Saturday, December 8, 2012

Learning and Teaching About HIV and AIDS: Video Resources for World AIDS Day

cross posted from my RH RealityCheck column

December 1st is World AIDS Day. There are many resources and media educators can use in the classroom to draw attention to and teach about HIV and AIDS. Often I’ve noticed that educators use forms of media and activities that honor those who have died of complications of AIDS, focus on rates of HIV infection worldwide, and are only discussed for one day or week. Forgotten are those who are living positive with HIV, especially youth, honest discussions about transmission and treatment of HIV and AIDS, and on how the ideas of young people can be used to raise awareness and educate others in an inter-generational way.

In the past I’ve shared some resources I’ve found useful for educational and community space for World AIDS Day and for discussions about living positive and remaining HIV negative. These include suggestions for National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day March 10th, how I approach and discuss conspiracy theories around HIV with students who bring them up, the myths and messages youth have around HIV and AIDS,  interview with Miss Kings County 2011 whose platform was “de-stigmatizing getting tested for HIV,” a history of HIV and AIDS media messages, and examples of how I teach and discuss HIV and AIDS in a human sexuality class.

One of the first things I hope we as educators remember is that although there is one day worldwide we focus on HIV and AIDS; these are conversations that must occur year round. The most comprehensive film about the history of HIV and AIDS in the US and internationally is the PBS Frontline documentary Age of AIDS. The full program is online  and over 3 hours long. Often I have students watch the first hour and a half at home as homework and then watch the last hour to get an idea of how the views of HIV and AIDS emerged and have shifted today. Below are a few sources of media that may be useful for educators and those working with youth or planning interactive programs for HIV and AIDS in general and for World AIDS Day.

“I’m Positive” Documentary
This year MTV has partnered with The Kaiser Family Foundation, Octagon Entertainment, and DrDrew Productions to present the documentary “I’m Positive” focusing on three young people living positive and will air on World AIDS Day. If the communities you are working with have access to cable or the internet, it may be a good idea to mention this documentary and ask them to watch. I’m not a huge fan of Dr. Drew’s work with youth, but believe there may be a lot of useful discussions we can have with viewers pre-and post-watching the documentary. I have no doubt that MTV will have this documentary on their website within 24 hours of it being aired and that it will air more than once. 

Sero is a non-profit human rights organization that centers people living positive. Their mission includes “promoting the empowerment of people with HIV, combating HIV-related stigma and advocating for sound public health and HIV prevention policies based on science and epidemiology rather than ignorance and fear.  Sero is particularly focused on ending inappropriate criminal prosecutions of people with HIV for non-disclosure of their HIV status, potential or perceived HIV exposure or HIV transmission.”

Sero has created an online library of video testimonies of people living positive. These videos go well with The Body’s publication by writer Dave R. “Crime and Punishment: An International HIV Disclosure Dilemma.”  Dave R. follows and reports on some of the cases occurring worldwide around HIV disclosure. Below is the story of Monique Moree, an Army veteran who was prosecuted for non-disclosure. 

TeachAIDS HIV/AIDS Prevention Tutorial 
TeachAIDS is a project at Stanford University focusing on creating interactive approaches to educating folks on HIV and AIDS. The have a strong library of videos on their YouTube channel with videos on Mandarin,  Swahili,  Kinyarwada,  Hindi,  Telugu, and Spanish. Below is a cartoon style clip featuring Southeast Asian communities. The video also has built in subtitles in English. I appreciate their representations, especially of the white blood cells as soldiers. This is one way I explain to youth what white blood cells do and how they keep us healthy. If you only have a hour long session and want to get good information into your time with students, this video covers all of the HIV 101 needs.

I’m one of those educators who believes it’s important to discuss HIV and other aspects of our bodies and sexuality with youth in age appropriate and honest ways throughout our lives. As a result, I loved when the online teaching site BrainPop created a short video for HIV. They have a full space devoted to health topics and one of their free videos each year for World AIDS Day is on HIV. They also feature BrainPop Jr. for grades K-3 and BrainPop en español. If your school or space does not have the funds to subscribe to BrainPop they offer a free 3 day trial offer where you an explore the site and watch the films and take the short quizzes offered.

Finally, encouraging youth to find locations to get tested now has an app! The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created the HIV/AIDS Prevention & Service Provider Locator which can be used as an app or on other mobile devices. I admit I was very surprised when I used the locator for my area and discovered there were NO testing locations in my community, which is also the community where I teach. Although there were several testing areas in other communities near my neighborhood, they were all over several miles away. I wonder what does this mean for the youth and students I work with on a daily basis who want to know their HIV status and need testing services.
To remind those of us who remember a time when HIV and AIDS were not widely known about that we are living in the future, researchers re also looking to create an app that can test for HIV via a cell phone. These approaches to using media, popular culture, technology, and medicine to test for HIV can have an impact on youth today. I’m sure they would have a lot to say about if this would work for informing partners, communicating with a partner, and issues of hacking. 

