Whole Foods as a Symbol of White Supremacy

[My tribute to our gente that continue to face the harsh reality of food injustices across our state; today is Food & Farms Day at the legislature]

Screen shot 2015-01-27 at 10.12.46 PM

First off, don’t start hating right away you Chicano-lites out there who have the privilege, yes privilege, of shopping at Whole Foods. Please at least read my educational rant in its entirety before you do. Second, Highspanics stop shaking your head and rolling your eyes because you too have the luxury of buying your limones and hippie tortillas there instead of at the fruteria down the street.

I won’t even hesitate to state that I (and I’m sure there are others who agree) believe that this market stands as a clear example of a white supremacist system that remains strong in society. And no white supremacist doesn’t refer to the diablos wearing the white hoods. It actually refers to a system that favors whites and most of those who consciously or unconsciously work to uphold a white system claim innocence or become defensive at its mere mention.

[I can almost hear the naysayer in the background heckling “well what about President Obama?” and “I ain’t got no privilege, I just worked hard!” as they drive to their segregated neighborhood in the North East Whites. Ugh.]

Here’s what happened before you make the assumption that I shop there too:

During the Christmas break (btw I didn’t have a break) I was up in Santa Fe trying to churn out the last chapters of my dissertation. I had made the tough decision to detach myself for a few days so that I could focus on finally finishing this soul-consuming degree. I needed to buy some leche for my chocolate abuelita and saw the Whole Foods sign and decided to quickly stop by to get what I needed. Man what a mistake.

It’s as if the world changed when I crossed the threshold into their food heaven. I was in awe staring at the beautiful displays of fresh bread, pastries, stacks of fresh ripe fruit, the deli, the wine, the variety, the decor, the salad bar, todo. As I was walking down the aisles I couldn’t help but to suddenly feel out of place because I realized I was one of maybe 3 other brown faces among the white mass. I continued to observe the surroundings and noticed the looks of glee and heard the laughter emanating from the pink mouths on the happy white faces. I kept thinking – “well who wouldn’t be happy having the privilege of buying their food at such an amazing market?” Of course these people are going to be ecstatic about all of the variety and the quality available within their reach.

I couldn’t help but to simultaneously feel a sickness in the pit of my pansa that began to spread until my whole body felt nauseous and my face became flushed. No I didn’t have a bad case of chorro, I was pissed! I was so mad at the fact that most of the people in my neighborhood would never ever be able to shop at Whole Foods or even pinche Sprouts or Trader Joe’s. They would never see these beautiful displays and would never be able to purchase a $15 meal from the “hot bar” that equaled the size of the typical $2 Banquet TV dinner. I kept thinking about the food we had available on a daily basis. We have what my dad calls ‘rastrojo,’ the word he used to describe all of the third or fourth-rate food that is usually given as feed.

Screen shot 2015-01-27 at 10.15.39 PM

Last time I went to the Smith’s down the street from my house I noticed the berries were covered in mold and they were still selling at $3.99. A lot of the fruit and vegetables available to los pobres el el valle del sur are bruised, overripe, or straight out low quality. The ironic part of it all is that a lot of the food at our store sells for a heck of a lot more than at ‘nicer’ markets such as Whole Foods and especially Sprouts. How is it possible or even okay for an economically struggling family to pay double or triple the price per pound for low-quality fruit than the ricos on the other side? How is it justifiable to know that a struggling mom can’t afford to buy her kids those damned (moldy) berries even if she wanted to?

I know what some of you are thinking – “it’s about class, not race.” Well there is truth to the fact that part of this continued food injustice and food disparity is connected to class, but there is absolutely no denying that it is fundamentally racialized. In almost every instance in the game, race trumps class.

No I don’t believe that the white corporate owner is saying out loud to the rest of his board and staff – “okay well let’s send this third-rate food to the market on the south side to those poor Mexicans who just didn’t work hard and who just don’t care about what they eat and feed their children,” but the fact is that he doesn’t have to even say it or even think it because the system is already set up to function in this unfavorable manner.

