• Cinco de Racist Pages



    Cinco de Mayo, a United States’ holiday more aligned with fake mustaches, serapes and drunken debauchery than historical fact commences today. Some believe it is Mexican Independence Day and others, less interested in history, at best patron local Mexican restaurants and at worst, host their own fiesta themed party supplied with pin the tail on the donkey and bottomless margaritas. However, leave it to City Pages to jump start the Mexican bashing early.


    1. The Bashing

    On Monday, May 2, City Pages published an online article, “Alondra Cano flunks city council 101” by Cory Zurowski. The heart of the piece quotes an anonymous city council member’s interpretation of Cano during a city council meeting on the twenty-year neighborhood park plan. Calling Cano “clueless” and “never paying attention,” the article ends with the anonymous council member stating, "We all know who she is. She's lazy. She's all about talking, not working hard."


                Photo Credit: Ryan Stopera 

    In 2013, Cano became the first Latinx elected to Minneapolis’ City Council. On a council of thirteen members, Cano is the only woman of color. She represents Ward-9, one of the most racially and economically diverse wards. Her election reflects a growing Latinx population in Minneapolis.[1] Throughout the entire state there are less than 20 women of color elected officials.



    The City Pages’ article cannot be dismissed simply as unethical journalism or a failure to enact proper Minnesota Nice etiquette. Racist and sexist language relies on coded undertones to bolster white supremacist heteropatriarchal agendas. Legal scholar Ian Haney-López (University of California, Berkeley) argues in Dog Whistle Politics (Oxford, 2014) employment of veiled racial appeals erodes the middle class by stimulating racial fear. In an interview Haney-López states, “They're [politicians] not necessarily bigots; that's the wrong imagery. I think we ought to call them strategic racists, and a strategic racist is someone who strategically, consciously, purposefully sets out to stoke racial anxiety in others for their own ends.”[2] Zurowski’s coded language adds to legions of anti-Mexican rhetoric, which has plagued our nation’s history.[3]

    1. Historical Anti-Mexican Rhetoric

    During the late nineteenth century well into the early twentieth century academic and socio-political narratives employed the term “the Mexican problem,” to justify the systemic inequities within education, housing, employment, and healthcare. The accounts, stemming from a legacy of biological determinism, insist Mexican culture inherently causes Mexican and Mexican Americans to have low intellect and a poor work ethic.


    In the United States, economic downturn historically causes anti-Mexican sentiments to rise. For example, during the Great Depression scarcity narratives erupted claiming that Mexicans were taking jobs and Mexican Americans were delinquent criminals. In a report to the U.S. Congress Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, Dr. Roy I. Garis of Vanderbilt University stated, “Their [Mexicans] minds run to nothing higher than animal functions-eat, sleep, and sexual debauchery. In every huddle of Mexican shacks one meets the same idleness, hordes of hungry dogs, and filthy children with faces plastered with flies, disease, lice, human filth, stench, promiscuous fornication, bastardy, lounging, apathetic peons and lazy squaws, beans and dried chili, liquor, general squalor, and envy and hatred of the gringo. These people sleep by day and prowl by night like coyotes.”[4]


    The “lazy Mexican” perhaps is the most widely known stereotype. It features a brown man in a serape and large sombrero sleeping against a cactus. This image first circulated among white U.S. travelers entering Mexico in the late nineteenth century. For example, in 1907, Nevin O. Winter wrote in Mexico and Her People of Today, "The Indians living in the hills took undisturbed position at night, and groups of tired Indios wrapped themselves in their sarapes [sic], or shawls, and stretched their tired limbs out in the cold stones; or propped themselves against the walls of a building to rest." Travel narratives, originally paternalistic but not explicitly racially coded, viewed Mexican Indigenous people as hard working under the Porfirio Díaz state. However, this image quickly shifted. Mexico invested in a national mestizaje project, which relegated Indigenous people to a mythic past and solidified the subjugation of Indigenous people. In the United States, the sleeping “lazy Mexican” image visually represented “the Mexican problem.”


    Post World War II, the image proliferated. Once welcomed as low-wage workers during the Bracero Program (established in 1942), Mexicans were now seen, once again, as a national threat. Policies such as Operation Wetback coupled with cultural caricatures devalued Mexican and Mexican Americans. Depicted in cartoons, Hollywood films, and cheap ceramic kitsch statues, the sleeping “lazy Mexican” reflected the ethnoracial oppression of the times.


    Today, the mockery and appropriation of Mexican and Chicanx culture persists, especially during Cinco de Mayo. City Pages perpetuates historical tropes camouflaging anti-Mexican hate under the guise of objective journalism. Doubled with the long tradition of dismissing women of color’s intellect and labor, City Pages renders Latinas, specifically Cano, as uneducated and lazy.



    1. Chicana/Latina Leadership in Minnesota


    In a political climate when university campuses across the nation experience high volumes of hate-speech chalked on walkways and violence ensues at Trump rallies, this type of dog whistle politics and fear-mongering journalism continues to conjure historical racist tropes.


