Not in Our Image


A few events in my recent life have made me think about the aspirations we create for our children and the way parents push in an effort to have their kids be the best and the smartest. Even public school admission has gotten competitive, toddlers and pre-schoolers take lessons and classes, and there are tapes for babies so they can read. Our babies can’t be babies because we have to worry about them getting ahead.

I see this all the time with some of my tutoring students. It’s not bad enough that in school high stakes testing have reduced the curriculum to test prep and not critical thinking skills. Part of the reason I get paid is to make sure that students pass numerous state wide tests. Pero that’s not enough. I have some parents who push their children into taking iq exams so they can place in gifted and talented programs or be placed in a fast track in school. My main goal with the students is to teach basic skills and more, pretty much everything they lose when they are practicing filling in bubbles. Also, given that nearly all of my students are young women or color in mixed status immigrant families, part of what I do if offer safe space for them to discuss other parts of their lives they normally don’t. For example one junior high school student was being sexually harassed by a school mate. Another was the victim of ethnic and religious slurs. It’s one thing for these girls to speak to their parents and school administration, it’s another thing to give them space to discuss how it made them feel and how they can become empowered after dealing with such things.

Pero some mom’s push. Push their kid into taking tests they aren’t ready for and prepping for advanced placement tracks the kids don’t really want but adopt because they have to. What I have seen happen is that students neglect their “real” school work so that they can put in extra time on the special classes, meaning they get even less skill practice. Additionally, these children become so stressed and so obsessed with being the best that they will do anything, even if that means lie and cheat to maintain the illusion that they are doing well. I have a third grade student who went from being a sweet and very smart young girl to being a stressed out wreck who lies to me all the time and is failing. I’ve told her mother that I think the fast track classes are too much for her but I am ignored. After all I’m just a tutor who has been working with this student one on one for four years now. And I worry because I see this young woman shutting down emotionally in many ways, becoming less communicative.

I’m already looking at high schools for la Mapu and I have to remind myself that this is her high school experience, not mine. I’ve been there, done that. We went on out first tour of a high school yesterday and I suddenly found myself turning into an old critical vieja. I checked the skirt lengths of the girls and how much makeup they wore. I listened and counted grammar mistakes when they spoke to parents. I was visibly disgusted when the computer department explained, with pride, how they do a project which focuses on the difference between going to an ivy league college vs a state college. These differences included going to Europe or staying in your hometown, buying a car or buying a metrocard, being sophisticated or being well, not. And what did that student mean when she said anyone could be in the honors program? What the hell kind of honors program is that? And no art class in the first year? Then I had to step back. La Mapu loves looking at art pero she’s not an artist. I rolled my uniform skirt up to my boxer shorts’ hem in high school. And so far I think I’ve done a good job at discussing and exploring class issues and the economy with la Mapu so she knows that your college or even lack thereof is not a direct measurement of your intelligence or worldliness.

No se, I think my job as a parent is to respect each child’s natural talents and inclinations and support them the best way I can not push them into some model of success as defined by the mainstream education system which really strikes me as cold and uncaring especially of the whole child. My job isn’t to make my child do anything but rather help my child become strong enough for her to decide what she wants to do for herself. Our children come from our lives but they are not be raised in our image, rather they are raised so that they can create their own.

Casa Mala Lives, Pero Mala is Worn the Hell Out


In many ways I’m feeling like a failure, even though in the eyes of the world I’m not. I’m just doing what I have to do. I’m working long ass hours so I can pay rent and keep taking care of my children. This means however that the things I do out of love and compulsion: writing, blogging, poetry, organizing aren’t done, or are done in pedacitos because by the time I get home, or poroto is napping or asleep for the night, all I want to do is lay the fuck down. I have to prioritize what pays my rent, my utilities, my metrocard and food. Health care is a luxury I haven’t had the benefit of in almost three years, even as mujeres in my family get cancer or cancer scares and hey, I’m getting to “that age”.

I have small moments that sustain me. Margaritas, sex toys and cupcakes (oh my) with some amazing sister/mujeres after a reading. Late night phone convos that remind me that I am not alone in how I think and why I do do what I do to the point of exhaustion.

What I think I sacrifice the most is my mental well being. This isn’t sustainable and I need to know how to make it so.

