I’ll post again about the 6th Annual Writers Conference in Taos, NM hosted by SOMOS but it’s not too early to make your summer plans. It will be live and one of the few in-person events I’ll be doing this year. Mask up and come by. Grab your laptops and yellow pads and pencils. There’s fewer places in the world to be inspired more to write at than New Mexico.
A radio interview I gave last fall for my new book of poems MY BOOK OF THE DEAD
In my collection, I included a poem for the late writer and college professor, H.C. Carrillo (aka Glenn Carroll.). We became acquainted when I introduced his novel at the Book Expo in Chicago and friendship followed. Although we hadn’t talked for some years before his death, I was very saddened to hear that COVID had taken such a vibrant person from the world.
In this interview, I was blindsided to hear that “Hache” as he was was affectionately known was not Cuban as his bio said. In my raw responses, l struggled to restrain ese mal genio that I’ve been rumored to show at times. In fact, everyone, including his husband who only heard the revelation after Hache’s passing, seemed dumbfounded. In addition to a sense of loss for someone we all admired and were grateful to have in this world, with the truth of his false biography, came a sense of betrayal.
Furthermore COVID in 2020 brought relentless loss, grief, life-style change, fear, illness, financial panic, and isolation to most on the planet. The Black Lives Matter Movement, ongoing public murders of black and brown skinned individuals against the blatant White Supremacy of the prior administration was a matter of life and death activism for many of us.
I may be considered ‘old school’ by today’s standards and criteria but I believe in valuing my allies, even as they/we all are imperfect and conflicted human beings, while involved in many of the same struggles.
After the interview, I became aware of the controversy expressing varying speculations and opinions about ethnic appropriation in modern times. It’s a discussion worth having, especially when opportunism and intent for personal gain are obvious But for the vast majority of POV, since Columbus landed in this part of the world and with the indelible influence of the conquistadores, imported African slavery, indigenous genocide, slavery and servitude, the centuries long institutionalization of Whiteness and an endless striation of social status, and practices at varying degrees today, raise all kinds of questions regarding privilege and racism, including internalized racism.
As for Hache, the journey that led to the decision to appropriate a Cuban identity, including speaking a second language went to his grave. His legacy as professor, scholar, friend, advocate for POC writers and human rights, in my view, is not diminished. RIP, amigo.