Where do we belong?

April 9, 2012 at 3:51 am (Uncategorized)

I ask this question to myself as I often frequent places that I don’t find people like me represented. By people like me I am speaking about people of color (Latino and Black). Even in places where the menu is tailored to Southern or Caribbean Cuisine, I still find that white folks and restaurant staff look at my presence there as a nuisance. I am quite polite and greet folks with a smile. I was raised with impeccable manners. Yet, my smile is always met with a frown or pursed lips and a once-over glance.

This Easter Sunday, I decided to have brunch at Mamajuanas Cafe since I’ve never been there. My greeting by the host was “Do you have a reservation?” I smiled and said “no”. The host rolled his eyes as I said, “You don’t have any tables for 2?” he grabbed 2 menus without a word and walked away. Unsure to follow, I did and was seated at an isolated table away from any other of the white guests in the establishment. The server who was also the host came by the table sporadically and we waited about 45 minute for egg dishes. The mimosas flowed by the person refilling everyone’s glass. But my server often remained missing in action. Oh, he did come over one time and said,”Let me check on your food” as I waited another 15 minutes for my meal. Now most people would ask, “Why did you stay?” My answer: I don’t want to withdraw my presence from establishments where whites occupy because they need to know that we are here!

In my own little world, it is my way of rebelling against what they want. It is my way of saying my money is just as good as your money. I enjoy watching folks squirm as I enjoy my meal. It lets me know that folks are still ignorant and not much has changed. We must stand together. Our solidarity in this movement can show that we want to be treated equally and deserve to be. We also have to remember to embrace the businesses that support US!

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For Abuela, Papa Cabi, Papa, and Mama

March 5, 2012 at 1:41 am (Uncategorized)

As I breathe in the oxygen you once breathed,

memories become alive and vivid. 

Conversations are located in my mind

 along with embraces and plenty of laughs. 

Reaching

and trying to grasp them,

but they fade in the cool breeze 

back into my precious locket for a later time.

Sacrifice.

Whether you offer yourself to Jesus

or libation to the ancestors,

we offer something to those who have transitioned.

Today I offer flowers, daisies

I offer life to death.

We stand together,

though in different realms.

Spiritual and natural.

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“Reality” TV

January 12, 2012 at 10:50 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

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It seems like the nation has been caught up in the mindless web of reality television. As I flip through the idiot box in boredom I can’t help but think: Whose reality is this? Televisions are inundated with woman fighting and clawing each other’s face. Beautiful Black and Latina sisters blatantly resort to immature tactics leaving the essence of who they are misunderstood and (I’m sure) misrepresented. Ultimately, these woman are selling themselves short for fame that will not be remembered twenty years down the line. They’re making fools of themselves for a dollar with little shame. I find this daunting because of the youth watching these shows with little parental censorship. They are learning nothing but buffoonery. These shows offer little help for the babies if they follow in these women’s footsteps.

I, like anyone else, want to be entertained in my quest to satisfy boredom. However, engaging in watching such self-disrespect is condoning such despicable behavior. I find true representations of Blacks and Latinos lacking and suffering because of “reality” tv. Role models that held families together like Clare Huxtable and Florida Evans are being replaced with the likes of Mama Jones (a word misspelling, champagne-drinking, chain-smoking critter). We have glorified the fast money of drug dealing and mafia violence and have made getting a college education inferior.

Lack of positive figures has led to an invisibility of who we truly are. The resiliency of our spirits and the perseverance of our intelligence has been reduced to the caricatures that white media portrays us as. We are definitely not seeing the brown skinned woman that defends herself with words as the powerful leader advocating for herself. No, we instead let media make her into the archetype of the angry Black b*tch. (i.e. Nene Leakes allowing Donald Trump to make an utter fool of herself on EVERY Celebrity Apprentice episode while white folk sit entertained validating and confirming their opinions of us. Is that fair? We must re-claim our power! What would our ancestors say about such disgrace? Is this the legacy we want to leave our children?

