bells curve

November 4, 2013

the system has expectations for our children:
they hold our kids hostage to numbers called statistics.
so when the bell curve tolls in our hood
it announces the death of another brilliant mind
whose brain has been washed in toxic detergents
of a public education system
whose lesson is you: can’t do this.

“add them to the numbers,” they say.

numbers we wear on an orange suit across our chest
numbers we carry on a government issued card
numbers… to cluster us all into a bundle of expected failure.

that’s some ‘ish right there.

believe me when i tell you
we can survive the system that fails us.
the very same system that tries to derail us.
they blame us for the fault they’ve committed
against our children.
but we can survive the system’s shade
with our Light.

everyone knows there are more cops at our schools
than resources. everyone knows when government budgets
get cut our schools bleed out.

here is a fact: statistics are not a death sentence.

if we can rise above the stat… we can shift the curve
to turn the streets of our neighborhoods
cut through the park
stop in the corner bodega
head to the church
to preach the miracle
that we are.

we are born survivors.

i know that our grades are affected by more than just what happens at school.
i know that trying to help your mother by doing a little hustling is your truth.
i know that you go to your room when you hear the screams of violence in our neighborhood.
i know some days you wonder if food will be on the dinner table.

the reality of our realities are not for the weak. and that is all the proof we need to be certain of what we can accomplish.

we are known to survive in the most adverse circumstances.

i expect you to thrive Hermanit@. i believe you can thrive.

i want you to look at the stat and say, “i’m an outlier.”

“i am that number that will not be included. i will exhaust every possible resource because i know how to hustle a scholarship. i got skills so sick no antibiotic can get rid of it. i am my community’s miracle child. my swag is success!”

you are being called by our community
to stand for our community
and lift our community out, up and over.

you are needed. you are wanted to create change from within. you are the answer to the question.

to the system we are a number with an attached expectation.

what are you to your Self? what is your expectation of you?

commit to the miracle that you are.

bells will curve. we will be sound.

Deprived+Areas+Inner+City+Glasgow+Bx2gcA3_atbl

sleeping giant

May 8, 2013

in this country
they will ban a book
before they ban a semi-automatic weapon.

because they know…
that a fully loaded mind
is powerful enough
to bring down corrupt governments
dressed in democracy
of the people
for the people.

(this shit has never been by the people).

in this country
they will fund wars
before they fund schools

because they know…
that an educated mind
is powerful enough to declare war
on things that matter:
hunger. poverty. racism.

education is under attack.

the ABC’s are held hostage
behind deficits and budgets.
they cut and shred
the safety net.

the system is fixed
for our children to fail.

so they blame it on teachers
and parents and anyone but themselves
because they know.
that if they put money into education
our children may just wake up.
(hell, we may wake up)
and realize we are a sleeping giant.

we don’t have lobbyists
pouring money into their campaigns.
but the collective power of our free minds
is capable enough to raise a level of consciousness
that could get this shit done right
once and for all.

in this country
they are failing our children with purpose.

the minority project

March 4, 2013

in our neighborhoods
the avenues are packed
with fast food restaurants
that starve us slowly.
value-less meals
dipped in special sauce
deplete our bodies.
we consume chemicals
that turn our stomachs
into quarter-pounds of fat.
obesity and heart disease
the golden arches
of our health disparities.
they. are. loving. it.

in our neighborhoods
the avenues are packed
with churches
but nobody is being saved.
church leaders get rich
on the poor’s faith;
halleluiahs are a business now.
bankrupt souls.
our biggest debt
is to our spiritual selves.
let. the. church. folk. say.

in our neighborhoods
our schools are packed.
failing and falling apart,
our abc’s are tested
on a system that was fixed
to educate a different
group of students,
who have a different set
of resources.
but we get the “F”
and the reports
leave us wondering
why the kids couldn’t
carry the one…
“well you know Mis’
it’s difficult to add
when all of your
life you’ve been subtracted.”
our children
become common denominators.

in our neighborhoods
the streets are packed
with people who walk with no direction.
all the roads say one way.
this was never built to actually
make you feel at home.
we are displaced in our own communities.
nothing belongs to us. not even our thoughts.
we have street signs named after dead leaders
and road blocks have been built
in the name of infrastructure
we arrive at dead ends
with every corner we turn.
you can’t have a dream here.
there is no moving on up
when the east side
is being gentrified.
so we’re moving on down.
ghettos are for sale.
buy cheap. sell high.
if you build it
they will leave…

hungry. poor. uneducated. displaced.

this is how you keep a majority labeled minority.

reflection: 40 years later

January 22, 2013

WHO GETS ABORTIONS

I will never need an abortion.

