Monday, April 30, 2012

Testimonio de mis padres/ My parents story of youth and justice

I ve thought of writing this blog since the beginning of semester but was at a loss for words to describe the story of my parents which is testimony  to the enormous power and resiliency of the human spirit to survive adversity. My mother, Guadalupe Chavarria, was born in Guadalupe, Arizona to my grandmother Martha Chavarria. Martha Chavarria, my grandmother, was the first daughter to Paulina Trevino.  Paulina Trevino was a human trafficking victim as a teen girl. She was forced to migrate to the United States. She was murdered by her trafficker/husband when my grandmother was five years old.  My grandparents migrated from South Texas to Guadalupe Arizona.  My grandparents worked as migrant laborers in the fields. As children my parents followed the crops with their parents and or older siblings. They picked potatoes in Idaho, cotton in Arizona, strawberries in California. My mother and grandmother also took in laundry and sewing  for extra work. My mother recalls her family going without food and electricity. When i was a child my grandmother still had an outhouse toilet and shower separate from the home. When i was born my mother was a seamstress in a local factory.  My father was still working in the fields. Under these conditions my parents did not have many opportunities to further their education.  When they did go to school they  have recollections of being punished in school for speaking spanish. Thus they decided it would be best for their children to master the English language. My parents worked from sunrise to sunset to provide thier children with a private school catholic education. My father recalls a story of driving to the fields with other workers. He states that one day the driver was sick and got into a car accident. The truck tipped over and several migrant children riding in the back went flying out of the truck. He also recalls several incidents where the farmers would not pay the workers and children were rarely paid.  My parents siblings became sick from the pesticides being sprayed in the fields while the families worked. Bonnie Thorton Dill and Maxinne Baca Zinn found that women of color and their families have had to endure tremendous hardship which often times dismembered the family. Men have had to leave to find work. In response both to extremely low wages paid to Chicano laborers and to the preferences of employers who see family labor as a way of stabilizing the work force. For Chicanos, engaging all family members in agricultural work was a means of increasing their earnings to a level close to substinence for the entire group  and of  keeping the family unit together.  Bonnie Thorton Dill wrote that in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries little attention was given to family and community life of racial ethnic families except how it related to thier economic productivity.  Labor, and not the existence or maintenance of families was the critical aspect of thier role in building the nation. Thus, they were denied the social structural supports necessary to make their families a vital element in the social order. The lack of social, legal, and economic support for racial-ethnic families intensified aand extended women's reproductive labor, created tensions and strains in family relationships, and set the stage for a variety of creative and adaptive forms of resistance.  One study has estimated that about 32 percent of all recorded slave marriages were disrupted by sale, about 45 percen by death of a spouse, about 10 percent by choice and only 13 percent were not disrupted.  African American slaves thus quickly learned that they had a limited degree of control over the formation and maintenance of their marriages and could not be assured of keeping thier children with them. Baca Zinn stated, " The threat of disruption from lack of social, legal and economic support for the family life of people of color continues to be the most direct and pervasive assaults on families." When i think of all that my family members endured i know that my seat in the rooms of academia is a direct result of their blood, sweat, tears and struggle for a better life for their future generations.

Bonnie Thorton Dill, Baca Zinn Maxinne. Women in U.S. Society.Temple University Press, 1994.

Monday, April 23, 2012

International Mariachi Conference and Youth Showcase this weekend here!!

