Our Dandelion Fantasy Team

Hey Sunday Peeps.

Photo: Tina Phillips

So all the Colbert talk got me thinking. There’s a real vacuum in terms of a public figures coming out loud and proud in support of CIR, Comprehensive Immigration Reform. I feel that the lack of public figures is symptomatic to what’s going on in the country as a whole. I believe that there are public figures who can rock their privileges and platforms for the good of the CIR. I feel that just as with the general public, the very well-known peeps either don’t care, don’t agree and/or are afraid to make politically incorrect mistakes.

But no matter how you slice it, we’re not having much-needed and necessary dialogue. Moving past preaching to the choir or screeching at those who don’t agree. A public figure popping up and out could get things cracking.

You know how people create fantasy football teams and the like? Well, I’m taking my dandelion and making my top two wishes for the peeps that I’d like to see pick up the CIR banner in their own style and voice:

1. Cesar Millan, aka The Dog Whisperer. This New York Times article talks about how he was undocumented in the U.S. way back in the day. I know that animals, particularly dogs, are his passion and his gift. I really love his show and respect his work. I think that he could bring his  much-needed “calm yet assertive “energy to the public conversation, as well as open up the lines of communication for groups of people who are uncomfortable dialoging on this issue.

2. Oprah Winfrey. I know that there are some DREAM Act students that are already all over that idea and are working on it. What if she at the very least promoted We Are Americans as a last hurrah in the final season of her book club? I feel that she has the potential for being a great ally for CIR.

Who would you like to see? Let’s build a Dandelion Fantasy Soccer Team! ( or fútbol – wink to Anne B:)

So we need nine more players, i.e. public figures. Who would you put and why?

And this is not a test! I’m simply curious to see who’d be your dandelion wish:)

Mr. Colbert, You Can Shut Up Now

Hey peeps.

So I watched the video of Stephen Colbert testifying on Capitol Hill about immigration and AgJobs. More than once. I didn’t find it funny. You know what it felt like? A high school student doing a presentation in front of a class where they’re aiming for a good grade from the teacher, as well as snarky laughs from their classmates at the same time.

Listen, I’m not saying that you can’t be funny about immigration and AgJobs. If there’s anything that I’ve learned in Mexico it’s that you either laugh or cry about the tragic stuff in life. And laughing always wins in the end.  So nothing is sacred in my life. I’ve made more than my fair share of immigration jokes, as has my husband Picasso. Christ, he and I made deportation jokes as we were waiting to be interviewed by what ended up being a deportation officer in Chicago. Gallows humor and all that.

But what are people applauding with Colbert’s testimony on Capitol Hill? The fact that a white man picked some beans and corn? His word play?

What did Colbert really do today besides let U.S. citizens who are not directly  affected by immigration issues off the hook? U.S. citizens, particularly white citizens,  can finally laugh about the fart in the room, i.e. the tragically broken immigration system in the U.S.

Because (insert sarcastic voice here) I know that it’s so hard for them. They want to help, but their hands are tied. So Steven Colbert brings “much-needed” humor to the situation. They re-post the video, to show that they’re “pro-immigration reform.”

Muchisimas gracias.

You know, I was a professional comedy improviser way back in the day. Comedy Improv Rule #1: Make your partner look good. Comedy Improv Rule #2: Commit to the scene and your character 100%.

Colbert did neither in his testimony. The United Farm Workers (UFW) being his partner, of course. And by extension, Arturo Rodríguez, president of the UFW. And what was Colbert’s role? Concerned humanitarian? Comic commentator with a cause?

Or was it as a high school student winking his way through an oral presentation in front of the class?

For every person in the U.S. who isn’t directly affected by immigration issues and re-posts that video while applauding Colbert, I feel that it’s the equivalent of when a white person says, “I don’t have a prejudiced bone in my body; as a matter of fact, I have lots of black friends!”

And his reference to gay Iowans as corn packers is reaching for the bottom of the humor barrel. Because (insert sarcastic voice here) when all else fails, throw in a gay joke!

His other reference to, “trying to get them to sing field songs” has definite associations with slavery. And when he says it, he’s looking for the laugh.

So this is the reality: Colbert’s testimony in front of Congress will go viral way before any DREAM Act videos do. I just have to look at my facebook news feed to prove that fact.

At the very end of the video, Colbert is asked why he’s interested in this issue. The first sentence to his answer:

I like talking about people who don’t have any power.

Interesting how he says “talking about” instead of “talking with

Mr. Colbert, learn to be a better ally.