What are some of the sources you use in the classroom or with your community? If you’ve used any of these what have been the reactions? Here’s to supporting one another as educators. If your students and faculty haven’t told you that you are appreciated I want you to know I appreciate all the work and education that is being done worldwide.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Latino Sexuality Holiday Gift Guide

It's been a while since I've done a Holiday Guide! Perhaps in sharing this I'm ruining the surprise for those who are receiving gifts from me this year! Oh well. As someone on a budget and who really loves to give gifts (homemade and otherwise) I love to share budget-friendly gifts.

Now, when I say "budget friendly" I mean for budgets like me, for folks who make under 20k a year (I make about 19k a year, but this year made less because of not having many speaking gigs. If you want to know how to get me to  your organization, school, or space drop me a comment or note!). As a result, my gift giving is very modest yet fabulous! I've given myself a budget of $20 for family and close friend with $10 wiggly room depending on the gift and if I can give one gift for a group of people/couple vs. individual gifts.

There are a TON of lists on the interwebs with some great ideas. I want to be clear that this list is NOT going to center donating to certain charities. That's because my family and friends are often the recipients of those charitible services and if I have the ability I'm going to give them something I know they want and will make them feel seen. Some may not agree with this approach, but for me and my working class homies, it means something when your homie remembers that one thing you said you loved passing by earlier this summer and  you made sure you got them it because you love them.

Here are some of my favorites I'm giving this year:

ELF Nail Polish Cube $10
Now, $10 for 14 nail polishes is my kind of gift! Either give this as one gift to one person, or split them up and get some small baskets or gift bags and give 2 or more colors to a group of people who are into painting their nails! I've done both of these in the past when it comes to gift packs like this and it's worked great! I can also go to the dollar stores and find fun baskets, foot soaks, cotton balls, and the like to include for a fun and festive basket. ELF is also sold at Target for the same cost as online ($1-$3 for most items). I really dig their brushes and fun nail care gift sets too! Use code CS1030 to get $5 off your order.

Corkcicle $25
I'm getting this for almost all the adults in my life who drink wine! It's a great gift for dinner parties or folks who are wine afficinados. I'm getting one for my cornpops and his wife, my homegirl, and aunt and uncle and that's all they are getting (my cornpops will get a few other items). I like that this company is small and offers one cent shipping on orders over $50.

I've often said writing letters is a dying art form. I enjoy sending love letters in the mail.  But, even if I don't have time for that, there's always something I have to mail: a payment, postcard, birthday or other card. And with the cost of stamps increasing, gifting a book of stamps is a great option. The Latin Legends are forever stamps (meaning no longer how much more the cost of stamps increases they will still be good). This year's new images I think are beautiful are Earthscapes, Major League Baseball All Stars, Innovative Choreographers, and Love stamps.

Now, this is one of the ONLY reasons I even leave my home to go to the Rite Aid or CVS in my community on "Black Friday": to get name brand candy. I'm talking ghiradelli and Ferrero Rocher candy which is usually around $6-$10 depending on the item. On Black Friday they are at least 50% off.

These Old Navy Tech-Tip Gloves are everything! I got a pricey name brand pair last year from family, but these from Old Navy are less than $20.  They also have them in Black in men's sizes too.

Best Buy has one of the best selections for movies under $4. For example, Do The Right Thing is always a good buy. They also have packs of 3 or 4 films based on themes like this Romantic Comedy bundle (which I have one homegirl who would appreciate all of these) for $2 and all the Harry Potter films under $4 each. Others under $4 include Colombiana, The Boondock Saints, and the Twilight series. They also have seasons for various TV shows for under $8 such as Nurse Jackie and Bones.

Kitschy Finds
Like this capsule pill container which I have one of my own and carry with me all the time for under $5. Rubik's Cubes are always good for the person who loves games, brainteasers, and the like. Temporary Lip Tattoos look like so much fun and now that they are half off at Sephora I'm getting one for myself and the femmes in my life and are on sale for $7! The Jack Black Comfort & Joy Shave & Lip Duo has been a hit with my boy cousins each year and is on sale for $10 (originally $15). Finally, my nephew is getting this mustchifier!

Thrift Store Finds

So far I've found a brand new in original packaging Pier 1 Imports candle set in a gorgeous red color for less than $4 and I'm gifting this to a homegirl of mine. I also found a perfect condition book of Women Who Run With Wolves to give to my mentee this year.  Also found was a new with tags 3 piece outfit of an orange vest, plaid shirt and khaki's for my nephew who looks so good in orange!

I'm getting these sunglasses for one of my homegirls who is so fashion forward and can pull them off! They are less than $6 at Forever21.

If you have children in your life you may like to read over my list of books featuring same gender families and families of Color specifically. I've gotten many of these for my nephew but I'll probably get him another that I have yet to find. This year he's also getting La Historia De Los Colores/The Story of Colors by Subcommandante Marcos of the Zapatistas. It was on the list I wrote but I didn't get access to the book until after I joined in an attempt to get books for free that I know loved ones will want. This has saved a TON of money for me and is how I got La Historia De Los Colores for free too!

