Friday, April 29, 2011

Even the Rain/También la Lluvia

This Film Looks Scary Good

Thanks to one of my mentors Adela Licona for spreading the word about this film. I just watched the trailer and it's got me thinking of a course/unit I'll have to build around it.

Summary from Loft
"A Spanish film crew helmed by idealistic director Sebastian (Gael García Bernal) and his cynical producer Costa (Luis Tosar) come to Bolivia to make a revisionist epic about the conquest of Latin America - on the cheap. Once on location, the filmmakers cast local resident "Daniel" (Carlos Aduviri) as a 16th century native in the film within a film. However, when the make-up and loin cloth come off, Daniel sails into action protesting his community’s deprivation of water at the hands of multi-national corporations. When riots break out in Cochabamba, protesting excessive fees for water, the film production is interrupted and the convictions of the crew members are challenged. Sebastian and Costa are forced to make an unexpected emotional journey in opposite directions.
With ample irony, EVEN THE RAIN explores the effects of Spanish imperialism, still resonating some 500 years later in the continued struggle against oppression by indigenous people.
This fictional Fitzcarraldo-like quest to make a film against all odds is set against the backdrop of the real life “Water Wars,” fought against the privatization of Bolivia’s water supply in the year 2000, and is anchored in the philosophies of historian Howard Zinn, as well as the stories of 16th century priests, Fathers Bartolome de las Casas and Antonio Montesinos, the first radical voices of conscience against an Empire."

A More Nuanced Ethnic Studies Narrative

Tucson Ethnic Studies Lawyer Speaks to Board Member
From the Arizona Public Media website:
"TUSD governing board member Mark Stegeman and attorney Richard Martinez, who is representing, join the studio to discuss the ongoing quagmire."
The choice of the word "quagmire" by Arizona Public Media seems to demonstrate some unsettling bias.

See the website:

When Playing the Game Fails and Politicians Dismiss Rational Discourse
This came after the TUSD board meeting take over:

Tucson Teachers' Press Conference Ignored
Opponents want to argue that the Ethnic Studies program breeds civil uprising, but few paid attention to the teachers' press conference earlier this week. Here's a clip from one of the earlier press conferences that receives little attention because it does not feed into the salacious narrative in the media, which perpetuates and preys upon public fear.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Buzz in Tucson Weekly

'Cause if You Read it in Print, it's Got to Be True

Just announced, Gabrielle Gifford's former intern Daniel Hernandez will be speaking at the Tucson Writes Night event where I'll have the opportunity to speak a bit about writing before celebrating the work of some young writers.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Informative Interview Asking a Mexican

Gustavo Gets Interviewed for Reason Magazine, Talks Reconquista and Anthony Quinn

I enjoy Arellano's Ask a Mexican column and enjoyed when I had a chance to see him speak, so it's only logical I'd post this interview with him in which he points out the discrimination that goes on within the Latin@ community. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

First Year Showcase at UA Grand Ballroom

 Below are pictures taken at the First Year Visual Spatial Showcase at the University of Arizona's Grand Ballroom. Participants include students in Rhetorical Analysis courses from all majors across the university.

Many students presented videos and power point presentation for which they recorded audio and uploaded to youtube. I'll be sure to post links or embed student videos coming (upon consent of the students of course).

 From Chris Minnix's website, the background of the showcase:
"Background: Beginning last year, we opened the First Year Writing Showcase up to instructors in English 102. The showcase was previously an Honors Showcase. In the Spring of 2008, 233 students presented their work and viewed the work of their fellow students. By the Spring of 2009, the Showcase had grown to over 400 students. In addition, we opened the showcase up to the public and had visitors from the English Department and a few from other Departments. The event is advertised in UA News (UA Now), the Daily Wildcat, and through posters placed around campus and throughout many different academic departments. It is designed to showcase the innovative rhetorical skills of our students, as they transform their arguments into visual-spatial arguments. In this sense, the showcase serves as an opportunity for the U of A community to develop a better understanding of how literacy and writing are changing and how our students are adapting to these changes."

Read more at:

See more photos of Showcases past:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Art by Xico Gonzalez

Artist's Statement

According to the Artist :

"I create art to empower and to provide a voice for my community.  In addition, art is how I express my inner thoughts, the ideologies that I have embraced, the solidarity that I have with communities around the world, and most of all, through the arts I express who I am as a person: an individual that believes and works for justice and equality."

