Saturday, March 22, 2014

Storify from 2014 CCCC

Angela Davis, Featured Session, Award Winners, and More
Big props to 2014 CCCC chair Dr. Adam Banks for putting on the best Cs since I've been attending, and since others been attending from what I hear. It was a conference of inspiration, creativity, critical insight, collaboration, redefining, and learning about the profession and others.

                                                      (Angela Davis and I)
                                                       (NCTE Latin@ Caucus)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

College Composition and Communication Confernce 2014 coming!!!
Below is just the top 2 of 3 presentations and chairing of panels on my schedule, not to mention the caucus workshop and meeting for which I've yet to register. Also, I will be at the NCTE/CCCC Welcome Desk for all of the first-time attendees!

If you follow the hashtag #4C14, I have also volunteered to document sessions by posting pictures and tweeting from sessions. Other attendees of this year's Cs will also be tweeting from Indiana, where the theme of the conference is Open Source(s), Access, Futures, chaired by Adam Banks at the University of Kentucky.

Check out my semi-complete schedule here:

Or, search the program here:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

My Article in Alter/nativas Latin American Cultural Studies Journal at Ohio State

“(Who Discovered) America”: Ozomatli and the Mestiz@ Rhetoric of Hip Hop"

My favorite bit from the article's conclusion:

"The polyrhythmic drums break the beats of banda and bounce to the accordion of conjunto while social constructions of class, sexuality, and citizenship are called into question through the rhyming in time to the Afro-Cuban clave. For those who ask what is happening in hip hop, they need only roll down their windows and listen to the news coming to them from the loudspeakers cranking out tunes from a quinceañera or from the corner hip hop battle where the next Plato jots down the rhymes from the barrio Socrates who squashes sophistic MCs." (20)

From the abstract:
This article examines the rhetoric of Mexican-American hip hop through the analysis of the music by the multicultural hip hop fusion band, Ozomatli, from Los Angeles. The objective is to examine how Ozomatli performs linguistic, epistemic, and musical-rhetorical border crossing that provokes cultural and social consciousness. As a cross-cultural site of analysis, Ozomatli embodies cultural mestizaje, mestiza consciousness, and mestiz@ rhetoric that illuminates social justice issues beneath surface-level beats and rhythms. Appointed cultural ambassadors by the U.S. government, Ozomatli navigates dominant systems of power while performing music that contests hegemony. Their mestiz@ hip hop draws from diverse musical traditions like banda, cumbia, merengue, ranchera and others while addressing transnational social justice issues of immigration, inequality, and revolution.

Read the full article here:
or download the PDF:

The whole spring 2, 2014 - The Voices of Latin/o American Hip-Hop issue is online here:

Friday, February 28, 2014

iPad Pilot Reflection Video

Multimodal Composition for FYC in LEAD Scholars Program

In both Fall 2013 and Winter 2014, I've taught a first year composition course in the LEAD scholars program for first generation college students. I came into the program in its second year and my teaching has been complicated by a collaborative syllabus that the other instructors put together in the year prior.

Below is a digital video that I composed as a reflection on these past two quarters. I touch on the themes and issues of technology, writing, education, research, and community. I plan to reflect more in traditional discursive modes that the video highlights.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Special Issue of Community Literacy Journal

Issue 8.1 -- guest-edited by Adela C. Licona & Stephen T. Russell
Adela is one of my amazing mentors at the University of Arizona and this issue comes as a result of a Ford Foundation grant that Licona and Russell wrote for youth outreach in Arizona.

* Articles
-- "Transdisciplinary and Community Literacies: Shifting Discourses and Practices through New Paradigms of Public Scholarship and Action-Oriented Research"
Adela C. Licona, Stephen T. Russell
-- "Education/Connection/Action: Community Literacies and Shared Knowledges as Creative Productions for Social Justice"
Adela C. Licona, J. Sarah Gonzales
-- "Empower Latino Youth (ELAYO): Leveraging Youth Voice to Inform the Public Debate on Pregnancy, Parenting and Education"
Elodia Villaseñor, Miguel Alcalá, Ena Suseth Valladares, Miguel A. Torres, Vanessa Mercado, Cynthia A. Gómez
-- "Addressing Economic Devastation and Built Environment Degradation to Prevent Violence: A Photovoice Project of Detroit Youth Passages"

Available through Project Muse

Monday, February 3, 2014

Featured Article in Reflections

Interview with UA Professor Emeritus Roseann Dueñas Gonzalez

In the current issue of Reflections, editors Isabel Baca and Cristina Kirklighter interview Professor Emeritus Roseann Dueñas Gonzalez. Dueñas Gonzalez was the first Mexican American woman to earn full professor status at the University of Arizona where she taught for 41 years. She founded and directed National Center for Interpretation: Testing, Research and Policy and the Agnese Haury Institute for Interpretation from 1983 to 2012.

