I grew up fearing two things: the devil and "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named"
. My mother's migration to the U.S. in 1978, as well as my fathers' two years later, resulted in my fortune of being born, raised, and considered
an American citizen
. As children, they grew up a few hours apart from one another, residing in the fifth largest city to the tiniest country the Central American isthmus has to offer: the Department of Usulután
. Unfortunately, my parents, like millions of others before them, would not have the same opportunities as I have had growing up. With its history of economic imperialism that stretches to the advent of Spanish colonialism, El Salvador would be unable to provide political, economic, and social well-being for the majority of its population at the turn of the century. Individually escaping the first years of the Salvadoran Civil War
, my mother and father would reunite, ultimately settling in Panorama City, a district of the San Fernando Valley, suburb to the city of L.A. There, along with my three siblings, and a whole bunch of wonderful and interesting animals (dogs mostly, but occasionally we were known to have chickens, roosters, ducks, and a few bunnies) is what I continue to consider "home".
These brief overview words were not easily discovered; it took me many disputes with my father, as well as countless hours reading, to disentangle the origins of my own transnational roots. All this to say that I firmly believe myself (along with my unbelieving siblings) to be a product of U.S. Empire. You see, my folks' narrative explains why I grew up fearing the two referenced creatures above. Without access to formal education (my mother reached the 3rd grade, my father made it to middle school), my parents have solidified their worldviews based on the rhetoric (what do you think Jen, would this qualify?) of the neoconservative right. Ronald Reagan and Pat Robertson (among other distasteful beings) are but two examples to the kind of indoctrination I grew up with. Now, victim card aside here, it should be referenced that much of my own journey through Hyrule's light and dark worlds [you know what I mean Rachel & Tiffany! ;)] have been shaped and determined by global forces influential to most, if not all, cornerstones of human societies. I learned to escape the clutches of a literal translated Christian-conservative household by reading (late at night of course, holding a flashlight under the sheets) of how in the world Harry might be able to pass his Potions exam, escape from three-headed dogs, and still find time to consolidate the passions of his heart. (I still think he and Cho were better fit for one another...*sigh*...)
But enough about fears...
being an alumni of CSUN's History
and Central American Studies Program
prepared to me interrogate and narrate social realities that are so often swept under the imperial rug. I had the wonderful opportunity to work with many amazing and social justice driven students and educators, some of which I will forever owe a debt of gratitude. Student organizations such as Students for Quality Education (SQE) really opened my eyes to the students' collective responsibility and power in maintaining and preserving access and equity for public education, regardless of socio-economic status.
However, the more I learned, organized, and participated in student rallies, open-mics, and protests, the more I became disillusioned with the level of success that we as students were generating. It became apparent to me then that our political abilities as students were deeply entrenched within the larger vision for a neoliberal university. Finding the rise in tuition fees, program consolidations and/or cuts, and the overall "supportive" administrative approach to "working" with student demands and dissent, forced me to leave SQE. It was at this time that I gained probably the most important piece of advice: "You have to to go grad school."
And so here I am. Through the words of an empowering Chican@ Studies scholar, I learned of what graduate school was. She told me to apply to the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Scholars Program
and so I did. She herself was a McNair scholar in days past and so she knew exactly the kind of opportunities and resources that open for a student of color upon having such a title. I still remember the morning when I read the email stating that I had been accepted to join the 2011-12 cohort. I learned a lot about my research interests through this program. With my history of student activism, I wrote and presented my thesis, titled: "Struggle, Expansion, Banning: Toward a Critical Understanding of Ethnic Studies in the Neoliberal Era". Heavily based in discourse analysis and CRT, I deconstructed Arizona's H.B. 2281
(the bill that has banned the teaching of non-Eurocentric curriculum) and argued that the bill represents a further shift towards a neoliberal public education.
This project continues to be of great importance to me as it was conceived while I was taking part with a group of students from CSUN's Department of Chican@ Studies and Department of Asian-American Studies. Here, as you can see, is a picture of me and my compañer@s in the Nogales and Mexico Border. Spearheaded by educators such as Dr. Rodolfo Acuña
, CSUN students and professors have played an important role in bringing awareness, material aide, and transborder solidarity
to the continual fight against right-wing Tea Party politicians currently residing in the chambers of Arizona's state department of education. As I go about and teach my first undergraduate class, Introduction to Comparative Ethnic Studies, I'll continue to make evident that the student movement is not over, but rather, continues to dispute various forms of systemic inequity so commonly found in the hallways of our nations K-20 education system.
I chose to call this "brief" introductory entry of mine, "Of fears, dreams, & falling..."
, for one reason: I fell for the first time yesterday morning on my way to campus. It's actually quite funny (as all stories of slipping in the snow eventually are.....I hope?). I was running for fear of missing the 7am A-route when I thought..."if you keep running your going to fall." Sure enough, upon deciding to walk and taking that second step, my right side quickly met the slippery slopes of Military Hill, gliding past the snow covered shrubbery.
All the kind, generous, and amazing people I've been fortunate to encounter here this past semester have warned me that falling your first year is inevitable. Me, being somewhat resistant to laws of any kind, wanted to prove this theory wrong. And alas, I could not do it. It was while sliding down the earths cold surface that I realized: we cannot control everything. My parents immigration was determined through historical-powerful formations; student demands for public education has always been influenced and determined by politics of capital and the nation-state; and my walking down Pullman's winter cold mornings will continue to be based on a random sliver of ice, or an unforeseen loose gravel, and most likely of all, the will of nature. Falling that first time made me realize that even though I don't have control over everything, I do have control over some things. I have the control to give my absolute best to this upcoming semester, and more specifically, to each one of you. And so I will stop right here for now, as I know we all have so much to read and do (and by Tuesday!)..... Pleasure to be in this class and look forward to working and getting to know you all in the weeks to come.