Final Exam Review

In the final exam (to be uploaded to Blackboard on Friday 5/15), you will answer questions in analytical paragraphs. Each response should be at least 275 words. All answers should bring forth direct examples, quotes, and analysis from the readings and/or audiovisual works. Below you can find bullet points that will help you organize your review and answer the questions.

* You DO NOT need to do an online engagement this last week. Only submit, if you haven’t done so, your response paper on an interview through email: rojo.roblesmejias@brooklyn.cuny.edu.

Review

1. The Battle for Paradise by Naomi Klein

Pay attention to:

.Climate change and disaster capitalism (the use of a crisis to advance neoliberal reforms)

.Politics of abandonment and privatization

.Pro-corporate policies and tourist industry exploitation

 

2. Collective-created play Ay, María! 

Pay attention to how the theater play present:

.Energy shortages

.Communication breakdowns

.Lack of healthcare

.Governamental mismanagement and corruption

.Arrogant imperialism (the president’s visit)

.The collapse of the educational system

.Displacement and migration

 

3. “US Media Depictions of Climate Migrants: The Recent Case of the Puerto Rican Exodus” by Hilda Lloréns

Pay attention to:

. The concept and critique of the “disaster tropics”

. The analysis of the dependency on fossil fuels

. The interrelation between climate and social justice

 

4. “Accents” by Denise Frohman, “Roots and Recipes of Love” by Mayda del Valle, and “Boriquas” by Lemon Andersen and Flaco Navaja

Pay attention to the poetic representation of Puerto Rican diasporic life through:

.Language

.Food

.Music

.Family bonding

.Socio-economic

 

5. Willie Perdomo’s “N****r Reecan Blues,” and Mariposa Fernández’s “Ode to the Diasporican”

Pay attention to the poetic representation of Puerto Rican diasporic life through:

.The denouncing of racial and ethnic discrimination in the US

.Black and Rican pride

.Cultural nationalism

.Intercultural dynamics

 

6.“El Ni’e: Inhabiting Love, Bliss and Joy” by Joshua Deckman and Josefina Baéz

Pay attention to how Báez discuss:

.Identity and in-betweenness

.Afro-diasporic life

.Community building

.Diaspora as a place of creation

 

7. “Nueva York, Diaspora City” by Juan Flores

Pay attention to:

.The critique on Latinidad conceived through whiteness and celebrity

.The conjunction of racial profiling and ethnic discrimination in the Latino every day

.Overlapping diasporas and identities

.Interdiaporic relationships

.The concept of the diaspora city

Students’ Online Presentations

ONLINE ENGAGEMENT (Deadline 5/10 until 11:59 PM)

Instructions:

In the comment section, post and analyze a Latinx poem, a song, an article, a podcast episode, a short video reportage, or a social media intervention of your choosing. Present a breakdown of the selected material based on the following questions:

1. What are the central ideas of this piece?

2. What form/style does she/he/they utilizes to convey these themes or concerns?

3. Analyze one specific section of your chosen piece that best communicates what you identified in 1 and 2 above.

4.  How does this piece complement the concerns of the other sources discussed in the class?

(400 Words Minimum)

Nueva York, Diaspora City- Juan Flores

Juan Flores was a Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and director of Latino Studies at New York University. He was considered a leading pioneer, scholar, and expert in Latin American and Nuyorican culture.

Latinos_in_New_York_Communities_in_Transition

An Overview on “Nueva York, Diaspora City: Latinos Between and Beyond”

In his essay, Juan Flores uses the fact that Nueva York is the most diverse large-scale Latinx city in the US to think and propose a complex and intercultural definition of diaspora. Flores discusses Latinx cultural ascendance and analyzes how mainstream media capitalize on Latinx pop trends. He also pays attention to the way politicians increasingly try to appeal to the Latinx vote (39-40).

Flores nonetheless argues that “in the case of US Latinos, celebrity status and the ceremonial fanfare are clearly part of the mirage, serving effectively to camouflage the structured inequality and domination which accounts for their diasporic reality in the first place…The spectacular success stories of the few serve only to mask the ongoing reality of racism, economic misery, and political disenfranchisement endured by most Latinos, who moved northward from their homelands only because of persistent inequalities.” (441)

Along with writer Junot Diaz, Flores questions pan-Latino identity labels, especially those who create a false association between Latinxs and whiteness. For Diaz and Flores, more than language or religion, the daily reality of racism and discrimination is more relevant to understand the Latinx experience. “Discrimination regarding educational opportunities and at the hands of the criminal justice system, for example, is what unites Latinos beyond the multiple cultural variations, along with the strategies developed to confront these social inequalities.” (442)