I am extremely honored and humbled that Dueñas Gonzalez concluded her interview by mentioning the work of the students that I present in my article:

Read the full interview here:

Read more Reflections featured articles:

Or watch the digital text I composed based on my article:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Digital Story for Article Coming Soon from Reflections journal

Digital Composing as Participatory Pedagogy

The digital composition below is based on my article in the Fall 2013 issue of Reflections: a Journal of Public Rhetorics, Civic Writing and Service Learning, a special issue on Latin@s edited by Cristina Kirklighter and Isabel Baca. The article is called "Nuestros Refranes: Culturally Relevant Writing in Tucson High Schools" and examines the rhetorical strategies demonstrated in the writing of a culturally relevant student publication in Tucson, AZ by the name of Nuestros Refranes (2010), during the passing of the anti-Ethnic Studies bill HB 2281 in Arizona.

  "Nuestros Refranes: Culturally Relevant Writing in Tucson High Schools" from Cruz Medina on Vimeo.

The production of this video came about from an assignment given in the second semester of a first-year writing class at Santa Clara University, in which students were to create short documentaries using iMovie on the iPad, as a part of the LEAD Scholars program. This digital writing artifact is a result of participatory pedagogy, where the instructor composed along side students, and with the help of students. I'm hoping to have student samples coming as well.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gustavo Arellano on the Arizona Latino

OC Weekly Editor, "Ask a Mexican" Columnist, and Author Gustavo Arellano Hispanic Convocation Speech at Arizona State University

Having earned my PhD at the University of Arizona, I've been indoctrinated into rejecting all things Arizona State; however, I make an exception with Gustavo Arellano's keynote address that he gave at the Hispanic Convocation on the Arizona Latino. Rhetorically, it could be argued that his speech was epideictic fitting the context and audience of the event, though I would point out that what makes Arellano's speech great was that the message isn't said enough to his primary audience of young Latin@s.  Additionally, he makes an important distinction about the narrative spread about Arizona and how Latin@s might be characterized as victims, so it's important that he leaves the graduating class with the message that the "Arizona Latino is a magnificent person."

(Old photo of me with Arellano in 2008)

From his speech:

And, you already have accomplished much. So as you go off to life, remember where you came from, and never be ashamed to tell the world the school that forged you into young men and women--Arizona State University, in the state of Arizona.

Even if this isn't your native state, even if you're leaving after this afternoon to return home, you're now part of this proud tradition. I know the power and potential of Arizona's Latinos because I'm descended from two. My abuelita was born in Metcalf, nowadays a ghost town near the Morenci Mine, while my grandfather arrived there at age four and stayed until his teenage years. Metcalf served as the entry point for hundreds of people from my rancho in Zacatecas during and after the Mexican Revolution. Those pioneers went on to be the parents and abuelos of professors, entrepreneurs, politicians--Latino success stories, all of them. It was in those copper pits that my ancestors learned to fight for a better life, to never take discrimination lightly, and to never forget your roots

And if it was good enough for my ancestors, it should be good enough for everyone else. The Arizona Latino is a magnificent person, and this graduating class is the latest generation to fulfill your raza's destiny. Now, time to proclaim it to the rest of America--tell them what I've just told ustedes, and don't be shy about it. Gracias, and God bless. 

Read the full text here:

Friday, December 6, 2013

Recommended Watches

Former Tucson Ethnic Studies Teacher Acosta's Keynote Speech

Thanks Elias for getting me hip to this video of Curtis Acota's keynote at the Northwest Conference for Teaching Social Justice. I'll be teaching a social justice and literacy course in Spring, and I've already been ruminating on the kinds of readings that I'll want to incorporate--of course the case of Tucson will find its way into the subject matter. Themes of social justice seem particularly poignant in the context of Nelson Mandela's passing, and the quote of his that's been making the rounds with my educator colleagues:
"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

Elias Serna's Pop-Up Book Short

If you happened to read the past post with a Q&A with Elias Serna at UC Riverside, then the subject of pop-up books will be familiar. What's interesting in the video below is how the mediums of pop-ups have been integrated into a stage-dance performance with musical accompaniment as a kind of mixed/multimedia presentation of sorts with the rhetorical message of support for the Tucson MAS program coming through loud and clear. 

