February 19 — 1:26 pm, 2010

Esos vatos locos forever! And school racial violence, Somali pirates

dream act button 0

I’m supposing none of y’all know what the title to this post means. I’ll put it this way: that’s proper Chicano English, a southwestern US of A dialect of Spanglish, for "aw yeah, crazy dudes!"

Down there, by our own Berlin Wall, we live in español, but go to school in Spanglish, which goes to show how unsuccessful Operation Wetback was.

What worries me is that still, today, there are people who think that English is the only language that should be spoken in this land. But I take relief when amigos gabachos stand in defense of the many tongues spelling out life in the today’s United States. So, gracias to attorney and blogger Len Rieser for his post in response to a Christopher Paslay’s op-ed piece that appeared in The Inquirer earlier this week.

It’s equally satisfying to learn that some UPenn vatos got their school president, Amy Gutmann, to issue a letter in support of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act).

Kudos to Laura Trujillo, all of the MEChA, the Asian Pacific Student Coalition, the Lambda Alliance, UMOJA, and the United Minorities Council at UPenn for their work.

I had the chance to meet with the Chicano students last month, and it is great that after just two weeks of sending letters they got what they set out for. Gutmann’s gesture doesn’t mean that schools will start charging in-state tuition to undocumented students right away, but it is a great piece of support in the national effort to have comprehensive immigration reform soon.

Back in November, we had a video posting on María Marroquín, a student activist and would-be beneficiary of this act who is organizing around this issue in the Philadelphia area.

In related news, I also send a greeting to the students at Swarthmore who just created of their DREAM Act organizing group, according to a story in Swat’s The Phoenix. I’ll keep you updated on that group soon and on the overall movement.

Back to school violence

My story in The Notebook’s current issue reported on the almost 30 year history of mild and slow response to violence against Asian students in Philly schools. For my reporting, I recorded Xu Lin’s account of the violence he experienced while he was a student at Furness High School in South Philadelphia. But rather than me telling you, listen to his very own words recounting how it was for him and his friends back in 2000.

At the most recent SRC hearing, Philadelphia Student Union member DeVante Wilson set the beginning of a campaign to address violence and find solutions to this ill plaguing our schools.

Somali Pirates

Before this post is over, I wanted to leave y’all with a little piece of music I thought many of ya would like.

Yeah, it’s some sort of whim of mine trying to give this space some identity, while trying to stick to the issues at hand. In this case, I came across a performance by artist K’Naan who’s originally from Somalia. The Somali pirates brought the country back into the news last year, but K’naan commented that the coverage lacked analysis of the conditions in East Africa.

K’Naan, who learned English listening to rap tapes, performed along with the great Mos Def at Austin City Limits last year and I just recently caught that show on TV. There, Traveler—what his name means in Somali—talks about his immigrant experience coming to Toronto when he was a kid.

K’Naan struts his abilities as a lyrical master and delivers the following dope rhyme prior to his song "Waving Flag:"

Get off the plane—in America
Feeling insane-in America
Me and my brother,
Sister, and mother-
And then it hit me,
Right in the kidney:
Where are my friends
And why aren’t they with me?

This made me think of the immigrant kids who come to American schools and rarely get an assessment or even asked how they feel and what they have gone through in their countries of origin. I wrote about this recently and thought it would be worth bringing it back to the front.

Please feel free to drop a comment of two–till next time, vatos!

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