A POEM I FOUND IN RUSSIA

Vlad Zaycev

 

Yesterday I bought my first ukulele.

Today I had no mood. It seems to me that I am necessary to nobody.

I just take small guitar in my hands and began playing.

It seems to me that playing on the ukulele very easy.

I prepared for you the song Someone Like You.

 

I learned it. But I can’t play it.

And today I want to make you happy by my game. 🙂

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Vlad  Zaychev is a young Russian musician whose blog is primarily a platform for his music. I found this poem in one of his recent posts when the sentence “Today I had no mood” caught my eye. 

Found poetry purists accept only exactly what is found, whether a road sign, a soup can label, a newspaper headline, a menu – or a  blog post. But I pull out the sentences that belong to a poem as  I see it. However I never change the order of the sentences. That

would  be cheating.

Found poems are poetry’s version of photography. If you’ve never done it, give it a try. You’ll start finding poems in very unexpected

places.

Vlad’s Blog : 

http://youtu.be/gcW6G75kU9E

http://youtu.be/1kx2aPGuC6w

Vlad Zaychev just turned 16 and lives in Siberia. You should check him out. He’s charming on a number of levels. Vlad plays classical guitar and covers songs far outside the genre. Although he’s still a beginner, he preforms  with an emotional intimacy unexpected in one so young. And FYI, this actually is the first time Vlad’s ever played the  ukelele! True, he plays it like a guitar, but hey, why not?

He recently tweeted “I am a handsome Russian boy!” – and you can’t argue with that.

When I asked Vlad for permission to use his material, he replied

“Yes, it is finite!” This so delighted me that I wanted to follow him around taking notes, but he won’t have to put up with that annoyence  because he lives in, well, Siberia. At any rate, Vlad will soon be too fluent in English to provide us with these gifts

 

 

 

LONG LIVE HOWARD ZINN

Five Years After: Long Live Howard Zinn

Historian and educator Howard Zinn said that inspiring students to change the world should be the “modest little aim” of teaching. (Portrait: Painting by Robert Shetterly/AmericansWhoTelltheTruth.org)

Today—Jan. 27—marks five years since the death of the great historian and activist Howard Zinn. Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder what Howard would say about something—the growth of the climate justice movement, #BlackLivesMatter, the new Selma film, the killings at the Charlie Hebdo offices. No doubt, he would be encouraged by how many educators are engaging students in thinking critically about these and other issues.

Zinn is best known, of course, for his beloved A People’s History of the United States, arguably the most influential U.S. history textbook in print. “That book will knock you on your ass,” as Matt Damon’s character says in the film Good Will Hunting. But Zinn did not merely record history, he made it: as a professor at Spelman College in the 1950s and early 1960s, where he was ultimately fired for his outspoken support of students in the Civil Rights Movement, and specifically the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); as a critic of the U.S. war in Vietnam, and author of the first book calling for an immediate U.S. withdrawal; and as author of numerous books on war, peace, and popular struggle. Zinn was speaking and educating new generations of students and activists right up until the day he died.

It’s always worth dipping into the vast archive of Zinn scholarship, but at a moment of increasing social activism and global tension, now is an especially good time to remember some of Howard Zinn’s wisdom.

Shortly after Barack Obama’s election, in November 2008, the Zinn Education Project sponsored a talk by Zinn to several hundred teachers at the National Council for the Social Studies annual conference in Houston. Zinn reminded teachers that the point of learning about social studies was not simply to memorize facts, but to imbue students with a desire to change the world. “A modest little aim,” Zinn acknowledged, with a twinkle in his eye.

In this talk, available as an online video as well as a transcription, Zinn insisted that teachers must help students challenge “fundamental premises that keep us inside a certain box.” Because without this critical rethinking of premises about history and the role of the United States in the world, “things will never change.” And this will remain “a world of war and hunger and disease and inequality and racism and sexism.”

A key premise that needs to be questioned, according to Zinn, is the notion of “national interests,” a term so common in the political and academic discourse as to be almost invisible. Zinn points out that the “one big family” myth begins with the Constitution’s preamble: “We the people of the United States. . .” Zinn noted that it wasn’t “we the people” who established the Constitution in Philadelphia—it was 55 rich white men. Missing from or glossed over in the traditional textbook treatment are race and class divisions, including the rebellions of farmers in Western Massachusetts, immediately preceding the Constitutional Convention in 1787. No doubt, the Constitution had elements of democracy, but Zinn argues that it “established the rule of slaveholders, and merchants, and bondholders.”

Teaching history through the lens of class, race, and gender conflict is not simply more accurate, according to Zinn; it also makes it more likely that students—and all the rest of us—will not “simply swallow these enveloping phrases like ‘the national interest,’ ‘national security,’ ‘national defense,’ as if we’re all in the same boat.”

As Zinn told teachers in Houston: “No, the soldier who is sent to Iraq does not have the same interests as the president who sends him to Iraq. The person who works on the assembly line at General Motors does not have the same interest as the CEO of General Motors. No—we’re a country of divided interests, and it’s important for people to know that.”

howardzinn_peacerallyAnother premise Zinn identified, one that is an article of faith in so much U.S. history curriculum and corporate-produced textbooks, is “American exceptionalism”—the idea that the United States is fundamentally freer, more virtuous, more democratic, and more humane than other countries. For Zinn, the United States is “an empire like other empires. There was a British empire, and there was a Dutch empire, and there was a Spanish empire, and yes, we are an American empire.” The United States expanded through deceit and theft and conquest, just like other empires, although textbooks cleanse this imperial bullying with legal-sounding terms like the Louisiana Purchase and the Mexican Cession.

Patriotism is another premise that we need to question. As Zinn told teachers in Houston: “It’s very bad for everybody when young people grow up thinking that patriotism means obedience to your government.” Zinn often recalled Mark Twain’s distinction between country and government. “Does patriotism mean support your government? No. That’s the definition of patriotism in a totalitarian state,” Zinn warned a Denver audience in a 2008 speech, included in Howard Zinn Speaks, edited by Anthony Arnove [Haymarket Books, 2012].

And going to war on behalf of “our country” is offered as the highest expression of patriotism—in everything from the military recruitment propaganda that saturates our high schools to the social studies curriculum that features photos of U.S. troops heroically battling “enemy soldiers” in a section called “Operation Iraqi Freedom” in the widely used high school Holt McDougal textbook Modern World History.

Howard Zinn cuts through this curricular fog: “War is terrorism. . . . Terrorism is the willingness to kill large numbers of people for some presumably good cause. That’s what terrorists are about.” Zinn demands that we reexamine the premise that war is necessary, a proposition not taken seriously in any high school history textbook I’ve ever seen. Instead, wars get sold to Americans—especially to the young people who fight those wars—as efforts to spread liberty and democracy. As Howard Zinn said many times, if you don’t know your history, it’s as if you were born yesterday. Leaders can tell you anything and you have no way of knowing what’s true.

Howard Zinn wanted educators to be deeply critical, but never cynical. When speaking to the teachers in Houston, Zinn insisted that another premise we needed to examine is the idea that progress is the product of great individuals. Zinn pointed out that Abraham Lincoln had never been an abolitionist, and when he ran for president in 1860 he did not advocate ending slavery in the states where it existed. Rather, it was largely the “huge antislavery movement that pushed Lincoln into the Emancipation Proclamation—that pushed Congress into the 13th and 14th and 15th Amendments.”

Zinn urged educators to teach a people’s history: “We’ve never had our injustices rectified from the top, from the president or Congress, or the Supreme Court, no matter what we learned in junior high school about how we have three branches of government, and we have checks and balances, and what a lovely system. No. The changes, important changes that we’ve had in history, have not come from those three branches of government. They have reacted to social movements.”

Thus when we single out people in our curriculum as icons, as “people to admire and respect,” Zinn advocated shedding the traditional pantheon of government and military leaders: “But there are other heroes that young people can look up to. And they can look up to people who are against war. They can have Mark Twain as a hero who spoke out against the Philippines war. They can have Helen Keller as a hero who spoke out against World War I, and Emma Goldman as a hero. They can have Fannie Lou Hamer as a hero, and Bob Moses as a hero, the people in the Civil Rights Movement—they are heroes.”

And to this, there is one final “people’s history” premise we need to remember—whether in education or the world outside of schools. As Howard Zinn reminded the audience of social studies teachers in Houston: “People change.” Zinn did not look to President Obama to initiate social transformation; but in 2008, he saw the election as confirmation that the long history of anti-racist struggle in the United States produced an outcome that would have been inconceivable 30 years prior. And this shift in attitude should give us hope.

Immediately following Zinn’s death, the writer and activist Naomi Klein said, “We just lost our favorite teacher.” That’s what I felt, too. As we remember Howard Zinn five years after his passing, let’s count him among the many social justice heroes and teachers who offer proof that people’s efforts make a difference—that ordinary people can change the world.

Antropoesia: from the outside in

Invitation

Tu Libro Familia,

Tu Libro Familia,
This Saturday, 18 October (11 AM at Cafe Mayapan), we will kick off our AntroPoesia Community Workshops!!!  All Ages ~ All Genders ~ FREE
AntroPoesia ~ Working from the Outside, In…
 
These community-based, community oriented workshops will provide us with the opportunity to reflect on ourselves, our community, our shared history.  By walking through our Bario community, studying murals, visiting Museo Urbano, our Mexica Sunstone, etc. we will write our own stories, perform our own teatro, tell our own stories.
View the AntroPoesia video by Professor Tim Z. Hernandez, the Museo Urbano video by Professor Yolanda Leyva and more —>>  www.TuLibro915.com
See you this Saturday!!!
         In Lak’ech Ala K’in
   Georgina Cecilia Perez
 
EmpowerLove. Educate.
         Quetzalcoatl

 

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AZTEC SUNSTONE CALENDER

A night of Chican@ literature

CHECK  OUT  TU LIBRO:

Community activists with heart, spunk and vision.

 www.TuLibro915.com

Tu Libro Master
Although I missed the boat on the  great event below (my  apologies to all!), I decided to post it anyway as an example of the many ways in which Tu Libro combines community literacy, literature, culture, politics and resistance.
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Georgina  Perez

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La Revista Paso del Rio Grande del Norte invites you to “A Night of Chican@ Literature” in
 celebration of IndigenousCommunities and Diversity
This Friday, October 10th at Cafe Mayapan, 6:30pm
Performances include Danza Azteca Omecoatl, Wise Latinas, Chican@ Writers, and more… in English, Spanish and Spanglish

In Lak’ech Ala K’in

   Georgina Cecilia Perez
 
EmpowerLove. Educate.
         Quetzalcoatl
Mercado Mayapan located to the side of the restaurant

Mercado (Market) Mayapan, which houses Cafe Mayapan along with numerous other vendors. Nearly every Mexican village and town has an outdoor mercado of some kind, and cities have several. Only several miles from Mexico, the Mercado Mayapan is El Paso’s indoor adaptation of the traditional.

Café Mayapán is more than just a restaurant. It’s part of a nonprofit organization that provides job training and neighborhood revitalization. Housed in an old El Paso warehouse, the Cafe employs workers who were displaced when that factory closed. Next door is a mercado, selling arts and crafts, and several community organizations are housed elsewhere in the building.

  

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¡Nunca más!

Clown

My father could never forget what happened in that school , and that is why he didn’t allow me to learn Spanish

 

¡Nunca  más, Papi!

 

No más vergüenza. Sólo orgullo.

 

Aprendizaje sólo alegre.

 

Si nuestros hijos no aprenden,  no los puede enseñar

 

Θ___________________________________________________________Θ

 

Never again, Papa!

 

No more shame.  Only pride.

 

Only joyful learning.

 

If our children do not learn,  you may not teach them.

___________________________________________________________________________

 

 

C L A I R E     O’B R I E N

MY LIFE AS A PATRIOT

 

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 If I hadn’t  dropped by Eeuzicasa‘s  blog today, I would, of course, never have known that today is Bunker Hill Day – and neither would you. I suppose that’s one reason George B. posted it.  More often than not, his bounty of information turns out to be something you didn’t know you might want to know.  I ended up writing a long comment, some of which is incorporated into this post. I figured I’d taken up more space than was polite – plus, I couldn’t figure out how to add photos to his blog (joke, hardy har). He was extremely hospitable, and suggested that I expand my comment into a post. And here it is.

Thanks, George!

How well I remember lounging around the Bunker Hill statue/memorial  (after I had worn out the statue on the Cambridge Common) when I was a kid – the trip to the tougher neighborhood of Charlestown was enough to qualify as something of an adventure, which is an indicator of how bored we were.

We had absolutely no appreciation of the monument’s  significance. When tourists came to look at it, we just couldn’t believe the license plates. But we were absolutely certain of one thing: if we ever had cars and vacations and choices, no force on earth could compel us to travel 800 miles to look at some stupid piece of rock. If nothing else proved that adults had no sense of direction, this national trek to a hulking hunk of rock in the unsentimental working-class Boston neighborhood of Charlestown settled the question.
Years later, as an American history major in San Francisco, I thought of Paul Revere’s house.

Yep. Three thousand miles away.

 

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I thought keenly of the (Old North?) church (above), Longfellow’s house, sitting big and yellow right there in Harvard Square, the 17th century cemetery with the bent iron railings, Old Iron Sides, the Lexington Green, the Transcendentalist Alcott community called Fruitlands, Walden Pond –

and was furiously gripped by the sheer idiocy of the modern child.

I had ignored all of them, except for Walden Pond, a fairly sizeable lake that I leaped into on hot summer afternoons when we were able to hijack a relative with a car. I had not set foot into Harvard’s exquisite free museums – I had only gotten stuck (several times) and hauled down from the lap of the huge statue of John Harvard. Also, kicked out of the music department for sneaking in with my friends to bang out Chopsticks on the practice pianos.

 

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Years later, as I made arrangements to move from San Francisco to the Midwest, I had a moment of perspective – and spent my last month riding cable cars, at Fisherman’s Wharf, in Little Italy, Chinatown, and North Beach (no beatniks had been seen there for to decades. I rode the ferry across the Bay and ate at the Cliff House. I did everything the tourists did – it was the first time for all of us, only I had been right there for 12 years.

 

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But I eventually learned the power of place. I had moved not 20 miles from the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.
Without stopping to unpack, I drove straight to the crumbling town of Cairo (pronounced Kay-ro) Illinois. It had once been the pride of the Mississippi. My jaw dropped as I drove through town. I didn’t know I was in the northernmost Mississippi Delta. I didn’t know that I had arrived in the region that would teach me more about this nation than Boston, New York, and San Francisco combined. I had no idea that the poorest people in rural America lived here, or that the fragile shacks I passed were homes. I hadn’t yet heard the people speak, in  voices  that I still hear in my dreams,  a cadence that both sooths and pierces  the heart, and echos the mountains of Kentucky.

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Main Street, Cairo, Illinois

I climbed a modest observation tower, took one look, and lost my breath.
Boy, was that something to see. Yet most people never see it, because almost no one goes to Cairo, anymore.

I was standing at the tip of the triangle in the upper part of the photo below, on the southernmost tip of Illinois. That tip is almost eight hours from Chicago, and is essentially another country. To the right is the Ohio River, and the land on its eastern (right) bank is the northwesternmost border of Kentucky.  The Mississippi River flows in on the left. It’s western shore is Missouri’s eastern border. Just past the bottom of the photo lies the top of  Missouri’s Bootheel , which extends further south than a good chunk of Arkansas.

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When I got to my little apartment, paid for by a graduate fellowship, along with tuition and a stipend, I looked around and finally really knew what privilege was. I returned over and over to that old place where the upper South blends into the lower Midwest, but I always came back to another world, one that paid me to just learn. In the end, though, the people of the Delta were the road I chose. The stories they told me turned me into a  journalist, rather than a professor of history.
By the time I left graduate school five years later, the two great rivers located me like a compass. They still do, and they always will.

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That summer, I visited Paul Revere’s house, the Old North Church, Old Ironsides (don’t refer to them as ‘old – don’t refer to anything as old – to a European. They are unable to hide their amusement), Louisa May Alcott’s home, Fruitlands, and other colonial  structures that have meaning for many Americans. I was more interested in the material culture of working-class people – I had, after all, been to graduate school, recently survived the excruciating, prolonged ordeal of getting admitted to doctoral candidacy and was still feeling my oats. I’m over it now – but I derived a settled feeling from my patriotic tour. It’s not that I’m a patriot. I’m markedly fickle when it comes to the entire concept of nationalism. I just like to know where I am.

True, Boston was no Cairo, Illinoi. But I had come to love the whole American landscape. I had come to see the people whose anonymous lives had been documented after all, left written for those who knew where to look. It was there in what they had laid their hands on, in how they had created beauty, in the songs they sang and in the way they buried their dead.  I knew that America had another story made up of all the unimportant people who had struggled to understand what home meant in this land.

That’s as close as I’ll ever come to being a patriot.

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One if by land and two if by sea

Oh, and I dropped in on the Bunker Hill Monument. You know, it’s really quite interesting.

Border Agricultural Workers Library

 Border Agricultural Workers Library

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Cemelli de Aztlan (915) 799-2890/PeoplePowerPR@gmail.com

SEMBRA LETRAS – COSECHA LIBERTAD

Border Agricultural Workers Library

 

 El Paso, Texas – Centro Sin Fronteras Farmworkers Center, a local non-profit providing assistance to farmworkers to empower themselves, will open the Border Agricultural Workers Library, “Sembra Letras – Cosecha Libertad” on March 31st, Cesar Chavez Day.

According to Centro Sin Fronteras, there are about 14,000 farmworkers in our tri-state region. Farmworkers earn approximately $6,000-$7,000/year. Centro Sin Fronteras provides farmworkers with shelter, health care, food, GED & English courses, and family recreational activities, alongside their organizing efforts to address farming conditions, food regulations, pesticides, health care and worker’s rights.

“Most people are not aware of the hard labor and human suffering that lies behind the fruits, vegetables and meat they serve on their tables. It’s only right that we honor these workers any chance we get.” Carlos Marentes, founder of Centro Sin Fronteras.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, farmworkers suffer from higher rates of toxic chemical injuries and skin disorders than any other workers in the country. The children of migrant farmworkers, also, have higher rates of pesticide exposure than the general public.Each year, there are an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 cases of physician-diagnosed pesticide poisoning among U.S. farmworkers, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Farmworkers are not covered by workers’ compensation laws in many states. They are not entitled to overtime pay under federal law. On smaller farms and in short harvest seasons, they are not entitled to the federal minimum wage. They are excluded from many state health and safety laws.

Because of special exemptions for agriculture, children as young as 10 may work in the fields.

(Southern Poverty Law Center, “Injustice on Our Plates”- http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/publications/injustice-on-our-plates)

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“Farmworkers provide our families with nutrition and sustenance on a daily basis. While they are essential to our survival, farmworkers are greatly neglected by society as a whole.  Our community is committed to providing services which empower our farmworkers and provide them and their families with well-deserved dignity and justice.”

Georgina C. Perez, founder of Tu Libro.

If you are interested in donating to Sembra Letras, please visit website www.TuLibro915.com and click on Sembra Letras, or contact Georgina C. Perez at TuLibro915@gmail.com or call 915.261.8663.

 In Lak’ech Ala K’in  .  Quetzalcoatl

   Empower. Love. Educate

Georgina Cecilia Perez / www.TuLibro915.com

 

 

Rest. Here.

 
NINO 
       

 Second to last photo by Claire O’Brien/2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAKE CESAR CHAVEZ SMILE: !VIVA TU LIBRO!

! F E L I Z    C O M P L E A N O,  S R.  C H A V E Z !

ON MARCH 31, THIRTY-ONE EL PASO FAMILIES WILL RECEIVE A PERSONAL LIBRARY  OF BOOKS

ROOTED IN THEIR OWN CULTURE, HISTORY AND EXPERIENCE :

THE TRANSFORMATIVE POLITICAL POWER OF  COMMUNITY LITERACY

31 Libraries

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El Paso, TX

Tu Libro has begun our annual Cesar Chavez fund raiser in an effort to provide 31 home libraries for 31 families in El Paso.  The goal is to gift these 31 libraries on March 31st, Cesar Chavez Day.

Studies have proven that 90% of children who begin reading at a young age, read material they connect with and see a beautiful reflection of their culture on a regular basis – graduate on time, are active participants in their education and later in their communities.

Please support this fund raiser and donate at www.TuLibro915.com/Donate.html

and visit El Paso’s local book stores and publishers for amazing cultural selections.

 
 In Lak’ech Ala K’in
   Georgina Cecilia Perez
 
Empower. Love. Educate.
         Quetzalcoatl
Click on the Libro to Read More


Just a few of the many numerous, varied and beautiful choices below. It is my grave fault for posting this so late, but please, readers: CONTRIBUTE TODAY! Contact Georgina Cecilia Perez at Tu Libro.
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 The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano


The Boy Kings of Texas by Domingo Martinez

 Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez


The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey  by Che Guevara


The Distance Between Us  by Reyna Grande

 Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya Antonio


Masacre of the Dreamers: Essays on Xicanisma by Ana Castillo


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie


Desert Blood: The Juarez Murders  by Alicia Gaspar de Alba


The Hummingbird’s Daughter  by Luis Alberto Urrea

DON’T LET TEXAS BAN LATINO HISTORY, LITERATURE, AND CULTURE FROM ITS SCHOOLS!

Mexwag1
 ARIZONA  HAS ALREADY DONE THIS: PEOPLE ARE HAVING TO SMUGGLE BOOKS TO ARIZONA’S CHILDREN!  PLEASE  EMAIL THE TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY NOW!
 
The Agency is deliberating over the next several days, including tonight.  Due to bad weather, the T E A is accepting your testimony via email
Send a note:
 Support Mexican American Studies & Mexican American Literature Courses.
Demand that researched and proven curriculum & pedagogy be provided to our students!
Send your email to: sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us 
No need to mention your state!

WE MAKE THE ROAD BY WALKING

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“Hacemos el camino por caminando/ We make the road by walking”  Paulo Freire

Children in Oaxaca, Mexico, march to protest government violence against indigenous peoples. Each cross bears the name of a victim.