Marjorie Ann Mendez is Coming to Arizona: A Guest Post by Matt Mendez #Librotraficante

GUEST POST By Matt Mendez of

I am waiting for Marjorie Ann.  My wife, Marlo, is 7 months pregnant with her. Our soon to arrive daughter is named after her grandmother, my wife’s mother who died just before the start of Marlo’s senior year in high school. I never had the chance to meet the elder Marjorie, but I’ve gotten to know her through the stories Marlo and her family tell. For example I know Marjorie was a free spirit who fearlessly loved her children. Who at Marlo’s high school basketball games, where Marlo was an all-district power-forward, often grabbed the unused pom-poms of bored cheerleaders and led fellow parents in a cheer, and if no other parents joined her, she cheered alone. It was important to Marjorie that Marlo know what unconditional love looked like. When Marjorie died in August of 1994, from colon cancer, the details of her final days are harrowing but again reveal a woman of bravery and grace.

Marjorie’s story is an example of how every moment in a person’s life can create lasting meaning. I have learned from Marjorie’s experiences, but if Marjorie’s life had been made into a book and taught to students of the Mexican-American Studies (MAS) program in Tucson’s Unified School District (TUSD), her story would more than likely be banned because Marjorie was Mexican-American.  

On January 10, TUSD suspended the MAS program and in at least one classroom had books, written primarily by Mexican-American authors, physically removed while a class was in session. In a press release TUSD explained that the books used in the former MAS program had not been banned but instead moved into storage and claimed the “stored” books were available in most of the district’s libraries. TUSD also claimed the curriculum taught in MAS will not be lost but instead added to the general curriculum.

TUSD’s untenable position of inclusion by removal is the doing of current Superintendent for Public Instruction John Huppenthal and his predecessor Tom Horne. Despite TUSD’s weak statement to the contrary the only plausible goal of ARS 15-112, the state law banning ethnic studies, is to suppress the Mexican-American population in Arizona by diluting its history and delegitimizing the native voices of the state. As Native-American writer Sherman Alexie recently pointed out (his works also banned by TUSD): “Let's get one thing out of the way: Mexican immigration is an oxymoron. Mexicans are indigenous…I'm also strangely pleased that the folks of Arizona have officially announced their fear of an educated underclass. You give those brown kids some books about brown folks and what happens? Those brown kids change the world.”

According to the law banning MAS, courses and classes must not promote the overthrow of the United States government. Promote resentment toward a race or class of people. Be designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group, or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.

In other words, Huppenthal and Horne believe that the MAS program was creating an army of Mexican revolutionaries bent on overthrowing the government. That works of fiction by, Sandra Cisneros, Dagoberto Gilb, Manuel Muñoz and Luis Alberto Urrea (just to name a few), that a coming-of-age story about a young girl in Chicago and of men looking for work and love, of young men discovering their sexuality California’s picking fields and of a boy growing up in the streets of Tijuana, stories as meaningful and instructive as Marjorie’s, are somehow a threat to national security. 

I find it hard to believe that either Huppenthal or Horne actually believe an armed rebellion is marching their way. Instead what Huppenthal and Horne really fear is democratic change. Tom Horne, now Arizona’s attorney general, has been a hardliner against immigrants and immigration for years, accusing “Illegals” of voter fraud and accusing the Obama administration of pursuing the “illegal” vote when the justice department challenged Arizona’s voter ID law. “I think the motive is that the more illegals that vote, the better the Obama administration thinks it will do.”  Huppenthal and Horne are not working to stave off revolution but cynically fomenting a culture of fear in Arizona, fear of immigrants and, as Sherman Alexie accurately points out, of an educated underclass in the hopes of keeping their political power.

Revealingly, neither Huppenthal nor Horne are native Arizonans or from the Southwest—for that matter neither is Governor Jan Brewer (California) or Sheriff Joe Arpaio (Massachusetts). John Huppenthal is from Indiana and Tom Horne from Canada. While both men have lived in Arizona for a number of years, it is clear that neither of them has truly assimilated into the indigenous culture of Arizona. They do not, or do not want to, understand what it means to live on the border. La Frontera is not just a line separating two countries but a space where both cultures coexist. A space where Huppenthal and Horne are the ones actively “promoting resentment toward a race or class of people.”

