Race-work, Race-love

Open Letter to Latina Magazine -The Fascinating Stories Missed: Librotraficantes, La Casa Azul Book Store, & La Diva

In Uncategorized on December 30, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Fascinating Story Number 2: Latin@s, Librotraficantes, and [Literally] the Ongoing Struggle to Make Fascinating Latin@ Stories

Arizona keeps hitting us with their racist heart.  On January 2012, the Tucson Unified School District were ordered to end their Mexican American Studies program (MAS) and if they didn’t, state funding would be withheld. The MAS program, which improved the retention and college going rates among their students, was deemed to “promote ethnic resentment” against Whites. Subsequently, Sean Arce, MAS’s director, was fired despite having won awards for being an outstanding educator. As any movement demonstrates, Sean Arce was just one of the fascinating Latin@ stories to emerge from this oppressive climate.

Meet Tony Diaz, self-proclaimed “book trafficker” otherwise known as El Librotraficante. Book trafficking is one response to banning books in TUSD, inciting new grammar for Civil Rights and a new revolutionary movement. According to the UK Guardian: “the group has been caravanning throughout the south-west holding readings, setting up book clubs, establishing ‘underground libraries’ and dispensing donated copies of the books that have been removed from Arizona’s public school curriculum.” Luckily, book trafficking spread outside of the Southwest, venturing out to the Northeast via several venues such as CBO’s, colleges and universities, and a little Latin@ Book Store in East Harlem, NY called La Casa Azul Bookstore.

While Arizona was in the business of banning books, a bookstore opened – dedicated to providing a space for Latin@ authors to flourish and inspire future Latin@ to see themselves as authors of “fascinating Latin@ stories”. Founded by Aurora Anaya-Cerda, La Casa Azul is not just a bookstore – it is also becoming a hub for Latin@ literati and a site of protest.  On September 21, 2012, La Casa Azul Book Store was one of the sites that held a “50 for Freedom of Speech”  event hosted by Charlie Vázquez  and Rich Villar.  Indeed, while this itself is a fascinating story, people like Sean Arce, Tony Diaz and places like La Casa Azul Bookstore protect the right to create truly fascinating Latin@ stories.  Salute.

Fascinating Story Number 3: Living in Two Worlds –  What Jenni Rivera’s Death Revealed About the Fascinating Story of Latin@ Reality in the US.

Jenni Rivera, Latina Banda super star, star of Bilingual Reality TV show “I Love Jenni”, actress and business woman and Long Beach, California native died on Sunday, December 9, 2012 in a plane crash that left her fans stunned and wondering why did another Latina role model have to die such a horrible death?  Her death was also the first time many Americans learned about La Diva, a story that highlights the cultural segregation that exists in the US as it pertains to Latin@s. Among those who observed this cultural divide in the media, fiercely pronounced by Rivera’s death,  included Gustavo Arellano who called the LA Times “the biggest sinner”  for completely ignoring any story on La Diva until her untimely death. This was not missed by many a Latin@ media pundit: Jorge Ramos tweeted the following: “La cobertura de TV en español x la muerte del Macho Camacho y Jenni Rivera no la entienden los medios en ingles…por eso caen sus ratings”.

The story of the two “parallel worlds” that Latin@s seem to live in, the cultural segregation that resides within the US, is just ONE REASON why magazines like Latina are so important: while it may not be in Latina magazine’s mission to provide accurate depictions of Latin@ life, they only seemed to cover entertainers like Jenni Rivera when there is gossip, both good and bad. Among the important pieces of gossip on which only Latina magazine seemed to pick up was the upcoming sitcom that Jenni Rivera was scheduled to star in – one reflecting her realities as a single mom working and fighting for her children’s socio-economic success.

The significance of her death, when understood in this way, merited an important reflection for media pundits, but most specifically magazines like Latina. Instead, this fascinating story, that provides an insight into how Latin@s are represented, was trumped by murderers like George Zimmerman who only recently found out he was Latin@ when accused of racism in the death of Trayvon Martin. Perhaps Gustavo Arellano should have included Latina magazine among the sinners for not just ignoring the lives of Latin@s completely (as he has acused the LA Times of doing) – but for also promoting the wrong kind of attention for the sake of a sale, a retweet, and  a Facebook like.

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  1. […] FSN 2 & 3:  Open Letter to Latina – The Fascinating Stories Missed: Librotraficantes, La … […]

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