A love story for Valentine’s Day: Amor Mio

By Janie Isidoro

Yes, I’ll admit it.

I have had six Coronas too many.

I’m at the moment where everything is hilarious and I love everyone. I hug random people and tell them how great life is. I hug my brother and tell him how much I love him and hate him for reading my diary when I was 15, baboso!

Cleaning up after Gema’s wedding is so much easier now that I’m drunk. I keep seeing Hector out of the corner of my eye, watching me. We have been friends since we were in 2nd grade.

He comes over next to me grabbing the glass bottles of Coronas from the tables, “Let’s get married.”

I try and look over at him but my eyes are having the hardest time adjusting to his face, “Whatever! Hurry up and pick up the bottles I want to rap!”

He starts laughing and keeps grabbing the bottles, “¡Pues oralé, rap!”

Dammit if these Coronas haven’t made me brave!

Mas…A love story for Valentine’s Day: Amor Mio

Mexicans are becoming an endangered species

Mexicans have officially become members of an endangered or hunted species in the U.S. (I’m not referring to our enormous demographics, as we’ll continue to multiply in el Norte — where individuals of Mexican origin represent over 40 million citizens/residents — despite the racist fantasies of Donald J. Trump and his immoral ilk.

Throughout the early 1800s to the present, Mexicans have been robbed of their lands, lynched, killed, imprisoned, segregated, subjugated, vilified, scapegoated, sterilized, raped, beaten by white mobs, brutalized by cops, racially targeted with violence, etc.

Today, the guilty of these heinous acts and crimes include the most powerful racist in the world (Trump), the morally bankrupt political party (GOP), state media (Fox “News”), deplorable Trump supporters, capitalists and state agents.

Mas…Mexicans are becoming an endangered species

This is true story of my fight to earn the right to be Smiley #1

My mother, Carmen, often sent me to La Paloma Market, while my brother Salomon watched I Love Lucy re-runs. We lived in East Los Angeles’ Ramona Gardens housing project, where I had to be selective about the routes I took.

Since I feared the barking dogs along the alley, I always took a shortcut through the hill that was controlled by a local gang, the Hill Boys. The homeboys never bothered me on my daily trip for groceries, especially since we attended Murchison Elementary School at the same time.

Mas…This is true story of my fight to earn the right to be Smiley #1

I smoked weed before it was legal: 1 Chicano, BD (before dispensaries)

By John Edward Rangel

Smoking cannabis became a regular form of medication for me when I was 15 years old. That was in 1977. Back then the U.S.A. was still reeling from the Vietnam War, Watergate and something the media referred to as “The Generation Gap” (we called it arguing with our parents).

These were trying, confusing times (much like now), and for a teenaged Chicano in East L.A. who had to deal with the added effects of institutionalized rascism (big white cops called us “Pancho” and beat us with gusto) it was sometimes overwhelming. Getting numb helped me cope.

Almost every adult I knew medicated on something.

Mas…I smoked weed before it was legal: 1 Chicano, BD (before dispensaries)

Hey, Democrats: Don’t make a deal on the shithole border wall!

If Democratic leaders make a deal with President Donald J. Trump on his shithole border wall, they will secure his re-election in 2020.

Eight years of a disastrous Trump administration is not acceptable! Neither the United States nor the world can survive eight years of the “Racist-in-Chief” and “Hustler-in-Chief.”

It appears that Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation represents our only hope to impeach Trump or force him to resign like former President Richard M. Nixon. And while he’s at it, Mueller shouldn’t forget about Vice President Mike Pence–a more polished bigot. No pressure, Mr. Mueller!

Mas…Hey, Democrats: Don’t make a deal on the shithole border wall!

First Person True Story: My Holiday at the Laundromat

Happy holidays to all.

Turkey, ham, tamales, eggnog y todo, this is the time of the year where you put a lot of stuff “on hold” till next year, while we get together with familia and friends. It’s a beautiful time of the year, where putting something on the back burner for awhile isn’t such a bad idea.

Some things, however, can’t be procrastinated upon, lest other problems be incurred. Keeping oneself in clean clothes is one of them.

Mas…First Person True Story: My Holiday at the Laundromat

LBJ: War on Poverty. Nixon: War on Drugs. Trump: War on Immigrants

President Donald J. Trump and his administration’s immigration agenda centers on draconian, enforcement-based policies and executive orders, exacerbating an already dysfunctional immigration system. As an extension of Trump’s then–presidential campaign, the Trump administration’s immigration policies also represent racist and xenophobic practices, such as anti-Mexicanism and Islamophobia. Like Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan, these immigration policies and orders promote an isolationist and white nativist philosophy, hearkening back to the more oppressive periods of U.S. history when racialized groups (e.g., Latinos, African Americans) lacked basic civil rights, privileges and freedoms under the law.

