.”
And I didn’t feel safe
‘Till we were both
In our home.
I didn’t hear any boom boom booms.
There were no fireworks tonight.
No rest in peace tweets,
But a friendly reminder
To stay woke.
.

“Río Grande de Loíza”

Standard

In 1870, the Moret Law was approved, which granted freedom to slaves born after September 17, 1868 or were older than 60 years old.  Three years later, slavery was abolished in Puerto Rico; however, oppression remained a large issue in Puerto Rico and is still prevalent in some areas of the island.  Julia de Burgos is recognized as one of the greatest poets to come out of Puerto Rico and she often wrote about the civil rights issues on the island.  “Río Grande de Loíza” is considered one of her most famous poems and is one of the many pieces that reference this issue.  Enjoy!

Río Grande de Loíza

By Julia de Burgos

¡Rio Grande de Loíza!… Alárgate en mi espíritu
y deja que mi alma se- pierda en- tus riachuelos
para buscar la fuente que te robó de niño
y en un ímpetu loco te devolvió al sendero.

Enróscate en mis labios y deja que te beba,
para sentirte mío por un breve momento,
y esconderte del mundo y en ti mismo esconderte,
y oír voces de asombro en la boca del viento.

Apéate un instante del lomo de la tierra,
y busca de mis ansias el íntimo secreto;
confúndete en el vuelo de mi ave fantasía,
y déjame una rosa de agua en mis ensueños.

¡Río Grande de Loíza!… Mi manantial, mi río,
desde que alzome al mundo el pétalo materno;
contigo se bajaron desde las rudas cuestas,
a buscar nuevos surcos, mis pálidos anhelos;
y mi niñez fue toda un poema en el río,
y un río en el poema de mis primeros sueños.

Llegó la adolescencia. Me sorprendió la vida
prendida en lo más ancho de tu viajar eterno;
y fui tuya mil veces, y en un bello romance
me despertaste el alma y me besaste el cuerpo.

¿A dónde te llevaste las aguas que bañaron
mis formas, en espiga de sol recién abierto?

¡Quién sabe en qué remoto país mediterráneo
algún fauno en la playa me estará poseyendo!

¡Quién sabe en qué aguacero de qué tierra lejana
me estaré derramando para abrir surcos nuevos;
o si acaso, cansada de morder corazones,
me estaré congelando en cristales de hielo!

¡Río Grande de Loíza!… Azul. Moreno. Rojo.
Espejo azul, caído pedazo azul de cielo;
desnuda carne blanca que se te vuelve negra
cada vez que la noche se te mete en el lecho;
roja franja de sangre, cuando bajo la lluvia
a torrentes su barro te vomitan los cerros.

Río hombre, pero hombre con pureza de río,
porque das tu azul alma cuando das tu azul beso.

Muy señor río mío. Río hombre. Unico hombre
que ha besado mi alma al besar en mi cuerpo.

¡Río Grande de Loíza!… Río grande. Llanto grande.
El más grande de todos nuestros llantos isleños,
si no fuera más grande el que de mí se sale
por los ojos del alma para mi esclavo pueblo.

Remember, But Remember to Grow

Standard

Thirteen years ago today, the United States fell victim to a series of terrorist attacks, which most notably changed the New York City skyline forever. This led to a full on war with Iraq abroad and a dose of prejudice toward Muslim Americans. Today, over a decade later, we are still facing the effects of those attacks. Unfortunately, there is no doubt about the tragic scenes that have taken place on U.S. soil, but, instead of using those hard times to bash those we believe to be at fault, we should work as a unified country to lift ourselves back up as a whole. If the United States is trying to coin its cultural diversity, then why not embrace the differences amongst ourselves to help us learn?

It’s not fair to hold all Muslims at fault for what happened on September 11, 2001 and it’s not fair to the generation of Americans growing up in a post-9/11 United States either. It’s time we move on from the stereotypes this tragedy has sparked and prove we are a better country because of it. We have to prove that we’ve grown, we’ve learned, and we’ve unified our country. The soldiers and civilians who gave their lives as a result of 9/11 shouldn’t have died in vain. So let’s take today as an opportunity to remember America’s past, but also as a chance to honor the fallen by proving we have become better people.

Wake Up!

Standard

When people say “history repeats itself,” it’s natural to agree, but, the truth is, you never think you’ll actually experience it happening. It’s thought to be more of a retrospective statement. This year marked the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, yet it is tragically ironic how there have recently been one too many public cases concerning the violation of human rights. It almost seems like nothing has changed.

Among the most recent cases, a teenager was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, MO. He was unarmed. He had no criminal record. He was practically a child. This incident reminded people of the Trayvon Martin case and only made people feel more strongly about the tense race issues in our country. The worst part is that the case in Ferguson isn’t the only example of current injustice within the police department.

In recent months, there has been a push to raise awareness about police brutality, mainly aimed at minorities, along with the inappropriate disciplinary actions taken or not taken to correct the behavior of those officers. I’m not saying all police officers are guilty of abusing their power and I’m not saying the human rights laws we currently have are inherently bad, but I am saying the system is seriously flawed.

There is a serious problem when unarmed citizens who are not resisting law enforcement are hurt or killed by the people who are supposed to be protecting them. There are too many loop holes, there is not enough follow up, and there are too many people dying for nothing to be done. There is a problem when my friends, all of whom are college educated with no criminal records and were raised in middle class neighborhoods (contrary to the stereotypical listeners of Public Enemy supporters), don’t trust the police. Why do they fear the police? They do so because they are minorities and they believe racism is still a huge factor in how officers handle their job. It was even a couple of weeks ago that I was listening to the radio and they had a guest come on to the show to give tips on how to survive an encounter with police officers. It made me feel like we are living in a revolutionary time. Like I said, I don’t fault all cops, but I also can’t say I exactly feel safe when I see a patrol car pass by.

