Coco, Un Poco Loco

9 12 2017

By Abel Macias

A Chicano’s dilemma with the film by Pixar

I begin by saying, that I went to go watch the movie, not once, but twice and hope to watch it again, but this time in español.

My dilemma

As an educator, when I began to come across media advertisements for the film I thought it would be a good topic of discussion for my Chicana/o Studies classes. I showed the trailer for the film in my classes and I also shared the controversy around the attempt by Disney to copyright the former title Dia de los Muertos.

I allowed my students to decide whether they would watch the film and whether they felt that Lalo Alcaraz had contradicted himself when he signed on as a cultural consultant. This was an effort to promote discussion and critical thought.

However, after watching the trailer a few times, I actually thought this would be a good film to take my little nieces to. One of them being age one and the other age five. I knew both of them enjoyed watching the film Moana, another Disney film about a young Polynesia girl who turns out to be the hero. I thought to myself why shouldn’t my nieces enjoy a film about their own people and culture.161207_coco_miguel_14a435b7bb6824aba3954206a8ed8480.nbcnews-fp-1200-800

Realistically only I would know about what had happened a year prior with Disney and I was willing to put that aside, since it was only my politics that I was sacrificing in order for my nieces to have a good time. I knew this was just going to be a window into the world of their culture, but it would be a window on the big screen, one that they could identify with hopefully.

Rumble in the Jungle

There were some rumblings on social media about how Chicanas/os shouldn’t see the film, but I knew it wasn’t as simple as that. I knew this situation called for a different response.

My analysis was of the broader society and this decision warranted a more sophisticated approach that took into account many factors, not just a decision based on a blanket position against all corporations and their products. After all we use many products in order to function in our daily lives that are produced as a result of capitalism. We have to be able function in our daily lives and not get hung up on issues that are not going to prevent us from carrying out our work or ability to prosper as human beings. This film was definitely not going to harm us and actually did the opposite and gave me great pleasure in being able to witness a tradition that is related to my people and culture.

The Unfortunate Reality

Unfortunately, the bigger picture here is not whether we should see the film or not, but that we even have to be having this debate.  Chicanas/os can’t just go to the movies and enjoy themselves like “normal Americans”. We constantly have to be wary of what we are going to see when we go to the movies. The history of Hollywood has historically been bad for our people. We have had to endure decades of stereotypical portrayals of our community and culture. That is if we are even given a voice, many times we are relegated to the margins of a script and used only as props to support the heroification of someone else.

One day we will be able to just enjoy ourselves at the movies, but that day won’t come until we change society and until then, we have to extract the benefits from the dominant cultural productions that surround us, while at the same time trying to influence them, since these reach the broadest audiences.

By the way, the film has surpassed expectations and surpassed other box office hits and was number one in it’s second week and looking good going into its third week, the only thing that will stop it is Star Wars. dj-star-wars-the-last-jediMay the fuerza be with you and don’t forget to enjoy yourself when you soak in some scifi fun, because even Chicanos/as love Jedi’s and their crazy friends like Chewie. Oh another by the way if you hated on Coco, don’t let me catch you at the theater watching the Last Jedi, ‘cuz guess who owns Lucas Films now? Yes, Walt Disney cabrones.

Why does Chicano Park have images of Fidel Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevara?

4 09 2017

By Abel Macias

September 4, 2017

These questions are important in light of the current conditions that we find ourselves in. As we have seen, Donald Trump has given rise to those who believe in White Supremacy and racial hatred. Many of these Neo-Nazi and White supremacist groups feel emboldened by the Trump presidency and secure in coming out of the shadows and expressing their racist views in public.

It was this atmosphere of embolden racism that caught the attention of the Chicano/a/x community when they heard rumors that Neo-Nazis were coming to attack their park. It was the terrorist attacks in Charlottesville that made people feel a heightened sense of urgency and vigilance when they heard someone dared to step foot in Chicano Park to do anything that was perceived as disrespectful.

In essence the community was not having it and is feed up with racist attacks against Mexicans and all people of color.

The response was great, three to five hundred people showed up to defend the park. People drove in from out of town to lend their support. There were Chicanos, Chicanas, Chicanx, socialist, anarchist, Whites, Blacks, Natives and many others who came out in mass to defend the park and its murals.che_guevara_y_fidel_castro

But what murals were under attack and scrutiny? It appears White supremacist and Neo-Nazis don’t like Fidel Castro and Che Guevarra because they were communist. They also tried to equate an ancient Native American symbol which they stole to represent their fascist regime in Nazi Germany.

