I felt sad today. I’ve felt down a bit lately, but it was hard to describe why. I figured it out this afternoon.
I’m on my fifth rewatch of the first season of One Day at a Time on Netflix. I haven’t watched something this intensely since Buffy the Vampire Slayer which is funny considering Elena and several episodes in the latter half of the season. On the surface, yeah, I get that I like it because I’m gay and a writer like Elena. I come from a Latin, military family with religious parents. While I’m not Cuban, or Cuban American, there’s enough similarities to Mexican culture that I heavily relate. And I get to hear people who sound like and look like me and my family. Hearing Spanish spoken on TV without any subtitles is thrilling. People will go out of their way to learn Elvish or Klingon but for some reason won’t take the little computer they have in their pocket and google what a few words in mean in Spanish. Hopefully now, they will. And that’s a good thing. It’s estimated that in the next decade a whole quarter of the United States will be Latino. We’re here. Get over it. A wall’s not keeping anybody out.
I thought at first that this was why I was sad. And obviously, the way the president talks about Latinos and Mexicans doesn’t help. It furthers falsehoods and stereotypes that are wrong and dangerous. It helps people make assumptions instead of asking genuine questions. I’ve heard people in the past talk about us like we’re rats.
“Oh, I don’t want to go over there. There’s too many Mexicans.”
“Did they finish cleaning yet? I don’t mind if they’re here, I just don’t want to see them.”
Because I’m not what most people picture when they think of a Mexican or the child of a Mexican immigrant, people assume I don’t speak Spanish. I hear many an interesting thing when this is the case. This is also what I have to guess is responsible for someone assuming at the grocery store that my mother was my nanny when I was seven. This one is particularly damaging and still makes me upset. In the eyes and mind of this person, why couldn’t she have just been my mom?
So anyway, because of the state of the world I’ve been escaping. RuPaul’s Drag Race came back for it’s 9th season and that helped. Say what you will about Valentina, maybe she isn’t perfect and sweet, but when she came out on the runway in a traditional mariachi suit and the following week sashayed down the runway looking like the most beautiful Telenovela bride you’ve ever seen, I cried. I’m not exaggerating when I say this. As a kid, I had no gay Mexicans to look up to. It would be years before Justin Suarez showed up on Ugly Betty and by then I was an adult. On Drag Race, traditional Mexican beauty was being shown and broadcast to America. They heard the words: Aguas Calientes.
So with One Day at a Time, well, I can’t stop watching it. And for a comedy it’s incredibly sad and emotional. In the episode “Viva Cuba” Lydia (played by Rita Moreno) reveals a family secret about when she left Cuba that I won’t spoil for you. It’s so well written and acted that I’ve cried every time I’ve seen it. When she scene begins she’s looking at old family photos from when she lived in Cuba. She looks sad and lost in thought.
And then it hit me.
I’d seen my mother do the same thing. I’ve heard my mother cry over missing her family members, and people she never got to see again after she left Mexico and came to the United States. My mom’s circumstances were different, she wasn’t fleeing Mexico like Lydia was fleeing Cuba, but I understood that while this country became my mother’s permanent residence, it was never really her home. I can only assume it took me this long to realize it because now as an adult, I often feel like there’s a part of me that’s missing too. This is what my mother felt. Constantly.
I’ve been to Mexico City, Amecameca, Cuenavaca, San Miguel de Allende, Cabo San Lucas, Monterrey and had addresses/lived in Querataro, Ixtapa, Zijuatanejo and Villa De Los Flores. I list these off because it’s more cities than I’ve visited or lived in in the United States. I was raised speaking Spanish by both of my parents and taught to be proud of my culture and heritage. But for the past 11 years I’ve lived in Portland Oregon. Don’t get me wrong, I love Portland most of the time, but I never speak Spanish here. I hardly ever get Mexican food unless I make it and I am rarely around other Latinos.
I miss Mexico and sometimes New York and Los Angeles because there were more people like me there. No wonder I spent all day in Santee Alley on a recent trip to Los Angeles.
I haven’t been to Mexico in a very long time. It’s a part of me. It hurts when people say I’m a fake Mexican, or I’m too white to be Mexican, or I wasn’t born there so I can’t claim to be Mexican. None of that is true, so I brush it off, but it’s my dream to visit again. I miss my grandmother. I miss her food. I miss the sounds and the smells and the beautiful architecture. I miss the people. I miss the art. The striking colors everywhere you look. It makes sense why I’m obsessed with The Wizard of Oz. Boise was brown and gray and dull for me. Mexico was vibrant and full of life.
