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Saturday, December 31, 2016


Rather than saying good riddance to 2016 or bemoaning 2017, instead, here is some great news as we close 2016 and enter the New Year…
The Smiling Brown: Gente de Bronce – People Color of the Earth play is set for Sunday, March 12th 2017, from 2:30pm- 5pm in the ILC 141 at the University of Arizona during the Tucson Festival of Books.
The play will be a combination of live testimonios, audio, video and actos, poetry and music, and most importantly, a dialogue with the audience. At the moment, it is envisioned as a 90-120-minute play. March 12 will be a preview that will end up in Los Angeles for its premiere, perhaps in the fall or shortly thereafter. After the play, we will have extended discussion as to how to improve it. Also, as envisioned, it will be able to be performed anywhere around the country, with localized testimonios.
As part of this project and play, a CD will also be created of a combination of spoken word, hip-hop, song, poetry etc. (See contact info below).


The Smiling Brown Project uniquely examines a taboo topic regarding the role of color and specifically, light-skin color preference in the Mexican/Mexican American//Central American and Andean communities of the United States. But unlike the manner in which this issue is treated in this country, this play treats the issue of color - not through a black-white paradigm per se, which is the norm, but rather - primarily in relationship to Indigeneity. That is, it examines the issue not simply as "colorism," but rather, as part of the historic process of de-Indigenization (and its religious roots) within these communities. However, because these peoples live in this country, it also does not shy away from the historic issues related to race and color in this country, including Afro-Indigenous identity and denial of that identity. Additionally, a number of testimonios are from peoples of other cultures as this is a worldwide phenomenon. For a more in-depth background article, go to:…/smiling-brown-gente-de-bron…

The Project

The Smiling Brown project has a number of components: a book, a play, testimonios, huehuetlahtolli (ancient guidances) music, poetry, spoken word, hip-hop and artwork, and also a research project. All are related and all flow into each other. This here is a summary of the play, which has a format akin to the Vagina Monologues, though with an emphasis on testimonios and dialogues.

The Play

The play’s primary emphasis is peoples’ earliest memories of when they became aware of their skin color and became aware of the significance attached to their color. While most such memories are negative and for some, painful and even traumatic even to this day, the project and play also seek to highlight the memories of when people became aware that there was never anything wrong with them in the first place. In fact, it also seeks to highlight stories of how children were raised right.

Over the past generation, since at least the 1960s, this topic has been dealt with at an external level, which initially gave rise to the era of "Brown Power" along with the idea of "Brown is Beautiful." This is true especially among writers, poets, artists and musicians. This was in response to the racism and hostility aimed at these communities, first in Mexico/Central America and its ingrained anti-Indigenous attitudes (and points south) and later, here in the United States with its extreme anti-Mexican and anti-Indigenous attitudes. However, for this project, the emphasis is internal, because despite that [short-lived] era, the mass media, and Spanish-language television in particular, did not do away with that light-skin preference. In fact, those issues remain very real today and among adults, many continue to be subjected to racial profiling by these country’s institutions. And while those issues continue to be addressed publicly, they have not been similarly addressed internally... that is, within these cultures and among those closest to us and within the home, which includes family, loved ones, relatives, neighbors and schoolmates. This is why the topic is taboo, because this happens among those closest to us. The idea here is to examine how these attitudes continue to be replicated and transmitted, but even more importantly, to hopefully change those attitudes which have both, colonial roots, and in reality, without sugar-coating it, white supremacy.

Some 100 testimonios have been gathered thus far. The objective is to get 200 total within the next year (2017). If you would like to submit a testimonio, we are looking for 300-1200 words written, recorded or videotaped. The testimonios can be in the form of vignettes, a story, a song, poetry, hip-hop, etc. Also, if you are interested send to (or for more info):

Friday, December 30, 2016

Holidays with a Storm on the Horizon

We are in the midst of the holidays and I ask myself, what compels me to write when I should instead simply be enjoying the holidays?