But what is wrong with communism and why can’t we determine for ourselves who we choose as our heroes? The Chicano community has every right to sympathize with communism, socialism or any other ideology that it feels meets the needs of our community. Who are outsiders to say what we can or can’t believe in? This is the essence of self-determination and what we have been fighting for since those murals were painted back in 1973.

Who was Fidel and why does he deserve a place in Chicano Park? Without getting into a very long history lesson, we should know that Fidel was a revolutionary leader that overthrew the Cuban government in order to bring about change for the people. Because he beat overwhelming odds in defeating the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista who was backed by the United States, he is a hero. He was and is an inspiration to the people who feel they can never win a battle with a more powerful force. But he proved that wrong, he was a shining example of how organization, determination, faith and perseverance can beat all odds.

One of the people who helped Fidel defeat the Batista dictatorship was Dr. Ernesto Che Guevara. Che was an Argentinian by birth, but left his country after studying to become a medical doctor to travel Latin America. He met Fidel in Mexico where the Cuban was making plans to reenter his country with a small group of revolutionaries in order to take power. After their successful overthrow of the dictatorship and implementation of the new government, Che decided to go to Bolivia in order to help build another revolutionary army to overthrow the Bolivian government. Unfortunately, he was unaware the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States was sending support to the Bolivian government in order to stop another revolution in Latin America. Che was assassinated by Bolivian forces with the assistance of CIA operatives stationed in the country.

So to the Chicano Movement in the 1960s Fidel Castro and Che Guevara were heroes in the fight against U.S. Imperialism and Capitalism. These two systems are the same that continue to oppress Chicanas/os today. And it is for that reason that we defend the legacy, imagery and murals painted in Chicano Park. Because even if people do not know the history that is represented in some of the figures and icons that are in Chicano Park they know that no right wing racist or Neo-Nazis are going to come into the park and destroy or deface the murals that we fought for.

Yesterday, was an amazing example of how the people came together to defend what is ours. Now we must continue to organize ourselves and study the legacy of Fidel, Che and many others who fought to make a better world. If we learn anything from these great heroes, we should learn that they analyzed the conditions they were under in order to make strategic decisions that would lead to victory in the face of great odds.

Onward Mi Gente

¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

Anti-Trump Rally… Turns Media on its Head

27 05 2016

Based on the mainstream media coverage of today’s events it appears that all that went down today was a bunch of fighting, well here is another perspective to that narrative.  This is stage one in creating an independent media outlet for San Diego.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Rebel Reporter: Abel Macias

Today the working class came out in solidarity to show their opposition to Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking in San Diego.

The actions held today were organized by several groups and organizations that all convened at the San Diego Convention Center where Trump was speaking.  The Party for Socialism and Liberation joined the action that was held at Chicano Park and was called by Union del Barrio.  This park has significance to the Chicana/o community of San Diego but also across the United States.  It was at this location that the same community came together to protest the construction of a Highway Patrol Station in 1970.

There were other actions happening as well, most notably one called for by Immigrant Women Rising Against Trump and Corporate Greed, that are janitors who are part of the Service Employees International Union SEIU.  They began their march in downtown on 7th and B street and ended at the Convention Center.  Their demands were for wages, health insurance, immigrant rights and protection against sexual assault and other abuses.

From Chicano Park, the marchers made their way down Harbor Drive toward the Convention Center.  The march was mostly made of Chicanas/os however the crowd was very diverse in many aspects including ethnicity, gender, ability and age.  The head of the march was led by Mexica Dancers and flags from all over South, Central and North America.

The people made their way to the convention center about a mile away leading very spirited and militant chants building momentum to confront the police barricade.

When arriving at the convention center the protest continued but was blocked from getting directly in front of the entrance to building.  This allowed Trump supporters to freely enter the building.  The protest continued for about two hours singing, dancing, chanting and engaging in peaceful demonstration.  There was one incident when a person attempted to instigate a confrontation in order to give police an excuse to attack people, but he was swiftly removed from the crowd where he warmly greeted by the police.  After a couple of hours many people began to leave.

