Last Stand in Canuckistan

canada

Any Canadian who thinks Americans
are arrogant and dumb
have their suspicions confirmed
every time some disgruntled American voter
threatens to leave for the Great White North
If their candidate is not elected President.

This idle threat is tragically American,
reeking of delusions of exceptionalism.
The myth that we are so wonderful
that Canada will welcome us all.

“Red-blooded” Americans
whose homeland pulls back the welcome mat for foreigners
somehow expect that wherever Americans emigrate
we will be treated just the opposite.

It never occurs to them that Canada may not want us there
perhaps they still think Canada belongs to the U.S.
like Americans did long ago
back when Manifest Destiny aspired to stretch north. [Read more…]

Forbidden Love

interracial couple

The brutally vigorous hurricane of debate over gay marriage is sweeping across the United States. I have a stance on this matter as well. But first, I believe it’s important that I share my story.

I am multiracial. Or, as some older folks have phrased it, a “half-breed.” My father is Mexican, and my mother is a diverse collection of peoples that amounts to “white.” They met in Arizona, where the two of them were going to school. This detail is important, because in my parents’ lifetime, there was a law in Arizona that made it illegal to marry a Mexican. Had the repeal of this law been delayed a decade, I would never have existed. [Read more…]

The Mythical Latino

The Latino is a mythical creature native to parts of America’s Southwest, although clusters have migrated all across the United States. Known less commonly under names such as Hispanic, Paisa, Raza and others, the Latino is most commonly distinguished by its medium-brown skin tone, practical working clothes (usually paint-stained), and tendency to carry tools for manual labor, such as the leaf blower (pictured). Latinos tend to live, travel, and work in large clusters. Their diet consists mainly of beans and a flat kind of bread, and they seem to have an intrinsic need to hear accordion music at least once a day.

I’m pretty sure we can all agree that the above paragraph is absolutely ridiculous. Such was its intent. However, many continue to stereotype Latinos in a very similar way, presuming that we look the same, think the same, vote the same, act the same. Now let me be clear: it’s always unfair to make blanket assumptions about any group of people, not to mention inaccurate. But I think it’s a particularly bad mischaracterization to batch-process Latinos.

To start off with, Latinos, by definition, come from Latin America, a region of huge ethnic diversity. Most Latinos are mestizos, or a mix of varying proportions of Spanish and native blood, of which there are hundreds of tribes. Let’s not forget all the African slaves that the Spanish imported, adding yet another ethnicity into the mix. In some places such as Mexico, the African blood has been so thoroughly mixed in that it’s difficult now to find a mostly-black Mexican. Then there’s Argentina, whose inhabitants are almost exclusively of European blood. Finally, Latin American countries have experienced much foreign immigration from all over the world. Mexico, for example, has a significant Chinese and Irish diaspora. Even linguistically, we can’t lump Latinos together. While most speak Spanish, Brazil, Latin America’s most populous country, is Portuguese-speaking. Beyond that, many inhabitants of Latin America still speak a native non-European language. In Paraguay, a staggering 90% speak Guaraní, more than Spanish.

To attempt to stereotype such a diverse group of people is absolutely ridiculous. We are all unique, with vastly different cultures, appearances, traditions, stories, and thought processes. We don’t live the same, we don’t act the same, and we certainly don’t vote the same. There is no homogeneous “Latino demographic.”

So remember, this mythical Latino creature is just that: a myth.

Culture Pie

“They’re destroying our culture!”

Nothing is more sacred to us than our deepest sense of identity, and anything that threatens said identity really seems to bring out some sort of primal rage in us. For some, a threat to the majority culture of the country provokes the rage. For others, it’s the threat of some minor, marginalized culture becoming extinct that provokes the knee-jerk reaction of grave concern.

But they’re both missing the point. Culture isn’t an established system of perfection that must be preserved at all costs. Culture is us.

It’s our words, our thoughts, our actions. It’s our way of living, our way of working, our way of playing. It’s our manner of loving, our manner of fighting, our manner of mourning our loss and misfortune. It’s what gives us comfort and sense of purpose when all other moorings have failed us. Culture, quite simply put, is all of us, and the footprints our lives collectively leave behind.

As such, as we collectively change, so does the culture. We can’t “lose our culture,” our culture simply morphs to more effectively serve as our mirror. To preserve the memory of a past culture is to preserve the memory of our past. But to try to preserve and keep current a culture that is no longer current is to force us to be what we are not. It is to live a lie.

Celebrate our culture. Celebrate its ingredients. Celebrate cultures past. But remember, our culture is a pie baked from the ingredients that constitute our current reality. To keep baking it with the same recipe of the past means using old, stale ingredients… and that’s not going to make for a yummy pie.

Fresh culture pie for all!

America’s Covert Elite

America's Covert Elite

America has a hero culture. From SEAL Team 6 to Chuck Norris to Steve Jobs, larger-than-life figures of great heroism and/or incredible achievement continue to be an integral part of our culture. Two strangely opposite forces keep on contributing to the hero mythos. The first is a high standard of living that produces pampered citizens yearning to be truly challenged as human beings. The second is the fact that people of great drive, vision, and accomplishment have contributed so much to America’s past, as historically this has been one of the few places on earth where personal achievement has been virtually unchecked. And so, I feel it is my civic duty to add another real-life legend to this country’s mythology. I’m going to tell you about an elite group so resourceful, so legendary, so secretive, that they don’t even officially exist. A-Team and James Bond, move over: this is the real deal.

