“The personal is political:” A Maxim that Has Become a Minim? (*).

De gota en gota, lleva el agua la fuente a la mar.

De gota en gota lleva el agua la fuente a la mar.

Pondering over what I should write about, it came to my mind something which I’ve been mulling over for a long time. And I asked myself, What ever happened to the old feminist movement? I don’t talk about Women’s Studies Departments, which work hard within academia. I’m more concerned with the movements in the public sphere, here in the U. S. and in countries where the discrepancies between genders are even more acute and the conditions of women have only better in as much as women have worked hard to change them.
Certainly, the states have not and are not always providing conditions to help women improve. On the contrary, with the economic crisis of the neoliberal economy the outcome for women is tragic, as they become—once again, the only source of food, love, and strength for many to survive and move on; this time in worst conditions, though. They are faced with the double burden of working—as they are favor these days in the sweat shops for the low wages they are paid, and in the cases where there is no husband–the only one to care for the children. And it’s harder every step of the way. Many are dying in the process. We just need to read any recent study on women’s condition around the world to see that. Let’s remember that women’s rights around the world are an important indicator of the well-being of the planet.
Women have not been passive bystanders of the crisis. Some of the gains of women after several decades of intense work have been their increased visibility in the public arena as members of the labor force and spokes persons within their communities; their life expectancy went up by nine years in areas absent of war, occupation, and lack of medical attention; fertility rates have decreased in areas of highly educated women and/or women on middle class committed to change; levels of schooling went up and illiteracy went down also in areas of richer, and more openly democratic and egalitarian governments.
In most Latin American countries, however, most women still work primarily within the informal sector, do not receive equal pay for equal jobs, do not have much legal representation, and have a very small presence and influence in state policies and decisions. They receive less than half of the profits national and/or private even if they work harder than their male counterparts; last but not least, their personal lives are still entangled with the responsibility of raising children and maintaining certain functional order in the home.
It seems that this postmodern condition we are in does not allow people to join one single specific movement as we are surrounded by a myriad of cultural practices, creeds and ideas that speak to the idea of “each one of us sees the world differently—no consensus!” Each movement only consents a partial, biased knowledge of reality. Moreover, the notion of circularity and indeterminacy carried over by the critique of language within postmodern theory is implicit in the actual lives of people. The fast pace at which many people live today and the millions of things available to “capture” life differently, do not seem to leave room for a serious understanding of reality, much less for a commitment to change it. The new motto seems to be ‘everyone for him or herself.’
All of these seem to leave women’s movements with no much to do to attain some of their liberating goals. To imagine that women will reach a relatively unified, worldwide and comprehensive movement that fights for most women’s rights is almost impossible. Small fights that will lead to small gains will continue to work for them, I am sure. Strategically, they should unite with the only other two big movements that can reach international and universal appeal: the fight for human rights and for environmental issues.
Language and discursive practices have helped women create consensus around their political actions. Perhaps is in the words of women and in the power of their dialogue that we may create an answer. We need to continue talking and working with the cooperative power that characterizes us. Redefining symbolic power—along with structures and practices, as if reconstituting the subject hood of female individuals, and with that the notion that the feminine is absence, lack of power, silence. So as to show that we don’t want to be the dominating force but the guiding one, and without minding that something that once was a driving force—thus becoming a maxim, it’s perhaps today just a drop that if merging in with the strength of millions more can get to be the waterfall that washes away the nonsense of ignoring the need of a feminine side to the human kind and with it, its survival.
(*)Minim: A unit of fluid measure equal to one sixtieth of a fluid dram, 0.0616 milliliters, or approximately one drop.

