Monday, August 15, 2011

Recognition: Long Overdue

Not all things are bitter and grim. At 85 years old, Francisco Oliveras-Padilla, who suffers from Alzheimer's has finally received what was long overdue. The U.S Army finally recognized his sacrifice and awarded him with seven medals.

Oliveras-Padilla, who served under the famed 65th Infantry Army Regiment (Borinqueneers) during the Korean War, never spoke about his service. He was a prisoner of war and carries a lifelong scar, a bullet in his right leg that left him limping. He did his job, did it well and above that. His is not the story that makes every newspaper, yet, it is the story of many Borinqueneers who served valiantly during that era. While he never spoke about his service, I am sure he carried it with him somewhere in his psyche, for such experiences are not easily forgotten.

Like so many others that are overdue recognition, Oliveras-Padilla is well deserving of his. A salute to Francisco Oliveras-Padilla and the Borinqueneers.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Post Racial America: Nonsense!

A locker room in a Santa Monica high school, a motel parking lot in Jackson, Mississippi, a parking lot in Livonia, Michigan, a street in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, and a street in Patchogue, Long Island. These are but a few of the places where racism has shown it's ugly face and the stories have made some type of headline. I wonder how many more of these stories go untold, unheard of. What is strikingly comparable in all these racial crimes, aside from the Livonia incident, is that in all they were committed by white teenagers or young adults.

I ask, are we living in a reverse society? One that never learned anything from the civil rights era? All the strides from that era seem to be going out the back door. It is obvious that these were crimes committed by youth whom somewhere along the lines of their upbringing were taught to hate.

Understand, children are born colorblind, they don't learn skin colors and racial differences all their own. Somewhere along the line, they are taught, they learn from their surroundings, adults and peers; they learn black, white, tan, minority and majority. They learn the concept of race and the stupid division of society by skin color. Skin color, that which defines and poisonously divides us.

At the current pace, a post racial America is pure nonsense!

Racism is a much more clandestine, much more hidden kind of phenomenon, but at the same time it's perhaps far more terrible than it's ever been. -Angela Davis

Sunday, August 7, 2011

More Skeletons in the Empires Closet: Sterilization

This past week, there was a blip on the radar which moved on rather quickly. It leaves me wondering, if there is nothing to be gained (such as an award winning story would) then a story may not make it far. Then again, the news story in question was one involving the past transgressions of government, in this case, North Carolina and a forced sterilization program. (eugenics)

Far too often, the public reply to such stories is that this happened a long time ago to be of any concern, it doesn't  apply to me or it was no big deal. Let's consider diseases (e.g.  AIDS, cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson) that attack us as human beings and consider another though in this respect. Until it occurs to you or someone very close, it is of little importance, or is it? It is very important that the general public pay attention to what has occurred here so that it doesn't occur in the future.

Just after WWII, from 1929 to 1974, the state of North Carolina forcibly sterilized over 7,000 residents to include men, women and children. There were no color barriers either, this was an across the board sterilization program by government showing their callous nature. Indeed, there is no amount that could repay for such cruelty.

Government can and has always done what it wants. In a just, correct and civilized society, it must be made to answer to the people and should not be allowed to continue to sweep everything under the rug. No apology nor payment could ever cleanse the air of the unjust acts committed in the name of science. Ironically, I had just finished watching the new film release, 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes', when it occurred to me that the experimentation in the film was no different than it was in reality. Again, big government treating the population as pawns in a chess game and no one is immune.

This brings to light another sterilization evil perpetrated by the American government. That of the female sterilizations in Puerto Rico. Again, between the 1930's and 1970, 1/3 of the the female population in Puerto Rico had undergone sterilization. Whether one wants to admit it or not, control of a population that was viewed as inferior and substandard did occur at the hands of the U.S., a role model to the world?
Eugenics, an atrocity that needs to be brought to the forefront and the hope is that the North Carolina story will stimulate interest and further research in the subject.


"Sterilization could be applied to an ever widening circle of social discards, beginning always with the criminal, the diseased and the insane, and extending gradually to types which may be called weaklings rather than defectives, and perhaps ultimately to worthless race types."

From The Passing of the Great Race by Madison Grant, co-founder American Eugenics Society (AES)

Wikipedia on AES

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Remembering "Lolita" Lebrón

It's been a year since we lost a true model of what a patriot is. Dolores "Lolita" Lebrón, a champion of the independence cause in Puerto Rico. From witnessing the brutality that was the Ponce Massacre to the injustices against migrating Puerto Ricans during the the early part of the 1940's, it is easy to understand what drove her to action.  The atrocities, the poverty and the social decadence Lolita Lebrón witnessed were enough to drive her to a life of political activism in favor of independence for Puerto Rico.

On March 1, 1954, Lebrón's cry for independence, "¡Viva Puerto Rico Libre!", echoed throughout congressional chambers while unfurling the Puerto Rican flag. Unfortunate, the fact that some were injured that day, but such is the case, for in resistance, there are, at times, casualties and injuries.

In 1979, after 25 years in prison, she, along with her compatriots Irving Flores, and Rafael Cancel Miranda, was pardoned by then President Jimmy Carter. She was welcomed with open arms and in return she continued to display her love for Puerto Rico, continuing to support independence until her passing.

If her life is the life martyrs are made of, then so be it, for she lived it well and shall never be forgotten. To Lolita and her unyielding courage and patriotism, if there are those that are ashamed of the courageous life you lead, then they are ashamed of being Puerto Ricans.


"I did not come to kill anyone, I came to die for Puerto Rico!". -Dolores "Lolita" Lebrón (11/19/1919 – 8/1/2010)

Monday, August 1, 2011

SortaRican by Elizabeth Rivera de Garcia

Elizabeth Rivera de Garcia
Elizabeth Rivera de Garcia, is a writer, poet, actress and founder of MyPeopleProductions. I have had the privilege of, not only meeting her but, hearing her perform this specific poem. Enjoy...and remember...she's SortaRican (let the words speak for themselves)!


I wonder what you think

when you look at me,

when you hear me speak,

feel my hips sway to Hector Lavoe singing Mi Gente,


Sorta-Rican is what he called me.

I wonder if even my love making was part- Rican.

How good is a tongue if it can’t roll its R’s properly.

“Ay Papi, que rico, que rico, que rico!

“I’m much better after a glass of Anejo rum, the smooth brown liquid

activates my ancestral genes,

the rhythm and beat of a bomba

playing in my veins,

women of different brown shades

dance to the bomba beat …

of my heart.

He can’t see how the


and beat

live inside of me

and hears only my proper English,

knows only my broken Spanish

and he smirks when I say to his abuelita,

“ No intiendes”

I cook his arroz con gandules like his mom

but don’t know nothin’ about a pernil

and really I don’t like to eat much meat.

.” Gringa”

“ Americana”,

the islanders lovingly called me when I pronounced vehiculo-“ vehi- culo”.

Their laughter at my mistaken pronunciation rings melodic in my memory,

time spent in el Rio with Tias, Tios and primos bonded my body to the land,

walking through my grandmother’s cemetery in Ponce through a sea of white headstones sealed my spirit to the collective soul …

of Isla del Encanto.

He knows that illuminating my light skin

is a dark soul

and in loving him

my European forefathers seek forgiveness

for nearly destroying the Tainos driving them to survive in the mountains.

When I look into his eyes

I see the remnants of these native Puerto Ricans.

All their beauty radiates from deep, dark shades of brown,

his mouth carrying healing waters from the bohiques

adorned in gold and shells,

his embrace is full of love and acceptance

of what we’ve become,

a beautiful by-product

of the most devastating circumstances.

There are Puerto Ricans,


and than there is me a


I sorta speak Spanish,

sorta look Puerto Rican,

sorta cook Spanish food,

sorta dance Rican.

And today,

with student strikes and men in prisons who believe in a

Free and


Puerto Rico!

I wonder what my place is,

what my place will be.

I am assured in my son’s golden tones,

in our shared connection to the Carribbean Sea.

There will be a day

when I make my way

to my island home.

I will stand in my garden

surrounded by yellow butterflies


“ La Borinquena”-

“La tierra de Borinquen

donde he nacido yo,

es un jardin florido

de magico primor…

es borinquen la hija,

la hija del mar y el sol,

del mar y el sol,

del mar y el sol…”

I am the daughter of the Sea and the Sun.

©2011 Elizabeth Rivera de Garcia