Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cirilia Baltazar Cruz reunited with her child!

Back in July of 2009

The original report from Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance
Cirila Baltazar Cruz gave birth to her baby girl in November of 2008 at Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula, MS. She speaks very little Spanish and no English, as her native language is Chatino, an Indigenous language from Oaxaca, Mexico that is spoken by some 50,000 people.

The hospital provided her with an “interpreter” who is from Puerto Rico and does not speak Chatino, the language of the mother. Because of the language barrier and the misunderstanding by the hospital’s interpreter who only spoke Spanish and English, a social worker was called in.

The hospital’s social worker reported “evidence” of abuse and neglect based on the following:

* The “baby was born to an illegal [sic] immigrant;”
* The “mother had not purchased a crib, clothes, food or formula.” (Most Latina mothers breast feed their babies).
* “She does not speak English which puts baby in danger.”

Ms. Baltazar Cruz’s baby was snatched from her after birth at the hospital and given to an affluent attorney couple from the posh Ocean Springs who cannot have children.

The authorities made no effort to locate an interpreter in her native tongue. MIRA located an interpreter who is fluent in Chatino in Los Angeles CA and has interviewed the mother extensively with the interpreters help. The mother has been accused of being poor and not being able to provide for this child. No one has asked the mother to provide evidence of support. She owns a home in Mexico and a store which provides both secure shelter and financial support, not counting the nurturing of a loving family of two other siblings, a grandmother, aunts, uncles and other extended family.

I reprinted a piece by Zuky at the time as well.

Well, on February 22, 2010, the Native American Times reported:

A Mexican immigrant walked out of the Gartin Justice Building on Friday holding the daughter who had been taken from her by state officials in 2008, when advocates say she was accused of being an unfit mother because she doesn’t speak English.

Cirila Balthazar Cruz and her 1-year-old child, Ruby, were surrounded by Southern Poverty Law Center officials as they left. None of them would discuss details of the case, citing the confidentiality of Youth Court proceedings.

Because the records in the case are sealed, it is unclear what reason the state used to take custody of the child. However, immigrant advocates have said the child was taken because Cruz was an illegal immigrant and did not speak English.

“This is a very happy day for us,” SPLC legal director Mary Bauer told The Associated Press. “That is her baby.”

Friday’s proceeding before Special Judge Billy Bridges may not be the end of the case, which has led to a memorandum of understanding between Mississippi and the Mexican government and drawn the attention of immigration advocates nationwide.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Important Lesson, you assholes

Welcome to class! Sit down, shut up and listen.

Today's lesson, what the right to free speech in the US means and what it does not.

Some of what it means:
It is what prevents the US Government restricting speech that critisizes it. It also prevents the state from dictating that only specific points of view be presented publicly.

What it definitely does not mean:
That you have the right to say whatever you want with ZERO social consequences or critisism.

If your first reaction to "what you said was offensive, hurt me and/or replicates and supports systems of oppression that negatively impacts my existence" is "...but what about ME!? And my right to FREE SPEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH!?" then I will likely be exercising my right to free speech to make sure that you know what a douche bucket you are.

Cause you are right. It is a free country. You are as free to be an asshole as I am to point out your assholery to both you and anyone else who cares to listen.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dream a Little Dream For Me

I love my family (though it is a complicated love.)

Some of them are a little...I'm not sure I have a good word for it.

They have this dianetics-esque concept of positive thinking as a spiritual/physical and mental health practice, which on the surface I have no real problem with. When it comes to faith, spirituality, religion, what-have-you, I have one simple rule: If it doesn't oppress anyone, and you don't push me (or anyone preferably) to convert, then its cool.

On first blush, this positive energy, rebirther thing has a lot going for it: it it means being conscious of your breathing, of your feelings, of your actions, your reactions and their source. Most people involved in this are all about taking personal responsibility for the things that happen to you and your reactions to it. It can be a great motivator for changing your own life. The snag comes in when the benefits of this perspective are discussed. Apparently, good health is all about having the right attitude and that any other factor is irrelevant. If you can "positive attitude" your way into good health, then any health problems you have are because you chose them.

For the sake of clarity, this concept is not usually stated so harshly, or so clearly. The basic idea is that our thoughts create our reality, right? So if we accept as inevitable a family history of heart disease, then we create the possibility of it existing for us. Conversely, if we were to not accept it, then it won't happen to us. Everything exists because we manifest it.

I'm sure the issue with this is obvious to a good many people who may be reading this, but just in case it isn't...

I'll start with the softer issues present here.

