Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Finding myself in comics

There's this depression I go through every so often when things just keep getting bad no matter how optimistic I maybe. It's really a landslide affect that just gets bigger and more power as it keeps going. Like always, it starts out with one thing and then after a while you become engulfed in a horrible mess. For me it really started when the "Governator" didn't feel like signing SB 1301, institutional financial aide. From there things just started getting worse at every turn. I won't bore you with personal details, but sucks sometimes. Every time a bill goes down in flames I question my efforts. Why should I continue doing what if it's all going to be for nothing right ? WRONG. As much as I want to give up sometimes, I know I can't. I have come to realize, which follows the depression period, that there is a possibility that all of the work me and other people do might not benefit us, but the next generation after us. That possibility doesn't seem so farfetched when I'm thinking about how the world is right now. I also have the habit of enthralling myself in deep and philosophical thoughts making for some interesting conversations and ideas in my head. This is where comic books come in to the fray.
Comic books are an instrumental part of my life, americanization and in some cases the teachers and guides I never had in real life. I love everything about comic books. It's characters, the mythology, the science behind it, the art work, writing EVERYTHING. Comic books will never be fully appreciate for their true value and in someways I'm glad that will never happen because they'll remain a hidden secrete to those who do love reading them and collecting them. Besides, comics are a reflection of the kind of society we live,, kinda in the sense of life imitating art or art imitating life, I'll let you decide. Without going to deeply, wrap your noggin around these ideas and realizations I have made: Superman is an "illegal alien" who was sent to earth because his home planet died. He grew up on a farm and became the embodiment of what the United States stands for, truth justice and the American way, kinda like Captain America but that's a whole different story.  When Stan Lee created the X-Men, he surveyed current events and based the X-Men on the civil rights movements
The X-Men are hated, feared and despised collectively by humanity for no other reason than that they are mutants. So what we have here, intended or not, is a book that is about racism, bigotry and prejudice. ~ Uncanny X-Men writer Chris Claremont, 1981
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure the link between the X-Men and the immigration debate/war currently going on in the U.S. I feel like my life should be a comic book sometimes because of all the drama and shit I go through. Of course anyones life could make a great comic, it's just that not everyone is able to articulate themselves in that fashion or be open about their lives. I relate a lot with these characters and stories on deep personal levels because that's just good damn writing, but out of all of them, Peter Parker A.K.A Spider Man is the one I relate to the most. 
When I stop and compare the duality of our lives and what we go through, Parker and I have a lot of things in common. 
Going to college while juggling a job and saving the world, except for instead of saving the world I devote that part of my life to writing for blogs, my school paper and anyone else that ask me to write for them. The stuff that I relate with him the most is the personal stuff, how he thinks, his sense of humor and his attitude about life. I make bad jokes all the time, I worry about my friends and family, I struggle with the morality of doing the things I do and a bunch of other things that again, I won't go into too much detail. When I need inspiration, I look to comics and God for inspiration. I never really had a mentor or someone to talk to, but like Parker I was lucky to have people in my life influence me. Like him, I denied my responsibilities and indulged in selfish acts, but sooner or later things went back to the way they were. 

Another way I find inspiration and hope is through my fellow Dreamers who know what it's like. Dream Act Texas posted this and I just happen to read it on one of the "bad days." 

1. Be responsible (To yourself, to your family, to your community, to our world)

2. Be respected, be respectful (Respect yourself, Demand that others respect you. Respect others.)

3. Be honest (Leaders don't make excuses, they make improvements)

4. Be loyal (Stand alongside those who have the least)
To discipline your Revolutionary State of Mind:

5. Work (Everyday, everywhere)

6. Study (To study is a revolutionary duty)

7. Character over reputation (Character is who you are when no one else is looking. Reputation is who other people say you are)

8. Believe (Doubters never win, revolutionaries never doubt)
To build a successful revolution:

9. Be self-critical (No revolution is complete without a culture of self-improvement. There is no culture of self-improvement without a culture of self-reflection)

10. Acknowledge the knowledge (Teach and be teachable)

11. Build with allies, Influence the enemy (Execute the 5 phases: identify, analyze, plan, implement, evaluate)

12. Be relentless (Never, ever give up)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Work, work, work...

Been really busy with school. So I figured I'd post something that always cheers me up. Hope it cheers you up too....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I <3 Harley Quinn

November 26 2006, From my myspace blog ~ Harleys Birthday ~

Yeah Harley Quinn is 2 years old, 24 in dog years. I don't know how I could have gotton through these past to years with out her. She waited for me in the cold and in the rain to come home from school at nigh. She always makes me laugh no matter what. She's always fun to be around with because she's that kinda dog. I have lost 20 lbs just walking and running with her around evergreen cemetery everyday.

She knows what time we walk without looking at a clock. She makes my face and arms ichy everytime I hug her in the morning and before I go in for the night. She was a given to me by a friend who wanted to keep her. Her brothers Brooklin Jr. and Chester passed away. Now it's just her and her sister shadow. People are intimidated by her muttering "look at that big ass dog" and then they move out of her way because they fear her. I look to them and ignore them because I know she hasn't an evil intention in her being. Two years is the longest I can remember having a dog and I plan to be with her until one of us passes away. I can't imaine my life without her for she is at my side always. She may be a dog but to me, she's my best friend. 

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

'Fast for our future'

On October 15th, over 100 people will begin one of the largest hunger strikes in American history to call on Latinos, immigrants, and people of conscience–the Immigrant Rights Movement–to rise out of our fear and vote for change. “The Fast for our Future” will be based in a permanent encampment at La Placita Olvera, the historic heart of Los Angeles, and will continue until at least 1 million people have signed this Pledge. Through our shared sacrifice and commitment we will renew our movement and inspire an historic mobilization of Latino, immigrant, and pro-immigrant rights voters. We must remember the I.C.E. raids, those detained and deported, the families torn apart, the dreams deferred. We must remember the marches, the walkouts, the boycotts, and the promise we made: “Hoy Marchamos, Manana Votamos.” Yesterday we marched for our rights, today we vote.

I am signing the petition because I'm going to support those who sign it and those who are going to fast. I'm also going to try to make a commitment to fast for one, but given my lifestyle and my responsibilities, I don't think I can make a full commitment. I urge anyone reading this post to sign the petition if you support it and to fast if you can, even if it's just for a few hours like me. The immigration problems the U.S. is facing cannot be overshadowed or forgotten, specially with the elections coming up. I can't vote, so I'm urging everyone I know to go and vote. Vote for what you believe in because there are some of us who don't even have that privilege. For further breakdown of the event and details go here....

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

When the Hero needs saving

A stupid phone. That's all it takes sometimes for people to resort to violence. I have written before about my encounters with gang bangers and me either looking like one or looking like the type of person that can be easily robbed by one. Friday night I was on my way from Universal Studios with a friend from work. While waiting for the subway, sitting on a bench, a young man tries to snatch my Iphone. I take it back and confront the mocoso because I'm not going to take that kind of crap anymore. As I stare into his blood shot eyes I noticed the brass knuckles in his right hand. Knowing that the he wants to takes this up a notch I reconsider whether throwing fisty cuffs with this kid is worth it. When I refuse again out comes the butterfly knife. Talking in these kind of these situations will only get you in trouble, but I'm not a regular person and I have come to terms with that. Thus despite my futile efforts, I give and hand him my phone. A phone is not worth my life, even if that phone is literally my life line to the world. As sad as it is to say that, all of the emails and phone numbers I would have lost would put a serious hurt on my ability to stay connected with important people and stay informed in what's happening in the world. All of this happened within the span of three minutes with everyone on the plat form watching the drama unfold as it happens. Everyone saw that if this kid is willing to pull out a knife for a phone, they know he's capable of hurting someone if they got in the way. He soon walk to the end of the plat form to wait for the train to come and I stand there breathing trying to chill and to hold myself back from doing something stupid and reckless. That's when the people near me tell me that I made the right decision in giving him the phone. The man behind me is named George. He had his family with him and his baby in his arms while he saw everything happen. He told me that he would have helped me out but didn't want to put his family at risk. I thanked him and agreed that it's not worth it over a stupid phone. Five minutes pass and the train comes to the stop. The people going in that direction, including the mocoso, board and wait for it to leave. Funny thing is it never left. While filling in my friend on what happened after her called the cops, George calls me into the train car and tells me that he used the emergency call button to tell the conductor what happened and to call the jura. He suggest that I get on the train and trail the mocoso so I know where he's at when the cops come. I agree with him and jump in. This is where everything turns around so pay attention. As me and my friend are standing there joking about how the mocoso didn't take a $1,000 SLR camera the other passengers get to talking. A young lady sitting by the door tells me that she knows how I feel and reassures me that I made the right decision. She regales me with a story of one of her friends going through the same ordeal as me. Only difference is that her friend tried fighting the guy and ended up in critical condition from the stab wounds he received. To my other side there were two other younger ladies wanting to go home from a long day. One of them didn't know that I was the person that was robbed, "why doesn't the train driver just go. The guy got robbed and he can't do nothing about it, so why don't we just go ?" she said. "It's because the guy pulled a knife on me and he threaten to stab me," I replied. She was ashamed of what she said and sat back down quietly. As all of this was happening other people just kept staring at me giving me their pity eyes and thanking God that it wasn't them. George and another man talked backed and forth about what was going on and they were ready to go bust some heads, but they knew better. That's why they kept the doors from closing. It was the longest five to 10 minutes ever because the tension was so high and everyone was tired and just wanted to go home. That's when the mocoso took off running up the stairs. He must have figured that the cops were on their way and decided to cut his loses. George and the other man followed suit and in those two seconds I told myself that I would not let anything happen to those two men for something as stupid as a phone. Up the stairs I ran taking two/three steps at a time. By the time I reach the top an MTA sheriff officer has the suspect on the floor pointing a gun at him. All the while another officer dressed in civilian clothing is telling us to turn around and go back. I tell him I'm the "victim" and he tells me to stay put. More officers come as time passes and by the time the suspect is shackled, about 15 officers in total show up. Some get involved and other's keep a look out in the entrance of the station. During the ordeal, the mocosos friends decide to check up on their friend to see what's going on and they get caught up in the mess. Two teens and a young girl are commanded by the officers to lie face down on the floor all the while questioning them and asking them what did they do ? They still argue and the officers start becoming more adamant about lying down on the floor. They're questioned and eventually release, but they got caught up in something they shouldn't have just by checking up on their friend. The suspect is in a cruiser and I'm waiting with my friend and George for an officer to take our statements. I tell the officer my part in the story breaking everything down for him and showing him my I.D. from the Mexican Consulate. George does the same, but is more worried about his wife chewing him out for doing what he did, helping me. He said that a week ago someone stole his laptop from his home. Sympathizing with what happened to me and knowing what it's like to feel violated and powerless made him do what he did. He said that after what happened to him he would never stand idly by and let it happen to anyone else. As he left I thanked him once again for his helped and wished him the best. I asked La Virgen to watch over him and his family for helping out a random stranger like that. George went left and the officer gave me a note with a case number. I asked what's to become of the mocoso, whose 17, and he told me. He's on parole, he got caught with brass knucks, a felony and used a deadly weapon in the robbery. His life is over even if though I didn't want to press charges. I figured he needed a second chance to turn everything around, but he got caught while on his second chance. It's over for him. I'm partly responsible for helping institutionalize another kid into our prison system. I feel bad. He's only 17 and his life is gone. He's going to spend the better part of his life in prison. One of the reasons I am trying to better myself in school is to give back to my community, my people. If this kid had someone to talk to, someone to give him the time of day, to show him that there is more than one path in life no matter how bad a hand you get dealt, then maybe he wouldn't resort to doing what he did. Then again who's to say he didn't deserve what's coming to him ? Whatever the reasoning, it wasn't worth a stupid phone. I have newly revived respect for officers. Despite my past feelings and personal opinions about officers, they came through this time y le doy gracias a dios por eso. Gracias a dios por quidandome.   

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The right kind of immigration raids

"We are trying to get the worst of the worst off the streets," said Steven Lovett, assistant special agent in charge for ICE in Los Angeles. ~ Los Angeles Times If saw the post of me giving me an I.C.E. bus the bird, your probably thinking I'm contradicting myself and I'm full of crap.You would be right but not today. When I.C.E. does its job right and actually deports the people that need to be deported, I have nothing but support for them. I'n this story from the L.A. Times, more than 1,700 known gang members and affiliates were arrested in a four month period. Talk about actually doing your job write.  
"We've inflicted significant damage on various violent street gangs in every part of the country, from Wichita to Sheboygan," said Julie L. Myers, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "And that has made our communities immeasurably safer."

However, there can be no good without anything evil happening somewhere else, it's the law of equivalent exchange. Dream Act Texas posted that in Alabama, a court ruled against undocumented students having the ability to attend a university or college. The Associated Press reported,"The state board of education passed a new policy denying illegal immigrants admission to Alabama's two-year colleges on Thursday despite one board member's calls to delay it for more discussion and four of the nine members being absent. The policy, which takes effect next spring, was passed on a 4-0 vote, with Ethel Hall of Fairfield abstaining."
See when things like that happen, then I start flipping people and buses off. 

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

AB 540 disputed in court ruling

This is a story I wrote about the AB 540 court ruling that went down a few weeks ago. From my college news paper.  

California court decision could change AB 540

Students attending California State Universities and community colleges under Assembly Bill 540 are in danger of losing their eligibility to qualify to pay for in-state tuition. 

A California court of appeals ruled on September 15 that AB 540 conflicts with federal laws stating that eligibility for in-state tuition is based on residency.

Nicholas Espiritu, a staff attorney at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund says that when AB 540 was first introduced in 1996, it met all of the federal requirements it needed and was specific in its writing so it wouldn’t be questioned in the future. 

Despite the court ruling, AB 540 is still in effect and students need not to panic or worry says Espiritu. 

Kris Kobach, an attorney for the plaintiffs and a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle saying, “It has a huge impact.

“This is going to bring a halt to the law that has been giving in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.”

The current case against the bill was first filed in 2005 and only after years of legal limbo has it finally come to a decision.     

The ruling made is also going to be appealed by the University of California Regents, which will continue prolonging the legal process which could take another three years or longer.  

The UC Regents will fight and defend AB 540 because they know how important this bill is to thousands of students attending universities and community colleges says Espiritu. 

There are nine other states in the United States that have similar laws that allow undocumented students the ability to qualify for in-state tuition; Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Washington.

Students who attended and graduated from a California high school or continuation school and received a diploma, can qualify to pay in-state tuition rather than out- of-state fees. 

Residents pay $20 a unit, while out-of-state residents pay $173 a unit at East. 

The difference escalates dramatically at the University level.

At the University of California, Los Angeles –one of the most popular schools in California their in-state tuition fees are $7,034 while out-of-state tuition is $26,102. 

AB 540 was drafted to help out California residents who attended and graduated from a California high school, but moved and lived in another state for an extended period of time.

As a result of living out of state for more than one year, those students don’t qualify as in-state residents.

The National Immigration Law Center says that, “about 70 percent of AB 540 students attending the University of California are U.S. citizens who do not meet the state residency requirements for in-state tuition purposes,” in a press release following the court ruling. 

It also means that undocumented students who also meet the requirements could also attend universities and colleges, but without any financial assistance from the government or certain scholarships.   

All they have to do is sign an affidavit with the school they’re attending stating that they are in the process of becoming legal residents, or will apply as soon as they are able to.  

Aurea Gomez is a Chemical Engineering major at the University of Santa Barbara. 

Like other AB 540 students, she has to struggle to pay for her education and maintain a home, “I cannot consider buying books,” says Gomez. 

“I have to borrow from class mates, use the library and sometimes ask for help from every single professor. 

“I need to work every quarter, which is a burden on my studies, especially in a major where students only focus on classes and do little or no work. 

“There are tons of little things that have to do with everyday life that are put on hold, but I do it because I believe in my education. 

“I believe in the right to access it,” says Gomez. 

“Being a first generation student, it’s hard to inspire my six younger siblings to acquire their four-year degree, but one of my sisters has told me repeatedly about her dream and determination to become a doctor. 

“As an AB 540 student finally making it through to my last year, I have been inspiring her to continue, but if AB 540 is made invalid, the cost doubles and her will and drive will not be enough,” says Gomez.

SB 1301 vetoed again by the governor

Tuesday was the last day Schwarzenegger had to sign or veto SB 1301, Institutional Financial aid. The didn't sign it and here is the letter he sent to out as to why he didn't sign it... 

To the Members of the California State Senate:

I am returning Senate Bill 1301 without my signature.

I share the author’s goal of making affordable education available to all California

students, but given the precarious fiscal condition the state faces at this time, it would not

be prudent to place additional demands on our limited financial aid resources as specified

in this bill.

For this reason, I am unable to sign this bill.


Arnold Schwarzenegger