Wednesday, August 27, 2014
A publisher has asked me to compile my writings from the past 42 years... However, I have proposed simply the past 7 years, since I moved to Arizona. I am to choose my favorite writings to be published as collected works -- as a reader. If you have any favorites that you have ever read or taught from, please write me at: XColumn@gmail.com Most of what I have written the past 7 years has been as Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez. Prior to receiving my PhD, I did not include "Dr. Cintli" as part of my name. At the initial stage, I am free to suggest and design it in any manner I choose... from columns to academic articles etc. Of course, my maiz book (http://www.uapress.arizona.edu/Books/bid2497.htm) is almost out (mid-October), plus I continue work on the Smiling Brown project... so this is kind of cool to be working on this at this time. Thanks in advance, write me at: XColumn@gmail.com
Friday, August 8, 2014
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
This is a lengthy article I wrote recently for Truthout's Public Intellectual Page regarding the hate that emanates from media. This article analyzes the hate, primarily from the comments sections of the Arizona Republic and the Arizona Daily Star during the height of the SB 1070 (racial profiling) and HB 2281 (anti-ethnic studies) issues.. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/24684-editorial-pages-as-cordoned%E2%80%93off-hate-crime-scenes#.U9bMka8mgiQ.email Please post, share, etc.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Monday, June 23, 2014
I begin this essay on brown skin color and color consciousness with memories of my early childhood when I would sit on the porch step of my house in an alley on Whittier Boulevard in East LA and absorb the rays of the blazing hot sun. When I did this, I was constantly warned to stay out of the sun lest I get darker. I never paid any heed because I was already dark, and my body craved the rays of the sun. It was the heat I wanted; it made me feel good. It brought comfort to me, and sitting out in the hot sun (or when I grew older, playing basketball shirtless for hours on end) had nothing to do with my skin color, or so I thought. In one sense, whoever was giving me those admonitions was preoccupied not so much with the sun, but with my skin color—this in a society that has always favored light-skin.
New Mexico poet Demetria Martinez once described me in a poem on racial profiling, “Driving While Brown,” as unable to hide my Indian blood. “He is as dark as chocolate,” she writes (2005, 122). I always felt that was my skin color, except in Arizona where I feel it changes to red-brown.
I remember many years ago, an elder, Ernie Longwalker Peters, told me that when you mix the colors of maíz: red, white, yellow and blue—which represent all the peoples of the world—you get the color brown. I wish I had heard those words when I was growing up because most of my early memories in regards to skin color are negative. For example, I remember walking home from junior high school in the 1960s and one of my friends telling me: “Mexicans are the color of dirt!” I remember not knowing how to respond because he meant it as an insult, and at that time, I didn’t relate dirt with the Earth. That’s where the subtitle for this essay comes from, Gente de Bronce: People the Color of the Earth. Society taught me at a very young age that dirt was a bad thing and that it was an ugly color.
The issue of color isn’t simply something external; color, even when unstated, is also an internal issue among Mexicans and other people of the Americas.1 This is true even in the home. Whether verbalized or not, color consciousness is omnipresent and is directly linked to issues of indigeneity. In other words, these communities tend to show a preference for light skin that is not necessarily related to the black-white racial paradigm in the United States. It actually goes back to the era of Spanish colonization when deep anti-Indigenous attitudes first developed.
For the rest of the essay, go to:
Saturday, May 31, 2014
I did not write a critique of the movie Cesar Chavez when it first premiered because I felt somewhat conflicted, and I didn't feel like jumping on a bandwagon. There appears to be a cottage industry of those who love to critique Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers (UFW) Movement, by people who have little first-hand knowledge of the events in question. From reading the many reviews, most of them seem to be formulaic, critiquing the movie as a hero-worshipping biopic, with deeply flawed acting, etc., etc.
Much of that critique comes from professional movie critics who know movies but who know little about Cesar Chavez and the UFW movement and know even less about the condition of farmworkers in this nation's fields. Some of the critique is along the same lines as that of his former enemies, many of whom are from the extreme far right and who always equated him or saw him as an enemy of capitalism and an enemy of the state. Some criticism is from the so-called far left, some of which is simply hypercritical, not necessarily wrong, but seemingly unaware of Chavez's larger role or value to society. Among these critiques, there is also valid and useful critique that comes from people with no ax to grind, primarily from human rights activists who lived that era or who are engaged in human rights struggles today.
What has been particularly troubling is that those who talk or write about the Chavez movie, almost never mention the conditions of farm workers today. It is within that context that I see/saw the movie. A 2007 book: The Farmworker's Journey, by Dr. Ann Lopez, gives us a glance not simply into the conditions in the fields, but examines the deplorable conditions that force migrants from their homelands to migrate to the fields in the United States. NAFTA, a trade agreement that permits goods, capital and executives to flow freely back and forth, but not workers, continues to be the cause of that migration.
For the rest of the column, go to: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/24049-cesar-chavez-conditions-in-the-fields-and-the-struggle-over-memory#.U4p8JLhxsUU.facebook
Thursday, May 29, 2014
ON SALAZAR: After waiting some 44 years, most everyone I know was disappointed with the documentary on journalist, Ruben Salazar this past April. I wrote a series of observations prior to watching the documentary. Here's my view after having watched it.