So to those who can afford to shop at el Whole Foods, just remember that for every one of you, there are thousands (or more) of those on the other side who can’t and won’t ever have that privilege. And as you eat the food that you bought with all of your spare change maybe a few of you will recognize that you are working to uphold an unjust system that doles out its resources ever so unfairly and cruelly.

#lablogadora #foodandfarmsday #foodinjustice

Crossroads…

Screen shot 2015-01-26 at 9.20.51 AM

After how many years (or months or days) can we say with certainty that we truly know someone? Is there a specific time range when this magically happens, when we can say without a doubt that we know that person inside and out? Or, is it most rational to state that we can never really know someone completely? Not even after 5 years, 10, 20, or 100…

Does that fact also apply to us as well? Do we ever really know ourselves completely? Can we ever accurately predict our behaviors, our responses, and our emotions? Or, will there always be that part of us (even if it is miniscule), that Mrs. Jekyll within, that we continuously strive to hide from others and even from ourselves?

I say all of this because I find myself at probably what will signify the biggest and scariest crossroads of my life. Throughout our lives we will encounter many minor bumps, some major, and then the grand master of them all.

It is at that moment that I think we realize that much of our lives are dictated by fear. Not fear that is innate to human life but the fear we have been conditioned with by society and all of its gendered and racialized tricks it plays on us. It is that fear of change, of the unknown, and of uncertainty that stops us in our tracks and inhibits and prohibits us from even trying to pull off the blinders that have given us such a myopic field of view.

During these trying times we should not ask for strength but instead for clarity so that we might make maybe not the best decision, but at least one that will grant us some peace and will point us in the right direction.

#lablogadora #chicana #crossroads

The Sunshine Portal – don’t let the name fool you.

Screen shot 2014-12-28 at 10.48.45 AM

[Warning: read with caution, coming from an angry place]

Late last night I made the mistake of browsing through the pinche Sunshine Portal, even the name is a mockery. I didn’t feel so ‘sunshiney’ after finding out what some of the gente make at the institution. After seeing the figures I was so riled up that I couldn’t even sleep… 1 am… (very mad) … 2 am (mad) … 3 am (still mad)…

I’m at a loss and don’t want to hate but damn I’m still infuriated and slightly down. It makes me realize that the ugly sensation inside is possibly a reflection that I’ve bought into the system as well. I shouldn’t feel this bad but maybe I do because a part of me wants a slice of the institutional pie. [Hell no!]

Now I’m beginning to understand how the institutional beast works. I’m starting to see a pattern after looking at so many slap-in-the-face salaries. It’s what I had touched on before, the equation. The more vendido, the greater the pay. The more complicit, the greater the rewards. The more connected to the VIP club, the greater the benefits.

So now it’s making sense…. so that’s why there’s usually silence about troubling the waters at the institutional paradise, right? That’s why people, except for a few out there professors, will truly put themselves on the line. Material comfort is our greatest enemy, it’s the most effective placater. Once you’re in the system, very few will cause trouble for those who guarantee their pay and who allowed them in the club to begin with, right? Now I see why they tell us – to calm down, to sit still, to not disrupt, to be grateful, etc.

How do we justify all of this? How do they justify this? Is the justification made on their supposed skills? On their pedigrees? On their charisma and know-how? “I deserve this because I worked hard enough.” “We’re here representing all of you, you should be grateful to see our brown faces among the rotten milk.”

Oh really? Well the rest of us know that meritocratic shit don’t fly. Some of us are figuring out how the tokenistic, nepotistic, and cronyistic system works.

My mom made about $14K last year working her tail off. I think I made about $20K. How much did you make again? Starting at $70K? The other one at $82K? Don’t even ask about los otros.

The system is seriously off-kilter people.

[BTW… check it out for yourself: sunshine.unm.edu]

#angyblogadora #lablogadora #elsistema

The dilemma of a recovering Catholic

Screen shot 2014-12-16 at 11.32.04 AM

I have categorized myself as “recovering Catholic” for almost two decades now and haven’t spent too much time contemplating this self-identification. Mostly because I haven’t found the need to do so and nothing or no one has challenged my view.