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First Annual Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival

November 21, 2011 at 3:08 am (Uncategorized)

Yesterday I attended the 1st Annual Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival: A Tribute and Celebration of the Puerto Rican Culture and Identity and How it is Expressed in Every Facet of Life and the Arts (*whew* *breath*)  in East Harlem, NY. Let me preface by saying, I first found out about the film festival last week.  So the evening was met with much anticipation and excitement as I felt a sense of great pride in taking part of this event. As a Latino artist, I wanted to take part in an event that would inspire me as well as others who have a passion for the arts. It is important that we assist each other in this struggle and leave something in the pot for the next person that may come. In my head, I created a great a venue of wonderful writers, actors, and artists coming together to watch films that reflected an array of Puerto Rican people and culture. The night would be filled with grand epiphanies and I would walk away with a sense of relief that we were leaving our mark on the film world.

Now for my actual experience.

I walked in late ( I know, I know…great ol’ CP time), but nonetheless I went to show my support.  I walked in at the tail end of a film that was closing out with people clapping as a convict was released from prison.  I thought to myself, “This must have been quite a film to have everyone clapping so infectiously”. The next film was a short about the first Puerto Rican female astronaut. While I see the relevance in showing the film so that others could see the endless possibilities that our lives may take, the film was poorly shot and was more like a photomontage of this woman’s experiences which could be probably found on Youtube. I still was riding out with my fellow Puerto Ricans and wanted to see what would be the next film short. 

 The shorts that followed were nothing less than embarassing.  I stood in horror as I watched the monstrocity of Latino stereotypes on the big screen. Every other word was a “Motherf*cker” or a “B*tch”.  The actors were less than seasoned and could have easily been handpicked off the front of any bodega in your urban neighborhood. The acting was talentless and quite tasteless.  Male actors were busting guns and running away with drug and or gambling money.  Women were hyper-sexualized to the point that they did not hardly need any lines.  I found it demeaning that as Puerto Ricans we would have to perpetuate the stereotypes which soceity has imposed upon us.  Not every Puerto Rican male has to be a thug in a hoody, nor does every Puerto Rican woman have to be eroticized and exoticized. We have to do much better.  While I understand that the reality of some us does involve hustling for money and people who we know that are incarcerated by this unfair justice system, it is our personal responsibility to uplift one another and inspire the children to do better.

I did not find myself sprinkled in any of the films that I saw.  I wanted to know what happened to the Puerto Rican men that were holding down jobs and attaining Masters degrees?  Why couldn’t I find the Latina CEO of a company that was holding her own? Couldn’t there have been more than gamblers and street hustlers as entrepreneurs? Where was the Puerto Rican heritage and history to be celebrated? Where were my Afro-Puerto Ricans and why were brown skinned men depicted as the “bad guys”?

Now to be fair, I did not stay for the whole film festival, but what I saw was enough to leave me unsatisfied by the bitter pill I swallowed.

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Without you there would be no me

June 19, 2011 at 6:54 pm (Uncategorized)

As today is Father’s Day, I reflect on my life with my father.  As a child, I admired my father.  He was a hard-working blue collar man whose work ethic is incomparable to many fathers today.  He sacrificed much and worked long, 3rd shift hours at times to assist in providing for his family.  I recall as a child my father taking my sister and I to many outdoor aadventures and movie trips.  My father played a very active role in our lives. I am thankful that he has ALWAYS been there for me.  He was there at my brief stint in little league games.  He was there to recieve report cards as I came home from school (and disciplined accordingly).  He was very passionate about my education.  He never finished high school and knew that he did not want me to travel down that road.  So, my father kept a firm, unyielding hand when it came to my education which I can appreciate today. 

My father allowed me to debate him on issues.  We discussed every day life.  We conversed about love.  Even when it seemed most difficult for him, he confronted issues facing my personal life head-on.  Although it was uncomfortable, I adored my father for caring enough about his son to find out what was going on in my life. 

He has remained a strong presence in my life who offers untold amounts of wisdom.  He imparts nuggets of his wisdom and knowledge in every conversation.  Each time I speak to him or am in his presence,  I see my father in a new light that makes him more amazing to me each time.   You see he does not shed tears often, but he constantly showers me with love.  He’s there to aid in car troubles.  he can fix a leak.  My father has traveled 3 states away to come to my rescue.  He is phenomenal.  He is extraordinary.  He is my super hero!  Over the years, the hard manual labor has taken its toll on his body.  He has survived a heart attack and intense wear-and-tear on his body.  Yet, he still remains resilient! Through his relationship with my mother, he has showed me how to love and most importantly what love is. 

Today and every day, I appreciate my father.  I celebrate him.  Thank you Wilfred Torres (Senior). I love you dad.