Wikipedia Pages!
I tried to set one up for my cornpops a while ago but didn't know how to do it properly or have citations so they were not confirmed. This year I'm knowing what I'm doing and I'm going to make a wikipedia entry for the folks I know and love who are doing amazing things! This is a free gift, however it does require knowledge of how to use and post on Wikipedia and internet connection and computer. If you have access to a public library you can get this done there too.

I've been updating my personal pages (go check them out and tell me what you think). If you don't know already, it's pretty affordable to purchase a web address. Often connecting these to a wordpress or other free theme can result in a great website for someone in your life who is doing amazing work or needs the publicity.

Some of my favorite discount websites to visit include:

  • (where I get my cornpops favorite colonge in a gift set that lasts him each year)
  • for kitschy items

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 29: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 29 – Are Latinos Black?

Yes. I believe Latin@s can identify as an racial classification. If you disagree think about allllllll the anti-Black racism Latin@s support, uphold, reinforce, encourage, promote, and pick up anew each day.

Think about how often we are discussed when folks talk about Latin@s. How many of the Latin@ events and publications at your school for Latin@ Heritage Month discussed us? We were included throughout or just featured for one event?

How do you see lighter-skinned Latin@s standing in solidarity with us, with mestiz@s too because there’s also a ton of anti-Indio and anti-Mestiz@ isms in our communities. How may you as a lighter-skinned Latin@ challenge the anti-Black and anti-Mestiz@ racism in the community when you witness it and participate?

Do you have “connections” with publications and media outlets that need to feature the work being done by the amazing LatiNegr@s Project crew? Perhaps now is a good time to stand in solidarity.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Day 28: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 28 – Are Latinos Queer?
This question is timely as it falls on National Coming Out Day. Of course there are queer communities in our societies and all over the world. They existed long before the US was formed, long before borders were constructed, exploration and conquest. They have always existed and this is what I believe. 
We have always existed. We are not some “new” manifestation. 
What may be new is the language we use to speak about our experiences. Or the ways in which we choose to engage with one another, share our victories, and celebrate our culture or create media. The oppression we experience is not new either. Much at the hands of our own community members. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day 27: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 27 – Favorite Latino Author
I dont know. I do know who I don’t sweat or love, and those are considered “unpopular” b/c so many folks love and adore them. I can have a list from the top of my head and LatiNegras would start it such as:
Mayra Santos-Febres
Erika Lopez
Sofia Quintero aka Black Artemis
Aida Hurtado
Sandra Cisneros
Piri Thomas
Larry La Fountain Stokes
Charles Rice-Gonzalez
Miguel Piñero
These are just a few but they are the folks that I also use when I teach. I’ve had Sofia’s books be required texts in my classes focusing on gender, race, class, women, art, etc. Mayra Santos-Febres has an amazing erotic story called Fe en disfraz/Faith in Disguise

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What Does Dr. Oz Know About HPV? If His Show Is Any Indication, Not Much

published on my RH Reality Check Blog

Last month, which was Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month, I was invited to participate on a segment of The Dr. Oz Show, focusing on HPV and cervical cancer. I was encouraged to share my story as someone who recently had been diagnosed with cancerous cells on my cervix. Though uninsured, I had received treatment over the previous two months.

When the show airs on October 11th, you will notice the following false assumptions or claims:

False Assumption: HPV and Cervical Cancer Affect Only Racially White Women

Everyone on the show was racially white, including those with HPV; the two physicians; Mark Hefti who'd made a film about HPV; and the man who discussed the death of his daughter from cervical cancer. This is what I mean when I write that white supremacy exists in the sexuality and medical field. In the end, I did not share my experience, but there were at least five women of Color—half of them survivors of cervical cancer and activists—who could have spoken on the show.

The fact is, HPV affects all people. Henrietta Lacks, a Black woman, died of cervical cancer in 1951. Her cells were taken from her body without permission when she was found to have cervical cancer. They were the first "immortal" cells used in scientific research. Given this, how can Dr. Oz fail to represent people who are not racially white? It's true that cancer is the leading cause of death among racially white people. But the CDC Office of Minority Health ranks deaths by various forms of cancer as the second-leading cause of death among Black people in the United States, especially breast and cervical cancer among Black women. Cancer is the second-leading cause of death among multicultural populations and Native Americans. It is the leading cause of death among Asians living in the United States (Vietnamese women have the highest rates of cervical cancer.) It is the leading cause of death among Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders, and among Latin@s.

False Assumption: HPV and Cervical Cancer Concern Only Heterosexual People

The physicians' discussion of how dental dams work could have been an amazing opportunity to share important information. But Dr. Oz reacted in disgust, asking the audience, “Who would use a dental dam?” Meanwhile, many folks in the audience may have just been introduced to this barrier method. One physician remarked, “If it was between using a dental dam or not having sex, I’d choose not to have sex.” Talk about isolating folks—especially lesbian, gay, and bisexual women—who are using dental dams!

