Sunday, February 21, 2010

Family Drama

I have decided to move my family drama topics over to a new blog that I have created. If you are interested in wacko, dysfunctional families, then you might be interested in reading my new blog.

I've been down with the flu lately, and will be blogging here as soon as I build my energy up again!


Monday, February 8, 2010

Language, Culture and Feminism

I think that I am having an identity crisis. Or something of the sort. Whatever it is, it is inspired by twitter, the blogosphere and other internet meeting places. Or maybe today it is inspired by PMS. Who the hell knows??

My identity crisis has to do with language, ethnicity and feminism.

As a child I grew up in a neighborhood mixed with immigrants and native born Latina/os. I always felt like I was on the outside looking in at everyone. I was raised by a single mother and everyone else mainly had a father around, at least when we were younger. I think that was the first time that I started noticing that I was different than the other families, and that they treated our family differently.

As a child I never really fit into the groups of kids who hung out with one another. I never really fit into the group with the first generation immigrant kids who mainly spoke Spanish, and I didn't fit into the group of native born kids who didn't speak Spanish either.

Growing up I always got too many mixed messages from my family and the community. "Maintain your Spanish and culture" would be the message one day and "English is more important" would be the message the next day. "Wow, you have an accent when you speak English" was often pointed out to me by English speakers, and "Wow, you have an accent in Spanish and butcher the language" was told to me by native Spanish speaking recent immigrants.

I never felt like I fit in anywhere. I didn't fit in with the white kids, I didn't fit in with the second and third generation latinos, and I didn't fit in with the recent immigrants. I have never fit in with many other Latinas, because in my experience far too many of them have been oppressed by the Catholic church or their families. The handful of latina feminists that I have come to know well over the years is a very small group, and they are mainly English speaking second and third generation latinas.

Over the past couple of months, I have been chatting on twitter with my buddy Marga Britto who writes a blog called Madres Insumisas. She is bilingual and through my interactions with her I am beginning to realize that I have lost a lot of my Spanish. I can obviously communicate in Spanish, but I have a laziness that exists in many bilingual communities, where we can just revert back to English when the going gets tough.

From following Marga, I am starting to also follow many other latina feminists in Mexico who tweet and write primarily in Spanish. One part of me feels such a relief to see Mexican feminists. It's like I have been looking for them all of my life and I have found them. It fills a void that I have walked around feeling all of my life. But then comes the language issue, and the frustration that I can't communicate to the same extent in Spanish as I do in English.

And there's always that nagging sense of the conflict that sometimes exists between native born Mexicans and those of us who were born in the United States. You know, that conflict of not fully understanding one another's life experiences, languages, and cultural practices.

Language is an interesting thing, tied intricately to our identity and ability to have intimacy with other people. I just hope that I can move past this temporary issue with strengthening my Spanish that I have begun to lose over the years. The realization that I have lost my Spanish to the extent that it makes me feel as if I can't communicate as effectively with people who I have been waiting for all my life to appear...well, that makes me very sad, indeed.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mini Bad Asses: Priscilla Star Diaz-"Feminist Phenomenon"

Tonight I watched a documentary called P-Star Rising, about a young female rapper. I'm not into rap, so I have no idea if this little girl is well known or not, but I fell in love with her from the moment that she declared herself as a seven year old "feminist phenomenon". She literally called herself a feminist phenomenon in one of her presentations at a club to a room of adults. After watching the documentary, I am so in love with this little girl.

Priscilla was born to a mother who was addicted to drugs and was placed in foster care when her father spent time in prison for drug charges. She later lived with her father after he cleaned up his act and at the age of six she told her father that she wanted to be a rapper. It was at the age of six that this little bad ass became "P-Star", the youngest female rapper and self-proclaimed feminist phenomenon.

During the documentary, it was unclear whether her mother was infected with HIV. Priscilla, her father and sister discussed AIDS frequently and talked about whether or not their mother was alive or was taking care of herself. At one point they hunt down the mother and see her, and it's pretty clear that the mom is still on drugs.

As I watched the documentary, I was in shock so many times because as a ten year old girl she seemed so much like an adult. Not only did she have to face adult issues, such as when her mother showed her heroin tracks and talked about "shooting up", but she also sometimes had to set her dad straight when it came to business decisions.

I am positive that this young girl is going to be someone someday. Check out more about her here:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Drama Continues!

I figured I'd give you a quick and dirty update to the situation that I have at work that I blogged about a couple of posts ago. You know, the post where I mentioned that I have a female employee who is royally fucking up? Well, here's an update:

She got progressively worse all week long. I finally called her into my office on Friday and basically had a come to Jesus talk with her. I told her that she was losing control of herself, and that she needed to decide if she could handle the position or whether she should go back to the classroom as a teacher where she might have less pressure.

She cried, she apologized, and the whole lot. I honestly thought that the issue was resolved.

Then, on Monday I just happened to pop into the office early because I had a strange feeling that something bad was going to happen. She was leading a meeting that started at 8:30 and she honestly did not walk in the door until 9:05. The meeting had started without her, even though she was supposed to be the lead. Oh, and by the way, when she entered the room, she walked in with a large, hotly steaming cup of coffee that she had picked up from across the street.

I had to go to another meeting, but I sent her a message that I wanted to see her in my office the next day. She told me, "Okay, I thought you would write me up and I agree with it. I am out of control".

Honestly, I was pretty perplexed all day about her basically begging to be written up. If I didn't know her so well, I would have thought that she was asking for a reprimand so that she had a reason to go out on sick leave for months on end. But I know her better than that. Although, I have my ideas as to why she is asking to be punished, I am still perplexed.

On Monday, I spoke with my male boss about the situation and he said, "You are too close to her. When you get too close to your employees, this is the type of stuff that happens".

I said, "With all due respect, you are a man and I am a woman. You will never understand the dilemma that I face as a woman when I am trying to work with another woman who has been diagnosed with postpartum depression. How can I honestly not try to help her, as a woman?"

I feel confused because I feel like I am walking a fine line. I know that I can't be too lenient, because then I can become an enabler yet I also feel that I am obligated to try to get someone in her situation back on the right track. I am confused.

So, yesterday I called her in and had a "come to jesus" talk with her. I told her that although I wasn't starting the formal write up process, that I would start to create written documentation of our conversations and my directives to her.

She cried her eyes out for an hour straight. She told me that she feels that she wants to divorce her husband, that he "holds her back" and makes her feel oppressed because he won't help her.

I wanted to tell her so badly to divorce his sorry ass, but I am her boss and I just couldn't get myself to say it. I know that she looks up to me and I wouldn't want my authority to distort her judgment, nor would I ever want anyone to accuse me of meddling in their personal life as a boss. All I could say was that she has to do whatever is in her best interest, and that no matter what happens that she will be okay because she is an educated woman with a lot of potential. I also told her that I hope that she wouldn't ruin her career over a husband who isn't helping her.

The talk that she had with me seemed to help her a bit, and for the past two days she has arrived at work on time and she even looks more rested and has once again been wearing make up. I know that I need to continue to monitor her, because I suspect that she feels that her life is out of control and she wants someone to lay down the law with a firm hand.

All I can hope is that things will get better. But, if not, at least I will be able to say that I tried to help her get back on track. I know that many men might think that my style of handling this issue might be considered "weak", but fuck them because until they walk a mile in a female boss's shoes as she deals with a case of postpartum depression then they don't know what they would do.

But I do have to ask myself-would I act the same way if a male were having depression issues? Would I give him as many warnings as I have given a female with postpartum depression? Or would I have written him up much sooner? Have I let it get too far without having formally documented it, as my boss suggested?

Who knows. I somehow think that I might have written a male up sooner. And honestly, I don't even know what to think about that fact.