In 2010 93.6% of students enrolled in the MAS program graduated from high school while a comparison group had only an 82.7% rate. This gap in graduation rates has been consistent since 2005, according to TUSD’s Department of Accountability and Research. Higher graduation rates among MAS students means higher graduation rates for Mexican-Americans, meaning more Mexican-American students will be eligible for and attend college. The success of the MAS program and the changing demographics of the state, of the entire Southwest, mean that soon our governments will reflect this new and better-educated majority. This change will not be the realization of Huppenthal and Horne’s deranged fantasy of government overthrow but instead a democratic choice made by voters who will insist representatives understand the wishes and desires of the people they serve. 

While I am waiting for my daughter to be born I am not waiting to make the schools she will attend better. Like the elder Marjorie I am shaking my pom-poms, working with groups like Save Ethnic Studies, UNIDOS, and the Librotraficantes to end the ban of the Mexican-American Studies program and bring the books by our historians, cultural critics, and literary greats back to our classrooms. When Marjorie Ann Mendez is born, I want her to live in an Arizona where she is not a second-class citizen. Where her culture will proudly be represented in schools like it will be in her home.  I want her to be free to learn about our heritage, our history and our stories just as freely as she will learn about her family, especially the grandmother for whom she was named.

Matt Mendez is a writer and aircraft mechanic. He lives in Tucson.       

By The Time I Get to Arizona… I Will Get Stopped in Connecticut

In 2010 I was racially profiled and it wasn't in Arizona. I was living in Connecticut at the time (yes, the same state where East Haven police officers were arrested for harassing Latinos) and on my way to work with a friend. As we approached the exit, we were stopped by a state police officer. He told us we were driving erratic and speeding, which we weren't, but ok, "just give us the ticket so we can be on our way" we thought. 

After giving the officer proper identification according to Connecticut state law, he then asked us for our social security cards. We were highly upset and surprised but kept our composure and refused, stating our identification cards were sufficient enough and we were unaware of any law requiring us to show social security cards as proof of identification.

Again, this happened in the state of Connecticut. I can only imagine the fear that Latinos in Arizona go through daily because of SB 1070.

Many people feel, because they are American citizens, that they will never go through this type of profiling, but I am here to let you know that your skin color, your political belief or your approval of SB 1070 will not save you. Being Latino in this country has its problems. Still. 

I challenge anyone who believes this law does not profile Latinos to study the police training video for SB-1070 and see how "reasonable subscription" is defined under the Arizona law. 

Click here to see the video.

When Good People Do Nothing, Bad Things Happen—Unless You Need Another Show on Fox

Ok, we know, this is Fox Business, but give it a second. Just listen. This is Judge Andrew Napolitano on his final segment of "FreedomWatch." 

You decide what you want to do. Politics aside, take off you partisan sunglasses and listen. You have the decision to choose and act. What will you do?

When good people do nothing, bad things happen.

Granted, Napolitano's "revolutionary" message might be something he actually preaches, since ever since his show was cancelled, his listeners have been bombarding FB with emails, but the judge is telling them to back off from crapping on Fox. As the judge posted on his Facebook:


Dear Friends–


Many of you are not happy with the cancellation of FreedomWatch, and you have sent emails to my Fox colleagues expressing that unhappiness. In television, shows are cancelled all the time. Two of my former shows have been cancelled, and after each cancellation, Fox has rewarded me with more and better work. This cancellation–along with others that accompanied it–was the result of a business judgment here, and is completely unrelated to the FreedomWatch message. It would make a world of a difference for all of us, if you would KINDLY STOP SENDING EMAILS TO FOX.


I am well. Your values are strong. I will continue to articulate those values here at Fox. But the emails many of you are sending are unfairly interfering with my work and that of my colleagues here. The emails even violate our values because they interfere with the use of private property. I have accepted the cancellation decision with good cheer and a sense of gearing up for the future. You should as well.


As a favor to me, and as I have asked this past weekend, PLEASE STOP SENDING EMAILS TO MY COLLEAGUES AT FOX ABOUT THE CANCELLATION OF FreedomWatch; and please stop NOW.


All the best,   apn.

What happened to "questioning everything?" We sure are suckers.