HPV and cervical cancer do not discriminate. The American Cancer Society offers  information for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual women. The CDC's Cervical Cancer Screening and HPV pages mention sexual orientation. Its Genital HPV Infection page states, “HPV can be passed on between straight and same-sex partners—even when the infected partner has no signs or symptoms.”

However, there is no mention of dental dams as barrier methods on the HPV sites for the CDC, American Social Health Association, or The National Coalition of STD Directors. While condoms are discussed on all sites, physicians, “experts,” and organizations training and doing research on HPV do not address dental dams.

False Claim: People Should Not Have Sex Until Age 21

In what kind of world does an “expert” physician advocate that folks should not have sex until after they are 21 years of age? Regardless of personal beliefs around sex and sexuality, most agree that a physician making such claims is out of touch with the reality of young people's lives. 

Nowhere on the CDC's Genital HPV Infection fact sheet is there an argument for waiting until a magical age to engage in sexual activity. There is information about limiting partners, but not an age requirement. The CDC states:

People can also lower their chances of getting HPV by being in a faithful relationship with one partner; limiting their number of sex partners; and choosing a partner who has had no or few prior sex partners. But even people with only one lifetime sex partner can get HPV. And it may not be possible to determine if a partner who has been sexually active in the past is currently infected. That's why the only sure way to prevent HPV is to avoid all sexual activity.

Still, the CDC's use of the word "faithful" is troubling because it assumes that monogomy—which is often a religious stricture—is the norm. Nevertheless, many of the survivors I spoke with at the taping had been partnered in monogamous relationships for decades, and some were pregnant when they were diagnosed with HPV, and later, cervical cancer.

False Claim: There’s No Treatment for HPV or Cervical Cancer, Just an Unreliable Vaccine

While there was no discussion of how precancerous cells or cervical, vulvar, or throat cancers are treated—and highly effective treatments are available—the HPV vaccine—which prevents the spread of HPV—was addressed. Dr. Oz announced that one expert on the show had accepted money from the pharmaceutical companies who are creating vaccinations. Nevertheless, the expert said that she would not encourage parents to consider the vaccine, especially for youth under the age of 15. The claim? We just don’t know the effects of the vaccine or how long it stays in the body. This is simply not true. What about giving folks all the information, so they can decide on their own what is best for their family and children? Women in the audience who had been diagnosed with cervical cancer in their early 20s may have supported the vaccine.

This expert mentioned that her gay son had asked her to give him the vaccine. Even after they'd discussed its long-term effects, her son chose the vaccine, something the CDC recommends: “The vaccine is also recommended for gay and bisexual men (or any man who has sex with men) and men with compromised immune systems (including HIV) through age 26, if they did not get fully vaccinated when they were younger.”

The CDC also recommends the vaccine for girls ages 11 and 12:

For the HPV vaccine to work best, it is very important for preteens to get all 3 doses (shots) long before any sexual activity with another person begins. It is possible to be infected with HPV the very first time they have sexual contact with another person. Also, the vaccine produces a higher antibody that fights infection when given at this age compared to older ages.

One caveat: The CDC's recommendation that the vaccine be given “long before any sexual activity with another person begins” ignores youth who may have been sexually assaulted, molested, or raped.

What about side effects? One expert on the show mentioned only that redness or swelling could occur at the site of the injection, while the CDC indicates that fever, fainting, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and muscle or joint pain could also occur.

There was a good discussion about anal cancer. One expert said that you do not have to engage in anal sex to be at risk for anal cancer via HPV infection, and HPV may lead to various forms of cancers based on the strain. I don’t recall any mention of Gardisil being useful for preventing anal cancer, but the CDC reports:

One vaccine (Gardasil) protects against most anal cancers. There is no routinely recommended screening test for anal or penile cancer because more information is still needed to find out if such tests can be effective. There are no data on efficacy of the vaccine to prevent cancers of the penis, but most HPV-related cancers of the penis are caused by the HPV types prevented by the vaccines.

False Assumption: Only Folks Who Have Access to Doctors and OB/GYNs Need Worry About HPV

Many people do not get regular Pap tests and HPV tests because they can’t get to the doctor or don’t have insurance or money to afford a visit. When I shared this point with the person soliciting folks to ask questions on the show, the young woman stared at me and then asked someone else for her thoughts.

A nurse, who was racially white and selected to speak on the show, said, “HPV can happen to anybody, not just the poor.” Since when do only poor people contract or transmit HPV? This remark perpetuates the idea that white people are not poor because they have whiteness to fall back on as a safety net.

False Assumption: Transgender People Don’t Exist

Language is important. The participants used the term “female” and “woman” when discussing HPV and genitalia, which excludes transgender people. The CDC has a link called transgender persons that includes a list of organizations focusing on transgender health. The American Social Health Association has a page called transgender health that notes providers should be open, respectful, and accepting of one’s “sexuality.” But using "sexuality" when "gender" is meant over-sexualizes transgender people. And when the CDC uses “women,” it may mean only people whose sex assigned at birth was “female.”