Flores then argues that it is central to consider the relation of Latinos to blackness and the interrelated history of Latinos and Afro-diasporic groups. He interprets the right-wing, conservative fear of Latin American migrants, but also the media fascination with light-skinned Latinx stars, as an anti-blackness stand. (443)

This reflection drives Flores to assert that the Latino community is “a process rather than a circumscribed social entity, and its formation entails complex and often converging interactions with other, purportedly “non-Latino” groups such as African Americans and American Indians… Beyond geopolitical ties, awakened cultural heritages and congruencies also engage Latinos in more abstract but no less pronounced diasporic affiliations.” (445-6)

One of Flores’ conclusions is that “living multiple diasporic realities simultaneously is more common than not among the city’s Latinos, as many find themselves sharing that reality with members of the Caribbean or African or broader “Latino” diasporas.” (446)

 

Keywords

1. Diaspora– the diaspora concept has proven to be an extremely useful and convenient one for taking account of multiple Latino realities in our times, especially as those realities have become more complex over the past generation of growth, dispersal, and internal diversity. For one thing, it helps disengage Latinidad from an automatic association with immigration, at least in the conventional understanding of that phenomenon as a disconnection from the background country and culture.

It was clear that many Latina/os were not simply casting aside their inherited ways and accommodating themselves to the new setting. Many were not even here to stay, and most retained strong affective ties to their home cultures, preserving them and reinventing them in highly creative ways.

Latinos typically and willingly led bicultural and border-crossing lives.

Diaspora is an eminently dynamic, situational category, demanding the analysis not so much of the “immigrant group” itself but of the ongoing relation or interaction between each group and its country or region of origin, and between that group and others with which it comes into close social contact (447-8).

2. Overlapping and/or multiple diasporas– the notion accounts for the rich bridging between and among diasporic groupings and the frequent sense of an individual or community belonging to more than one diasporic configuration at the same time, for example, Dominican, Caribbean, Latino, and African. (448)

3. Diaspora City– an urban setting saturated by interacting and interlocking diasporic communities, including those among Latino populations from all over Latin America and the Caribbean (439).

It is a sociocultural location that is perhaps most accurately characterized as a demographic grid or matrix of transnational communities co-inhabiting a single geographically circumscribed city (446).

Nueva York is rich with this innovative cultural possibilities, and as the newfound home of so many people from so many Latin American countries, it now serves as a seminal ground for the rethinking and reimagining of America. (448)

 

Two Diasporic Case Studies

“N****r Reecan Blues”

Willie Perdomo is an award-winning poet, spoken-word performer, educator, and editor.

 

“Ode to the Diasporican”

Mariposa Fernández is a performer, spoken-word poet, educator, and activist.

 

ONLINE ENGAGEMENT (Deadline 5/3 until 11:59 PM)

Instructions:

Pick ONE poem and in the comment section below, write a response (225-words minimum) based on ONE of the following questions:

1. How the following quote by Juan Flores applies to the situation described by Willie Perdomo in his poem?

“The rampant “racial profiling” and waves of police brutality are directed against both African American and Latino victims, with no color distinctions of this kind playing a decisive role. For the fact is that, in many inner-city situations, there is no such difference, and it is not possible to “tell them apart.” What the hegemonic, consumer version of Latino ethnicity obscures is that many Latinos are black, especially according to the codes operative in the United States. And what is more, while this consumer version tends to racialize Latinos towards whiteness, much in tune with the racist baggage of Latin American and Caribbean home cultures, on the streets and in the dominant social institutions “brown” is close enough to black to be suspect.

In Nueva York in particular, where the prevalent Latino presence and sensibility remains Caribbean, this counterposition to blackness is often disconcerting at best, and many Puerto Rican and Dominican youth have responded by reaffirming a sense of belonging to an African diaspora. Indeed, for Puerto Ricans, this perspective entails not only emphasizing Afro-Boricua heritages but also, because of the decades-long experience of close social interaction with African Americans in New York, an identification and solidarity with American blacks perhaps unmatched by any other group.”  (Flores 445)

*Please, avoid using racial slurs in your answer.

2. Explain the following quote by Juan Flores through Mariposa’s poem, that is, using the poem as an example.

“Mariposa gives voice to the sentiments of many young Puerto Ricans, and of many Latinos in general, in their defiance of a territorially and socially confined understanding of cultural belonging. Place of birth and immediate lived experience do not wholly define cultural identification, which in this view has more to do with political and social experience, and with personally chosen ascription.” (Flores 445)

Diasporican Spoken-Word Poets

I. “Accents”- Denise Frohman

DENICE FROHMAN is a poet, performer, and educator from New York City. She is a CantoMundo Fellow, former Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion and Leeway Transformation Award recipient. Her work has appeared in The Adroit Journal, Nepantla: An Anthology for Queer Poets of ColorWomen of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism, and has garnered over 10 million views online.