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El hambre no tiene color

Han quedado sus ojos
del color de las frambuesas
y su olfato anhelando
el dulce canto de la piña
en su más sentido coro
de música del gusto
venida del alimento
que la tierra nos da.
Pero ya le han quitado
ese placer del comer
que muchos heredan
sin pensar cómo es
esa única manera
de no creer y probar
qué es un  plato vacío
el que norma no es.
¿Qué hice yo?
¿Acaso es mi pecado?
¿Por qué he de ser
Yo quien sufre?
Yo no pedí ser traído
al mundo, ni sabía
que pudiera ser así.
Además, siempre que tuvo
se alegró su bocado lleno
poblado de luces y color
con una risa bañada
en caramelo, ahora amarga,
bajando por un vientre
vacío,descarnado, pegado
a las costillas, cuerdas
flojas que el hambre distendió
Y han salido los monstruos
de sus  miedos que se tienden
al sol de su quejumbre,
guindando de los pies
como hueso sin carne.
Arrastrando su espíritu
por calles desangradas
del odio de los hombres.
Y no pudo aguantar
ni el liviano peso
de su propio ser
cayendo silenciosa
con un grito estentóreo
venido del dolor en sus entrañas
uno que solo los famélicos
saben reconocer.

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“En palabras de la abuela, cuando tuve su tutela.”

¿Cómo nos pueden
hablar así del mal,
si el bien no aguanta
en casa del general?

El que tiene bienes
convence a otros
que su puesto de jefe
del cielo viene.

(Aunque no aguanta
la soga del ahorcado
en casa del que habla
del buen mercado.)

Dicen que es neutral
y no peca de avaro,
el político que hubo
su lote de lo robado.

¿Es este mundo loco
en el que habitamos
un infierno que alberga
sólo desengaños?

O, ¿Es el dolor causado
por desamparo, regalo
de un padre creador
que nos ha amado?

Y ¿cuáles son las gracias
que nos adornan, si …
además de pecadores,
el diablo ronda?

Publicado en: Poemas | Agregar un comentario

He Took a Knee and I take One with Him

He took a knee and for that he was treated like sh…
Don’t say anything/don’t do that thing.
How dare you? You don’t want to be in deep need
To be denied your fee? Don’t you remember …
Where you came from? What we did for you?

And so it’s always been the complaints from those
Who have it all and yet, use other people as players
Who in turn cannot complain …and if so. How come?
Please, don’t do it here, do it away not so near
In the rear, where we don’t see you so clear.

In your own time. You don’t have any right,
To complain for other’s pain, don’t U forget;
if you are here is on us. You did not earn this.
We gave it to you… We are so good, and you! None:
Disgraceful, distasteful, deceitful creature…

Yes, we are the ones who made you work
For us, while we treated you bad, you’re ours
You still are, what’s there for us to regret.
We still own you, and buy you and sell all
The heck we want, your image, you strength
Your work, your submission, your ass!

You made us rich, while you got dead trashed…
By us, we are so bad, it’s been fun, it still is
To run after you with a gun and shoot while you run…
Whether you are guilty or not, who cares
It’s been like that for a long time: Until the 1800,
No voice, no land, no vote, the worst jobs, if anything at all.

Segregation, denigration, humiliation, starvation…
If we continue to tell you, you’d not believe us
You’d put it on us, “if you are not rich is your fault”
And so today it goes again, they still buy and
Sell you, you have owners, you can be let go, or not?

Cause ultimately, who needs whom? Others come…
And others go. Who loses if they don’t have you?
Do you really have your rights?…What’s for you to be free?
Even when you loudly speak in silence your rage…who hears?

Injustices many of you know have suffered, we know
Always, they take your gesture as a threat, and a lie
An insult is not to recognize your voice saying, “Something
Is not right! And I can’t stand to celebrate that!” My own bad!

For my brothers and sisters who have died in vain and pain
Resisting with a broken back, or a bullet in their bodies
Coming from a policeman’s gun, for those who can’t
Make into the NFL meat market, and are still good
I also take a knee. Right now, right here. And I hope
You do it with me!

