Introducing Cruz Medina: Fellow pocho/academic/bloger
My name is Cruz Medina. I’m earning my PhD in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Arizona. I’ve blogged for the past few years on writerscholarprofessional.blogspot.com and recently started a new blog pochoteca.blogspot.com centered on ideas related to my dissertation. Having read Romeo Guzman’s non-fiction at Acentos Review, I began reading and thinking about what it meant for me to be Pocho in Greater Mexico. The following are my thoughts related to the fluid pocho identity in changing geographic spaces. It is a part of a collaborative blogging exchange between Romeo and me, building bodies of knowledge on the pocho genealogy. It’s a wonderful, academic pocho desmadre.
When I think about what it means to be a pocho in Tucson, a lot of negative things come to mind. I certainly agree that it sometimes feels like I’m “in the center of intolerance” as the Pima County Sherriff said. With SB 1070, Anti-Raza Studies bill HB 2281 and enough privileged students who dismiss the inequality they see around them, sometimes all you can do is turn up some Public Enemy “By the Time I Get to Arizona.” As a pocho, I better understand some of the hidden curriculum that allows me entry into other spaces, but as a pocho from Califas sur, I have sometimes had to bite my tongue.
A Chicana badass friend of mine from Tucson, a year ahead in my program, told me that she grew up visiting cousins in Southern California and they always acted like they were so much cooler. And I get that. I was born in Santa Cruz, raised in Ontario, graduated from Claremont High School, attended UC Santa Barbara (and a couple summers at Mt. SAC like Romeo). I’ve lived in San Diego and Orange County. I’ve lived in enough places in Califas sur to understand that representing the pochismo means different things in different contexts. As a kid, it meant knowing that OVS was Ontario Varrio Sur[sic]. In Orange County, I knew to read Gustavo Arellano’s column “Ask a Mexican” to keep my sanity and to buy Arellano’s books from Martinez bookstore in Santana. But Tucson is different.
Sixty miles or so from the border, Tucson reminds me more of San Diego more than the OC. While living in San Diego, I contributed a “question of the week” column for the San Diego Reader called “Off the Cuff” from 2003-2006. The Reader is a weekly newspaper that appealed to a conservative audience that makes up a quiet majority. Once I did a feature about migrant workers paying into Social Security and not being able to claim tax refunds, I garnered angry “Letters to the Editor.” I don’t want to say that they were ‘putting the pocho back in his place,’ but the editor was hoping I would have written more about undocumented laborers not paying their taxes.
Living, studying and teaching in Tucson, I feel I garner some crossways glances from privileged students who don’t know what to think of their ‘Hispanic English teacher who talks about race, class and gender inequality.’ It doesn’t help when I say that anyone not from Arizona is a ‘documented migrant.’ Outside the privileged space of the university classroom, there are great student and community organizations working against discriminatory red state discourse and legislation which can make a pocho’s heart grow heavy. But opportunities for exchange like this are necessary. I’m already feeling reenergized.
And that’s why I got to give thanks to the voices in cyberspace, the digital mestiz@s like Romeo, getting it done in el norte (muy norte en neuva York). (Re)presenting pocho en todas partes.