Question of the week: Travelling Lu

I’m nearing the end of my term as the external vice president and am not sure if I’ll be doing a similar position next year or not. So, that means I won’t be taking too many trips to the Bay Area and Sacramento next year. The travel has definitely been fun… and free. Except for the amount of time it takes. I’ve made some great friends and have learned a lot during my two year tenure. I’ve also earned a couple of free roundtrip flights. I used the first one for a trip to Houston in February.

I have another free round trip ticket.

La pregunta: Where should I go and why?
(Refer to the map of cities where Southwest Airlines flies.)

Edit: I’ve visited Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Houston, New York, Boston, Washington DC, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Las Vegas and all the California cities (what a surprise).


Question of the week: On blogging and family

My mom reads my blog. And she likes it. She’s not the only family member who occasionally checks in. My tío Chuy reads, my sister does and so do a few cousins.

A long time ago, I would not have been comfortable with this. But then again, that’s when my blog was more of a diary and I wrote like no one was reading (which was probably true). Now I think it’s cool that people who know me in “real life” (whatever that means) read what I post here.

My mom tells me it allows her to get to know me a little better and in some way communicate with a daughter who she doesn’t see for week or two at a time. She even prints out posts from my blog (which I did not realize was so printer un-friendly) and shows them to other family members. She did this for my tía Nellie, my dad’s sister who moved to Dallas in the summer of 2005. Tía Nellie was in town for a wedding this weekend and had dinner at my mom’s house. As she read, a post on how I don’t like my genes sometimes, she let out her loud, characteristic laugh. I’ve missed hearing that laugh.

I thought that was cool.

La pregunta: Do your family and close friends in “real life” know that you blog? Do they read? If they don’t know, why not?


La mestiza

I just finished reading Richard Alba and Victor Nee’s Remaking the American Mainstream: Assimilation and Contemporary Immigration for my sociology course on ethnicity. I’m in the middle of writing up a summary and critique on the 300-page book. It’s not a bad book, in fact it’s a great read if you really want to understand theories of assimilation and the gradual assimilation of past and recent immigrant groups. However, they fall short in some areas.

Alba and Nee believe Latinos who choose “white” on the census perceive themselves a white racially and are probably light-skinned. They don’t provide any evidence for this. Their assumption is that the people who chose white are probably less indigenous looking and are probably not black (e.g., Afro-Caribbeans).

I think this is simplistic. The 2000 census didn’t present us with much options for identifying ourselves racially. Our choices were white, black, American Indian & Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian & other Pacific Islanders. I don’t see myself as any of those, but I still marked something when I got my census form at my dorm room.

I chose white.

And I hated doing so because I don’t feel white and I know others don’t see me as white. I didn’t chose American Indian or Alaska Native because I didn’t want to falsely increase those numbers. Choosing this category also meant that I’d have to fill in a tribal affiliation. Despite wanting to feel more in touch with my indigenous roots, I can’t even tell you the names of the tribes my families come from in Mexico. I didn’t choose black or the other categories because I have no knowledge/evidence that I have black or Asian ancestry.

I chose white… but only because I had to choose something. There’s no mestiza/o option on the United States census.


Three cities, seven days

I arrived in Chicago last Wednesday afternoon and returned to LA on Sunday morning. It snowed one day and was cold and damp for the remainder of my trip. As soon as I left, I’m told the weather got “nice.”

I returned to LA on Sunday morning and found mostly sunny skies, a few wisps of clouds, and 60-something degree weather. I left this nice weather on Tuesday morning.

I arrived in Washington D.C. on Tuesday afternoon. It was cold and cloudy, but not rainy.

Can anyone guess why I love LA?


Identity politics, part I

I don’t know how it happened, but the Latinos in policy panel had just been taken over by a group of elderly women in the back of the room. They stuck out from the rest of the crowd as they were 40-50 years older than the college kids in the room and the current/former policy students on the panel.

A woman in big glasses started talking about labels. Mexican American? Or Chicano? Or Latino? Or Hispanic? How were we supposed to work on policy issues affecting our community if we couldn’t even decide what to call ourselves?

Oh no. She went there*. The college students up front turned at her and gave a look like, “oh no, not again.”

The moderator, a first year policy student struggled to get control of the session and avoid wasting the little time we had left on arguing over labels.

As soon as big-glasses-woman stopped speaking, I jumped in to save the day. Or so I thought.

I told big-glasses-woman that the label(s) people chose for themselves was less important than the work they were doing in and for the community. For the most part, people aren’t going to ask you what you call yourself. You can call yourself Chicano and know shit about the community, have horrible intentions, and do horrible work.

Big-glasses-woman didn’t seem to get it. According to her, labes were very important in the realm of politics. She smugly tried to use her 78 years of age to school me on the importance of labels.

I suddenly forgot the “respect your elders” lesson.

I was frustrated, and pulled out the Chicana/o Studies major card and explained that I know the origin, history, connotations and various meanings of the words. I get it. I’ve taken classes that cover this topic. You can’t teach me anything.

Big-glasses-woman then dropped the labels all together and asked, “where do you live?”


*I really don’t like talking about labels. I got enough of that as an undergraduate in Chicana/o Studies and MEChA. I know very well why I call myself Chicana, why I use Raza and Latino as panethnic terms, and why I eschew Hispanic. If you want to know, I’ll tell you.

What I won’t tell you is that you should call yourself Chicana/o or Mexican or Mexican American or Latino or Hispanic or fulana/o de tal. As long as you’re comfortable with whatever term you choose, know the origins, meanings, connotations and additional baggage that comes with whatever term you apply, that’s cool.

By the way, American Public Media’s Marketplace wants to know what you call yourself and why to help improve their reporting. Fill out their short questionnaire here.