Xico's biography:
"Xico González is an educator, artist, poet, and a political and cultural activista based in Sacramento, CA.  Xico’s work contributes to the long dialogue of art, activism and the legacy of the Chicano Movement.  Brash, evocative, and never shy, González’s art is an intellectual and emotional provocative experience, showcasing the way art and civil-rights activism merge to move communities to action.  Xico currently teaches in the Department of Chicana & Chicano Studies at the University of California, Davis."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Arizona Senior Lecturer Speaks Out

Erec Toso Argues 'Middle class can tell you: Tax breaks for wealthy haven't worked out'

Senior Lecturer Erec Toso speaks out against Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and other lapses in logic championed in the name of what's best for the country.
From the article:
"These lean times do not apply to all of Tucson, however. When I go up to the Foothills, I see new Land Rovers, Audis and Porsches parked in front of AJ's or Starbucks.
It seems the wealthier parts of Tucson - the CEOs, finance wizards and trust-funders - are doing just fine."


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Great Colllection Available in June

Coming Soon from National Council of Teachers of English Publishers!
Aja Martinez, blog contributor/educator/writer extraordinaire, has a co-edited collection called Code-Meshing as World English coming out with Vershawn Ashanti Young June 2011.

Contributors include: Gerald Graff, Asao B. Inoue, Min-Zhan Lu and Bruce Horner

From the description on NCTE's website:
Although linguists have traditionally viewed code-switching as the simultaneous use of two language varieties in a single context, scholars and teachers of English have appropriated the term to argue for teaching minority students to monitor their languages and dialects according to context. For advocates of code-switching, teaching students to distinguish between “home language” and “school language” offers a solution to the tug-of-war between standard and nonstandard Englishes. This volume arises from concerns that this kind of code-switching may actually facilitate the illiteracy and academic failure that educators seek to eliminate and can promote resistance to Standard English rather than encouraging its use.

The original essays in this collection offer various perspectives on why code-meshing—blending minoritized dialects and world Englishes with Standard English—is a better pedagogical alternative than code-switching in the teaching of reading, writing, listening, speaking, and visually representing to diverse learners. This collection argues that code-meshing rather than code-switching leads to lucid, often dynamic prose by people whose first language is something other than English, as well as by native English speakers who speak and write with “accents” and those whose home language or neighborhood dialects are deemed “nonstandard.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Arizona Rhet/Comp de Califas as Tejas Fellow

Cruz Medina, a Texas State University--San Marcos Predoctoral Summer Fellow
Start spreading the news, I'm leaving in June for San Marcos, Tejas where I will be living the dream of writing my dissertation this summer as a Fellow.


For more information, visit the site:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Great Panel including Ethnic Studies at CCCC Atlanta

Punishing Writing/Writing as Punishment 

(Aja Martinez and I with Speaker Curtis Acosta)

At the 2011 CCCC in Atlanta, University of Arizona PhD students/authors/activists presented on the importance of presenting literacy to students as a discipline rather than a punishment that doesn't match the offense. Curtis Acosta, above, a teacher at Tucson High School targeted by the HB 2281 anti-Ethnic Studies law, spoke on the framework of his literature class, asking students to reflect on themselves and culture to better understand the world around them.
Donate to Save Ethnic Studies

Kathryn Ortiz heads the UA Reads Project through the University of Arizona bookstore.

Cathy Amanti is one of the authors of Funds of Knowledge, highlighting cultural practices of Latin@ families in Tucson that can be transferred over into classroom strategies.

Funds of Knowledge: Theorizing Practices in Households, Communities, and Classrooms

According to the panel description:

 Punishing Writing/Writing as Punishment. It is an ironic fact that schools are contexts where writing is both highly valued and punished. When literacy is used as a discipline event, schools are often blind to the literacy aspects of unofficial and non-sanctioned student writing. The fact that some literacy [ More ]
ParticipantAffiliationSpeech Title (if known)
Carlos Salinas, PhD
University of Texas El Paso
Cathy Amanti
(Speaker 1)
University of ArizonaPunishing Writing/Writing as Punishment
Kathryn Ortiz
(Speaker 2)
University of ArizonaCase Studies of the Long Term Consequences of Using Writing as Punishment
Curtis Acosta
(Speaker 3)

University of ArizonaRewarding writers: Liberating and empowering Chican@ youth through prose

Monday, April 4, 2011

Georgia on my Mind

Conference on College Composition and Communication Atlanta 2011

Leaving Wednesday and presenting Friday, I'm excited for this week. I know I've posted this announcement before, but I can't help but think it's fitting to re-post.

