Indian Blood: HIV and Colonial Trauma in San Francisco’s Two-Spirit Community

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Gay & Lesbian, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2016-05-14 22:27Z by Steven

Indian Blood: HIV and Colonial Trauma in San Francisco’s Two-Spirit Community

University of Washington Press
June 2016
176 pages
1 bandw illus, 2 tables
6 x 9 in
Paperback ISBN: 9780295998503
Hardcover ISBN: 9780295998077

Andrew J. Jolivette, Professor and chair of American Indian studies
San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California

The first book to examine the correlation between mixed-race identity and HIV/AIDS among Native American gay men and transgendered people, Indian Blood provides an analysis of the emerging and often contested LGBTQtwo-spirit” identification as it relates to public health and mixed-race identity.

Prior to contact with European settlers, most Native American tribes held their two-spirit members in high esteem, even considering them spiritually advanced. However, after contact – and religious conversion – attitudes changed and social and cultural support networks were ruptured. This discrimination led to a breakdown in traditional values, beliefs, and practices, which in turn pushed many two-spirit members to participate in high-risk behaviors. The result is a disproportionate number of two-spirit members who currently test positive for HIV.

Using surveys, focus groups, and community discussions to examine the experiences of HIV-positive members of San Francisco’s two-spirit community, Indian Blood provides an innovative approach to understanding how colonization continues to affect American Indian communities and opens a series of crucial dialogues in the fields of Native American studies, public health, queer studies, and critical mixed-race studies.

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The Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes and Shifts of Los Angeles

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Media Archive, Poetry, United States on 2016-04-22 01:34Z by Steven

The Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes and Shifts of Los Angeles

Northwestern University Press
250 pages
Paperback ISBN-13: 978-1882688524

Edited by:

Daniel A. Olivas

Neelanjana Banerjee

Ruben J. Rodriguez

This anthology features the vitality and variety of verse in the City of Angels, a city of poets. This is more about range then representation, voice more than volume. Los Angeles has close to 60 percent people of color, 225 languages spoken at home, and some of the richest and poorest persons in the country. With an expansive 502.7 square miles of city (and beyond, including the massive county of 4,752.32 square miles), the poetry draws on imagery, words, stories, and imaginations that are also vast, encompassing, a real “leaves of grass.”

Well-known poets include Holly Prado, Ruben Martinez, traci kato-kiriyama, and Lynne Thompson. Many strong new voices, however, makes this a well-rounded collection for any literary class, program, bookstore, or event.

The image of the coiled serpent appears in various forms in mythologies throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, India, and America. In pre-conquest times, Quetzalcoatl—the Precious Serpent—served as a personification of earth-bound wisdom, the arts and eldership in so-called Meso-America, one of seven “cradles of civilization” that also includes China, Nigeria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus Valley, and Peru.

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Mexican-Punjabis relation through dance

Posted in Arts, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, United States on 2016-04-20 22:12Z by Steven

Mexican-Punjabis relation through dance


Megha Sharma

the performance held on 10th and 11th april credits:

Mexican-Punjabi is a vanishing tribe

The United States had always been an open land to possibilities. It is visited by a huge number of immigrants every year. California which is not only a land of renowned universities, it consists of various fertile farmlands which gave opportunity to numerous Indians who wanted to have a hand in the agricultural field.

It is recorded that through Canada many people from Punjabi communities came here to grow peach and plums. However, restrictive immigration stratagem didn’t allow these outsiders to find a wife in their countries. As a result, what came out were interracial marriages of these refugees and the native Mexican women who used to work in the farms.

This gave rise to cultural amalgamation and this intermixing is now at the end of its league as the generations of this sub-culture are reaching the end of their lives. To overcome such a drastic loss a new dance series “Half and Halves” has been organised…

Read the entire article here.

