Tokyo -- A Vast City of Lights and Dreams

Tokyo is the world's largest city. It's intense. I got a chance to visit Shibuya, the "Times Square" of Tokyo. At night the place blazes with lights. There are people everywhere. Amazing traditional Japanese restaurants can be found anywhere (of course, Wendy's and Starbucks abound as well).

The people are orderly, polite, and respectful. They are also ultra-modern and quite aware of themselves and the world. I feel privileged to be here. Besides my Japanese contacts here, a Chicana friend from the San Francisco Bay Area, Favianna Rodriguez, is also here. A well-known artist, Favianna has visited Japan many times.

I hope to get to know more of this fascinating city and other parts of Japan until I return home on November 26.

Unfortunately, my friends Quetzal Flores and Martha Gonzales, as well as David Gomez, have already left. I had a great couple of days with them, having joined them at the end of their promotional jaunt here for Barrio Gold Records.

While I had to deal with a cold and jet lag, I'm doing much better now (there's a 15 hour time difference between Tokyo and Los Angeles). I'm eager to get around and know more about this great culture and country.
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The Chicano-Japanese Connection

I landed in Tokyo on Saturday, November 18, after a 13-hour flight from Chicago. I'm here to investigate an amazing Japanese connection to LA Chicano culture (including music, particularly from East LA, lowrider cars, cholo style clothing, and more).

This will be part of a reporting piece I'm doing for a major west coast publication. I'm visiting various communities in and around Tokyo that have enjoyed the LA-bred Chicano style. I've also been able to join with a promotional tour with the founding members of the East LA band, Quetzal. They are Quetzal Flores and his wife, Martha Gonzalez. With them is DJ D-Gomez of Monte Carlo '76. They've done concerts at various venues and at a Tower Records store (no longer owned by Tower Records). There has also been some media interviews. At two of the gigs, a member of the legendary LA band, War, also played with Quetzal, Martha, and D-Gomez -- Tex Nakamura, one of the best harmonica players in the world.

Since we all know each other, and have much respect for what we do, they also asked that I read a few poems and say a few words during their sets. They played beneath my words with traditional instruments such as the cajon and the jarana (based on the Son Jarocho musical tradition of Veracruz, Mexico).

It's been an honor to be here and to witness this great collaboration of Mexican/Chicano soul and the wonderful welcome by many Japanese. The next few days, I'll be interviewing several important people linked to this Chicano-Japan connection.
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The Stories That Save Us

Reston, Virginia is like many Washington DC-area communities. It has many immigrants from around the world who’ve come here for a better life, to work, to provide for their families, many of whom are still in their countries of origin. I’m in Reston at the invitation of my friend Leila Gordon of the Reston Community Center – an Egyptian-American, Leila has brought me here many times to work with kids at the Langston Hughes Middle School and the South Lakes High School.

This time I’m doing a four-day residency working with ESOL students (English-language learners) in both schools, as well as ESOL adult students from another community center in the area. We are using stories, language, and poetry to get them to express their own histories, traumas, triumphs, dreams, difficulties, and hopes.

I’ve worked so far with astounding young people from countries such as Somalia, El Salvador, Pakistan, Lebanon, Colombia, Honduras, China, Mexico, and more. Although they are all learning English, some very well, they have different levels of language proficiency. I start by telling my own story of being an immigrant kid, of going to schools in LA in the 1960s that used to beat us for speaking Spanish, of being in the streets, in gangs, on drugs, but also how I overcame these to persevere, become an acclaimed writer, and a respected father, husband, and community leader. From the 1970s to today, I helped organize efforts and battles for bilingual education, quality schools, decent housing, resources and jobs for youth, and much more. This story resonates with the most recent arrivals who are undergoing struggles of their own to be heard, to survive, to learn, and to be healthy.