The answer: because the proverbial calm before the storm is upon us and it seems a bit too eerie for me. This past week, I filled out that professor watchlist petition because the times remind me of that Tagalog expression, Isang Balsak — when one falls, we all fall, and conversely, when one rises, we all rise. There appears to be a consensus that the incoming administration will be anti-education in general, anti-academic freedom specifically, and even more so, that it will be hostile to undocumented students. For rest of column, go to:

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Dec 28 Maiz painting unveiling

A very special maiz painting unveiling by Pola Lopez. She will be present.... and a platica re support of the O'tham Nation.. For whoever is in town, Dec 28, Wed 5-9pm (Green Corn Tamales and Champurrado included):

Rodriguez: Michelle Obama and the ‘Men’ of Hope

In a recent interview, Michelle Obama said this to Oprah Winfrey about the absence of hope: “We feel the difference now. See, now, we are feeling what not having hope feels like.”

Immediately, I thought of the maíz–based Maya concepts or ethos called “men,” one of 7 maíz–based concepts I have been teaching in my classrooms for many, many years, which is a concept even more powerful than hope. However, before explaining it, Michelle Obama’s comment needs to be contextualized within the tumultuous political climate in which we are now living in this country.

The operative word here is “we.”
On this one I do agree with the president-elect’s assessment; there is an abundance of hope from his base of support … for a return to the days of White supremacy, xenophobia, misogyny and an anti-intellectualism from a different era. Unfortunately, he and his supporters also now have power and a medieval view of the world that can help them achieve their hopes and misguided dreams. Though to be truthful, he will have dictatorial powers; it is his supporters that have the misguided dreams.
For the restof the column, please go to:

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


When the 2020 Census comes around in 4 years, I will declare myself American Indian. I will do so both as an act of affirmation, but also as an act of rebellion against a government that sees me both as alien and as less than human... for rest of the column, go to:

Friday, December 9, 2016

Rodriguez: Faith in the Electoral College or the Path to Apartheid?

by Roberto Rodriguez

While most of the electorate believes that the president-elect will be handed the keys to the White House on Jan 20, 2017, others are still holding out hope that the Electoral College (EC), which meets on Dec 19, 2016, could still disqualify him, preventing him from becoming the 45th president of the United States.
Below are 13 reasons that the EC should deliberate on, because being guilty of any of them would make any candidate, but particularly him, ineligible to hold the nation’s top office. He has: For the list and the rest of the column, please go to:

Monday, December 5, 2016


Chicago poet Susana Sandoval has been fasting at Standing Rock ever since she spoke to my classes earlier this semester at the University of Arizona. Several years ago, she was arrested while fasting 17 days in front of the White House to call for a humane immigration reform.
This time, she is not counting, but it must be close to 30 days. When she left Tucson, she returned to Chicago, picked up her daughter and has been at Standing Rock ever since. Her stay there has been a spiritually transforming experience and the camp itself, she says, is a ceremony. Link to column here: * UPDATE: DAPL permit denied by Army Corps; DAPL says it will proceed anyway:…/live-standing-rock-spirit-r…

Monday, November 28, 2016

Nation Not Treading Lightly in Unchartered Territory:

Without question, this country is in unchartered territory. People across the country continue to express themselves in despair. Others in fear. Some panic, while still others prepare. Of course, many have staged numerous protests from coast to coast.

In response to the aftermath of the elections, some 150 college and university presidentshave banded together to express their concern regarding the rise in hate crimes across the country. The unexpected presidential results have emboldened racial supremacists and misogynists across the country, including on the campuses of colleges and universities nationwide. 

