April 13, 2009

Conversations from the Edge ~ (of understanding)

photos courtesy of Jessica Espinoza

Jessica Espinoza is a wonderful friend I met online on a women's social network!

Everyone who reads this blog regularly or even once in a while knows I fly by the seat of my pants, am liberal and opinionated. I say things like "Stay out of my bed room and my gynecological exams" and, well, Jessica doesn't.

We differ in our views but Jessica and I also have common ground.

As we forge ahead into an era of alleged transparency and marked communication with an agenda of understanding and peace, Jessica and I sat down to unravel a few things while advancing ourselves in an effort to expand and free our minds ~

Have a read and share and learn and have patience with those around you, you just might learn something AND gain a friend!!!

THANKS Jessica for being open and embracing and genuine!


1.Our President has urged for transparency and his pick for Attorney General Eric Holden has announced us to be a "nation of cowards" where race relations are concerned. Tell us your feelings about that?

I think the President's call for transparency doesn't really have anything to do with the Attorney General's comment. I think that the Attorney General's comment had to with race. While Obama's comment about transparency was to give a sense of comfort to Americans concerning what is happening in Washington D.C.

Now with that said, Mister Holder's comment was correct in the essence that "Yes" race relations probably should be put out on the table. But, in the same breathe the term "Cowards" I believe and felt was directed towards only one group. Which causes an even greater gap then what we have. The issues of racism and prejudice are felt by all. Not just one group or another. There is a very rampant and media accepted double standard on the issue of race. People want to talk about it and move on, but worry and are in afraid of getting to that point. Afraid to be called racist,afraid to be "Not Politically Correct" and therefore the conversations are not happening.

President Obama's promise of transparency, like I stated above, was to give a sense of comfort. Whether it was a true statement remains to be seen. I personally agree with the Administration that a website needs to be out there, the information needs to be out there so the People can see what the government is doing. We should be watching them, not them watching us. The Obama administration still has yet to exercise this proposed policy. Considering the crisis that we are in and the details surrounding the Stimulus Bill's and Budgets, I feel, this is a huge mistake and betrayal. But that's just how I feel.

2.You, like the President, have a bi-racial background. How has that shaped you and what direction would you like to see the country go in terms of race?

I am not sure how to answer that question. On how it shaped me.

Growing up a half white/half Mexican in a barrio in Houston,Texas, I can honestly say, was not easy. There are alot of bi-racial and multi-racial families out there that live in very accepting environments. Bi-racial and multi-racial kids with very loving accepting parents that were able to help them understand who they are.
Everyone's experiences in life are different. Some are not so lucky.

I think growing up how I did and going through some of things that I went through, like the "Double standard" racism...It showed me that all people fall prey to these horrible acts. But also that you don't have to fall into that cycle. No matter how you are raised,or where you grow up.

Most of the racism and prejudice that I witnessed was always directed to my mom(white), my siblings and myself. So I think that it really had an effect in the sense that I can,or at least try, to see all sides. From everything that I have learned, seen, and been through, I don't see any differences.

The only real way to make a difference with race in this country is for everyone to grow tougher skin and really talk about it. Or for parents,from all walks of life, to quit feeding their children cups of sorrow about who they are race wise. And instead, speak of the pride they should have in themselves and the respect they should have for other races,cultural, and religions. It is not just a Black and White issue.

It has to start in the home. This is not something that the government can fix. And we all need to quit putting that responsibility in their hands. Because it just does not work that way. The media and the government merely follow what is popular and what will win them votes, not what is right for all Americans.

3.As half Mexican background, tell us about your views on immigration reform. As half White, tell us about your views on immigration reform.

I don't think my racial background has anything to do with what I feel about immigration. I, as an American citizen, and one that lives so close to the border... that molds my opinions of the issue.

I think that it might have given me an advantage over most of those who support Pro-Immigration laws or open borders. It has allowed me to get much closer to many of the groups and their true beliefs about immigration and race. And being half white I think might have really opened my eyes to the more extreme part of the issue that most Mexicans and Mexican-Americans do not want to admit to(for fear of the backlash of being lumped with the extremist).

The border issue is not just an immigration issue. It is a human rights issue, it's a security issue, it's a crime issue. Many of the supporters would have the mainstream media believe that these are just people trying to find work to support their families, or trying to find better lives. And this is the case in some cases. But, in many cases the men that come here (if they are not criminals)only support their families in Mexico for a couple of years or so. Then build new lives with new families here thus causing the break down of the family structure in Mexico. Wives with 3,4,5 kids unable to pay taxes and bills. Losing their lands and homes. Having to divide the family or even put there children up for adoption,some abandoned, because there is no other way to survive. Which is just fine with the Mexican government, actually most of the "Illegal" immigration is encouraged by the Mexican government(they have a bus system set up that takes illegal right to the border). Once the families are broken up they can then go in and take the property to sell of to resorts, large corporate farms, logging companies,etc.
(http://www.artcamp.com.mx/venga/ This is ONE site for the families that are looking for their husbands and fathers.)