Letting Go Con Amor


This seems to be a recurring theme for me these past few days. I believe in mensajes y señales, some sent to me from ancestors in my dreams, some sent to me in emails and the actions of others. People placed in my path pero their placement isn’t a guarantee of anything, not of love, not of continuity, not of support. Lessons and then what we take from them and how we move forward.

For me it comes down to prioritizing now. I need to prioritize my survival. That goes beyond the pressing need for a roof over my head and the head of my children, how I will pay the bills, feed the hungry mouths attached to growing bodies. There are some relationships that will shift, shift into places I may not want them to go pero want has little to do with sobrevivencia. Getting through also means tiempo for words, pen on papel, and learning how take care of my corazoncito that at times is too generous and too hopeful for it’s own good.

Mercury is in retrograde and apparently this is supposed to meddle in the way things are communicated, put out to be heard and interpreted. Listening is an art of translation I have learned, tied to personal histories and things that are more often not said, pero shown, through movement and arte. No se if it’s too easy to blame the estrellas and planetary alignment for my dreams, which have involved me traveling and revealing deceptions that feel like politeness. Pero I don’t want niceties any more. Diplomacy is overrated. I ask for realness, honesty, even if it hurts yourself or another.

No one said this shit was easy.

NYC: Can You Support a Mother and Her Child Today? Will You Witness Justice for Aniysah?


dsc_03711-300x199Packing the court room and the streets outside the court house shows that their is an entire community behind Angeline and her child.

Are you going to be in the NY city area Monday, August 24th? Come to Aniysah’s court date and show the judge and the law guardian you care! Even if you can’t make it, invite your friends who can! there’s an attachment below that you can copy and send to your folks!

The next court date is August 24th, 2009 at 11AM and the address is :

IDV Part

Courtroom E-123, Annex Building

Justice Fernando M. Camacho

Queens County IDV Court,

Queens County Supreme Court

Criminal Term 125-01 Queens Blvd

Kew Gardens, New York 1141
If using public transportation such as the train or bus:
Subway: E, F to Kew Gardens
Bus: Q60
If they are driving or carpooling:

The courthouse is located at the intersection on 82nd Ave. and Queens Blvd. which is one block south of Union Turnpike. They can mapquest the directions. www.mapquest.com.

There is also parking: A municipal parking lot is located behind the building at the intersection of 126th St. and 82nd Ave. Which is directly situated behind the courthouse.

A Tragic Story of Continual Violence against Women of Color: Anyisah’s Mother’s Story, Angeline


Earlier this month I wrote about how one mami is being kept from her daughter by a justice system that claims to think of the best interest of the child. As the next court date approaches and a mother and her supportive family struggle to garner support and attention from the community and media, many have asked for some background on the story of Anyisah.

Many people have emailed us asking, “How did Anyisah end up in family court system?”


* Angeline separated from Aniysah’s father because he was physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive. Angeline has documentation of his abuse and the court orders forcing him to take anti-battering classes. Judge Fernando Camacho issued an Order of Protection for the father to stay away from Angeline and Aniysah, May of 2005.

* Even though Angeline separated from Aniysah’s father, he continued to harass and terrorize Angeline and Aniysah by fabricating lies to Child Protective Services (CPS) and filing for full custody of Aniysah. June 2005 — October 2006 Judge Morgenstern issued several Orders of Protection for the father to stay from Angeline.

* Judge Morgenstern granted the father unsupervised visits on the weekend with Aniysah at the father’s mother’s house. However, just as the unsupervised weekend visits begin, Aniysah begins to display unusual behaviors. She told the social worker that someone named “grandpa” touched her inappropriately. Aniysah developed a rash between her legs and Angeline takes her daughter to the doctor and the doctor reports the rash to CPS as a possible issue of child abuse. At this point, the doctor at the emergency room reported on the possibility of Aniysah being abused while in her father’s care.

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Call Me….Well actually Help My HermanaAmiga Call Me


I didn’t have cell phone access for a good part of last week. I can blame the telecom companies and their jacked up rates pero the fact is that I could pay my bill. It’s not even like I have a fancy ass phone with bells and whistles. It calls and it texts. That’s it. Pero I don’t have a home phone Can’t really afford to have both a cell phone and house phone. So my cell phone is a lifeline. It connects me with my tutoring clients, it connects me with other peeps I do business with. When I leave my hija someplace or let her travel somewhere alone, god forbid something happens we have access to each other. Pero gracias to a generous donation I was able to pay my bill and I have a phone for another month. So I call this paying it forward.

