Let America Be America Again

On Independence Day I always think of the Langston Hughes poem, “Let America Be America Again.” Hughes is one of my favorite poets – a visionary writer who was ahead of his time and created works that still resonate more than 50 years later.

This poem is often controversial and has been called unpatriotic by some – but I think that it reflects reality, told in an unapologetic, honest way. We are a nation that values chest thumping patriotism and fosters an attitude of superiority – a belief that we are the favored children of God and our nation is uniquely blessed as a result. I don’t subscribe to that school of thought. I believe that we can love the United States and be thankful for the freedoms we have while being truthful and vocal about its imperfections at the same time.

On this day I am thankful to live in a country that allows me to say this without fear of repercussions and I am hopeful that we will continue to create high expectations for ourselves, as individual citizens, and as a nation. May we all do our part to live up to the dream.

Image source: Brittney Bollay

Let America Be America Again

by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

Please refrain from throwing tortas at Chicharito

I didn’t think I’d be making a public service announcement today regarding the El Salvador vs. Mexico game, but a conversation with a friend this morning made me realize there are some issues that should be discussed, and if this helps change the behavior of even one person, pues, vale la pena.

Okay, guanacos, you know I love you all con todo mi corazón, right? You know I’m cheering for La Selecta in tonight’s game against Mexico, even though I also cheer for El Tri when they don’t play El Salvador. I’m aware that you guys have issues with each other and that Mexico can be equally disrespectful when El Salvador plays on their turf, (yes, I remember las abejas en la porteria), but where does it end, hermanos?

If Salvadorans are disrespectful to the Mexican team and Mexicans are disrespectful to the Salvadoran team, the cycle will continue to repeat itself. Look, I know it’s difficult. I have two sisters and when we’d get into a slap fight, we would keep slapping each other back and forth – always wanting to be the one to get the last slap in. Usually at some point I would slap my sister and run off until she forgot to slap me back later… (“Haha! Got you last!”) – But this situation is a little different. Someone has to have the maturity and self-discipline to let the other have the last slap.

Didn’t your abuela tell you, “Ojo por ojo y el mundo quedará ciego”? … Wait.. maybe that was Gandhi that said that. Gandhi would have made a good abuela. Anyway… Okay, your Nana probably told you, “Eh! Vos! Pórtate bien, cipote!… Qué bicho más malcriado, hijueputa…” – That’s not as inspirational, but good enough.

Last night Salvadorans stayed up all night making noise outside the Hotel Real Intercontinental in San Salvador where El Tri is staying. The intention was to disrupt the Mexican team’s sleep – but can I tell you something? I stayed at that hotel last summer and I can almost guarantee that the Mexican team didn’t hear a peep. The windows are really thick and I couldn’t hear anything down on the street below when we were there. Besides, even if it was loud enough to be heard, the Mexican team is already hip to this trick. Don’t you think that by now they’ve invested in some nice noise cancelling headphones? El Tri probably slept very comfortably, meanwhile, the Salvadorans down on the street missed a whole night’s sleep. Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

If these kinds of “pep rallies” were all that went on, then I would say está bien, it’s harmless, but things can get a lot more disrespectful and even violent. Apparently someone threw a torta at Chicharito. It sounds funny but come on, let’s talk about this seriously for a moment. Gente decente no se hace eso. First of all, Chicharito is a person with feelings. This was just incredibly rude. Second, this stupid act by one person reflects badly on all Salvadorans. Third, this happened when El Tri got off the bus in front of the Real Intercontinental. I have walked down that street, (Boulevard de Los Heroes) and I can promise you that there were at least three hungry people begging within a half block of that torta hitting the pavement. As my suegra would say, “Qué pecado” … Shame on you for wasting food like that.

This is a beautiful game. Use your passion to support your team in a positive way – not on negativity. Whose with me?

Chicharito image source: Ed Schipul

Los Muchachos de Koh Panyee

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation is in italics!

¿Qué te inspira? Este video me ha inspirado esta semana. Un grupo de muchachos forman un equipo de fútbol, pero hay un problema … Ellos viven en una isla del sur de Tailandia que se llama Koh Panyee y no hay cancha ni espacio para practicar. ¿Qué hicieron? Se dieron por vencidos? … No! Ellos construyeron un campo en el agua. Chécalo.

What inspires you? This video inspired me this week. A group of young boys form a football team, but there’s a problem … They live on an island of southern Thailand called Koh Panyee, and there’s no field nor space to practice. What did they do? Give up? … No! They built a soccer pitch on the water. Check it out.

El colibrí

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation in italics!

En la escuela mi hijo menor tuvo que escribir una historia. Aquí es lo qué escribió, (lo voy a traducir abajo.)