Our incredible journey starts in the remote jungles of South and Central America, where Phase 1 of basic training begins. Future commandos start their training when they are barely able to walk. Like the Spartan warriors of yore, they are taught from a very young age to survive in a hostile environment. This includes, but is not limited to, poverty, high crime rates, drug war violence, and child labor. Only those with the smarts, toughness, and tenacity to survive and thrive in this environment are selected to move on to the next phase of their training. Now on to Phase 2: a harrowing three-part journey to northward, a journey that many do not survive.

Phase 2, Part 1. Commando recruits, having survived at least to young adulthood (though many are much older and have wives and children), now proceed northward towards their final destination. They must journey thousands of miles across deserts, through jungles, over mountains, across rivers. No directions. No assistance. No budget. They must scavenge for whatever resources they can before their journey, and complete it entirely through their own means. Any combination of boat, bus, car, animal, and good old-fashioned foot travel is used to complete the voyage. It is not uncommon for operatives to become stranded or robbed, forcing them to struggle to regain their momentum. Many die along the way. But for those who survive, it’s on to the second, and most deadly, part of Phase 2: the infiltration. Be forewarned, this is not for the feint of heart: this part of the operation has already claimed thousands of lives.

Part 2 takes agent recruits off the map completely as they attempt to infiltrate a massive nation with the most deadly and awe-inspiring military this planet has ever known. In order to complete their mission, they’ll have to face an armed and elite special unit of over 20,000 members, whose sole purpose is to thwart the completion of the operatives’ secret quest. The commandos must avoid detection and cross a fortified border to proceed northward and complete their mission. Again, no assistance. No direction. No equipment, save the clothes on their backs. They are completely left to their own devices to penetrate the border and cross hundreds of miles of desert, with no rest or amenities along the way. Nothing but what they brought with them to save them from the harsh desert sun, from starvation and dehydration, from wild animals. And all the while, they’re being hunted by enemy officers who will stop at nothing to see that their mission meets an untimely end. The contest is one of the most incredibly lopsided in the world: feet versus helicopters and ground vehicles, lone operatives versus scores of precisely trained and coordinated officers, raw human senses and intuition versus radar, infrared and computers.

But it’s not over. Not by a long shot. Even after successfully completing a nearly impossible infiltration operation, the few commandos that manage to make it through still have to reach their final destinations to complete Phase 2: Part 3. These destinations can be anywhere in a country that’s one of the world’s four largest, a country of more than three-and-a-half million square miles. Now it’s a repeat of Phase 2’s harrowing first part, with a nasty new twist: they are now in enemy territory. They stick out like a sore thumb, don’t speak the language, and are continually hunted by enemy agents. They must proceed covertly to their final destinations, where they must accomplish the final phase of their grand operation.

Phase 3: Operations. Once they’re in, operatives must now settle and create undercover bases of operations for themselves and other friendly agents. With little knowledge of the local language and surroundings, no legal protection, constantly wary of discovery and apprehension by the enemy, the commandos must now use every skill and ability at their disposal to survive and thrive. To complete their missions they must best a massive force of almost 14 million unemployed locals (almost all of them with superior education, language skills, contacts, and resources) to secure means of funding their continuing operation. This often means taking on jobs that are dangerous, dirty, and difficult. No job security. No retirement plans. No minimum wage, or guarantee of any pay at all. And all the while, they have to avoid detection by the authorities. As if surviving these brutal circumstances wasn’t difficult enough, they have to religiously scrape together any funds and resources they can spare after ensuring their own survival, and covertly send them back to their home offices thousands of miles away.

Has their dangerous mission proved successful? Overwhelmingly, yes. It is estimated that these covert operatives could be sending back billions every year. Their operations have also become so well-rooted that they have a significant impact on local economies. So well-rooted, in fact, that a localized pullout of operatives in the East shook entire industries. Make no mistake: these commandos are a force to be reckoned with. And with over 10 million currently operating, they’re not going anywhere.

And now, the most incredible part of this elite unit: their leadership. Quite astonishingly, they have none. No superior giving orders. No meticulously-planned operation. No organization whatsoever driving them on their incredible mission. Their entire motivation, mission, drive, planning, training, purpose… it all starts and ends in each and every commando’s own mind. With no skills and at no one’s urging, they take on one of the most dangerous and difficult missions in the world. They have their reasons. Family, friends, a better life. The chance to live a dream. But whatever the motivation, their extraordinary operation is created spontaneously by every operative, almost a divine calling to go forth and conquer all odds.

America is about innovation. It’s about drive. It’s about tenacity. It’s about hard work. And, more than anything, it’s about making a patriotic stand against government oppression. It’s time to meet the next all-American hero. An underdog who braved untold dangers, armed only with his wits and determination. A freedom-lover who, in the spirit of the Boston Tea Party, acted in defiance of an unjust law. An innovator who single-handedly bested and obsoleted the traditional American worker, with all the odds against him. Meet… the Migrant Worker.