Chicana/o Studies – Publishing an Alternative View Since 1970 – CSU, Northridge

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El Popo Staff has 105 articles published.

Despite Major Family Set Back, Hope Continued

in The Word is Text by

by Lorraine De La Torre

When immigrants come to the United States, they seek to succeed, they want better living conditions, but they do not just want it for themselves but for their families too. They sacrifice leaving everything knowing that they will not be able to return for a long time or ever.

I interviewed a young 23 year old woman named Cindy Jimenez. She is a  old first generation Mexican-American daughter of immigrant parents. Like other immigrants stories, Cindy’s immigrant story demonstrate the perils of the current violence in Mexico and our current political predicament.

In 2011,  as a senior year in high school, Cindy’s grandmother in Guanajuato, Mexico passed away. Her father had not seen his mother for 13 years, so he made the decision to go back to Guanajuato, Mexico to see his mother one last time. Although his family and friends tried to convince not to go, he bought a one way ticket to Guanajuato.

Once the funeral ended, he spent time seeking a trust-worthy “Coyote.” Time passed so quickly that he ended up missing Cindy’s high school graduation. He found a coyote that he thought would bring him home safe.

Cindy’s father made his way up from Guanajuato to Tijuana where he was going to meet the Coyote. He saw the truck and the Border which was not too far. Once in the truck, it was dark and others were joining Cindy’s father to return “al otro lady.”

However, Cindy’s father sensed something was wrong. He felt the truck take many turns, and they kept on driving and driving. He didn’t think he would be in that truck for too long. Once the truck stopped, he saw that many men were opening the doors of the truck. They were policemen with masks and guns in their hands yelling at everyone to get out. Shortly after, Cindy’s father knew he was being kidnapped.

Cindy’s family received a call demanding that they $8,000 or they would never see their dad again. The family became distraught, scared, and stressed, but Cindy took action. She knew that she needed to do something for her family and so, she did. Instead of attending her first first year of college,she began to work to raise the ransom. She worked 10 hour shifts 7 days out the week. She not only needed to raise money for her dad but she also needed to support her mom, sister and brother and the mortgage. She did this until they were able to raise the $8,000 to bring her father back home. Fortunately, after about 5 months, the family raised the $8,000, and Cindy’s dad returned home safe and sound.

Although she missed her first year in college, she decided to catch up to graduate on time. She attended L.A. Mission College, L.A.Valley College, and East L.A. college for her first year back in school. She took up to 17 units each semester to get caught up. On top of that she also had a full-time job. After two years, she transferred to Cal State L.A. and graduated in the summer of 2016 with high honors. In the Fall of 2017, she will be attending Salus University College of Audiology to earn her Doctor of Audiology.

I asked Cindy how she was able to do all of this, and she answered “I don’t know, I just did it.” Although, this might seem like a plain answer, there’s so much underlying strength, motivation, and will in it. Cindy did it and she’s still doing it. She is the true definition of the American Dream and she’s not letting anything stop her from accomplishing her goals.  

El Sonido del Arcoiris

in The Word is Text by

by Yesenia Burgara 

mariachi
Mariachi Arcoiris

“It is a really powerful way to get that message across,” said Rudy Vasquez, CSUN alumnus and trumpet player for Mariachi Arcoiris “to inform people because they are not only being informed, they feel what you feel.”Music is considered the universal language. People listen to music for many different reasons, but it makes an impact on most. Musicians have taken that into consideration and many now use their music as a form of activism.

Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles is likely the very first openly LGTBQ Mariachi in history and is trying to use their music to break barriers in the music world. The group provides a safe haven for mariachi musicians identifying with the LGTBQ community who want to perform traditional Mexican regional music.

Traditionally mariachis are male dominated and considered to have a “machismo” stigma, meaning to have male chauvinism tendencies. Therefore a mariachi is not a place where someone of the LGTBQ community may feel comfortable or be themselves openly.

“We (gay mariachi musicians) needed a place where we were free from bullying, being made fun of, being talked about behind our backs, and discrimination,” said Carlos Samaniego, director of Mariachi Arcoiris. “Different type of things that all of us unfortunately have suffered.”

