#Peliona

Current Mood:  “The Seed (2.0)” by The Roots feat. Cody Chesnutt

2018 has begun oddly. I’m feeling a lot of clarity. I’m centering gratitude.

Best moment thus far: SUBMITTED TWO BOOK CHAPTERs – one by myself – shout out to Dr. B for helping edit – the second with an esteemed peer Dr. G (#WizardPhD).

This is why I came here – PURPOSE EXISTS!!

So, I had my boiled eggs with tangerines and my favorite, hazelnut coffee, while I watched Dexter.  By 11am I was lifting weights at the gym. 20180128_114746This has become my new normal. My body doesn’t resist. A sexy man joined me today as I move to cardio and it dawned on me that have unlearned to dislike body odor. His and mine mixed and I simply just accepted that the smell was our perspiration. Deodorant marketing has taken to explain “scientifically” how our body produces sweat and how to “combat” odor… they’ve even taken to gender their artificial body odor. < That’s among my favorite ads yet I think (for myself). Funny to some, Old Spice is actually one of my preferred artificial odors… sucks for them that they don’t prefer my money.

Unintentionally, I’m living as my father once did. His story was that after he obtained his degrees and found work he went on a Homeric journey back to Ecuador (from NYC) to find a spouse. My mom brags that she was the one who civilized my father. She got him to cut his hair, shave and use shampoo and deodorant. Prior to her, he’d been using lemons – like, literally, cut lemons scrubbed against his body – to wash. Their politics are vastly different. My mother was educated by Catholic nuns who pushed “proper” behavior through Eurocentric etiquette knowledges. To them, there are “correct” (and symmetrical) ways to look and behave. My father was raised by his mestizo community.

Why, of course.  Of course of course!!

Like Papi, this year I am not altering any of my natural hair. That means no cutting, shaving, waxing, ironing, blow-drying, bleaching, or dying.

  1. So take me as I am or have nothing at all

20180128_115411As I exited the gym I noticed the 40 degree and sunny weather. Snapped some photos. Decided to eat at one of my local favorites, Good Truckin’ Diner. Not happening. There was “sign-in” procedure and lines were out the door.

I remembered that I must align my actions to my core beliefs. So to honor my commitment to love this year, I conducted a Google search: “best vegetarian in Michigan.” 2) To love myself, I had to sift through the ones that were actually open and within a 2-hour radius because my 2nd book chapter contribution is due today. Luckily, I have Dr. G on my side, a brilliant and beautiful woman I met my first semester at MSU in a social justice class with the same Dr. B.

What came up was a delicious treat in Novi.

I ate savoring every bit of food and observing beautiful brown people surrounding me – all speaking a tongue I could not decipher. There was an unspoken bond between one of the waiters and myself. He walked by me a few times and seemed to want to say something. After paying the bill, sadly because I couldn’t even finish all the wondrous parts of my meal and didn’t save room for dessert, I heard his voice. Thank you and adios.

A-dios no es algo que suelo decir. I was not raised in any religion. It was clear that the Catholic school my siblings and I attended was a desperate attempt to find “better education.” It was a damn blessing to finally realize in adulthood that my parents lived with conviction. I am witness to their endless care-taking and generosity – not just to us and family but to strangers even.

It’s been difficult to live by their standards because others experience love in different ways. 3) To love others I’m inquiring how others want to be loved.

After my delicious Indian brunch I found a cafe to spend the rest of the day writing. This was lovely to see there (4) point out love[lyness]):

20180128_150749De lo nada, or seemingly out of the blue, I’m surrounded by love again, which means I must commit to dedicate myself (even if only slightly due to #AlbasPhDLifeYr3) to folks who inquire about how I want to be love. Finally, I found mi gente. So, I write to deconstruct my ideas of querer, amar, dar cariño, affection, emotional availability, holding space… there are at least 3 ways of saying “I love you” in Kichwa:

  1. Canda munani
  2. Munayki
  3. Qanta munani

Also, this week I had several fun conversations and learned with a few 3-4th graders at a local Montessori school. The students are learning about “kindness” and I posed the questions “how do we expect people to treat us?” Duh, it was difficult!  I re-directed the convo a few times because the picture book and worksheet given to me for “Wonder” led to some things problematic . With 2 young gals, we connected on being the “little sisters” in our families and loving being annoying to our big sisters who ALL hate touching.  We love touching, especially people who sometimes get irritated by it.