Many of the "Illegals" are brought over by the Lobos (human smugglers), and the cartels. They get them across the border and leave them to die in locked trucks,freight cars,pack twenty or thirty of them into a one bedroom apartment take their clothes, and hold them hostage for more money from the families back in Mexico. All of that plus the current crisis on the border which has been building for years. The kidnapping of hundreds of Mexican-American citizens,US citizens, the mass graves (http://amigosdemujeres.org/), tortures/murder of innocent people. One incident here recently the cartels killed and be-headed 8 men...left the bodies and the heads on the steps of an Elementary school. There are some major issues that much of the media and many groups like La Raza (The Race) do not want you to know. Many of the groups that are pushing for pro-immigration and a stop to the raids are groups that believe that whites,blacks, anybody not Mexican should leave what they call "Aztlan" so that it might be Reconquered (NO Joke)http://www.illegalaliens.us/aztlan.htm & http://www.mayorno.com/WhoIsMecha.html.

I belief in securing the borders not just for us here on the borders,but for the safety of all citizens of the US and those Mexicans involved who are innocent pawns of the greed of government and of crime. And that has nothing to do with what race I am, but the fact that I am an American citizen and this is how we should all look at it.

I highly recommend people to do their research in about the consequences of an open border. Not just what will affect the States but how it also affects the Mexican citizens.

I could honestly go on forever. Sorry.

4.Tell us about the self-education of Jessica?

I have always been curious about world events, politics, and history. Ever since I was little, literally.

My mom would get upset with me when I would bring a newspaper to the table and wanted to talk about something that might be happening in the world outside our small packed house. The fact that I loved to read, and that, well, there was just no privacy.(I shared the only other room in the house with my little brother and sister, and an occasionally cousin). I was the oldest out of 20 grand kids on one side. So reading was an escape. The things that I had to face on daily basis made me want to educate myself beyond what I was being taught. I didn't want to live in the box that was the barrio/ghetto. I wanted to be better than what I had been born into. And the only way, for me, was to learn everything I could whether I agreed with the material or not. That's the only way to truly learn, and to truly come into your own. At least for me it was. I picked every book that I could find, read every book that I wasn't suppose to or that was taboo(In fourth grade I read a bio on Adolf Hitler, let's just say that did not go over well in my family).

I always had a group of people around me or that I hung out with that was diverse. And I just took it all in. But not just a sponge. I still had to put things in a certain order to see how very different things fit together, must have been the ADD.
I mean that is what I physically am, two different pieces to one huge puzzle that fits together. We all are.

5. How would you like to see the issue of race handle in schools?

All the hate I faced made me want to learn,"Why". Why do people hate, and continue to hate.

Much of what I know, especially about my Latino heritage, I had to learn myself. In High School much of the Literature taught was African-American literature. Like Toni Morris and Maya Angelo, which I loved. Then the other like 40% was Victorian period literature (boring). But as a child of mixed heritage it makes you feel like "Why Am I not important enough"...not important enough to maybe bring in some Latino/Hispanic literature. It kinda makes you feel worthless. There are students of all cultures in the class rooms, and besides even if it was a class of only Black students or White students, or whatever why would you only teach one thing to those students how do we expect them to see the beauty and similarities in other cultures if you only teach them about their race or culture.

I just don't believe in separating out groups into different classes. Like Black History class or Chicano studies.

Our country was born on being a melting pot. The only way to be proud of who you are is to first be proud to be an American, and then to be proud of your racial, cultural, or religious background. I feel it is the only way to truly connect everyone together. But for some reason that is no longer being taught in the class rooms. If you teach first that we are the same and have students connect on that level, then people in general are more willing to work through their differences.

6.What about religion?

If you are asking what role has religion played in my life and how does that affect my view of the world?

That was also very diverse. My mother's side never really went to church. But on my father's side they were devote Baptist. They had converted from Catholicism when my dad was young. My grandfather had one of the first Spanish speaking churches on the North side of Houston.

Imagine a 100 lb, when he was wet maybe, 5' tall soft spoken Mexican man. And when he stood behind that pulpit the voice of God erupted from that little man, who suddenly seemed 6' tall. And even though you had no idea what he was saying in Spanish you were sure you had sinned.

Everyone one has different spiritual experiences,(even atheist). Growing up in the Latino/Hispanic communities you see different things, practices, that people were doing. Herbs for healing. Things like that.

I remember once our neighbors from Mexico, the mom was pregnant and was feeling ill for weeks. They called a Catholic priest who rubbed an egg on her, cracked it open, to find it full of blood. He told her she had lost the baby, sure enough she immediately went to the doctor and that is what happened. I think this with other experiences drove me to want to understand these things.

