"Native Costume" and Literary Perceptions

- Below, a poem from Martin Espada. This one was featured in a book entitled "Muy Macho", a collection of essays about challenging machismo in latino cultura. Espada's poetry, for me, captures the Borikua experience in much the same way that Piri Thomas' "Down These Mean Streets" did and impacted me in much the same way. Today's mathematics being build or destroy, we can examine the "positive" and "negative" of our experiences, especially here in the wilderness of North America, Amekikia, through the constructive criticism of literature. Regardless to what some skeptics may pose, the "pen" is truly mightier than the "sword". Being able to manifest ideas from the intangible to the tangible through the influence of literature is what governments do and reveals the importance of "propaganda" in their cause. It is just as important in ours. Literature creates the space for one to articulate and expound, add on to ideas to allows others to be inspired or motivated for change, or take that which was proposed in the author's words and magnify it. I, as a writer, have come to understand the importance of words and have thus dedicated my time to maintaining my blogs as spaces for my engagement with "freedom of speech" and the decimination of proper education. This is my contribution, regardless to however futile it may seem. What I do serves a purpose and influences people beyond what many may think. I may chose not to be on the front lines of the march or protest. However, I am protesting through my writing which is equally as dangerous and just as productive. And yes, actions do speak louder than words, for those who are quick to act and seldom take the time to think about it. The ability to form words, thoughtful and intelligently and transmit the idea through vibration into sound is an 'act'.

In the end, it's all about building and destroying, the balancing principles of the universe. Either build or BE DESTROYED. That means contribute and add on or destroy yourself, because that's what's at stake. And that means adding on in any way that you can and not necessarily how others do. It takes all kinds of people to run a 'Nation', from a garbage man to politician. And literature and those who create it as just as important. Literature is one medium that allows a people to take control of how they are percieved by the larger society. This is how we've been orientated to other cultures and peoples more intimately in grade school. We become involved with the characters and settings in stories and poetry which plant those mental seeds that grow into our adult perspectives. And predominately Euro-centric literature will lead to a Euro-centric mindset and outlook on people of color, mostly importantly, ourselves.

"He likes the devil because the devil put fear in him when he was a little boy."- 8th degree, 1-36, English C. Lesson No. 1


My Native Costume

When you come to visit,

said a teacher

from the suburban school,

don’t forget to wear

your native costume.

But I’m a lawyer,

I said.

My native costume

is a pinstriped suit.

You know, the teacher said,

a Puerto Rican costume.

Like a guayabera?

The shirt? I said.

But it’s February.

The children want to see

a native costume,

the teacher said.

So I went

to the suburban school,

embroidered guayabera

short sleeved shirt

over a turtleneck,

and said, Look kids,

cultural adaptation.

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