Women’s March on Washington D.C. (Chicago Version)

Being part of this epic movement of women and people across the world marching to battle racism, hatred, sexism, misogyny and xenophobia, I felt energized. Like in the past, I’ve felt united with my people, however this massive event makes the other protests look small. I saw people of all ages walking, chanting, singing some Aretha Franklin songs and capturing the moment. Of course, though, the signs were the best. We saw Carrie Fisher make an appearance, men reminding everyone that they can be feminists, too and of course the epic Shepard Fairey posters that came in every size.

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Justice Sotomayor: ‘Don’t be afraid to fail’

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor made a pit stop at the Harold Washington Library on Wednesday evening to speak about her new best-selling memoir, “My Beloved World,” one of the very few completely free events offered to the public, stated Mayor Rahm Emanuel in his introduction.

The event drew a crowd of approximately 750 people, many of whom stood in line for tickets since 2 p.m. though the event began at 6 p.m. in the Winter Garden located on the ninth floor of the library.

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Hon. Sonia Sotomayor peeks out from behind the wall during Mayor Emanuel’s introduction.

“I don’t know any other justice that would get this kind of turnout,” said Emanuel, “[but] it’s just a testament to why the president selected her.”

During her speech, Sotomayor talked about her life as a child, her relationship with her parents, overcoming challenges, taking risks and how she finds her center as a person with Type 1 diabetes.

“She’s brought a heartbeat to the Supreme Court,” said the mayor.

Sotomayor, 58, walked on stage thanking the public for attending the event and began by explaining how books, reading and libraries helped  her get over her father’s death when she was a child. She then began discussing the process of writing her book and how her memoir was different than other justices’. “Just talking about the data of my life wasn’t going to touch people,” she said.

In a radio interview with Maria Hinojosa from Latino USA, Sotomayor admitted that it was a question about her childhood from Hinojosa that got her memoir ball rolling.

In a somewhat rehearsed speech, the  author’s most basic piece of advice was ridding oneself of fear and attempting new things, regardless of age, sex or background. Her first read excerpt had to do with mentor-ship and seeing someone do what she wanted to do. It was a confirmation of possibilities, she said, seeing someone like her succeed. “It’s not the idea of reaching a dream,” she said, “but what you can do is enjoy the process of trying.”

Her insight clearly came from the life she lead and even if audience members hadn’t read the book yet, the positive attitude and self-help aspects seeped from her speech. “I disclosed every fear I’ve ever had in this book,” she admitted. “Despite the fear, I just keep going.”

Another piece of advice she repeated: Ask for help. In an NPR interview she explained that she had done it various times while growing up and again while writing the memoir. Sotomayor said she had various trusted readers and experienced writers giving her advice, asking questions and helping shape what this memoir has become. “Most of us fail at what we do because we don’t ask for help when we’re doing it,” she said.

Hon. Sonia Sotomayor walks around the room answering questions from the audience. | Photo Amor Montes de Oca
Hon. Sonia Sotomayor walks around the room answering questions from the audience. | Photo Amor Montes de Oca

Her goal while writing  was to create the best story she could to get her points across. “You try to tell an engaging story,” she said. “You hope that through your stories, people see your messages.”

A clear message that she has expressed since her time in the Supreme Court is that people of the United States should be educated about the differences that exist among the people in the country and work to find the commonalities. A perspective shared in her book expressed this idea and had to do with living in housing projects in New York. She explained that many people have shaped opinions that those living in the projects are drug dealers and criminals. Instead, she shared that she saw “honorable lives filled with a lot of integrity.”

“I wanted the world to see my world,” she explained.

That world includes her chronic disease. Her book begins with the story of being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, something she said, took her time to accept. “It takes a long time to forgive your body,” she said. “I work very hard at finding my center. [I know that] if I feel good, I’ll do more. That goes for everyone.”

There were minimal points about her work as a justice, although she did say that it was harder than she had expected it to be. With that, Sotomayor also stated that she has faced adversity in her position as a Supreme Court justice. “As far as we’ve come, we still have a long way to go to create equality in this society,” she said. “We got to do it together.”

It was clear by the end of her talk that her life had found its balance and spreading the word is her goal. Her secret to success? Not letting fear stop her. “Don’t be afraid to fail,” she said. “Taking risks becomes a little easier.”