I no longer have a crib. Due to a disease called endometriosis five years ago, I had a hysterectomy. Still, I have a very difficult time understanding why anyone would feel the need to get involved in such a personal and private decision.

When I was 14-years-old I went with a cousin on mine to the clinic. When they told her she was pregnant she was numb. She was around 19. They gave her options. She said she’d let them know what she would do.

I don’t remember many details except for her silence. The train ride back to her mother’s place was quiet. And in between tears and sighs I could feel her worries. There are so many components to this decision: spiritual, emotional and physical. But they were hers and only hers to make.

I am not sure when she made the decision but I was there the day she came back with her boyfriend. Her eyes were swollen with tears. She lay down in her bed. And she asked me for a pen and paper. She said she was going to write a letter to her unborn. I saw it as her need to talk to this spirit she was returning to the spirit world.

I never asked her any questions about her decision. I simply understood that this wasn’t the time for her to take that step.
Years later, she married and has three beautiful children. I am witness to an amazing mother. A mother I know wasn’t there when she was 19. There is no way she could’ve been that mother because she needed time to “prepare.”

My mother once told me that she considered having an abortion when she became pregnant with me. She already had my two brothers and she said she felt overwhelmed. She wasn’t sure she could handle the load. But that’s just it; it was her decision to make. This shouldn’t be up for debate in chambers and capitol floors. And when it is, it threatens autonomy.

Forty years after Roe v. Wade we are witnessing to a war on women’s rights. The Viagra debate was never a debate. It was a demand to insurance companies to cover it and that was that. Yet it took 30 years to approve birth control pills.

And why are we, as women, not up in flames about this? Do we not recognize or realize our power? Are we raising sons to forget where they came from and that they must defend and protect our rights for the sake of their own children as well?
Roe v. Wade was just a step. Our battle is much longer. We may have come a long way but baby, it is so far from over it may just be the beginning.

We must remain vigilant and civically engaged in the process. Otherwise, they will cast a vote on your body: Nay, to your very basic right to make your own decision.

I will never need an abortion.

But my cousin, my mother, my sister, my niece and my daughter cannot and will not be kept from their right to do what they feel is best for them.

A government that interferes with that by definition becomes a tyrant.

hello, my name is…

January 16, 2013

names have power.

i was named, Sarahí. (try it in your best Spanish. the “h” is silent and the “í” sounds like “ee”).
my mother’s older sisters named me. her name was Sara (again, read that in Spanish).
she thought Sara was too plain.

recently, i went to an open house (i am in the process of applying to nursing school) and the young man who gave the opening presentation introduced himself as Jose Villa (read, Ho-say Vi-la). my heart ached. i cringe when we do this (i was guilty of it years ago). hell, i didn’t even try to say my name in “English,” i simply changed it to Sarah.

lots of us are guilty of this. some of us do it ’cause we just don’t want to deal. others because, “whatever.” pero i stopped doing this about eleven years ago.

what changed?

i realized a few things,

1. i had to learn an entire language, the other person just needs to learn how to pronounce a name.
2. i was dishonoring my name by butchering it both written and verbal. i slaughtered the texture of it, to please foreign tongues.
3. my name is BEAUTIFUL.

we spend so much time trying to assimilate, to fit in; while honoring the traditions of our culture. we sacrifice parts of our culture that can bleed out for a lifetime. but i couldn’t do that anymore. i grew up in the states. but i wasn’t born here. neither were my parents. neither was my name. and i have to work at holding on to these cultural parts of me because this place tries so hard to change the parts of you that are most powerful.

so we get here and they drop our mother’s last name. reserved for security questions at banks. then they call you something else. they ask the question, “what does your name translate to?”

if your name is Juan, now you are John.

NO!

you cannot translate a name. by definition names have no translation.
when you were named, you were given power.
you are to carry that name and make it yours while honoring your last names.

and when you migrate to this country they want to change it -pa’ que se le haga mas facíl en su boca.

i invite you to start saying your name, the way your abuela would say it if she were calling you back in the house. or the way your parent says it when you’re in trouble (you know, when you get that first and middle name). give people your name the way it is supposed to be pronounced.

i told my nephew this just a few weeks ago.
tell them there is no translation for Se-bas-tián.
it’s not sa-bash-chin. it’s not even close.

my name is Sarahí. anything less is disrespectful.

battered wombs

December 29, 2012

As I read through my social media feeds on the recent events in New Delhi, India and the rape of the young woman who has become known as “Brave Heart,” I am overwhelmed with emotions that reopen old wounds. I have been looking up facts and numbers; trying to see if I can “enlighten” myself and others. Trying to find some “light” in this darkness. Only to feel less powerful.