With the adults, I’ve been brought to tears as they painstakingly write and talk in a language they are not familiar with (English) to begin to master this language so they too can express their sentiments, thoughts, and stories. In the adult class we have people from Camaroon, Pakistan, Turkey, El Salvador, Peru, and Belize. There are single mothers who came here with their children, starving with little skills – now they are working, learning English, and planning to further their education.

One woman left her husband in the US, after 21 years of an arranged marriage from her country, when she refused to continue being beaten and to watch her children beaten by this man. Another woman almost drowned along with her children as they braved the deepest parts of the Rio Grande on tires.

One 40-year-old man came across the border, stuffed into a rail car with other Mexicans, Salvadorans, Hondurans, and Guatemalans hanging on the sides or roofs. He saw one woman fall and get her legs chopped up by the train (she then put her head onto the path of the train’s wheels to die). He saw fellow travelers have their money taken by polleros (the people who help bring workers across the border, sometimes known as coyotes) and not deliver. He saw bandits beat and rob the defenseless migrants.

He eventually found his way to Virginia. He got a job as a carpenter, received his work permit, and is presently working on his residency; he hopes to become a citizen someday (he has five children in his country of origin that he misses, and plans to visit once all his papers are squared away).

I met people here who want to work, to positively give back, follow the law, and do what they can to be strong, contributing members of this society. Yes, a few came over to this country without papers – what people don’t understand is that the process of getting permission to work or live in the US is one that only allows for a small amount of people compared to the millions who need to do so (the issue of decent, meaningful work in poor countries has to be addressed if we are to have a truly humane immigration policy). One woman has a son who fought in Iraq; many immigrants are willing to give their life for this country (I may not agree with this, but that's a fact). These are people who are assets and will continue to be assets for the betterment and future of the United States.

I hope to get some of the ESOL youth and adults to read with me tonight as part of a performance that ends this residency at the Reston Community Center Theater. I know if this happens, it will be a unforgettable, moving, and enlightening event.
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Words and Music: New Orleans and Cultural Revival

There is much in New Orleans that needs to be fixed – much in the lack of trust in this government, in official help, in the forgetfulness that tends to mar most tragedies. But here people can’t and won’t forget last year’s Katrina hurricane (much of the devastated areas are still in need of repair). They are mostly united around this event – the worst natural disaster in the US in more than 100 years. And there are also many instances of heroism, generosity, and sacrifice. However, as economics and politics will have it, this city like most of the Gulf Coast region, is also divided along class lines (rich and poor), racial lines (a long morbid history in this part of the world), and lines of disconnection.

Fortunately, besides the much-touted revival in the tourist trade, which is important for New Orleans’ economic growth, there is also a revival in the arts: Music, song, dance, poetry, theater, and writing.

I am honored to be part of this year’s Words and Music Festival, sponsored by Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society. Cofounder Rosemary James is a wonderful host. Most interesting is this year’s theme, “The Contributions of Spain and Latin America to US Life & Literature.”

Most people don’t know that Louisiana, and New Orleans in particular, was once a Spanish colony. The French Quarter, as my new friend Margarita Bergen (and well-known New Orleans community leader) said during a small tour she gave me and my daughter Andrea (who came here to visit with me for a few days), "should properly be called the `Spanish Quarter'.”

On almost every street corner, the former Spanish names of the streets are laid out below the now French ones. In fact, Margarita says most of the French names came from the Anglo settlers after the US bought the Louisiana Purchase for $12 million in 1803. Although the French (the founders were originally from Canada) founded the port city on the Mississippi and held it for quite some time, the Spanish influence is palpable and strong.

There is even a strong connection to Mexico, land of my forebears (they were not from Spain, but indigenous Mexico). A Mexican brass band visited New Orleans in the 1800s, leading to an important, but often forgotten, influence on the local Creole/African culture. Brass instruments, which came from Europe, were taken up by indigenous musicians in Mexico similar to what happened with former African slaves and free Blacks. New Orleans is known as the birthplace of Jazz – and the Mexican brass band connection to this original cultural expression is one we shouldn’t overlook any longer.

