In This LA Exhibit, Queer Latinx Artists Show There’s More Than One Way to Be an Empowered QTPOC

Original post by Yara Simón found here: http://remezcla.com/lists/culture/mirame-expressions-of-queer-latinx-art/

When a group of 11 queer artists and LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes’s Erendina A. Delgadillo brainstormed names for an exhibition exploring identity issues in the LGBTQ Latinx community, they wanted something that was unapologetic and at the same time spoke to their need for visibility. They wanted something that encapsulated their experiences. After two weeks of going back and forth in a Google Doc, the California-based artists and Delgadillo landed on mirame – a word that says it all.

“It was actually (the artist) Julio Salgado who came up with mirame, and the reason that he suggested it was because it’s a Jenni Rivera song,” Delgadillo, who curated the recently launched exhibition titled ¡Mírame! Expressions of Queer Latinx Art, told me in a phone interview. “She was sort of like a champion of the LGBTQ, queer Latino/Latinx community and her sort of unabashed attitude and sort of ‘I am who I am’ really resonated with all of the artists, so they ended up choosing that one.”

Everything about ¡Mírame! has been a collaborative process between the staff at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes and the artists. After Delgadillo identified a group of artists that represented as much of the queer Latinx community as possible, she asked them to choose what works they wanted to display and where they wanted their work to appear. With institutions like museums having a history of attempting to impose respectability politics on queer Latinx artists, it became important not to stifle these artists’ voices. “There’s a long history of art being excluded from display, from public display, for different reasons,” Delgadillo added. “But to me, the fact that we can talk about that openly and we can discuss the role of an institution in that kind of … process … is inspiring to me and it sort of shows both how far we’ve come and how far we have to go. But it’s absolutely, to me, a positive sort of first step.”

¡Mírame! launched on June 3 – at the beginning of LGBT Pride Month – and runs through December 9, 2017. Though the exhibition provides some necessary historical context about queer Latinxs in Los Angeles, Delgadillo wants ¡Mírame! to do more than teach audiences about the past. She wants the exhibition to evoke something in visitors. And very importantly, she hopes that through the 11 artists, visitors are able to see that there’s more than one way to find empowerment as a member of the Latinx LGBTQ community.

Learn more about a few of the artists participating in the exhibition below:


¡Mírame! Expressions of Queer Latinx runs until December 9, 2017 at 501 N. Main Street, Los Angeles, California 90012. For more information about the exhibition, visit LA Plaza’s website here

1

Joey Terrill

Joey Terrill, former director of VIVA arts collective, has made art for the last 30 years. Terrill, who is in his 60s, knew he’d represent an older generation of artists – something he welcomed. “I already knew that I would be representing the ‘elder’ community, given many of the other artists were younger, which was fine with me,” Terrill said over email. “I think a show about queer Latinx artists’ work that provides a range of identities (Chicano, Mexican, immigrant, Spanish speaking, pocho, Latin American lesbian, non-gender conforming, age, and etc) makes for a richer exploration of the queer experience within the Latino diaspora.”

The LA native – who draws inspiration from Romaine Brooks, Frida Kahlo, and Mexican retablos – has used his art to explore the ways in which being gay and Latino intersect and clash. The exhibition is featuring two issues of Homeboy Beautiful magazine from 1978 and 1979. The magazine is a satirical art pieces that mixes elements from House Beautiful and Cosmopolitan to depict the world around him.

Homeboy Beautiful was done in a magazine format as a parody of upper-middle class magazines like House Beautiful or Cosmopolitan with their benign [racial] bias … while at the same time critiquing the misogyny, violence, and homophobia I found ithin the gang or homeboy culture around me,” he said. “It was all done tongue-in-cheek and without any nod towards political correctness. In the first issue, I play a ‘journalist’ [named] Santos who ‘exposes’ a homo-homeboy underground party network. In the second issue, we expose a secret homeboy terrorist network that kidnaps a white family and tortures them by forcing them to eat menudo and watch Spanish-language television. But in the second issue, we [also] document a protest of homo-homeboys and takeover of the editorial offices of Homeboy Beautiful. [They] are upset with what they feel was an exploitative photo essay in the first issue. Each issue contains a ‘makeover,’ advice column, hair, makeup, and fashion tips.”

His Still-Life series, which depict what it’s like living with HIV, is also featured in ¡Mírame! Joey began Still-Life in 1987, and he said he will continue working on the series until he no longer requires medication or when he dies. He began the series because he had mixed feelings about the drugs he had to take to stay alive. While he needed them to survive, he also realized how much his dependency benefited the pharmaceutical industry.

“My intent was to borrow the trope of the Tom Wesselmann still lifes from the 60s, which presented graphics from American advertising combined to create skewed compositions that critiqued American consumerist values – or lack thereof,” he said. “In my series, I always place the items on a Mexican blanket/serape as a tablecloth to firmly place them within my Chicano context. From that premise and template, I can ‘play’ with the items indicated and juxtapose things that people may find familiar but also strange. I wanted to place HIV medications in a domestic setting where they compete visually with Cheerios, Coca-Cola, and pan dulce. I remain an HIV advocate and work to address the incidence disparities among communities of color, especially gay male youth.”

2

Alma Lopez

UCLA lecturer Alma Lopez has shown her work at more than 100 solo and group exhibitions. Using Mexican figures like La Llorona and La Virgen, Lopez highlights lesbian Chicana identities. One of her most controversial works is a piece called Our Lady, which features a young Latina woman as La Virgen de Guadalupe.

According to her website, Lopez has archived nearly two decades worth of emails that people have sent her as a result of the Our Lady. The responses range from those who call the piece “classic, timeless, current, cutting edge, alive, honest, amazing” to those who call Alma “human garbage and sewer slime” for “[desecrating] the image of the Virgin Mary.” But the reason Alma gathers all these emails is because she believes it’s an important debate that can’t be avoided.

Ixta, a digital photograph that interprets Jesus Helguera’s La leyenda de los volcanes, will be on display at Mírame! With Helguera’s work serving as the backdrop, Lopez’s piece includes the Los Angeles skyline and the US-Mexico border. In this version, she replaces lovers Ixta and Popo with two young women. “Growing up in El Sereno, a neighborhood in northeast Los Angeles, I would see this image of Popo and Ixta on murals, lowrider cars, and Lowrider Magazine,” she said. “As an artist, I asked my two friends to help me recreate this familiar myth however, the two princesas are on the US/Mexico border. This image is important to me in that it addresses and challenges images that I grew up with in my neighborhood.”

3

Julio Salgado

On his website, Julio Salgado describes himself in three words: Artivist. Lecturer. Queer. Through his art and his work at DreamersAdrift.com and CultureStrike, he highlights these identities. While his work is inspiring up and coming artists, for Julio, the exhibition places him in the same room as some of the creatives that were important during his formative years.

“As a queer and undocumented Mexicano who grew up in LA, I was honored to be part of a show with artists that I grew up admiring,” he told me in an email. “I remember seeing Hector Silva’s work and how it reflected our Mexicanidad and queerness at the same time. During a Chicanas and feminism class at California State University, Long Beach, Professor Anna Sandoval introduced me to the amazing work of Alma Lopez and my political artwork was instantly influenced. I am the results of those queer artists that came before me and sharing space with them [is] truly an honor.”

Julio – whose bright, acerbic art is instantly recognizable – chose to feature pieces from his Because Frida Told Me So series.

