News / Race

  • Our Culture is Our Resistance

     

     

    Dear fellow Latinx Peoples,


    In the media and in this country we are raised to be believe that all we are good for is to labor for white capitalists like Donald Trump. That we are "at risk communities" needing white intervention. That in order to be successful we have to strip away our heritage and consent to whiteness.


    But fuck that. We have fought the colonization of our lands and minds for over 500 years defending ourselves against every colonial empire thrust onto us by Europe. Our tradition and heritage is one of resistance and militant action. Our societies have produced complex languages and methods of expression that don't rely on the written word but instead on how we relate to one another in community, story and song.


    The work of our ante pasados produced the most radical constitution on the planet: the 1917 Mexican constitution, which guaranteed, ejido, collective land rights. (These rights were significantly weakened as the Mexican government prepared for the implementation of NAFTA)


    In the face of dictatorships we have produced song to express the beauty and the belief in our shared resistance.


    We are the children of fighters and our legacy asks us to endure in the belly of the beast, here in what is now so obviously, the most racist society on the planet. In this, let there be no doubt that the American dream rests on a vision built off the stolen  land of native peoples and the enslaved labor of black folks


    Our generation has made its own mark as we fight the oppressive religious structures of our parents to embrace our queer and trans community. We have the ability to be intersectional, to feed the promise of a worldview and application of our heritage with our own voice and spirit


    We have learned that words move mountains and our moments of solidarity can take on any empire and any delusional "leader." 


    To my non Latinx POC community ... sup... I love you very much and I love the fight we have formed together. There is beauty in our struggle but pain with every step and breath we take.


    Know that the one truth I hold is that our future is tied to an intersectional understanding of how we relate to one another and that white supremacy needs to be dismantled


    And know that the only warmth I find comfort in is the space we hold together in our tears and our hopes. Our shared love will carry me as we get beaten, arrested, targeted, and deported. In short made disposable by the state and its white supremacists


    I will rise and love with you or I will die trying.

     

    Filiberto Nolasco Gomez

    El Huateque

    #dumptrump2017

  • Podcast with Cuicani, a Los Angles Music Collective

     

    Cuicani is a singer-songwriter’s collective comprised of five Los Angeles based musicians. The music of Cuicani features the talented Mavens: Marlene Beltran Cuauhtin and Marisa Martinez, who provide rich vocals and harmonies along with Tony “Tone-Irie” Sauza on vocals and guitar. I spoke with Marlene, Marisa and Tony on a series of steps in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. 

     



    In their own words, "The word  “Cuicani” is a Nahuatl word that means “Singer.” We chose this name because we felt it evoked the importance of exercising one’s voice, and also of giving a voice to the voiceless. Established in 2012, Cuicani’s eclectic mix of members reflects the diversity of the city it calls home. In our three years together we have written and recorded over 15 original songs with themes such as: environmental justice, immigration rights, and protesting police brutality. "

     

    Not surprisingly I was drawn to their sound and mission.

     

     

    A release celebration will be held on the album’s launch day at Center for the Arts Eagle Rock. The community-focused event will include an art installation and workshop celebrating the home as imagined by Ofelia EsparzaRosanna EsparzaFelicia Montesand other notable Eastside artists, as well as a performance by Entre Mujeres as part of the screening of the mini-documentary on the making of the Entre Mujeres: Translocal Musical Dialogues album project by Professor Martha Gonzalez, front-woman of the GRAMMY® winning band Quetzal. Special guest band Quetzal performs followed by the headlining concert by Cuicani.

     
    Now & Then Album Release Celebration
    Friday, March 25th from 6:00 – 11:00 pm
    Center For The Arts Eagle Rock
    2225 Colorado Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90041
    Tickets $20http://www.ticketfly.com/event/1095225 (includes Now & Then CD)
    http://cfaer.org

     

    Now & Then is a 16-track double album that reflects Cuicani’s work in three distinct studio sessions, the first at Coney Island Studios with Grammy® winning percussionist/engineer Alberto Lopez (member of Quetzal and Jungle Fire), the second with Grammy® winning producer/musician Quetzal Flores (founder of Quetzal), and the last at 54 East Sound Studios with producer/songwriter London Parker McWhorterNow & Then also represents two phases of the band’s career—early work makes up the first half of the album titled “Then,” and the second disc includes the recently written “Now” tracks. The album takes you through a range of world, soul, Latin, and Afro-Caribbean sounds that include reggae, dancehall, cumbia, timba, son, rock, and blues. The songs circle around themes of cultural identity, struggle of the working class, empowering community, heartbreak, love, and unity, while maintaining an uplifting sound and flow.
  • The Battle for Chicano and Latino Studies

    The Battle for Chicano and Latino Studies:
    What a banner drop on Cinco De Mayo was really all about

     

    Born out of the struggles by Chicanos throughout the United States to set the terms of their identity, the University of Minnesota established the first Chicano Studies Department in the upper Midwest in the 1970s.  Following similar successful efforts on the West Coast, the epicenter of the burgeoning Chicano Movement, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities department blossomed following a sit in by student activists at the primarily administrative building Morrill Hall.

