Monday, December 28, 2015

STUFF: Independent Filmmakers' Delight!

When adjunct faculty, grad students, and others are looking for venues to expose their creativity and art — especially when it comes to film — they should look no further than STUFF, the South Texas Underground Film Festival, located by the beautiful southern beaches of Corpus Christi, Texas.

Robert and Mariella Perez, the masterminds behind STUFF, worked harder than ever to present their fourth dazzling weeklong festival, and it showed in the unique, varied, and intriguing choice of films presented throughout the week of November 30th through December 6th, 2015, all free of charge. These films came from all over the world, and while some were personally presented by its directors or creators, others were shown with as much fanfare, though directors from Australia, Finland, or places in South America could not attend. 

Friday, December 11, 2015


Great friends form friendships for different reasons, and these are prolonged because there is a spark that, once connected, cannot be broken. Julio César Guerrero and Lupe Rivera were activists together, and through all the years — the raza, the causa, the struggle — they shared their friendship always.

Though I did not know Mr. Rivera, I have come to appreciate him through Julio César's fond memories of him, and of the materials he’s sent me. In all this I kept seeing references to Lupe's love of food and making people happy with food.

His niece Marge Rivera Bermann captures that essence well when she ties wisdom with food: “...he seemed to never age. His experience brought him great wisdom and I loved to listen to him. I'll never forget the smell of barbacuo wafting through the house in the wee hours of Sunday morning as well as his empanadas de calabaza - the biggest and the best!"

So what better way to remember his friend than through a story of one of Lupe's favorite pastimes? Thank you, Julio César. I am sure Lupe is smiling where ever he may be. 

I was notified this summer of the passing of Lupe Rivera, a dear friend I met in the Quad-Cities area in the late sixties. QC is a cluster of cities located three hours west of Chicago and divided by the Mississippi River, which forms a natural border between Iowa and Illinois.

Guadalupe M. Rivera, 06/11/1933 - 5/5/2015

This is the largest metropolitan area in Illinois next to Chicago with Rock Island on one side — home base to the famous Rock Island Line — turned into a popular folk song by singer Johnny Cash, and Silvis, home of Hero Street, USA, subject of books and documentaries about a group of Mexican American soldiers on the other: these men lost their lives during WWII and the Korean War. On the Iowa side, too, there is Davenport, the city where Chicano rocker Ritchie Valens played his last concert before his plane crashed in the winter of 1959.

This entire area was a hub for large farm equipment manufacturers such as John Deere, International Harvester and CASE, which supported most of the local economy through good UAW Union salaries, benefits, and pensions. Despite the racism and discrimination in the railroad yard and foundries of the times (which still persist today), people of color could enjoy a basic middle class income that contrasted with the low wages and lousy working conditions of families employed in the agricultural fields of surrounding areas.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Union County College & Others in the Hot Seat

Right now ugly things are happening not only at Union County College but also all around NJ as well as throughout all universities in Higher Education. 

It has not been an easy time for faculty or shared governance, but especially for adjunct faculty, who are suffering dire retaliation when they struggle to gain rights for fellow workers. As adjunct faculty, then, we should be putting pressure on our union representatives at @AFT and elsewhere.

Write to everyone, share these articles and links on your own networks, email listservs and social media. Pressure all you know.

Dr. Margaret 
McMenamin will get bent out of shape because if too many articles come out about malfeasance at her university, and these links become shared and shared again ad infinitum, she loses control. Therefore, we need to let her know she does NOT have the control she thinks she does! 

Thank you, Vanessa Vaile, for getting this list together.

So let Dr. 
McMenamin know she does not live in a bubble… Please SHARE, and thank you! 

United Adjunct Faculty of New Jersey Local 2222 | Stateweb

UCC Chapter of United Adjunct Faculty on NJ

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Ayotzinapa, October 14-31, 2015: 16 links

For the Day of the Dead, a small present from my good friend and colleague, Vanessa Vaile, to all of us. Read and keep on learning how governments are callous, if nothing else, and how they are complicit in everything that has happened, and is happening, to all the forcibly disappeared peoples crossing borders, looking for a better life, away from violence, corruption, crime.