“Accents”

my mom holds her accent like a shotgun, with two good hands. her tongue, all brass knuckle slipping in between her lips her hips, all laughter and wind clap. she speaks a sanchocho of spanish and english, pushing up and against one another, in rapid fire there is no telling my mama to be “quiet,” she don’t know “quiet.” her voice is one size better fit all and you best not tell her to hush, she waited too many years for her voice to arrive to be told it needed housekeeping. English sits in her mouth remixed so “strawberry” becomes “eh-strawbeddy” and “cookie” becomes “eh-cookie” and kitchen, key chain, and chicken all sound the same. my mama doesn’t say “yes” she says, “ah ha” and suddenly the sky in her mouth becomes Hector Lavoe song. her tongue can’t lay itself down flat enough for the English language, it got too much hip too much bone too much conga too much cuatro to two-step got too many piano keys in between her teeth, it got too much clave too much hand clap got too much salsa to sit still it be an anxious child wanting to make Play-Doh out of concrete English be too neat for her kind of wonderful. her words spill in conversation between women whose hands are all they got sometimes our hands are all we got and accents remind us that we are still bomba, still plena say “wepa” and a stranger becomes your hermano, say “dale” and a crowd becomes a family reunion. my mama’s tongue is a telegram from her mother decorated with the coqui’s of el campo so even though her lips can barely stretch themselves around english, her accent is a stubborn compass always pointing her towards home.

 

II. “Roots and Recipes of Love”- Mayda Del Valle

“As the child of Puerto Rican migrants who grew up on the South Side of Chicago, my work originates in the embodiment of what I consider to be a hybrid identity and experience. It is part Spanish and English, part hip-hop and salsa, part Nas and Sonia Sanchez, part Shakespeare and John Leguizamo. It is inherited history as well as traditions remixed and invented.

I create autobiographical narratives that utilize spoken-word poetry and music, intended for live performance. Rooted in the aesthetics of hip-hop and the urban Latino experience, my work explores themes of healing, transformation and the recovery of ancestral memory in the modern-day diaspora.” -Mayda del Valle

 

“Roots and Recipes of Love”

mami is making mambo mami is making

Mambo she putting Kings to shame she got

more flavor in her food than in the Gran

Combo horn section there is more of a

get down groove in my mother’s kitchen

than in a friday night at Copa she puts Tito

Puente to shame with her sabor and

her cocina in the domain of Del Valle

kitchen my mother is the dictator I

refer to it as Carmen’s culinary

queendom she becomes a cuisine

conquistadora wielding a freshly

sharpened knife like a sword above her

head the towel becomes a whip with which

she wipes every trace of spillage the

bottom of her adobo is a shield against

any possibility of blandness and Goya

doesn’t stand a chance here everything

is fresh no prepackaged junk she is the

menu mercenary the soldier of soul food

the culinary commands and you better

back the hell up cuz mami is making mambo

mama she hangs the hats of Iron Chefs

off the windowsill like roast duck

trophies and laughs at the sight of any

edible food item no meats in the freezer

spam and corned beef in a can or

transformed to virtual filet mignon rice

cooks itself instantly at her command

and beans jump into bubbling pot

shrieking Emeril and Julia Child’s mere

hamburger flippers in her presence

because mami is making

mambo it was there in my mother’s

kitchen that I learned more than just

how to cook it’s where I learned the

essence of rhythm empower I learned to

dance in that kitchen shiny aluminum

rice pot clanging like cowbells with

metal spoons cast iron frying pans a

wooden mortar and pestle provided the

percussion section with the radio

humming softly in the background the

fall of her steel blade on a wooden

cutting board became the clave the

hissing of the pressure cooker

harmonized the sizzling of sofrito and

bubbling beans softening and covered

pots and her hands move faster than

Mongo and congas during a riff making

mofongo con caldo she would take me

by the hands and spin me into the

oblivion of music leaving me to dance in

the center of the kitchen my senses

overloading with the sense of common

cilantro and the sounds of Hector Lavoe

El Gran combo and Tito Puente and

the only Puerto Rican radio station in

Chicago she would return to singing and

doing the shuffle from sink to stove

stove to sink tasting and testing her

masterpieces answering questions like

mami how do you make arroz con gandules?