False Claim: Dr. Oz Makes a Case Against Oral Sex

Dr Oz said that you could make a "case against oral sex." This remark does not recognize that oral sex is enjoyable or may be the only form of affection for someone who has a disability, illness, discomfort with his or her body, or a desire to avoid pregnancy.

False Assumption: There Is No Support for Survivors

The panelists did not discuss support for survivors. But there are many support networks, especially for survivors of cervical cancer, such as Tamika & Friends, Inc., an international organization I helped co-found years ago. It not only offers support to those living with cervical cancer, but also to their caregivers. It focuses on eliminating cervical cancer through HPV education. Its members are activists of Color and cervical-cancer survivors. The National Cervical Cancer Coalition offers an online support network. The Cancer Survivorship Coaching Coalition is specifically for folks working with and caring for those living with cancer. Navigating Cancer Survivorship is a national organization providing support to folks living with cancer and those caring for them, including medical providers. Stupid Cancer, I'm Too Young For This Foundation i[2]y is especially for youth and young adults living with and affected by cancer.

Dr. Oz's staff and chosen guests were out of touch. One thing Dr. Oz does do well is make medical terminology accessible, but the guest physicians used terms and language that were difficult to follow.

Staff members who recorded lines that were used in a montage wanted folks to "act." Lines included “I’m so angry” and “I was so scared.” While one woman said she did not want to read the "scared" line because she did not want to discourage folks from getting tested, other women were happy to do whatever they were directed to do. 

After the taping, I received a call from the same woman who'd heard me discuss my insurance experience and dismissed me. She asked if I had come to the show. When I told her I had, she apologized for not introducing herself. At six feet tall with fierce hair, I’m pretty hard to miss!

Day 26: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 26 – Favorite Latino Actor or Actress

Hmm, I'm feeling Wanda De Jesus these days b/c I've been wondering if I should stick out watching Sons of Anarchy. Her performance on the show is one of the ONLY reasons I'm still watching. She's a #CatMama if ever there was one!

Her and Jimmy Smitts are booed up and I think they make a stunning couple. She's so fly I wish she got more work. I appreciate some LatiNegr@ directors casting her in their films such as Illegal Tender and The Ministers. That's all I'mma say about that. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

DAY 25: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 25 - Post a picture about your familia and explain its significance

here's brown baby jesus aka my nephew (we called him that b/c my sisters refused to tell us the name they chose for him until his birth) writing in my bday card for this year. He's everythang to our family. My sisters tried for almost a year to get pregnant. They went the artificial insemination route and listening to them come to a decision to find a donor they both liked (and then finding out that donor was no longer available) and then having to look for another is stressful but so exciting for them to share. 
he's 20 lbs at 6 mo. he's starting to get some teeth in and he's starting to make lots of sounds. my sisters have done a great job of raising a son who is not scared. he is so curious and interested and only cries when tired or hungry. seriously, this is the only time homeboy cries!

He was hanging w/my cornpops, his abuelo, yesterday and my papi and him are so sweet together. papi said this is "his first boy" and he's so happy. my papi has a full beard that's now grey and he was not afraid of the hair! he reached out for it and had it near him and touched it. often kids are scared of papi's beard, but not our sebastian.

he smiles at everything and everyone. he's realizing how to get folks attention when he wants it, he got tricks up his sleeves already! he's going to be nice and brown when they get him in the sun b/c my sister in law is nice and dark brown. 

i whisper in his ear lyrics to "young gifted and black" b/c that's what he's got to hear right now so it's socialized into his brain cells that his Blackness is a gift from his ancestors! his hair is going to curl b/c when i met him at 10min old it was all wavy. it's only a matter of time.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Day 24: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 24 – Should USA lift the embargo on Cuba?
Well, in my opinion, it is not an embargo, it’s a fucking BLOCKADE! And yes I think it needs to be lifted like 50+ years ago. 
Ok, so a small country (although the largest in the Caribbean) embarrassed some “developed” (read exploitative) and “major” countries on an international platform. Get over that shit. I mean that’s what those “developed” (read exploitative) countries tell “others” to do too: trans-atlantic slave trade, taking other countries after/during war as booty and now calling them “territories”, etc.
Either way, this is a ridonkeylously long lunch room brawl from generations ago. Not every country is going to do what the US wants it to do and that’s how independence works! And if there was such a “beef” with Cuba give up Guantanmo too, why keep it? Don’t answer, I know why the US keeps it (and wasn’t it supposed to be closed POTUS Obama?)
And wtf with this imaginary border in the ocean? really? 
Anyway, when one overly exploitative country isolates another forcing it to find resources and partnerships and then that space thrives sans the overly exploitative country; it’s a reminder that the exploitative country has fucked up and will continue to do so. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