“In [this] series, I follow Frida’s tradition of the self portrait and open myself and all my feelings,” he added. “As an undocumented immigrant, the current narratives out there go back and forth between the good and bad immigrant story. But we are more than that. Similar to my friend Yosimar Reyes, who is also part of the show, I wanted to focus on the undocumented joy and the things that make me happy and angry and sexual and beautiful. You know, feelings that humanize me.”

4

Yosimar Reyes and Walter Thompson Hernandez

 

Yosimar Reyes is a poet originally from Guerrero, Mexico. His work has appeared in the collection Mariposas: A Modern Anthology of Queer Latino Poetry. He also published a chapbook of poetry called For Colored Boys Who Speak Softly. Reyes teamed up with photographer Walter Thompson Hernandez for Acts of Resistance, a series looking at queer brown intimacy.

“As a poet and writer that happens to be queer and undocumented, participating in this exhibit was my opportunity to present a project that celebrates queer browness,” Yosimar said. “When I was growing [up], there was a huge amount of shame that I felt for not being masculine enough. Now that I am older, I see myself as someone [who] is redefining masculinity into something more tender and vulnerable. The piece I created with Walter Thompson Hernandez was dedicated to honoring what queer intimacy looks [like] in public spaces, specifically queerness of black and brown people.”

Both Reyes and Thompson Hernandez – who documents the Blaxicans of Los Angeles – tell the stories of resistance through their work. So this project was a natural progression for them.

“By centering the experiences of QTPOC couples in public spaces throughout Los Angeles, we hope each image challenges popular notions of love, romance, and space in a time of increasing political, racial, and gendered inequality,” Thompson said. “AOR is titled after Reyes’ influential poem, Acts of Resistance, and urges viewers to think about the beauty and complexity of QTPOC couples in a way that creates continued resistance in Los Angeles and beyond.”

5

Hector Silva

For the past 30 years, self-taught artist Hector Silva that is sometimes divisive. But as he said on his website, “If no one’s trying to censor you, the you’re probably not doing anything that important.”

Silva doesn’t create work for those who go to museums, because that can be limiting and it can exclude different groups of people. His work heavily focuses on the cultural identity of the Latino community, which is oftentimes erased. “And then when you add being queer to that, we can really disappear,” he stated. “But I also think that the ‘positive image’ strategy can be a trap, and as an artist, I feel responsible for showing art that is not only beautiful, but more importantly, it should be truthful.”


¡Mírame! also features the works of Laura Aguilar, Ben Cuevas, Xandra Ibarra, Dalila Mendez, Jessica Gudiel, and Benni Quintero.

Fight Over Mexican-American Studies Ban Is Back, But So Is Arizona’s Beloved Banned Book Smuggler

Original post by Yara Simón found here: http://remezcla.com/culture/mexican-american-studies-back-in-court/

The fate of Mexican-American studies in the state of Arizona once again rests in the hands of the judicial system. Back in 2010, the legislature banned the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican-American Studies program through House Bill 2281, according to the Tucson Weekly. HB 2281 makes it illegal to teach classes that “promote the overthrow of the United States government,” “promote resentment toward a race or class of people,” “are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group,” or “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils.” The bill’s legality has faced challenges since then, and in 2015, the Ninth Circuit Court found parts of the statute unconstitutional.

Now the case is headed back to court starting on June 26, and once again Tony Díaz – a fierce defender of Mexican-American Studies – is gearing up to promote the importance of ethnic studies, but he needs your help to make it possible.

In response to the trial, Díaz is relaunching the Librotraficante Caravan. In 2012, when officials went into classrooms and confiscated books, TUSD students documented it all on social media. Their struggle to keep ethnic studies in their school caught the attention of Díaz and other librotraficantes – that is, members of the nonprofit literary organization Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say. Díaz, Liana López, Bryan Parras, Laura Acosta, and Lupe Méndez organized the 2012 Librotraficante Caravan, smuggling the banned books back into Arizona. Realizing that it could just be a matter of time until more states banned ethnic studies books – especially given that other states had adopted Arizona’s anti-immigration law (SB 1070) – they also set up underground libraries across the southwest.

The 2017 caravan will follow the same blueprint. As Diaz and a group of ethnic studies proponents travel from Houston to Tucson, they will also restock their underground libraries.

“At the most practical level, we want to raise awareness about the trial against Arizona’s banning of Mexican-American studies,” Díaz told Remezcla. “We will also study the tactics and strategies used by Arizona to suppress Mexican-American studies. And we must make people aware that if this law is upheld, [the] ban [could be used] to prohibit not just Mexican-American studies, but also African-American, Asian-American studies and women’s studies in every state.”

In 1968, San Francisco State University students known as the Third World Liberation Front began striking in an effort to push their university to initiate an ethnic studies program. The Third World Liberation Front succeeded, with ethnic studies eventually spreading across the country. But even with all the gains achieved in the last five decades, it continues to face an uphill battle. Lawmakers in Arizona and Texas, for example, have outright banned the studies because some believe they promote reverse racism and welcome leftist ideology in schools.

Yet, a Stanford University study released in 2016 found that ethnic studies benefit students. They miss fewer days at school, they get better grades, and even graduate at higher rates. This is especially true for Latino and male students.

With ethnic studies under threat, the librotraficantes hope to give students books that teach them about their own culture through the underground libraries. “They are important because our community’s access to our history and culture must never be at the whim of administration again,” Díaz added.

The ethnic studies advocate recently wrote and submitted The Mexican American Studies Toolkit to the Texas State Board of Education. As the board considers whether to adopt the text in Texas high schools, Díaz will hand out previews of the textbook.

However, to accomplish these goals, Díaz needs the public’s support. At the moment, Díaz has found a crew of 10 who are willing to make the 1,000-mile trip, but they need to reach their target $8,000 goal. After other donations and a generous discount by Autobuses Flores, Díaz is about $3,000 away. The caravan kicks off on June 21 at the Casa Ramirez Folk Art Galley in Houston. You can donate to this very important campaign here.

A Promise Fulfilled: A Conversation with Virginia Sanchez-Korrol, Historian and Author of “A Surprise for Teresita / Una Sorpresa Para Teresita”

Original post by Marilisa Jimenez García found here: https://centropr.hunter.cuny.edu/centrovoices/reviews/promise-fulfilled-conversation-virginia-sanchez-korrol-historian-and-author

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Virginia Sanchez-Korrol about her new picture book published by Arte Público Press, A Surprise for Teresita / Una sorpresa para Teresita (2016). The book centers on the story of a little girl and her family, experiencing the everyday joys of life in a Puerto Rican diaspora neighborhood. Sanchez Korrol, a renowned historian, told me why she wrote the book and reflected on the power of children’s books for providing young audiences with an important sense of history.

MJ: I always like to ask writers and scholars what they read growing up because I think those early experiences with reading have such an important impact on our understanding and growth. What were your favorite stories growing up?

VSK: I loved the “Dick and Jane” readers we had in school. I still remember them, and all the adventures those children would go on. They opened the world to us coming up in school. I always saw them as a magical world. But, we [Puerto Ricans] weren’t there. We were not in stories. You could imagine yourself in the story, but you were not part of the story. In writing Teresita, I really think I am showing that Puerto Rican kids and Latinxs kids are not outsiders or the other, they are the one.

MJ: When did you write Teresita? What were the origins of the story?

