Monday, August 30, 2010

A Final Blog… About My Blogs?

A Final Blog… About My Blogs?

There is a famous French Poet by the name of Charles Pierre Péguy, in whose writings I’ve found myself to be very much a reflection in the mirror of his work.

It is said that his words were so powerfully influential that his mere writings sent men to war in the 1914’s. Yet he was not merely a literary activist. And in backing the profound words that he wrote – his actions would ultimately cost him his life.

Péguy enlisted to fight in World War I and he was subsequently killed while leading his men on the battlefield during the Battle of the Marne on September 5th, 1914.

However, his words are alive and ring as true to this writer today, nearly 100 years after his death, as I’m sure they rang true to those men who followed him into battle – to their own deaths.

“Freedom is a system based on courage…” ~ Péguy

I wonder who amongst us these days truly feels free.

But even more importantly, who amongst us has the courage to speak up and to speak out against the systems that are failing us, even worse, failing the next generation in ways previous generations were never failed.

When I write these weekly blogs – I am always eager to see who will step up to the literary podium (comments section) and voice their opinions.

Good or bad, different or indifferent, in total agreement or total disagreement – I just want to read the peoples concerns.

Unfortunately what I find every week is zero comments, one comment, two comments (if one is mine), and on a really, really good week – three comments, again, if one is my own.

“A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket...” ~ Péguy

How prophetic.

For those of you who’ve read my work – you’d certainly understand that my words are being pulled one at a time from the very depths of my gut… I don’t know how to write any other way – nor would I ever care to.

However, these days I’m wondering if it’s even worth the pain of withdrawing these throbbing truths from my soul only to end up with zero comments at the end of the week.

Confession: writing these blogs takes a heavy toll on me emotionally and physically.

Do you think it’s easy week after week to do research on topics destroying this country from the financially difficulties of our generation in Die Peasant… Die, in which I wrote, “We were losing our lives, our jobs, our homes, our pension plans and life savings, while at the same time making the richest people in America 700 Billion dollars wealthier. What a sweet deal for them, huh?” (2 Comments).

Or when I wrote about how far behind minorities are in the race for a better education in The Art of the Question, in which I wrote, “The indigenous people were no better than roaming packs of wolves looking for their next meal and they seemed to prefer white meat… The Puerto Rican Nationalists were terrorists. Shit, kind of looks like CNN today showing us how all Mexican’s looking for a better tomorrow are “illegal’s” and “aliens” at the same time…” (2 Comments – 1 mine).

What about a few weeks back when I wrote about our teenagers killing themselves (The Virtual Life of a Teen) via My Space beefs, a trend that has carried over to Facebook and Twitter, when I wrote, “Honestly, it isn’t easy to shock me… But the realization that one of his closest friends had been murdered over ‘tough talk’ on My Space, and the sad fact that he held him as he took his last breath, was enough to reduce me to tears of anger as he cried and told me the story of watching his friend die over nothing…” (3 Comments – 1 mine).

All very heavy topics from week to week which have also included random gun violence, the growing gang problems in our communities, the always hot religious debate and many others…

But the one that has me ready to hang up my keyboard and quit blogging is my last blog, which garnered “zero” comments.

It was “An Open Letter to Ruben Diaz Jr.,” in which I wrote, “So why then does Diaz Jr. merely release another copy and pasted version of his last press release during the previous bloody weekend and promise to meet with two people who have absolutely no damn idea how to fix the issues in OUR communities?” (0 Comments)

And true to my words, the NYPD – I’m assuming with some input from Diaz Jr., did nothing other than flood certain blocks in the Bronx with more Gestapo’s, foot soldiers, otherwise known at the NYPD prepared to harass 93% of the good people in ours neighborhoods to find the 7% they say are causing all the harm. Sounds fair right?

I want you all to understand sincerely that your silence does nothing for any cause…

I want you to understand that when you read one of my blogs and shake your head in disgust – that your reaction must be backed up with an action…

In this case, I’m not yet asking any of you to walk into battle with me and die in the trenches as Péguy and his men did in 1914.

But I am asking you to voice your objections in the comments section of the blog spot – not Facebook – to let the world know that you have the courage to stand up behind your words. That you can’t be silenced – that your words will eventually lead you to the truest definition of freedom.

I imagined someone forwarding the link of my last blog to Ruben Diaz Jr., in which I not only spoke about the problems plaguing this borough of the Bronx, but in which I spoke to solutions and actually left my real phone number in an effort to offer support and assistance…

And I imagined him upset as he read my words such as, “Does it make sense to anyone other than me that we need to reach EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE if we’re ever going to stand a chance in turning this thing around…”

Or when I went on to write, “And so sick of our elected officials, those I’ve supported, like Ruben Diaz Jr., not standing up and saying, “Come sit at the table with me… and let’s figure this out…”

I now believe Diaz Jr. would’ve reached the end of the blog in a bit of shock… Only to find out that there were “zero” comments to back up anything I wrote about – Thus giving him the false assumption that all of his constituents must be perfectly happy with what he’s doing to stop violence in the borough.

