Farmers

China wrapped up its annual 10 day congress session. China’s government is a little different than the way the Unites States republic is run. The Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao spoke about the biggest issue in the agenda, rural reform. China has the right idea, to strengthen its farms and empower its farmers.

Farmers are one of the most important parts of our society. They provide the food that we all consume. Until we can all take nutrition in the form of synthetic pills, which I hope is never in my lifetime because I enjoy a good meal, we will have to depend on farmers to provide us with food.

In my opinion the drug problem in Colombia flourished because of desperation in the rural areas. When you are faced with the reality of not being able to feed your family with your current crop, but a different one will bring in not just food but wealth, the decision seems almost made for you. I think at that point the government leaving the farmers to fend for themselves made that decision for them.

The moment a government forgets about its farmers, is the moment that it forgets about its people. Food and shelter are basic needs for humans, and a government that does not support its farmer is taking one of those away from its people. While I am not a fan of Chinese policy or its human rights violation record I do applaud its government for not forgetting about its farmers.

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Happy Birthday Gabo

Gabriel José García Márquez was born on March 6, 1928 in Aracataca, Colombia. He won the 1982 Nobel Price for literature with after gaining notoriety with his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, which is actually in Oprah’s book club.

Gabo is a great writer and I am proud that we were born in the same country. I put him in the same category with Hemingway as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. If you ever have a chance pick up one of his books. Find out what magic realism is all about.

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Donde esta mí Arepa – Where is my Arepa

English Version Bellow

Una de las cosas que mas extraño de Colombia es el desayuno. Levantarse y que la mama ya le tenga a uno Chocolate hecho de aguapanela y pan, pandebono o arepitas para desayunar es algo que acá no se encuentra.

Aunque la harina se puede conseguir y hasta queso para remplazar el cuajada, en realidad el ritmo de vida no da para poder prepara cosas. No hay la comodidad de tener panadería en la esquina, y bueno cuando hay una cerca, a los gringos les gusta el dulce por la mañana. Dunkin Donuts, que tiene que ver con remojar las Donas en el café es la panadería. En los supermercados hay pan tajado, pan para perritos y hamburguesas, pan francés y en algunas pan medio aliñado pero mas a estilo italiano. Pan con queso no se encuentra y bueno los muffins, es como desayunar con comapan.

Mariah Carey esta volviendo a tener popularidad, y alguna gente menciona que ella es latina. Yo no la considero latina, porque genéticamente es solamente 25% Venezolana. El día que Mariah diga que come Arepa es el día que la considero latina.

En Kansas City se encuentra harina para hacer arepas que esta buena, pero el tiempo de preparación es medio largo y no hemos comprado una hornilla que sea buena para arepas. Por ahora lo único que se puede hacer es usar el asadero de afuera y bueno quien tiene tiempo de calentar carbón por la mañana. Cuando preparo arepas hago un resto, y después las caliento en el microondas, pero no es lo mismo que ir a comprarlas frescas. El pandebono es otra cosa que acá es mas escaso, tengo harina para hacer también pero el mismo cuento que con las arepas, quien tiene tiempo?

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Blame

“When we blame, we give away our power.”
-Greg Anderson

I like this quote about blame because it really captures the essence of how I feel about the subject. I believe that so much of what is wrong in the world right now has to do with blame. I think one of the issues that keeps racism alive is that it is a lot easier to point the fingers at others for our problems instead of being personally accountable for them.
As a controlling person I have a hard time dealing with a lot of situations. Throughout the years I have gotten a lot better at dealing with things but it has taken a lot of effort. The serenity prayer helps, but at times it is hard to apply. I take it a step further and think about reaction. How I let myself react to a situation will always affect the outcome of the situation at an internal emotional level.

We cannot control others actions, feelings or thoughts. The more we try, the worse our interpersonal relationships become. It gets even trickier when we fool ourselves into thinking that we can actually predict other people’s behavior. While we might think we know someone really good, we are not inside them and we cannot predict how a person is always going to think or act. Even if we can we should not, I think this is one of the things that stops change from going forward. People go back to their old ways because there is always that expectation of how they have always acted. Predisposition is powerful enough to make situation go in a direction it should.

Racism is fueled in part by prejudice; it is not always fueled by pure ignorance. It is a learned behavior that comes from those close to us. It comes from our environment and society overall. I have had the opportunity to grow up in a country where racism exists but it is a different kind of racism. I know that racism is a learned behavior because I have seen many different faces of it. While there is something to say about fear of those things we are not familiar with and instinct, diversity it is not necessarily the solution to racism. I never felt discriminated against race wise while I lived in Colombia, but I have felt it many times since I lived in the U.S.

Are people less racist in Colombia? Not necessarily, but the behaviors learned over there a lot different than they are in the U.S. One of the most comical difference between the two countries comes from a simple saying. “I worked like a black man” in Colombia, means you had to work really hard that day. The same sentence in the U.S. would instantly be considered racist and would not be understood.