Mas…LBJ: War on Poverty. Nixon: War on Drugs. Trump: War on Immigrants

In the midst of so much inequality: Ode to the Class of 2017

Delivered to graduating seniors and their families at Pomona College’s Class Day

It’s great to be here today
to recognize you all in this way
I want to be here fully in celebration
but I can’t without first naming some realizations
I offer these reflections
with all humility
in the lessons you’ve taught me, class of 2017
Please know, I didn’t set out to rhyme
that’s just how the words flowed this time
The severity of the issues remain
I just speak them with little academic refrain

Mas…In the midst of so much inequality: Ode to the Class of 2017

The continuing saga of Donald Trump, the Hustler


Trump — as President of the United States — has continued to hustle the American public

In a September essay, I argued that then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump was hustling the American public. Now, thanks to the support of the FBI’s James Comey,* Russia’s Vladimir Putin and WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, Trump — as President of the United States — has continued to hustle the American public. Given his mastery, his next book should be titled The Art of the American Hustle.

Mas…The continuing saga of Donald Trump, the Hustler

Real Life Stories: The Cheating Chicano Husband

I always knew that we Chicano men were devious but I never realized just how much. I must admit I have always been the weak-willed type as far as temptation goes, but these past holidays really brought out the worst in me.

I was busy petting my dog named Vato, right before Christmas, when I accidentally hosed down la suegra just as I was finishing watering the lawn. Good thing I was leaving for work.

I heard her say as I was leaving, “¡Desgraciado, hijo de la chi…..! So I quickly drove off. But as I did, I heard her shout out to my wife, “I told you he was evil! How, can I go to Mass all wet, and I wanted so much to show off my new Sunday dress to all my friends.”

Needless to say, I’m glad I left the house rather quickly. Have you ever seen two angry Chicanas gang up on one innocent Chicano? Well, it’s not pretty.

Mas…Real Life Stories: The Cheating Chicano Husband

La Realidad: The Realities of Anti-Mexicanism

“Where have you been, my darling young one.”
A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall by Bob Dylan

U.S. anti-Mexicanism is a race premised set of historical and contemporary ascriptions, convictions and discriminatory practices inflicted on persons of Mexican descent, longstanding and pervasive in the United States.

This essay conceptualizes, historicizes, and analyzes anti-Mexicanism, past and present, concurrent with some references to sources. Here, the emphasis is conceptual, not historiographical. Anti-Mexicanism is a form of nativism practiced by colonialists and their inheritors. Mexicans, being natives, became targets of aggressive practices inclusive of the violence directed at Indigenous and African peoples. The words “Mexican” and “Mexico” speak to Indigenous heritages. The origins of the thought and meaning of “Mexican and “Mexico” speak to historical native roots. White supremacist ideologues have understood this.

Mas…La Realidad: The Realities of Anti-Mexicanism

Loyalty and Loathing: Is Donald Trump the new Fidel Castro?

saluteSince Donald Trump’s astonishing rise to power, there is only one other public figure I can recall that has drawn such extremes of loyalty and loathing: Fidel Castro in his prime.

I will no doubt get an avalanche of criticism from my fellow Cuban-Americans for making this observation. But that simply proves my point. Although at opposite ends of the political spectrum, both men are lightning rods for polarization. Their similarities are in political style, not ideology.


Mas…Loyalty and Loathing: Is Donald Trump the new Fidel Castro?

I didn’t know I was a poor Mexican until the day I started junior high

salomon_y_carmenWhen you grow up in a segregated community and poor, often times, you’re not aware of your ethnicity and class status. Growing up in tight-knit Mexican communities, from Tijuana, Mexico, to East Los Angeles, I didn’t realize that I was Mexican and poor until my first day of junior high school.

As part of federal integration programs, I — along with classmates from Murchison Elementary School in East Los Angeles — was bused to Mt. Gleason Jr. High School in Sunland-Tujunga. Nervous about leaving the notorious Ramona Gardens housing project or Big Hazard projects for a strange place, I braced myself for the unknown.

Mas…I didn’t know I was a poor Mexican until the day I started junior high

The reason Trump wants to build a wall? To keep America white

Emilio is a childhood friend of mine who we appropriately call Malo (mean).

Usually, Malo and I converse about old times; friends we have lost and experiences we shared growing up. So it surprised me the other day when he asked me, “Poule, why does Donald Trump want to build a pinche (damn) wall?”.