However, keep in mind I’m not trying to make this about race because, although racism is a huge factor in this issue, human rights is what lies at the base of it all. Unfortunately, not enough people are color blind in our country. Organizations are checking to see if they’ve met their “blackness” for the day, news sources try to include “white” news in an attempt to please the majority, and paperwork still asks what your race or ethnicity is. If we are truly “one nation under God,” then why so much division? A friend of mine said it best. He said “no more race,” trying to say everything is for everyone, which is how it should be.

Human rights should be a universal, unconditional born right. People should not have to “fight” for their rights, whether they are Black, Hispanic, male, female, gay, straight, or even a minor. Our country’s government, as a “free nation,” should provide this to us all and protect our human rights. We are all humans living in this “free” country, so we deserve to live without fear. However, this is not entirely the case right now, which has started the Wake Up Movement.

50 years after our parents and grandparents demanded a change for better, it is time for our generation to wake up those who don’t realize there is more room to progress and we shouldn’t be complacent with our “progress.” My social media has been blowing up with this movement, people are trying to peacefully protest worldwide, and high profile names are now getting involved to do what they can to influence the new generation. The cyber activist group, Anonymous, has even gotten involved, threatening the police department to allow citizens to protest peacefully. It was Anonymous’ message that made me realize we are witnessing history and it is up to us to stop or continue the pattern. Either way, it’s time to do something and wake up.

50 Years of Civil Rights

Standard

Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act, a law that called for an end to discrimination based off of race, gender, and religion. 50 years ago segregation was the norm, using derogatory terms toward minorities was acceptable, and having a minority in a position of power was blasphemy. Now, 50 years later, diversity is celebrated in most institutions, censorship has virtually eliminated the use of racial slurs in mainstream media, and the United States has a president who is half black. Those are just a few examples of the great strides that this country has made in such a short time because 50 years truly isn’t that long of a time period.

Personally, I’m grateful for the fact that I don’t have to deal with racism on a daily basis and that I am not continuously being discriminated against because of my skin color, gender, or birthplace. Have I experienced discrimination and racism? Absolutely! But the severity of my experiences is minute compared to that of the 1960’s activists who fought for the passing of the Civil Rights Act. With that being said, our civil rights still have some room to grow and improve.

Among the most debated topics in civil rights is same sex marriage. Progress is already being seen as it has begun to be legalized in several states; however, it is still very much a work in progress. Not to mention the stigma that the South has in terms of their hospitality toward minorities. I’m not saying that this is true for all Southerners, but the fact that such a reputation exists is problematic. Yes, we have made tremendous strides in the last 50 years, but that doesn’t mean this generation can’t continue with that progress in the next 50 years.

With tomorrow being Independence Day, let’s make sure to do our part so that each and every American citizen can feel the notorious American freedom and pride. Let’s do our part to make sure our country’s progress doesn’t slow down and instead makes us all proud.

The Dream Continues

Standard

This week marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which he delivered in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.  It was a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement that called for equality, unity, and acceptance.  Since then, times have certainly changed and I think we can all agree when I say that our civil rights situation in America has greatly improved.  Segregation is gone and we’re seeing more interracial families everyday.  However, the Civil Rights Movement shouldn’t stop at that and we certainly shouldn’t look back at MLK’s speech with the thought that our work is done.  The truth is there is still plenty of room for improvement and it is up to our generation to maintain that momentum and hunger for progress.

Unfortunately, discrimination is still around, but, now, it is just less visible.  The worst part though is that prejudice isn’t one sided.  I think everyone makes presumptions about the people they encounter based on stereotypes, personal beliefs, and what they see in front of them, often clouding what is truly presented to them.  Many times we have already made up our minds about a person before they even have the chance to convince us otherwise.  It’s in our nature.  It’s normal, but it can be changed.  It is up to us to stop looking through a bias lens and instead make a conscious decision to give others an opportunity to show us who they are.  It’s not right for anyone to assume who someone is without hearing them first.  If anything is going to get better, we have to start with how we see the world and how we react to it.  We can’t feed into the negativity we complain about.  Instead, we have to at least stop it from stemming from within ourselves.

Today, our issues of civil rights don’t solely revolve around if a person is black or white.  Now, individuals are being categorized as illegal aliens rather than people.  Couples are being shamed, ostracized, and denied because of who they love.  All while a person’s complexion is still a measure of their significance in society.  In 2013, it’s beautiful to see a light skinned little girl with bouncy curly hair walking down the street with her white mom and black father.  I love the fact that I was able to go to school with my black, Hispanic, Asian, white, and mixed friends.  But I also want to see my cousin marry the love of his life without people being shocked that he has a husband.  I don’t want my students to feel like they can’t go to school because their parents immigrated here for a better life.  I’m tired of still feeling uncomfortable for being the only Hispanic in a room.

The problem is not gone.  We haven’t finished what so many set out to do half a century ago.  Yes, we have taken huge strides since Dr. King delivered his speech in 1963, but we have to continue marching forward to make his dream and the dream of so many others a complete reality.

Same Love

Standard

I recently heard this song for the first time and, before I was even on the second verse, I knew I had to share it with you all.  I applaud Macklemore for being so vocal about what he believes in and I applaud him for realizing that love is love.  Hands down, my favorite line from this song- “Damn right, I support it.”  What else is there to say?  I hope you enjoy Macklemore’s “Same Love” and I hope you share it as well.