NATO Summit protests in Chicago

For those of you who live in Chicago, you’ll know that NATO brought a tad bit of fear, chaos and traffic jams to the city. Over two days, world leaders met with the Obamas and with Rahm Emanuel who carries the hopes of spiking Chicago’s tourism in the years to come by approximately $1 billion. It’s amazing what showing off the skyscrapers can do.

While first ladies were being given tours of the Art Institute and Barack Obama was hosting a working lunch at Soldier Field, protesters from around the United States took to the streets to protest everything from home foreclosures to the end of the Iraq and Afghan wars. The most moving of the week-long event (the one which I missed) had to be Sunday’s protest where a group of war veterans gave back their medals in anger and outrage that the war hasn’t yet come to an end. The protests went well into the night, causing a clash at McCormick Place between some anarchistic protesters and the Chicago Police Department.

In the following photos that I took Monday morning/afternoon, you will see the amount of security on the city’s streets. This is what a militaristic society may look like with beetles walking around. Hopefully, here in Chicago we will never know. Needless to say, they hauled out everyone from Homeland Security to the Secret Service. In a few photos, you will see white vans lined up along Jackson Avenue and Loomis Street. You’ll also see the Chevy trucks lined up on the street outside of the Federal Building downtown. Relatively quiet, the marchers didn’t make their way into the downtown area until around noon and by the time I left, were gathered on Randolph Street near Millennium Park.

After a week-long protest calendar, it was observed that many of the protesters out Monday were of the younger generation. Melissa Howe, a native of Chicago, said that she had always wanted to get involved in Occupy Chicago but hadn’t and thought the NATO Summit would be a good time. Which made me question what she was protesting. As a student in Pennsylvania, the only thing I could imagine would be banks on the premise of high student loans in the future. A New Yorker with a guitar, Stephen Clark, 23, said that he had come out because the capitalistic society that we live in had taken over the music industry in a way that allowed for subliminal messages and bad music to get on the radio waves. “The music industry is ruled by the one percent,” he said. Clark studied music in New York. You will also see photos of him below.

People vs. Police

While many wanted to blame the police for issues, Monday’s protest was peaceful. There were people recording and stating that the CPD were members of the militaristic state while others were telling the officers that they had to respect the protesters because “we pay your salaries.” Take into consideration, the officers were not doing anything that heeded this insight. While standing in place while the organizers of Occupy Chicago spoke to the group, some sitting, officers could be overheard talking to each other saying things like, “You know what’s funny? These kids have better phones than I do,” and while chants emerged from the crowd to the extent of “F*ck Obama” one officer was overheard saying, “But you’re still going to vote for him.”

While many extreme protesters came out to recreate 1968’s National Democratic Convention, more called for a solitary movement, understanding that it was necessary to stand together. One would have to think that the CPD at this point, are a little more level-headed. Yet, I may be overestimating. With officers there to keep watch and maintain peace, protesters were in no way limited to what they could say. In the same sense, the CPD also have to keep in mind that it wasn’t too long ago when they were having their own fight with the king of Chicago. A couple of years ago, Daley had a hard time negotiating with the CPD over their contracts and while I may be suffering from an economic crisis, I’m not putting my life on the line every day. In support for our 17,000 police officers, it’s only fair, isn’t it?

There are more similarities than differences among the CPD and those protesting. Just like everything else, opinions will be different from one person to the next, but pinning one group of people against the other just doesn’t work. Chicago has every right to protect its city and if we have to pull everyone out to do it, so be it. There were plans for Molotov cocktails to be thrown at four police stations Obama’s headquarters and Rahm Emanuel’s home. Good thing they got those guys.

Please note, these photos are not edited. I wanted to get them out as soon as possible.

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Copyright 2012 Christina E. Rodriguez
Photos cannot be used without the written consent of the photographer.

What you have… What you don’t…

You don’t have to worry about asking me where I’ve been. If you haven’t seen me here, you’ve seen me at chicagonow.com/livingwithdiabetes. I blog for ChicagoNOW about diabetes. Cool, huh?

Anyway, the other day, I was listening to a rant. It was a long, intricate, detailed rant about the Chicago Public Schools system. This person went into detail about how their kid wasn’t being helped to the extent that was possible for the school. They talked about going to the principal, therapists, special ed teachers, writing letters, the whole shebang. This was an educated individual, to say the least, and very knowledgeable on CPS.