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Coiled Serpent: Poems that Protect, in New Anthology

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2016-04-12 02:13Z by Steven

Coiled Serpent: Poems that Protect, in New Anthology

Burbank, California

Mike Sonksen

The coiled serpent serves as a poetic totem to protect the City of Angels. Published by Tia Chucha Press

Over the last five years, a number of books and anthologies have been published to spotlight literary Los Angeles and its rich landscape of poets and writers. The newest anthology is the most extensive yet. Tia Chucha Press has just released, “Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes and Shifts of Los Angeles.” Edited by Neelanjana Banerjee, Daniel A. Olivas and Ruben J. Rodriguez, this collection includes 160 poets from well-known seasoned scribes like Wanda Coleman, Kamau Daaood, Michael C. Ford, California State Poet Laureate Dana Gioia, Peter J. Harris, Ruben Martinez, S. Pearl Sharp, Amy Uyematsu and Terry Wolverton to up-and-coming younger bards like Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, F. Douglas Brown, Jessica Ceballos, Chiwan Choi, Francisco Escamilla, William Gonzalez, Douglas Kearney, Traci Kato-Kiriyama, Teka Lark, Karineh Mahdessian, Jeffrey Martin, Luivette Resto and Vickie Vertiz.

The book is dedicated to three great writers who have died in the last few years: Wanda Coleman, John Trudell and Francisco Alarcon. The volume’s four-page “Introduction,” is written by Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis Rodriguez and it goes a long way to describe the collection’s spirit…

Read the entire review here.

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The Coiled Serpent: An Interview with the Poetry Anthology’s Creators

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2016-03-30 01:49Z by Steven

The Coiled Serpent: An Interview with the Poetry Anthology’s Creators

La Bloga
Monday, 2016-03-28

Daniel A. Olivas

As already discussed here on La Bloga in a lovely review by Olga García Echeverría, Tía Chucha Press will publish this week a landmark poetry anthology, The Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes and Shifts of Los Angeles. I am blessed to be one of the editors of this new book along with the very talented Neelanjana Banerjee and Ruben J. Rodriguez. The Coiled Serpent includes a powerful, eloquent introduction by the press’s founder, Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis J. Rodriguez. Of course, without the vision and poetic reach of Luis, this anthology would not have been born.

Of this anthology, Ohio State Professor Frederick Luis Aldama observes: “The dexterous hands of this high-octane trio of editors pull together in one exquisite volume LA’s finest of polymorphous polyglot poetic voices. The 150-plus poets disparately drop us into the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and touch of our planet’s capital: the megalopolis of LA with its hybrid, polylingual, and interstitial peoples. As we brush up with and enter into the lives of the young and old, workers and artists, border crossers and code-shifters…. Persians, Asians, Latinos, African Americans, and all sorts in between, great seismic quakes of creativity invite us to feel life at its most sand-dirt blasting harshness as well as its most soothing and sweet. With The Coiled Serpent we feel the cyclonic force of poetic talent at the epicenter of change in the making of tomorrow’s planetary republic of letters.”

The Coiled Serpent will have its formal release event on March 30 at the Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles the week of AWP’s annual conference (more on the conference below).

In honor of The Coiled Serpent’s release, I posed two questions to Neelanjana Banerjee, Ruben J. Rodriguez and Luis J. Rodriguez. Here are their responses:

Which poems particularly touched you and why?

Read the entire interview here.

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An Emerging Entry In America’s Multiracial Vocabulary: ‘Blaxican’

Posted in Articles, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2016-03-09 22:50Z by Steven

An Emerging Entry In America’s Multiracial Vocabulary: ‘Blaxican’

Code Switch: Frontiers of Race, Culture and Ethnicity
National Public Radio

Adrian Florido

When Melissa Adams and her sister were growing up in Lynwood, near Compton, Calif., their black father and Mexican mother taught them to be proud of all aspects of their identity: They were black, and they were Mexican.

At home, that came easy. Publicly, it was harder. Consider the time Melissa was named valedictorian of her middle school when she was 13. It was the first time anyone could remember a black student winning that honor at her school.

“Everyone was excited,” she said over breakfast at her family’s house recently. “It was the first black valedictorian!” School administrators planned a special ceremony for her, and the dean called Adams into her office to congratulate her.

But when Adams walked in, the dean’s smile melted away…

…Like Adams and Tillman, many have struggled to explain their racial identity to the outside world, and sometimes even to understand it themselves.

Much of this has to do with the fact that biracial identity in the United States has often been understood in terms of black and white. And to the extent that labels are helpful for quickly self-identifying, they don’t always exist for the diversity of racial possibilities that mixed Americans increasingly want to see recognized. When it comes to mixed-race in America, Mexican-American author Richard Rodriguez has written, we rely on an “old vocabulary — black, white,” but, “we are no longer a black-white nation.”