VSK: I wrote the story 45 years ago. All of my experiences growing up were in an urban area. It was an age of innocence-but that didn’t mean we were poor or that there weren’t drugs and other problems in our neighborhood. When I moved to Long Island with my family and my daughters, I realized that growing up in this new neighborhood would mean that they would know absolutely nothing about their heritage. Their neighborhood was very “Dick and Jane.” I wanted them to have a sense of how I grew up and who our Puerto Rican community was. Of course we would always read books to them. But, none of the books showed us. I wanted to write a story that showed us Nuyoricans. At that point, when my daughters were younger, I had been a high school teacher, and an English major, so I had a sense of how stories work for young children. And I sent the draft of Teresita to Golden Books publishers. They rejected the story. When I got the rejection of the story, I was so embarrassed. I kept asking, “How is it that I don’t know how to write a children’s book?” It is interesting because in many ways this caused me to think I need more education and more preparation before I could try again with the book. This led to my decision to go to grad school and become a historian, something I hadn’t thought about until now. I put the manuscript in an envelope and addressed it to myself. So, this little book rested in my desk drawer.  Until three years ago, when I moved again and had to dismantle my office. At this point, I had been a full professor at Brooklyn. And I found the envelope. I said, “This is a damn good story.” Now, thinking about all that is going on with these conversations about diversity in children’s literature, I realize Teresita was ahead of it’s time.

MJ: You have written historical novels before for example, Feminist and Abolitionist: The Story of Emilia Casanova (2013). This book is more specifically for younger readers. Why did you write a children’s book? In particular, as a historian, what relationship do you see between history and children’s literature?

VSK: Going back to the “Dick and Jane” basal readers, I loved literature. I loved stories. I learned history through stories. But, I have always wondered, “Can that be my story?” I even asked a colleague about this once about the history of the founding fathers. I said, “That story about the founders, can it be my [as a Puerto Rican woman] story?” He just looked at me a bit confounded. My focus in my research in U.S. history had always been on inclusion, on bringing our experience into the textbooks into history. From Colonia to Community (1994) does that in the same way. I emphasize the positivity and complexity of our community. I had done all this work, and I find this little story of Teresita and it was almost as if it was symbolic. The time is now. I believe that what we, as a Puerto Rican community and also in scholarship, have accomplished in the last 30 years is evident in the story of Teresita.

There is a clear connection in my mind between writing the history I wrote and children’s books. The history that most interested in me has been our experience in the United States. It is to me a lost subject. Everything I have done has been to restore a sense of history to our communities and to a broader audience. Clearly, the hardest thing for me has been to go from being a historian to being a storyteller. With some of the historical novels I have written, it has been challenging to go from being overly historical to suddenly writing a story where the history is subordinate. Yet, anything I have ever done as a historian can be told in other mediums. Children’s books give our young people an opportunity to see themselves in stories sooner. We don’t reach our young people early enough that they can begin forming an image of themselves as people with a past in this country.

MJ: The story of Teresita is really one of a child finding hidden treasures in the lives of the people she knows the most. I was struck by the simplicity of the story and also the day to day joys of being a Latinx child in your neighborhood with your family. How is the story distinctive as story of Puerto Rican children growing up in New York? Also, how did you collaborate with Gabi Baeza, the Spanish translator and Carolyn Dee Flores, the book’s illustrator?

VSK: It takes a village to produce a child’s book. Carolyn Dee Flores is my favorite illustrator and when I saw the first prints I was just overjoyed. Teresita looks so much like kids I knew at that age, and so much like my grandniece does today. I wrote Carolyn a fan letter telling her how much I love her work.

The next hurdle was the translation. When I initially received the Spanish translation, I found it was too perfect. I gave it to my sister. She said, “There is nothing wrong with it. It just is not Puerto Rican Spanish.” I wrote to the translator and expressed my concerns and ideas for how the book could reflect, in the small details, Nuyorican Spanish. For example, instead of “cuadra,” “bloque.” Phrases like “brincando soga/jumping rope” were important or “jugo de china/orange juice.” When Teresita goes on the fire escape, I did all kinds of research to find the best word for “fire escape” in Nuyorican Spanish. I asked my family, I went over Ana Celia Zentella’s work. And lo and behold, there was no better phrase than “el fire escape.” So, that is how it read in Teresita.

Finally, I gave the book to my daughters. I dedicated it to them after all, saying “A promise fulfilled.” In my family, we are all writers. Everybody added a little something. I look at it as a story I wrote for two little girls, and it is now going to be for so many children.

New Book: A History of Puerto Rican/Black Coalitions in New York City

Original post by Rose Muzio found here: https://centropr.hunter.cuny.edu/centrovoices/reviews/history-puerto-ricanblack-coalitions-new-york-city

In the middle decades of the twentieth century, New York City’s Black and Latino population increased dramatically. Thousands of Blacks fled from poverty in the Deep South and tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans sought job opportunities as economic restructuring and rural displacement in Puerto Rico generated massive structural unemployment. The newcomers found jobs predominantly in light industry and the racially segmented service sector where low wages, long hours, discrimination, and disrespect prevailed. These shared conditions among Blacks and Puerto Ricans formed the basis for multiethnic worker solidarity, especially in the city’s municipal and private hospitals where federal laws protecting workers did not apply. Beginning with this vital historical context, Frederick Douglass Opie in Upsetting the Apple Cart: Black-Latino Coalitions in New York City from Protest to Public Office takes readers on a journey through three decades of Black-Puerto Rican coalitions that achieved significant improvements in labor conditions, challenged institutional racism in education and reformed higher education curricula, and produced electoral victories for Black and Puerto Rican candidates throughout New York City, including the election of David Dinkins as the first African American mayor.

In Upsetting the Apple Cart, Opie intertwines oral histories with archival research to uncover many of the grassroots mobilizations, protests and strikes, and electoral strategizing based on common cause throughout New York City’s Black and Puerto Rican communities. The coalitions, comprised of varying blends of labor leaders, students, community organizers, mainstream and Left political leaders, and elected politicians, did not always achieve their goals. On the whole, however, Opie shows that the protest tradition of Black-Puerto Rican/Latino coalitions gave voice to thousands of workers and students, reduced the power of entrenched elites, and transformed local Democratic Party politics in the city.

Opie’s book stands prominently within the recent wave of studies that lays to rest the unexamined assumption that Black and Puerto Rican activists in New York rarely united because they perceived disparate economic interests. Each story provides rich description of the conditions that gave rise to coalition making, the individuals and institutions involved, and the often-complex and varied outcomes. Moreover, Opie weaves a historical narrative with threads that bind the decades and reveal the continuity not only in the solidarity between African American and Puerto Rican communities, but also among many of the dedicated players themselves who appear and reappear in the struggles for racial and social justice.

The first of the sustained coalitions of Blacks and Puerto Rican discussed by Opie involves the successful campaign led by SEIU Local 1199 from 1959 to 1962 for union representation and collective bargaining rights in the city’s municipal and private hospitals. At the time, 80 percent of hospital service workers were Black and Puerto Rican/Latino. They worked in an environment of racial hierarchies, as janitors, nurses’ aides, orderlies, and some LPNs, whiles whites dominated supervisory and management positions. The 1935 Wagner Act did not cover hospital workers at the time, and workers were not easily persuaded to openly support unionization for fear of losing their jobs. Despite these obstacles, organizers in Local 1199 set their sights on uniting health and hospital care workers throughout the industry. Following a victory at Montefiore Hospital, which won union representation and resulted in immediate salary increases, Local 1199 moved on to organize all 35,000 employees in voluntary hospitals and nursing homes across the city. The prolonged effort involved determined workers who risked their jobs, rallies and strikes that defied court injunctions; and gradually the support of community residents, civil rights leaders, and Democratic Party political clubs. By the mid-1960s, New York State passed legislation that protected unionization for hospital workers and doubled the minimum wage in the state.