After it was all over, she admitted to not knowing a few things that people had to explain to her– ways to work with the system and go about getting to the right people. And out loud I said, “Can you imagine the people who don’t know those things?” And it took me into thought about all those people who are ignorant to systems, language, literacy, or just plain knowing who to talk and they let their children slip through the cracks of our ridiculous education system.

Chicago has the shortest school day and shortest school year in the nation, which is horrendous. I think it’s important for children to be in school longer, something that Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel is putting into effect. The more you learn, the more protection you will have and the wiser you’ll be. Streets will be safer and children will be more likely to go to college. Children’s brains and minds will develop and families will learn how to work with their struggling students. It’s not always about the kid.

Right now, people don’t know. They also don’t know that they don’t know. Get it? It’s like walking in a large room and you’re supposed to do something but don’t know what. There are a million people but you don’t know which person to talk to. They told you to go into the room, but you’re not sure what you’re supposed to do once you get there. That’s how some things are in life and if you don’t know you’re supposed to do it, how are you supposed to know what to do?

This is the answer to a lot of questions out there: Why are Latinos dropping out of school? Why do they have children so young? Why don’t they want to go to college? Moreso, they can all be answered by the lack of education and knowledge.

Kids drop out of school because they don’t find it useful. Education has to evolve, which it’s clearly not doing. Latinos have kids in high school, because that is what came before them, that is what they see. If no one told them not to, why shouldn’t they?

I was talking to a mom here at my job. She’s 22 with two kids and she told me that coming to our agency was the first time she realized she wasn’t supposed to have a kid at 17. Everyone else around her had already had their children and her best friend at 21 has five kids. If that’s what you’re surrounded by, how are you supposed to know any different? She ended up dropping out of high school to take care of her daughter, but over the years got her GED and is now in college. It all worked out for her, but what about the other people out there? What about her friends who weren’t taught how to do things properly? Not even properly, but they weren’t shown how to make the best out of their young lives.

 Latinos don’t think college is valuable when they can get a job. Why pay someone for an education you won’t use, right? When you can go out into the world and make money, why waste your time in trying to learn more crap?

These are the issues we’re facing in schools and because many of these children come from immigrant communities, families don’t know who to ask or what to ask when searching for help. If their kids are in school, that’s good enough, right? The educational system is failing the students in both the short and long-term. Your educational system should bring out the importance of education, the chance to do things, the opportunities that can be realized right in front of your eyes.

There was a test done with children and candy. Each child received two pieces of small candy and were told that they could either eat those now and not get any more or they could wait two minutes and receive three more pieces of candy. Some kids found the correlation that if they wait they get more, where as others found that they would be satisfied instantaneously if they ate the candy they had.

I always say I’ll wait for the three other pieces. Children, teens and even young adults should be taught that taking the longer route may not be satisfying at the moment, but that it can reap more benefits with a little bit of time. But the interest needs to be there to keep these students engaged in what CAN be, not what is. And that’s where the school system and parents are failing.

We’re being held captive by Machines

I cannot express in words how disappointed I am to live in the city of Chicago. Yesterday, I was about to delete all my friends from Facebook if they couldn’t show me proof that they had voted in the municipal election. Oh! The horror! Because there were only three or four positions to actually vote for, the voting process took all of about two minutes, so what does that tell you? I probably would have been left with 10 friends.

According to the Chicago Board of Elections 41.73 percent of voters came out to voice their opinion yesterday on who should be the new mayor of Chicago. For those of you who don’t know, Chicago has had the same mayor for the past 21 years, starting his run in 1989. Richard M. Daley decided to step down leaving the door wide open for any person who felt they were good enough, strong enough, knowledgeable enough, to take over the position. Interestingly, you had a variety of people step up to the plate. From congressman, to preacher men, to lawyers and small business owners, a good two handfuls of possible candidates raised their hand and crossed the line into Chicago’s most powerful position, King of Chicago.

Face it, we’re known for our politics. The sketchy, ugly, under-the-table politics that have been around since Antonin Cermak in the 1930s. At that time it was better known as “I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine” mentality. He united all the different ethnic groups- Poles, Czechs, Ukranians, Italians and Blacks- and organized against the Irish who wouldn’t dream of having a Czech in office, which is what Cermak was. Oh how times have changed! That led to the Chicago Machine that we know of today, especially when he claimed the mayoral throne. And it all started in the 12th ward.

It’s still there. Yesterday, Jesse Iniguez lost his bout to becoming the next alderman of the 12th ward with hopes of killing off the last bits of the Hispanic Democratic Organization that clearly has done nothing for Latinos in this city, besides building its own mini machine. All of those people were backing Daley, keeping him in office, while they would get nice pay offs with “all the trimmings” as Carlos Hernandez Gomez states.

There are a few main players we should mention in this story. You have George Cardenas who is the incumbent and (not surprisingly?) will be starting his third term in the 12th ward this year. Then there’s Jose Guereca, whose job is a Streets and Sanitation truck driver. He was also a precinct captain for Cardenas. Then we have Tony Munoz, the state senator for the first district, and king of the area.

So the story goes like this. Cardenas was a Daley brown-noser, which was no surprise to anyone. He was fully backed by Munoz, until at some point, was found to not be able to take orders anymore and hence Munoz decided to back Guereca. By the way, Guereca was a fumbling idiot when he first started this run for alderman. By the time the community forum came around, he LOOKED like a Chicago politician; nice gray suit, jet black hair slicked back, bushy mustache. The guy looked like he was already in office. Not to mention that he had taken public speaking classes displayed by his Rahm-ish qualities like counting to three or four on his hand while pointing out how many ways he was going to make assessments and work with the community once he was in office. The guy had no political platform. If anything he was a little monkey placed on the stand to distract people from Cardenas. It didn’t work. Cardenas pulled off a win with 55 percent of the vote. Mind you, a little under 5,000 voters came out.

In a ward that is shaped like a Tommy gun, to say the least, the HDO candidate wins again. Why? We’re still trying to figure that out. Maybe because over 3,000 voters were over the age of 50 and could be swayed by free turkeys and street salt in the winter. Or, was it that they just didn’t know about Jesse and his platform to bring about a cleaner, safer, more educated ward? Or were all those people we contacted and polled before the election lying to us about who they were voting for?

What we do know was that inspectors and different voting posts were being sketchy. On February 21 there was a special election held at a nursing home. One of Jesse’s poll watchers who was supposed to be in there watching over everything was denied entrance, even though he had the proper credentials. The Board of Elections was called. Last night, as the ballots were being counted, one precinct was ready to deny tapes (or tallies) to the poll watchers and another had poll watchers stand outside while the tapes were being prepared. Who do these people report to? Tony Munoz.

For sure, we had believed that Jesse would be in a run off with Cardenas’ lying, cheating ass, but alas he wasn’t. As of yesterday, I have a plan to look into the numbers and find out just what happened. How could pre-voting day polls be so far off?

While I was sitting at the cigar-soaked VFW drinking a beer, I discussed looking into this a little more. The investigative journalist came out in me, as well as the freedom fighter, that my friend Teresa used to call me in college. “We’re going to make all of those people who voted for Jesse, hold Cardenas to his word and role as an alderman!” I said. I wanted to make all those people call him for any little thing they need or want. Revoke the permit parking! Fix the potholes! Bring more cops into the area! Give back the neighborhoods to the families! Cardenas doesn’t even live in the ward, just so you know.

We all cried last night. After putting in your hope and energy into something that’s going to save a community from itself, you can’t help but want to do something to change it. And to have found someone willing to change it, gaining such momentum, being recognized by so many other organizations while trucking forward, we all just thought that it would be a win in our favor. He was endorsed by both major newspapers, the Sierra Club, SEIU, “Chuy” Garcia, Rudy Lozano Jr. and Ricardo Munoz. Did anyone see that? Did anyone care?

But this only builds more momentum and more desire for things to change. You want to be my mayor? You want to be my alderman? Fine. I just hope you can keep up with what I want. I love this city, but I hate its politics. As a person who is optimistic and hopeful for better things ahead, I hope that Cardenas makes changes and Rahm makes moves like he says he will. I can only hope. But this is the beginning. The gears are already rolling in my head. Can I count on you to get yours rolling, too?

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,000 times in 2010. That’s about 7 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 43 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 158 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 148mb. That’s about 3 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was June 30th with 69 views. The most popular post that day was It’s All Subjective..

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were twitter.com, facebook.com, digg.com, slashingtongue.com, and iphone5g.net.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for blackhawks, it’s all subjective, la santa cecilia, and what happens if the dream act passes.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

It’s All Subjective. June 2010
7 comments

2

I got this email today. I didn’t forward it. You know why? May 2010
3 comments

3

Chicago is the city of bandwagons. Go Blackhawks! May 2010
1 comment

4

My Word. March 2010
2 comments

5

De Moi. March 2010
2 comments