After Trumps hate speech ended many of his supporters began to exit the building and were lead directly into the Trump protestors that had stayed behind.  It was at this point that things became more disruptive.  It was apparent there were many Trump supporters looking to start problems and became very confrontational toward protestors causing reactions and scuffles to break out with some people being arrested.  Eventually the police ordered all people to disperse and started grabbing people out of the crowds and arresting them.  It is unclear how many of those snatched by the police were Trump supporters.

It was very evident that the San Diego Police Department was there to protect the ruling class Donald Trump and allow him to share his neofascists rhetoric.  The thousands of dollars and resources that were used to protect this man and his message is indicative of the type of society we live in.  Where hate speech is protected and defended by the state.

The Convention Center could have denied the Trump organization a space to share his message.  The City of San Diego could have made a statement that Trump was not welcome here in our city, but instead it dedicated thousands of police officers in riot gear to protect him.  Those resources are paid for by the working class people of San Diego.

As a revolutionary I believe we should stand against racism and any attempts to divide the working class.  We must oppose his message and not allow him to speak anywhere in this country.  There is no room for racism, immigrant bashing, homophobia or anti-Muslim speech, regardless of the hypocrisy of so called freedom of speech in this capitalist country.

Tar Sands and Keystone Pipeline Destruction to Mother Earth

30 03 2012

Been meaning to write about this struggle for some time now.  The Keystone pipeline has received lot’s of media attention and mainstream support from various sectors of U.S. working class.  Several celebrities have even jumped on the bandwagon, by participating in public disobedience or direct actions in Washington DC.  So I am definitely behind the curve here, but the more people are blogging about this issue the more communities will be informed.

These are huge topics that many have written about and the following is only a teaser.  I recommend people do more research to learn more details about these issues, but hopefully the following will get you started and interested in these important struggles.

Tar Sands – There is much to know about the Tar Sands, but simply put this is a massive process that destroys mother earth.  It takes place mainly in the Alberta province of Canada.  Basically it involves removing crude oil from the earth’s surface.  However, to remove that crude oil from the surface is a highly destructive process.  There are two methods that I’m aware of, depending on how deep the oil is.  The oil is mixed in with other elements, mainly soil or sand the process involves using other chemicals or natural gas to separate the oil from the soil, but one of the main elements used to separate the oil is WATER.  Millions of gallons of water are used a day to separate the oil.

When we think about efforts to conserve water, we should consider the amount of water corporations use to extract oil from the earth’s surface.  This water is also contaminated once it’s been used, but it goes back into the system and causes massive destruction to drinking water for people and animals.

Another element of the environment that is destroyed is mass amounts of forest that are clear-cut in order to get to the soil.  Again, this is highly destructive to the animals and ecosystem that in turn affects us.

For all intensive purposes, the Tar Sands oil extraction process is the worst thing corporations can be doing to the environment in Alberta, Canada.  We must remember why they are doing this.  The ultimate goal of companies involved in these projects is PROFIT and to maximize those profits at any and all cost, to the earth and human life.  There is nothing that would stop these jerks from continuing the destruction of mother earth as long as they keep making money off extracting and selling crude oil.

The Keystone Pipeline – Again, I won’t get into a lot of details with this either, but I recommend reading more about the issue.  This pipeline would basically transport the crude oil extracted from the Tar Sands to the Gulf-Coast of the United States.  This again is huge project and would involve digging a huge whole all the way from Alberta, Canada to Texas, USA.  Then putting piping in that hole to transport the oil.  The pipe would go beneath water ways, forest and other fragile environments, including crossing several Indian reservations in both countries.  All to allow the transport of crude oil in order to be sold and exported to other places in the world.  But ultimately, in order for these companies to make huge profits.

Capitalism is the system that allows both of these types of projects to exist and to be supported by the governments of both countries.  Imagen what we could do if we put that amount of resources and energy into building projects that would meet people’s needs.  The city of San Diego where I live can’t even build a damn shelter for the thousands of homeless people living on the street or pay for the number of teachers and counselors needed for students to get a quality education.  Only because it chooses not to, because there is no profit in it.

Join the Native communities from so-called “Canada” and the “United States” in standing up against these projects and all other projects that seek to maximize profits at the expense of mother earth and humanity.