I gave him a short shrift answer that it was his solution to end unlawful border crossing.

Malo replied indignantly, either to my casual and shallow observation, or to Trump’s callousness:

I don’t have any fancy letters after my last name, Poule, but chale (no), that’s not the real reason he is trying to separate us from Mexico. Trump knows this country is changing in color, culture, and influence and he wants to stop it.

Mas…The reason Trump wants to build a wall? To keep America white

Donald Trump is The Great Baboso

bigbabosoFor those of you not familiar with the Spanish word “baboso,” it generally refers to someone that is irresponsible or not intelligent. And its close cousin “babosadas,” refers to when a person talks nonsense or rubbish. In the current political atmosphere, the words are apt. Indeed, the words go a long way to explain why the world seems to be upside down at the moment.


Mas…Donald Trump is The Great Baboso

Hey, Trump! Come down to my barrio and say that again

trumpanzeeOn the first day of class, I always inform my university students that I hold two PhDs — one from a premier research institution, UC Berkeley, and the other from one of the toughest neighborhoods in the country, East Los Angeles’ Ramona Gardens housing project or Big Hazard projects (named after the notorious gang).

While I’ve relied on my research and analytic skills to criticize Donald Trump, as the Republican presidential nominee, I’ve also depended on my street smarts to deconstruct his extremist politics and erratic behavior. While political foes, pundits, cable news anchors and journalists are bewildered by Trump, I grew up with his type: Wannabe tough guy, bully and hustler. To deal with Trump, we must view him through these typologies, among others, such as xenophobe, racist, money-grubber and liar.

Mas…Hey, Trump! Come down to my barrio and say that again

Alvaro Huerta, Ph.D: The day my Mexican father met Cesar Chavez


Long live the farmworkers!

My late father, Salomón Chavez Huerta, first arrived in this country as an agricultural guest worker in the mid-1900s, during the Bracero Program. The Bracero Program represented a guest worker program between the United States and Mexico. From 1942 to 1964, the Mexican government exported an estimated 4.6 million Mexicans to meet this country’s labor shortage not only in the agricultural fields during two major wars (WWII and Korean War), but also in the railroad and mining sectors.

Like many braceros of his generation from rural Mexico, my father didn’t speak too much about the horrible working / housing conditions he endured while toiling in el norte. This included low pay, overcrowded housing, terrible food, limited legal rights, lack of freedom outside of the labor camps, racism, verbal / physical abuse and price gauging from company landlords / stores.

Mas…Alvaro Huerta, Ph.D: The day my Mexican father met Cesar Chavez

We Are One: Preschoolers know more than Trump voters

In the lobby of the school where I work, there is a huge image of Earth taped onto the wall. It is made of kraft paper and crisscrossed with colorful broad strokes of tempera paint.

Circling the perimeter of the planet are cutout drawings of children holding hands. No two children are the same, partly because of the way the preschoolers scribbled and colored them in.

Above the planet are the words “WE ARE ONE.”

Mas…We Are One: Preschoolers know more than Trump voters

Let’s get one thing straight: No human being is ‘illegal’

immigrationmarch600“Could the president grant deferred removal to every unlawfully present alien in the United States right now?”

That’s how Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts referred to individuals lacking the proper documents to be in the country during a recent hearing on DAPA (Deferred Action for parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents).

“Alien” is the legal term to describe these individuals, but Justice Sonia Sotomayor also referred to them as “undocumented immigrants.” She objected to the phrase “illegal immigrants”, which she considers too harsh. Justice Sonia Sotomayor even explained that “illegal immigrants” associates them with “drug addicts, thieves, and murderers.”

Mas…Let’s get one thing straight: No human being is ‘illegal’

Mexican immigrant parents: From my shame to my pride

dignidadlaloWhen I first applied to UCLA, I wrote in my personal essay that I didn’t have any positive role models in my violent neighborhood.

Having grown up in East Los Angeles’ Ramona Gardens housing project, I wrote that most of the adults represented gang members, drug dealers, thieves, tecatos (heroin addicts), alcoholics, felons and high school dropouts (or push-outs). I also wrote about my disdain for housing authority officials and government workers for behaving like prison wardens and guards toward us: project residents who depended on government aid or welfare.

Moreover, I decried the police abuse that I had witnessed and experienced, like the time when a cop pointed a gun at me. My crime: being a 15-year-old making a rolling stop while learning how to drive.

Mas…Mexican immigrant parents: From my shame to my pride

First Person: ¡Que Viva El Bernie El Sanders!