In moving from labor to student activism and solidarity, Opie recalls the central role that young people played in the 1960s in tearing down elitist walls, especially in higher education. Nationally and locally, Black and Latino (Chicano and Puerto Rican) youth were fed up with the institutional racism of universities whose Eurocentric curricula, costs, and selective admissions practices obstructed minority enrollments and discriminated against those in attendance. They were outraged, too, by the assassinations of civil rights leaders and no less by U.S. support for repressive regimes abroad. Some joined the Black and Brown power movements of the period, which were the inspiration for others. They supported liberation movements abroad and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Puerto Rican activists in particular brought the case of U.S. colonial rule in Puerto Rico to the issues on the table. In New York, from 1965 to 1969, Black and Puerto Rican youth collaborated throughout the city to demand greater working class access to higher education, more Black and Puerto Rican faculty at all levels of education, and curricula that included Black and Puerto Rican studies. They joined other activists to oppose the Vietnam War and successfully thwarted Columbia University’s development initiatives that would have accelerated gentrification in Harlem. Under pressure from Black lawmakers, New York State established the SEEK program in 1967, which significantly increased Black and Puerto Rican college enrollments by 1969. In Opie’s words, they “worked collaboratively to hold these all-white institutions of higher learning to account and, by so doing, shift the racial consciousness of the entire nation” (p. 55).

As Opie thoroughly documents, some of the veterans of the student movements of the 1960s became members of the Latino—mainly Puerto Rican and Chicano—Left organizations of the 1970s. In New York, groups like El Comité-MINP, the Puerto Rican Socialist Party, and the Young Lords, along with organized labor, were places where future Puerto Rican “Progressives learned political strategy and how to run a grassroots campaign” (p. 87). Although the organizations on the Left tended to stay away from electoral politics, Black and Puerto Rican activists fought together for access to decent jobs and against union exclusion and, especially at the start of the Reagan-era neoliberal onslaught and rising militarism, opposed “supply side economics” and aggressive foreign policies. At the same time, in the mainstream political arenas, Black-Puerto Rican cooperation declined in the 1970s, especially among emerging local leaders who competed for limited leadership positions in antipoverty programs, jockeyed for political patronage in Albany, and differed on electoral strategies in Democratic Party primaries.

One of the most interesting and unique contributions of Opie’s book is his enlightening treatment of the progressive electoral coalitions that formed in the 1980s in the wake of the dissolution of the Black and Brown power movements and conservatives’ consolidation of power within the Republican Party. Many progressives embraced Jesse Jackson’s National Rainbow Coalition as an opportunity to create an insurgency within the Democratic Party and push a program of change for the working class. Although the effort had shortcomings at the national level, Opie notes that veteran activists at the local level learned two important lessons from Jackson’s presidential bids: minority candidates can do well at the polls with adequate support, and registering minority voters was vital to overcoming the Koch-controlled machine in New York (Ch. 6). Opie’s interviews with former members of the Puerto Rican Left reveal the extent to which they were involved in David Dinkins’ mayoral campaign. Utilizing their mobilization and networking skills, they formed Latinos for Dinkins and united with Black political leaders and communities to ensure Dinkins’ election as New York City’s first African American mayor. While Opie thoroughly explores the key roles played by highly regarded strategists like Bill Lynch, among others, he concludes that the Dinkins’ mayoral campaign “grew out of the rich protest tradition in New York City’s black, Latino, and labor communities” (p. 196).

For students, academics, and general readers alike, Frederick Opie’s book is widely accessible. An innovative surprise, especially for a book authored by a social scientist, is the inclusion of recipes of traditional foods of various Puerto Rican, Latino and African American cultures interspersed among the stories of activism. Opie argues that food is a central component of family and community and historically has been a routine ingredient in grassroots mobilization. Readers will surely appreciate, if not personally recall, the role of plentiful, delicious food-to-share in nurturing community and solidarity.

Upsetting the Apple Cart—a phrase Opie notes was once used by Malcolm X—is a major contribution to Puerto Rican, Latino and Black studies for the history it recovers and the analysis it offers of the structural and historical conditions that produced, and continue to produce, a shared identity and common political and economic interests among working-class people of color—against police violence, institutionalized racism, and racial and class inequality. Frederick Douglass Opie suggests that in the twenty-first century, with union membership at a historic low and City Hall still controlled by an abundance of unresponsive politicians, “developing strategies to mobilize black and Latino working-class voters seems the most cogent way of electing a candidate responsive to the Progressive coalition that put him or her in office” (p. 246). It is true, as Opie acknowledges, that the election of the first African American mayor in New York was a progressive step in itself. But the moderate agenda of the Dinkins’ administration was, in part, a reflection of the consequence when coalitions dissipate, as well as the handiwork of entrenched elites (including much of the popular media) that exacerbated racial hostilities and aimed to further divide-and-conquer. Even with the election of self-proclaimed progressives like Mayor Bill de Blasio, unless the financial and real estate sectors that grip New York are held accountable by sustained, mass mobilizations, it is unlikely that electoral strategies alone stand a chance at achieving deep, social transformations. This is all the more true when elected “progressives” aspire to higher office and must contend with a campaign finance system that dissuades them from taking principled stances. Frederick Douglass Opie’s Upsetting the Apple Cart is a powerful testament to what has been and has yet to be accomplished by alliances that seek democratization from below.


The book:
Upsetting the Apple Cart: Black-Latino Coalitions in New York City from Protest to Public Office
By Frederick Douglass Opie
New York: Columbia University Press, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-231-14940-2
312 pages; $30.00 [cloth]
To purchase the book from the publisher click here.

Agua, Agüita / Water, Little Water

by Jorge Tetl Argueta

Illustrations by Felipe Ugalde Alcántara

  • ISBN: 978-1-55885-854-1
  • Publication Date: October 31, 2017
  • Bind: Hardcover
  • Pages: 32

 

This trilingual picture book written in lyrical verse traces the life

cycle of water from the point of view of one droplet.

“My name is Water

but everyone calls me

Little Water.”

In this beautiful, poetic ode to the life-giving force of water, award-winning children’s book author Jorge Argueta describes—in English, Spanish and Nahuat—the life cycle of water from the perspective of one drop.

From its birth deep in Mother Earth, Little Water climbs to the surface, passing through roots and rocks, light and darkness. Finally, the tiny bead of water makes it to the top and rests,

“A sigh of morning dew

on the tips of leaves

on spider webs

or on the petals

of flowers.”

The droplet becomes a river, a lake, an ocean, ultimately climbing to the sky and turning into a cloud. Then,

“Drop by drop

I return singing

to our Mother Earth.

I am Little Water.

I am life.”

With stunningly beautiful illustrations by Felipe Ugalde Alcántara that depict the mountains, rocks, vegetation and animals of the natural world, this poem about the importance of water reflects Argueta’s indigenous roots and his appreciation for nature. Containing the English and Spanish text on each page, the entire poem appears at the end in Nahuat, the language of Argueta’s Pipil-Nahua ancestors. This book is an excellent choice to encourage children to write their own poems about the natural world and to begin conversations about the interconnected web of life.

JORGE ARGUETA is a prize-winning poet and author of more than twenty children’s picture books, including A Movie in My Pillow / Una película en mi almohada (Children’s Book Press, 2001), Guacamole: Un poema para concinar / A Cooking Poem (Groundwood, 2016) and Somos como las nubes / We Are Like the Clouds (Groundwood Books, 2016), which won the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and was named to USBBY’s Outstanding International Book List, the ALA Notable Children’s Books and the Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices. He lives and works in San Francisco, California.

FELIPE UGALDE ALCÁNTARA was born in Mexico City in 1962. He studied Graphic Communication at the National School of Art in Mexico’s National University, where he later taught an illustration workshop. He has been an illustrator and designer for children’s books, textbooks, and educational games for fifteen years. He has taught illustration workshops for children and professionals, and has participated in several exhibitions in Mexico and abroad.

 

Original post found here: http://labloga.blogspot.com/2017/06/agua-aguita-water-little-water.html

Los Angeles Public Library, Summer Author Program

LAPL is excited to announce the Summer Author Program this year! A variety of branches will be hosting authors for both children and teens. Refreshments will be provided and ten lucky winners will be receiving a free copy of the author’s book. Come out and enjoy the fun!

This is the Summer Author Program Book List,

https://www.lapl.org/summerauthor

Meet the Authors and Illustrators

JUNE

René Colato Laínez

Pacoima Branch Library

June 13, 2017 3:30PM

Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein

West Valley Regional Branch Library

June 15, 2017 4:00PM

Chris Robertson

Panorama City Branch Library

June 19, 2017 4:00PM to 5:00PM

Jeff Garvin

Northridge Branch Library

June 20, 2017 3:00PM

Rolandas Kiaulevicius Dabrukas

Little Tokyo Branch Library

June 21, 2017 10:30AM to 11:00AM

Antonio Sacre

Memorial Branch Library

June 21, 2017 4:00PM to 5:00PM

José Lozano

Benjamin Franklin Branch Library

June 22, 2017 4:00PM to 5:00PM

Brigitte Benchimol

Cahuenga Branch Library

June 27, 2017 4:00PM to 5:00PM

LeUyen Pham Re

Wilshire Branch Library

June 27, 2017 4:00PM to 5:00PM

Karen Winnick

Arroyo Seco Regional Library

June 29, 2017 3:00PM

JULY

Brandy Colbert

Canoga Park Branch Library

July 6, 2017 2:00PM to 3:00PM

Jen Wang

Vernon – Leon H. Washington Jr. Memorial Branch Library

July 11, 2017 2:00PM

Courtenay Fletcher

Hyde Park Miriam Matthews Branch Library

July 11, 2017 3:45PM

Brandy Colbert

Palms – Rancho Park Branch Library

July 12, 2017 4:00PM to 5:00PM

Susan Bernardo and Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher

Sherman Oaks Martin Pollard Branch Library

July 12, 2017 4:00PM to 5:00PM

Kathryn Hewitt

North Hollywood Amelia Earhart Regional Library

July 18, 2017 11:00AM

Antonio Sacre

Angeles Mesa Branch Library

July 18, 2017 3:00PM

Jen Wang

Junipero Serra Branch Library

July 18, 2017 3:00PM

Courtenay Fletcher

Harbor City – Harbor Gateway Branch Library

July 18, 2017 4:00PM to 5:00PM

Ron Koertge

El Sereno Branch Library

July 19, 2017 1:00PM to 2:00PM

Lilliam Rivera

Felipe de Neve Branch Library

July 19, 2017 4:00PM to 5:30PM

Maurene Goo

Exposition Park – Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Regional Library

July 19, 2017 4:00PM to 5:00PM

Sunland – Tujunga Branch Library

July 20, 2017 4:00PM to 5:00PM

Isabel Quintero

Cypress Park Branch Library

July 20, 2017 4:00PM

Sarah Rafael Garcia

Mark Twain Branch Library

July 22, 2017 1:00PM

Andrea Loney

Venice – Abbot Kinney Memorial Branch Library

July 25, 2017 11:00AM

Antonio Sacre

Vermont Square Branch Library

July 26, 2017 2:00PM to 3:00PM

Jeff Garvin

Platt Branch Library

July 27, 2017 3:00PM

Lisa Bakos

Lincoln Heights Branch Library

July 27, 2017 4:00PM to 5:00PM

Laura Lacámara

Wilmington Branch Library

July 27, 2017 4:00PM to 5:00PM

Sarah Rafael Garcia

Malabar Branch Library

July 28, 2017 2:00PM to 3:00PM

Maurene Goo

Central Library

July 29, 2017 2:00PM

Oliver Chin

West Valley Regional Branch Library

July 29, 2017 4:00PM

AUGUST

Oliver Chin

Lake View Terrace Branch Library

August 1, 2017 4:00PM

Laura Lacámara

Baldwin Hills Branch Library

August 1, 2017 4:00PM

Oliver Chin

Chinatown Branch Library

August 2, 2017 3:00PM

Rene Colato Laínez

Jefferson – Vassie D. Wright Memorial Branch Library

August 2, 2017 3:30PM to 4:30PM

Andrea J. Loney

Eagle Rock Branch Library

August 9, 2017 10:30AM

Isabel Quintero

Woodland Hills Branch Library

August 15, 2017 4:00PM to 5:00PM

 

MEET THE AUTHOR: FERNANDO SDRIGOTTI

Original post found here: http://www.lcgeditores.com/blog/fernandosdrigotti

Sdrigotti is an Argentine writer living in England and challenging the notions of what a term like “Latino” might mean.

Each week this summer, [La Casita Grande Press] will be showcasing our authors to give a more in depth background and insight into their minds and their work. This week, we focus on Fernando Sdrigotti, whose Dysfunctional Males was released on Feb. 28, 2017 and marked the debut of La Casita Grande Press.

Dysfunctional Males is a collection of five short stories set in contemporary London.

A satirical critique of the weaknesses and obsessions of the ‘stronger sex’, this ambitious work of fiction focuses on the misadventures of its characters to explore life and alienation in a contemporary megalopolis.

At times uproarious, at others pathetic and dark, the fables in the collection share a distinctive atmosphere beyond fantasy and realism, inviting readers to take part in an onward flight that could land them anywhere.”

Dysfunctional Males can be purchased here, here, and here.

  • Could you explain your style and approach to telling this story?

Like the great Roberto Arlt once wrote, “to have a style it is necessary to have comfort, to live off a rent, to have an easy life.” Without wanting to compare myself with Arlt nor claiming I have a hard life, I am not sure I have a style, particularly as I write in a second language, and the material discomfort that Arlt discusses is for me a linguistic discomfort. If I have a style I don’t know. So, I think I better tell you about how I arrived at this book.

I wrote Dysfunctional Males over a period of 6 months in 2010. My wife was pregnant and I had the feeling that this was the last thing I was going to write because I was going to be a parent and parents don’t write books. Obviously that was a load of shite, but still, I wrote with urgency, every day, quite obsessively, and I think that was a good thing, a good exercise for me, particularly as it was the first project I wrote in English. The book was originally 13 stories and 180,000 words long, which is insane for a short story collection. But I was always aware that I was writing much more that what I was going to publish — this excess was part of the plan: I was writing ‘riding a line of flight’ and I anticipated a lot of rubble, that I always planned to cut down later.

It was by riding the line of flight that this book came to be — riding the line of flight I discovered the characters, the seemingly disconnected details, and what the book was going to be about. It was all down to a way of writing, to that urgency. And there is a feeling of fluidity in this book, a flow that is there — I think — regardless of the book being well written or not, or it working or not in the way I intended it.

  • What ideas drove you to write your story and what do you hope readers take away from your book?

No idea drove me to write the story, nothing beyond the exercise of writing I had proposed myself, like I mentioned earlier. In the process of writing the book I discovered what I wanted to write about, from a thematic point of view and once I clocked that I embraced it and went for it, took that road and followed it until I arrived at its end.

I mean, of course there were some small things — images, phrases, sounds — that served as a launching pad, if wanted. There are always these things when I write, little things that I steal from others, from overhead conversations, things that someone tells me, fragments of news, etc. But at the time of starting with Dysfunctional Males I didn’t think “hey, I am going to do this and I am going to do it in this way,” as if I had a whole coherent project in mind. I just thought “I saw or heard this and I want to write about this and then see how this grows.” Most of my projects are born from something very minimal, some very small event, that comes in conjunction with a certain way of writing at the time. I no longer write with urgency these days but I force myself to write under certain conditions. Always. These conditions can be something as trivial as working only with pen and paper for a certain project, or writing in the very early morning, or very late at night, or only in a pub, or writing a certain number of words a day during a certain period of time. How I write a book is for me as much a part of the book project as the book itself.

As to what I expect the reader to take from my book? I just hope that they don’t read the book ‘literally’. No book survives a literal reading. Beyond I don’t think you can expect anything. Every reader writes a different book when he or she reads it.

  • What story challenged you the most and why?

All the stories ended up presenting different challenges. But the ones that I found more difficult were the stories written in the first person. I don’t even know why I wrote them in the first person. But I did. And it was hard to write about this from the first person, particularly in the story of the vanishing wanker, a disgusting character that I ended up hating.

There is a tendency to read fiction in autobiographical terms and this was on the back of my head when I was writing about guys doing or thinking things I’d rather no one associated me with, even if there is a critical edge, and I think they end up being the butt of the jokes, something that is clear from the title onwards, I think.

Perhaps I wrote them as a form of punishment? Maybe I hate myself? Is it possible to write without hating oneself? Or maybe I wrote them to become unemployable? If this was the case maybe I love myself.

  • What is your literary philosophy?

As a writer, I take every book project as a problem. Not in the sense that I create myself a problem by writing a book — which is also perhaps accurate — but in the sense that in every project I end up positing myself a problem and then write towards solving this problem, within the length of a book. Maybe this is a result of my being a failed intellectual, having quit an academic career in order to write things that are read by more than fourteen people but that don’t make me any money or look good on a CV. Whatever the reason, I like to think that my books work in critical ways, not only as storytelling artefacts.

The problem always becomes apparent while I’m writing. I don’t think you can think a book without writing it. I always discuss this with writers, friends, who come and tell me “hey, I got this idea for a book about this or that!” My answer is always “let me see the first draft when you finished it and then we talk.” This generally never happens because books that take place in someone’s head — instead of on a screen or piece of paper — hardly every come to life. I discover the book, the problem, writing. Which means my first draft, or the first 10,000 or so words of a manuscript, usually end up fanning the flames of a barbecue. But the problem always turns up. And towards this problem I write. If you write long enough, forward, the problem and the book turns up. It’s quite magical, like an epiphany. I guess I believe in writing…

As a reader, if a book doesn’t have a critical element it’s highly unlikely that it’ll engage me. I look for books that can be read as problem-solving tools — books that think things through, things that I want to think myself, problems that I want to solve. Storytelling alone doesn’t do it for me. When I want just a good story I go and talk to any of the drunks in my local pub, who are all great storytellers, and every now and then they even buy you a drink, as long as you are willing to listen. Books don’t buy you drinks.

  • What is your advice for young writers?

Do what works for you. There is no single way of doing this. Enjoy it and if you ever stop enjoying it do something else with your time.

13 Chicano Lit Must-Reads

How many of these have you read!?

Original post found here: http://remezcla.com/lists/culture/13-chicano-lit-must-reads-michele-serros/

This week, we lost writer Michele Serros to cancer at the age of 48 – a blow to the many who were inspired by her unique, wry voice and observations on Chican@ identity and culture.

A California-born Chicana who didn’t speak much Spanish, Serros was a voice for those who grappled with their cultural identity  – capturing the “ni de aquí ni de allá” feeling that often comes from being second (or third, or fourth) generation in sharply humorous essays, stories and poems. Her writing, most notably Chicana Falsa: And Other Stories of Death, Identity, and Oxnard and How to Be a Chicana Role Model, has come to be regarded as a staple of Chican@ studies syllabi, and Newsweek once dubbed her a “Woman to Watch for the New Century.”

In many ways, Serros was a forerunner for the type of writing and perspective that made websites like ours possible; her explorations of what it means to be Latino/a were deeply insightful, but above all entertaining – a one-two punch. Her humorous point of view even landed her a job writing for the George Lopez sitcom in 2002.

Remezcla spoke with Bianca Bracho, a close family friend of Serros’, who contributed this statement on Serros’ impact – not just as a nationally recognized writer, but as a truly remarkable person:

Michele Serros

“Most people knew Michele as a writer and Chican@ culture connoisseur, but I knew her as my godmother. She wasn’t my godmother in the traditional sense, as our bond was not sanctioned by any church or holy ceremony. I met Michele when I was 10 years old, as she was a friend of my mom and uncle’s, and we quickly hit it off. She asked me to record some of the voices on her Chicana Falsa CD and after that I don’t think there was a week that went by where we didn’t talk or hang out, since she lived in our neighborhood.

I spent the formative years of my adolescence with Michele. She reveled in the drama of Judy Blume-style teen life. She would invite me over for sleepovers, and I remember watching Heathersfor the first time with her and making chicken cordon bleu, or the time we set up a lemonade stand and the local fire department rolled up in their truck and bought our entire batch. We’d have long talks as we drove around the Westside, gossiping about cute guys in bands and at the local Trader Joe’s, or if J. Lo really had padded underwear on under the purple jumpsuit she wore in Selena.

Michele had great taste in music, from Esquivel to Elliot Smith. During the height of my indie rock years, she got me a Death to the Pixies t-shirt along with their entire discography…teenage dreams come true. She introduced me to one of my favorite bands to this day, the Make-Up, and we reveled in their ye-ye garage chant Pow! To the People. I was so inspired that in 10th grade, she took me to chop off my lengthy brown hair into a Spock-like pixie cut, despite my mom’s protests.

Michele was a total ham and a comedian, she was always cracking jokes and playing pranks, making goofy voices and faces. She idolized all things John Waters and 60s kitsch/trashy. From years of avid thrifting she had an enviable collection of vintage clothes and accessories that I would covet, and she would show me photos of her mod bob and scooter days in Oxnard. She could make a good story out of anything, even the politics of frozen vegetables. When I think about who I am today, I see all of the ways she inspired me, like she did for countless others through her words. I was lucky enough to know the Michele between the lines, past the pages. She was my mentor, confidant, friend, teacher and godmother.

Thank you for all your love and the time you spent with me Michele, it meant everything.”

To honor Serros’ life and work, we have compiled a list of Chican@ lit must reads, curated by Gabriela Nuñez, an Assistant Professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at Cal State Fullerton, focused on Contemporary Chicana/o/Latina/o Literature and Culture.

1

Chicana Falsa: And Other Stories of Death, Identity and Oxnard by Michele Serros

This collection of poetry and short stories about Latino/a life in America was Serros’ first book, capturing her experiences growing up in Oxnard and forging an outsider identity that bridged working-class Mexican-American culture with So-Cal pop culture. Her entertaining, humorous voice made the book nationally successful, and it eventually became required reading in many high schools and universities in Southern California.

2

How to Be a Chicana Role Model by Michele Serros

“The wisecracking, bicultural/bilingual, self-deprecating, post-Valley Girl author of Chicana Falsa once again serves up a slice of her own life, this time focusing on the lessons she has learned about being a writer and de facto role model. Chronicling the experiences and responsibilities of semisuccessful Chicana poet and writer “Michele Serros,” the book is divided into a series of The House on Mango Street-style vignettes, each titled with a numbered “role model rule,” like “Seek Support from Sistas” and “Honor Thy Late-Night Phone Calls from Abuelita.” Sandwiched between these stories are thematic riffs and an ongoing debate with a conference organizer over an honorarium that was never paid, or correspondence with teacher fans who want to correct the fictional Serros’s English or her Spanish. “Let’s Go Mexico,” one of the longer stories, is a humorous take on immersion language classes set in a tourist town outside of Mexico City. For all of Serros’s wit –and she can be absolutely hilarious – there is a darker side to her humor. The fictional Serros moves from menial job to menial job. She recognizes that like her father (a “brown ghost” to his Anglo co-workers), she is too often either invisible or assumed to be a maid, and that Latinos can be as prejudiced as whites. She takes several swipes at academics and critics who assume that one Latina writer is much like another. She comes down especially hard on anyone who doubts her talent: “To my family, writing was not important. Writing was somewhat selfish. Writing was just plain rude.” Serros turns out a funny yet poignant defense of her craft.” – Publishers Weekly

3

Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldúa

“Rooted in Gloria Anzaldúa’s experience as a Chicana, a lesbian, an activist, and a writer, the essays and poems in this volume profoundly challenged, and continue to challenge, how we think about identity. Borderlands / La Frontera remaps our understanding of what a “border” is, presenting it not as a simple divide between here and there, us and them, but as a psychic, social, and cultural terrain that we inhabit, and that inhabits all of us.” – Amazon

4

Under the Feet of Jesus by Helena María Viramontes

“This novel adds another important chapter to the existing body of literature about the Mexican-American experience. Viramontes (The Moths and Other Stories), who teaches at Cornell, does not offer deep characterization or psychological complexity here. Instead, working firmly in the social-realist vein of Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, she paints a harrowing ensemble portrait of migrant laborers in California’s fruit fields. The family of 13-year-old Estrella, and the others with whom they travel and work, burn under 109-degree heat until the backs of their necks sting; women nurse their babies in the backs of pickups. Viramontes depicts this world with a sensuous physicality, as when Petra, Estrella’s mother, digs a fingernail into the melting tar of a blacktop highway. And the close quarters in which her characters are forced to live promotes a collective intimacy that Viramontes evokes with a sure hand, conveying the solace to be found in solidarity while never losing sight of the fact that these people enjoy absolutely no privacy. Slow and wandering at the outset, the novel picks up after a small plane releases a white shower of deadly pesticide, which washes over the face of Alejo, a teenager who is perched in a peach tree, busy stealing the soft, ripe fruit. Alejo is drenched with poison, much to the horror of Estrella, who has fallen in love with him. Alejo becomes sick with what the migrants call “da?o of the fields”?so sick that the de facto leader of the workers wants to leave him behind. But Estrella makes it her mission to help save him, and she is driven to great sacrifice in order to do so. Into this unforgiving world, Viramontes pours archetypal themes of the passage of time, young love, the bonds and tensions between generations and, above all, the straining of the spirit to transcend miserable material conditions.” – Publishers Weekly

5

…Y no se lo tragó la tierra/And the Earth Did Not Devour Him by Tomás Rivera

“… y no se lo tragó la tierra/ And the Earth Did Not Devour Him (1971) is a milestone in Mexican American literary history, set explicitly within the social and political contexts of the agricultural laborer’s life in the years after World War II. Winner in 1970 of the first Quinto Sol Prize for literature, the most prestigious literary award in the early years of Chicano literature, Rivera’s novel, from which the present selections are drawn, became a primary element of the new Mexican American literary history.” – The Heath Anthology of American Literature

6

The Love & Rockets comic series by Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario Hernandez

“The original, seminal Love & Rockets comic book series, which ran for 50 issues from 1981 to 1996, singlehandedly defined the post-underground generation of comics that spawned Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware, and so many others. Now collected into 15 volumes, Love & Rockets is a body of work that The Nation has described as “one of the hidden treasures of our impoverished culture.” Created by brothers Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario Hernandez, three Southern California Mexican-Americans armed with a passion for pop culture and punk rock, Love & Rockets gave a voice to minorities and women for the first time in the medium’s then 50-year history and remains one of the greatest achievements in comic book history.” – Goodreads.

7

Eulogy for a Brown Angel by Lucha Corpi

“Corpi (Delia’s Song–not reviewed) brings a Chicana feminist perspective to the mystery genre and does so with enough originality to overcome some stilted and murky writing. The story begins when civil-rights activist Gloria Damasco discovers the body of a murdered child on an L.A. street during a Chicano demonstration in 1970. Damasco has a “dark gift,” an uncontrollable extrasensory awareness that’s stirred by this discovery and that will bring her back to investigate it time and again until the truth is finally revealed in 1988. When a gang member who may know the killer’s identity is also murdered, Damasco works with a dying police detective to reveal a second killer, but that effort apparently closes all the doors to the mastermind behind the killings. She eventually returns to her family in Oakland, believing the crime will never be solved, although she keeps collecting information about the case over the years. Many readers will have pinpointed the killer’s identity long before the heroine does, but one last nasty little secret is revealed in the bloody conclusion that adds an extra wallop to the convoluted goings-on. Awkward and slow moving at times, but still worthwhile mystery-reading.” – Kirkus Reviews

8

So Far From God by Ana Castillo

“Castillo’s ( Sapogonia ) inventive but not entirely cohesive novel about the fortunes of a contemporary Chicana family in the village of Tome, N.M., reveals its main concerns at once. Sofi’s three-year-old daughter dies in a horrifying epileptic fit but is resurrected (and even levitates) at her own funeral, reporting firsthand acquaintance with hell, purgatory and heaven. Magic and divine intervention in varying ways touch each of Sofi’s three other daughters: the eldest, mainstreamed yuppie Esperanza; Caridad, whose path leads toward folk mysticism; and the more mundane Fe, who–seized with a screaming convulsion when her fiance jilts her–is brought to silence only months later through the intercession of the resurrected youngest sister, “Loca.” Castillo takes a page from the magical realist school of Latin American fiction, but one senses the North American component of this Chicana voice: in her work, occult phenomena are literal, not symbolic; life is traumatic and brutal–as are men–but death is merely tentative. She sounds a secondary note as a proponent of feminism and social justice, but her hand falters when she attempts to blend the formation of an artisans’ cooperative or an industrial toxins scandal into a universe of magical healings and manifestations. Castillo is also a critic, a translator and a poet.” – Publishers Weekly

9

Loving in the War Years by Cherrie Moraga

“Weaving together poetry and prose, Spanish and English, family history and political theory, Loving in the War Years has been a classic in the feminist and Chicano canon since its 1983 release. This new edition—including a new introduction and three new essays—remains a testament of Moraga’s coming-of-age as a Chicana and a lesbian at a time when the political merging of those two identities was severely censured.

Drawing on the Mexican legacy of Malinche, the symbolic mother of the first mestizo peoples, Moraga examines the collective sexual and cultural wounding suffered by women since the Conquest. Moraga examines her own mestiza parentage and the seemingly inescapable choice of assimilation into a passionless whiteness or uncritical acquiescence to the patriarchal Chicano culture she was raised to reproduce. By finding Chicana feminism and honoring her own sexuality and loyalty to other women of color, Moraga finds a way to claim both her family and her freedom.