Next I imagined a huge smile run across his face as he sat back in his chair assured that the voices of the peasants will forever fall silent…

And then I grew angry and sick to my stomach that we truly have no voice, for a quiet objector is no objector at all…

Péguy understood this even 100 years ago when he wrote, “We must always tell what we see. Above all, and this is more difficult, we must always see what we see…”

If I’m alone in this fight, please let me know so I can silence my pen, for I no longer want to see what the rest of you don’t care to see.

Perhaps this blog shall go blind as well… and be silenced for a time…

Ivan Sanchez is the author of Next Stop: Growing up Wild-Style in the Bronx (Touchstone – Simon & Schuster, 2008). The book is the first memoir released by a major publishing house written by a Puerto Rican from the Bronx. Sanchez is also the co-author of It’s Just Begun: The Epic Journey of DJ Disco Wiz, Hip Hop’s First Latino DJ (powerHouse, 2009). He was awarded the National Novel honors for his first fiction offering and is currently working on several new books about NY Latinos. He is also the co-host of Rebel Radio on Urban Latino Radio.


  1. Humm, I guess you need some old school love. Stop feeling sorry yourself. Do you honestly think that you can actually stop seeing what you are seeing and writing about it simply because folks are not leaving comments here and giving you love?

    What would it serve you to stop? Will it stop you seeing what is happening in the world or looking for a way to express that and get it out?

    Your a homie from the South Bronx, as am I, we don't know how to stop. It is not in our nature to do so. So what if it pains you to see how we are tearing ourselves apart?

    It is when we stop talking that we truly become lost. Many have suffered for years talking about the very things that you are passionate about, in small groups, but lacking the tools and gift of communication that you possess with always the possibility that you may reach many.

    Leaders of conscience walk their paths in solitary company until, by chance, their single voice is joined by many. Not saying that this may be you, but you seem to be moved by a greater calling then the fear of being a solitary voice.

    Oh and by the way, people will respond anyway they can in this day and age or maybe not at all. Take it where you can get it even on Facebook until something better comes along. =)

  2. It is said that the pen is mightier then the sword.... But it is sad that so many of us who are suffering at the hands of those we place in office would much rather settle then speak up about it.... It takes great courage to lead, but it takes even more courage to accept defeat.... If you truly believe in something you should never give up and always press on even when you have been beaten down.... Our future is a bleak one, but if we stand together to create change then we have the power to change that.... Like I have always said to so many others do you truly believe that we are a free country.... All is controlled by our fair government in which the constitution states "for the people and by the people"... I beg to differ.... I understand your struggle Ivan, and hope that your sheer will will create the change that is so much needed in this world.... Many blessings to you and yours always....

  3. @Rigglord - I appreciate and respect your words and you’re right on target with everything you’re saying… I just want my readers to understand that we “ALL” need to have a voice and use it if we’re going to affect change with people like Diaz Jr. Otherwise, is my investment into awakening my audience worth the time I’m putting in? @ Wilma, I believe I’ll continue to educate the masses through my writings… But sometimes I need to check the pulse of the audience… This is one of those times!

  4. I hear what you're reaching at, Ivan. I no longer live in the Bronx and now I see it in comparison to my new home in New Jersey. It upsets me that I had to move out here to give my child a fair chance at success. More on that later. I was just having a conversation with my husband last night on the successes of African Americans. I attribute their successes - their Oprah, Martin Luther King, Jr., even Al Sharpton, et. al - The reason is that when these folks stand up for (or have stood up) something - they do it in numbers. Where is our front person? Who is our activist that is easily connected to our people? I'm not just talking Latino here. I'm writing about the Bronx. How tired I am of people downplaying and only seeing the dark there is to see and not ever noticing the opportunity (though so minor sometimes) that can exist. You may remember, I lost my sister to a bullet in Brooklyn in '83, she was 20. In 2004, 21 years later... my nephew 29, died to a stabbing. In 21 years nothing has changed! Where are the activists? Where are the elected officials helping to improve communities so that my sister can rest that her son's killer is behind bars. He's not, he walks the streets just down the block from where she lives. Keep writing Ive, the road is long when you go the route that matters. Keep writing, and remember that revolutions don't happen overnight and even if takes another 20 years, Changes will come!

  5. I have been trying to get people to suppport sexual and reproductive health and rights (including abortion) for decades and the fight has to be tireless. The opposition to women having a say so over their bodies is intrinsically tied to the politics of domination. There are days when I wonder where are all the people (men and women) who support choice when rows of those who oppose it are blocking access to the doors for women (and men) to get services.