mami how do you dance merengue? because

mami is making Mambo the way to a man’s

heart is through his stomach and your

hips so you better learn how to cook mija

I learned to dance in my mother’s

kitchen and I got all the secret recipes

two and a half cups of caderas a pound of

gyrating pelvis a pinch of pursed lips a

tablespoon of shaking shoulders and a

generous helping of soul

combined and mix this is a recipe for

ritmo you see we like our food the

way we like our music hot spicy satisfying

con sabor papa I ingested rhythm

through umbilical bonds now ingrained in

my DNA and I can’t rid myself of the

sabor on my blood the swing and salsa I

stepped a natural response to music as

stubborn as a plantain stain you can’t

wash off rhythm is inheritance taste

passed down through generations movement

is inborn and I’m dancing the way my

mother cooks slow sultry spicy sabrosa

natural instinctively dripping sweet

sweat like fresh leche de coco

spinning as fast as piraguas melt in the

summertime south side he dancing with as

much kickass cuchifrito y Bacardi

standing strong like a morning time

bustelo dancing as urgent  as a shot of

ron caña cooling myself up with Kola

Champagne pounding like a papaya Bongo

steamy as pasteles at Christmas

blending my hip hoppy Mambo like a piña

colada my mouth watering for music with

sabor and cadera Sue’s down my hips dulce

as Celia’s azúcar con dulzura

cooking with sabor and bailando con sabor

because mami is making Mambo mami is

making mambo mamucha, come eat the food is

ready

Mambo

 

III. “Boriquas”- Lemon Andersen and Flaco Navaja

Flaco Navaja is a spoken-word poet, actor, musician and bandleader.

Lemon Andersen is a spoken-word poet and actor.

 

ONLINE ENGAGEMENT (Deadline 4/26 until 11:59 PM)

Instructions:

Pick ONE poem and in the comment section below, write a response (225-words minimum) based on ONE of the following questions:

1. Instead of referring to her mom’s accent as a problem or an element of shame, Denise Frohman understands it as a source of empowerment and as a connection to Puerto Rican music and culture. Explain.

2. How Mayda del Valle uses music and her mom’s cuisine to celebrate Puerto Rican culture in Chicago?

3. What experiences Lemon Andersen and Flaco Navaja highlight from their lives as Boricuas in NYC? Why they feel prideful about their identity?

 

*Please, remember that if you want to include direct quotes from the poems and/or external commentators, name your sources and use quotation marks.

US Media Depictions of Climate Migrants: The Recent Case of the Puerto Rican “Exodus”- Hilda Lloréns

Hilda Lloréns is a cultural anthropologist and a decolonial scholar. The thread that binds Dr. Lloréns’ scholarship is understanding how racial and gender inequality manifest itself in cultural production, nation-building, access to environmental resources, and exposure to environmental degradation.

US-Media-Depictions-of-Climate-Migrants–H.-Llorens_searchable

In this essay, Hilda Lloréns argues that media depictions of Puerto Rican climate migrants tend to reinforce stereotypes about the “disastrous tropics” and portrayed climate migrants as in need of salvation. Lloréns posits that the media, and more importantly, the governments rarely address colonialism and its racialized oppressions and inequities-central factors of social instability, environmental decay, and migration.

Pictures from News Outlets in the U.S.

 

ONLINE ENGAGEMENT (Deadline 4/19 until 11:59 PM)

Instructions:

In the comment section below, pick and answer FOUR of these questions:

.Why do you think Lloréns starts with a quote from Derek Walcott about land dispossession, destruction, and people’s disappearance? (124)

.Describe the scenes at the airport in the days after the hurricane. How the news outlets interpreted these scenes of desperation? (124-6)

.What are the stereotypes behind the concept of the “disastrous tropics” exploited by the media? (127-8)

.How the dependency on fossil fuels and climate change are affecting island societies? (128)

.Why Lloréns argues that Puerto Ricans have LONG been economic and climate migrants? (130-131)

.According to Lloréns, why the media depict Puerto Ricans as “climate refugees”? (131-2)

.If the governments what to really prevent “death and suffering” and climate forced migrations, what situations Lloréns proposes they should tackle? (132-33)

*Recommended Articles:

“Puerto Rico faces another disaster: The coronavirus pandemic” by Rachel Ramirez

“Colonialism Made Puerto Rico Vulnerable to Coronavirus Catastrophe” by Chris Gelardi

The Battle For Paradise- Naomi Klein/ ¡Ay María!

I. The Battle For Paradise

In the rubble of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans, the neoliberal local government and ultrarich corporations are locked in a pitched struggle over how to remake the island. In this investigation, Canadian author and activist, Naomi Klein, uncovers how the forces of shock politics and disaster capitalism seek to undermine the nation’s radical, resilient vision for a “just recovery.”

Klein and the Puerto Rican people she interviews argue that the local government along with U.S. corporations benefits from crises such as the hurricane. The government shut down already underfunded schools and the state university, privatized the state-owned energy company and promoted tax-exemption laws and policy that only advantages U.S. corporations and Wall Street over the people’s needs.