First step? Think before you open your mouth.

40 is Not the New 30

Hey kids.

So I’m a little bit skittish in Bloglandia today. For those of you that don’t know, I got two tough rejection emails from places that were really important to me. Both places got pieces that I wrote on immigration. They were very different, but both based on my personal story/views on immigration in the U.S. One turn-down came on Monday morning, the next on Tuesday morning. A sharp one-two punch.

Now on the one hand, if I’m getting rejections, I’m in the game. Which is a good thing. On the other hand, I’m getting rejections. Which  sucks.

It’s funny – when I get turned down for a performance of my show, The Deportee’s Wife, I usually don’t miss a beat. Sure, I would’ve loved the gig and all that, but the no doesn’t make me want to eat comfort food asap and sleep the day away. When I get turned down for other types of writing, the kind that I have no emotional connection with, I usually shake myself off and push on.

But while I was OK Monday and soldiering on, the second notice yesterday just did me in. And it was a post by my friend B that made me realize what’s underneath:

And G, I hope you don’t take this personally, but you and I are about the same age. When you hit this particular point in life (no I’m not saying “cuantos años”), you begin a process of introspection in which you become very hard on yourself– some might call it a “mid-life crisis.” Believe me, I understand how you feel, having dumped a successful career in ——– years ago to pursue what was dear to my heart, and now sometimes having the same inner questioning erupt in my mind.

He’s right on the proverbial money that I don’t have right now. I couldn’t even respond to him yesterday. I just cried on the roof while doing our laundry.

B is in a similar situation immigration-wise. My close friends know that since I turned 40 this past January, I’ve been in this extended remix of a mid-life crisis. It comes and goes. But the whole, “I’m 40” thing comes up a lot in my conversations with them. And not happily. I in no way whatsoever have embraced entering my 40s.

Yesterday I caught myself thinking, “What if I never moved to Mexico? What would my life be like right now at 40? My thoughts turned to some of my U.S.-born exes out there – what if I had married one of you?

I’m not proud of where my thoughts took me yesterday. But I think that if you make life decisions based on your spouse’s immigration situation, those questions come up in one way or another. I think that they come up when you’re in a committed relationship with a person, period. Yet those questions do cut in a specific way for those of who flail around in U.S. immigration’s quicksand.

And apart from my moldy mid-life crisis, (I mean, my birthday was nine months ago,) what shook me to the core yesterday was that if two very different writing opportunities turned down my immigration writing,  then why the hell am I writing about immigration? Who is really listening? After yesterday’s DREAM Act vote, that’s especially ringing true for me. In a crazy moment yesterday, I thought, “Hey – maybe the universe is telling me to go back to teaching English.”

I know that the two rejections aren’t the only places in the world to be published. I know that I have a grouchy yet necessary voice as an immigration activist. I generally have come to trust my voice as a writer. And the blog readers that I have here I deeply appreciate.

But part of my Dream for the Deportee’s Wife campaign involved talking to you Activators about how I need to be more visible in the public conversation. Those two places would have been key in the next steps.

So whatever.

Today, I’m most definitely a poster child for, “40 and not feeling fabulous.”

Let me rephrase that:

“Fucking 40 years old and not feeling fabulous in any fucking way whatsoever.”

When I Say DREAM, You Say Act

Feliz Friday, peeps.

So I’m just going to say it like this – if you’re tired of people talking about supporting the DREAM Act this week, then you’re floating in a big pool of multiple privileges.

It really could not be easier to make your voice heard. Click. Call. Then repeat. Post articles. Tweet.Talk. Read, watch and learn. Get over your fear. Work through your privilege.

Tuesday of next week, the first votes will go down in the Senate.

People’s lives are truly in the balance. Get those fingers moving.

You need a funny and awesome warm-up? Watch this:

CPR Instead of Fireworks

Hey kids.

So for those of you who don’t know, I’m half-Mexican. I identify to the world as Mexican-North American.  And apart from my heritage, Mexico is something totally tangible for me now – I sit at Mexico’s proverbial table every day of my life.

Mexico’s bicentennial independence celebrations have started. At some point tonight, the President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, will do the grito from the zocalo in Mexico City.The grito will happen very soon here in our city’s zocalo as well.

Peeps, I want to get caught up in the celebrations. I honestly do. But I can’t.

I’ve got a horrible duality going on: I’m proud to be half-Mexican. This country is where two of my grandparents are buried and that means something to me now in a way that I didn’t really care about growing up in the States. This country’s blood pulses through me.

