Hola mi gente,
My first role models for social change were my parents. My first actions in my community were to hand out pamphlets announcing rent strikes and translating for the elders of my community. My parents taught their children that silence in the face of evil wasn’t an option.
My father has long since passed, but yesterday my mother, who’s a spry 80-year-old, took to the streets to in one of the reddest states to protest and stand up for the rights of women and the marginalized. I couldn’t be any prouder of her.
As children, my mother absolutely forbade pets. Well, we did have a line of Siamese cats for a little while, but they would use the toilet (or the bathtub) to do their business. My mother was and is a clean freak and her apartments gleamed. She’d be damned if she allowed some dog to stink up her house.
And that’s a good thing. LOL
However, my mother would allow stray people down on their luck to stay in our homes. If you didn’t have a place to stay, or you were the outcast in the community and everyone else had turned their back on you, my mother would take you in and in that way, our homes were often populated by some funny characters.
Donald Trump would probably call my mother a nasty woman, but she is not vulgar, or uncaring. My mother is the kind of nasty woman who felt empathy and compassion for those who were considered the least of us. And he caring was not transactional — she didn’t expect to be rewarded in this life or the next. God sees everything, she would often say.
In the 1960s, welfare workers would force their way into the homes of Puerto Ricans living in the Lower East Side so that they could search their apartments to see if their husbands
were home. Many of neighbors were simple country folk (“jibaros”) who didn’t know much about the law and would allow this violation of their rights to occur. Some of those workers would take advantage of the women. That is until one day my mother chased one of those male workers from our home with a knife, yelling “Rape!” That put a stop to that nonsense. After, my mother would gather the women in the community and teach them that they had a right to privacy and that no welfare worker could legally force themselves into their homes.
Donald Trump would probably call my mother a nasty woman, but she doesn’t allow her rights to be violated.
My mother would snap back at the Jewish merchants on Orchard street when they would throw nasty slurs at her and ask her if she wanted to “fuckee, fuckee.” She would tell them off and make a comment about their wives or, better yet, tell them to “fuckee” their mothers. I have no doubt that my mother would have gone toe-to-toe with any one of those merchants who considered all Latina women sluts.
Donald Trump would probably call my mother a nasty woman, but she doesn’t brook any disrespect or slut-shaming.
My mother was the president of the PTA and when she would tour the auditorium in her Jackie Kennedy outfit that she bought at some used rag store and which she made incandescent, she would always give my class a gold star. She was the most popular PTA president and raised all kinds of funds and then fought to have those funds used for after-school programs.
Donald Trump would probably call my mother a nasty woman, but she has a style that would’ve made Jackie jealous.
My parents would hold political forums in their apartments and all the intellectuals, poets, teachers, artists would gather in our living room to debate the hot topics of the time. When food was scarce, she would feed them pegao, the rice that stuck to the bottom of the pot, call it Puerto Rican Fried Rice, and serve it as a delicacy. It got so that they would ask for pegao and wouldn’t eat my mother’s regular rice. This was why I would come home from school and find my teachers debating the Vietnam war, feminism, civil rights. My father would sit me in the middle of all that so that my education would
continue in our home.
It was said that, Allen Ginsberg, the beat poet who wrote Howl and lived in our apartment building, was banned from our home for reciting his poetry nude.
Donald Trump would probably call my mother a nasty woman but there was a limit to her Catholic patience.
My mother encouraged my intellectual development and even though she couldn’t afford it, she bought the Encyclopedia Britannica from the door-to-door salesman because I begged her to. I cherished that set of books for a long time.
Yesterday, at the age of 80, my mother continues to speak truth to power and I feel so fortunate that she is my mother, the kind of nasty woman the patriarchy despises.
I love you, moms.
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…
Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it, please consider helping me out by sharing it, liking me on Facebook, following me on Twitter, or even throwing me some money on GoFundMe HERE or via PayPal HERE so I can keep calling it like I see it.