For rest of column, go to Diverse Issues in Higher Education:

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Trump has Undocumented Students and Their Families Scrambling

by Roberto Rodriguez

By now a great majority of the country seems to have arrived at the stage of the worst political hangover any of us have ever experienced. Yet no one is feeling this hangover more so than the undocumented community. This election represents both the rise of fascism, and, literally, an existential threat to students and their families nationwide, including and especially the nearly 1 million college students that have been enrolled under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
It is this program which has afforded them the opportunity to enroll in college without fear of deportation. While they and their families are scrambling, they are also fighting back and are doing so within the context that a colleague, Liliana Patricia Saldaña, an associate professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, describes:
“The candidate who began his campaign with anti-Mexican hate, promising to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. The candidate who has a disturbing record of sexually assaulting women and allegedly raping women. The candidate who promised to ban Muslims from entering this country. The man who mocks our disabled brothers and sisters. The candidate who is queerphobic with his support of right wing homophobic right wing extremists. And the man who hates the Black Lives Matter movement and Black people in general. This is the person who was elected president in 2016.”
Part of the political climate necessitates also challenging the mainstream narrative that the GOP nominee won handily and thus has a mandate, especially in regard to his immigration policies. It is projected that, when all the votes are counted, his opponent will have won by some 2 million votes. Donald Trump’s rise to power will have been the result the Electoral College, and not the will of the people.
For the rest of the column, go to:

Friday, November 11, 2016


Historical Appreciation: Reflecting on the 2016 Presidential Election

On election night, I received hundreds of messages from friends and colleagues from throughout the country. Most seemed to be in utter disbelief. When I got to campus in the morning, I went into the student lounge where I came upon students who were crying.
All day, everyone kept asking me: “How do you feel?”
Strong and determined, primarily because I was prepared. In large part, because I come from peoples who were subjected to the worst genocide in human history (tens of millions) and thus, despair and hopelessness, which I initially have seen all around me, are not part of my reality.
“It is better to die on our feet than to live on our knees.” That was Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata’s admonition. This is the precise time we should be summonsing the wisdom and courage of our ancestors, whether they be indigenous, African or Asian, etc. Perhaps we will all soon be declaring: “We are all Zapatistas.”
Soy macehual and like millions like me, I come from the south, and I am related to all the original peoples of this continent, and I acknowledge that it is our ancestors who already have done the suffering for us.

While I have come across people who believe that the election was irrelevant and that both candidates were equally evil, most people I have come across appear to be genuinely horrified by the results. This is what caused me to remember that I come from peoples that have endured hundreds of years of efforts to exterminate us. As is commonly said in indigenous circles: “We were never meant to survive.” And yet we are here.

For the rest of the column, go here:

Monday, November 7, 2016

Election 2016 and Revisiting the New Jim & Juan Crow

As we all know, for probably three-fourths of the electorate ― between women and people of color ― the choice for president should have been a no-brainer. Essentially, the choice was made for us; that’s how many people one candidate intentionally insulted.

Along with that, promises by politicians don’t impress. For many, day-to-day issues matter more than slick propaganda. For example, this past semester I taught Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow.” The topic of her book ― the drug war and the criminalization of people of color, which has wreaked untold havoc on the country ― should be front and center in this political campaign. Yet it isn’t. Instead, it has been National Enquirerheadlines. 

For rest of column, go to:

Monday, October 31, 2016

Standing Rock Standoff Just Latest in Pipeline Crises

October 30, 2016
by Roberto Rodriguez

The historic battle over the 1170-mile Dakota Access Pipe Line (DAPL) has consequences far beyond the environmental danger posed by what is deep below the Earth’s surface — what is referred to as “zuzeca sape” or the black snake — or the millions of barrels of oil that are slated to move from North Dakota to Illinois. This includes Lakota, Dakota and Nakota lands.
While this black snake poses a danger to the Missouri River and to all its nearby residents, it is also part of a historic battle pitting unceded Dakota territory claimed by the Standing Rock Sioux Nation per the 1851 Treaty of Laramie versus claims to private property by Energy Transfer Partners. In one sense, that is what this is all about and it is one battle out of many hundreds in this country and on this continent, some of them going back literally to 1492.
For the rest of the column, please go to:

Monday, October 24, 2016

The 2016 Elections. Flirting with Fascism, Dancing with Apartheid:

by Roberto Rodriguez

As a lifelong writer, my journalist ethic has prevented me from ever endorsing anyone, yet, that has never stopped me from commenting on elections, especially ones in which a sizable portion of the electorate appears to be flirting with the twin evils of fascism and apartheid.
Having lived through the Nixon, Reagan and Bush eras, one could legitimately ask: is the current misogynistic and racial supremacist GOP nominee actually more dangerous than those previous warmongering presidents who caused the deaths of millions around the world? Arguably, the difference between him and his predecessors is that they limited their wars to proxy wars and against nations without nuclear weaponry. The reason people seem to fear this nominee is because he seems to be inconsistent, unstable and erratic, qualities no one wants in a leader at the controls of this nation’s nuclear arsenals.