Day of the Dead altar
[ Day of the Dead Altar at the Words and Music Festival in New Orleans ]

The Words and Music writing conference ends tomorrow; I’ll be gone, but I’ve met many great people here. Key personalities in Latino letters such as Ana Castillo, Manuel Ramos, Oscar Hijuelos, Jose Torres Tama, Jose Torres Tama, Mary Helen Lagasse, Jose Cuellar, Gabriela Hernandez, H.G. Carillo, Marie Arana, Loida Maritza Perez, Liliana Valenzuela, Mayra Montero, Chantel Acevedo, Humberto Fontova, and Sergio Troncoso also took part – with master classes, panels, and readings.

Like most US history, New Orleans has a most complicated and trans-cultural history. This conference helped remind us about how important each aspect of this history is to making New Orleans the city we’ve all learned to respect and love throughout the world.
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New Orleans -- What's Happened Since Katrina?

The face of New Orleans
[ The face of New Orleans - all photos by Ted Qaunt ]

Last week, I spent a couple of wonderful days in Washington DC for a talk and visit with the National Juvenile Defender Center Leadership Summit at the Mayflower Hotel. Among truly amazing and heroic people, including many friends, my visit also included lunch and an interview with the Justice Policy Institute and a tour of the offices of the Hispanic Communications Network and the Self Reliance Foundation, where I am part of their gang violence prevention educational media initiative, “2 Cooltura” (I have done a nationally-distributed opinion piece and a radio interview for them already).

Luis J. Rodriguez in front of what was once someone's home
[ Luis J. Rodriguez in front of what was once someone's home ]

On Saturday, October 28, I flew to New Orleans, where I’m a scheduled participant in “Words and Music: A Literary Feast” from November 1 until November 6, sponsored by Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society. This year’s theme is “The Impact of Hispanic Cultures on US Life and Literature.” Among the quests are Ana Castillo, Jose “Doctor Loco” Cuellar, Gabriela Hernandez, Marie Arana, and many others.

I’m staying at an old colonial place, Hotel Provincial, in the French Quarter.

I came several days early to meet with friends in New Orleans, in particular long-time community leader Ted Quant. On Saturday night, Ted and I attended a jazz concert at the Snug Harbor Jazz Club on Frenchman’s Street, filled with Halloween-costumed partygoers (Bourbon Street looked as packed as Mardi Gras that night). I heard a number of great singers and musicians, including Charmaine Neville (a member of the renowned New Orleans Neville family), who is known as a local hero (she helped her neighbors hold out in a school for several days after the storm, among other things).

Standing in the ruins of New Orleans
[ Standing in the ruins of New Orleans ]

In addition, I was privileged to catch a set with Nicholas Payton, famed local trumpeter and pianist, and his quartet – an amazing show (I’m a long-time jazz fan).

I also wanted time to visit the city, especially the Katrina-devastated 9th Ward. Ted gave me an intimate tour of the flooded areas; Ted lost two homes in the 2005 hurricane (he’s still dealing with their repairs more than a year afterwards).

We went through the most-flooded communities of the city, I felt sorrow at the deep loss of lives, homes, and community. Much of the 9th ward has been razed, but there are still remnants of crumpled homes, rusting cars, mud, and storm debris. You can see that so much more has to be done – yet there is a sense among many community members that the city will not restore these areas. The city is now less than half of its population before Katrina (which was around 450,000). Although African Americans made up close to 70 percent of that population, today it is less than half.

Standing next to a New Orleans memorial to the victims of Katrina
[ Standing next to a New Orleans memorial to the victims of Katrina ]

Many people have returned, of course, to rebuild and make New Orleans their home again. But too many others don’t appear to be returning from the Katrina diaspora that included tens of thousand of people to cities all over the country. After a year, kids are now in new schools, jobs are being held in the new cities, and not much has happened by way of jobs or resources in New Orleans to help them come back.