Next, two gals plus 3 guys and I discussed plants!! They were more enthused by other living beings rather than humans from books with redundant themes. The youth got excited when I told them talking to plants helps them grow. They loved it so much, in the tone of “shots shots” (pitbull?) they shouted “grow grow….!!” causing quite the raucous. Heehee. Great success 😉

My awe-full, astute little girlie, my Sofia drew this:

IMG-20180123-WA0003

Unrequited love was the theme for a while.

The curly hair is my favorite.

If she were my girl,  I would name her “Rock n’ Roll”…

As a parent, I would rather see my child grow up kind than smart. This stems from, I believe, my inner #peliona.

Soy una peliona
Me apesta las mentiras
le tengo alergia a el engaño
Me cuesta poco oler tu egoism
Con mis argollas grandotas, salio el sol
salio el sooooool
Tables they turn sometimes

cognitive-dissonance-vik-religion-13839521803) Actions that are incongruent with their words. AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT.

My teachers also bombarded us with “The Golden Rule” but didn’t quite foster a 5) culture of nurturance.

Lest we forget that Teachers’ implicit bias against black students starts in preschool

Lots of emerging research can now explain how racial trauma affects quality of life because Scientists Have Started To Tease Out The Subtler Ways Racism Hurts Health

It feels confusing.

Sometimes I’m called calculating, passive aggressive > ok.

There’s no denying the aggressive. 6) My love is revolutionary love.

 

reloveution_by_righteousfury-d5r1mxf

“…because you speak to me in words and I look at you with feelings.” (Tolstoy)

Ecuador’s rondador is like China’s guzheng.

It sometimes feels like we’re in the Red Scare 2.0

“Somos bravos como la lava que creo esta isla.”

Wednesday, 1am

PhD Life Yr 3: My Fuck-you Hoops

Current mood: Truth Hurts by Lizzo

Next month I will be the age my Papi was when I was born.

Pourquoi, pourquoi même quand les gens s’aiment
Il y a, il y a, toujours des problemes

I’m The Logician, The Thinker. INTP is my personality type…

“it’s not that they are dishonest, but people with the INTP personality type tend to share thoughts that are not fully developed, using others as a sounding board for ideas and theories in a debate against themselves rather than as actual conversation partners. This may make them appear unreliable, but in reality no one is more enthusiastic and capable of spotting a problem, drilling through the endless factors and details that encompass the issue and developing a unique and viable solution than INTPs – just don’t expect punctual progress reports. People who share the INTP personality type aren’t interested in practical, day-to-day activities and maintenance, but when they find an environment where their creative genius and potential can be expressed, there is no limit to the time and energy INTPs will expend in developing an insightful and unbiased solution…. When INTPs are particularly excited, the conversation can border on incoherence as they try to explain the daisy-chain of logical conclusions that led to the formation of their latest idea. Oftentimes, INTPs will opt to simply move on from a topic before it’s ever understood what they were trying to say, rather than try to lay things out in plain terms.

My friends and family and others who love me will read that ^ and yell out:  “YEAH AND IT’S FUCKIN ANNOYING!!”  I’ve seen it.  True story.

Yeah so about 3% of the population supposedly develops this personality type (prob nature and nurture). I gave up making sense to anyone long ago. I’m most chatty when I’m most uncomfortable- so yeah, it’s you. I demand a lot of personal time and space – get over it.

ESFJs make me queasy

don’t talk to INTPs about celebrities

THIS IS THE HALFWAY POINT TO MY PHD.

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26 June 2017, ad in a mall (Guayaquil, Ecuador)

I’ve picked my hoops.

Latinx INTP, coño!!

It’s been a difficult gestation period.  My Ph.D. baby experience has been trying. People  AT WORK cannot stand me. I feel respected but unloved. Luckily, this semester, I’ve gotten close to some wonderful people. I’ve also reconnected with some very lovely people from my past since getting out of that toxic relationship (with the epitome of white privilege, I’m still livid my ex-fucker threw out my Cuban postcards)…

So, the thing I enjoy most about social media is data.  I like the patterns, you see.  This is why I’m doing well in my Ph.D. life.  Intersectionality is NOT a thing – the feminists thumb up pro-women posts and anti-men posts but rarely the trans posts.  The lgbtq+ population rarely thumb up the pro-black. The Michiganders… *sighs* lemme stop before I get more hate snail mail.

