Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hymn to Vatos Who Will Never be in a Poem

I realized that I didn't post any poems this year for National Poetry Month. So here is a beautiful piece by Luis Alberto Urrea that a friend just shared with me through email. Thanks, Melissa for the beautiful Sunday morning poem!  I read it to the sounds of mariachi trumpets blaring from the church across the street.

Hymn to Vatos Who Will Never be in a Poem
                                                   by Luis Urrea
All the vatos  sleeping on hillsides
All the vatos  say goodnight forever
All the vatos  loving their menudo

All the vatos  faith in la tortilla
All the vatos  fearing the alarm clock
All the vatos  Wino Jefe Peewee
All the vatos  even the cabrones
All the vatos  down por vida homeboys
All the vatos  using words like ranfla

All the vatos  who woke up abandoned
All the vatos  not afraid of their daughters
All the vatos  arms around their sisters
All the vatos  talking to their women
All the vatos  granting their foregiveness
All the vatos  plotting wicked paybacks

All the vatos  sleeping under mota
All the vatos  with tequilla visions
All the vatos  they call maricones
All the vatos  bleeding in the alley
All the vatos  chased by helicopters
All the vatos  dissed by pinches white boys

All the vatos  bent to pick tomatoes
All the vatos  smoked by Agent Orange
All the vatos  brave in deadly classrooms
All the vatos  pacing in the prisons
All the vatos  pierced by needle lightning
All the vatos  who were once our fathers

All the vatos  even veteranos
All the vatos  and their abuelitos
All the vatos  proud of tatuajes
All the vatos  carrying a lunch pail
All the vatos  graduating law school
All the vatos  grown up to be curas

All the vatos  Jimmy Spider Tito
All the vatos  lost their tongues in Spanish
All the vatos  can't say shit in English
All the vatos  looking at her photo
All the vatos  making love till morning
All the vatos  stroking their own hunger

All the vatos  faded clear as windows
All the vatos  needing something better
All the vatos  bold in strange horizons
All the vatos  waiting for tomorrow
All the vatos  sure that no one loves them
All the vatos  sure that no one hears them

All the vatos  never in a poem
All the vatos  told they don't belong here
All the vatos  beautiful young Aztecs
All the vatos  warrior Apaches
All the vatos  sons of Guadalupe
All the vatos  bad as a la chingada

All the vatos  call themselves Chicanos
All the vatos  praying for their children
All the vatos  even all you feos
All the vatos  filled with life eternal
All the vatos  sacred as the Sun God
All the vatos  Flaco Pepe Gordo

All the vatos  rising from their mothers

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

US Border Patrol: What We Need to Know

PBS now has a documentary series called Need to Know, and on Friday, April 20th, it aired the story, Crossing the Line at the Border: an investigative report that uncovers the sad and disturbing details surrounding the murder of Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, an undocumented immigrant, by US border patrol agents.

Hernandez Rojas was caught not far from San Diego trying to enter the country illegally. While in the custody of border patrol agents, he was kicked in the ankle more than once, and when he asked to report the incident, he was taken to the border by vehicle, with his assailant in the car with him. Once at the border, eye-witnesses crossing back in to the US saw (and video recorded) a group of agents beat Hernandez Rojas, taser him a total of 5 times, and all while his arms and legs were tied. Soon after the incident, Hernandez Rojas died.

Unfortunately, what happened to Hernandez Rojas isn't a chance happening. According to PBS there have been “eight cases in less than two years followed by no public hearings, no criminal charges and no trials, including the Hernandez Rojas case.” One such case in Arizona in March, 2011, was of a 19 year-old Mexican-American who was shot "three times in the back as he climbed the fence back into Mexico.” Because of cases like these, and because of the border patrols' ability to freely police the border without impunity, humanitarian groups like No More Deaths, are calling the US border patrol abuses a Culture of Cruelty.

Talk about need to know. Did you know that “customs and border protection is now the largest law enforcement agency in the nation. Employing almost 60’000 agents and employees”? And yet, they are not held to the same scrutinies and checks that local police, county sheriff, or any other federal agents are held to. Did you know that “border agents are assaulted at a dramatically lower rate than police and, unlike police, are typically assaulted with rocks, not knives and guns”? And did you know “only once in ten years has a US border agent been criminally charged for killing a migrant, and that case was dismissed”?

To those people who say, they came here illegally, they get what they deserve, I ask the question, when did illegally crossing the border become a crime punishable by death? When did a border patrol agent become judge, jury, and executioner?

Anastasio Hernandez Rojas was a man trying to return to his wife and five children in the US. He was a man that begged for his life at the hands of nearly a dozen border patrol agents. He did not deserve to be hog-tied, beaten, and tasered to death.

Please take 20 minutes to watch the story. Be warned that recordings of the beating and Anastasio's cries for help do air in the story, but please do not turn away. We need to know.

And now that we know, isn't it time we get outraged?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

John Stewart and the Arizona Ban on Mexican-American Studies

Check out the report by Al Madrigal for The Daily Show with John Stewart on the ban on Mexican-American ethnic studies program in Arizona. It's tragic that young Mexican-American students eager to learn are not allowed to learn their history and their cultural contributions to our nation.

A thanks to John Stewart for talking about Arizona's latest cultural atrocity.

Let it be known that in Arizona sharing a burrito is subversive.

And now the state legislatures have their eyes set on college ethnic classes.