Also, a reminder that the 2012 Peace and Dignity Journeys will be running in honor of the Water this year and we will be bringing light to these types of issues across Turtle Island.

For more details on both these projects I recommend Indigenous Environmental Network.  Here is a link to article on the Tar Sands and one on the Keystone XL Pipeline project

Chief Tecumseh, Leader Against Western Capitalism

28 10 2011

A telling and pertinent quote by an important native leader, not only because he felt the only way to win was to unite all “Redman”, but for something we should all keep in mind.

“to unite in claiming a common and equal right in the land, as it was at first and should be yet; for it was never divided, but belongs to all for the use of each.  That no part has a right to sell, even to each other,…”

This was before Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto in 1848.  Feels good to know that what I believe in goes back hundreds of years and to be indigenous is to be anti-capitalist and to fight for an end to private property.

From this belief against selling of land, Andrew Jackson, the greatest enemy against Indian people during this period would start a process that would effect us til this day.

“Jackson’s 1814 treaty with the Creeks started something new and important.  It granted Indians individual ownership of land, thus, splitting Indian from Indian, breaking up communal land holding, bribing some with land, leaving others out – introducing the competition and conniving that marked the spirit of Western capitalism (Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, 127)

During another meeting with U.S. government officials Tecumseh refused to submit.  “Your father (the president) requests you take a chair”  Tecumseh replied “My father!  The sun is my father, and the earth is my mother…” (Zinn, 131)

Pelican Bay solidarity event increases awareness of prison-industrial complex

27 10 2011

Pelican Bay solidarity event increases awareness of prison-industrial complex.

19 04 2011

Story by Abel Macias and Irvin Pachuca

On the last day before students went on spring break the U.S. Department of Education held a summit at the San Diego Community College campus.   Despite the date, over one hundred students and faculty arrived at the campus at 8am to protest the hypocrisy of the education summit.  According to government documents, the President’s goal for 2020 is for the United States to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. This is contradictory to what is truly happening.  A recent announcement informed students and part time faculty that the summer session for the entire San Diego Community College District would be cancelled.  As a result of the cancellation, all part-time faculty will be laid off, and as many as 35,000 students will be affected.

Students and faculty from campuses throughout the district came and spoke to the real problem facing public education, capitalist greed!

Students and faculty take over street in front of Seville Theater

Student after student gave testimony as to how the cancellation of summer session was going to affect them and how if the government really wanted to help students and veterans they should quit canceling classes and raising student fees.
Protestors then began a march around the school and took over the street on Park Blvd in downtown San Diego.  From there they marched straight to the Seville theatre where the summit was being held.  Unfortunately, the students and faculty were not allowed into the theatre.
The protestors decided to hold their own summit in the street in front of the theatre.  Again students denounced the tax breaks for the rich and endless funding for war. San Diego City College student Irvin Pachuca said, “It’s hypocritical that there is enough money to beautify the campus in order to impress government officials, while at the same time the students are told that there isn’t enough money for classes, teachers, or other student resources. We realize all the lies we are told and are becoming more involved in direct action against these destructive budget cuts to public education.”
Due to pressure, a district administrator came out to speak to the student protestors.  He offered only lip service and attempted to give excuses for the budget problems that students are forced to deal with. The students weren’t having it and after respectfully allowing him to speak went back to the truth behind the budget problem.
After shutting down the street for over an hour, students marched back to the campus to continue the protest of the summit at their lunch break.  This time the police prevented the students from even stepping foot into the campus quad.
The summit organizers had ordered the lock down of the whole quad area where the summit lunch was being prepared.  Students quickly reorganized and found a gap in the police lines and were able to get back onto the campus.  The students then proceeded to occupy the lunch area and sat at the white linen tables with silverware.  By this time the administration and police had become furious and started surrounding the students, while staff also removed all of the linens and silverware.

This caused City College President Terrence Burgess and the District Chancellor Constance Carroll to come and speak to the students in another futile attempt to make excuses for the ruling class.
After a stand off, the Administration was to forced to agree to meet with the students to discuss what students feel could fix the budget problem, at the top of that list was taxing the rich.
The rally that took place and the spontaneous action on behalf of students and faculty show what strength the working class has over the capitalist and their servants.  The ruling class trembles in fear when the working class comes together to demand what is rightfully theirs, free education, jobs for all and an end to imperialist wars.