Cursilerías bibliotecarias

The Chicanx Resource Center in East L.A. is like the Biblioteca Vasconcelos of the barrio; it’s both grand and epic and impeccably stocked with books on Mexican and Latin American History. Though it is quaint in size, I can walk and contemplate the books on all seven aisles and feel as if it is a complete and impressive collection of history, of the border, of the barrio and of the inspiration inflicted by all of these on the humyn spirit and our struggle to translate our struggles in order to transcend them. While I was walking down the aisles I was overcome by the urge to cry, to let my tears intertwine with the wonderful rivers of words and letters I saw form all around me. I was suddenly and quite fatally overcome by the realization that I, along with the thousands of authors here featured and their millions of readers, was witness to the grandeur of life and experience, and of the quest to capture life within the both hard and soft covers of books. I realize my current heartaches have been translated before and thousands of times over and that my struggle isn’t completely unique in the struggles among the children of borderlands. My solitude was not only shaken but I quickly rediscovered the beauty of writing, of the power transmitted by a collection of borderless voices, and the importance and beauty of a Chicanx Resource Center. It is a place where feelings and words converge, to wake us of our pain in solitude, our perturbing loneliness and our untranslatable experiences.

I swim amidst words that spell out meXicana encounters and bind together the profoundness of thought of chicanx poetisas like Gloria Anzaldúa. I swim among the waves of letters of borderlands and historias y nostalgias de las patrias. It has revived the feelings and saberes that my Mexico City querido is with my everywhere I travel and my pochoteca spirit has been reignited by the resilency that emanates from books and from these mahogany tables as if to remind me of the buoyancy of translated feelings. Resisting the urge to cry all over a hard copy of John Ross’s El Monstruo..¡Me siento viva!

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Living beats

Today I’m in the mood for some jazz, Duke Ellington, Monk, Nina Simone and café con leche.

 Reading about jazz musicians of the past and on the essence of jazz immortalized in the writing of James Baldwin (among others), I have the notion that this music is about sentiments and feelings buried deep inside that only jazz notes can communicate. It is a product of genius and tragedy.

I find so much beauty in and appreciate people who make music, people who are music, and people who live life as beats and melodies.  Some people I’ve met are as troubled and tragic as Thelonious Monk but just as brilliant.  In the past it has troubled me to think people can think and desire so differently than me, that their sense of purpose and creation is so different than my own.  But like everyone, they make internal compromises in order to get by – metaphysically, philosophically, spiritually.

In order to survive – that is, to live the lives of their choosing, as drummers, as musicians, as challengers, artists, and performers – they come to a sort of agreement with themselves in order to turn and confront the world as they are, as they have chosen to be, intending to occupy as much space in the world, as they are. Sometimes the world decides you’re crazy or dangerous or stupid and does away with you.

But sometimes because you create a jazz album, a book or writing – conversation and enlightenment in all its forms – you become impossible to destroy.  You transcend your fear of death, of destruction and termination – the fear of yourself, your vulnerability and temporality – through your power to create and inspire. Perhaps that is one outstanding reason I adore music.

It is a remnant of that amazing power of creation, a testament of sorts. Music from a time far gone, from a present very proximate and dynamic, and of a reassurance that this creative force that slumbers in many people, is very capable of influencing wonderful interpretations to inspire us all.

As with music, so it is with dancing, and with words, and with ideas, and with smiles, and with love.

palabras desnudas

“No acumules silencios, grita de vez en cuando” – filosofía digital y anónima 

I love exploring words, creative ways to weave desires and pain into words, dreams into projects,  and poems into inspiration.  I love the way words are flexible and ever-changing but also impressively precise.  This love is probably born out of with my own cosmovisión and sociopolitical life perspectives.  We’re asked all the time: “Why did you choose to study X?” or “Why have you chosen to pursue Y?”  “Why are you organizing with Z?” These questions, sometimes innocently posited for the purpose of  small talk, welcome us to share  sublime and lucid insight on our life experiences.  For me, it comes down to the bareness of words and meanings.  Much of what I am inspired by are words and palabras: spoken, written, silenced, protested.

Ultimately, I think our passions as writers, singers, dancers, lovers, actors, and travelers arise from a conjunction of life experiences and encounters. We are products of the millions of intersections and encuentros that mark our minds and spirits and memory. Personally, I associate social justice with writing, with communication and voice, with power through spoken and written word, with palabra.  Born and raised in Boyle Heights, the move to Santa Cruz at age 18, graduation at age 21: through the constant movement, I have seen how my transnational transbarrio and translocal communities oscillate between silence and voice. It’s difficult to pinpoint exact experiences but I remember growing up, witnessing the subtle discrimination imposed against my father, a very well spoken and elegant man with dark brown skin; being pulled over on a California highway by a highway patrol car, my father’s speechlessness and inability to respond to the police officers aggressive questions and inquiry. The –  quickly shattering – silence of thousands of undocumented Latin American migrants in the U.S., my mother’s constant struggle to learn English, to communicate eloquently with a physician. I have felt a rabid, lingering desperation to scream this silence into extinction. I’ve felt a desperation tugging at my vocal cords, pleading to articulate the injustices my communities has faced for years, decades and certainly even centuries.