Hoekstra’s Racist and Xenophobic Ad Backfires: Trails Stabenow By 14 Points Now

It was a story that ran around the Super Bowl, when GOP Michigan candidate for US Senate Peter Hoekstra (who "approved" of the message) ran the following ad during the local broadcast of the NFL gala event:

Add a few racist images on the website that was mentioned on the ad, and yeah, Hoekstra crossed a line.

Looks like Michigan voters have spoken, well at least in the latest polls, that now shows Hoekstra trailing US Senator Debbie Stabenow (D) by 14 points in state that has had its share of economic issues the last few years. This is what PPP reports:

Debbie Stabenow's taken her biggest lead yet in 4 polls of the Michigan Senate race PPP has conducted dating back to December of 2010. She now leads Pete Hoekstra by 14 points, 51-37, and has an even wider 17 point advantage over Clark Durant at 50-33. In 3 previous polls Stabenow led Hoekstra by an average of just 7 points and on the most recent one, in July, her lead was 9.

What's interesting is that Stabenow's approval numbers have barely budged at all over the last 6 months. Over the summer we found her at 46/40, and now she's at 47/41.  But Hoekstra's numbers have taken a turn for the worst.  In July his favorability was narrowly positive at 31/30. Now he's dropped a net 11 points to a -10 spread at 28/38. There hasn't been a big shift in his numbers with Democrats or Republicans but with independents his numbers have flipped from +10 (33/23) to -10 (29/39).

Hoekstra appears to have been damaged by his controversial Super Bowl ad. 54% of voters in the state were familiar with it, and within that group 45% said it made them less likely to vote for him compared to only 16% who considered it a positive and 37% who said it didn't make a difference to them either way. Independents said they were turned off by it and he's gone from leading with them by 6 points in July to now trailing by 4 points.

Is It Tougher To Be Gay Or Undocumented?: A Guest Post by @mycuentame

Dear Community Members,

Is it tougher to be gay or undocumented? Jorge has an honest conversation with us. He is unafraid to open up and give us his honest opinion. Jorge is breaking taboos, challenging conventions and shifting paradigms within and outside of the Latino community. Brave, courageous and up front, Jorge's answer will surprise you and inspire you. 

Watch as Jorge tells us his powerful story.

Jorge's testimony is part of a larger shift in the way young Latinos are approaching many of today's most pressing issues. His story, documented as part of Cuéntame's 'An Honest Conversation' series, is featured today on the front page of the Huffington Post

The documentary series is creating a nationwide honest conversation about these important issues, that Jorge and many young Latinos like him, face today. 

Use this video, and have an honest conversation with your Facebook friends by sharing it on your wall.


Axel Caballero and the Cuéntame team

I invite you to join Cuéntame on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

WTF, Jose Canseco? You Are Now Trying Out for The Mexican League?

Why don't these guys just go away? Why, why, why, do retired ballplayers do this? Are they that starved for publicity?

Sunday The Chicago Tribune reported that MLB badass and steroids circus clown José Canseco is trying out for the Quintana Roo Tigers of The Mexican League. This is what Canseco tweeted out:

Later in the day, Canseco tweeted this:

Now, we are not saying that Canseco should not being doing what he loves, but at 47 years old, isn't it time to just step away from it all? Just enjoy yourself, the pre-steroids accomplishments you gave to baseball, and move on. Guess The Celebrity Apprentice wasn't enough. As of now, the Tigers haven's signed Canseco to a contract.

R.I.P. Carlos DeJesus, the Original Host of New York Hot Tracks and a NYC Radio Icon

Some of the Rebeldes are NYC proud. And we are kids of the 1980s, and if you were growing up in the city during that time, you grew up to New York Hot Tracks, the place where you got to catch the "urban sound" that has now become a huge part of mainstream music (that is another blog post for another day, since we will argue that some of the current sound—Nicki Minaj—is best not recorded).

Nonetheless, Hot Tracks on WABC TV was a show we never missed, and we loved its original host, DJ Carlos DeJesus. The show was Friday Night Videos (in fact, it was produced BEFORE FNV came out), NYC style, and DeJesus was its ambassador, as he would introduce videos from different clubs in the NYC.

Today, we learned on Twitter that DeJesus died. The sources were very reliable ones, even though there is no public news of his death being reported.

Here are just a few of the video segments where you can see DeJesus in his prime interviewing some of music's stars back in the day, as well as some of the videos (RUN!!!) that we used to devour. As well as a great clip from the Funhouse!

Here is a long YouTube piece of a Hot Tracks show (with commercials) that features Whitney Houston and others in the countdown. 

On Twitter @FloydMayweather Gets Slammed for Tweets About @jlin7, and Why He Doesn’t Get It

Boxer Floyd Mayweather went on Twitter yesterday to offer his "insight" about New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin to address the Linsanity that has now become the number one story in the NBA. Mayweather, who to us will never the legendary boxer that he proclaims himself to be unless he finally steps up to the plate and face Manny Pacquiao for the what has become The Greatest Fight That Never Was, tweeted out his thoughts thoughts about Lin, an Asian American Harvard graduate and former bench-warmer who reminds us of a young Steve Nash.

Lin's last five games have turned around the Knicks season, and that is without stars Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. Suddenly, New York basketball is back and the NBA is better for it. But if you read Mayweather's tweets, you just might want to shake your head and let Mayweather know that he just should stick to boxing.

Granted, some of the responses to Mayweather are just as awful and racist (and if we were Mayweather, we would tell those racist haters to suck it), but in the world of social media, when you start tweeting ignorance, you will get slammed. Mayweather got slammed, and instead of just backing down, his subsequent tweets got even dumber. Here is the series of tweets with responses.

You decide for yourself.

Granted, @Stevie662 and @OMGJudeLaw have got some problems as well (why stoop down to Mayweather's ignorance), but Mayweather missed the point. People are suffering from Linsanity for the following reasons:

  • Lin was on the flipping Knicks bench, the 12th man on the team before he took over the NBA by storm.
  • 38 points against the Lakers? RESPECT.
  • Five wins in a row.
  • Let's go with Mayweather's flawed logic about not celebrating black athletes. D-Rose? Durant? LeBron? D-Wade? Kobe? Are you kidding us? The problem with Mayweather is that he HAD to make it racial. He HAD to tweet his thoughts in a way that makes him look like punkish. He could have made a similar point with some wit and humor, but we are guessing that he just doesn't get Twitter.
  • Lin has made his teammates better. Steve Novak is the new Steve Kerr? And Jared Jeffries is scoring? Tyson Chandler getting points? What is going on here? The Knicks are playing like a TEAM.
  • The dude went to Harvard, in the world of the NBA, that is like if some accountant from the street suddenly became the head of Google. Lin is breaking the mold about the geeky Harvard stereotype, which is about as tired a stereotype as anyone out there.

Dear Floyd, you have your opinion, but it is an ignorant one. Lin is a great basketball player. Simple as that. You wish you had him on your team. In fact., he would probably have the cojones to fight Pacquiao. ¡Viva Jeremy Lin!

PS Pacquiao can sing better than you can tweet, Floyd.

The Protest to Restore Latin Jazz and Other Grammy Categories Continues

We came across a very interesting and well-researched piece about the current protest by musicians against the Recording Academy for its decision to drop 31 categories from its annual list of Grammy Awards. The protest, which has garnered much attention through a Presente.Org petition, really hit home with us when we read the following piece from PolicyMic entitled "This Year's Grammy Awards and Grammy Winners Are Insulting to Whitney Houston and Latin Jazz Musicians." 

The piece's lead said it all for us:

Whitney Houston would not have won four out of her six Grammy awards, under this year's Grammy's restructured categories, which slashed dozens of ethnic music award categories, including Hawaiian, Haitian, Cajun, Latin jazz, contemporary blues, regional Mexican. The categories Best R&B Performance and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, two awards that Houston won, have been eliminated.

The following video, which appears on the same site, but does now have an embed feature (which we would gladly embed here if the feature were added to respect the director's intellectual property since we are a news-gathering service), shows footage of musicians protesting the decision. We did download the video to spread the message of what these musicians are saying since the page that features the video is public. (FYI: we would me more than happy to embed the video from the original source if an option were added to the video.)

The article makes some very salient points about how the current movement by the Recording Academy to place profits over artistic recognition fly in the face of thousands of talented musicians who create for their art. Even with 23,000 signatures by Grammy Watch and Present, it looks like the battle will still be ongoing.

Democracy Now also ran a very lengthy piece about the protest. Interestingly enough, the guests in the segment compared the push to eliminate Latin jazz categories to Arizona, Joe Arpaio, and banning books.

Given the horrible performance from Nicki Minaj, will the Recording Academy actually wake up?