First, I want to be absolutely clear: I agree that if we assume that something is going to go wrong, then that will cloud our perception of events and the going wrong will be all that we notice, no matter what else is happening. I agree that perception, in one sense, creates reality insomuch as it dictates what we see in our reality. Two people watching a sunrise on a beach will, given exactly the same materials, will paint two completely different pictures of that sunrise. This does not change the sunrise itself.

I do not agree that we create reality out of whole cloth merely by imagining it or allowing the possibility to enter our minds. There is an egotistical hubris to the idea that I find distasteful and incongruous with the image of "one-ness" that the people espousing it would like to present.

The big problem, though, the huge mother-whammy of a problem with this idea is the implication that if you have problems, any problems in any form, its because you didn't think positively enough or because you allowed it to become real. The denial of the fact that sometimes shit just happens and the insistence on there being a "why." And of course the assumptive standard of "good" v "bad" in this framework posits ideas of health that are formulated by a larger oppressive culture that excludes certain types of bodies as not good enough, or real enough.

Besides watching my uncle ignore his health because breathing will make heart problems that run in the family just go away, I find the implied blame for "poor" health to be ablist and privileged in the extreme, and like a great deal of privileged crap, it comes with the best intentions.

What I don't understand about this is the incessant desire to ignore the oppressive structures of society and instead turn everything into a personal choice. Who would choose oppression? Why on the world would someone decide to be oppressed? If ending these things were as simple as making an active choice, then why hasn't the entire kyriarchy come apart at the seams? I mean, there are tons of people who would do anything to not have to wake up and keep struggling to survive and be counted. Why is your positive thinking enough to save you, and theirs isn't? Oh yeah, sunrises.

Your privileged ability to ignore oppression doesn't make it cease to exist, just like not painting the sunrise won't stop it from happening. Its just one more way to pretend like you created everything you have instead of benefiting from someone else's oppression. One more way to absolve yourself of responsibility for participating in an unjust system.

Monday, March 08, 2010

I love the smell of privilege in the morning

In a work discussion about shaking hands with customers, a co-worker of mine (lets call him "Duke") complained about respecting cultures that frown on touching. There was also a bit of flailing about "sue-happy" people and "OMG, I might get accused of sexual harassment and that would be the worstest-worst thing that could ever happen to meeeeeee! Whatever would I doooooooooo!" "Why don't they respect MY culture!" blah blah blah...oppressions of white cis US males...blah blah blah..."oversensitive women"...blah blah.."respect mah authoritah"...blah..."and by authoritah I mean my white cis penis." blah.

My favorite definition of "oppression" is the one that ACTUALLY means "I'm not the center of the universe?! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! NO FAIR!

Your culture is DOM-I-NANT, asshole. And that is a global dominance, for the record. Thanks to advertising, globalization, colonialism and imperialism, the entire world is aware of your culture. It is so pervasive that you don't even have to be aware that you have one in the first place. You can blithely assume that your culture is globally understood as "just how it is." You can even ignore the the ways in which your concept of "American" culture excludes anyone in America who isn't EXACTLY LIKE YOU, and it would be no skin of your nose.

Also, beyond cultural differences, some people just don't like being touched. In my experience, they are people who tend to have bodies that are constructed in your precious white, het, cis male-dominated culture as public property by virtue of not being white, and/or het and/or cis and/or male. Ever been groped in public, Duke? Ever had unwanted touching of your genitals? Ever been threatened with physical violence for resisting? Ever been attacked violently for not meeting expected standards of what your body "should" be? Ever been told that violations of your body, be they groping, rape, assault and/or attempted/completed murder were justified because of your precious...fucking...culture?


Yeah, didn't think so.

You know what is also no skin off your nose? Not being an asshole. Its amazing how much time you'll save! You could take a poetry class!
Or you could use that time to put yourself in the shoes of someone else and try to gain a little bit of awareness of how those of us not like you experience your culture.

Now Duke (and anyone like you who might read this,) you may be at this point, "Its just a handshake! Jeez! Its a sign of respect, and its not like I force it on anyone!" While it is likely true that you actually believe this, your argument that respecting someone else's boundaries is oppressive to you necessitates you forcing it on someone. Yes, it is just a handshake to you.

It isn't the handshake that is the problem.

Its your attitude, your entitlement and your arrogant blindness.

That is the point, and the problem.

Friday, March 05, 2010


There is no such thing as an objective fairness in this universe. I am not required to adhere to your idea of fairness, especially when your idea of fairness does not include the perspectives of the more marginalized in our society.

You don't find me fair?