I just came from a Bernie Sanders rally in Los Angeles…my car is heating up so I got a ride from my son Angelo…who is my biggest supporter…

Anyway he took me to the Bernie Sanders march on Martin Luther King Boulevard today. He dropped me off and headed back to Santa Ana… I had no idea how I was going to get back home. All I knew is that I had to go and march and rally for Bernie el Sanders.

Que Viva el Bernie Sanders.

I got there right on time the march was just getting started woohoo.

There was no TV stations no media just a bunch of Bernie Sanders supporters — pura gente claro que Si.

Mas…First Person: ¡Que Viva El Bernie El Sanders!

Que lastima! The GOP’s Latino candidates are anti-Latino

cruzrubioGrowing up on the mean streets of East Los Angeles, I, like many of my childhood friends, feared the police more than the local gang, Big Hazard. Specifically, we dreaded Latino police officers, since they had a reputation of being more brutal than their white peers with us — poor Chicano kids from the projects.

By verbally and physically harassing us, the Latino officers reinforced their 100 percent loyalty to their white peers and police department. Similarly, just like in my old barrio, in the Republican presidential-nomination battle, we can clearly see how the two Latino candidates, Sens. Marco Rubio (Florida) and Ted Cruz (Texas), go the extra mile to demonstrate their loyalty to their white peers and mostly white electorate with their anti-Latino immigrant agenda.

Mas…Que lastima! The GOP’s Latino candidates are anti-Latino

Sometimes you just need to break the cycle

farewellI always said I wouldn’t grow up to be like my mother.

When I saw her, I saw a woman who wouldn’t leave her husband. A woman who didn’t put her children first.

I grew angry that my father’s temper prevented me from having teenage sleepovers. I grew resentful that they wouldn’t let me go to my high school football games. And I grew bitter as I got older, because she chose not to leave him.

Mas…Sometimes you just need to break the cycle

Dear President Donald Trump: Confessions of an Anchor Baby

cucaanchorbabyhistoryJanuary 20, 2017

Dear President Donald Trump:

Now that you’ve become our new emperor, I mean, the 45th President of the United States, I have a confession: I’m an “anchor baby.” Given that you represent the best white hope to “Make America Great Again!” I’m confessing in exchange to be pardoned for my birthright citizenship crime.

Honestly, I didn’t know that being born to Mexican immigrants on work visas violated the law or that pesky little thing called the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. If I would’ve known of your novel interpretation of our Constitution, I mean your Constitution, I would’ve pleaded in my mother’s womb to be aborted.

Oh, I forgot, Republicans don’t believe in abortions. Does the GOP make exceptions for brown fetuses?

Mas…Dear President Donald Trump: Confessions of an Anchor Baby

Trump represents the real GOP: Xenophobic, mean-spirited, pro top 1%

trumpheadroomIt’s not true that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump only represents the extreme wing or “crazies” of the GOP. As a leader in numerous polls, Trump exemplifies the true colors of the GOP: xenophobic, mean-spirited and pro one-percent.

Despite how the other GOP presidential candidates or Republican leadership view him or distance themselves from his vitriolic language, Trump’s boorish behavior and disdain towards Latino immigrants represents the Republican party’s political platform.

While Republican leaders have acknowledged that it’s impossible or not feasible to deport over 11 million undocumented immigrants, they have rejected a pathway to citizenship for those who live and work in America’s shadows. In lieu of citizenship, key Republican leaders propose a form of legal status without the opportunity for citizenship. Essentially, Republican leaders argue for a legalized, second-class group available for exploitable cheap labor.

Mas…Trump represents the real GOP: Xenophobic, mean-spirited, pro top 1%

English is my third language; I grew up speaking Spanish and Caló

panzonI was born and raised in El Paso in an area known as The Second Ward because of its political designation in city government.

In the greater community, it was most popularly called South El Paso. However, the approximately 25,000 mostly Chicano people who lived there referred to the neighborhood as El Segundo Barrio. It was a barrio that was like an island sandwiched between the Rio Grande Mexican border and downtown El Paso.

In this isolated area, about a third of the families were of second or third generation Mexican descent like ours. Another third was made up of mostly migrant newer arrivals and the rest were in transition. However, it was the Spanish language that served to unite the whole community. Although Spanish was prevalent, lots of exposure to English came through, school, work, movies, radio, music and TV, which was then in its infancy.

Although I love that I am bilingual, I was recently reminded that I am, in fact, trilingual. You see, this third language was unique to our Segundo Barrio culture because it originated there. It started as the jargon for the criminal element in our midst. These outlaws were widely know as “pachucos” because of the Los Angeles bent to their style of clothes. Most of us called them Tirilis and for all intents, they were the precursors of today’s gang members.

Mas…English is my third language; I grew up speaking Spanish and Caló

At the Romero Beatification: Eyewitness to History (video)

(SAN SALVADOR) The beatification celebration for Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero is building up momentum, playing Sombrero Azul, the national anthem of the revolutionary left during the bloody barbaric civil war that laid the cultural, economic and political foundation for the current gang — government violence in this pueblo muy sufrido.

They listen to the lyrics:

y que venga la alegría
a lavar el sufrimiento
y que venga la alegría
a lavar el sufrimiento
(and may happinesss come)
to wash away the suffering)

Mas…At the Romero Beatification: Eyewitness to History (video)

POCHO Poetry Corner: Chicano Love and Barrio Streets

A rose grows among the cracked sidewalks, of
the tear stained barrio streets, where happiness
is a luxury and can easily be lost forever. While
deep in their thoughts a young Chicano couple
are falling in love.

A painting of the Virgin looks down upon streets
which are so far from heaven, yet not so far away,
from hell. Young men strut like roosters, each
wanting to rule for the day, while their women
willingly look to sell their soul for the poison
which temporarily takes the pain away.

Mas…POCHO Poetry Corner: Chicano Love and Barrio Streets

What are you doing? What am I doing? Be careful out there!

sanclementetags“What are you doing?” I asked the teenage boy who was gleefully tagging a repainted space at Santiago Park in Santa Ana. Alarmed, he jumped down the small ledge to look up at the bridge where I was standing.

Others emerged from beneath the bridge to see where the stranger’s voice was coming from. There were probably five or ten of them altogether.

They looked so fresh-faced, ranging in age from perhaps 15 to the early 20s. A young adult with shoulder-length crimped hair appeared to be a leader. He wore a wide grin on his face.

A wave of sadness and great disappointment washed over me. These kids belonged in a boy band, or on a soccer team, or part of a visionary group that would put a person on Mars. Instead they were misusing their talents and potential to deface public property.

Mas…What are you doing? What am I doing? Be careful out there!

Our heritage and culture are not your Halloween costume

ddlmfaceA school in our neighborhood recently held a “Dress as Your Heritage Day.”

For one Friday, students were encouraged to wear items representing their backgrounds, and some did. Students walked around campus in a combination of family heirlooms and seemingly exaggerated symbols to reflect their racial/ethnic groups.

The rationale underlying this day was cultural celebration, and families and students were representing their own heritages in ways that they wanted. On the face of it, this seemed like good ole’ fashion fun where dressing up breaks the routine of school and students show-off their family backgrounds.

Mas…Our heritage and culture are not your Halloween costume

Richard Montoya and Edward James Olmos walk into a bar…

It was a hot afternoon, much like today. Walking into the cool darkness of East Side Luv in Boyle Heights was a relief. It was crowded, about two dozen people milling about, some busy setting up recording equipment, others huddled in small groups. Waiting. It was “media day” for Water & Power, which comes out today.

I’d watched the movie the night before in a small screening room somewhere in Hollywood. Dark, unsettling, violent, suspenseful, heartbreaking, redemptive … I had questions, but so did everybody else.

I was finally called over, and before long, the movie’s writer and director Richard Montoya and Edward James Olmos, the film’s presenter, were seated in front of me. I had 15 minutes, more or less.

Abelardo de la Peña Jr. (AdlpJr): What got you involved in Water and Power?

Edward James Olmos (EJO): The single most important thing about movies: The script, the story, the writing. Richard is a genius. Go watch the movie. You watch the movie, and you see, all of a sudden …

Mas…Richard Montoya and Edward James Olmos walk into a bar…

Chicanos: How did we become America’s new slave culture?

Chicano_Pride_by_fokrWho are we?

In my journey as a community activist and Chicano advocate, I’ve experienced many fascinating elements that have inspired me but also scarred me to my very soul.

I have fought the Chicano politician who capitulated in the selling out of his community, broke bread with the “Old Man” whom lent the little he had but gave unselfishly of his wisdom, and have shared space with our sons who have fallen victim to a privatized prison system.

I have fought the white dragon of racism and today… today will begin the telling of those many travels.

There are many obstacles preventing the Chicano people from achieving American uni-culturalism, but none more profound than the many differing points of view available within the Chicano community itself on what it means to be Chicano.

Mas…Chicanos: How did we become America’s new slave culture?