day 23: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 23: Hispanic or Latino? Which do you prefer?
I prefer neither. I’m Puerto Rican. I think many folks when we are asked our preference may prefer our country of origin or where our ethnic and cultural background connects. I did not grow up in a Hispanic or in a Latin@ home. I grew up in a Puerto Rican one.
If you want to lump me with folks of a particular group it would be Caribbean folks. I have realized I have so much more in common with folks from the Caribbean, and not just Cuba and Dominican Republic, but also the islands such as St. Martin/Marteen, Jamaica, Barbados, St. Kitts, Haiti, Monserrat, Dominca, etc. Our histories def connect in certain ways, but our traditions, rituals and cultural belief systems are ones I find home in as well.
I have more in common and (and sometimes in solidarity) with those in the Caribbean than I find I do with countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, and other South and Central American Countries. I find more “home” with those that share the coast with us i.e. Panama, Belize, Guyana, Suriname, Yucatan, etc. 
So if I had to pick from a group and ethnic identifier for me it would be Caribbean, but since we are lumped together in the US by our history of exploration and conquest I would opt for Latin@ which recognizes the complexities of gender, is open to wordplay hence LatiNegr@ (a term I also adore for numerous reasons which I’ll prob discuss later this week). 
Hispanic is a term I find a bit too static. I don’t like the term or how it sounds. The “his” at the beginning and it not being open to wordplay (i.e. “herpanic” is more like herpes than anything else to me, and yes this may just be my own creativity getting in my own way, but that’s where it is). and the “panic” part, really? We area already isolated, feared, violated, why put more “panic” into our self identifiers (and remember this is more on the wordplay tip than anything else). what can i say? I like the idea that language evolves, that I”m part of that evolution and that I get to witness that evolution and transformation. I also want words to work for me and me not have to do too much work for the words.
not sure any of this is making sense but that’s where i’m at now. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Day 22: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 22 – Blogueros y Blogeras - Are Latinos on the ‘Nets Relevant?
of course we are relevant! I think we have a LONG way to go when it comes to creating and sustaining our own forms of media. Let’s start first with understanding and knowing where we stand when it comes to Net Neutrality(If you haven’t heard of this go read that link to an article I wrote a few years ago).
it kind of scares me when i hear youth not know what Net Neutrality is because it impacts them so profoundly. It is the issue of their generation I believe.
I also think that we on the internets need to really think about what it means to have this access, what it means for new laws (i.e. sexting), new forms of colonization, and new forms of violence. How are we replicating the same bs we do in our everyday offline lives on the internet? i.e. excluding trans women, isolating undocumented folks, sending wrong information about sexuality and reproductive justice? 
I also think about what does it mean to continue to write and create and center our media making from a media justice perspective. Now folks with all kinds of access can be media makers, what responsibility does that mean we have (if any?)? 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 21: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 21 - Post an Image that Represents (Afr@)Latinidad and explain why
This is the first image i remember seeing in my family’s home of a Black Puerto Rican. Pedro Albizu Campos was a Puerto Rican revolutionary, scholar, lawyer, activist whose life work centered liberating our homeland of Puerto Rico. His position argued that the constitution of Spain had already granted Puerto Rico (and all other territories) autonomy prior to them “giving” the territories to the US to squash the war. He was all about liberation

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 20: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 20 Latin@ Superheros
I was really excited when back in 2004ish I heard Marvel would have their first Latina Superheroine named Araña
I got all of the issues and even used part of the first editions to use as a teaching tool w/my students. One set featured Araña’s quest for finding a superheroine outfit, and all the ways and reasons she chose not to go with flimsy and revealing costuming. She ended up choosing big goggles, combat boots, and a form fitting sporty outfit that covered her for the most part.
Her name is Anya Corazon, her mother, a Chicana, has died and she is being raised by her single father, a Puerto Rican man living in Brooklyn. In the series Araña is in high school. She is recruited into a crime fighting crew/community and her mother’s spirit speaks and guides her on certain missions.
She’s currently known as Spider-Girl (yes, before Spider Man was LatiNegro, there was a Latina Spider-Girl).

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day 19: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 19: Latinos, Police & Prisons: What Say You?

I’d like to know how many folks know how to bail someone out of jail.

How many folks know what a bond is?

How many folks know the difference between a juvenile facility and an adult one.

What’s the “age of consent” for your city/state?

How many folks have been “searched” by the police (not including the TSA at the airport)

Who knows what the 4th, 5th, 6th Amendments offer folks living in the US?

Do you know why “Miranda Rights” are called that? Do you know who Ernesto Miranda was? Why are our “rights” are named after a Latino man?

Do you know that Miranda v Arizona is real!? That this form of corruption in Arizona is not new? There is a legacy of targeting and coercing Latin@s, Natives, and the folks living in that state for generations by US “authority” and “government”? That the person who murdered Miranda has never been found? These are not coincidences.

Here’s a good PBS site about the landmark Supreme Court decision.

Go learn some thangs.