This piece of me, this part that’s missing, it’s difficult to pour something in there and fill it up. I found a small community of Latinos here, a group that I’m attempting to be more a part of. And while I live in Portland, I continue to work on comics and write more stories that feature Latinos and Mexicans. It’s important to me. I needed characters to connect with when I was younger. I needed to see that. Now as an adult I’m creating that. But my heroes are writers and artists who are doing the same. Salma Hayek for producing Ugly Betty. Jenny Lorenzo for her amazing comedy videos that have brought me so much happiness this year. And Gloria Calderon Kellett for bringing so much visibility to Latinos, Latino Americans and LGBT Latinos at that. The three graphic novels projects I’m working on right now all feature Latinos and Latinas.
I want the world to see Latinas who aren’t stereotyped as sexy, or as the maid. I want them to see Latinos who aren’t preoccupied with being macho. I want them to see Latinas that are brave and strong and smart and Latinos who are sweet and sensitive. We are rarely portrayed this way, but we sure are on One Day at a Time.
I think writing and creating stories and characters is what I’ve been doing to try and fill that void. One day I’ll get back to Mexico but until that time, or the time I get to continually use my Spanish, I suppose it’ll have to do.
That, and looking through my childhood photo albums.
When your favorite VOD streaming service cancels one of their most diverse Shows right at the beginning of Pride Month!
I mean srsly…..
When was the last time I saw a Show that wasn’t either dominated by white folks or kinda exclusive to POC? Instead Sense8 has a mix of 8 wonderfully different main characters, such as…
The cop from Chicago, the loyal friend, the lover; a man confident enough to trust the woman by his side with his whole conscious & unconscius being to save him.
The DJane from Iceland, the mother, the lonely spirit; the woman who would walk trough hell and back to save the ones she loves.
The Matatu driver from Nairobi, the optimist, the one who won’t let himself be defined by poor or rich but just his courage to make a difference.
The Warrioress from Korea, the unbent, betrayed by those closest to her but not even prison could break her. Now she’s on her way for justice.
The closeted telenovela star from Mexico, the passionate dreamer, along his career he learnt to be the hero of his own destiny. Can he make it big beyond the borders of his homeland?
The Pharmacist from India; the believer, once she learnt that traditions are not necessarily the safest option she finds the courage to fight for her happiness.
The safecracker from Germany, raised by a brutal and bullying father he found family much closer then bound by blood and even love where he least expected it.
The transgender hacktivist from San Francisco, rejected by her family who refuse to accept her new Identity as Nomi, she made herself a name by blogging about political issues. Her fiancee Amanita a beautiful WOC with 3 father figures have her back in all this.
Now imagine these 8 completely different characters living their individual life finding out that they’re mentally connected with one another. Called a cluster they explore step by step each others world by visiting one another. Visiting means they can only use the regular given senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting etc from the person they visit. Another ability is sharing. Sharing means they can use each others skills regardless of their own but this works only within the cluster. So in short word that means Capheus can share his driving skills with Nomi who can’t drive as much as Lito can feel Sun Baks menstruation symptoms sometimes. Yes they have very a lot of funny and emotional moments together along they way.
Better known as the mother she appears to be the one capable of giving birth to clusters by releasing/activating their connection to each other. When her last cluster awoke she commited suicide. She was in a relationship with Jonas which whom she released several clusters.
He shows up when Angelica’s last born cluster awoke to guide and teach them their abilities as sensates. He’s doing this mainly through Will Gorski. Jonas and Angelica were in a relationship and part of the same cluster.
He’s the main antagonist of the Show goes by several aliases but best known as Whispers. Although as a sensate himself he’s part of an organisation that hunts down other sensates. He can only connect with a cluster by making direct eye contact.
Amanita works in a bookstore, supports LGBT charities, she has a mother named Grace and three father figures because they never cared to find out who’s the biological one. They loved her all the same. She is Nomi’s fiancee.
He’s an Art professor, loves to cook and is the lover of Lito. Despite his relationship with Lito needs to be kept a secret due the career of Lito he’s very supportive. Nontehelss he has strong beliefs of its own and is mostly the more grounded part in their relationship.
She comes from a wealthy background, is an actress and Lito’s friend as well as his cover at events. Later she finds out about his secret and formes a close bond to both Lito and Hernando based on her fascination with gay men in general.
He’s Wolfgangs best friend since they were kids. Although he’s having the talent to getting himself in trouble and Wolfgang along with him hes fairly loyal and the only one who knows about Wolfie’s abusive childhood.
Despite this amazing concept of 8 fully developed individual characters forming a worldwide bond to defeat a greater enemy who’s after them for experiments and killing them in the process Netflix canceled this Show after only 2 Seasons. Sure filming in 8 differerent cities all over the globe is expensive but that makes the quality even better and so much more authentic. There is no need to kill off characters for the shock effect, no need to sideline anyone for the sake of one major pairing. They’re equals, they’re individuals, not dependent on each other but stronger together if it’s necessary.