I am so excited i absolutely had to post this blog. I am actually a tex mex gal myself having grown up with a father who was once an accordian musician and grandparents from South Texas. However, after having lived in Tucson i fell in love with Mariachis. i thought the cutest kids were the full attired mariachi and i wanted my kid to be a mariachi.  Every year the International Mariachi conference is held in April. You haven't missed it. Just in time for end of school this weekend. Rooted in Jalisco,  Mexico mariachi music has become associated worldwide with Mexican culture. In the 1950's little attention was given to Mexican folkloric dances in Mexico.  In 1962 Amelia Hernandez took first place in a world folkloric dance competition in Paris,France. This event created a national wave in folkloric dance. Years have passed and Mariachi music and Folklorico dance has gained wide recognition.  The Tucson International Mariachi conference has become nationally and internationally recognized as the leading proponent of the mariachi tradition anywhere in the world. Imagine all this in our own backyard! Leaders of the conference state that the effects of the Tucson International mariachi conference have been profound and widespread. Yet, nowhere are they more deeply felt than in Tucsons' up and coming generations. Which leads me to what does this have to do with youth and justice. Researchers are just now recognizing that fostering traditions and ethnic identity assist youth of color in buffering the effects of discrimination and risky behaviors.  Romero did a study in youth as young as eleven. In this study she found that ethnic identity buffered the negative effects of discrimination on self esteem among Black, Latina/o and Asian American adolescents.  Ethnic identity affirmation was found to be a resource and coping skill.

Not to mention that music as art form has been shown to be therapeutic in nature. i guess this is why youth walk around with earphones and ipods. The ipod has become an extension of thier ears. 
Every year more than 1000 students from all over the country come to Tucson to learn from the Masters-some of the best performers in the world. Workshops are given in four different levels with a minimum age 10 grade four. After two and half days the students perform at the showcase on thursday or are invited to perform with the Masters on Friday and Saturday.

You cannot miss this rich cultural tradition and agency in building youth resiliency. It is so much fun. Don't worry, you do not have to Mexican to attend. It is similar to eating tacos and margaritas for cinco de mayo. All can partake and enjoy this treasure. Hope to see you there. I have tickets for the lawn section at the Spectacular show for Friday night. Afterwards we can go to South Tucson for the best mexican food in Arizona. You can get your ticket at Casino Del Sol online. I do not work for the mariachi conference. I just love sharing my rich culture and traditions.

Romero, Andrea, Edwards M. Lisa. Coping with Discrimination Among Mexican Descent Adolescents. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences. vol.30. Feb. 2008. 24-29 Sage Publications. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Black Panthers: Policing the police

The Black Panther Party was started as part of the civil rights movement in Oakland, California.  Although the party started in colleges it quickly emerged as a youth movement and reaction to policing of youth in Oakland. As we read in Rios' book policing of youth is not a current trend. What most interested me about the Black Panther movement is the agency of the youth. Out of community concerns grew this political consciousness and activist work.  For example, in the ghettos of Oakland there existed an intersection which needed a traffic light due to the fatality of numerous youth attempting to cross the street. Members of the Panther organizations, Newton and Seale, had tried numerous times to advocate with the city to put up a stop sign.  After failed attempts to have their voices heard they took it upon themselves to  start directing traffic at this dangerous crossroads. Their strategy worked because shortly thereafter the city installed a signal.  The Panthers also followed the police with law books in hand to document any brutality. Before the Panthers started several of the leaders had themselves spent time in juvenile corrections. Ironically during their time in corrections they studied Martin Luther King and Malcom X thus setting the stage for the movement. There existed a saying among black youth that stated, "There are only three ways a black man can get an education:college, prison and military." I find it fascinating that they used their time in corrections to exercise agency and create an  ideology and vision of their future resistance. In David Hilliards autobiography he writes about one of the Panthers stating, " Eldridge inspired me on a personal level,....He was left to destroy himself in a prison cage, Instead he has mastered language and made the entire sociey listen to him."  In 1966 the Black Panther Party created a platform and program that listed a ten point plan. They stated they wanted freedom and the power to determine their destiny. We want employment for our people.  We want an end to the robbery of Black communities.  They further stated that forty acres and two mules was promised them 100 years ago as resititution for slave labor and mass murder of black people.  We want decent housing fit for human beings and education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches our true history and our role in the present day society. We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of black people. I find it sad that this was the plan some forty years ago, before I was even born! Yet, here we are history repeating itself with the policing and  killing of an innocent black youth in Florida, Trayvon Martin.

Murch, Donna Jean. Living For The City:Migration, Education, and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California.The University of North Carolina Press,2010.