The Court maintained that the defendant’s right against self-incrimination has long been part of Anglo-American law as a means to equalize the vulnerability inherent in being detained. Such a position, unchecked, can often lead to government abuse. For example, the Court cited the continued high incidence of police violence designed to compel confessions from a suspect. This and other forms of intimidation, maintained the Court, deprive criminal suspects of their basic liberties and can lead to false confessions. The defendant’s right to an attorney is an equally fundamental right, because the presence of an attorney in interrogations, according to Chief Justice Warren, enables “the defendant under otherwise compelling circumstances to tell his story without fear, effectively, and in a way that eliminates the evils in the interrogations process.”

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day 18: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 18 – A Poem (original or quoted)

(this poem I included in my dossier from the course I took w/Dr. Patricia Hill Collins called “Critical Theories on Race and Racism.” I was one of the few who earned an A in her class. It was the same semester that would be my last semester because my paternal grandfather passed that year and I took 2 weeks off from school during the semester, and a year off from the phd program)

Born Anew At Each A.M.

by Piri Thomas
Berkeley, California

The street’s got kicks man,
like a bargain shelf,
In fact, cool-breeze, it’s got
love just like anyplace else.

It’s got high-powered salesmen
who push mucho junk,
And hustlers who can swallow
you up in a chunk.

It’s got sewers that swallow
all the street pours down its throat
It’s got hope wearing
an old over-coat.

It’s got lights that shine up
the dark and make the scene like new
It sells what you don’t need
And never lets you forget what you blew.

It’s got our beautiful children
living in all kinds of hell
hoping to survive and making it well
Swinging together in misty darkness
With much love to share
Smiling a Christ-like forgiveness,
That only a ghetto cross can bear.

The streets got life, man,
like a young tender sun,
and gentleness like
long awaited dreams to come.

For children are roses with nary a thorn,
forced to feel the racist’s scorn,
Our children are beauty
with the right to be born.

Born anew at each a.m.
Like a child out of twilight,
flying toward sunlight,
Born anew at each a.m.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Day 17: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 17 – Si No Puede Hablar Español, No Se Pone Latino. Verdad? 

maybe i’m just reading this differently, but isn’t this worded incorrectly? instead of “pone” should it be “eres”? perhaps the point is to have it spelled incorrectly to make a point? 

 Honestly, I’m getting real tired of these daily blog posts b/c some of the topics don’t really apply to me, or I’ve already written about them. I’m tired of folks policing others language. I’ve already written extensively about this topic. Check out my post: Language As Resistance, Media Making, & Media Justice.
This is a good time to revisit the Anzaldúa quote of: “So if you want to really hurt me, talk badly about my language. Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity—I am my language. Until I can take pride in my language, I cannot take pride in myself.” Let’s be honest, it’s scary for those in and with power when oppressed people and youth take pride in themselves because it represents survival and a revolutionary love for our lives in a way that demands our existance as humans be honored and treated with dignity.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Day 16: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 16 – Latino Art


my papi is an artist. here's what i got this yeah for my birthday. 

click foto for full image

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Day 15: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 15 – Latinos in the Film Industry
There are, unfortunately, only a handful of Latin@s in the film industry, especially as directors.  There was a time I appreciated films such as “Illegal Tender” (b/c they centered LatiNegr@s, but also because Wanda de Jesus). However, folks who create those films are less than exceptional folks in general.  

My favorite “Latin@” films include: I Like It Like That and Miracle At St. Anna  ”I Like It Like That” is phenomenal! It is a story about a radical woman of color, lisette (lauren velez) (puerto rican mom and jamaican father) coming into her own, an afralatina who is raising three children with a man (chino, john seda) whose mother (rita moreno) is a white supremacist and speaks all that “good hair’ bullshit. lisette character has a trans sister Alexis (jesse borrego) who is a owner of a botanica in the neighborhood. lisette finds her own space and independence with the help of her sister and community.

Miracle at St. Anna is a film by spike lee and stars laz alonso as the main character, hector negron. the film follows 4 US soldiers during WWII who are in Italy. Negron is the one surviving soldier to tell this narrative and we watch as he is struggles with the story and weight of what he survived. when else do we hear the stories of LatiNegr@ soldiers?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Day 14: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 14 - Favorite Latino Musician
too many to pick just one. but i do adore omar sosa. everything he touches and creates is gold to me. his chants. his jazz. his homage to the ocean and god/desses and to the earth. 
they are home to me. and i hope i get to see him again perform.  here’s one of his videos. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Day 13: 30 Days of Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 13 – What Do I know about indigenous culture (i.e.Tainos)
I know a lot about the Arawak, aka Tainos in Puerto Rico, as it’s part of my culture. I’ve also learned a bit by reading and experience of living among Mayans in Xhualtez, Yucatan (yes Mayans STILL exist so quit with all your “Mayan prophecies” bs where they were annihilated before finishing a calendar). 

I do become suspicious of folks such as anthropologists who do not have any connection to our communities because they are outsiders telling us what our ancestors have left. Who are they? This is something I realized when learning about Mayan and Aztec images and writing. Some of the “leaders” and “experts” on deciphering those writings and images and symbols are racially white folks. Will they really ever be able to understand what those symbols mean? Will they ever truthfully share what they mean? What if the symbols are about their colonial legacy and current oppressive actions, would they cover them up? 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Day 12: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 12 – Latino Politics – What affects you?

If you follow this blog you know what issues I care about and what impacts me. Here's a letter from Barack Obama (staff) that was sent to me at a job I was working at in 2007. For a day about ending smoking we had a "graffiti" wall in the center I was working at and I had to organize activities for the day. 

I decided to have pieces of newsprint for students to write encouraging letters of support encouraging Obama to quit smoking. I had a picture of him and a sentence that read "Barack Obama may be the US first Black president. He smokes, send him a note to encourage him to quit smoking tobacco and why it's important." Many students wrote things like "you need to quit smoking so you can be the president" and "If you stop smoking you are stronger and can lead" and similar things. 

Here's the letter below. The letter arrived after I was "laid off" and the staff held on to it for me and sent it to my home address. I then scanned it and emailed it to my former supervisors. None of them responded. I now have this in my portfolio for when I go on interviews. Some folks are impressed. I'm more proud that there were adults who recognized that youth created something and someone in some kind of power responded. Had I still been employed I would have posted this letter for students to see.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Day 11: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 11 – Religion
I don’t know what to write about this topic. It’s not a question or a complete sentence. Instead I’ll share a foto, when in doubt share a foto.  

Below is a foto of me with my offering for La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre in Santiago de Cuba (the southwestern part of Cuba) in January 2001. This city has the largest African ancestry as the transatlantic slave trade stopped here. La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre is Black, her image in Cuba is Black and folks from all over the island and world come to bring offerings to her.

Offerings folks leave for her (including the Castro’s, which challenges the ideas about how religion was “outlawed” or “illegal” or some other term under Fidel Castro’s regime) all sorts of items from candles, to silver and copper images of the body part they need care and healing for (i.e. feet, hearts, arms, etc.).  

Folks sell these batches of sunflowers on the road towards the site: El Cobre Basilica.  I asked that I be more open to the love that comes my way and recognize it as it arrives. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Day 10: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day  10 – Afr@Latin@s in the Media

Excuse me while I self promote, again! My homegirl, AfraLatina Puerto Rican and Dominican warrior and media maker Sofia Quintero created HomeGirl.TV, an online space where young folks of Color, especially young women, could ask advice from other women of Color on a range of topics. I was one of the many dope folks included who offered advice. I've posted these before but you can log into HomeGirl.TV to see them all.

Also, here's a video focusing on Afr@Latin@s where I was included talking about The LatiNegr@s Project!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Day 9: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 9 -  My Feelings on Arizona
I feel like I miss Arizona. I have chosen family there and have been twice already! All of my chosen family are Xican@s who were born and raised there. Some identify as Native Xican@s. I know this question is re: their laws and ish, which honestly are triflin and scary and I think of the folks who are living in AZ who i love and adore and who are doing much needed work in the trenches while many of us just talk about AZ
I feel pissed I can’t afford to visit AZ, but happy that my homies have jobs that offer them pay and that they are coming for a visit soon! Here are some fotos from my last trip(s) to AZ:
Here i get off the plane, my homegirl elena picks me up, she wants to show me the desert. i think the desert is just dry and arid and bare. but it’s GREEN and i want to see catctus! so she takes me to some spots. i frolic as i hop to a cacti that i want to take a foto near, and then i step on one and get pinched. before helping me, elena takes a foot!
when i finally got that ish out of my foot, i took this foto between 2 ginormous cacti! mind you i’m 6ft tall:
Here we are on our way to Sedona (RED ROCK no mars). I wondered if the red rocks when held or sat on would leave a red debris, but it doesnt’. folks who live in Sedona have bank and spend it on some ridonkeylously isn, like homes crafted like pods with glass ceilings to watch the stars/aliens. here’s me gazing at the red rocks
Here’s an NYC license for Aliens 
Here’s me (suggestively?) eating a chocolate covered peanut banana
Here’s the liquid silver necklace i purchased. i also purchased some earrings and the dudes selling the necklace in scottsdale (where dan majerle ads are STILL present b/c that’st he demographic!) the 2 older native women who worked there were sisters, brother owned the shop. they saw me in my leather motorcycle jacket and asked “are you from nyc?” and laughed when i said yes. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

day 8: 30 Day Latin@ Blog Challenge

Day 8 -  What Latino Stereotype do I hate the most

There are many that I don't enjoy here are a few that work my nerves especially:
1. "good hair"/pelo malo. this is not Latin@ only, but it's def rooted in anti-Black racism that many Latin@s embrace and perpetuate. 
2. Latin@s are all one religious belief system. no we aren't! we are present and reprsented in so many religious belief systems including having no belief system! 
3. Latin@s are not pro-choice. um, yes many of us are! and those who think they would never get an abortion doesn't mean they would stand in the way of another person's options. that means being pro-choice too, minding your own business! (and there's research to support this)
4. You are not a "real" Latin@ if you don't speak Spanish. shut all the way up, callate ya. 
5. Only Latin@s are immigrants. go read a book