Generalmente se entiende por “mal de ojo” a la energía negativa que descarga una persona sobre otra con solo mirarla con la intención de que le suceda algo malo, sentimiento que surge por envidia, egoísmo, resentimiento, mezquindad entre otros.
En nuestra sociedad hay muchos creyentes del llamado “mal de ojo”. Por ello acuden a curanderos, para obtener resultados eficaces. Sin embargo, no todos creen. Y es que ellos piensan que es una utopía creer que a través de una mirada se puedan transmitir buenas o malas energías hacia una persona.  Que más?

Having no interest in exerting control over other human beings…

I haven’t had more than 3 or 4 hours of sleep since Thanksgiving.  Nevertheless, on Saturday (snowy day), I decided to get out of bed around  8 a.m. I boiled an egg for breakfast, cut up some some vegetables and left stuff oven-ready and I was at the gym by 10:30.  I ran 6mph for 20 minutes on the treadmill and lifted weights (3 variations), 60 reps each.  I changed the relationship status with my massage lady today.  She is also my therapist now (tears and word vomit everywhere today).  By 13:30, I was showered and back in the kitchen making a vegan spaghetti squash vegetable medley for a group dinner before heading to get a manicure and look for some warm clothes. I picked up Amanda and head to Dr. M’s house for our Rueda meeting. I’m treasurer this year.

Saturday night was some of the most fun I’ve had in Michigan since moving here.

I’m so happy because today I found my friends…

Hair is something I hadn’t considered much outside of the white/black binary until recently with some other Chicanx Latinx. In our liminal spaces, some make us feel like the binary plays a tug-of-war with us – never content with our stance or critical of our loyalties… So, just saying,where I come from we touch hair, each other’s all the time but also strangers we just meet. Curly, straight, buzzed, dyed, natural, to compliment, to critique, to compare, to braid or comb…. todo.

“I need both my hands right now so I have to get off the phone” she said. “You’re driving, so you should get off the phone.” <- a case for intersectionality by a self-centered Becky I know

Well, I’m not here to teach.  I’m here to create testimonios de mi gente.  So, NO, this website is not for you and neither are my social media accounts and everything I post.

The last Wednesday of November in the afternoon I arrived at DTW and rushed to find the Michigan Flyer which would arrive within 30 minutes. I asked two men sitting near the buses whether they knew the stall of my bus. One answered. I thanked them and put my headphones back on. Next thing I know the other one crept up behind me and was apparently chatting with me. When I lifted my headphones to hear if anything he said was useful I was met with vapid observations and random questions. In all his useless drivel, he asks me if I’m Lebanese (because of my eyebrows?!) then Pakistani, Guatemalan… mid-response, he interrupts to say that I sound  like I’m from Michigan. When I tell him I’m from the east coast he’s shocked that I’m so cultured (?!?!). Then he asks me my age because I “look young” – STFU. I do NOT look 23. His attempted compliments came from thin air. Between his babbling, I tried re-directing the conversation asking if he ever asks White people where they’re from. He never considered that. He assumes they’re from here, “I guess.” I’m “smarter” than “almost everyone” he knows (YUCK, NOT A COMPLIMENT!!). He tells me he is “basically a mutt,” black, white and “Indian” (native) but that he knows people “only think black.” “But my mom is a beautiful white lady!” As he talks he steps closer.  Doesn’t he notice me stepping away each time? Then this rather large fellow (not quite 6′ and about 2 of me) begins telling me about his dull, very sad life of hating his new job and boss and wanting to travel (he’s never left Michigan…).  I put on my headphones cautiously, lowering the volume, nervous that he might get weird but hoping he’d get the hint. Luckily before I told him off, he got a phone call and seconds later my bus came. I waved quickly, trying to be fakepolite like he may be used to and he motioned that I wait… as I got on the bus, he walked towards it looking to me… I DO NOT KNOW YOU.

I exist in liminal spaces.
There are 16 tabs open here on Chrome and if I scroll to the left with my index, middle and right fingers to a new screen, I have 18 more tabs open.  Then I have 10 tabs open in Safari, plus 2 items in Finder open and one Word Document open. I am halfway through year 3 of my PhD.  I’m working on a book chapter about teacher attrition with my advisor and another about curriculum from the Latinx diaspora (with a friend).

