Monday, January 16, 2017

Daybreak in Alabama by Langston Hughes

On Martin Luther King's Day, I'd like to share this poem, which I have shared before but which I find so striking not only for its beauty but also for its essence of simplicity. 

If things could only be this way! 

Delta Mississippi © Ana M. Fores Tamayo

And yet, there is no reason why hope cannot let us see that daybreak in Alabama, know that the next few weeks and months can be of grandeur and not of dread, because we will all be working together as one...

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Confronting Fidel Castro's Death through Poetry

As the end of the year approaches, I am finally beginning to confront the death of Fidel Castro, who changed the course of my life forever.

My relationship with him  even as an absence  has always been complex. 


When I was little, I remember seeing his photograph, a big bushy beard overpowering the frame. And while we were eating our supper, I would ask my mom innocentlyas children often do, "Mom, doesn't Fidel get his soup noodles stuck all over his beard? And how does he ever get them out after he eats?"

My father in an undated photo toasting
for our future happiness, in Cuba
Fores Family Album

Maybe that's what happened to all those around him...

My father fled Cuba because he lacked political freedoms. He believed we had these liberties here in the United States, however, so my brothers, sisters, and I grew up convinced in this country of democratic justice and fair play. This lawyer  my gentle father  could have been imprisoned for years or died for us in Cuba. He suffered greatly trying to escape, just like my mother: as children, we do not remember much. And my parents never talked about it afterward, only to tell us how lucky we were to be living in this land. When my dad chose to come to the United States to ask for political asylum, he knew he wanted us to be able to live and speak freely, and he never doubted that we might not have that.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Teacher & DREAMer Tries to Explain Inexplicable to Children...


I can not imagine the pain of being a teacher today, especially in a multilingual school.

Having to speak with the refugees I help is quite difficult. Talking to young angels who do not understand the madness of the past few weeks seems to me impossible.... Worst, needing to reassure these same angels, when I find myself in the exact precarious limbo they fear is insufferable.

Yet Rosalía Salazar — graduate from the University of Texas, kindergarten teacher, and DREAMer — has to do just that.



DREAMer Rosalía Salazar with her kindergarten class


It has taken me a while to translate Rosi's message, since I have been busy with many projects and translations especially relevant to the wake-up call we've gotten, but her words are just as important today as they were the day she wrote them after the Trump election. 


Monday, November 7, 2016

Every Vote Counts, brick by brick

When I went to vote the second day of early voting, I should have written about what happened to me then  in this very conservative town where I live in middle America  because I was furious. 


But I did not, as I had too many other things preying on my mind, and this was just another thing on the list. As I see the articles going back and forth, however, and I see the atrocities going on in the name of "voter fraud," I cannot stand it any longer. 

Do you want to vote but think you cannot because you do not have proper ID?

When you go to vote, even if you do not have two pieces of identification, or if you do not have a photo ID, it does not matter anymore, according to Texas law, which was voted on and "trumped" down in July of this year, against all Texas Republican conservative wishes and much to Trump's dismay. According to the Federal Appeal Court, Texas was in violation of the Voting Rights Act, and so, the state had to find ways to accomodate voters who could not find appropriate documents, the ones the state wanted everyone to use but were hard to acquire for certain folks.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

On the Responsibilities of Citizenship

In the past, this land has been renowned as the melting pot of nations. 

I am sure a lot of our parents, grandparents, and even great grandparents, however, are turning in their graves as my friend and colleague Paul Zoltan writes these cautionary words. The full support of the country our parents loved and clamored for, the USA — which they thought no one could surpass because of the liberty they won at such a hard price — would disappoint them. Our predecessors had to forsake their own countries. They left other safe harbors as well because they thought no one could ever offer them a better chance at safeguarding their liberties as this one true nation, yet that privilege now seems elusive. 

What was protected by the constitution they enthusiastically adopted as their own seems now to be a shard, used arbitrarily to break the most vulnerable, and indeed, many other populations as well. 

But I leave you with Paul's words, because he says it so much better... 

Paul's father's naturalization papers from 1965,
hanging in his immigration law offices




On theResponsibilities of Citizenship
By Paul Zoltan

In the waiting area of my small law practice hangs my father’s naturalization certificate. He took the oath of allegiance and became a United States citizen when I was all of eight days old.

My dad had arrived in this country as a refugee from Hungary six years earlier. The story of his exile begins, improbably, in Belgium. In 1958, two years after Hungary’s tragic rebellion, my father was chosen to represent his nation’s engineering achievements at the World Exposition in Brussels. Though Hungary’s Communist regime had encouraged him and other participants openly to share ideas with engineers from outside the Soviet Bloc, my father did so with trepidation: having grown up a member of Hungary’s landed aristocracy, he belonged to what the Communists called the “suspect class.” His three half-brothers, who’d never fought in the war, were sent off to Soviet work camps as “war criminals,” never to be seen again. When a telegram reached my father in Brussels demanding his immediate return to Budapest, he smelled a rat. Purportedly it came from the university where he taught, but his dean insisted she hadn’t sent it. So my father sought out the British Secret Service.



Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Justice of the Immigration Court & the Power of its Judge King


I went to an Immigration Merits Hearing at the Dallas Courts recently — the last hearing before an individual or family is deported or given asylum  and this young mother and child from Guerrero, Mexico lost, as asylum seekers in the majority of these cases do. Although the judge admitted that the young woman "might be in danger," he said he could do nothing about the consequences such criminal activity effects on these poor folk in the countries from which they are escaping. The actions perpetrated in such countries were individual criminal proceedings, not governmental undertakings, and thus the people who suffered individually were not privy to meriting asylum under our government statutes, according to the judge's ruling.


Ternura, by Oswaldo Guayasamin © 1989
How can these learned men say such a thing? 

As a majority, do these judges have blinders on? Do they not see the massacres committed by the cartels of Mexico, or the maras throughout Central America (that we deported!), gangs that have taken over entire populations, becoming a de facto, criminal and parallel local government, so that people in these countries cannot live in peace? 

These refugees are fleeing for their lives; they are not economic refugees, as the immigration courts so often want to make everyone believe, or as many judges delude themselves into thinking. 

Instead, judges deceive everyone — including themselves — by stating young mothers' stories as filled with discrepancies, their credulity doubtful, and their exaggerations tantamount: how can these "liars" and "illegal aliens" live in our midst, they proclaim? 


Monday, July 4, 2016

IMMIGRANT...

With the presidential race and all it stirs up in our collective pasts as immigrants  because we are all immigrants, even if some of us go as far back as the Mayflower — we will realize that we are all living on borrowed land, and if we learn to live together, we can learn that we are all one, and no borders need divide us. 

Kristian (right) joined a number of other community activists of all ages in Las Vegas 
to street canvass for the Bernie Sanders campaign this past February.

Some of us came later too, not in the early migrations but in more recent relocations, and especially today, we are still arriving, because the forced exodus from other lands  due to politics, warfare, poverty, displacement, or what have you  are all legitimate.