I think so many people assume that everyone has cell phone access or that it’s easily affordable. I think people take their minutes for granted, their access for granted.

My girl L.V. , who like me doesn’t have a house phone, who needs her cell for work and to look for work, is about to have her cell phone shut off. If you have some dollars to spare so that she can get her cell service up and running please email me so I can tell you where to send funds to.


Going, Going…..


It’s been a while since I have written in this space and not because there is a lack of things to write. I have poetry fragments, real life ruminations on mami’hood and other matters. Pero honestly I have been fighting against a funk. The pace of my vida makes it easy to just role with it, especially since it’s the summer and I don’t get many breaks from being a mom.

I’ve been applying for jobs because a leaner summer tutoring schedule has lowered my weekly take home cash flow. So far the one interview that was scheduled was a no show, meaning I dressed in my interview clothes, printed out my writing samples and resume, and waited outside the office for 15-20 minutes. No one ever came. I’m pissed about it because it was work that I could easily do and it was close to casa mala, pero I’ll take it as a sign.

The truth is that no matter how smart I may be, I’m not very marketable as a single mami college dropout. Because poroto isn’t potty trained yet my childcare options are limited, not that I could afford outside childcare anyway. I can do many jobs that I see listings for but my lack of a degree usually means people won’t give me a second look. And here’s the sad shit, some of the work I have done for other people to help them get degrees means that I should have three b.a’s and three master’s degrees.

An ex of mine called me a stereotype, a statistic, which in some ways is true except for the multiple ways it’s not. The time that I dedicate to my writing and organizing work, to mami’ing, to tutoring other children, isn’t valuable according the the system we live in. I am worth way more than my net worth tells you, but all the matters is that credit score or paycheck, especially to the landlord and utility companies.

I’m looking forward to the Allied Media Conference in a few days. I’m looking at it as somewhat of a retreat, a moment to recenter myself and my work, besides I am going to be in the company of women who inspire me and surround me with love. I am excited to share this experience with my older daughter, la mapu.

Even though SPEAK! cd sales and a scholarship from the Women’s Equity Media Summit have helped pay for airfare, when I got my cheap ass flight I didn’t realize that I would have to pay extra if I wanted to sit next to la Mapu, which is kind of important since she hasn’t flown since she was um 4. I’m hoping I can pack both of our clothes onto carry-ons so that we don’t have to pay a luggage fee, then there is ground transportation and food. And um do you have any idea how much almost 12 year olds eat? carajo.

So please consider making a donation to me or to any of the other amazing mujeres who will be at the AMC in a few days, it will help sustain us and the work we do.

May Day Immigrant Rally and March 2009, NYC


On Friday, after taking la Mapu to her ortho appointment (she doesn’t need a brace- woo hoo), the chicas and I headed to Union Square to participate in the rally and march for immigrants.

There were less people than last year. Quizas it was the rain or swine flu that kept some away. Pero the energy was strong and powerful.

Here are some images I made a little slide show cosita of the dia featuring Kai and mis chicas.


Hoy Es Tu Dia


For the sake of the children,
we rise,
hide easter eggs and baskets
pero now the date belongs to you,
The date is stolen from your own sister
who will not celebrate
pero instead stand
con los pies en el fango
before the place she too will be buried
along with my mother and the only tio.

Hoy es tu dia
and tus hermanas
think every ache
every pain
is more than just loss.
They become warnings
possible sickness
impending death
if not of los cuerpos
then of their minds
which have now been trained to expect the worse
thanks to your senos
your cesos
los pechos de titi Masi and Titi Lucy
el derrame cerebral de la abuela
and milagros that rosarios have stopped bringing.

Hoy es tu dia
cada dia 12
cuando hace un mes
la vigilia no era para la resurrección
pero por el cese da la respiracion agobiante
la espera era los largos segundos
de sufrimiento cuando
I actually prayed for your death titi.

Hoy es tu dia,
and thats how it will always be
with a remembering of your death
and all the days of life before.