In every segment of “Time: The Kalief Browder Story,” I’ve had to reality check.  I analyze how the education system of the U.S. has only assisted in poisoning humanity. It’s seems totally incomprehensible for a minute. Someone incarcerated with no reasons available? This is not infanticide.  Yet Jeff Robinson, ACLU Deputy Legal Director and Director of the Trone Center for Justice and Equality, is paternal, I felt.

Kalief was not cursed.

It was not “an ordeal.”

His story is not “a tragedy!”

This world is diseased by neoliberalism. At each turn, someone is looking to profit.

I confess.

I have always hated school.  Eddie Huang, you get me:

img_20170821_214756188.jpg

Once my girl Gigi and I decided to skip a 10th grade I.B. chemistry test day to study; we sat there in a stinky locker room for half the day trying to memorize the periodic table and several formulas quizzing each other throughout the day.  Both of us aced the test but were given zeros when Ms. Brennan found out we had “an unfair advantage” (AKA an extra day to prepare). Soon after this, I was kicked out of the I.B. program for having a 2.4 GPA and over 60 days of absences. I never hid the fact that I was a truant in high school because I thought I was an anarchist communist taoist then. Once I was lectured by the cruel Mr. Richardson for skipping a class – he told my mom that he saw “the path” I’m on and that my future looked grim.  He even threw in a story of a pregnant teen I reminded him of. #mansplainingcirca2001

The punishment for nefarious activity, such as skipping Chemistry class, was Saturday School in which we truants had to clean up the entire campus.  On one such day,  another truant friend Tina and I – stickin’ it to the man –  put on our latex gloves and pretended to work diligently.  Really, we took all of 2 minutes finding full trash cans of which to empty into our bags.  Yeah, we learned our lessons real fast!  In retaliation, and I’m not sure if I need to give Tina credit for this one idea: we took orange cones and rerouted traffic on that Saturday.  The honking was hilarious to us.  And why wouldn’t it be?

Did y’all really think I was the first 5th grader to call someone a bitch?

If you’re still alive and reading this:

Fuck you, Mr. Richardson and Fuck you Ms. Brennan. You were part of the reason I detested school. Today, I’m proud to say I’m more educated than you and less of a jerk too!!

Seven years ago after obtaining our master’s, at graduation, we were told that only about 4% of Latinas obtained a graduate degree.  I remember and wrote about being furious that I got more Facebook “likes” on my changed relationship status (even got some texts and calls from friends and family) than being awarded my degree.  I learned then about the null curriculum of my society.

The proportion of doctorates awarded to Latinx has risen from 3.3% in 1994 to 6.5% in 2014 (National Science Foundation, Dec 2015).  It’s offensive to some to compare obtaining a degree to marriage and/or having a baby.

Alors on sort pour oublier tous les problèmes

Elliot Eisner (1985) wrote that schools “teach” three curricula: the explicit, the implicit, and the null. The explicit curriculum is what we see on papers,  the publicly announced programs of study (ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies). The hidden/implicit curriculum imparts values and expectations generally (i.e. the teacher is the knowledge authority and excellence and failure is measured A, B, C, D, and F). The null curriculum encompasses all the cultural and political statements that are made about what matters in society by excluding content (i.e. genocide happens in the U.S., race is a man-made invention).

I put the sing in single

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Most of my memories about education and educators is that they are self-serving.  Those awful “educators” I (and so many of us) had were control-freaks.  They got in the business not out of passion but out of desire to control and manipulate less experienced people.  What pissed me off the most, and still does, is how elitist some educators are… telling us what we should deem important, demanding that we call them by their titles, telling us one day we’ll agree with their points of view and, above all, the guilt trips.

School is an oppressive institution which functions under oppressive systems of hierarchy and nepotism.  We were once greeted with smiles and handshakes.  Told our adult ideas are valuable – like, literally, some of us were told we’d be paid to do undo what traditional education did to kids.  We all agreed that kids are valuable people too!

Some demand that we live up to their rigid rules and miserable guidelines.