Although grassroots organizations on the island are promoting sustainability and environmentally conscious practices as a recovery, both the local and federal government ignore or rejects these projects.

Keywords

Disaster capitalism is the practice (by a government, regime, etc) of taking advantage of a major disaster to adopt liberal economic policies that the population would be less likely to accept under normal circumstances.

According to Klein, “shock” politics refers to “the quite brutal tactic of systematically using the public’s disorientation following a collective shock – wars, coups, terrorist attacks, market crashes, or natural disasters – to push through radical pro-corporate measures.”

This strategy has been a silent partner to the imposition of neoliberalism for more than 40 years. Shock tactics follow a clear pattern: wait for a crisis or foment one, declare a state of emergency, suspend some or all democratic norms – and then ram the corporate wishlist through as quickly as possible.

 

II. ¡Ay María!

The play ¡Ay María! was performed around the island in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane. It was produced by Mariana Carbonell, directed by the street-theater activist, Maritza Pérez and co-created by a group of independent actors as a way of coping with their own personal experiences that characterized everyday life during the storm, from the poignant to the absurd.

Ay–Maria_searchable

Some of the topics that the play represents are the devastation of the hurricane, the lack of cell phone signals, the long lines for food, gasoline, and ATM services, the disrespectful visit of the U.S. president, the official hiding of facts over the deaths during and after María, the slow, and for the most part, ineffectual FEMA response, the militarization of the island during the aftermath, the physical and mental health crisis, and the displacement of a big part of the population.

*One year since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, nearly 160,000 residents of the island have relocated to the United States. This exodus represents one of the most significant movements of Puerto Ricans to the U.S. mainland in the island’s history in terms of both volume and duration.

Recommended Audiovisual Works

She’s Gotta Have It  Episode 7 “#OhJudoKnow?” (Nexflix Series, Spike Lee, 2019)

After María (Nexflix Documentary, Nadia Hallgreen, 2019)

 

ONLINE ENGAGEMENT (Deadline 3/29 until 11:59 PM)

Instructions:

In the comment section below, write a 250-words response based on the following question:

Identifying the ideas and issues presented by the documentary The Battle for Puerto Rico and the play ¡Ay María! (pages 56-59) discuss why many Puerto Ricans decided to move from the island to the United States after Hurricane María? Give specific examples from both sources.

 

Online Transition Survey

Answer the following 4 questions in the comment section of this post (3 points extra credit):

1) What was helping you to learn in this class?

 

2) What could make the online engagement difficult?

 

3) Would you like to make suggestions about how to structure the course now that we are moving to online learning?

 

4) Would you like to change the content and sources? (Select all the options that apply)

a. No, simplify assignments but leave it as it is.

b. Yes, shorter and lighter readings.

c. Yes, fewer readings and more short length videos.

d. Yes, I would like to read/watch___________________.

e. Other (explain)

El Ni’e: Inhabiting Love, Bliss and Joy- Joshua Deckman / Comrade, Bliss Ain’t Playing- Josefina Báez

Joshua R. Deckman is an assistant professor of Spanish and Latinx studies at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His research and teaching center on contemporary Afro-Latinx and Caribbean literatures and cultural studies.

Josefina Báez is a Dominican performance artist, writer, director, and activist who currently resides in New York. She is the founder and director of Ay Ombe Theatre. Her writings and thoughts address the silences that are implicit in the fragmentation of diaspora—in a region that is filled with blank spaces and separated/connected by the fluid movement of water.

 

El Ni’e: Inhabiting Love, Bliss and Joy

Presentation: Sonia Sinchi

With a partner discuss what do you understand by your assigned quote and how it informs your understanding of Dominican/Afro/Latinx diaspora?

Group 1

Playing with hybridity in language, geographic space, and temporality… places seem to take on a spiritual urgency to connect with what surrounds us in the present. It seems that home becomes a performance of the types of experiences you narrate in your works: displacement, disjuncture, but also a search for a somewhere else—a new space from which to make new paths.

-Deckman

I prefer to dwell in not what I have lost but what I have gained—what it has given me. Migration is not a burden, I am a builder. So my home, then, is el ni’e. My home is “the neither” that I know, that I have built. If I stayed in the Dominican Republic, I would still be in the ni’e. I was always a migrant, and I think that all migrants have been migrants in their dissenting communities. We wander and create.

-Báez

Group 2

To cross the border, yes, but to also dwell in and create knowledge from the cracks—el ni’e.

-Báez

El ni’e is. Border as a place, a meaning. Border as a place of being. More than limiting me, it is that space of creation. For me it really is the space of being.