Chicago and Midland are far apart in the racist level. Believe it or not I have felt less discriminated in a small town in America than in the big city. I have also felt a lot of racism from my own race. Dating outside my race has always been an issue for people in my own race. Racism is one of societies sickness and unless we all acknowledge it, it is never going to get better. At the same time we have to be very careful diagnosing it, because I believe there are plenty of hypochondria running out there calling racism things that are not.

“Pulling the race card” has become a cliché. It is sad that it minimizes real struggle because it makes a blanket statement of something that is a real problem and puts it right next to fear. Fear fuels a lot of the perception of racism. When you feel discriminated against you are guessing what someone else is thinking about you, and while most of the time you might be right, statistically you cannot be always right. Not every single person of a different race is going to hate you because of the color of your skin. When you constantly feel prosecuted, you develop a kind of social paranoia that makes you even more racist in my opinion than anyone around you.

I believe that oppression does exist, but the only people that can do anything to change it are the oppressed ones. They need to break the chains that bind them and I believe one of them is blame. When you blame others for your problems you are empowering them to continue their behavior. You are the only capable of changing the situation. You have control over how you look at every situation. You are the one to blame.

You don’t speak Mexican?

If Mexican were a language, it would still be hard for me to speak it. The biggest reason would be that I was in Colombia and not in Mexico. Even though I was born in Colombia, I don’t speak Colombian. I know it seems strange doesn’t it. Now if people put a little thought into it, they would realize that words like Hispanic, Spanish, and Latin have more to do with language than actual ethnicity. Not too long ago I wrote about the subject and how I am proud of in a way being Mexican by being Latin.

There is something to be said about the American school system. I remember in Colombia learning about every country in the world, knowing what language they spoke, their currency, population, flag and type of government. I knew that in the United States they spoke English. While it could be debatable if Americans really speak the Queen’s English or an American version of it, the language is still called English and I have never asked anyone if they speak American. That would make a lot more sense since even the aliens on the movies speak English. The bad guys for some reason have an English or French accent but that is a whole other post.

Yesterday enjoying lunch with some coworkers the subject of ethnical identity came up; it was stated that to most non-Spanish people, when they see someone that looks Spanish they are automatically deemed Mexicans. Now this has been true for both Michigan and Illinois. I am not sure if in New York people think all Spanish people are Puerto Rican or in Miami everyone thinks they are Cuban, but in the Midwest being Spanish automatically makes you Mexican.

I had experienced this same conversation before with various groups of people. Most people then get very defensive when I tell them that I am not Mexican, and ask why do I care if I am called Mexican. I have nothing against Mexicans, my sister is married to a Mexican, I have Mexican friends, love Mexican food and furthermore I think that the Aztecs and Mayans were civilizations to be admired. However I am also very proud of my own heritage. I am very proud of being Colombian even though my country does not have the most positive image in the world’s eyes.

The other question that is often asked is: “What is your real name?” A lot of people, including some Spanish people think that I changed my name once I moved to the United States. I’ve had people try to call me Juan, which is the translation of John to Spanish… but not my name, I was born John, it is the name my parents picked. So talk to them about naming me with an English name. Do me a favor and don’t accuse me of “Americanizing” my name.

While language unites Spanish people, or Hispanics, or Latinos, or whatever it is politically correct to call us these days, we are not a united front. There are very deep division lines betweens people from different Spanish countries and a lot of people outside of our ethnicity do not realize that. People from different countries seem to just dislike you for being from a country different that theirs; I have experienced this dislike first hand. I do seem to get along with pretty much anyone, but because of food similarity, or music taste I have always seemed to get along with Cubans and Puerto Ricans. But it does not stop there, I am also a big fan of Spanish rock and thanks to it I was got to meet couple of guys from Guatemala during high school. I believe the only person that I know from El Salvador is JorgeQ. I hope that I never experience that country segregation and that someone will not read me just because I am from Colombia. Overall though there is a division, I am not sure if it is Central Americans vs. South Americans or what, but what I do know is that no one likes Argentineans, “they are kind of stuck up.” (Joking)

I am not trying to offend anyone here; I like everyone for who they are as people and like to find out where people are from just because I love to learn about cultures, not because I am not going to like you because of where you are from; Even if you are from Argentina. I am trying to point out how ridiculous it is to have all the prejudice that we see between Spanish people, or for that matter between humans of all races. It is cool to be proud of where you are from, of who you are, but make it a springboard for unity, find common ground. Do not make the color of your skin an excuse to find differences and things to divide you from your fellow humans. I am extremely proud of my flag and I wear it on my arm (literarily), but I want it to be taken as a sign of pride and not arrogance. While Colombians are very proud people, at times a little too loud and at times just annoying, I can tell you that as a group of people we have “ganas” (drive) and hearths as big as our houses.
On the spirit of humor one of my coworkers found a little Homies figurine depicting a Mexican Mariachi. I thought it was hilarious, now it is going to be eaten by my dragon.

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