Thursday, February 01, 2018

It's Hard to be Mexican These Days: A Personal Reflection

I just wrote a colleague, telling him that it's hard to be Mexican these days.*  I was supposed to get an important evaluation to him by this week and it's down to the wire and that's what comes to mind. “Too much drama and trauma these days," I shared.

Too many battles.  Too many fronts. Too much effort and work.  And effort and work would not be a problem if we aren't also fighting on other fronts like the U.S. Congress and the neoliberal class forever encroaching on our community space and schools with threats of school closure left and right.  All of this in addition to trying hard to be and do right in all my relations, colleagues included.

On Wednesday, January 31, what should have been another elevating, soulful annual moment when I celebrate love and life in honor of my Mom's birthday who passed away much too soon in 2005—I felt angry, disappointed, and sad.  You can check out my earlier posts today and yesterday to catch up on what I and others have been up to that is yes, disappointing and enraging.

So I was angry on my mother's birthday, though not completely...thankfully.

After an amazing weekend with our Grow Your Own Educator National Summit, hearing great talks, re-kindling old friendships, forging new ones, and folks speaking with such eloquence from the heart, rejuvinated and inspired me.  UT Doctoral Student and Vice-Principal Macario Hernandez from Oakcliff in Dallas, for one, conveyed passionately how growing our own educators saves lives.

Since our gatherings as a sponsoring national organization, the National Latino Education Research and Policy, Inc. always coincide with my mother's birthday—and now, this Summit,  love, magic, and wonder always pay a visit—at least for me.  We are so blessed to be who we are, doing the work that people in my world do as educators of the succeeding generations.

It's hard for me to remember my Mom's birthday without thinking, "What would she think about all that's happening now if she were still here with us today?"  "And what might she say?"  She was an avid reader of history, earning a B.A. in History, so I actually don't have to ask because I know exactly what she would say.

This takes me to Tuesday's disappointing Texas State Board of Education meeting, Trump's State of the (Dis)Union address, LULAC President Roger Rocha's letter of support to Donald Trump (he has since rescinded it, but the damage is done), and the arrest of a friend of a friend of mine, a mother who has left a young, traumatized child behind, adding that off of IH-35 and St. Johns here in Austin, Texas, a lot of ICE vehicles have surrounded an apartment building and they are going door to door arresting people.  What the heck...?!!!

So, what would my Mom think and say about all of this?  She would say that these are all connected and that this optic of door-to-door arrests of parents and hard-working families should matter to any person with any sense of humanity that is not a nazi.  This is nothing less than state-sanctioned, state-sponsored terror and terrorism, Trumpism at its "best."

And to not at all insult my loyal and dear followers and friends from Germany, but my Mom would say that this is a "Gestapo force" exerting great harm on our people.  She would also say that our policies and actions are the downward, moral spiral that could evolve into what Hitler did to the Jews. That's why we should never cross those lines in policy or practice.  She might also say that this is what the Texas Rangers did to us Mexicans in an earlier, dreadful chapter in Texas history when harassing and lynching Mexicans was for sport and tremendous gain for the military-industrial complex of its time. For instance, check out this recent story on a massacre, a killing of 15 innocent men and boys and a destruction of their town by the Texas Rangers in Porvenir, Texas, resulting in their reorganization as a law enforcement entity.

Fortunately, I got to spend some quality time yesterday evening with our students that volunteer for Academia Cuauhtli, a Saturday Academy that is a partnership between Nuestro Grupo, our CBO, AISD, and the City of Austin's Mexican American Cultural Center.  I am so grateful for the time and space that we have to be a healing force for one another.  This is a place to laugh, cry, and experience joy.  

I don't think that I would endure as well this current horrific moment were it not for them, our elders, and community, a dense network of positive relations, everybody working very hard, challenging white supremacy and cultural chauvinism, making it a little less hard to be Mexican today.

Okay, now I better get back on task with the deliverable that I promised my colleague. :-)

Angela Valenzuela

*For those that need some orientation, historically, being "Mexican" for Mexican Americans in the Southwest, it is not a national, but rather an ethnic minority, identity.

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