A good, Georgia-themed Ludacris jam:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Cornel West & the Courage to Think Critically

“Borders to Democracy: Who Draws the Line?”

Cornel West spoke at the University of Arizona. Below are my notes from Dr. West's thought-provoking, invigorating and energizing lecture.

At the beginning of his speech, West remarked that is was good to be in Arizona because it was a state “on the move in a variety of different ways.” He spoke of Arizona as the epicenter for issues of human rights in the United States.
In what would become a motif of his talk, West began with what he called a Socratic note, meaning he wanted to unsettle and unnerve the audience. He wanted to provoke because, quoting from Plato’s Apology, “the examined life is not worth living.
As a part of his Socratic challenge, he wanted the audience to focus on the courage to think critically.
Going back to the life of a human and what it means to be human, he explained the Latin root of human, relating to burial and its connection of the body to the earth. He reminded the audience they were “born between feces and urine, and if not for their momma’s love, they wouldn’t be there.”
Referencing George Clinton and West’s affinity for him, West explained we emerge in the funk and love in the funky love stench.
Aja Martinez, Cornel West and myself 

West said “deodorized discourse” was the discourse that doesn’t speak of human suffering.
Criticizing the current cultural trends, he argued we are concerned with the “superficial spectacle” of a celebrity obsessed culture, generating “weapons of mass distraction.”
Education, not schooling, West argued was what we needed to learn to be human; needing to be less obsessed with celebrity, students need to understand that by being connected to technology, they do not necessarily have raised consciousness.
He said we are too “well adapted to indifference.”
One of his main points coming back to humanity and being human came back to education and how the humanities teach us how to die, so that we know how to live.
Quoting the Roman philosopher Seneca, West said that when we learn how to die, we unlearn slavery.
What dies when we become educated is the something within us that makes us afraid like prejudices and assumptions—West explained we need to teach students arguments that push them against the wall and show them “their worldviews rest on pudding.”
The problem, West explained, is that too many students don’t want to be courageous, but just want to make money and be comfortable.
West advocated being a misfit; speaking of his friendship with Arthur Miller (author of Death of a Salesman), West said they had discussions about choosing to become misfits.
One of West’s great rhetorical refutations when speaking of Bill Maher was: “I think you’re wrong, but let’s examine your argument.” He added that the God Bill Maher describes is not the God West worships.
Maintaining his Socratic method, West said he wanted to be dialectical and explained that if he were around when George Washington and the other founding fathers were going to war with England, he would have been with them because West is anti-imperialism.

However, West spoke of politicians being unable to speak outside of narrow discourses because of their allegiances to big business on both sides and looming elections; he argued “budgetary deficits” that allowed for war demonstrated “warped priorities.”
Meditating on MLK, West said “don’t fall for the hype” when it came to colorblindness because “we’re all embodied” and in bodies. He said that we shouldn’t be blind because we can’t be in love with one another if we are blind, and if we are blind to culture, then there will still be a predominant culture. This was followed by his point that we have not responded well to the legacy of MLK.
Criticizing Obama, West said that he wished Obama “treated the homeowners the same way you treat investment bankers.”

Returning to the idea of individuality and courage, West said students and hip hop artists need to find their voices because there are too many echoes.
He said we need to understand the difference musically of musicians who are “body stimulators” and those who are “soul stirrers” saying someone like Soulja Boy is much more of a body stimulator.
When asked about the Anti-Ethnic Studies bill here in Arizona, West replied that Ethnic Studies is a “quest for truth.” Education, according to West, is not high quality if there are not numerous voices. Without numerous voices, there’s only a narrow viewpoint being represented. He commented that the Attorney General in Arizona, who argues Ethnic Studies classes segregate students, needs to go on a “deeper quest for truth.”
Teachers are caretakers of the precious youth, West said. Explaining the U.S is #1 in educating the wealthy and that self-confidence, telling students they’re brilliant is something that happens in those schools. But West says not to hate the rich, but to hate the arrogance.

Cornel West in dialogue with Jay-Z at New York Public Library: 

César Chávez Day Programming on KXCI

Poetry from Cruz Medina

Normally, I'll be the first to tell you that I am not a poet. But as someone in Rhet/Comp, I concede that some genres better convey certain kinds of messages. So even though I have written very few poems I would ever want to see the light of day, I had written and revised a poem over the last couple years that I read as a part of KXCI's César Chávez Day Programming.

You can hear me on the podcast recording of the day's contributors at about the 4 minute mark here:

An early post of mine on Chavez.