In school my younger son had to write a story. Here is what he wrote.

La traducción:

Otro viaje que fuimos era a El Salvador. Cuándo estuvimos allá, vimos muchas cosas nuevas. Mi papá pagó para que pudiéramos entrar en el hotel. Cuándo recibimos la llave, fuimos a nuestra habitación. El siguiente día cuándo fuimos caminando al mall, me fije algo en las flores – ¡era un colibrí! Fue la primera vez que vi un colibrí. Cuándo vi a El Salvador, me sentí como que hubiera nacido allá.

Image source: AnnCam



El cuento que escribió mi hijo me recordó esta cita tan hermosa (traducción abajo.)

The story that my son wrote reminded me of this beautiful quote.

“Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. Hummingbirds open our eyes to the wonder of the world and inspire us to open our hearts to loved ones and friends. Like a hummingbird, we aspire to hover and to savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer and to celebrate the joy of everyday. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.” – Papyrus

“Las leyendas dicen que los colibríes flotan libremente del tiempo, llevando nuestras esperanzas para el amor, la alegría y celebración. Colibríes abren nuestros ojos a la maravilla del mundo y nos inspiran a abrir el corazón a nuestros seres queridos y amigos. Al igual que un colibrí, aspiramos a flotar y disfrutar de cada momento que pasa, abrazar todo lo que la vida tiene para ofrecer, y por celebrar la alegría todos los días. La delicada gracia del colibrí nos recuerda que la vida es rica, la belleza está en todas partes, cada conexión personal tiene sentido y que la risa es la creación más dulce de la vida.” – Papyrus

Dichos de Espinoza Paz

Espinoza Paz

Image source: Lunchbox LP

Aside from being a talented composer and performer of Regional Mexican music, Espinoza Paz, (born Isidro Chávez Espinoza), has a surprising amount of wisdom to offer fans and anyone else willing to listen. Here are some of my favorite quotes, dichos or frases that I’ve taken down from various interviews and from tweets from his Twitter feed.

Espinoza Habla Sobre Raíces Humildes / Espinoza on Humble Beginnings

★ “También los ‘nacos’ tenemos derecho a oportunidades, a triunfar, a lograr nuestros sueños y a ser respetados.” (Después de haber sido llamado “naco” por un reportero.)

Translation: “As ‘nacos’, we too have the right to opportunities, to succeed, to achieve our dreams and to be respected.” (Said after being called “naco” by a reporter.)

(Language note: “Naco” is a slang derogatory term for an uneducated person who comes from the country.)

Espinoza Habla Sobre Humildad / Espinoza on Humility

★ “Yo creo que hay gente que canta mucho mejor que yo.”

Translation: I believe that there are people that sing a lot better than I do.
(After being asked if he believes he sings well or badly.)

Espinoza Habla Sobre Racismo / Espinoza on Racism

★ “Por qué cuando alguien quiere ofender a alguien utiliza [la palabra] ‘indio’? Los indios no son seres humanos? …Yo soy indio para demostrarles a los que no lo son cómo se llega lejos siendo un indio.”

Translation: “Why is it that when someone wants to offend another, he uses [the word] ‘Indian’? Are Indians not human beings? … I’m Indian – to show those of you who are not, that you can go far being an Indian.”

(Language note: The word “Indian” in Spanish is often used to insult someone and call them “stupid.”)

Espinoza Habla Sobre Chisme / Espinoza on Gossip

★ “Yo nunca voy a vivir de hablar mal de los demás. Yo voy a vivir haciendo a los demás felices con mi música.”

Translation: “I’ll never live to speak ill of others. I’m going to live making people happy with my music.”

Espinoza Habla Sobre Criticismo / Espinoza on Criticism

★ “Yo no me siento mal cuándo hablan mal de mí. Por qué? Porque yo sé quién soy.”

Translation: “I don’t feel badly when people speak badly of me. Why? Because I know who I am.”

espinoza paz frase

Espinoza Habla Sobre Fe / Espinoza on Faith

★ “Mientras más me atacan, más Dios me ilumina con cosas buenas… Pues, que me sigan atacando para que me siga iluminando.”

Translation: “The more they [critics] attack me, the more God enlightens me with good things … So, I say go ahead and continue attacking me so I continue to be enlightened.”

Espinoza Habla Sobre Defenderte / Espinoza on Standing Up For Yourself

★ “Cuándo alguien me quiere pisotear, cuando alguien me quiere humillar a mi, yo no lo puedo dejar…No puedo hacer eso. No lo puedo permitir. ¿Por qué?”