Ayotzinapa, October 14-31, 2015: 16 links

Friday, September 18, 2015

Why is ABC Hiding from the Public the US Dirty Laundry on the Treatment of Refugee Families?

When Pope Francis touches US soil, he will begin a whirlwind tour through the northeast corner of our vast country. As such, he decided to hold a virtual audience with several parts of the country he would not be able to visit during his brief sojourn here. Via satellite then, he spoke with students at the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago’s inner city; the homeless in Los Angeles and those dedicated people who work with them; and finally, parishioners from Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas, many of whom have led the country in efforts to show that the refugee crisis in the United States is a humanitarian crisis, not a political tool to be volleyed back and forth. 

By far, mothers and children are the usual type of refugees we encounter at the border in Texas
Photo Credit, LA Times

The one-hour special aired on ABC News 20/20 on Friday, September 4th, at 9 pm CST. Moreover, it has been posted in its entirety in both English and Spanish on 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ayotzinapa: Chronicle of a State Crime/ Ayotzinapa: Crónica de un crimen de Estado

September 26 — the one-year anniversary of the Ayotzinapa students' forced disappearance from Iguala, Mexico — is coming up. Yet the impunity of taking student teachers en masse laughs at the face of any democracy, and we should all cry out.

As the new semester begins, please share with everyone this film with English subtitles — Ayotzinapa, Chronicle of a State Crime— including your classes if you are teaching at the university level, especially. This film is essential to courses where social justice themes play a vital part, as these 43 student teachers are still nowhere to be found. Thus, you can discuss the wherewithal of government corruption and the narco-state. 

What happens if...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Keith Hoeller Gives Tribute to David Heller, Adjunct Philosopher who Meets Death Too Soon

David Heller, an adjunct philosophy instructor for years, just died at the age of 61 from complications from an untreated thyroid condition. Longtime adjunct activist Keith Hoeller wrote a few words about him  and with his permission  I wanted to share his words with you here, so that all could see and thus also share. 

Make sure you also read about our colleague in the linked article, because we are all in this together... 

Rest in peace, David Heller.  

David Heller stands in front of the bookstore where he worked
Photo Credit by Charles Fischer

Joe Berry's COCAL Update included several stories about Washington state. I wanted to highlight one of them that deals with the death of an adjunct at 61: 

"Adjuncts Struggle to Balance Dreams of Teaching with Low Wages"

It is about the death of David Heller, who taught philosophy as an adjunct at Seattle University. My colleague Jack Longmate is quoted in the article. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

INTERNATIONAL COORDINATION OF THE CARAVANA43: An Anecdotal Journal by Julio César Guerrero, MSW, MA

When Julio César Guerrero wrote a guest post a while back, I promised you the back story of the months of planning for the Caravana43. I know that many of you have already read much about Ayotzinapa. But now  — as we near the anniversary of the disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa on September 26   we have much planned, including presentations of a documentary film with English subtitles that concern the atrocious acts of cowardice enacted in Mexico. The film is called Ayotzinapa, Chronicle of a Crime of State. Please write me if you are interested in knowing how to show this film near you. 

As promised, however, here is Julio César's account of the weeks of preparation and activity from beginning to end, as well as his recollections of the actual process of planning this monumental task. Although this is a condensed version of the original Spanish, he wanted to give you the highlights.

Julio César Guerrero doing what he does best, a presentation in NYC
to a community of activists with Dan LaBotz at his right. 
© Fanzine Detektor
So if you are an activist, if you believe in justice and freedom, if you want peace within our nations and real solidarity to exist, then I strongly encourage you to read Julio César's comprehensive testimony of his weeks with the caravana

You will learn a lot! 

And if you still feel the need to do something more, join one of the many social justice groups that may have developed from our presence throughout the country, since we know that Caravana43 was only the beginning and catalyst of our fundamental work. 

I am sure you can seek these groups out, because Caravana43 laid out the seeds.

But it is now our turn to nurture these seeds and make them grow. 

¡Todos Somos Ayotzinapa!

An Anecdotal Journal

by Julio César Guerrero, MSW, MA

Checking my email, I found a message I sent out on November 11, 2014, proposing the idea of an international solidarity project for the parents of the 43 forcibly disappeared students from Ayotzinapa on September 26, 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero. The idea came about after my visit to Mexico City in October 2014, when I participated in a couple of marches to El Zocalo (Mexico’s Central Plaza), supporting the parents of the forcibly disappeared normalistas (students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College).

Thousands march into the Zócalo during the Global Day of Action for Ayotzinapa
Wednesday, October 23, 2014
Brett Gundlock/Boreal Collective/Mashable

The display of popular unity the parents of these student teachers generated everywhere they went gave me the idea of extending such support to the United States, something that has become a tradition for the human rights and trade union groups, especially after the enactment of the free trade agreement (NAFTA) in the mid-nineties. The previous year I had coordinated a support caravana for a group of Braceros traveling from Texas through the Midwest that culminated in Washington, DC and New York. I took this idea and adapted it, proposing the same support plan for the Ayotzinapa group.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Chaos in a Fragmented World: Understanding it?

The more we try to shape our social justice, the more we see that there is no shape to it at all, that it encompasses everything, from inequality to advocacy. 

Mural in the streets of Memphis, Tennessee
© Ana M. Fores Tamayo

Vanessa Vaile from Precarious Faculty and I were discussing this the other day, and she sent me a list of all possible intersections. It is amazing -- when we think about this -- how all topics tie in together:
poverty, public education, workplace, immigration, refugees, globalization, austerity, discrimination, race, gender, religion, neo-colonialism, neo-liberal economics, consumption and consumerism ~ even sustainability and environmental issues because those too are driven by economic inequality and consumption.
So I am sharing with you here — as Vanessa shared with me — two lists of articles on social justice, poverty, and basic income. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

"A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness." 
Robert Frost

Yesterday, on August 1st, Robert Frost's poem The Road Not Taken had 100 birthdays. How many moments of joy multiplied have we enjoyed from "a homesickness, a lovesickness"? 

Looking at the night sky through a clearing in the woods
Somewhere in Pennsylvania, 2015
© Ana M. Fores Tamayo

I just returned from our own long cross country trip, and as my family camped out in a myriad of places across America, I kept thinking about our choices in life, about our "roads not taken", or the paths that we have chosen instead. 

So this trip reminded me that there is much to learn, always, in everything we do, in every journey, metaphorical or physical, intellectual or emotional. But the most important thing I have learned is that in every little change, we find ourselves evolving. 

If we flow with these changes, these alterations — just like the "lump in the throat"  it can become beauty, and thus, we can grow and transform into that diamond in the rough, that road "less traveled by, And that has made all the difference"

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Read, Think, Inform, ACT: the Transformation of the Written Word!

Though this began as an Ayotzinapa compilation of news, because my friend and colleague Vanessa Vaile knows I am infinitely interested in everything Ayotzinapa ⎼⎼ and she was gathering articles for me doing what she always does (she is an information activist, or better said, an informationist and thinktivist too) ⎼⎼ it turned out to be a lot more than Ayotzinapa articles by the end of this set, one of the endless many, she says. 

I don't know where she finds the time. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sonnet LXIX by Pablo Neruda

Today is Pablo Neruda's birthday, and since he is one of my favorite poets, I dedicate this post to him, my translation of Sonnet LXIX  from 100 Love Sonnets: Cien sonetos de amor

Life, love, longevity, forgetting and remembering... these apply to so many things, not just poetry, not just love songs, not just pain. Life is about living, about picking up books and flowers and cobblestones, about the wind in our hair but the sweat in our brow and the tears in our hearts. 

And we go on, whether in the field, or the classroom, or the road. 

Happy birthday, Pablo Neruda: you have enriched my life! 
"Love is so short, forgetting is so long." Pablo Neruda 

Budding Rose: Red or Golden?
© Ana M. Fores Tamayo

Perhaps not being is being without your being,
without your cutting the noon day
like a blue flower, without your walking
later, through the fog and cobblestone,

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Curse of the X Sound

I had the privilege to work with Julio César Guerrero during the National US tour of the Caravana 43 of the Ayotzinapa students and parents, who divided their caravana into three segments: the west, the central  where I met him  and the east branch. All then met again in Washington DC and New York City. Julio César took months to brilliantly orchestrate their entire trip, and he did so with passion and gusto. 
         Today, he offers some recollections of a different topic, but nevertheless these are fascinating to language lovers and history buffs. Soon too, he will fill us in with the back story of the months of planning for the Caravana43, since many of you have already read varied newstories of Ayotzinapa, though they keep on happening. 

I joined Michigan State University In the fall of 2003 as an advisor with the "Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions" under the student services division. OCAT was essentially one of the many benefits produced during the Civil Rights movement in the area of higher education, established for the purpose of not only increasing the number of minority students into universities but also, most importantly, of developing and nurturing a culturally sensitive environment on campus, since it fostered a drop-out prevention component.

My first week at work my supervisor told me, as a welcoming gesture, that he was glad I had joined the staff because Chicanos on campus, although not the largest minority, were the student group responsible for most of the political activism and organizing or
 — in his own words  the ones who “made the most noise.” By coincidence, that same week I was visited by a student member of MEChA who asked me for money to pay for an overnight delivery to the National MEChA Association board. As I understood, he needed to make the deadline for an appeal because the original membership application had been rejected.

MEChA: Student Movement of Chicanos from Aztlán
Union Is Strength!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

That Was Then; This is Now

I write this in anticipation of World Refugee Day, June 20th. 

I would like you to read the stories of refugees today, interwoven with my own tale of a better yesterday. I would like you to think hard, and to make changes to this existing system, a detrimental, unsparing blistering network that systematizes inhumanity and greed, and makes it the status quo. 

How can this be right?

La playa, Cuba © Dinorah Fores

A few weeks ago, my daughter got into one of those nostalgic conversations with me trying to recall the long ago; she wanted to find out about her distant past, where she came from. That meant, of course, she needed to know more about where I began: my past as a refugee child. She knew I was born in Cuba; she remembered my dad had been a lawyer; she understood he had become a professor at Fordham University in New York. 

But beyond that, she did not know much about my past. 

To her, my father had never been some figure escaping political repression; he was just grampa. In turn, I was not some present day adjunct faculty or human rights activist working to end family detention or the imprisonment of innocent women and children, or a nonconformist shaped by the events of her past. 

To my young daughter, I was just plain ol' mom. 

So that evening, cuddled into our respective couches over the miles and telephone connections, my daughter asked me to disentangle my story from the cobwebs of memory, so that I had to think about my father, my mother, my siblings. I remembered our story of immigration back then, in the 60s, and I mused at how different that story was from the tale of Japanese internment, or how different that seemed, too, from the nightmare we hear from refugee families now. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

May Day...Will Adjunct Faculty Become Human Rights Activists Working Together?

A while ago, I found a quote from our petition, "Better Pay for Adjuncts," that has been lurking in the back of my mind all these months. 

"I've decided to abandon any hope of being a college-level instructor because I do not want to trade in my blue-collar poverty for a poverty with airs of white-collar sensibilities."

So as I get ready to write something about May Day, and how this day of labor involves adjunct faculty, I also want to take stock of what this writer implies. It has haunted me for quite some time now. 

I have wanted to get all my dispersed thoughts together, a not-so-easy task. 

I began writing this particular piece after the City Hall meeting in Grapevine, Texas, concerning evidence of the fact that police will not release a video of them shooting an unarmed man on February 20, 2015, Rubén Garcia. Seeing all the brown on one side looking up at the white  sitting in their pedestals above  made me think there would never be any justice here in Texas.

The stark difference of the all-white "judges" sitting above listening
gave a somber note to proceedings...
© Ana M. Fores Tamayo

And sure enough, it is already May, and nothing yet is closer to releasing the official video. 

There is an unofficial passersby video released that directly conflicts with what the police are saying, but officers still hold fast to their own story...

So why do some folks want to taint the man?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Maná backs social causes with new song “Mi verdad”, a duet with Shakira

Ana María Alvarado  Abril 21, 2015  1:45 am 

The song “Mi verdad”or "The Truth" talks about the lies media and social networks sometimes tell, as well as dictators 

Maná with Shakira singing "The Truth"
In Maná's song "Mi verdad," the group talks about the lies media and social networks sometimes tell, as well as dictators who have always existed in Latin America. This shows that they have always been committed to this global problem and, especially, to their country.

43 empty chairs...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

New School, Old School? The New School Fiasco, Again and Again

ACT-UAW Local 7902's rally, held on March 16th, with adjunct faculty, graduate assistants, students, union workers, officials, & supporters at The New School in New York City
© ACT-UAW Local 7902

In mid March, The New School was having problems with its contract negotiations, and Brian Caterino, who had taught there years before as a contract worker -- though he was paid the same measly compensation adjunct faculty were paid -- commented that this was nothing new. 

I asked him if he would write something about this, and he did...

A few weeks ago, part time faculty at The New School held a day of protest over stalled contract negotiations and work conditions. The part timers who teach 85% of The New School courses have been without a contract since August 2014. The current proposals included reductions in health care benefits to part time faculty and other cuts. Part time faculty want -- among other things -- better health care benefits, adequate payment for online courses, and job security. They point out the discrepancy between the wages of part timers and the extravagant salaries paid to some faculty and administration while others just scrape by. 

While part time faculty make about $16,000 per year, the President of The New School, David Van Zandt, earns over $700,000, and Vice President and CEO James Murtha over $1. 2 million. The New School also opened a new building at the cost of $352 million.

The University Center at The New School
© The New School

These compensations continue the precedent set when ex US Senator Bob Kerrey became president. Not only did he get over $900,000 yearly salary, but also he received a $1.2 million golden parachute when he left in 2010 and continued getting a six figure salary as emeritus president. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

All You Want To Know About Ayotzinapa & the Caravana 43!

I decided to collect articles and videos from Dallas as the Caravana 43 contingent from Ayotzinapa came through our city. 

Trying to place them all together in one place for easy access, my colleague Vanessa Vaile from Precarious Faculty -- an invaluable educator and friend -- helped me incredulously in getting this huge list together. 

Vanessa Vaile & me
But I am sure there are a lot more articles and other telling bits of information. 

Please let me know what they are: post them here, add to our growing list, so that we have a repository for the great activism and awareness we so need to achieve -- the movement we are trying to bring forth -- so that everyone becomes aware that the disappearance of 43 students is now much more than these 43 students. It marks the disappearance of these 43 plus 25 thousand more. And with them, it also recognizes that over 100,000 have been lost to the horror of drug-related violence and crime. 

But what is worst is that this travesty is condoned, accepted, even propagated by those in power. 

This movement, Ayotzinapa with the Caravana 43, concerns the insolence of a government that made the mistake to think that its people -- because they were poor -- could be bought

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ayotzinapa's Caravana 43 USA: Calendar of Events

Our Dallas For Ayotzinapa T-shirt,
representing the central region: always fighting, ¡en pie de lucha!

The Caravana43 is well on its way through the country, taking its different routes, making news in Spanish media as well as English. By the time they finish, they will have stopped in over 40 cities nationally.

This is a quick post giving you the rest of their calendar schedule for the three segments of the caravana: west going up California, central going through Texas and north, and east going up through New Orleans to the east. They will eventually all converge in New York City and Washington, DC.