Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Getting There

As poor as we were growing up, my parents always tried to do something nice for me and my brother at Christmas time. They always (and by they I mean my mom, but dad gets kudos for financially backing the ventures) really thought about what we would like and got just the right thing. We weren't the kind of kids that would make requests or ask for particular indulgences, we just waited to see what would happen. It never failed that our faces on opening the present or presents (depending on the economic stability of the year) would always light up. As nice as it was getting stuff, cause as a kid, opening presents is never unwanted, I think the best part was how incredibly appropriate the gifts were. Like the year I turned 13 and got a phone for my room. Or the year I turned 7 and got my first Jem and the Holograms doll. They worked it out with what they had man, and I will never forget to appreciate that.

This year, the part that I loved the most was watching my parents open their own presents. We've had hits in the past in so far as presents go, but my brother and I are finally getting to a place where we can make holidays and special occasions truly special. Both from an emotional and economic perspective, we've hit a new plateau. All I gotta say is that my parents deserve it. I mean hella deserve it. They have sacrificed so much in the name of pushing us ahead, I thirst for the day both my brother and I can send them on an all expense paid vacation.

I know that my parents don't need or want extravagances. It is not the people they are. Nor would I give just an extravagance for extravagance sake. They would rather fix up their little house and go on a walk with the dogs. But their faces at Christmas, man, it was like their hearts filled knowing their kids loved them enough to think about them. I gotta tell you, we always think about them. They imbued us with a love and culture that I struggle to find English words to explain. I was one of the very lucky ones.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

She Said I Prefer a Broken Neck...

This has been my favorite slam poem for awhile, but it just came up on youtube. Enjoy it guys! Its gorgeous.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Cagefight: Fundamentals About Race and Immigration We May Not Be Paying Attention To

Alright, so I have spent weeks at this point in time being pissed at this political issue and I gotta say something. I mean I really gotta say something.

Off the bat, I gotta admit, my filters on this, totally not clean. I was waiting til they cleaned up to write about it, but to hell with that. I just came from Guatemala and there are just some things about immigration and the current debate around it that make me so mad. The hypocrisy of it, its just ridic.

So number one with a bullet. I've been listenin to the debate on how people need to wait in the back of the line to come here and do things with process. How other people do it, why do they break a fundamental law and ignore policy.

So ya'll, its hard to understand this because we don't know poverty in this country in the way other countries do. But people in Latin America who come here are so poor they struggle to eat and have clean water. And coming here is the choice between breaking a law and death. You can be a doctor or lawyer or architect in Guatemala and still really struggle to make a living wage. You can go to college for 20 bucks a semester there, no joke, so people go, and it makes no to very moderate difference in the economic situation. They still feel like living there is condemning there kids to a life with very little hope. The transition into having money is about who you know. Not what you know. And though the same could be said here, the honest to God truth is, my parents struggled my whole childhood with making sure they kept food on the table and us in school, but I make more than my father does now. And I'm 26. I would love to be rich and make more but the fact of the matter is, I'm not going hungry (knock on wood).

I mean think about it guys, say you had to go to Germany with absolutely no money tomorrow or you and many of your family members would die or be close to dying. You choose Germany. This place, that you don't get what the heck people are saying, you have to do back breaking menial work, and the people don't want you there. But at the end of the day, as menial and as badly paid it is, you get to eat and drink. You get to send money back to the US so other people you love can eat and drink. And its actually possible for your kids to do something for themselves. I'm sorry Guttenag. I'd be out.

These are people we are talking about. And I'm not saying I want lawlessness, duh, I don't want this country to come under terrorist attack again, nor do I desire the end of our comforts. However, our debts and our problems have so many rich and layered reasons, we can't just blame it on this one. And when I listen to people running for office, they act like its a fix all. Its not even an iceberg. For example, there is the "Immigrants are this drain on our healthcare system" argument. So I'm not rocket scientist, but there are 45 million uninsured Americans out there and they have health problems too. 45 million is more than the entire brown and black population here. They gotta be having a bigger affect than 10 million people who are too afraid to step into a hospital out of fear of deportation. So don't tell me that's why we got problems. But you know what, most of these people are poor white people, and they hear the reason that they are uninsured is that we got people drainin our healthcare system and its a wrap. Because they don't get their needs addressed either. Because we are too busy tryin to blame someone.