Now I get paid to write about this ^

One of my friends was just explaining to me that “I feel guilty all the time.” I don’t like doing scholarly reading unless I have to. I’d much rather read stuff I like – not related to anything academic. I like to watch tv, lol, and just chill. I think all the hustling in undergrad has left me burnt out that I don’t really want to lead that typical grad student life. Sometimes I don’t think I can argue in an academic argument or defend myself intellectually. I grew up in Chicago and I speak as I always have. I don’t speak “smart” or use big words in everyday conversation and discussing theory bores me to death unless we are in class. Outside of class, lab, or office time I just want to be a regular non academic human being. Talk about current events and societal issues and all of that – YES but in normal non academic language lol. I just want to get my PhD to get a good job (hopefully) once i graduate and support my family financially.”

She’s beautiful.  She is not an INTP personality but we are both defiant and I DIG IT.

I DO NOT FEEL AN OUNCE OF GUILT.  Since starting PhD, things have been rough but life is drastically better in every way.

“A drowning man isn’t picky about who throws him a rope.”


Under fair housing laws, the burden of proving that illegal housing discrimination occurred is always on the victim of discrimination.

I perform best when odds are against me.

My fuck you hoops is heavy

10 films about race

It is difficult to quantify these qualities on a resume. I Loathe rules and guidelines and require a great deal of freedom. Discrimination comes with a smile and a handshake but I’m wearing my Fuck-You-hoops and my blood-red lipstick today. You ain’t got nothing on me. Meet me halfway. I don’t sleep much. I could sleep for 1,000 years…

Truth hurts, needed something more exciting
Bom bom bi dom bi dum bum bay
And that’s the sound of me not calling you back

Should I BLM on a first date?

Two months ago I dumped a ¨nice¨ white dude I met on Tinder nearly two years ago. I had begun exploring a couple sites and apps when I began to reconsider what led me to such an unhappy relationship to begin with.  Was my profile as misleading as his?  If I was to create a dating profile that ¨men fight for,¨ I’d want to make a good first impression so the core of who I really am would not be highlighted. I would first choose some fun pics that, by chance, also accentuate my assets. Then I´d write that I play guitar and piano (poorly, lol) and that I also practice Mixed Martial Arts(this would accentuate that I’m ¨one of the guys,¨ teehee) and 3D art. I might specify that I love the outdoors, cooking, reading, writing and travel – I may even show off that I have been to 18 countries and have lived on three continents (I would add an amazing  deep-water-solo-climbing-in-Thailand pic and a black-water-rafting-in-New Zealand shot as proof). Since societal norms tell me me to avoid discussing religion and politics, I would definitely leave out that I am a socialist, secular, social justice activist (alliteration only half-intended).

Current Mood: Fire Squad by J. Cole

Someone once shrieked that there was ¨nothing normative¨ about me. True story. So, in a non-normative fashion I am creating a new profile in my own space. BEWARE! THIS IS NOT A TYPICAL DATING PROFILE!  I´m about to try something totally different now because I am 32 years old and I’ve been dating unhappily for over a decade now.  I will now avoid that bullshit advice that tells me to hide who I am because I am now listening to the ¨own it¨ culture of my Millennials. In the words of Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Proudly and loudly I will shout from any rooftop my identities as a bilingual, Latinx, mestiza, dual citizen of the U.S. & Ecuador, cis-hetero mujer, socialist, secular, social justice activist and a third year Ph.D. student (alliterations intended)!!

15110864_10105593833305061_6241571295838115206_oToday commemorates the June 19, 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery (#Juneteenth). In the past week, though, the world learned just how little Black Lives Matter in the U.S. This Father’s Day weekend was marked by Philando Castile´s cop- killer being acquitted and then Charleena Lyle being gunned down by a cop also in front of her children.

So, what does all of this have to do with my current dating dilemma?  I do not want to believe that you can be a beautiful, decent, intelligent individual worthy of dating unless you truly believe and live Black Lives Matter. I vow to center Black Lives Matter in all aspects of my life starting by explaining why and how I came to understand the movement, which also explains the following 5 key facts about who I am and what you’re in for when dating me (and I will wear one of my #BLM tees on my profile pics and all first dates from now on too!):