Thank you,

Wilfred Torres Jr.

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Washing Clothes in the BX

April 10, 2011 at 3:13 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

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Now I know I may sound like the spoiled guy that washes his clothes at his parents’ house but…GOT DAYUM! This is not the venue for your children to run around wildly while you pay no attention to them running over my toes. Your children are staring at me like they are the Children of the Corn. They can also save the talent shows for school. Furthermore, why are your children so dressed up to watch you do laundry? Also, private conversations should not be held in such a public setting. I heard a phone conversation about how “My girl sells sour out her house” and “I have issues but he really forgave me for cheating”. Ugh! Save that for your house and not the laundry place (or the train).  Lastly, I know it is laundry day but do you have to wear your worst outfit in the CryptKeeper’s closet. It looks like you were buried and dug yourself out. I know that last comment was mean. Forgive me. But this episode of Tales from the Bronx Wash House is a little perplexing.

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A few of my favorite things this month!!!

April 9, 2011 at 2:55 pm (Uncategorized)

I was given an idea to blog about my favorite things by an amazing force.   So I thought it to be a great thing.  So here are a few of my favorite things.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Something New

February 15, 2011 at 12:50 am (Uncategorized)

I set my travels for the world
Ambitious and optimistic
I am the playwright
A world where I let creativity thrive
Imagination running an endless path
My spirit soars through this universe
My love painted on a canvas
I dream in color you know
Bright hues of yellow and red

Navigating in a place where I know something good comes
The kiss of the breeze
The slap of raindrops
Make me dance and sway harmoniously with the trees

A life where everything lives for me
If I didn’t breathe, birds couldn’t sing
If I were to leave, bells would never again ring
I climb the Himalayas effortlessly
I swim the Nile with great ease
I resurrect my ancestors of the Middle Passage
Calling them each by name
Together we cry and dance
I record their stories and make a sacred hymn

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Taking a Stand

February 2, 2011 at 7:10 pm (Uncategorized)

Reading and learning about the events occurring in Egypt has really made an impression on me these past few days.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/28/whats-going-on-in-egypt_n_815734.html  I think about the complacency of most Americans who have been hypnotized by reality tv and censored media (i.e. news) –myself included at times.   We often complain or argue about unfair hikes in public transportation, getting taxed heavily (while the wealthy and corporations recieve tax breaks), unemployment, and no health insurance.  Words without action are useless.  It is a waste of time.  In history, we have to remember our revolutionaries that ignited change.  They did not spark revolution by merely speaking.  They had to couple that with action– Martin Luther King Jr held meetings and marched, Black Panthers instituted community programs that alleviated poverty, Don Pedro Albizu Campos aided in trying to liberate Puerto Rico from the US, and Harriet Tubman pulled her gun out and threatened “You’ll be free or die”.  Moreover, we must not forget our ancestors who bravely sacrificed their own lives in the Middle Passage so they would not be further oppressed by the institution of slavery.  They all took a stand and shaped the future for many of us.  We should not take that for granted.  I often wonder: What would have happened if those in history were as lazy as we are as a nation?

I am quite impressed with those who are protesting and their resiliency in spite of all the forces against them.  They have really grabbed the “political” bull by the horns.  Not only in Egypt but think about France and how hard the people went when the government wanted to raise the retirement age. They are taking a stand from being disenfranchised and want to see change.  Can you blame them? We can all watch the tv and turn the channel so we won’t have to face the realities of the world around us.  We can also continue to be wrapped up in our Blackberries, so engulfed that we neglect simple communication skills with REAL people beside us. However, real shit is going on.

How would you really act if your electronic world was seized from you?

As the great W.E.B. Du Bois stated, “On this foundation we may build bread winning, skill of hand and quickness of brain, with never a fear lest the child and man mistake the means of living for the object of life”.

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The (New) Game

January 27, 2011 at 12:23 am (Uncategorized)

So, I am a great fan of The Game.  The past seasons have been amazing.  The relationships I thought were very realistic, especially the rocky relationship of Derwin and Med-school.  It evoked an emotinal reaction out of me each time.  The downfall of Jason’s relationship was so well thought out and Malik was the dapper asshole.  However, I hate to say it but, did they lose the ability to act convincingly during the hiatus?    I pray this gets a heap of a whole lot betta.

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