I was sitting at a table at the Barrio Station, in San Diego’s Barrio Logan, next to a Chicana friend of mine, having a good time sipping the tastiest of whiskey sours while she nursed a smooth white wine.
In the background the music that was being sung and played was sounding ever so sublime. Among the selection was De Colores, a song of exquisitely mellow rhythm and rhyme, a song of love and that suited everybody just fine as we represented all the colors of the rainbow and had shown up in a spirit of love for a beautiful and worthy cause – to celebrate an organization that has served the needs of the children in this Barrio with an abundance of love for over 40 years without pause.
In such a festive atmosphere with delightful uplifting corridas filling the air I couldn’t help but drift into a Barrio State of Mind. And with all the enthusiastic applause and napkin waving and shouts of appreciation for the many distinguished benefactors who were being honored that evening for their contributions to Barrio Station, I also couldn’t help but think of Tucson, the city of my birth, and Arizona, at large, where Latinos are presently being bombarded with hateful attitudes in the form of vicious anti-immigration legislation and devastating laws that have eliminated Mexican American Studies. My mind played with this contrast to the outpouring of love and caring and respect for La Raza that permeated the room.
I mean, on the one hand in this hope inspiring gathering, a non-profit community based organization was giving thanks to a host of corporations and businesses and individuals and agencies and foundations for coming to their rescue in hard economic times and, on the other hand, just a few hundred miles away a people are rocked at the core of their being as a curriculum that has served them so well is destroyed, its funding withdrawn, before their very eyes.
In one place a people’s brown-ness, if you will, is revered and embraced with congratulations and salutations and in another place dreams are deferred with lies and insinuations, folks enduring racist xenophobic fears and false accusations that they are attempting to elevate the brown race over all other races.
And just think, San Diego’s Barrio Station and Tucson’s Mexican American Studies have pretty much the same mission in mind: helping young people find a direction in life that will enable them to reach their maximum potential so that they can enhance the quality of their life and contribute in positive ways to their immediate community and their world at large.
The Barrio Station has pulled such thinking off brilliantly for decades and the Mexican American Studies program has done likewise in less than two decades, developing in its students an understanding and appreciation of historic and contemporary Mexican American contributions to society and preparing them to become dynamic confident leaders in the 21st Century. But, mercy me, they’ve been stymied by craziness that has run amuck.
Well, fortunately, such thoughts ran through my mind briefly as I was having such a good time with new and old friends of mine, but they did rise nonetheless and in the moments they did so I wished that people from my home state and hometown could have just sat down among us, as we basked in our jovial moods and refreshing dispostions, to see and hear and feel the positive energy that resides in Latino communities, in Latino culture.
Maybe, though, it wouldn’t have impressed them, in effect doing no good; I don’t know because hatred is not in my blood but I couldn’t control my thinking since I’m primed by my nature to feel that virtue will win over evil in time. Plus that happens to be how one thinks when they’re caught up in a Barrio State of Mind. Verdad?