For rest of column, go to:

Friday, October 21, 2016

Rodriguez: Nightmare Looms for an Original DREAMER

by Roberto Rodriguez
This is the story of Lizbeth Mateo, a young, bright Indigenous woman from Oaxaca, Mexico, and a recent graduate from the Santa Clara University School of Law, who today finds herself under threat of imminent deportation.
There was a time when young brown peoples lived in the shadows, avoided the light of the day, and avoided all manner of authority and government officials.
And yet they dreamt. They always dreamt.
This wasn’t just any kind of young brown people. These were young brown students who had been brought into the country as either infants or as children, without, according to the U.S. government, the legal right to live in this country.
One day, they got tired of living in hiding, lost their fear, they stepped forward and began to assert their rights as full human beings and began to fight back guerilla-style; Zapatista style.
And then one day in 2010, after Congress again failed to pass the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, they also got tired of fighting in the shadows and thus, one day, five of them made the decision to sit down and unmask themselves, proclaiming to the world that they were both “undocumented and unafraid.” This Act would have permitted students, who had grown up in this country and who had completed their schooling here, to go to college without the threat of deportation and at the same tuition rate as in-state college students.
Where they chose to sit down were the Tucson offices of Sen. John McCain (R). Lizbeth was one of the five. This historic action included telling the world, and demonstrating it, that they were also not afraid of the immigration authorities. And, sure enough, the authorities came, arrested them and took them away, though, in short order, they were released. That action was like that proverbial shot heard around the world.
For the rest of the column, go to:

Friday, September 30, 2016

In Essence, Racism on Trial in Arizona’s Ethnic Studies Suit

Diverse Issues in Higher Education

In Essence, Racism on Trial in Arizona’s Ethnic Studies Suit
by Roberto Rodriguez

The Arce v Douglas ethnic studies trial, in Tucson’s Federal Court, is expected to commence in early 2017. The suit was filed against the state of Arizona, as a result of the state passing an anti-Ethnic Studies HB 2281 legislation in 2010. Yet for all intents and purposes, it is the discipline itself and, specifically, Tucson Unified School District’s former Raza Studies K-12 program that has been on trial since 2006.
That is the year when Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne began a relentless campaign to eliminate the program (created in 1998), charging that it promoted racism, segregation, the overthrow of the U.S. government and that it was founded upon non-Western values.
It was none of that, though students in fact were being taught to be critical thinkers; Enter Paolo Freire’ Pedagogy of the Oppressed, but not in Horne’s schools.
While the case has taken many turns, at the moment, the trial will focus on whether the state was motivated by racism while attempting to shut down the program.
For the rest of the column, read:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Scholar: Texas Textbook an ‘Intentional Assault’ on Psyche of Mexican American Students