    While victorious in its inception, the Chicano and Latino Studies Department has never had more than 4 faculty members and normally only two--one senior faculty and one junior faculty, i.e. non-tenured. Faculty have come and gone, many citing the inhospitable environment for faculty and students of color at the University of Minnesota as a primary motivation for leaving. Last year, the University revealed that former Chair Louis Mendoza’s tenure track faculty line would not be replaced, leaving the department with one tenure track professor. Chicano leaders throughout the community interpreted this as an attempt to destabilize the department and set it on a track for closure. Students and other community members responded to this and other social justice related concerns on campus with a series of events throughout the academic year, eventually leading to a sit in at the President’s office by one particular group, Whose Diversity?.

     

    On a snowy Minnesota afternoon, at a faculty organized solidarity rally for support of the students arrested during the sit in, the only professor in the Chicano Latino Studies Department spoke. Assistant Professor Jimmy Patiño gave a speech to a crowd of well-layered protesters on the front steps of the University’s main administration building. He explained:

     

     

    “I am currently the only faculty member in the 40 year old department of Chicano and Latino Studies. I have been put in a situation where I must constantly think and rethink how this situation came to be and what my responsibilities are in doing something about it.  And the administration has given excuses as to how this occurred, has minimized the absurdity of such a situation, and even suggested that this department is somehow supposed to have only a few faculty members. With all the excuses, what I hear from the admin is that “we do not value what you have dedicated your life to do. We do not value this field of study and the community it takes as its central subject of knowledge creating.”

    With the former Chair Professor Mendoza’s departure, along with the University’s decision to not reinstate and rehire for his position, the department was put in an extremely tenuous. Not having a senior faculty member has limited the number of professors who teach classes and can complete other necessary administrative tasks. However, most crucially, this has left the department without a viable candidate to serve as chair--a (usually) tenured professor who oversees the department. Although this position is currently held by Professor Éden Torres, she is actually “on loan” from the department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies and her term is up next year after which she will go on sabbatical and then phased retirement.

    While the one hire from the University may “solve” the problem of who will chair the department after Torres, it does not solve the department's larger problems. In order to have a truly sustainable and thriving  department that lives up to the standards of excellence in academia, Chicano and Latino Studies requires a minimum of five faculty members. While a seemingly ambitious goal given the dire constraints of University funding, activists argue that this ask is nothing compared to peer Midwest institutions. For example, the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign's Latino Studies department has 12 faculty members; the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Chican@ and Latin@ Studies department has 13 faculty members; and the University of Michigan’s Latina/o department has 10 faculty members.

     

     

    Activists explained that this was the reason that early in the morning on “Cinco De Mayo,” an estimated 40 ft  banner that read “FUND CHICANO STUDIES.” with the hashtag “#onehireisnotenough” was dropped from the University of Minnesota’s Coffman Memorial Union’s balcony. This act of protest was designed to highlight the University of Minnesota’s systematic and detrimental underfunding of the Chicano and Latino Studies department.

    Activists chose to drop a banner as a response to the University administration’s lack of engagement with the community over the tenuous state of the department. Earlier this semester, a number of activists sent an email to President Kaler, Vice President Hanson, and CLA Dean Coleman asking them to attend a community meeting. Dean Coleman responded by stating that there had not only been enough discussion over the matter, but that in fact that the matter had been resolved. Coleman was referencing the opportunity granted to the Chicano Latino Studies Department to search for one senior faculty hire next year, a direct result of the Whose Diversity? sit in. Activists argue that one hire is simply not enough to stabilize the department.

    The activists’ demands, however, go beyond the department’s faculty hiring numbers. They also demand that the University reinstate funds so that the department can rehire its Outreach Coordinator at full-time status. The position has proven to be crucial to Chicano and Latino Studies, as this department and academic field was founded on an inextricable connection to those in the community. The department’s outreach coordinator maintains those community connections and helps them thrive. Furthermore, this position has been central to developing programs to recruit, retain, and sustain Chicano and Latino students at the University.

     

    - Filiberto Nolasco Gomez 

     

     

  • AN OPEN LETTER ON BLACKFACE AND BLACKNESS

    Minneapolis based Visual artist Junauda Alma Responds to a performer on stage using blackface. 

     

    I am up early as usual and I find myself listening to
    “Heaven is 10 Zillion Light Years Away” by King Stevie Wonder. I find my ass crying and dancing really hard. There was one lyric in particular that swiftly put me all up in my feelings. 

     

    Why must my color black make me a lesser man?

    About a week ago I was backstage at an event curated for performance artists, Culture Wars at Patrick’s Cabaret. I was getting ready when my sweetfriend/sis-star, Jayanthi called me out to see what was on stage. I look and see one of the other artists performing.
    In BLACKFACE and devil horns and butt ass naked, splashing fake blood, thoroughly into his ass and genitals and humping the ground and wiping his ass with black paper. It was confusing me.

     

    The BLACKFACE part of it.

     

    I walk back into the dressing room with Jayanthi and we talked about it. Da fuq? BLACKFACE? What were we going to do? And we didn’t know. Nobody else seemed disturbed but us. And we didn’t feel particularly brave or righteous, but we knew it was wrong and this was a disturbance to the love of Black people and respect to the ancestors. And we were about to do a piece on the healing space of sisterhood within white supremacy (how meta...). And then here go some BLACKFACE. We decided after reflection to call that shit out on stage. We started rehearsing sumthin...

     

    As part of the piece, I tell a story about feeling ugly in kindergarten because BLACKNESS (sweet, delicious, contemplatively divine and omnipotent BLACKNESS) was something I was taught to despise and misunderstand in me and in the world. After this I then said, “Then I grew up and became an artist. And got asked to be in the Culture Wars. And then here go some BLACKFACE.” Then Jayanthi and I looked at each other and said “Fucking BLACKFACE?” and stare at the audience for a little while. Then Jayanthi said “Are we giving it glory by mentioning it or staying silent? This is adding to my struggle.” Then we continued on with our piece.

     

    It burned me and Jayanthi’s hearts. We couldn’t stop talking about it for days and it was pissing us off that we were being preoccupied with this fellow artists’ work and he had no accountability to it. Since then we have talked to the curators, received what I believe to be heartfelt apologies for both allowing the work to be shown to an audience (twice) and even allowing images of it to be used for publicity, not recognizing the BLACKFACE as a fucking problem. Not noticing the BLACKFACE as noteworthy at all. Invisible. At the end of the day, we felt alone in calling out the BLACKFACE on the stage. Somehow no one involved seemed to have their heart up in it as much as we did and that hurt us.

     

    Someone showed me a Facebook post of the artist who performed in BLACKFACE and he was proud of himself and his mastubatory and boring (my opinion, maybe others were moved) artwork and additionally said “May Satan Bless her Heart” in reference to me for “offending” me. He categorized the work he did as “taking a risk.” Sigh... Okay. In 2015 when White and Armed AmeriKKKa is murderously struggling with seeing and loving Black people, BLACKFACE ain’t taking a risk. Sorry homie. White supremacy/fear is still psychically draining and killing Black people, even children, via the school systems, environmental racism, racism in hiring and pay, the prison system and with state-sponsored and vigilante gun violence. To name a few. Black Lives Matter. So being in BLACKFACE and saying it has something with being a risky artist falls flatly on the wrong side of history.

     

    It reifies the lies around BLACKNESS not being sacred and beautiful. And the church set this trend, when they made BLACKNESS seem like it had to do with craziness and evil and made Jesus look like a wholesome BeeGee. So devil horns in BLACKFACE...why? And for whom? Not for me. Who is art like that for? All the White people I saw staring back at us when Jayanthi and I said BLACKFACE out loud. Is that who that piece was for? I am really trying to understand. Actually, I am not...One of my sis-stars, another brilliant wild woman artist, who knows the BLACKFACE artist in the community, said if she was there she would have said, “Jaime?! Jaime!!!! Jaime, is that you? Get that shit off yo’ face!” The thought of her doing that makes me laugh and smile so hard. And wish someone would have done that.

     

    There is so much more to say and yet, I just want to go in my backyard and start working the earth for my garden. I love how the earth just got this spirit that reminds you of your truth and light, your sensuality and sweetness. Reminds you of your wholeness. A sis-star of mine, once told me when I was heartbroken to go panty-less with a big skirt and find a piece of the earth to sit down and get recharged and I must get back into that practice, now that it is warm enough. I am going to sit in the sun and recharge from the earth’s BLACKNESS and not fuss with this backwards, crazy shit anymore

     

     

  • Chipsterlife One Year Later

     

    Gente,

    This project has been live for slightly over a year and was conceived a little over a year and half ago in separate but related conversations with Claudia Magaña, my sort of brother Jose Anguiano and my bro in law Jesus Estrada. At the time we concluded there really isn't a website devoted to the cultural and social aspects of the latino experience with a consistently progressive voice and lens of analysis. We noted the pathbreaking work of Latino Rebels and wanted to complement the voice they offer by focusing on music and longer form writing with a bias towards the pacific coast and of course a view from my unexpected home in Minneapolis. 