  1. am unapologetically a New Yorker (so I say it like it is) who grew up in Sanford, Florida (so I will let out some y’alls). Not only was there active Ku Klux Klan groups nearby, but hate crimes were committed frequently in my neck-of-the-woods. Sanford was cruel to me and most black and brown folks I knew and heard about. Remember Trayvon Martin?  That beautiful black body was destroyed about 6 miles away from my childhood home. The killer was acquitted because racism is not aberrational. This started the Black Lives Matter Movement.  The first tenet of Critical Race Theory, CRT, claims the centrality of race and racism in society, and that racism is a permanent component of American life (Delgado & Stefancic, 2012, p. 8). In other words, “Racism is a permanent part of the American landscape,” racism and white supremacy are normative (Bell, 1992, p. 92).
  2. After undergrad, I went back to New York City to join a non-traditional teacher preparation program to obtain my Master´s and a teacher certificate. I´ve been teaching for nearly twelve years now – five of those years were spent in various Title I schools of Central Florida and the Bronx in impecunious neighborhoods. In that time, I learned about the “The ‘social construction’ thesis, another theme in CRT, holds that race and races are products of social thought and relations” and since race and racism are not biological or genetic and traits, such as intelligence or behavior, they are not predictable through racial observation and or generalizations (Delgado and Stefancic, 2012, p. 8). I have been witness to such terrible, inhumane practices that uphold the social construction thesis such as stop-and-frisk and policies that lead to the proliferation of the school-to-prison-pipeline.
  3. During my time in New York City, I began to fight inequities in my classrooms and in the streets with the New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE) and the Movement of Rank and File Educators or (MORE). With the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, I learned the definition of ¨race¨: A specious classification of human beings created by Europeans (in the 17th-18th centuries) using “white” as the model of humanity for the purpose of establishing and maintaining social status and privilege and a legitimate relationship to power.
  4. I now live in Mid-Michigan, where there is“the positioning of white cultural norms and ways of life as the advanced and most beneficial way of living for everyone, including non-whites…” (Warren, 2012, p. 199).  Passive form of racism, such as microaggressions, are normalized and embedded in every form of life and are unnoticed and unchallenged.  As a woman of color, I experience microaggressions nearly daily in Michigan. I was once told by the Aveda institute that their free blow out offer is not meant ¨for my type of hair.¨  I also get random strangers in grocery stores asking me how to peel and eat ¨exotic¨ produce. People are often shocked that I ¨speak English so well¨ and that I´m educated (in sharp contrast to my monolingual, uneducated white ex, who has poor orthographical skills but people always assume he is well-educated).
  5. I openly admit that I once believed in white supremacy. I cannot deny it. I own it now. I once believed there was a right way to speak, dress and act. ¨If it ain´t white, it aint right,¨ I used to joke with my friends (who were all white then). I once believed in the myth of meritocracy and that the reason my family ¨made it¨ was because we worked hard and learned to assimilate. I even admit that before I moved to NYC at 23, I´d only dated white men. It is painful to admit because I, too, always believed that I was a well-meaning person that doesn’t contribute to racism and oppression.  But now I know better.  I know that Latinx anti-Blackness killed Trayvon and Philando and I´m committed to un-educating myself about what bell hooks coined: imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. We have been lied to for so long about power and privilege, who is allowed to have power, privilege and who is liberated and truly free.

I am not looking for ¨nice¨

Nice is neutral, a standard.  Nice means polite and silent in the face of truth.  I used to think excellent dates were with people whose company I enjoyed sober (this is still half true because I rarely drink now). I also once thought I could only date men who liked to read, listened to grunge music and hated videogames. But dating for me is now about finding a partner. I have now found that what I look for and require of a partner is not that much different than what I look for and require out of my friends – these people, who I consider my chosen family, are by my side during protests or helping me getting signatures to support a cause. I seek integrity, honesty, kindness, empathy and justice and I am committed to undoing racism by loving and supporting Blackness and doing so loudly and proudly. This does not mean that I will only date black men or that I will avoid white men. To be clear, I can only be with someone who centers their own humanity by humanizing others. Some people write their favorite quotes on their profiles, so here are mine:

¨We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.¨ – James Baldwin

¨If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.¨ -Desmond Tutu

America Chose Hate – PhD Year 2

Current mood: Cool to Hate by Offspring

In the second grade at a Catholic school in Central Florida with teacher Mrs. K, I remember discussing Bill Clinton, George H. Bush and Ross Perot with 29 of my peers and what everyone’s dads and moms thought. I was particularly happy to explain the story of my immigrant family – excited to show off that I know words like mestizo and comunismo. I remember the first hateful words I received after I shared my [people’s story], “Go back to your country!”