“The group also has members who are straight and considered allies,” Vasquez said. “It’s great to see they could play comfortably with us, and know that about us and they are not going to feel that their masculinity is being threatened or anything. It’s like helping out or being a part of any other mariachi. They go in there and play with no reservations.”

Females have been a part of the mariachi world since 1903 when the first documented female, Rosa Quirino, played in a mariachi band, but to some it is still uncommon to think of female mariachis. The first all-female group was the Las Adelitas formed in 1948 and was directed by a male. Today only about thirty all female mariachi reside in the U.S. Mariachi http://articles.latimes.com/2014/mar/05/local/la-me-mariachi-women-20140306

http://sheshredsmag.com/the-women-of-mariachi-breaking-barriers-in-a-machismo-culture/

Arcoiris welcomes women and is proud to have the first transgender female in mariachi history, Natalia Melendez their violinist.

“There was a lot of obstacles I had to go through, to being comfortable and not even expecting to be in a leadership role to the world, and I’ve been blessed with that, Melendez said. “I’ve been given this kind of responsibility through everything that I’ve done.”

States such as California have legalized gay marriage, demonstrating that times are changing for the LGTBQ community in a positive direction.

“Your generation is more flexible, adaptable and open and not as concerned about rigid boundaries about sexuality and gender,” said Kathryn Sorrells, CSUN Communication Studies Professors. “I think those kind of performances are shifting for people in ways that I think are really helpful. Not everywhere, not all the time certain spaces are more open,”Sorrells.

Despite advances ,the LGTBQ community is uncertain under the new Trump administration and still continue to experience discrimination such as harassment, misgendered pronouns,denied basic public accommodations , homophobic comments, lack of protection, and exclusion from some areas in society.

But with artist and groups such as Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles who use music as a tool to advocate for a change, there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

“Music and protest are going to continue to come together in really powerful and creative ways in the next decade.” Sorrells said.4631796236_631x297

Remittances Are Being Targeted by Administration

in The Word is Text/Videos by

by Gustavo Muro

2015 Remittence Flow by Gustavo Muro

Creating a map that show the estimated amount of remittances sent out from the US into other countries during the year of 2015, provides us with a clear understanding of the amount of monies sent from immigrants in the US. Utilizing data from the World Bank, I was able to cluster together received remittance totals by separated by continent.

The current regime in Washington DC proposes a tax on remittances to build a symbol of division in the form of a wall is an insult to citizens of Mexican culture. If a tax is levied from such a proposal, the backlash would affect immigrants and US citizens.

Honestly, the tax would be unjust for the simple fact the tax would disproportionately affect the working class.

In 2008 the top three countries receiving remittances were number one India, second China, and third Mexico. According to The World Bank, The average value of a single remittance to Mexico was between $340-$350 US dollars in 2007. An interesting observation is that increase in remittances have been seen to correlate with reduced homicide rates in the country that is — for every 1% increase in households receiving remittances in Mexico there is a 0.05% decrease in the homicide rate. Lowering the costs of sending remittances to other countries including Mexico would help fight poverty as well as being an effective method to reduce the organized crime rate according to a study from the ‘Inter-American Development Bank’.

The Trump administration has threatened Mexico with taxing remittances sent from the US to assist in funding for Trump’s proposed border wall. It would be counter-intuitive to de-rail efforts of Mexican and US officials who have been working to make money flows between the two neighboring countries more transparent. If remittances were to become taxed then senders of remittances may consider the use of other methods of sending money, such as physically smuggling it across border lines. Some have even suggested Mexicans might turn to a currency transfer medium such as ‘Bit Coin’ among others which is an online currency that eliminates banks and fees to transmit currency.a

A survey by Inter-American Dialogue of remittances to Mexico found that a majority, 67 percent in 2013, were sent by “undocumented” individuals living in the U.S.

Data gathered by the Mexican government and BBVA Research shows that in 2015, nearly one-third (29.6 percent) of all of the remittances sent from the U.S. to Mexico originated in California. Just over 14 percent was sent from Texas, and 5.1 percent from Illinois.

In 2015, remittances sent to Mexico totaled 2.3 percent of the country’s GDP, the data showed.

Forbes reported that the money sent from the U.S. to Mexico by migrants “replaced oil revenues as Mexico’s number one source of foreign income” in late 2015.

Mexico has relied upon immigrants to maintain families, communities, and in many cases municipalities.

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