-Báez

It seems to also mirror the path of movement as well—you shift between Spanish and English and beyond. It almost reflects the language and rhythm that we experience as we walk down the streets of Washington Heights or Harlem.

-Deckman

Group 3

But for me two things have been vital in my process: exclusion and invisibility. These have been my best gifts. Because I do not see myself as part of anything, I have been able to create amazing discipline and amazing one-ness in my work. And because I am invisible, I don’t belong . . . and that feeds my journey. So then I have not been able to cry and hate myself about what I am missing or what I don’t have. My lack of. So with that, I have created an amazing life for myself. Bliss. I’m not looking for integration, to be included. I’m just being and doing and what has been my reaction to the is to being. That politics that is not self-centered, it is heart-centered. Heart-centered and really concerned for others.

-Báez

My personal history is important. I don’t want to lose my personal history in any of the identities that I am. My personal history is my salvia. It is my blood memory. That must be what I’m loyal to.

-Báez

Group 4

We have to freakin’ create something different. I don’t want to undo the past. I don’t have time to waste with my oppressor and their shit. I don’t have time. I don’t even acknowledge their system. I come in and out of their system, and I want to build what I’m building in order to survive when I have to go into their system. We have always had that. We don’t exist. And when we do exist, we are killed. I won’t accept that reality.

Our communities, we are a big body. Each artist or each community or group will emphasize a part. I am placed here [places fist over her heart], this is where my nation is. I have been here in the hand sometimes, I have been here [places hand over her throat], and here in my gut. But it moves with my needs and my urgencies. But I always see where I am as a body. And with each project, I say from where I speak and which part of this big body I belong to. And I belong to people with different shades—shades as skin color and the shade they throw. But it is that. I’m not interested in referring to myself and my pain. My pain is very personal, and I deal with it in a very personal way. I will make my suffering nothing. Not the place to sit and dwell and study. Fuck that shit. Our story cannot be a story of pain. We are an amazing people. We have personal histories that are amazing that are not being addressed or talked about. Stories of love and connection. I think these silences are important. I don’t want to compete for our suffering. I am informed by it. I have been through it. I know it. But to dwell there is not my choice. The heart is my choice. Beauty is my choice.

-Báez

Group 5

And liberation is ultimately my choice. My story is more about joy, about how we have created amidst all the crazy shit we have been through. We have been through that, and we have mastered some freaking macramé shit. Creation has kept us alive.

so the afro-diasporic body… in that body each one of us has their own work to do. And the work defines what part of the body it is. Some of us are standing tall with fists, and these fists are needed. Others are in the heart. Others that are in the mouth and very vocal, we need that. We all have been through all.

-Báez

Comrade, Bliss Ain’t Playing

Presentation: Amanda Prescod

And we cannot dwell too much in each other’s pain. I know that in theory it sounds cool and can be very deep. However, I do not want me or my people in more pain. I do not want our reference to be more pain. The only thing that I recall when I completed Bliss is when they asked me, “You wrote that?,” and my answer was, “Yes, we too think about bliss and beauty.” That is why for me the is will have what you decide at that moment, including the past and the future.

-Báez

Comrade–Bliss-Ain’t-Playing-(Excerpt)–J.-Baez_searchable

Individual Work

Select a section from the poem and discuss Josefina Báez’s views on traveling and migration, exports and notions of home.

Writing From El Nié- Lorgia García Peña/ Dominicanish (Video excerpt)- Josefina Báez

Historical Context

Major Events

.First U.S. military Occupation led to Rafael Trujillo’s dictatorship

.Trujillo led through terror, re-inforcing white supremacy, militarization and US markets (30 years dictatorship)

.The CIA kills Trujillo

.Juan Bosch writer, intellectual and left-wing reformer wins the presidency

.Violent right-wing opposition to Bosch social-democratic governments leads to civil war

.Second U.S. military occupation led to the presidency of Joaquín Balaguer (Trujillo’s right hand)

.US offers refugee status to left-wing Dominican dissidents (migration as a safety vault)

.Migration continues through the decades because of political persecution but also due to extreme social inequalities and poverty

Bios

Lorgia García Peña

I am a first-generation Dominican Latinx Studies scholar from Trenton, NJ. I study blackness, colonialism, and diaspora with a special focus on dominicanidades. I study literary and cultural texts in conversation with historical processes and following a methodology for archiving injustice that challenges the heteronormative, Eurocentric production of knowledge that has persistently excluded and silenced the lives, histories, and epistemology of black and brown people from traditional archives, libraries, and books. My work is grounded on social justice, women of color feminism and Afro-Latinx episteme.

Josefina Báez (La Romana, Dominican Republic/New York) Storyteller, ArteSana, performer, writer, theatre director, educator, devotee. Founder and director of Latinarte/Ay Ombe Theatre (April 1986). Alchemist of artistic/creative life process, Performance Autology© (creative process based on the autobiography of the doer). Joy is the vital element present in her narrative, practice, and teachings.

Keywords

I opt for the term dominicanos ausentes to refer to diasporic Dominicans for the inclusive, even if still problematic, meanings the term emits. On the one hand, dominicanos ausentes points to the transnational nature of Dominicans who are not living on the island yet still presumed to be part of the nation—perhaps due to the political and economic power they are able to exercise precisely because they are abroad. On the other hand, the word ausente serves as a metaphor for the complex position Dominican migrants occupy within both national territories that define them. They are absent—that is, excluded—from accessing full citizenship and representation in the United States as well as in the Dominican Republic. (172)

El Nié is an uncomfortable place that hurts and makes the subject bleed, creating an open wound of historical rejection: “una herida abierta.” Yet this discomfort also offers the possibility of finding a poetics of dominicanidad ausente, from which to interject both US and Dominican histories. It is in El Nié that the contradictions of dominicanidad are embraced and redefined, allowing the Dominican subject to emerge as an agent of his or her own his- tory and identity/ies, finding hope, harmony, and even bliss within this very uncomfortable space of contradiction. (173)

Josefina Báez’s Dominicanish

Like many other immigrants, the main character, Josefina, arrives in New York with a suitcase full of hope and the determination to attain the “American Dream.” But unlike in fairy tales, the “American Dream” does not come true. Instead, a series of dislocations and disruptions are presented throughout the forty-five-minute one-woman performance, as Báez re-creates the Dominican “racexile” migrant’s difficult encounter with the binary US racial system, the English language, and the city of New York.

Upon her arrival in the United States, the character Josefina, like many other Dominicans, was forced to confront questions of political and cultural belonging and to choose ethnic alliances in order to survive on the streets of New York.

This process required that the subject deny the very historical processes that formed his or her particular experience in order to become part of the American Nation. For Dominicans such as Josefina, this process posed a contradiction, as it required US Dominicans in exile to forget the previous years of US-Dominican relations that have in great part provoked their immigration. But the very logic of US citizenship also marked Dominicans by their national origin, class, culture and, most important, race. Therefore, they are never able to fully participate as citizens of the United States, no matter how much history some manage to forget. (186-188)

-Lorgia García Peña

Writing From El Nié- L. García Peña

Presentation: Miriam Mayor

Oral Discussion

In pairs discuss the following quotes using these questions:

what do you understand? how do you connect the quote to the performance? does it make you think of other ideas/sources discussed in the class or your own experiences?

.In New York, the immigrant is confronted by the “crooked” city, the place where police brutality is the norm and marginality reigns. Yet it is also a place from which solidarity can emerge through contact with other marginalized ethnic groups, a place where the music of Johnny Pacheco and Spanglish can mix in a comfortable crookedness that the immigrant can navigate with ease. In the crooked city, the immigrant becomes a powerful subject by performing small acts of resistance in her daily activities. (193)

.Thus, New York City, or at least its underground, is converted into a home for the immigrant, the marginal, and the poor through these daily and mundane actions that resist the seductive and oppressive narrative of assimilation, which is also a narrative of erasure. Most important, New York can become a place for rewriting history and creating a new voice, a poetics, through the very body of the Dominican immigrant woman: “hips swing, creating our tale.” (193-4)

.Báez’s New York includes Dominican politics, Caribbean history, and particularly all the contradictions that had been denied in the official narration of the Dominican subject in the United States and the Dominican Republic. (195)

.The contradictions that Báez once viewed as her own individual tribulations represent, in the performance of Caribbeanness, a collective contradiction: being Caribbean already implies living in constant negotiation between races, languages, and cultures. (196)

.As black and Dominican identities are negotiated through linguistic representation, Báez’s corporeal language, as exemplified in Dominicanish, seems to contradict her speech. The apparent disjunction between body and speech is accentuated through the use of Kuchipudi, which further challenges the official discourses of national identity, race, and ethnicity. (196-7)

 

Writing Exercise # 3

Using examples from the performance Dominicanish and supporting your interpretations with quotes from Lorgia García Peña’s “Writing from el Nié” discuss how Josefina Báez embodies, defines and represents el nié?

 

Departamento 15- Ana Patricia Rodríguez

El Salvador Colonial History and It’s Legacy:

Prior to Spanish colonization, El Salvador was inhabited by the Lenca, Maya Chortí, Maya Pocomam, Cacaopera, and Nahua Pipil indigenous groups. Most Salvadorans are descendants of the Pipils, who are related to the pre-Columbian Toltec civilization from Mexico. Despite this rich heritage of indigenous peoples and languages, the majority of Salvadorans speak Spanish, due to the colonization of El Salvador in the 16th century by Spain. El Salvador gained independence from Spain in 1821, yet the majority of the fertile farming land was owned by descendants of the Spanish elite. This led to great income inequalities, and in 1932 there was an uprising of rural and indigenous farmworkers, led by Agustín Farabundo Martí, that killed 32 Ladinos, land-owners. This incited a major repression by the Salvadoran government that resulted in the murder of 35,000 to 50,000 rural and indigenous peoples, known as “Las Matanzas,” the massacre. Indigenous people were especially targeted.

Income and land inequality continued and led El Salvador into a violent civil war between the conservative government that was supported by the U.S. government, and the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN).

Civil War Explained in Five Facts

1. Fourteen of the richest families own over 90% of your country’s land. Poor people began to question this system and wanted the land to be shared.

2. In 1980, the government in power at the time, ARENA, became very aggressive and labeled anyone who supported land reform as an “enemy of the state.”

3. Salvadorans formed the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). The FMLN created a guerilla army of the people to oppose the government and right-wing paramilitary forces. They began to fight back and take back land from the government.

4. The United States funded the Salvadoran military to fight the FMLN, at about 1 million dollars a day. The United States offered refugee status to only 3% of Salvadorans, but after being taken to court, the U.S. offered Temporary Residential Status to many Salvadorans.

5. From 1979 to 1981 alone, an estimated 30,000 Salvadorans were killed by the government’s death squads. Violence on both sides lead to a truce brokered by the United Nations in 1993, and the FMLN was recognized as a political party. Overall, the civil war lasted for 12 years and left 75,000 Salvadorans dead.

Current Issues: There is high poverty and crime in El Salvador. Natural disasters and civil war have severely impacted the economy. In the 1980s, gang members returned from the U.S. and brought gang culture to El Salvador. Gang activities led to increased murder and displacement of Salvadorans. El Salvador has one of the world’s highest murder rates, at 71 murders per 100,000.

Departamento 15- A.P. Rodriguez

In El Salvador, emigrants have been mythologized as ‘‘los hermanos lejanos’’ – the distant relatives. They have also been associated with ‘‘Departamento 15,’’ the name given in El Salvador to the Salvadoran diaspora, identifying it as the 15th province of the country after the 14 departments within the country’s geographic territory. Extended across the world, Departamento 15 is the product of the migrations of Salvadorans expelled by the civil war in the 1980s and their more recent translocations in the 21st century. This essay examines the narrative construction of the transnational imaginary of Departamento 15 in newspaper media, the Internet, performance pieces, poetry, visual art, music, and other materials. Focusing on the greater Washington, DC Metropolitan Area, and the San Francisco Bay Area, it explores the emergence of new trans-local and transnational Salvadoreñidades.

Presentation: Sarah Peter

Small groups discussions

Instructions:

In Pairs: discuss the following topics with a partner and summarize the main arguments presented by Ana Patricia Rodríguez. Look for quotes to support your explanations.

Salvadoran transnational migration

.History of Salvadoran migration to the U.S (21)

.Two main cities: San Francisco and Washington D.C. (21-2)

.Connections to the homelands and social networks, culture, and identities in new home sites (22-3)

.Salvadorans as transnational migrants (23)

.Net worth of  Salvadoran diasporic communities (23)

Economic and cultural remittances

.Family remittances (23)

.Salvadoran state interest in Salvadoran immigrants (23-4)

.Economic stronghold and political potential of Salvadoran migrants (24)

.The transnational movement of human capital fueled by stories of los hermanos lejanos (25)

.Immigrant narratives of Departamento 15 (25-27)

Martivón Galindo’s San Francisco

. San Francisco Bay Area vibrant cohort of Central American writers (27)

. A quick look at the poem “SanFranciscanos” (28)

. Particular elements of Galindo’s San Francisco (28-9)

Counternarratives: Quique Avilés is in the house

.Quique Avilés’ context (30)

.A quick look at the poem “Barrio”  (30)

.The weight of life anchored in linguistic and economic barriers (31)

.A quick look at the poem ‘‘El Salvador at a Glance’’ (31-2)

.Understanding his homeland from a physical and cultural distance (32)

Salvadorans making music in Mount Pleasant

.Migrant narratives of Lilo González y los de la Mt. Pleasant (36)

.Topics from the CD A quien corresponda (36)

. ‘‘The infamous don Manuel’’ experience

.‘‘Forjando un sólo pueblo’” as a transnational anthem

Conclusion

Based on these cultural examples brought by Ana Patricia Rodríguez, how would you describe Departamento 15?