But also I feel that Mexico is a painful place to live in/live through right now. An unsafe place, economically, physically and psychologically.

10:15pm and I’ve heard none of the usual pre-grito sounds in the streets here at all today: People playing plastic horns, the cheers, the shouts of Viva México! Around here, it’s deathly quiet. And we live in the tourist area.The government and media can say whatever damn silliness they want. People here in this city are afraid.

I want Mexico to get up on its own feet and walk. I truly do – more than I care to admit. But what I don’t want to keep hearing is how Mexico needs to celebrate today, in the face of great difficulty. That Mexico needs to put it all aside and unite. For me, there’s just too much water under the bridge. R feels the same way as well.

So I won’t be saying ¡Viva Mexico! any time soon. But I will say, “Que se recupere México.”

May Mexico be revived. Sweet Jesus, may Mexico be revived soon.

Leaving/Returning

Hey peeps. I’m hard-core tired, thus the twitter-like quality of this blog post.

Yesterday I realized that I started this blog on September 11, 2009. All sorts of reasons for that. So the blog is officially one year old. Cool – thanks for sticking with me.

This time last year I was at the very beginning of my tour in the U.S. with my show, The Deportee’s Wife. I came back to Mexico in November – Thanksgiving to be exact.

It was a brutal return home. I cried hot tears in the Benito Juárez airport in Mexico City while waiting for the bus to take R and I to go back to our house. I was very happy to see R again. But I wasn’t happy at all to see R in Mexico.

That’s life as a this deported man’s wife:  I always cry upon leaving.

And sometimes I cry upon return.

The Gift From My Muslim Ex-Husband

Hey kids.

I’ve been watching/listening to/reading about the anti-Muslim news in the U.S. through half-closed eyes. Squinting in the hopes that eventually it would go away.

Listen, it happens. I’m not proud of that. But we all have our moments as activists where we put the pack down for someone else to pick up. Privilege plays a big role in that.

Well, my knapsack is firmly back on my shoulders.

Today’s post is written from my perspective as a New Yorker, as a cultural Jew and as a convert to Catholicism. I’m also writing it from the perspective as the former wife of a Moroccan Muslim man.

I know – news to some – but not to everyone who reads this blog.

R is my second husband. I was married to H for over three years.

There was a Quran in our house.  H usually prayed five times a day, as many Muslims do all across the U.S. He prayed in our Brooklyn apartments. In celebrations at Prospect Park. At the local mosque. At the homes of our friends and families. At the restaurant where we both worked. Later on, at his media job in the city.

Fasting during Ramadan while working as a cook in a restaurant must have been tough as nails. But H did it cheerfully. Faithfully. I would join him and fast on Fridays during Ramadan. I felt very connected to him spiritually during those moments.

I went twice to Morocco. In the working-class neighborhood where H’s family lived in Casablanca, the calls to prayer were announced over a loudspeaker, no matter the hour. I was welcomed by H’s family with open arms, this non-Muslim woman from the U.S. who spoke next-to-no Arabic.

So I don’t tell you this today to make me out to be an expert on Islam. But I am talking to you today as someone who once shared her life intimately with a Muslim man.

I’m furious about the ignorance, hatred and fear towards Muslims that I’m watching explode all over the U.S. The mosques that are being torched. The protests in New York City against the construction of the Cordoba House Community Center. And the white men who want to burn the Quran in the name of all that is holy.

I want to be rational about this, but I find that I can’t. I keep thinking that I’ll blog about this when I’m calmer. But I’m only getting angrier.

If R is able to enter the U.S. again, we always thought that it would be great to go back to New York. At this point, I want R to be able to enter the U.S. out of a deep desire for justice. While R thinks that he may never be able to enter the U.S. again, I’ve always cupped my hand around a small spark of hope, trying to keep it alive.

But you know what? On a day like today, I’m sitting here in front of my laptop with my head in my hands. The United States of today is not the U.S. that R was deported from on April 26, 2001.

H and I didn’t work out. It was my decision to go. We haven’t spoken in years. But today, I stand in solidarity with my former husband. I will always stand for his right to be a pious and practicing Muslim in the United States. I will add my voice to create safe space for him.

One of the biggest gifts that H gave me was that I learned a a great deal about Islam. I got over my ignorance and my fear. I have opinions about Islam based on knowledge and experience. From waking up on Sunday mornings to the sound of H praying towards Mecca in the next room.

H, if you are reading this today, shukran. براك الله فيك