Later, in life I found out the reasons for such practices. The colonizations of the Americans and the conversions of Black and American Indians slaves that still held onto their pagan cultural. Only to entertwine all the religions together.

I have witnessed and studied Wicca, Voodoo, Santeria, Macumba, and varies other pagan religions.

I studied them. I learned them. But, I never truly practiced them. I am a Christian. I can be no other religion. I have ran from it for such a long time and still it is always there for me. It is apart of who I am the same as all other religions be it Islam or Satanic worship, is for someone else. I think that the true nature of Christianity is to accept people for who the are and to live as God as said to live and let your life be the witness to others of what you believe. Not to force upon others what you believe. Whether you are a Christian or an Atheist, we can all still coexist.

7.You have some very interesting ideas about communication and verbalizing differences and cohesion, discuss that concept.

I don't really see how those are interesting ideas. I like to think of them as "Common Sense". We all ask ourselves and the very world we live in, WHY! Whether we ask out of curiosity or anger, we ask it. It is a fundamental question that has driven human kind to the very depths of modern civilization as it is today. When we stop asking that question we have regressed. People become angry, frustrated, depressed, I think it is more so being lazy. But we can not give up on that very instinct that has made us human.When we ask why after being mad for so long at an argument, we begin a process of communication, verbalization, and in order to truly communicate we also have to listen. This is what I feel we have lost. An ability to listen and communicate properly.

It's not just an idea, it's about being human. The understanding. The cohesion of different ideas and people comes after we ask that question the "Why" and start listening and understanding the answers.

I think people, as too satisfied with being spoon feed what they should think go from "Why" to "Okay, that's what I was taught so that is what I believe" and you just agree, instead of asking why do you agree. Or asking "Why" you disagree. It is a break down of this simple idea that has eroded away our very need to communicate with each other. Instead, we go from being human beings to being a herd. A herd that follows without question. It affects our very ability to progress as humans and as Americans.

8.You once mentioned to me that though we have distinct differences our ability to dialogue and educate one another was very important, why?

There is nothing wrong with celebrating individualism. But when that individualism turns from pride and celebration to something more sinister as hate and division then there exists a true problem. A very good example is America. Where fundamentally we have the freedoms to think and practice what we choose to. If we first just for one moment wipe away the ideas of what makes me different from you, you from me, and said "We are Americans first" and then whatever second we would be able to open dialogue.

No country or civilization has ever had a history that was clean of violence,hatred, or atrocities.

Through all the history of humanity atrocities have plagued one people or another.

This is just a simple fact. Pain does not belong to just one group of people. Pain is a human condition. Tragedy is human condition. But the ability to acknowledge that does not seem to exist anymore. The ability to question "Why" does not exist. Our dialogue consists of hate, pointing fingers, and the oh so kindergarten name calling.

You and I are another example. We have questioned each other "Why" why do we feel or see such things in a way and it has opened a dialogue. But I think that started with a similarity in spiritual beliefs. Once we get rid of our proverbial boxes and sit and talk we begin the communication process that leads to...maybe not to completely agree, but at least the understanding begins.

9.Tell me how you see the liberal and conservatives coming together for the good of our country.

Very simply through acknowledging that we are all Americans here. And that our founding fathers gave us the fundamental rights that we need to be free. The same rights that give the extremist on BOTH sides their rights to voice their opinions and grievances. The same rights that ultimately will hold us together as a country. It just takes people on both sides of the aisle to see and use it. Every group, cause, and issue has it's extremist. And to stop listening to the extremist and to start listening to their common sense.

But I think that ultimately what can bring the Liberals and Conservatives together are people like you and I who are willing to take it one issue at a time and look for the common ground to stand on. There can never just be only way to fix problem or do something. We are diverse in nature for a reason. We just really need to acknowledge the common ground as well.


What a great experience talking with Jessica!!!


Olive Tree Guitar Ensemble said...

Hi, it's a very great blog.
I could tell how much efforts you've taken on it.
Keep doing!

Houseonahill said...

Olive Tree Guitar Ensemble,

Your blog is very great as well.

I am very honored and humbled that you stopped here to read!

Please stay in touch, I would LOVE to have you as a guest here soon!

Warm regards,


Tom said...


a lot of what Jessica had to say made sense to me, in particular paragraphs 6 and 7

inevitably, paragraph six triggered ANOTHER post on my blog, which I posted last night (after a full bottle of wine) and tweaked this morning ..

you may remember that I previously wrote an article about communication, which ties into paragraph 7

Jessica has some good thoughts, and I'm delighted that you shared them with your "viewing audience"

I also enjoy the occasional interview format, since it adds diversity to your "life on line"


Houseonahill said...

Thanks Tom!

CHECK TOM OUT HERE: http://tohell-andback.blogspot.com/2009/04/give-me-that-old-time-religion.html

Houseonahill said...

JE just shared this with me, prefacing it with: WHO IS JOHN GALT? I am are you???

Have fun with it ~