This may be why in LA, many young people who are both black and Mexican are turning to a handy word to describe themselves: “Blaxican.”

It’s not a new term. Walter Thompson-Hernandez, a researcher at the University of Southern California who focuses on immigration and race, has traced references back to the 1980s. But it has gained new prominence in the past few years, since he launched a project called “Blaxicans of L.A.” It’s an Instagram account featuring photos of Blaxicans — with their varied hues, hair textures and facial profiles — accompanied by a quote from each person offering an insight on the Blaxican experience…

Read the entire article here.

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In an increasingly multiracial America, identity is a fluid thing

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2016-02-16 18:07Z by Steven

In an increasingly multiracial America, identity is a fluid thing

89.3 KPCC: Southern California Public Radio
Pasadena, California

Leslie Berestein Rojas, Immigration and Emerging Communities Reporter

If there’s any part of town that’s solidly Latino, it’s where Walter Thompson Hernandez grew up, in Huntington Park.

The city, on the southeast fringe of Los Angeles, is 97 percent Latino. Thompson-Hernandez was raised there by his mother, an immigrant from Jalisco, in what he describes as a very Mexican household.

“Quinceaneras, Vicente Fernandez, chilaquiles – those were very prominent fixtures in my upbringing,” said Thompson-Hernandez, now a graduate student researcher at the University of Southern California.

But he was different: “I saw myself as Mexican, but I stood out. I was always the tallest kid, had the curliest hair, the darkest skin,” he said.

His father was African-American, born in Oakland. His parents were estranged when he was very young. His mother always told him about his mixed heritage. But it didn’t really hit him until they moved to Palms, on the Westside.

“When we moved to the Westside, most of my friends were African-American,” Thompson-Hernandez said. “In a way, I sort of longed to identify that part of my heritage. So all my friends were black. I would spend countless hours, sleepovers at their house. So I came into this black identity by experiencing blackness with my friends.”

In his early twenties, he reconnected with his father and his side of the family. It was around that time that he first hear the term “Blaxican,” for black and Mexican. It resonated – and he ran with it…

…This evolving dance with race and identity is a familiar theme for Los Angeles actor and playwright Fanshen Cox. She produces a one-woman show called “One Drop of Love,” which she performs around the country. Her father is a Jamaican immigrant. Her mother is Native American and Danish.

Cox remembers how some black relatives and friends in Washington, D.C. identified her as a child: “In D.C., which is where I was born, I was ‘red bone’ and ‘high yellow.’”

These terms labeled her as a light-skinned black person – and set her at a distance, closer to white, as she describes it. Then her family moved to liberal Cambridge, Massachusetts

Read the entire article here.

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Viewing Los Angeles Through a Creole Lens

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2016-01-21 21:20Z by Steven

Viewing Los Angeles Through a Creole Lens

The New York Times

Farai Chideya

The pulse of the train on the tracks sets a rhythm as its passenger cars seem to skim over Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans. These six miles of nothing but sky above and water below are the gateway into the city by rail. Next come the cemeteries at the edge of New Orleans, and all of a sudden, a day and a half of travel ends at the Amtrak terminal in the business district. I had just completed the first leg of my cross-country journey by sleeper train, starting in New York, and was beginning the second: a foray into the cultural ties between the Crescent City and California.

This trip had been inspired partly by the travel writer and blogger Greg Gross, who grew up in New Orleans and California. “I had a great-uncle who ran away at 15 to become a Pullman porter,” he said. These black men served a predominately white customer base as sleeping-car porters, often simply called “George” by their customers. Their union became a powerful force during the civil rights movement. Mr. Gross’s great-uncle Ellis Pearson worked on the Sunset Limited train from New Orleans to Los Angeles.

He was something like an usher for Mr. Gross’s family, which is full of cross-country transplants, including his parents and a deceased uncle who played jazz trumpet. When black New Orleans families like his moved to California, “They brought their food with them, their music,” he said. “They brought an energy, an attitude with them. ‘We survived there; we can make it here.’ They brought it to their churches and their neighbors.” It’s a refrain I hear many times as I speak to members of this diaspora.