So I turn to writing, my source of strength, to see if I can continue this life long healing process (the wound now almost thirty-years-old). I feel enough anger today to share a very personal story with you.

It took the death of a dear uncle of mine almost five years ago for me to tell my mother and the rest of my family what his brother had done to me when I was just five-years-old. My aunts asked why I didn’t say anything. I just told them that at that age you feared saying anything because somehow you actually believed you had done something wrong. That somehow, it was your fault or you asked for it.

In my head, I also feared that my family may “have the reason” for my queerness. That I was gay because this happened and so I never shared it, except behind the closed doors of therapy rooms or to close friends. I never wanted my family to feel like they had found the “cause” of my gayness. One has nothing to do with the other.

I share my story because my voice will not be silenced.

His name is Frank. I have no need to keep his name a secret, I refuse to give him any power today. When I was five he was a giant. And I feared him. Today, I stand at 5’4″ about two inches MUCH taller than him. He’s actually a pretty sad excuse of a man. Like somehow his creator ran out of everything needed to make a human and put together the scraps of hate-filled limbs and ugly together and called it to “life.” I mean really, raping a five-year-old? Any rape is horrific? But a fucking five-year-old? But you’re a sick bastard and I have no time for psychology.

No worries though. I am standing. Filled with Love and laughter and family and friendship. Fortunately, he was never able to have any offsprings. He lives in Puerto Rico now. He is the uncle of six of my cousins. Most who have kids and that is why I told them, to NOT leave your children with fuck face.

I wish I could tell you that I have healed entirely. Until I read about another woman who was raped and my anger erupts like a volcano. I have always been a patient person. I have always been forgiving. I have always tried to find peace. But for some reason this is one of those things I wish I could take into my own hands. I wish I could be in the room with Frank now. Me, him and a Louisville Slugger. Yes, there is that much anger. I’ve thought about it (I will omit the remainder of those details because my nieces and nephews read my work). Still, it would be a beautiful thing to line all these sons of bastards up and have a day.

I saw Frank at my uncle Tito’s funeral. My cousin Danny was with me and he knew the story. When Frank came out of his house and started walking towards me, my body grew strong and angry. And if it wasn’t for Danny reminding me that this wasn’t the time or the place (seeing that my uncle’s body was at the church across the street), I would’ve had my day. But I walked away; my grief and Love for my uncle Tito was stronger than my anger at that moment.

Some of us keep waiting on the law. Some of us keep praying, chanting, meditating… waiting for something to change. But fuck this man’s world filled with men who stand idle and don’t do shit about this. Since the beginning of time it has been the way to defeat us, to deflate us, to demoralize us. They whip out their hard rods and ram it inside of us, bashing up against our fragile walls, they tear down our internal structure… leaving us hollow. Empty. Confused. Guilty. Our voices silenced.

And the horrific event of the woman in New Delhi is something that happens every. fucking. day. in. every. part. of. this. fucked. up. world.

The men stand idle. And the women can’t do shit because every authority figure is male. And the men can’t go against their own, even if his dick ain’t feigning for the thrill of abuse.

And if she decides to take a stand her husband will kill her. If she decides to fight for her daughter, the governments have nothing in place to protect her. If she decides to try and make her way to a better life, six men will feel the need not only to rape her but the beat her senseless and leave her without life or Life.

For every man who rapes, let the sentence be castration -testicles and all. They value that more than they value their mother.

I want no mercy. That’s God’s job -and today, I don’t feel like God’s child.

**Brave Heart, may the Light of your Life shine on long enough so that history doesn’t repeat itself in the battered wombs of our daughters.

No Fools Allowed

August 16, 2012

I interrupt this, otherwise Love-filled blog, to express a political rant that has been burdening me for quite some time.

I am a community organizer. I organize communities around THEIR healthcare related issues and concerns. We have been dealing with issues of Medicaid Spend Down, Formularies and LIA Waiver Request from the (DSS) Deparment of Social Services (if you actually read those links, wow! and thank you).

In Connecticut, Medicaid is also known as Husky. There are four types of Husky Programs: A, B, C and D. In order for you to qualify to receive Medicaid Part D (also known as LIA or Low-Income Adult) your MONTHLY income CANNOT exceed more than $512.05 in the Greater Hartford Area (click here for qualification guidelines).

A few months ago, the Department of Social Services requested a waiver (mentioned above) to the federal government asking to withdraw a particular group of people from Husky D. Connecticut legislators wrote to the Commissioner concerned with that fact that Husky D recipients are infact the most vulnerable of Medicaid recipients (read letter from CT Legislators).

