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Language as Bridge (Learn Spanish Already So You Can Dive Into Spanish Poetry and Music)

Smoke Screen Illusion


Stay with me..this will come around to a point, I promise. It is a journey that I hope will illustrate the need to move from suspicion and fear (which fulfills a political agenda on both sides of the table) to the deep appreciation of another culture's music and poetry. Here we go, but before we do...a tasty snack of my current favorite Spanish language Jazz artist.....


This is currently my favorite song. Camila Meza is amazing. She sings in Spanish also. She scats AND PLAYS what she scats at the same time. I can't even chew gum and play the cello at the same time...


Lack of Resources

As a child, I was raised in southern California. The school I went to had 1 white girl and 2 black, my sister and me. We were called caca and little caca, our brown skin resembling poop. I spoke fluent Spanish within the context of play (pujame!). I recall my math book being in Spanish, saying the pledge of allegiance in Spanish and having to read English in the corner because the class read in Spanish. That is a good illustration of the feelings at the time for many of the African-Americans in the cramped ghettos. Pushed in the corner while others got preferential treatment. It took years for me to see, the illusion of fighting for jobs, resources, and respect was an illusion used to keep two communities fighting one another instead of discussing the political dynamics that affected them.

The sad part was, neither of us spoke our true mother tongue haven been given Spanish and English after being conquered and enslaved. But, do not assume the white population was any less poor or oppressed in the area I lived in. In actuality, there was intense racism against them. If you did not take part in it, you were an oreo (white on the inside, black on the outside). The Mexican children outnumbered the blacks and picked on them, the blacks outnumbered the whites and picked on them. It was not just child's play. We emulated the adults in our lives. 

Instead of really looking at who holds the power, the ones who are REALLY in your pocketbook, taking what you have earned to do with as they please, we looked at race. Racism in any form is what it is. In that community I was taught it was okay as long as it was not against your own race and I know other children in the other culture groups were taught the same. That community had white, black and brown people living there. It was full of color, music, and families. Mangos and chili scented those years of my life. We all struggled together in poverty and danger, drive-bys being a norm. The struggle, those early years of my life are really being brought back to me. We fled LA like so many to the northwest, which I am sure would have turned us back if they could have. Sadly the gangs followed suit. This is brought back to me again as we have these discussions about the border, about resources.

I looked for the most unbiased video I could find that utilized factual info. Best I found as is sadly lacking statistics but I am a BBC junkie

I moved on and grew up. I did not think much of the racial tension of my childhood. Yet as I looked around me, I saw many of those struggles and tensions around me living in another border state. As I pondered what was going on around me, I also took Spanish classes at the local college. My professor stated we should listen to as much Spanish as possible. I began to listen to music. I fell in love.

Natalia Lafourcade singing Hasta la Raiz, which pretty much means at the root, like the heart of the matter. I leave it to you to translate. I feel it is in English and Spanish one of the most passionate songs I have ever read.
Sigo cruzando ríos,
Andando selvas,
Amando el sol
Cada día sigo sacando espinas
De lo profundo del corazón
En la noche sigo encendiendo sueños
Para limpiar con el humo sagrado cada recuerdo
Cuando escribo tu nombre
En la arena blanca con fondo azul
Cuando miro el cielo en la forma cruel de una nube gris
Aparezcas tú
Una tarde suba una alta loma
Mire el pasado
Sabrás que no te he olvidado
Yo te llevo dentro, hasta la raíz
Y, por más que crezca, vas a estar aquí
Aunque yo me oculte tras la montaña
Y encuentre un campo lleno de caña
No habrá manera, mi rayo de luna
Que tú te vayas
Pienso que cada instante sobrevivido al caminar
Y cada segundo de incertidumbre
Cada momento de no saber
Son la clave exacta de este tejido
Que ando cargando bajo la piel
Así te protejo
Aquí sigues dentro
Yo te llevo dentro, hasta la raíz
Y, por más que crezca, vas a estar aquí
Aunque yo me oculte tras la montaña
Y encuentre un campo lleno de caña
No habrá manera, mi rayo de luna
Que tú te vayas


Years have passed. I was blessed with a bestie in my life who was an illegal from Mexico and is now a citizen. I got to walk through that with her, practice my Spanish with her. Her struggles, mine for I love her. I see the similarities in us. I see the love of colors and clothing, the deep love of family. We are humans on a planet. I now teach and assist bilingual classes as a substitute and have an OBSESSION with Spanish music. We have made it to the point, music and poetry celebrate the similarities between us all. The common denominators. Luckily you do not have to be bilingual to enjoy poets and musicians that use the Spanish language as a vehicle.

Spanish Poetry

Image result for pablo neruda

One of the ways I practice my Spanish is to read books of poetry with the English translations right next to the Spanish. This is how I found Pablo Neruda.

I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.

I love you only because it's you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.

Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.

In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood. 

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