Moraga’s new essays, written with a voice nearly a generation older, continue the project of “loving in the war years,” but Moraga’s posture is now closer to that of a zen warrior than a street-fighter. In these essays, loving is an extended prayer, where the poet-politica reflects on the relationship between our small individual deaths and the dyings of nations of people (pueblos). Loving is an angry response to the “cultural tyranny” of the mainstream art world and a celebration of the strategic use of “cultural memory” in the creation of an art of resistance.” – Goodreads

10

Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros

“In this collection of Mexican-American stories, Cisneros addresses the reader in a voice that is alternately buoyant, strong, funny, and sad. The brief vignettes of the opening piece, “My Lucy Friend Who Smells Like Corn,” are tiles in a mosaic. Taken together, these vignettes give a vivid, colorful picture of life on the Texas/Mexico border. Family ties are strong: aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents are all present. The stories are often about the romantic dreams of young girls longing to escape stifling small-town life who discover that things are not much different on the other side of the border. Cisneros has an acute eye for the telling detail that reveals the secrets and the dreams of her characters. She writes with humor and love about people she knows intimately.”- Library Journal

11

The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia

“Plascencia’s mannered but moving debut begins with an allegory for art and the loss that drives it: a butcher guts a boy’s cat; the boy constructs paper organs for the feline, who is revivified; the boy thus becomes the world’s first origami surgeon. Though Plascencia’s book sometimes seems to take the form of an autobiographical attempt to come to terms with a lost love, little of this experimental work—a mischievous mix of García Márquez magical realism and Tristram Shandy typographical tricks—is grounded in reality. Early on we meet a “Baby Nostradamus” and a Catholic saint disguised as a wrestler while following the enuretic Fernando de la Fe and his lime-addicted daughter from Mexico to California. Fernando—whose wife, tired of waking in pools of piss, has left him—settles east of L.A. in El Monte. He gathers a gang of carnation pickers to wage a quixotic war against the planet Saturn and, in a Borges-like discovery, Saturn turns out to be Salvador Plascencia. Over a dozen characters narrate the story while fighting like Lilliputians to emancipate themselves from Plascencia’s tyrannical authorial control. Playful and cheeky, the book is also violent and macabre: masochists burn themselves; a man bleeds horribly after performing cunnilingus on a woman made of paper. Plascencia’s virtuosic first novel is explosively unreal, but bares human truths with devastating accuracy.” – Publishers Weekly

12

The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue by Manuel Muñoz

“Manuel Munoz’s dazzling collection is set in a Mexican-American neighborhood in central California-a place where misunderstandings and secrets shape people’s lives. From a set of triplets with three distinct fates to a father who places his hope-and life savings-in the hands of a faith healer, the characters in these stories cross paths in unexpected ways. As they do, they reveal a community that is both embracing and unforgiving, and they discover a truth about the nature of home: you always live with its history. Munoz is an explosive new talent who joins the ranks of such acclaimed authors as Junot Diaz and Daniel Alarcon.” – Goodreads

13

Still Water Saints by Alex Espinoza

Still Water Saints chronicles a momentous year in the life of Agua Mansa, a largely Latino town beyond the fringes of Los Angeles and home to the Botánica Oshún, where people come seeking charms, herbs, and candles. Above all, they seek the guidance of Perla Portillo, the shop’s owner. Perla has served the community for years, arming her clients with the tools to overcome all manner of crises, large and small. There is Juan, a man coming to terms with the death of his father; Nancy, a recently married schoolteacher; Shawn, an addict looking for peace in his chaotic life; and Rosa, a teenager trying to lose weight and find herself. But when a customer with a troubled and mysterious past arrives, Perla struggles to help and must confront both her unfulfilled hopes and doubts about her place in a rapidly changing world.

Imaginative, inspiring, lyrical, and beautifully written, Still Water Saints evokes the unpredictability of life and the resilience of the spirit through the journeys of the people of Agua Mansa, and especially of the one woman at the center of it all. Theirs are stories of faith and betrayal, love and loss, the bonds of family and community, and the constancy of change.” – From the Hardcover edition

Opening Reception – YLA 22: ¡Ahora! & Capricho

Mark your calendars for Mexic-Arte YLA 22 Opening Reception in Austin, Texas

 

Opening Reception
Date: Friday, July 14, 2017
Member Preview: 6 – 7PM
Public Hours: 7 – 9PM
Admission: $10 General Admission, Free for Museum Members
Refreshments: Antojitos & Specialty Cocktails
Live Music: Tiarra Girls 8 – 9PM
Parking: $10 at Frost Bank Tower Parking Garage on Brazos & 4th St. (enter on 4th St.)

YLA 22: ¡Ahora!, guest curated by Alana Coates, marks the twenty-second installment of the emerging Latinx artist exhibition series at Mexic-Arte Museum. In an era of socio-political upheaval in the United States – from U.S.-Mexico border relations, to widespread economic inequalities, increased racial tensions, and subsequent hate crimes on the rise across the country – the selected artists navigate matters of gender restrictions, immigration politics, cultural heritage, and privilege. Their artworks confront viewers with prominent issues of the contemporary Latinx experience in the United States.

YLA 22 Featured Artists
Nansi Guevara (Laredo, Texas), Daniela Cavazos Madrigal (Laredo, Texas), Mark Anthony Martinez (San Antonio, Texas), Michael Martinez (San Antonio, Texas), Paloma Mayorga (Austin, Texas), Ashley Mireles (San Antonio, Texas), Andrei Rentería (Chihuahua City, Mexico/ Presidio, Texas), and José Villalobos (El Paso, Texas).

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Capricho is a project by artist Mark Menjivar that activates the archives of his late grandfather, Joe Font. Originally from Puerto Rico, Font extensively photographed various places in Latin America for a period of over 30 years. A main component of the project is a book of photographs taken by Font, which has contextual information added by family and friends at his funeral. Menjivar complied, scanned, and laid out these archives into a new book with some hand written text. Additionally, Menjivar will work with families in the community to tend to their own family archives and create meaningful projects that reveal a shared human experience.

Rev. of The First Rule of Punk

Original post found here: http://labloga.blogspot.com/2017/05/the-first-rule-of-punk.html

By Celia C. Pérez

  •           Age Range: 9 – 12 years
  •        Grade Level: 4 – 7
  •        Hardcover: 336 pages
  •        Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers (August 22, 2017)
  •        Language: English
  •        ISBN-10: 0425290409
  •        ISBN-13: 978-0425290408

 

From debut author and longtime zine-maker Celia C. Pérez, The First Rule of Punk is a wry and heartfelt exploration of friendship, finding your place, and learning to rock out like no one’s watching.

There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school—you can’t fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malú (María Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School’s queen bee, violates the school’s dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.

The real Malú loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malú finally begins to feel at home. She’ll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!

Black and white illustrations and collage art throughout make The First Rule of Punk a perfect pick for fans of books like Roller Girl and online magazines like Rookie.

PRAISE FOR THE FIRST RULE OF PUNK:

“Extremely relatable and creatively inspiring, with a voice that is equal parts witty and sharp.”

—Bustle.com

“In The First Rule of Punk, Celia C. Pérez brings us Malú, a girl whose talents are as diverse as the images and words she snips for her zines. Malú is an irrepressible force, one that readers will long remember.”

—Diana López, author of Confetti Girl and Nothing Up My Sleeve

Celia C. Pérez has been making zines inspired by punk and her love of writing for longer than some of you have been alive. Her favorite zine supplies are a long-arm stapler, glue sticks, and watercolor pencils. She still listens to punk music, and she’ll never stop picking cilantro out of her food at restaurants. Originally from Miami, Florida, Celia lives in Chicago with her family and works as a community college librarian. She owns two sets of worry dolls because you can never have too many. The First Rule of Punk is her first book for young readers.