But yesterday as I made my way to the Santa Fe plaza for a walk I realized my body was on autopilot heading straight towards St. Francis Cathedral. I had not felt the urge or desire to go to a church in several years and as I entered I couldn’t help but feel overcome with mild emotion. I chose a secluded spot towards the back and sat there for a moment and was tripping out at this strong inner desire to kneel. Maybe I’m not as “recovered” as I’d like to think? Maybe my Chicana soul has actually missed church over these years? Wow did I just say that? Have you heard that idea that the older you get the more one seeks out religion? And here I thought that it wouldn’t ever apply to me.

I mean let me explain. I, like many other first generation Chicanillas, grew up in different times from the super faithful abuelitos back in Mexico and was only forced to attend the obligatory Palm Sunday, Easter, Christmas, and Virgen de Guadalupe mass. Other than that, we just didn’t go to church. But that in no way meant that my Mexicana mom was not spiritually faithful. At the time she had been going through her own struggles with what the Catholic church had told her – that she was a pecadora for not having married my dad in church and was banned from receiving communion.

When I was in my 20s I fell in love with going to mass but not because I had suddenly become a devout Catholic. During one of my walks around the Inner Sunset I so happened to pass by St. Anne’s during a mass and heard the faint sounds of music. Having grown up as a band nerd I couldn’t help but to peer inside and was lured in by the beautiful voices. I began attending Sunday mass just to hear the choir. I never verified it but I think the lead voice had been a professional opera singer. I would get goose bumps just listening to their sounds.

But of course all of this came to an abrupt end after I learned more of the dreadful history of the conquest and colonization through my Latin American history class from this amazing Latino professor who looking back I’m sure was a self-professed atheist. How could I attend a place that had at some point condoned the killing of innocent people erroneously considered savages? How could I be part of something that whether intentionally or not, oppressed others? I couldn’t reconcile with the historic fact that the true savages were really the ones who had worn the sign of the cross.

So I don’t know what’s going on with me. Maybe it’s because I’m at a crossroads in life, maybe because I’m getting older, maybe because I just missed connecting with some essence housed in what are considered sacred spaces. Maybe because no matter how much I have distanced myself from any organized religion, deep down there still reside those old Catholic traditions. Almost every Lenten season I still find myself making tortitas de camarón con nopales and capirotada.  It’s not because I’m Católica but because it’s a way of honoring mis abuelitos que en paz descansen. It’s just so intertwined with our Mexicano-ness.

So as I sat there in my rinconcito I kept wanting to cry, mostly because the familiar sights brought back so many fond memories of mis abuelitos, especially because the last time I saw them was in church, laying peacefully in their caskets ready to become one with the Earth again.

Maybe I’m not so “recovered” after all. Maybe recovered isn’t the right word anymore. Maybe the better word is consciente. No se. But what I do know for sure is somehow I didn’t feel so alone sitting there as I contemplated all the problems in my life. I also realized that when I left (bolted out the doors before the 5:30 pm mass started to the strong disapproval of the señora passing out the programs), I felt better, even if slightly, than when I had first arrived.

#lablogadora #recoveringcatholic #chicana #consciente

Artwork: “Chicana Birth” by Irene Jor, ’13

The system is broken…

[Clarification: you are right my dear amigo RR, the system is not broken, it is working the way it is intended to, not in our favor.]

Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 12.54.57 PM

Today is one of those days that I can feel the massive weight and heavy burden of the broken system upon my Brown female body. Today I embrace my title of “Angry Chicana.” Today more so than others I find myself feeling as if #icantbreathe.

My Chicana heart bleeds for the 43 Brown bodies disregarded, memories of Michael Brown, and Eric Garner shamelessly and unjustly murdered, not killed.

These only the latest cases of how Brown and Black lives don’t matter to those in power and symbolic of the countless Others that don’t and won’t make the headlines because our society has grown callous, cold, and immune.

My mind keeps wandering off to the same old question – how many more bodies will be disposed of? How many more family members discarded?

Many of us say #yabasta but when will it really be enough? When will we go beyond just saying the words “we’re tired” and act, react, and retaliate?