I was also able to attend a Story Circle with an old friend, John O’Neil, at the Ashe' Cultural Arts Center. An initiative by Ashe' to open up an enriched dialogue on race and change is using John’s amazing ideas and work to help the process.

I have learned that in the midst of great trauma, there are many fantastic efforts to bring about true healing and real restoration and peace. There are also many examples of deep abandonment, mistrust, and uncertainty.
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Lila Downs -- The Voice of a Borderless World

One of the highlights of my visit to Mexico City – besides taking part in the growing dialogue about Mexicans in the US and their vital relationship to Mexicans in Mexico – was a special invitation to attend Lila Downs’ concert at the National Auditorium.

Secretary of State Raquel Sosa and UC Irvine professor Mariana Botey accompanied me. Because of Ms. Sosa’s connections to Mexico City’s Mayor’s office, I was able to get a skybox seat – something I have never done before.

The place was packed, and very enthusiastically behind the Oaxacan/American singer who has transformed Mexican song, including indigenous and Afro-Mestizo numbers, into a style all her own.

I first became aware of Lila’s work around the time I moved back to LA from Chicago in the summer of 2000. When I helped open Tia Chucha's Cafe Cultural in December of 2001, Lila’s CDs were the main music we featured in our sound system. I was even able to interview her for the Progressive Magazine and our very own Chicano Internet magazine, Xispas.

But until the Mexico City concert, I had never seen her perform live before.

I was immensely moved at the scale and scope of her vision, at her talent and enormous stage presence. She included in her show a Mariachi, Son Jarocho musicians, a Cumbia band, a Mexican brass band, and more. The music flowed between indigenous Mixteco songs, to tropical big city numbers, to rancheras, to Mexican coastal music influenced by African slaves during the colonial period.

She also performed my favorite from her CDs from when we played them in those early years of Tia Chucha’s – "Arenita Azul."

Her voice is extraordinarily robust and invigorating. She doesn’t just sing, she moves, the dances, she smiles. At some point, I actually came to tears – listening to music my mother used to play at home when I was a youngster. The Mariachi group even played a beautiful rendition of “Mexico Lindo,” the Miguel Aceves Mejia classic that I loved so much growing up.

Something within me always sings of Mexico. When I’m here, among these relatives on “the other side,” I’m reminded of the complexity and vitality of the people, the culture, and the history. It’s still mine, even with a whole life spent in the United States – I just end up carrying it all. It’s in my bones, in my skin, in my heart.

Lila Downs, a Mexican/American in her own right, truly does this for me like no one else. A borderless soul, she also taps into the deep veins of this profoundly layered land.
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In the Sierra Madre...

A close friend of mine, Jeff Biggers, has written a fascinating book, "In the Sierra Madre," published this fall by the University of Illinois Press. The Sierra Madre in Mexico is one of the world's best known mountain ranges; books and movies have been written about it, most famously by B. Traven ("The Treasure of the Sierra Madre").

Jeff spent a year on the western side of the Mother Range (the Sierra Madre Occidental) where some 80,000 Raramuri (Tarahumara) indigenous people live in the stark, craggy, and pine-infested canyons known as La Barranca de Cobre (The Copper Canyon). He was there with Carla Paciotto, his long-time girlfriend, and now wife, who was studying bilingual processes with the Mexican educational system and the Raramuri.

This book is a well-written, engaging, and respectful account of that year in Jeff's life. Many explorers, mostly from Europe and the US, including luminaries like Carl Lumholz, Antonin Artaud, and others, have written extensively about their time here for more than 100 years. Jeff's contribution to this literature should stand as a compelling modern-time update.

I first met Jeff through my friend Priscilla Aydelott when he directed the Flagstaff Literary Festival. Priscilla first brought me into the Navajo rez to talk to students, activists, teachers, and spiritual guides in 1996. At first, I spent most of my time in the Monument Valley area and surrounding communities. I've been coming to the rez every year since, including now with my teacher/elder Anthony Lee and his family in Lukachukai.

Then in 1999, after Jeff and Carla had already spent a good period of time among the Raramuri, I went down there to find my indigenous roots. My mother's family is from Chihuahua. Her mother and grandmother were Raramuri women who left the Sierra Tarahumara during the Mexican revolution and ended up in Chihuahua City. I still have a photo of my great-grandmother in a Raramuri-style long print dress, taken in the 1920s.

I wanted to see if I could find out more or less where my grandmother and great-grandmother had come from. I felt compelled to connect to this part of my history and ancestral waters.

Jeff and Carla were the perfect hosts for my ten days in the Sierra Tarahumara; Erik Bitsui, a Navajo friend of both Jeff and I, also went along. They introduced us to some important Raramuri teachers, musicians, poets, and friends. We walked for hours in the 7,000 to 9,000 foot canyons. I received a hand-made chapareke, an ancient Raramuri stringed instrument, by one of the few masters still playing it. We even slept in one of the caves. Some of these encounters appear in Jeff's book.

The Raramuri, who are normally reticient to strangers (whom they call chabochis) began to embraced me when I told them I was looking for my roots. One woman said, rather sadly, "that's good -- for those Raramuri who have left, hardly anyone ever comes back."

I visited the cave dwellings of many of these people, as well as their log and stone huts near the isolated and sparse corn fields that most live by (without government support, in many cases they are literally starving).

I hope to write about this experience in the future. But for now, you'll get wonderful background material, a kind of cultural travelogue, and literary/historical lessons about the region in Jeff's book.

The most moving story of my trip involved an old couple, hidden far into the canyons. One man began to see a resemblance in my face (darkened by hours in the sun) to a family he thought might be related to my grandmother and great-grandmother.

We drove a long time, in a four-wheel drive vehicle Jeff owned, to this wood-log house. The old man and woman who lived there greeted us in Raramuri. Inside their home, they offered us seats. Through an interpreter (the couple did not speak Spanish), they heard my story about looking for "family." They might have thought I was homeless. Just the same, the old woman looked at me, with a sweet smile, and said, "we'll be his family." Those words brought me to tears.

I recommend anyone in the LA area to visit with Jeff Biggers this Thursday, October 26 at 6:30 PM at Tia Chucha's Cafe Cultural, the bookstore/cafe/cultural center I helped created in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. For more info go to our website at or call 818-362-7060.

You will be in for a great story of witness and change among the Raramuris.
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The Indigenous is Strong in Mexico

Despite years of genocide (in some cases, 95 percent of indigenous people perished within 50 years of the Spanish conquest), the indigenous values, traditions, tongues, and people are strong and growing stronger in Mexico.

Mexico has more traditional, full-blooded indigenous people than any other country in the Americas. While there are more indigenous people percentage wise in countries like Guatemala and Bolivia, the sheer numbers of reportedly traditional indigenous people in Mexico outnumber the numbers of natives in those countries. In Mexico, it's between 10 to 20 million people. This is about 10 to 20 percent of the 100 million people who populate the country. Yet, I contend that most Mexicans are still indigenous.

While it's true that mestizaje occurred in the more then 500 years since Cortez first entered Mexico, this has largely occurred in the major cities. Most Mexicans still have the brown faces, eyes, and hair of their indigenous ancestors.

Here's an interesting statistic -- reportedly there were 60 percent full-blooded indigenous people at the start of Mexico's struggle for independence from Spain (1810-1821). Many Spanish stopped coming in large numbers after that. But by the 1910 Mexican Revolution, there were 40 percent indigenous people -- even with no more major Spanish populations to draw from. Today it's estimated to be 10 percent indigenous people.

The fact of the matter is, most mestizaje happened between native peoples from various tribes. It was more about the process of becoming Mexicanos, not so much mestizos.