Then there is the whole "they don't even pay taxes" bs. Which is like, hello, most of these people make so little money that they would get all of it back in income taxes if they were to file. When you add the fact that they pay property tax if they own a house, or they give rent to someone who pays property tax, the fact that everyone pays sales tax, illegal immigrants are actually putting a lot into systems they will never use. In fact $420 BILLION dollars of Social Security, comes from illegal immigrants. So ya, lets stop all immigration next year and see how our elderly population fares the following year. Meanwhile in the I make $97,500 and up category, people who make a living wage and then some, there is a cap on how much of their income is taxed on a year to year. So you can make 12 million buck one year, and get taxed just as much as someone making $100,000. Don't talk to me about not paying your fair share.

5% of all people in the military, are illegal immigrants. Cause apparently, even if we don't want you here, we'll put your life on the line when its convenient to us.

And finally my favorite, "They just make our schools worse cause they don't pay into them, but their kids use them" HA. Please. So back to that whole taxes thing. In this country, we pay for our schools by paying for our property taxes. So I'm not sure, but something tells me a very very small percentage of the people in this country illegally are actually not paying taxes that keep their kids in school. They are doing everything they can to make ends meet so they can quietly survive in the background and this, inadvertently, pays into the system. Cause its the brilliance of how we, a nation of immigrants, were developed.

My cousin, Jorge Mario, in Guatemala is 19. I love him. He's brilliant and I would love to pay for him to come here and visit me. However, he must have a certain amount of money in his bank account to even apply for that "visiting visa". And then, at the end of the day, if he shows up, gets the lottery that has him visit, and the guy at the front desk doesn't like the t-shirt he's wearing, they'll still reject him. And you talk to me about fairness. About justice. About being fair to the people who apply.

For those of you who grew up in the hood or work with the hood, you know how tough it is for people to do right, when what they worry about is how they keep their family afloat. I'm not saying its right, I'm not saying I understand it completely. What I'm saying is we are getting snowed. And in the process, the ethnicities of this country are getting split up and divided because its easier that we vote or act resentfully based on propaganda, cause everyone wants someone to blame. When really, there is hope here, we just keep getting fed the shit that makes us sad, cause then we won't act on what we can't fix. Cause that, really inconveniences someone with even MORE convenience then we got.

Oh God, it felt so good to get that out of my system. To hell with it being clean. Cause if you don't know, now you know.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Our Responsibility

So you guys know I just came back from Guatemala, and it was an amazing experience. While I was there I really looked at how we (as a country) impact the world around us. Having seen Guatemala's poverty, their beauty, and the goodness of my family; has motivated me in a whole new and different way, to make this place the kind of country I really believe in. This next election guys, its just about the most important one we've ever had. I really believe that whomever we collectively choose, will have ramifications on our lives for decades to come.

I have done lots of research for the last few weeks about the political candidates, both Democrat and Republican, and I can say that I fully believe that Barack Obama should be the next president of the United States. I can tell you the many reasons why I believe this and would be more than happy to articulate them for you, but that's not what this email is about.

This email isn't to ask you to vote for him in the primary (though I would love that) but its a genuine call to arms (and by arms I mean knowledge) to start educating yourselves on what the presidential candidates support, sponsor, and value. I challenge you to know about their stand with as much ease as you can sum up your own. I'm scared for us guys, scared and excited. Which I know sounds all sorts of crazy, but its the truth. We can't sit back and let the world be determined for us.

I know each of us is active in our own ways, and highly involved in the world around us and making it a better place. Which is why I sent this to you. But its not going to be enough if we don't start making our voices heard on this level, the level that determines the man or woman thats going to be our leader. The primary is just as important as the actual election. Don't let these next couple of months or even weeks go by without reading a damn thing about the people that we are going to place our lives/livielyhood into for the next 4 to 8 years. We deserve more then that.

We cannot in good conscious advocate for change on a local level and not advocate for our people to pay attention to the national level as well. It's like making sand castles on a beach and paying no attention to the waves (and in some cases the tsunami's) that are right behind us. These waves could create beauty or destroy the work we, in many cases, sacrifice parts our lives to do.

From the bottom of my heart to you my friends, please, pay attention.

I love you all very much,


PS I realize some of you are permanent residence and not citizens eligible to vote, however, I challenge you guys to get involved too. Your demographic will receive some of the biggest changes, be influencers in your world even if you can't cast a ballot. You never know the person that you educate and the impact their vote will have.