If we are the new majority, growing even exponentially in their frightened eyes and mind, then why is the revolution not happening? What keeps us from going there? Is it fear? Is it backlash? Is it the potential loss of our useless material gains? Is it comfort or outright complacency? Is it that we have become players in the very system that works to keep us down? Que?!

For those of us with at least half of an eye open, how do we convince Others that the time has come to look up from the hypnotic screen and disconnect from the machine? The most pressing time is upon us today, not tomorrow and we can’t continue to watch the nuevo sol leave us further and further behind.

When will go beyond just saying, posting, and tweeting #notonemore, #blacklivesmatter, and #yabasta?

When chingado when?

All we have to do is to stop in our monotonous tracks, link up our arms, walk forward, and demand that the time is now.

Later is no longer acceptable.

NOW.

#lablogadora #Chicana #reactandretaliate

 

Battling the Corrupt System and its Players…

el rio

La lucha va seguir…

I don’t even know how to start this one. Sitting here en el pinche Starbucks of all places trying to make sense of it all, my head still clouded and in the haze of denial. Damn the pain! Damn you vendidos!

Pain and frustration with the reality that at the end of it all it did not matter what we said, or what we did, or who we brought (and damn we had back up!) because they were already bought.

We lose even when we organize, even when we are professional, even when we behave, and even when we have the research to walk the talk. If that is the case, then why play by their rules?

I’m a bit surprised that one tear has yet to fall when inside me siento tan, pero tan mal. Internally screaming at the top of my lungs to el rio who I see everyday of my life, to nuestros abuelitos that I am ultimately accountable to, and to the land – I TRIED, we tried, but los cabrones won today.

Maybe I haven’t cried because my being, my subconscious knows that we will not give up hope, even when the system betrays us, crushes us, and slaps us with the harsh reminder that we are playing with it’s rules.

So today I will mourn and be one with the pain but tomorrow is a new day and another opportunity. Mañana sale un nuevo sol. And although we may not ever completely dismantle the oppressive and unjust system, we can and will find pleasure in being the perpetual thorn in their side.

#lablogadora #contrasantolina

The Lavad@ Principle

Screen shot 2014-11-20 at 9.59.12 AM

Have you ever noticed that the more lavado/lavada an individual is, the greater the material rewards they receive such as their pay?

It’s as if there’s a mathematical equation in effect:

Lavadismo* = ↑ Salary + ↑ Material Compensations

Lavadismo = ↓ Salary + ↓ Material Compensations

[*Lavadismo: defined as the act of being lavada/lavado; lavar – to wash; frequently used in Chicano/a culture to signify being brainwashed by the system; in other words, used in reference to individuals who have “sold out”; term lavada/o commonly said to individuals who have assimilated and are viewed as sellouts.]

Of course there are always the exceptions to the rule, the outliers. But seriously, has anyone else noticed this phenomenon? If you don’t believe me, put it to the test.

This is especially true at institutions for higher learning. The more the person is willing to go along with the system, the higher up on the material food chain they will be. The more the person has conformed, the greater the pay. The more the person is complicit and complacent, the better the view in their office.

Serio, have you ever compared what a community activist, a radical teacher, or a dissident makes versus un buen lavado at the local institution? Cacahuates versus mangos.

The sad thing of it all is that it makes utmost sense. Why? Because we continue to live in a hegemonic system. Hege-quien? In other words, we continue to live in a society with a most definite hierarchy of dominance – the ruling order who sits on top (and we all know who that is – whites along with their lavado friends) and the rest of us brown and black folk at the bottom.

Institutions within society have the job of making sure this system continues to work the way it was intended – keep those who define the rules on top while keeping the rest of the masses down below. So what clever institutions within society do is to actively find individuals who will ultimately conform and who whether they claim to be aware of it or not, will work to uphold the damned oppressive hierarchical system.

Example, have you ever noticed how the majority of raza who are placed (yes placed) in higher positions suddenly forget their roots and their familia, some of who are still on the other side of tracks? Many times it’s our own raza that behave as the worst gatekeepers.

So next time you see me with that sly smile on your face and your pockets filled with $ the system put there, just remember it’s at the expense and the continued oppression of countless Others.

#lablogadora #xicana #neversellout