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Naomi Klein. “The shock doctrine” (documental)

No puedo creer que después de tantos años estudiando la situación de America Latina, me vengo a enterar que Milton Friedman estuvo envuelto en el “experimento chileno.” Gracias a Naomi Klein por su trabajo.

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The March of Scientists in Gainesville

Check and see from a better source the video by Noam Chomsky.
(My comments pale by comparison to what this brilliant mind has to say.) Here it is, nonetheless.
Being at the March of Scientists here in Gainesville, yesterday—Saturday, April 24, 2017—made me see that I was not so crazy, or somewhat alone, as I sometimes feel. Most people I’ve talked to within my circles, until recently, seemed not to have much interest in the state of the environment and its consequences. They preferred not to talk about it, responded with a “I don’t worry about it. I’ll be gone when things get ugly,” and even: “I won’t see it in my lifetime, so… or, “Don’t think about that; it doesn’t help. Besides, nothing can be done.” Or, “God is in charge, and/or Science will save us.” Or a combination of the two is the answer, or rather the explanation they give themselves not to act. Not knowing what’s going on, what can we do to slow down and make less miserable the debacle, remaining irresponsive and irresponsible or careless with how much we dump out there in terms of pollution, last but not least, denying that is imminent, that is here …Is only making things worst!!! We don’t have to see this as a moral question only—even though, as Dr. Christian Hedges puts: “It’s a moral imperative” to speak up and act to save the earth and us with it…It’s not just an environmental issue—it’s one of social justice (injustice, better) with our very own form of a peaceful existence. It’s the war of the corporations and its co-conspirators, against life itself. As they penetrate and dismantle the earth, sell the products of their rape (pillage, destruction) to the most valuable better. It’s as Dr. Hedges puts it: “Casino capitalism.” Value measured in dollars, not in lives, not in quality of life. Despite the coup-d’etat by the corporations, and the control exercised over peoples’ minds and wants, it’s just a question of numbers: WE ARE TOO MANY on the face of earth. Most wanting the same, sometimes unattainable goals: A house, a car, computer, etc…all to be renewed, tossed away or replaced by another 5 years or so later. Think about it–we are doomed if don’t do something soon, now! And most of us don’t care…Don’t give a damn.

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Haiku 1

Tarde apacible y brillante
de oro y plata, que intenso color
pasa un viento que suena rugiente
plumas verdes de gran esplendor.

Publicado en: Haikus | Agregar un comentario

Haiku 2

Rojo fresa, verde malva
la vida saca a lucir su color
cada uno nos cuenta una historia
todas juntas, ¡qué intenso sabor!

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Haiku 3

Horizonte de brillo turquesa
con intensos toques de marrón
el agua y el cielo se besan
en medio de ellos ha salido el sol

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Proverbios, rimas, coplas

–Cuando tengas prisa, haz las cosas con calma.

–Aquí se hace tarde demasiado temprano.

–Si se ama la vida de verdad, la vida en la tierra se ha de preservar.

–El mono, aunque se vista de seda, mono se queda.

–Cuando una va pa’ pobre los males se le juntan;
los amigos ya no le hablan las chicas ni lo preguntan.

–No te digo adiós mis ojos, porque no tengo sino uno;
si te dijera adiós mi ojo, pensarás que es el del culo.

–I don’t believe in anything; eveything is sacred
I believe in everything; nothing is sacred.

–Lo único que no se puede hacer de día es trasnochar.

–Lo único que crece en cuanto más se le quita es …un hueco.