    As a born and raised Minnesotan and Chicana resident in Ward 9, I observe first hand the continued divestment by local elected officials to advocate for communities of color and Native people. My support for City Council Member Cano is not tied to some shallow identity politics, an affinity solely because we are Latinas. I support her office for continuously working with residents to push forth racial justice policy. When I attend city council meetings I witness repeated dismissal of her leadership, which extends beyond healthy democratic debate. Her bravery to consistently speak out against environmental racism, sex trafficking, and gentrification requires a high level of sophistication and intellect. Too often women of color leadership in the Twin Cities is downplayed, erased, and discredited. The struggle to remain active, persist, and accomplish social change under white supremacist heteropatriarchy is a survival skill. ¡La lucha sigue!




    Jessica Lopez Lyman is a PhD Candidate in Chicana and Chicano Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara and an instructor in the Department of Chicano and Latino Studies at the University of Minnesota. Twitter @chstlopezlyman.


    [1] In 2010, Latinxs comprised over 10.5% of the total population and state-wide the Latinx population increased 75% between 2000 and 2010. The demographic shift matches national trends where regions across the United States have seen similar increases (U.S. Census 2010).

    [2] Haney-López, Ian. Interview. “Talking in Codes.” The Chicago Reporter. 44.1 (Winter 2015): 14-15.

    [3] Cary McWilliams. 1948. North from Mexico: The Spanish Speaking People of the United States. See “The Mexican Problem.”

    [4] Rudy Acuña. 1981. Occupied America. 2nd edition. New York: Harper and Row, 136.



  • Hunger Strike Against Police Brutality in SF


    In much the same way the killings of young black men have galvanized communities all over the country the killing of Alex Nieto has activated residents of San Francisco. Set against the increasingly gentrified tech haven 28 year old Alex Nieto was shot to death by San Francisco police officers. His body was riddled by their bullets.

    From a Guardian Article, "Death by gentrification: the killing that shamed San Francisco."

    Alex Nieto was 28 years old when he was killed, in the neighbourhood where he had spent his whole life. He died in a barrage of bullets fired at him by four San Francisco policemen. There are a few things about his death that everyone agrees on: he was in a hilltop park eating a burrito and tortilla chips, wearing the Taser he carried for his job as a bouncer at a nightclub, when someone called 911 on him a little after 7pm on the evening of 21 March 2014. When police officers arrived a few minutes later, they claim Nieto defiantly pointed the Taser at them, and that they mistook its red laser light for the laser sights of a gun, and shot him in self defence. However, the stories of the four officers contradict each other, and some of the evidence. 


    Hungers Strikers have been protesting for 3 days. As 48Hills Reports:

    “We are starving ourselves because the uncomfortableness we’re feeling is nothing like the feeling — and I bring myself back to when Alex Nieto took his last breath and was shot at 56 times, said hunger striker Edwin Lindo. So when I felt that hunger in my stomach I felt those bullets going through Alex and I said I can still sit here. I said, he can’t breath anymore but I can and there’s five others standing with us saying that they’re willing to stand and literally go hungry.”



    Strikes are demanding the resignation of Police Chief Suhr and the of indiscriminate shooting and killings of the residents of San Francisco.

    For more information you can follow their Facebook Page





  • Podcast with Arianna Nason

    Arianna Nason is a queer Anishinaabe person from Fond du Lac based in Minneapolis. Arianna is actively working against commercial sexual exploitation and making sure that there are safety nets in place for those that experience the previously stated. Additionally, Arianna is also a community organizer because all issues that affect the sovereignty and well-being of my people are tied in the liberation of others.




    Kill colonization


  • Dos Santos Comes to the Twin Cities On Saturday March 19th!


    One of Chicago's best bands is coming to Bedlam Lowertown on March 19th!


    "Dos Santos: Anti-Beat Orquesta rocks the sounds of popular pan-Latin American dance genres—from cumbia to salsa. Recently voted Chicago's Best Emerging Artist of 2015 by the Deli Magazine's Readers Poll, their gritty, grassroots approach captures the “golden age” of streamlined tight-knit ensembles that shook sweatbox dance floors with raw and fierce energy throughout Latin America in the 1970s and 80s—honest dance music with no frills and no fear, anchored by piercing guitars, garage organs, and spirited percussion.


    The group’s five members (Peter Vale, Alex Chavez, Daniel Villarreal-Carrillo, Jaime Garza, Nathan Karagianis) have their own storied careers in a diversity of styles—including jazz, R&B/soul, traditional Mexican folk, punk, cumbia, salsa, and electronica—in addition to a history of critical involvement in arts education and social justice organizing. Their visceral sound draws from this sonic, cultural, and political well of influence, and is guaranteed to make you move.

    After making their debut in May of 2013, Dos Santos has been steadily making the rounds at Chicago’s premiere live music venues and festivals. In March of 2015, they released their critically-acclaimed self-titled debut album Dos Santos and subsequently made appearances at SXSW, the Pachanga Latino Music Festival, and the Ruido Fest Latin Alternative Music Festival. Shortly thereafter, they hit the road on their ​"Corre Caballo Tour." 

    ​The band is currently working on an EP with producer Beto Martínez of Grammy Award-winning Grupo Fantasma to be released in 2016."

    Pre-SaleTickets can be purchased here for $8 dollars. At the door $12

  • 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 $20 (includes Now & Then CD)


    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.

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