After reading the proposed Mexican American Heritage textbook for Texas students last week by Jaime Riddle and Valarie Angle, I can without hesitation state that it is obscene and extremely offensive. And beyond being unfocused, incoherent and a badly written book, it is also an intentional assault by non-experts and ideologues against the spirit and psyche of Mexican American students.
The truth is, I now feel dirty and in need of a “limpia” or a “cleansing.” It is that bad. It is actually not even a textbook, but rather, an anti-Mexican, anti-Mexican-American, anti-Black and an anti-Indigenous ideological screed.
It is also a very familiar narrative that has been employed by the state in the decade-long battle over Ethnic Studies in Arizona, a battle that should culminate with a Tucson trial in early 2017, focusing on whether the state’s 2010 anti-Ethnic Studies bill was racially motivated or not (Yes!). The book actually reads like the “clash of civilizations” narrative that former Arizona State Education Secretary Tom Horne has peddled throughout all these years.
Akin to Horne, the authors have conjured up a narrative that corresponds to their “Americanization” ideology; one that sees Mexican Americans at best, as “illegals” and as coming from violent and backward cultures and as peoples that continue to be in the way of Manifest Destiny and also their City on a Hill. Nowhere in this 500-page poorly researched book is there anything remotely positive about the rich culture and history of Mexican Americans. Their only salvation: full assimilation.
The final report of the Ruben Cortez Ad hoc Committee, presented to the Texas State Board of Education at their Sept. 6 meeting states: “the proposed textbook is really a polemic attempting to masquerade as a textbook.”


Thursday, July 14, 2016

The 2020 Census and the Re-Indigenization of America

I've been on the road and have been neglecting this page. Thought I would post an article I recently wrote for Truthout's Public Intellectual Page Re the 2020 Census.

Friday, April 29, 2016



WHERE: John Valenzuela Youth Center 1550 S 6th Ave, Tucson, AZ 85713
WHEN: MAY 1, 2016 
Run/Walk:  8am
Healthy B-fast : 9:am
WHO: UA-Mexican American Studies, UA-MEChA & Calpolli Teoxicalli.
WHY: To promote healthy living as opposed to alcoholism and the desecration of a historic date in history

UA-MAS Professor
Roberto Dr. Cintli” Rodriguez

Saturday, April 2, 2016

by Roberto Cintli Rodriguez
Cephus Johnson, the uncle of Oscar Grant, who was killed by a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer in Oakland in 2009, speaking at an event in 2012. When a family loses someone to police violence, many times, "they are shocked into silence. Sometimes they are just shocked," says Johnson. (Photo: Wendy Kenin / Flickr)

Once again I find myself among grieving families, among families who bleed and tremble when they speak, all the while insisting they are witnesses or survivors, not victims. All the families present at this United Voices Against State Sponsored Violence event have tragically lost family members to the scourge of law enforcement violence. And while the air is heavy with trauma here, there is also much strength at this standing-room-only event at the African American Community Service Center in San Jose, California.
Family members are here to bear witness, affirming that they will not remain silent. "Silence is consent," says Cephus Johnson, the MC of the event and uncle of Oscar Grant, who was killed by a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer in Oakland in 2009. When a family loses someone to this kind of violence, many times, "they are shocked into silence. Sometimes they are just shocked," says Johnson.
Other families represented here are those of Antonio Lopez Guzman, Richard "Harpo" JacquezAlex NietoYanira SerranoDiana Showman, Phillip Watkins,Rudy Cardenas and Steve Salinas, just to name a few. All of them were killed unjustifiably, and several of these cases are still mired in the criminal legal system.

For rest of column, go to:

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Indigenous Knowledges Gathering March 16-17 Tucson, Arizona


(Please post and share)
Tucson, Az March 14-20
In a little over a month, an amazing confluence of conferences, gatherings and events are taking place in Tucson, during spring break, between March 14-20, 2016. They are being co-sponsored by many departments and organizations throughout the state of Arizona, but principally the Mexican American Studies Department at the University of Arizona.
• The Indigenous Knowledge Gathering: March 16-17
• The National Association for Ethnic Studies: March 17-20
• MEChA Nationals: March 17-20
We need assistance for the participants, for conference fees, travel stipends, etc.
To send a tax-deductible contribution towards the conferences, please go to the University of Arizona Foundation link (listed as R. Rodriguez events):
All donations will go toward assisting the 3 conferences, however, if you wish to designate your donation to one of the specific conferences, please indicate in the comments space. Also, please send a message to Jose Garcia, business manager at UA-MAS, indicating that you have made a donation to these conferences:
Prior to the conferences, spring break begins with Tucson's renowned Festival of Books March 12-13.
If you have further questions re the conferences, please write to: