Saturday, June 05, 2010

My privilege


Translated into English, that quote from Zapata reads, "I want to die a slave to principles, not to men." Easier said than done because it's easy to quote and idolize others. Would someone really prefer death more than being a slave to someone in whatever shape or form it manifest itself ? Suicidal talk isn't something to joke about or neglect, it's serious shit I tell ya what. I've babied that idea in my life, but running away from problems is never an answer to anything, unless that problem is LITERALLY chasing and to live you have to run. But I digress from my point in that I find myself in the position of immense privilege. As an undocumented student going to college, community events, parties, art shows, poetry readings, movies, volunteering and being an activist, I find myself to be privileged more than the people I am supposedly trying to help. The people in my "community."   






It basically happened like this and I'll get to the point because I don't feel like being dramatic right now. At my job I was told that I needed to trim my mustache because it was too big and the question of hair falling into food was being posed. I said that I would look for another job before I trimmed it to the size of some '70s porn star or 50 year old looking dude. I see this request to trim the bigote as a form of oppression. Soo many people give me compliments on how big and thick it is because no one has it like this any more. People recognize me and are starting to know me for it. It's my way of not conforming to main stream society and differentiating myself from the heard. 

It's a sign of my individuality and I love the attention and compliments I get. Telling me to trim or shave it off is basically telling me to stop being yourself. Conform to society and be another mindless worker drone, enslaved and oppressed. That's how I see this situation. Am I going to put my money where my mouth is and keep it and my dignity, but the jobless ? I'm not entirely sure yet. I do want to trim it because it's getting annoying when I eat, but if I do it it's because I choose to do it, not because someone is making me do it, fuck that.

So, for the time being I'm not working, but I saw something last night. You see, at work I tend to help out people that hustle, street vendors. I charge them less for food or give them some free stuff here and there because I know how hard it is to work day to day, specially the paleteros. They push carts everyday, walking miles under the sun and barely making ends meat. So, last night when they told me I wasn't scheduled to work, I took it as if I'm fired and out of work. To forget about this I went to a community event for a radio show that had great bands playing and I knew I would be surrounded by familiar faces who are in the movement and in the art world.

Those are the two worlds I live in, art and activism. I rode my bike because it's a form of mediation and de-stressing and I saw something, rather, someone that completely took me off guard. i saw one of the paleteros that I help out at work, making his bed inside a tunnel. I recognized his face and long hair, sitting on a plastic bag and with some of his possessions beside him. I saw him and I realized how fucking stupid I am and how good I have it. Here I am, riding my bike, going to a show being a fucking socialite. Feeling sorry for myself because I have to choose between keeping a job I hate or trimming facial hair while this guy is homeless. Hustling everyday by pushing a cart full of ice cream through all of L.A. just trying to make it to the next day.

This man would kill to have steady employment like I do. To have a home to go to and not go hungry everyday. Here I am surrounded by people who say that they fight for their communities, for the people. Who and what are communities ? Last night I saw that man as I passed by and I realized that it's all fucking lies and bullshit. Community, piiffftt. Often I question myself as who my community is and how can I help them because I live on an ivory tower like that. I have soo much privilege that I can give my time to help those who need it. After seeing that man last night, I don't believe in anything anymore. I don't believe in the people who say the wanna help their "community" and "people" because I don't know what that means anymore. I saw a man sleeping under a bridge like some fucking troll, trying to make it another day and here I am feeling sad because I can't keep my facial hair. Man, am I privileged. 

2 comments:

Dedalus1947 said...

What is that silly quote from Spiderman? Those who are given great gifts have a great responsibility... or something to that effect. You are not Spiderman, and you are correct in being offended about criticism of your Zapatista mustache. But you live in the United States, you are member of this community, and you are a compassionate man in seeing your union with the paletero. That's your power; that's your gift. You see yourself in your neighbor. What is more important, your mustache or your neighbor? You've answered your own question. You are a lucky man. America is a great place to live, despite its populace and their anal paranoias. However, our brother and your neighbor is your concern (both the platetero and the Arizona zealot), and don't let facial hair get in the way of being of value to them. You do have a gift - don't hide it under a bushel.

Lizzypoo said...

Yeah, I understand. I know its cliche to say "count your blessings", but it's easy to forget. It's only when you see someone who is worse off than you or going through tougher times that you get a slap in the face back to reality. It's taken me a looong time to engrave that in my brain.

It can be something from having a steady job, to having a roof over your head to something as simple as just having loving parents. So many of these "blessings" do we tend to overlook.
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"Who and what are communities ?"

A community is where you hold a bond or connection with whether it's your boyle heights community (location), gay and lesbian community, Japanese community, community where you share a cause etc.

Grabbing a sign and marching through the streets isn't the only way to help said community. The activists you talk about ARE helping -in their own way. However, everyone contributes differently. We do what we can. Like volunteering some time to read to grade school kids, bringing a pot of food to your friends because they're going through tough times, helping your elderly neighbor tend their garden because they can't keep it up on their own anymore, and always lending a helping hand.Just like how you helped that paletero every so often. Sincere gestures any of us would more than appreciate. You might think that if there are people who are in those conditions, society has failed on them. The system might have, but I'd like to think that we haven't.