Yes, it's true that there are many people of all races in Mexico -- whites not only from Spain but from Ireland, Germany, France, and the US. There were also Arabs, particularly after the break up of the Ottoman Empire, as well as Filipinos and Malaysians who came in the tens of thousands (especially when Spain controlled those areas). Japanese and Chinese also emigrated here. And there were apparently more African slaves brought into Mexico than there were Spanish settlers (around 300,000 to 150,000 at the height of their numbers).

I understand there has been a long history of mixing of races and cultures.

But none of this obliterated or even involved the majority of indigenous people. The de-Indianization of Mexico is mostly due to the removal of people from their lands, their traditions, and languages (which can be called mexicanization). Still, today there are some 240 languages and their variants spoken in Mexico.

The indigenous is still strong -- and deep -- whether one claims to be native or not.

When I was in Mexico from October 7 to 12 for Mexico City's Sixth Book Fair (Feria del Libro) this was most evident in the people in the main plaza or zocalo. Native people shared their wares on most corners, some in native dress. Many Mexicans have been learning the Mexika (Aztec) dances, held every day and evening in the zocalo since 1978.

I was also there when 10,000 mostly indigenous people from Oaxaca (Mixtecos, Zapotecas, and other tribes) marched into the capital in protest of voter fraud and extreme repression from the PAN-PRI united government in this southern state -- one of the most indigenous in all of Mexico.

I was also able to visit the Templo Mayor, discovered in 1978 during the burrowing for the Metro subway system. This and other ruins have been found beneath parts of the central city. The Spanish conquerors had destroyed almost all remnants of the Mexika/Aztec culture, even using stone bricks from their temples to build the Cathedral and other buildings. Many colonial homes and structures were built on top of the old Mexika temples and other structures.

Now many of these ruins are being excavated.

Just a week or two before I arrived, Mexican archaelogists discovered one of the largest Mexika monoliths ever, next to the Templo Mayor. Found on October 2, the rectagular monolith measures 13 feet on its largest side (the renowned circular Mexika Calendar monolith, found in 1790, has a diameter of 12 feet).

The Secretary of Culture of the Federal District of Mexico City, Raquel Sosa, invited me and other Feria del Libro participants, to a special tour of the Templo Mayor, with talks from the main Templo engineer and the director of the Templo Mayor museum. We were able to actually stand on the temple floor, something tourists and other guest don't get to do (there is a catwalk that goes around the temple floor where they can view the remaining walls and artifacts).

They also took us to the excavation area of the most recently discovered monolith, although we couldn't see it since it was covered as protection from the humidity, rain, and debris as they continued to carefully remove it from its resting place.

It was an extreme honor for me to witness this.

The indigenous is important for me because of my own indigenous roots from Mexico.

I also have strong ties to Mexika/Mayan and other indigenous groups in the US, as well, of course, with Native Americans. Every year for around ten years, my wife Trini and I (often with my two youngest boys, my daughter, granddaughter, and members of our sweat lodge circle in the San Fernando Valley ) go to the Navajo Reservation near the Chuskas mountains in a small rez town called Lukachukai. Our family was adopted by Medicine man and elder Anthony Lee and his family. We go for ceremonies and to visit our adopted brothers and sisters as well as Anthony and his wife, Delores. We made this visit again this past September.

This has become a renewing source for me, there with the Navajos, who call themselves the Dine. But, as Anthony has always told us, this was not meant to make "Navajos" out of us. It has, however, helped us get closer to our own indigenous roots and traditions from Mexico. We are all related, as the Lakota say. Especially since migrations between North American natives, Mexican natives, and South American natives had been going on for tens of thousands of years.

Borders came along (most through conquests) and have divided us. We go into Navajoland as people without borders, who recognize our ancestral roots and ties, and still find a spiritual connection to these ancient people and ancient lands.