A public hearing took place in July 2012 where EVERYONE testified in favor of denying the waiver. At the public hearing, questions asked by legislators often left the commissioner and his staff answering, “We don’t know.”

The department claims there would be a a savings of $50 million. There no proof of this figure or how they even came up with it, ANYWHERE.

But this is what the GOVERNOR wants to balance the budget. This is where he believes we need to cut to save his budget. And legislators (who are up for reelection in November) decided not to reconvene to cast a vote (A-la-Pontius-Pilate) and “appear neutral” to the needs of their constituents.

When our governor appointed Commissioner Bremby in March 2011 he said ,”I’ve said over and over that we will not cut the safety net -and DSS and their partners are a lifeline for people in crisis.” How lucky are you Governor Malloy, that three out of every four Hartford residents has literacy problems.

A message to Connecticut Legislators (urban and suburban alike), at what point did you stop listening to the people? Did you know that you are not a pawn of the governor but in fact a PUBLIC SERVANT?

I have studied politics. I have taught state and local government classes. I am organizing communities. Tell me please, how do I inspire a community to remain active and involved in the process to create change when YOU void their effort and fight by simply remaining idle?

It is clear that everyone was against this waiver and still you took no action. It is clear that this waiver will help no one and create a greater debt in emergency room visits, medication non-adherence and possibly death.

These people are the most vulnerable among the vulnerable and you dismiss them without as much as casting a vote. It makes you spineless. Your actions speak louder than any campaign flyer you will send in the mail.

Mark Twain said, “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

The truth is, I wrote this for my community. Not for you. You clearly don’t care. You are just a politician. But unfortunately, most of my community won’t ever read this. Hell, most of them don’t even care to vote. I can’t blame them anymore. What for? You’re all cut from the same cloth.

I will not forget. I will make sure everyone I talk to knows about this and the countless other things you do for political gain and comfort. It may not make as much as a dent in the outcome of your bought-and-paid-for-campaigns. But I ain’t no fool and I’ll be damned if my community is made into one.

beauty

April 26, 2012

your beauty is being measured
in measurements and hues.

cosmopolitan has set the cosmos to believe
double zeros is the size to be. so they photoshop
your weight to turn the corners of their sizeism
into curves that will wrap around an image of beauty
that is emaciated.

allure is the illusion created
when they airbrush your skin a lighter shade
of racism.

at seventeen they got’ you
believing that skinny jeans will walk
you through life. that you should highlight
your hair to highlight your features.

you can vogue your way to your fifties
so long as botox keeps your skin tight
enough to walk the runway.

don’t run away
from who you are.
your natural beauty is flawless.

debunk the beauty myth.

ugly is created in magazines
that sell you lotions and potions
that alter the image in the mirror
to reflect their own self-hatred.

untitled

April 6, 2012

black child…
you never got the chance
to taste the rainbow.

17.years.old

[pause]

think for minute and remember
when you were 17.
you were so full of life… and dreams.
what did you want to be when you grew up?
what did you like? what were your hopes?

black child
you will never know.

because bazooka joe thought your melanin
was the 8th deadly sin
and felt the the need to stand his ground
pull a trigger
and just like that.

…you never got the chance
to taste the rainbow.

this race war
has taken more lives
than all the wars combined.

this race war
has got’ us running away from each other.

fear is a four-letter word with a five-letter sentence:

death.

17.years.old
17.years.old

you never got the chance
to taste the rainbow.

you never got the chance
to live life.
to try and make better days.
to watch your parents grow old.
to witness so many beautiful parts of life.

he took your now & later.
left a sour patch on our tongues.

and the iced-t
tastes like bitter hate.

sobreviviente

February 13, 2012

“aqui no se vive mi hija,”
dice mi viejo.
“aqui se sobrevive.”

y es que este gobierno
tumba esperanza.
ser ladron es un delito
solo para el pobre.

la corrupción se disfraza de sacerdote
para absolverse de su propio pecado.
de un departamento de educacion
Que ni ABC se preocupa por sus hijos.

crece, generación tras generación
sin saber leer titulares.
por eso los periodicos llevan fotos,
y los partidos colores.

para que en filas sus votantes
se acuerden quien le dio
el saco de arroz
que solo le da de comer
a su familia una semana
mientras su desendencia
se quedara hambrienta…

si mantenemos a un pueblo sin educación
jamas tendran su liberación.
y el 27 de febrero celebraran
la dictadura de un gobierno.

y un pueblo
con caras enmascaradas celebra sin querer ver
que independiente de su partido,
el diablo cojuelo vive en su palacio.

no hay peor ciego, que el que no puede leer
porque a su gobierno asi le conviene.