Translation: When someone wants to trample me, when someone wants to humiliate me, I can’t leave it be. I can’t do that. I can’t allow it. Why should I?

Espinoza Sobre el Pensamiento Positivo / Espinoza on Positive Thinking

★ “Si pasa por tu mente, pasa por tu vida.”

Translation: If you believe it, you can achieve it.

espinoza paz frase

Note: Images legally used and adapted from photos available through creative commons and Lunchbox LP. Use and adaptation of photos does not signify their endorsement of Latinaish.com.

La lección de un boleto equivocado

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation below!

boleto USA

Esta foto está circulando en las redes sociales – ¿pero qué es? Esta es una foto de boleto de avión, pre-comprado para un jugador de fútbol del equipo estadounidense. CONCACAF compraba los boletos antes del partido, con la suposición errónea que los Estados Unidos van a ganar y ir a las finales en Kansas City. La realidad? El Salvador ganó el partido y ahora ustedes pueden ver que el nombre de un jugador estadounidense (Joe Corona), está tachado, y el nombre de un jugador salvadoreño, (Juan Rodas), está añadido en bolígrafo azul.

A CONCACAF, una lección: No vendas la leche antes de comprar la vaca.

Y a “La Azulita” (equipo Sub 23 de El Salvador) y todos leyendo esto: Crean en ustedes mismos, aunque otros les digan que sus metas no son realistas. Sueñen, trabajan duro y pueden lograrlo. Todo es posible.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

This photo is circulating on social networks – but what is it? This is a photo of an airline ticket, pre-bought for a player on the US soccer team. CONCACAF bought the tickets before the game, wrongly assuming that the United States would win and go on to the finals in Kansas City. The reality? El Salvador won that game and now you can see that the name of the U.S. player (Joe Corona), has been crossed out. The name of a Salvadoran player (Juan Rodas), has been added in blue ink.

To CONCACAF, a lesson: Don’t sell the milk before you buy the cow. (Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.)

And to “La Azulita” (the Sub 23 team for El Salvador), as well as to everyone reading this: Believe in yourselves, even when others tell you that your goals aren’t realistic. Dream, work hard, and you can achieve it. Anything is possible.

Resolutions + Perspective

I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions, but this year it became a time of self-examination and a clear starting point to make some changes. The changes I’ve made have been a long time coming – some once, (or many times), attempted and abandoned, others have been bouncing around in my head waiting for me to give them importance – still others have only come to me recently, as if they knew now was the moment I would welcome them.

I don’t like to call them “goals” or “resolutions” because I prefer to think I spend every day of my life stepping toward the self-actualized version of myself – Admittedly it’s a two steps adelante and one step atrás sort of thing.

Like many others, one of my “resolutions” (for want of a better word), is to take my health more seriously. I’m starting to feel my age and that – even more than wanting to look like a bikini chica in a Pitbull video, may be enough to scare me straight. My back hurts when I wake up. My knees ache when it rains. It’s too early to consider retiring to Miami so maybe, just maybe, I need to put down the Bubu Lubus.

When my dedication to working towards these “resolutions” wavers, (as it always does), I need to try to remember that my “problem” – my “struggle” – is only difficult from my perspective.

Think about this with me. Think about the ridiculousness of the challenges we face. Some common complaints:

• Food is too accessible and abundant. I can’t get away from the temptations.
• It’s too cold out so I can’t [leave the warmth of my house to] get some exercise.
• I’ve become bored with my workout. I don’t feel motivated.
• Food blogs tempt me with delicious photos of flan and burritos.

(Okay, that last complaint is mine.)

These are what you call “first world problems.” If you just shift your perspective, you may start to laugh at the once mountainous obstacles that seemed insurmountable.

This should shift your perspective. I took this photo in El Salvador – but what does it have to do with anything I’m talking about here? Let me explain.

While we were in El Salvador we went to visit family in Chalatenango. It was a long drive from San Salvador in an unairconditioned microbus. On the way back to the city, the traffic became thick. We shoved at the already open windows to let more air into the vehicle which now moved at a crawl. We fanned ourselves, watched beads of sweat roll down the sides of each others’ faces.

At some point, we came to a stop in front of a public well just off the highway. There I watched women and children washing laundry and scooping water over their heads – bathing fully-clothed with no privacy. I tried not to stare, didn’t want them to feel self-conscious, but Salvadorans are famous starers and I was probably the only one on the highway trying to watch without being obvious about it.

The laundry now heavy and wet, was put back into large plastic tubs, balanced on sturdy heads, and walked home, who knows how far, to be hung to dry.

…Something to remember next time taking a walk around my quiet suburban neighborhood seems too difficult.