The Grosses weren’t the only ones. The migration of black and Creole families moving to California from Louisiana began as a trickle in 1927, in the wake of that year’s great flood, and grew to a mass migration from the 1930s to 1960, years that encompassed the Depression, World War II and the growth of employment opportunities for blacks, and Jim Crow. While many families went from the South to the North, the train lines led many in New Orleans to the West instead. The better part of a century after its start, some migrants resettled in California after Hurricane Katrina. I wanted to follow the path that others had, to trace a thread of our cultural lineage, however faint. I wanted to see both cities through a black Bayou and Creole lens, to see if they’d drifted apart or were overlapping, remixing culture in the same way that Creoles originally had…

…Once in Los Angeles, I headed to the venerable Creole restaurant Harold and Belle’s on Jefferson Boulevard to meet up with Roger Guenveur Smith, an actor, writer and producer, and the actor and musician Mark Broyard. The dining room — scheduled to reopen next month after a renovation — was filled with locals wearing fleur-de-lis T-shirts or other symbols of their fealty to Louisiana. Mr. Broyard and Mr. Smith have known each other since childhood, and collaborated on a play called “Inside the Creole Mafia,” staged several times over the course of two decades. I got a taste of their razor-sharp banter over my gumbo.

Mr. Broyard explained how his family left Louisiana during the Jim Crow years because, “as my mother said many times,” he said, “she was not going to fight the civil rights movement with her children. We, the Creole kids, the light-skinned kids, we had been integrating schools for a lot longer because we weren’t dark. So we had been in and out of all these white institutions for years, with a tacit understanding that these people were colored, but it was O.K. that they were here because maybe they had half of one drop or something.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The Forgotten Era of Punjabi-Mexicans

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, United States on 2016-01-15 19:20Z by Steven

The Forgotten Era of Punjabi-Mexicans


Nick Fouriezos, Reporter/Researcher

Like a good comedian, Mary Singh Rai picked from her three identities to best suit her listener. “When I’m with Americans, I like to think of myself as one,” the native of Yuba City, California, said in a 2012 interview. But in some ways, the then-89-year-old with the light brown skin and wrinkled cheeks epitomized the American dream more than many others.

A daughter of immigrants, Rai was the result of an unlikely coupling of a Mexican mother and Punjabi father in the Golden State — and decades later, her dual ethnicities were still reflected in her distinctly Hispanic last name and Indian maiden name.

In the early 1900s, a generation of working men from Punjab — a region between the Indian and Pakistani border — laid down their rifles, headed West and picked up farming tools. Many had served in the British Royal Army or its police forces but decided to search for a better life a hemisphere away, in the fertile lands of Southern California’s Imperial Valley. Forming migrant-worker gangs, the Punjabi men were often called “Hindu crews,” but they were really an eclectic mix of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims who toiled in hopes of earning enough to pay for their wives and children to join them in the land of opportunity. Instead, they found themselves stranded in a country that soon passed a wave of immigration legislation, effectively closing its borders to foreigners…

Read the entire article here.

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When a master class with ballerina Misty Copeland becomes a San Pedro homecoming

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2015-12-27 23:34Z by Steven

When a master class with ballerina Misty Copeland becomes a San Pedro homecoming

The Los Angeles Times

Deborah Vankin, Contact Reporter

Ascendant ballerina Misty Copeland leads a master class during Monday’s celebration in San Pedro. (Christina House/For The Times)

The crowd of about 200 huddled in the parking lot of San Pedro City Ballet, ensconced in fog and drizzle. Restless and excited, they might have been awaiting the arrival of a rock legend. Some rubbed their palms together to keep warm on the chilly Monday afternoon; others stretched their necks, peering down Pacific Avenue in anticipation. Neighbors crouched on the roof of a small bungalow next door to get a glimpse of the action.

When at last a gray SUV rolled up, smartphones and tablets shot into the air and the chanting began: “Misty, Misty, Misty.”

San Pedro’s ballet prodigy was home.

A populist ballerina if ever there was one, Misty Copeland has become a pioneering hero not just to dance hopefuls but to a generation of young women looking for inspiring, boundary-breaking athletic and artistic role models. Earlier this year, the American Ballet Theatre soloist was promoted to principal dancer; she is the New York company’s first African American woman to hold that title. And she was the first African American woman to dance the lead in an ABT “Swan Lake” production. It’s partly why Copeland landed on the cover of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” issue this spring…

Read the entire article here.

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