In the beginning of the Winter quarter, my students will be creating their own digital docs that I'm looking forward to, and which I might post (with their permission naturally.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Q&A with Reflections contributor Elias Serna

 A Brief Interview with Elias Serna on "Eagle Meets the Seagull," Chican@ Epistemology, and Xikano Pop-Up Manifesto

I have had the pleasure of knowing Serna and his infectious ganas for teaching, learning, and speaking out against the attacks on Ethnic Studies programs for a few years now. I feel lucky to have coordinated this on-line Q&A with Serna as a couple of High-Tech Aztecs or Cyber-Vatos (with all respect to Gomez-Pena), providing a good space to delve into some of the issues and movements that Serna is a part of. This is of course a continuation of some of the posts I've done regarding the forthcoming issue of Reflections: A Journal of Public Rhetoric, Civic Writing and Service Learning, so be sure to order a copy when it comes out!

1) In a nutshell, what would you say that your article in the Fall issue of Reflections: A Journal of Public Rhetoric, Civic Writing and Service-Learning is about?

The "Eagle Meets the Seagull" article was originally written as a reflection on the 2nd Raza Studies Now (RSN) conference this past summer. RSN came about from the political and pedagogical interaction of LA/Santa Monica educators and the Tucson Raza Studies folks. Early on we attended the amazing Summer Transformative Education conferences, then all the racist republican borlo picked up and we jumped into that struggle, raising awareness and funds for the case (which is now headed to the 9th circuit federal Court of Appeals). The first and the second conferences were somewhat magical for me, they were invented/organized in quick "de volada" fashion (the first I believe in 2 months), they were dynamic, gathered many people and forces, and seemed to make a splash on social media and with those in attendance. The potential may have been bigger than the outcome. The article meant as reflection was also putting RSN activism under a rhetorical lens. Cristina and Isabel encouraged more citation and homework - including looking at your submission on "Nuestros Refranes" - and that really helped me crystalize my thinking around rhetoric as a civic mode of writing. The article itself in a way is civic writing in that it still reflects on Raza Studies activism and suggests points of improvement and attention – such as addressing gender issues, converging with the Dream Act movement, community colleges, and engaging with issues around policing and the prison industrial complex. That was more like a big walnut shell.

2) Tell me a little about how you came to be interested in the Tucson Ethnic Studies controversy as a researcher, teacher, and activist?
Around 2006 or 7 currently UCLA Education PhD candidate Johnny Ramirez connected with MAS alumni Selina Barajas Rodriguez at CSU Northridge’s Chicano Studies program and began attending the summer Transformative Education conferences in Tucson. I went a few years later and was amazed by the program, its accomplishments, and perhaps that it had innovatively taken the field of Chican@ Studies to a whole new place. It was eye-opening and inspirational. I saw it as a model and a future path.
The activist part of the question reminds me of a concert I attended in Tijuana in the late 90’s. A few of us were there for Aztlan Undergound, which was opening up for Voodoo Glowskulls and Tijuana No. My friend Edgar was alone hopping around in the pit and some punkabilly dudes started pouncing him and blindsiding him. Mark Torres of Travel Tips for Aztlan and Anjanette from Zapatista PRC were there. I jumped in there with him and these dudes which were like a dozen (some in the pit, others standing in a corner) started to pounce on me. I saw that they were gathered at the edge of the slam pit, in a corner by a wall. Once there was about 20 people in the pit it suddenly occurred to me that with the right timing, and the force of the song, a single person could push about three people, much like a small wall, against twelve people, acting like a musically engined human tractor, and smash those mean people giggling in the corner hard against that border wall, which is exactly what I managed to do (several times). One person can have a powerful effect on many, and many on millions. And mean people should be smashed. That’s what I’ve been trying to do in Los Angeles, but with more constructive, pedagogical and creative intent. I went into PhD in part to contribute to Chican@ Studies, and as a result my work in rhetoric and Chican@ literature/studies began to serve a movement. 
 (From Aztlan Underground's Myspace)
3) What part of the situation in Arizona do you think is the most shocking, offensive, or overtly racist that hasn't garnered much attention for whatever reason?
That they’re getting away with it. Dr. Cintli gave a powerpoint presentation once that explained how the Republican proposition was essentially outlining their own political behavior: they were the ones promoting resentment against a race of people, they were trying to overthrow the federal government, and the education they propose is designed primarily for a particular ethnic group (Euroamericans).The Arizona legislature is tilted racist right and so are the courts, which allowed all this to happen. When my students in California ask how this racism is possible, I explain this and that Arizona has an older conservative white demographic (many retirees) that votes out of fear; much like California in the 90’s, which pushed reactionary and racist propositions attacking affirmative action, bilingual education and undocumented families. Increasingly I read it as an attack specifically on young people of color.
The most overtly racist example is State Superintendent of Schools Huppenthals recent slip/confession that he read military war texts (Hannibal) to prepare for taking on the MAS issue. That the head of schools looks at Mexicans/Latinos as enemies to destroy and slaughter – as in his earlier genocidal comment that he will “destroy La Raza” - is clearly racist and quite unbelievable. A state superintendent who’s never taught, makes racist comments about Latinos (who make up a third of the state’s population), and that looks like he’s about to cry every time he speaks should step down. It’s unbelievable so many people in power stand by. I thought at some point more big shot educators, even Obama could have weighed in. The video says it all and should be shared widely:

(Xican@ Pop-Up Book #2:  Teatro Chicano- Stop the War!)

4) You live in Califas Sur, can you speak a little about the Ethnic Studies debates and outlawing of programs that's been happening close to you?

We’ve had successes and battles out here ourselves. The Santa Monica/ Malibu Unified School District recently created a small Ethnic Studies course/program which parents and community called for after some racial tensions between Latino and Black youth, and other youth (gang) violence.  Behind the scenes a group created a proposal for a larger Ethnic Studies program but that proposal has been largely ignored; band aids are cheaper and easier to throw away after some time, they (district administrators) suppose. XITO (Xican@ Institute For Teaching and Organizing) created by former MAS teachers has also helped us in this campaign. In East LA, the Semillas high school (Anahuacalmecac) was recently denied their high school charter despite impressive programs and high graduation and college-going rates. This recently became our little Tucson here in LA. After several spirited protests and interventions the struggle continues and may be appealed at the state level. Groups like MEChA, Chicano Studies departments (especially CSUN), ARE (Assoc. of Raza Educators), AMAE, and PEN (People’s Ed Movement) have been vocal and active around Raza Studies. The most ambitious statement has come out of Raza Studies Now, but we are also a group that goes through changes in momentum, membership and energy. Organizing is hard, time-consuming, risky and thankless work. Still, the struggle continues. 

(Xican@ Pop-Up Book #3: Anahuacalmecac)
5) What has been the most inspiring aspect of taking part in the support of Ethnic Studies programs?
To be a real nerdo, I must say the epistemology and methodology of it. I really do see a huge theoretical lesson in Tucson’s MAS model. Rudy Acuna has stated that Chicano Studies is primarily a pedagogy, not an epistemology, but I disagree to an extent. I enjoyed Michael Soldatenko’s book theorizing Chican@ Studies as an epistemology. Maybe because I’ve been in rhetoric and we pay so much attention to categorizing and epistemology, I have pondered the tenets of Chican@ Studies, because I do think the field has produced tenets that interpret and produce knowledge uniquely. Concepts like “taking the university back to the community” precedes “field studies”  and ethnography (participatory action research) for me. The Chicana feminists disruptions and interventions (big in the late 80’s) within Chican@ Studies preceded what Critical Race Theory terms intersectionality. Chican@ self-determination, which was big in the Plan de Santa Barbara, should be revisited by everyone (from students to tenured professors). I taught an introduction to Chicano Studies one summer for high school students and it forced me to define Chicano Studies, and these tenets helped me do that and to teach these youth that our people created a discipline, a science if you will. Really looking at the epistemology of Chican@ Studies will be part of effectively building and carrying it on into the future.
6) You've recently been in the running for a national book collectors award. Can you tell me a bit about how you came to develop a passion for collecting? What kinds of things do you tell younger readers to help them discover a similar love for books and reading?

Three weeks ago I flew with my family out to DC to pick up my award: 1st place National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest for a collection titled “Chicano Movement Banned Books” (entries from Duke and John Hopkins came in 2nd and 3rd – sorry had to rub that in, UC Riverside, whoop whoop!). It’s an archivist award. I have collected unique texts over the years including a first edition Plan de Santa Barbara, a first edition “I am Joaquin” published by the Crusade for Justice and signed by Corky Gonzalez. Betita Martinez’ classic picture book, 450 Years of Chicano History in Pictures (now titled 500 Years…). This last book is actually one that my older brother brought home from Santa Monica community college when I was in high school. These books opened my eyes to my history and culture and gave me motivation and purpose to go to college where my passion continued.