    I didn't really know what I was doing when I started this. I mostly just followed my intuition about what I thought was interesting and what was missing among conversations within the latino social media space. In reality the whole concept was based around a podcast series I was tinkering with while employed in my first gig in Minneapolis, (I have since moved on to my fourth job here and I expect this one will stick!). I had been running a speaker series that know one showed up to and I was getting frustrated expending so much energy getting folks to do something they clearly had no interest in. So it made sense to record the conversation with the guests and stream it over the internet. I interviewed folks with the intention of connecting their conversation to national narratives. Moving into podcasts energized me and once I left that job I wanted to continue the podcast realizing that I would no longer be limited by the restrictions of a politically tentative non-profit. I loved how the podcasts connected me to communities and individuals my social anxiety restrict me from and how I formed strong relationships with my guests. It was and is great! 

     

    I have been fascinated with how the site has developed, how people have responded to it and the community that has formed through it. I have met amazing people and have made a lot of good friends, not the least of which has been the fellas of Chicano Batman that embraced my project and have made themselves available over and over again culminating in an epic benefit show for Unaccompanied Minors in Oakland, California.The second event that really alerted me to the possibilities of what the website could be was the hoopla surrounding that dam Santa Barbara News-Press front page! When I got an email from one of my twitter buddies and advocates Jeronimo Saldana about my name and campaign mentioned in Cosmopolitan I was blown away, and mostly confused.

     

    What lands and what people put energy around is never all that consistent. I tried doing a Buzzfeed style "12 Chihuahuas of Christmas" having found a bunch of  Chihuahuas in Santa outfits. It fell flat and taught me a strong lesson abut my audience and how much I need to stick to my vision. The lesson? Clearly my audience had gotten used to the mostly dour and raw articles that I post with something to chuckle at every so often! 

    In the about section you can read about the inspiration for the website, how the vision and direction is inspired by the memory of my father, the consummate humble story teller. I crafted the site as a way to grieve his loss and commemorate his life. I do hope I have honored his memory and to you the reader I hope I have conveyed his rhythm and impact on me. I love my father very much and feel his presence in the words that I right and the chuckles in the podcast.

    So a couple of admissions. I have never liked the term Chipsterlife. In the early stages of brainstorming my crew and I came up with a bunch of names that didn't make sense or where unavailable in domain name form. The term itself came on my radar when it was used to describe me at some point by my buddy Jeanalee Obergfell and I thought it was a funny term. Sometimes folks really get worked up about the term and I generally agree with them, however, its meant to be a joke NOT to be taken seriously. Tongue in cheek homies!

    Ok on to the warm and fuzzy. So man many thanks! Certainly, one of the unexpected surprises is the mentorship and support Julio from Latino Rebels has offered. His constant retweets and enthusiasm for my project was very affirming in moments of uncertainty. At a time when I was doubting the whole project Daniella Ortiz-Padilla briskly stepped into my life and we penned what remains the most popular thing produced on the site, Gentrifications Storefront. My nameless buddy who alerted me to some f-ed up stuff and what became two posts that would be the basis for a hilarious lawsuit threat. Marco Hyman is diligently fixing up the store, in the process of replacing the crappy photos I took of the otherwise marvelous products. My photos did them a grave injustice. Speaking of products Rochelle, Ebelyn and Trama Textiles have been wonderful vendors. Patty Delgado has graciously allowed me to repost her awesome content. Chhoti Maa is awesome! Taylor Shevey inspired one of my most revealing posts. The twitter crew who taught me how that business works Victor Sanchez and Jeronimo Saldana. As I mentioned before Chicano Batman has given this project mad love and has anchored my foray into music and the arts. Franco Funktion has been my favorite and most popular podcast and also represents my first foray into music sales. Franco's all I want is to be invited to your thanksgiving dinners or any other family gathering! Lastly and most recently look out for new products with my emerging business partner and co-worker Liz Engels.

    Of course mad love always goes to the fam bam for putting up with my unabated restlessness and humoring my incessant brainstorming. Look I actually did put this together! 

    Thank you readers, likers, retweeters and folks that share. Keep reading and enjoying and feel free to suggest and write up some stuff! I will always post things from collaborators. 

     Con Amor

    Filiberto Nolasco Gomez

     PS I am a now a Mexican Citizen!

     

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