Publicado en: Comentarios linguísticos | Agregar un comentario

A semester to learn, connect and do social work

Spring Semester of 2016 Aprendiendo a enseñar
This is the report of my activities and accomplishments during the Professional Leave awarded to me for the spring of 2016. I began this project with the idea of building community around the cultural practice of storytelling, with emphasis in the development of bilingual stories, English-Spanish, performed rather than read. I managed to do a number of things as offered in the initial proposal, constituted by the three main aspects I worked on.
First, I continued my personal preparation to further advance in the field of storytelling in its bilingual and digital versions, and the exploration of its scenarios in the US, particularly in Florida. In addition, I explored those of Spain and Latin America, which led me to work on developing a course on “Latin American Storytelling” that could have two functions, substitute one of the Introduction to Literature (SPW3xxx) courses with a service learning component.
Second, I did a sort of pilot study with a couple of high schools in the area to test the waters as to how much they can get involved in a multi-layer project like this, receiving directions by volunteers from the University of Florida, and performing for preschools, elementary, and intermediate levels.
Last but not least, I made a good attempt at improving and introducing changes to my work within the community through my monthly storytelling presentations at a local library. I ventured to introduce zarzuela for future performances by the high school students, as well.
A detailed list of activities for each area of work follows.

I.- My preparation and exploration of the field
A. Academic advancement
1. I enrolled and took a course on Digital Story Telling (by PBS–online) and received a certificate. It was offered as “Digital Storytelling: Online tools for Sharing Students’ Voice.” (April 2016)
2. I enrolled and participated in a webinar organized by The Story Center, whose methods of group and “story creation serve as a reflective practice, a professional development tool, a pedagogical strategy, and as a vehicle for education, community mobilization, and advocacy.” (http://www.storycenter.org/about/ May 27th, 2016).
3. I became a member of The National Storytelling Association dedicated to help activists, parents, teachers, and students work effectively with storytelling. As they put it, “We’d like that all people value the power of storytelling and its ability to connect, inspire, and instill respect within our hearts and communities.” (http://www.storynet.org/about/index.html)
4. I read a good number of articles on the subject of storytelling for the course I took, and the one I’m developing and to further advance my knowledge of the subject in fields that use or study it.
5. I began and, am currently working on the development of a syllabus for a class for our undergraduate students (SPW3xxx) in our department on the subject of storytelling within the field of literature studies. I’d love for it to give the student the opportunity to do community service by helping me prepare the performances with the different levels of high school. This presents a useful approach to literature that gives them a viable and immediate opportunity to practice their skills, while getting involved with their community in something meaningful with a purpose.

B. Resources
1. Bank of Stories. As I wanted to introduce variety, and to get out of the most traditional story-types (fairy-tales and fables), I explored the web in search of good stories by Hispanic authors and found several, though not all of them suitable for acting. To increase my bank of stories, I went to the local libraries and found a nice set of stories authored by people of Hispanic descent. Many of them are in bilingual editions. The bank is growing.
2. Creation. I authored three stories in the bilingual and the script formats. I made a few more masks, bought, adapted and created new props (toys, staffed animals, drawings etc.) for my new stories.

Accomplishments: As a result, I have gained a more ample and solid knowledge of the scenarios in which storytelling moves and the useful inroads it’s making within education, public policy, and even politics and economics. I also learnt a lot about “digital storytelling” and its growing incursion in the education field for instructors (K-12 and beyond) to use it in the classroom, the psychology field,
I am connected with storytellers from Florida, Texas and California under the notion that I can learn from them, and maybe they can come to UF/Gainesville one day. I feel quite ready and well prepared to teach this interesting class and to advance in my involvement with the community, both within the schools and with the public in general. As The Story Center puts it, “We create spaces for transforming lives and communities through the acts of listening to and sharing stories.” (http://www.storycenter.org/about/)

II.- What I did with the high schools, instructors and students

1. I wrote to several Spanish instructors of High Schools of the Gainesville area. I invited them to allow me to bring to their students the idea and the plan of working on performing in a bilingual format, traditional and not so traditional stories for younger audiences—elementary school students and preschoolers.

2. I took GHS as my base, as they offered me all the support I needed. I worked with instructors Janet Hill (Chair Person) and Claude Owens (Instructor of 2nd and 3rd levels of Spanish.) I also did some work with students of Buchholz High School—class of María Morales de Lewis and Mary Elizabeth Duncan, and agreed to plan to work with instructors Grissel Santiago (P. K. Yonge), Libby Karow (Oak Hall), in the fall (2016) to prepare their students for poetry readings.

3. I met with each one of the two classes of GHS, once a week for 50 minutes each, during 6 weeks. The groups worked on each of the steps (see #4) with the help and supervision of their instructor and me. The students were not assigned a particular book. The groups read several of them and chose the one they liked best. Many expressed to have been attracted by the art of the books’ covers, in the first place. The groups discussed interesting aspects of the stories that had to do with culture differences between the country of origin of the author and those of the United States: habits–music, food, and clothing, forms of celebrating, race and class composition, history and politics and family relations.

4. In our workshops, we did several things: Selected stories, read them in groups, in class and observed the language used (dialog, monologue, description, simple, complex etc.), summarized the stories in English, created scripts in Spanish, and, in groups, chose parts (narrator, characters) and decided what format, masks and other props to use. We also read the scripts and practiced; made appropriate changes and corrections to scripts, decided what prompts to use and created them, rehearsed and performed the story. We video-taped almost all the dramatizations of the stories and some of them have been filmed and saved onto a CD.
5. I served as a judge for the “2016 North Central Florida World Language Festival” held at P. K. Yonge this past spring.

Accomplishments: As a result of working with the high-schoolers and their teachers, I have now a better sense of what the schools are willing and/or able to do with regards to a project of this nature. I was able to assess the extent to which students at the different levels are able to do with their language skills—English/Spanish, when it comes to working with the stories. I also saw that some—about half want to explore their acting and singing abilities to go beyond just reading a story and, instead, act it out at a basic level for their younger audiences. Last but not least, I’m more knowledgeable of ways to guide my future UF students to prepare the high school students to do a story performance for a much younger audience, at times, the rendition of a poem at a Language Conference.
The doors are open for our students to enter some high school classrooms and find that learning Spanish Literature has a value and a purpose that transcends the mere academic requirement. Studied this way, and with a hands on approach, it takes you to the fascinating world of the artwork of plots/words by others, listen to their stories and poems, and try to go beyond the surface and the superficial to plunge deep into their concept of the poetic and the real, via their story-lives and poetic lines.

III- What I did within the community

The shows. As part of my work with the community, and as I have done for the past 4 years, I made 4 presentations at the Library Partnership–Neighborhood Resource Center of the Alachua County Library District. The stories presented were two of the ones I wrote and two adaptations of songs into the “zarzuela” (Spanish musical) type. For these performances, I attempted an interactive and participatory format to engage the audience by getting them to do parts of the story or the songs. The kids attending can be of help to characters in the story or get to wear similar gear (costumes, masks, etc.) They are asked to sing after learning brief song lines, or to repeat a sentence that is used several times in a story. They are invited to play small parts (e. g. take the presents to the bride who just got married in the story). They answer questions asked by the presenters about the characters or the animals in the story (characteristics, habits, appearance, habitat and more). At the very end of the story, actors and audience interact more closely. They can sing the song again, or do another one they all know very well together, play a game, and talk a bit more about the story, among others.

Accomplishments: Every time I perform, I learn something new. This past spring was no different. The greatest lesson—as I performed by myself this time—is that it the shows work best when there is more people involved, such as students from the high schools: The more the merrier. The new community needs all of us as we are all it. I can help with audience control or preparations, while the HS students sit on the floor with the kids and do the story as a dialog, a casual affair that involves a lot of learning. If someone wants to stand up and perform, they can do so. The format is relaxed, not forced, as natural as possible, and playful. “Zarzuela,” in particular, needs a team for getting the attendees to do different things; at times the kids were asked to do the same gesture, or remember the moves of the dance—all of which makes it more “community oriented” and fun. That’s why I believe that projects like this—although seemingly complex are doable but with the help of several people, and hopefully some funds. That, I’m still working on.

Publicado en: Comentarios | Agregar un comentario

Un cuento real

{Una recreación feminista de una experiencia real.} Por C. Sotelo
“¡Corramos, amigas! ¡No se queden atrás!
“Yo no lo vi salir corriendo. ¡No viene persiguiéndonos, parece!”
“Eso crees tú. Tal vez nos va a seguir de lejos.”
“Nos ha mirado intensa y horriblemente. Tengo mucho miedo.”
“Todas tenemos miedo.”
¿Dónde está Juana?”
Las niñas, de entre 11 y 13 años, iban saliendo de la escuela camino a la academia donde aprendían música. Decidieron tomar la calle cercana al cementerio por estar desierta y porque les permitía llegar más rápido. Unos metros antes de la esquina que debían doblar hacia el norte camino a su lugar, vieron a un hombre delgado, con el cabello largo, poco limpio, y menos aún, organizado. Parecía haber acabado de agarrarse de un cable eléctrico y tenía la apariencia de la Medusa.
Se les acercó con un movimiento inicial que no expresaba agresión. Miraba hacia abajo y ocasionalmente al frente, ignorándolas completamente. Las chicas no tuvieron miedo de él. Al llegar frente a ellas, el hombre abrió su abrigo y las niñas corrieron hasta llegar a la calle de la academia y, sin parar, entrar en ella, despavoridas. Estaban cerca, menos mal! Eran 5.
No podían creer lo que habían visto. Las más jóvenes—todavía confundidas, preguntaban a las mayores si era que el hombre llevaba un niño entre sus pantalones—o al menos su brazo. Eso fue lo que las asustó. Qué inocencia. Lloraban, sin embargo, porque les había dado la impresión de ser un monstruo lo que habían visto. Las mayores abrazaban a las menores tratando de consolarlas. “No ha pasado nada” Decía una. “Fue más el susto que otra cosa,” dijo la otra. Ellas ya habían estudiado algo de sexualidad y entendían vagamente lo que podía ser (nunca lo habían visto en persona); aun con la respiración entrecortada acertaron a decirse, mirándose una a otra, temblando voz y cuerpo. “Era uno de esos que muestran su órgan…” ¡Ahhh! Noooo ¡Qué asco!”
“¡Era enorme. No quiero ni volverme a acordar. Parecía el brazo de un bebé!”

“No nos pidan que hablemos. Eso nos tortura más. Qué asco.”

Acezaban. Se cubrían la cara. Seguían llorando. Se abrazaban.

“Ayúdeme. Ayúdenos a todas, mejor. Es increíble lo que acabamos de ver. Ha sido horrible.”

Parecía que se desmayaban por la respiración rápida y entrecortada. Luego de entrar todas en la secretaría de la academia, con la ayuda de la secretaria y algunos estudiantes que estaban allí, se desplomaron en las sillas que encontraron. No todas pudieron hacerlo y algunas cayeron al piso. La secretaria trajo agua para cada una. Entre sorbos y palabras entrecortadas, seguían tratando de explicar qué había pasado. No se les entendía nada, hablaban al tiempo y reaccionaban según iban recordando.
“Yo no me di cuenta qué pasaba hasta que empezaron a correr todas ustedes. Casi me caigo y quedé de última y paralizada cuando vino hasta mí y me dijo que si quería, mientras mostraba la horrible cosa que salía de su pantalón. Gracias a quien sea que me vino a rescatar, ayudándome a salir de la sensación de miedo e inmovilidad y arrastrarme otra vez con el grupo.”

“No nos ha tocado ese bruto, pero nos ha dejado una huella tan honda como una herida. Yo, al menos, me siento completamente como si me acabaran de pegar, de romper las entrañas y no sé si podré dejar que un hombre me toque jamás ¡Mucho menos que me penetre!”

Publicado en: Cuentos | Agregar un comentario