(Chicano Movement Banned Books collection currently on display at Tomas Rivera Library, UC Riverside)

To answer the second part of that question, I was recently explaining to my Chican@ Literature class at Cal State Dominguez Hills about the dilemma of Chican@ Literature in the digital age. I theorized that there were likely 3 groups with definite attitudes towards Chican@ novels and books. In Tucson, I explained, there are teachers and students who believe that these texts are integral for Raza students to see and understand themselves (and all students in order to create cultural understanding in a diverse society). The second group are the Arizona Republicans who see these books as tantamount to a civilizational cancer, books so dangerous that they prepare the soil for the violent overthrow and collapse of the republic as they know it. To them these books are worse than deadly weapons (in Arizona you can openly carry around deadly weapons). The third group exists within their generation of young people which asks, why should I read this book… when I can look up cheat notes, Wikipedia, watch the movie or spend time on social media. I was trying to have my students reflect on reading a longer novel (Bless Me Ultima) and where they stood in an era when textual reading is challenged by social media, phones and the internet.  In a strange way, Tucson’s politics have brought a spotlight to Chican@ Literature and we as activists/participants should exploit this.

7) Are there any other projects that you're currently working related to literacy (and culture)?

(above: Xican@ Pop-Up Book #1: dedicated to Jose Montoya, Royal Chicano Air Force)

My main job right now is writing a dissertation on Chican@ Rhetorical Traditions and technology, looking at Tiburcio Vasquez’ photo/letters from jail, the Magonista PLM newspaper Regeneracion at the turn of the century in LA, and manifestos from the Chicano Movement. My conclusion will likely center on the work of Tucson’s Raza Studies department. My comedy performance group Chicano Secret Service is also currently working on a play addressing Raza Studies titled “Neoliberalandia.” The most exciting project recently is the Xican@ Pop Up Book Manifesto, which is taking the world by storm. Together with UCR Mexican dance instructor JohnAvalos we’ve made a few Xican@ pop-up book prototypes (first models) and authored a vitriolic manifesto that states in part:

 The Xican@ Pop-Up Book movement is designed as a resistance movement against the cultural hostility of Tom Horne and Arizona’s racist Republicans, and as a cultural affirmation of MAS, Chican@ Studies, Chican@ Literature and art! All liberation art warriors are called upon to create and display Xican@ Pop-Up books and JOIN THE MOVEMENT! ... This concept is designed to create a movement of Xican@ art display, of mass popular production and participation for a resistant art form in the era of imperialistic civilizational warfare upon our communities… The idea is to add paper engineering to display our plight, to get viewers attention, and to proclaim: ‘You can BAN CHICANO BOOKS… but they’ll still POP UP!’

I took some prototypes and Xican@ Pop Up Book manifestos with me to DC and they were a hit. An original prototype found its way into the Smithsonian and we were invited to join the Movable Book Society. Back home my CSU Dominguez Hills students and JohnAvalos’ students are creating books and a pop-up book dance performance, and we are planning to share/produce how-to videos, and make some multiples to get out to the public. I think that getting some artists involved will help this really take off. Johnavalos suggested that with profits we fund our private corporate jet fleet, but I think we need to focus on where the Xican@ pop-up book goes next.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Reflections Special Issue, Mexican American Studies, and Elias Serna

Coming Soon: Q&A with fellow Reflections contributor Elias Serna
Having earned my PhD this past May at the University of Arizona, I was in close proximity to not only Tucson Magnet High School where the Ethnic Studies program was outlawed by House Bill 2281, but I also had the opportunity to interact with MAS teacher Curtis Acosta and teach students who were MAS graduates. In this forthcoming issue of Reflections: A Journal of Public Rhetoric, Civil Writing, and Service Learning, I have an article on a student publication that I co-edited in Tucson during the passing of SB 1070 and HB 2281. What makes the student publication Nuestros Refranes worth examining was that the prompt for the writing was designed to be culturally-relevant in much the same way that the TUSD MAS program's curriculum was meant to reflect the reality of the students it educated.

 In addition to my own article, I'm excited to read Elias Serna's article because I have come to know Elias through his activism and research with Tucson Ethnic Studies. Coming soon, I'll be including a brief interview with Elias regarding his article and the current projects he active with. Elias Serna, a PhD Candidate at UC Riverside, in August won the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America 2013 National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest.
 (Portrait of Serna by Shizu Saldamando)

In the meantime, an extended interview with Dolores Huerta

The video below is an extended interview from the documentary called Outlawing Shakespeare that I posted earlier.

Video available at:

Read more about Serna's Book Collector Award
A guest blog post of mine on Arizona in Spanish: