Tuesday, June 18, 2013

AZ-MEX Boderlands/No More Deaths Summer Donation Drive

No More Deaths is a Tucson-based humanitarian organization that's mission is to help end suffering in the desert along the USA-Mexico borderlands. Throughout the year volunteers patrol migrant trails looking for people in need, giving medical aid, and placing water and food in strategic locations in the hope that it might save a life.

The summer months are a crucial time in this work, and to assist NMD in their mission I am asking for donations from friends, family and strangers to be collected between July 1st-15th. These donations will be driven out to Arizona in the 2nd half of the month.

 For your convenience, there will be multiple drop-off locations around Los Angeles County. (If you or your organization/business/work would like to participate as a drop-off location please email me at xochitljulisa@gmail.com)

 What to donate: 
running shoes
hiking boots
baseball caps

You can also make a monetary donation directly to the organization by going here.

Where to donate: 

 681 Venice Blvd. Venice Beach
HRS: M-F: 8pm-10pm S-S: 11am-10pm (check event calendar for exact times) http://www.beyondbaroque.org/calendar.html

 13197 Gladstone Ave Sylmar, CA 91342
(818) 939-3433
Mon–Thurs: 2-8pm | Fri: 2-10pm Sat: 11am-6pm | Sun: Closed (Cerrado)

1839 1st St Los Angeles, CA 90033
(213) 399-9811
Wed - Thu: 12:00 pm - 8:00 pm Fri - Sat: 12:00 pm - 9:00 pm Sun: 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm

3040 E Olympic Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90023
M-S: 9am-6pm

Last year alone, 179 remains were found along the AZ-Mex borderlands. For more information please visit the No More Deaths website.

Here is a poem inspired by my time on the border with No More Deaths. The video is directed by TV director and movimiento activist, Jesus Trevino.

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.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Two Pennsylvania Undocumented DREAMers Arrested

Jessica Hyejin Lee and Tania Chairez are DREAMers that were arrested yesterday, March 14th, in Pennsylvania when they performed an act of civil disobedience in protest of the treatment and and 8 month detention of fellow DREAMer, Miguel Orellana Garcia.

There are no words to describe how unbelievably brave these women are. After being in the Arizona border last summer and feeling the real threat of being arrested for humanitarian aid, I know I could never do what they are doing for their community and for other undocumented youth in the country. BRAVE.

Undocumented. Unapologetic. Unafraid.

Please listen to Jessica and Tania tell their stories below.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Martin Espada's Allegory of the Oppressed

In finding ways to write about immigration and immigrant communities of Los Angeles, I decided to study Martin Espada's collection, City of Coughing and Dead Radiators. In my study of his poems, focused on urban centers and working class and immigrant communities of the east coast, I discovered that many of his poems were allegorical. Characters like The Toolmaker became symbols for the working class and characters like The Lawyer and The Landlord became symbols for the ruling class, which is why I like to call is Allegory of the Oppressed.

Besides the characters, he also uses paradox and symbols, both common in allegory, but more specifically, he uses Catholic symbols. For example, in “Who Burns of the Perfection of Paper,” Espada writes, “Ten years later, in law school, / I knew that every legal pad / was glued with the sting of hidden cuts, / that every open law book / was a pair of hands / upturned and burning” (49). The image of the wounded palms alludes to Jesus on the cross and is symbolic of sacrifice.

I grew up Catholic, and made 4 of the 7 sacraments by the age of 15, but now at 31, I do not subscribe to the beliefs or practices of the Catholic Church. But that doesn't stop me from being drawn to Catholic symbols in my work, and by being comforted by images of the Virgin Mary or by the language and ritual of Sunday Mass when I find myself in the midst of them. I have great respect for the symbolic language my Catholic upbringing afforded me. And it can only enrich my work as I try to write to and for my community because Catholicism is our shared language.

Dana Gioia, perhaps best known for his essay, "Does Poetry Matter?" is a practicing Catholic, and he said, “the Catholic, literally from birth, when he or she is baptized, is raised in a culture that understands symbols and signs. And it also trains you in understanding the relationship between the visible and the invisible. Consequently, allegory finds its greatest realization in Catholic artists like Dante.”

The Parables of the Bible were some my earliest introductions to storytelling, and I appreciate that Espada has found a way to integrate aspects of this type of story into his poetry, especially when writing about Latino-American communities and culture. It is our shared language, and to someone like myself, it only feels natural.

For a full analysis of Espada's City of Coughing and Dead Radiators, you can check out my annotation at Annotation Nation.

Here is a clip of Espada reading Who Burns of the Perfection of Paper.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Biking the Border

I met Katy and Eric in Tucson back in August with No More Deaths. At that time they had just come off of a 5 week stay in Nogales, MX helping newly deported migrants make phone calls home, locate their confiscated personal items, and document border patrol abuses. The efforts in Nogales is another major humanitarian project within No More Deaths. I spent one day there serving lunch in a soup kitchen and talking to men who waited at a dusty bus station all day for a chance to make a 5 minute phone call home from a pay-as-you-go No More Deaths cell phone. The one thing that stood out to me in Nogales was the waiting.

When I met Katy and Eric at a Tucson migrant half-way house, they told me of their plan to bike the entire border. I'm relieved to know they made it, and I'm impressed with their conviction to get up close and personal with immigration reform. I only wish more people would be willing to see for themselves what the border and the "illegal-immigration issue" really looks like.

“I think people in the north don't really understand what's going on in the southern borders,” said Katy. “Hearing politicians talk about a wall might sound feasible to people.”

“But when you come down and you witness it, it seems kind of crazy."