If you don’t believe me go and watch it for yourself on Netflix if you have it!
Here’s a little preview:
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SHOW AWARNESS ~ #BRINGBACKSENSE8 ~ SIGN THE PETITION (x)
Can we talk about how the killer cop, Jeronimo Yanez, is Mexican-American? While not white, this terrible example of pathological anti-blackness demonstrates to us that white supremacy can use non-black people of color to uphold its systems of oppression. I know for certain that my fellow Mexicans can personally attest to the abundance of anti-blackness that exists in our communities. Jeronimo murdered Philando and I’ve not heard any of my woke Latinx or Mexican friends say a peep. He’s a monster, right? He’s also your brother, uncle and cousin. Y'all, this is where the ally work matters.
Jeronimo, a brown man, was acquitted not because of his innocence, but because the 10 white jurors were able to identify with his light-skinned Latinx version of anti-blackness–and established an intersectional kinship built on hatred for black people.
While not always wielding a gun, members of our community routinely express and enact anti-blackness. This happens through words and actual violence. Philando’s case may be extreme but it is not unusual. As Latinx folks who often benefit from a hierarchy of racism, we must be vigilant and dutiful in confronting anti-blackness in others and ourselves. As allies for black liberation, the onus is on us to do coalition work and be willing to sacrifice privilege and relationships in pursuit of the struggle. As a queer Chicano, I don’t take responsibility for the existence of white supremacy but I certainly admit that I can do more to confront anti-blackness around me and within myself.
As Philando’s girlfriend Diamond stated: “He was pulled over because, per officer Yanez, he had a wide nose and looked like a suspect.” “God help America,” she continued. Yes, God help America but also let us Latinx folks help each other confront and act on the problem. This time, the problem is ours.
- Miguel Garcia
Miguel Garcia is a native Detroiter and Chicano queer mental and sexual health advocate. He currently works for a community health agency based in Detroit and is completing his degree in Boston.
¿Podemos hablar de cómo el policia asesino, Jerónimo Yáñez, es mexicano-americano? Aunque no sea blanco, este terrible ejemplo de anti-negritud patológica nos demuestra que la supremacía blanca puede utilizar a las ‘personas de color’ que no son negras para defender sus sistemas de opresión. Sé con certeza que mis compatriotas mexicanos pueden atestiguar personalmente la abundancia de anti-negritud que existe en nuestras comunidades. Jerónimo asesinó a Philando y no he oído nada de mis compañeros Latinx o amigos mexicanos que son consientes de estas estructura sociales o “woke” decir ni un pío. Es un monstruo, ¿verdad? También es tu hermano, tío y primo. Compañeros, aquí es donde el trabajo del aliado importa.
Jerónimo, una persona de color no negra, fue absuelto no por su inocencia, sino porque los 10 jurados blancos pudieron identificarse con su versión de anti-negritud al nivel que existe entre Latinx de tonos de piel claras—y estableció un parentesco interseccional construido sobre el odio hacia los negros.
Aunque no siempre manejan un arma, los miembros de nuestra comunidades Latinx rutinariamente expresan y promulgan anti-negritud. Esto sucede a través de las palabras y la violencia. El caso de Philando puede ser extremo pero no es inusual. Como personas de Latinx que se benefician de una jerarquía del racismo, debemos ser vigilantes y obedientes para enfrentar la anti-negritud en los demás y en nosotros mismos. Como aliados para la liberación negra, nos incumbe la tarea de hacer el trabajo de la coalición y estar dispuestos a sacrificar el privilegio y las relaciones en la búsqueda de la lucha. Como un chicano queer, no me responsabilizo de la existencia de la supremacía blanca, pero ciertamente admito que puedo hacer más para enfrentar la anti-negritud alrededor de mí y dentro de mí.
Como dijo Diamond, la novia de Philando, “Lo detuvieron porque, según oficial Yáñez, tenía una nariz ancha y se parecía a un sospechoso.” “Dios ayude a América”, continuó. Sí, Dios ayude a América, pero también permite ayudarnos a nosotros Latinx a enfrentar y actuar en este problema. Esta vez, el problema es nuestro.
- Miguel Garcia
Miguel García es un nativo de Detriot y partidario de Chicano queer salud mental y sexual. Actualmente trabaja para una agencia de salud comunitaria basada en Detroit y está completando su licenciatura en Boston.
sanctuary is found on the dance floor. spirits are filled and pain is paused. last year’s attack at pulse night club in orlando, during latino night - was an attack on all of us who have ever feared loving openly in public.
today, we mourn the loss of 49 people. today, we speak their names.
today, we stand with all those who were and continue to be impacted by the pulse night club attack.
as pride month continues, remember to remember that PRIDE IS STILL POLITICAL and it is STILL NECESSARY! REMEMBER that we are NOT alone.