So for me, Mexico is going back to the motherland. Being born in the US and having US citizenship doesn't change that. It doesn't mean divided allegences -- that's the fears of the narrow minded and unimaginative. I have ties to these lands, both in the US and Mexico, as long as anyone's. That doesn't make me better than anyone else. Nor does this give me any special privileges. It does mean that I belong here. I'm no stranger. No "foreigner." No "illegal." I'm home.
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Death of an Indigenous Elder

Don Luis Martinez was a local mechanic in the Chicago barrio of Pilsen for many years. A hard-working man with long ties in the community and in Mexico, he was also more than that -- he was en elder in the Mexikayotl native traditions of Mexico. Around ten years ago, he gave me my Mexika/Nahuatl name, Xikome Tochtli, in a beautiful ceremony in my back yard -- with my family and the Blazquez family (all four of whom also received their names that day) and a few friends.

Today, after a painful bout with cancer, Don Luis Martinez (also known as Macuilxochitl) passed on to the ancestors. I received the email with this news from Frank Blazquez (Tekpaltzin) about an hour ago.

I will also cherish his work, his teachings, and the gift he bestowed on me. Xikome Tochtli means Seven Rabbit (Siete Conejo). It comes from a reading of the Mexika Sun Stone Calendario (the so-called Aztec Sun Stone), which is very accurate and still used today in parts of the US and Mexico.

This year also happens to be the year of Xikome Tochtli (also spelled as Chicome Tochtli) in the Mexika calendar.

I'm honored to have integrated myself to my ancestral roots -- I'm Mexika/Raramuri -- and to have had such teachers and fellow sojourners on my own spiritual path.

This has helped me stay sober, continue to be a decent father and husband, and to give back to my community with Tia Chucha's Bookstore, Cafe & Cultural Center, which has workshops in all the arts, including Aztec Dance, a bookstore, cafe, cyber cafe, and performance space. My wife Trini and I also belong to a Sweat Lodge circle in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, and we go to ceremonies every year on the Navajo Rez. And these ways have helped me with my talks, readings, and workshops around the US, Latin America, Europe (and, in November, Asia) that I've done for around 25 years.

Thank you, Don Luis -- may your spirit find its eternal peace and resting place. My prayers go with you on your journey.

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Response to my blog post

I received this email as a response to my blog post "Chicano to Chilango." I will post some of these responses from time to time so people can see the level and extent of dialogue we're having -- most of it is good. But dialogue is dialogue, good or bad. I'm glad there are responses.

Dear Luis,

just read your blog, and I find it surprising that you still rather live here where you are so, oh, oppressed. Maybe you should move to the mexico you love so much. As you know, they love pochos over there.

I guarantee you one day English will be the official language here, just as Spanish is in Mexico--not nahuatl, otomi or any other indian shit. Spanish.

My friend,

I'm sorry you feel that way. I actually live here for many good reasons, but also because it's best to fight oppression where it stems from -- still I don't let it stop me from achieving any of my goals (I'm a renowned writer, a home owner, a business owner -- things I achieved through my own efforts).

As for Mexico, they don't treat me as a pocho. I still speak good Spanish and I know the people and the land. I also have family ties there. No borders, remember?

And I speak a few words in indigenous tongues.

You apparently are limited to English, with no knowledge of Spanish or native idioms. Being that I'm Mexika/Raramuri, being that I'm native, I wouldn't dare call these beautiful languages anything bad. Why close off to the richness of this world?

You apparently love the European tongues more. Hey I can speak English and Spanish, both languages of conquerors and colonialists. So what. I can do that and more.

If the US makes English the official language, fine. It's a wrong decision (this country has done many wrong things). I will continue to stand for what's right (it's also done many right things -- I can tell the difference).

And I don't have to forget what I really am. I can traverse many worlds. You apparently are stuck in one.

Too bad.

You also don't give your name. What are you afraid of? My given name is Luis Rodriguez. My indigenous name is Xikome Tochtli.

I will stand by my words.

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