America has not changed.
America chose hate last night.
America still perpetuates hate
imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy.
America still hates me.

Self-care used to be just me
looking at my living room’s photograph
which captures only majestic skies
now it seems the clouds are shaped like stomping paws
because this America hates me.

America has not changed.
America chose hate last night.
America still perpetuates hate
imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy.
America still unapologetically hates me.

America has not changed.
America chose hate last night.
America still perpetuates hate
imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy.
America still openly hates me.

End of Year 1 of PhD Side Effects at 4am

Dear Leaders of USA,

I am an educator of ten years, an educational researcher and activist and 2nd year doctoral student of education at a mid-west university. Today, I want you to understand my scholarship. Author, feminist, and social activist, bell hooks wrote, “There must exist a paradigm, a practical model for social change that includes an understanding of ways to transform consciousness that are linked to efforts to transform structures.” I believe I am part of that paradigm and you Mr. Vice President and Mr. President are the practical model for social change. Several research studies establish that children’s socioemotional well-being is strongly associated with family socioeconomic resources. There are many organizations committed to creating strategies to fight poverty and redistribute resources more equitably. Sadly, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, “For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families” (Layton, 2015). The rise of social injustices have led me to dedicate my life to creating justice curricula to help students understand the unjust world around them and become agents of change. My dream is to create social and environmental justice curricula with K-12 students. The U.S. Census states: 40% percent of Flint’s population is living in poverty, also surviving polluted water, making it the second most poverty-stricken city in the nation by size.  Please empower us teachers, students, and parents by helping us achieve some voice in the education of our children.

Since I grew up in the town where Treyvon Martin was murdered, I felt it was a tragedy but not a shocking one.  Less than 20 minutes from where Treyvon was gunned down, Skittles in hand, exist Klan members that organize freely.  The poverty is notorious. When I was 9 years old I had a friend who always had long, dirty nails and dirty, unkempt hair.  The summer of 1994, “[The] Nine-year old on Saturday joined her sister, brother, and mother in death, succumbing to the bullet her mother put through her head on Friday afternoon.” (Oliver, 1994).  My friend’s impoverished and abused mother suffered  a mental breakdown.  She broke down, called her mother saying, “killed my babies,” and shot and killed her three children and herself.  The headlines were incomprehensible to me.  How can a 9 year old fathom: “Police declined to speculate on why [the woman] shot her children and then herself with a .38-caliber revolver [that] Friday.”  My friend was the eldest child.  She lived two horrendous days before passing due to the gunshot wound through her small face.  The community was traumatized.

2 months prior to the death of my friend I received a perfumed letter “from” President Bill Clinton:

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December 1993 I was very dissatisfied with answers adults gave me about poverty.  During Christmas break my family visited the White House for the first time.  I was greatly astonished by the amount of homeless people I saw.  I kept asking my father for coins to give but he eventually ran out. My papi told me to think of another way of helping. Eight year old Alba knew President Clinton jogged around the capital each morning and I wondered why the homelessness did not bother him.  I decided to write him a letter.

I chose a career in education because I believe it can be transformative and help undo some of the woes of the world, like poverty.  When I taught 3rd grade during the 2011-2012 school year in Brooklyn, NY, we saw education falling apart.  With my 9 year old students we decided to write President Obama.  We each wrote a letter about things that needed fixing in our schools:  class sizes were large, high stakes testing took up valuable class time and we learned nothing from it, and there was always a lack of materials in our schools.  We received a reply from “The President” – an erroneous letter, which spoke if animals” rights.

It’s been over 20 years since I wrote President Clinton and four years since I wrote President Obama.  Now, as a doctoral student, I still believe I can be part of the change to save our schools.  I am writing the President asking for help.  Statistics are saying that over 50% of our students receive free and reduced lunches.  If you ask the students if free lunch is what they really want, they will answer no.  They still want smaller class sizes, less testing, more art, music and recess and meaningful and multicultural curricula.  I am committed to hearing the demands of our students and doing my best to advocate for my students.  I’ve made a career out of it!

Why not teach our students some of our ugly history, like colonialization and internment camps?  Why not allow them to see the world as it is and help us find solutions.  Our kids are smart enough.  In fact, I would bet all that I have that some of our youngest – they’d make better decisions than all y’all!!