Machismo, Feminismo, etc – Mini Podcast

Vamos a hablar sobre el machismo, feminismo, hembrismo, y humanismo.

Perdonen los anglicismos que es la falta de práctica.

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La cosa está mala en Puerto Rico…y no vuelvo

Una de las preguntas que muchas personas me hacen por acá en Maryland, es que si  volvería a Puerto Rico cuando me gradúe. Cinco años atrás, esa pregunta me daba trabajo contestarla con sinceridad; principalmente porque una de las razones principales por las que vine a los EU fue por educación (falta de programa doctoral en Antropología en Puerto Rico) y no por razones económicas. Este último año, una de mis amigas mas cercanas y yo, hemos hablado mucho de la situación de la isla. Los dos somos ex-alumnos de la yupi, y los dos estamos estudiando antropología en los EU. Siempre mencionamos como la cosa está mala en Puerto Rico.

Y la cosa está mala por muchas razones, pero una de las circunstancias que nos concierne a ambos es lo politicizada que está la educación superior en Puerto Rico. Lo peor del caso es que nosotros vinimos a los EU sabiendo que la cosa estaba mala en las universidades. Que para ser profesor o catedrático en la Universidad de Puerto Rico, hay que tener pala. También aprendimos que el sistema superior en gringolandia, al menos tiene una antifaz que pretende igualdad, y técnicamente es más fácil obtener empleo por acá con un doctorado en las ciencias sociales, que en la isla del encanto.

Han habido tantas noticias en los últimos años sobre la sobre llamada fuga de profesionales de Puerto Rico a los Estados Unidos. Al igual que muchos egresados de la UPR que vienen a los EU, yo no pienso regresar más allá del peregrinaje a piñones y visitar a mi familia. ¿Y me pregunto porqué es que no volvemos? Yo tenía tantos ideales cuando estaba en la yupi, y pensaba que algún día regresaría para ser un agente de cambio. Cada día que pasa me decepciono con tantas cosas, y se me hace difícil pensar en un futuro en mi querida isla. Y sé que decir esto es tabú, y muchos despreciarán mi postura, pero sé que no soy el único que piensa de esta manera.

En mi caso mis circunstancias han cambiado, y pronto emigraré a Australia para estar con mi pareja; al menos los prospectos de empleo allá se ven bien para mi nivel de educación. Pero a Puerto Rico no vuelvo, porque las cosas siguen malas y mis panas me dicen lo mismo: “Está difícil encontrar trabajo con estudios y sin pala”.  Aún con estudios avanzados, mis amigos me cuentan como tienen supervisores  que no tienen su equivalente de su nivel de estudio, ni experiencia, y ni siquiera las destrezas para manejar su empleo. Las historias que escucho de lo que sucede en el Departamento de Salud por ejemplo, me causan ira (salud, porque ese es mi enfoque de investigación).

La maldita pala…y todavía nos preguntamos porque la economía está como está.

Pues la economía está así por los políticos que seguimos eligiendo. Y la economía sigue así porque estamos complacidos. No hacemos protestas por la economía, pero sí  protestamos por creencias retrógradas en contra de la equidad sexual. Pero luego una minoría protesta para el beneficio de todos, y el pueblo los critica. Como nos tiene Big Brother.

#UPRenMarcha – La #UPR diciendo #NoRecortesUPR y #NiIVANiRecortes

Pues anteayer los estudiantes de la UPR fueron parte de una manifestación en contra de los recortes a la educación pública. Los comentarios que leí en Facebook una vez más me enseñaros que el puertorriqueño es su peor enemigo. No se difiere con respeto, si no que se ataca la intelectualidad y la educación del estudiante. ¿Cómo se atreven esos estudiantes a aplicar su conocimiento a problemas de la vida real?

Y este una de las razones que me dan más pena, y por las cuáles no puedo regresar; el anti-intelectualismo de la isla es tanto, que inclusive me abruma participar desde la diáspora. Tanta gente educada, y nadie nos escucha. Muchos se creen expertos en todos los temas, pues la democracia del Facebook nos da autoridad.

Igual, el mismo puertorriqueño te bloquea  cuando tus opiniones no son los que otros quieren escuchar… aún con doctorado y to’.  La página Puerto Rico Historic Building Drawings Society me bloqueó de sus comentarios por ofrecer mi opinión sobre lo que pienso son desvaríos fuera de su misión, que lo que hacen es des-informar al puertorriqueño sobre nuestra evidencia arqueológica y etnohistórica. Ni a los antropólogos nos respetan en nuestro campo de expertise. (e.g. este post titulado  La gran mentira del genocidio español en América trata de desmentir lo ocurrido con el contacto colombino sin ninguna referencia científica o histórica; o este otro post en el que se perpetúa la romanticización de la población indígena de Puerto Rico).

El anti-intelectualismo es tanto, que para hacerse escuchar en PR hay que hacerlo a través de programas de bochinches y farandulería (como el caso de Jay Fonseca). Jay tiene mi respeto, porque yo no puedo y desgraciadamente no vuelvo. Fuerza y apoyo a aquellos que están en la lucha en la isla, y los ayudaré en sus esfuerzos desde la diáspora.

Nobody looks like anything (or the day I come out of the clóset)

Puerto Ricans on the island, by contrast, didn’t have full consciousness of being a minority because they’d never had to live as one.” (P.159, My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor)

You can say that some people have a “something something”, like in the context of “claiming someone”. But more than often, you see the opposite, where some try to distance themselves from their afro-roots.

Reading Junot Díaz novels, watching Black Dynamite, and my book The Afro-Latin@ Reader have made me think more carefully about what it means to be dark skinned and Latino in the US. This is nothing new to me, as I always fluctuate my conversations around topics of race, gender, etc… Which has made people associate my presence as the “race person”- and I don’t mean like good friends, asking another friend about a particular hairy/racist situation and trying to get some insight- in a microagressive matter, in which they turn to me if they want to learn something “multicultural”. Sometimes this is ok…sometimes it’s not, mainly because it’s not my purpose in life is to educate them; there’s resources out there, so learn them.

I do been thinking about how this actually affects my daily life, and I’ve come to realize that I actually walk a line between several identities… One of which, it seems I was in a weird denial phase, which sounds awfully familiar to one of my other identities – queer. I’ve become racialized in the US, and as such I’ve come to experience certain things different than my home in Puerto Rico. As much as I can empathize with my fellow Latin Americans, I have privileged that they’ve not because of my colonial heritage (i.e. citizenship by the 1898 invasion). I can relate to other Hispano parlantes, because I grew up in an idealized pan-Latin@ identity. Immortalized in songs by Rubén Blades, Juan Luis Guerra, Violeta Parra; marked by spilled blood by Bolívar, Ché Guevara, and Ramón Emeterio Betances; declamado in poetry by José Martí, Julia de Burgos; and so on…

And we learned about the Taínos, and the Spaniards that came over… And yet, our African foreparents were dedicated a page in our history books (see Godreau and Llórens, 2010 for more info). And lately, I have paid more attention to that. My dark skin has made more aware of what I am, and what I am not. But mostly, what I have found, and haven’t found in my ancestry (thanks for nothing Ancestry.com).

Yet, while we heard so much about amazing people like Celia Cruz, Rafael Hernández, among others that have been recognized as Latinos some people seem to gloss over the fact that they were afro-descendants; that they were dark skinned… the ever elusive black word.

So, while as a Puerto Rican I have in fact a lot of ‘races’ in my ancestry, I always dragged my feet regarding my afro heritage. It was always there and never hidden. Yet, in Puerto Rico racism is more subtle, so I never thought of actually having to come out regarding my blackness; even though society (my friends, neighbors, ex boyfriend, etc…) never let me forgot that I was indeed black because of my skin color, my wide bridge-less nose that wasn’t made for “regular people” glasses, and my butt… *le sigh*.

So here it is, I’m afro descendant everybody. I’m an Afro-Latino. I am the byproduct of colonialism. I am dealing with it. I am proud of where I come from.

Howl’s moving castle and a bit about race

SPOILER ALERT

 

 

I loved this book.  

 

It is a beautiful story that borders on happy-go-lucky, without being too cheesy. But I found a detail in the end a bit disturbing; that is when Calcifer decides to come back to castle after everything happened. 

This reminded me a bit too much of Stockholm Syndrome, and I think without the proper context it might send the wrong message to some (by making it seem so trivial). But I don’t think authors are necessarily in charge of the own social message they carry (at least I’m fiction)-if they want to make a commentary, they are more than welcome- so that some responsibility is carried over to the reader.I realized later, that the book does try to give a proper context to the relationship of Calcifer and Howl in light of the nature in which i interpreted it. Even more so, the following books explain this matter much  better and deeper; problem is, I don’t know what to make of their relationship. Is it co-slavery or co-mastership? Does this even matter? Regardless, there is the perception of a unequal power relationship and that caught my attention and was always in the back burner while I was reading the book. The author made this even more exciting by weaving the plot in ambiguous clues into the relationship of Calcifer and Howl (Howlifer as the tabloids would call it…no?)

 

 

On an unseeingly unrelated point, this made me think about conversations that I have had with friends and co-workers about race and Latin America. The main point in these discussions being that race in Latin America is so much more complex than in the US; and as such, trying to compare the black/white dichotomy of the Anglo colonial/republic discourse falls short when trying to talk about Latin America. The problem further complicates itself when all these studies (and scholars) that reside here in the north (see allusions to USA) accuse the Central and South Americas (including of course the Caribbean) of rampant racism and of using colonization as an excuse to ignore our blackness. Racism exists, but the situation is so much more complex than that, and more than often these accusations reek of ethnocentrism; and I’m more than willing to bring my lemon pledge.

 

 

One has to think of the colonization processes and histories of each country and their respective metropolises in Europe. While rampantly racist, Spanish colonization characterized itself with mestizaje (intermixing). The late enlightenment in Ibero-America brought to Spanish Speaking American countries a criollo (creole, local, native) pride in their respective national identities, so that the 19th century became a focal point of ethnic differentiation from Europe and independence movements that highlighted their mixed ethnicity as Mexicans, Venezuelans, Colombians, etc (of course this needs deeper discussion, but of course this intermixing was of course mostly ‘white’ with a bit of color-not too much, cause…apparently that was not cool back then…being brown and all). This happened in some Latin Americans countries where these conditions surfaced; except in the countries where indigenous people were still alive (they were mostly ignored by the new elite); except also in those countries where indigenous people were driven to extinction, (e.g. most of the Caribbean) and where these indigenous identities, now long gone, were romanticized; except in those places where blacks were the majority… maybe it wasn’t that homogenous after all.

My point exactly…

There is too much diversity from place to place to talk about race in one sentence and try to express national identity, ethnic origins and racial politics. Sadly, the constant in many of these places was the reproduction of how we look at our African ancestry. In Puerto Rico, the extinct Taíno society became an emblem of the original settlers to drive out the Spanish colonizers; all the while reconstructing this past in lieu of our African culture.

 

 

Everyone (most) knows and acknowledges the influences of our African Ancestors as heritage and genetics; thankfully this heritage is not limited to people who phenotypically look ‘black’ (whatever that is). Also, nobody in Puerto Rico says they’re Spanish, or Taíno (except a few people, and I have a strong opinion about this, but alas another time), or African. The shared knowledge of being Puerto Rican permits a fluid identity that has been discoursally fed through the state and cultural apparatuses; the same apparatuses that feed racism to all of us.

Nonetheless, the discourse and collective consciousness of being a mestizo society does not mean that our ideology is an excuse, but more so a different reality than the one in the US. Therefore, being Puerto Rican (in the island I must add, for pseudo methodological and theoretical reasons) allows you to not think about race in the same way that they do here in the US. To be honest, we are made ‘aware’ of these nuances and dichotomies of the racial headache of the US when we come to the mainland. The fluidity is amazing… and complex.

Why did Howl made me think of this? Maybe it was the connotations of negotiated meanings

in the relationship between Calcifer and Howl. Their co-dependency was filled with borderline hate, love and the life debt they owed one another. Who was really the slave and who was the master? Who was negotiating the meaning of the existence of the other? Why oh why did Calcifer come back?

 

 

Paradoxes, complications and a dash of racism? of course, but again, not just black and white. It’s more grey, and we all fall in the middle.

Ex-politicians and their influence in politics

Politics in Puerto Rico is almost an everyday topic. The different discussions that might casually arise in the supermarket, talking with your neighbor or family member, while waiting at the barbershop/beauty salon, while riding the bus, sometimes take a weird turn into politics. Mind you, some people are blindly supporting this or that candidate for the sole reason that they belong to their particular political party. While this does make sense in ideological parties like democrats (who represents from time to time some type of progressive agenda) and republicans (who more often than not espouse a regressive conservative agenda), back home people align themselves with three main political parties that represent three different goals for the political status of the island. The pro-statehood party, the pro-commonwealth party (stay as we are now) and the pro-independence party. This particular phenomenon translates to individuals in the different parties that can range from progressive to ultra-conservative in any one of them. So, to talk about politics back home is to talk about political status more or less…which makes sense given the relationship of the island with the US and the ambiguous definitions of what it means to be both Puerto Rican and an American citizen. Here is a succinct link provided by Wikipedia on the matter.

Point in matter, is that politicians exert much influence in the local politics scene. The majority of people in Puerto Rico don’t necessarily follow specific discourses, ideas or ‘real’ issues that politicians embody; more or less people just listen to what many of these people say and accept it as an informed truth, just because this person held (or holds) public office. In this case, some politicians are made out of almost everyone: from local council members, to city mayors, to senators and representatives some (depends on the body and the level of government) of these people in office are just regular Carlos and Carmen of the community. While this might be more true in city politics and a bit on legislative branches, a good chunk of the ‘high posts’ are still held by the elite. My problem with this dichotomy is that we then have ideologies espoused by the elite and engendered by the middle and lower class, even when those ideas don’t reflect their reality.

Of course, you see the local city and ‘non elite’ politicians defending these ideas as their own as if they responded to the reality of their constituents. “Wrong, he was so wrong”…(Mean Girls reference by the way). Opinions are then polarized so that they are aligned with one’s party as opposed to what is right or better.

I find myself in a difficult position in order to recommend a solution to this ‘conundrum’. Do I then believe in a government of the educated ‘elders’ or some sorts? Some sort of Jedi council? Wouldn’t I be replacing one elite with another?

Mind you, I thought this old draft of a post was relevant, seeing the recent attention that violent political rhetoric has gotten here in the US. Again, I’m not giving any answers, but some thoughts