    Its about being resilient in the face of all forms of "silence" and inaction that all too commonly follows in our communities. And its about celebrating the victories that we do see no matter how small.

    I consider your blog to be a form of victory. A form of voice for the voiceless. And if the silence that fall on your cyber ears is to motivate you to do anything it should be to strengthen your voice (and writing from the depths of your being) because it reflects the need for it is even greater than you probably imagined it woudl be.

    At the end of the day oppression is about striping us of what makes us powerful. Dont allow the deafening silence of our communiteis to silence you as well. Your voice is needed (especially when it echos;)
    In solidarity

  6. You, mi amigo, are a true literary activist. Your blogs are a call to action and I read how much research and passion go into their creation. It comes through in your words and your social activism. Please keep it going.

  7. Let no one silence you. You just have to find another way. Continue your Blog continue to speak. If our teachers from the past gave up we would not be talking about them today. Christ, Buddha, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Pedro Albizu Campos, Etc. Whether we agreed with what they said or disagreed, we felt something. Today I am touched by you words. Now Keep writing and touch the World. Blessings

  8. If you chose not to blog again Ivan it will be a disservice to us, not all people (like me) leave a reply or comments that doesn't mean that they are not reading!!
    I, read what you write. There are times that I read to then lay back in my chair (smiling) feeling honored that an intelligent Latino is making sense and voicing opinions shared by so many of us. If you remain silence you will be placing a piece of duct tape on my mouth!! Speak and do what you do best write!! You are a blessing to many, you speak without being too crass and you welcome opinions without feeling insulted unlike some of our mutual friends. You are a voice that I support and actual need to hear from. If I’ve haven’ thank you before I will gladly do so openly. Ivan you are a champion for civil humanity and justice especially for our youth! I thank God for you!!

  9. I just want to take a moment to thank you all for the wonderful input, comments and words of encouragement... This is what I needed to keep going - at least for a few more weeks... LOL! Let the literary activism commence...

  10. let the literary activism commence <3

  11. I see where you're coming from and I agree that we do need a leader but at the same time aside from representation what will a leader actually change. Having a leader to represent us is not going to make the ghetto neighborhoods disappear or stop the violence. The African Americans are still killing each other, still going to jail. Oprah and Al Sharpton are proof that African Americans can be successful and now thanks to Sotomayor we can see that Latinos can also, but that doesn't change anything in the hoods.

    In my opinion, the big problem here is not so much about leadership but poverty, racism and upbringing. It's not just happening to us Latinos it's happening all around the world. The poor aren't given the same opportunities as the rich and that's what keeps us down in the slums. I also realize that the extreme poverty situations are mostly happening to colored people, Ethiopia, slums of India, Mexicans and others who are referred to as third world countries.

    This is all based on my personal opinion and what I've seen on the news and stuff. I haven't seen or heard much of a white country whose in such extreme poverty aside from certain parts of Russia. Maybe it could be that it's purposely kept from the media, or maybe that's just how it was made to be only expose the negativity of the colored people.

    I see how the media always portrays white people as positive successful role models and because of that comes the mindset that the good neighborhoods and great jobs was only for white people. The media always portrays us as negative, uneducated, non english speaking, drug selling or drug addicts, with crappy jobs. Our kids grow up seeing the same negative role models. This without a doubt starts us on the road towards failure.

    Our kids are exposed to this 24/7 through TV, the web, and what a lot of people haven't realized it's also in ours schools. Many of the schools have mostly white faculty and a few colored. This should be okay but the sad truth is that there are plenty of teachers who teach our kids who are racist. As a kid I experienced racism from school faculty and today my son experiences at times the same in his school. This is where good upbringing is very necessary and vital.

    It doesn't matter where you come from ghetto or not. There's plenty of rich people who are just as low as a crack head in the ghetto. They don't have a role model in their life. If your parent(s) or a role model isn't there for you, to teach you about who you are, where you came from and what you can do, to encourage you and give you the positive reinforcements that you need to succeed with wealth and good character.

    Most likely you will learn on your own from TV, your hood or from that teacher who keeps picking on you making you look like a problem, when in fact it's them with the problem. This is a cycle that just keeps going. Maybe we could use something like affirmative action in our school systems as well.

  12. Just wanted to add that I'm sorry for writing so much I got a little caught up in it. My response was mostly about the Puertorican Parade post.

    I read this one also and feel we need more writers like you.

    We grow up in this country with little to no exposure of our Latino writers.

  13. Hello Rainlysa:

    First I want to say thank you for writing such a long and heartfelt response… That is actually what this forum is for. And I appreciate the strong opinions of everyone – so that we may have strong dialogue. In regards to your comments, I can start by saying I agree with pretty much everything you are saying… it would be hard for me not to.

    But the thing I would like you to think a little more deeply about it what Latinos having an Oprah or an Al Sharpton does for us or even worse what happens when we don’t have that representation? Think about all of the wonderful things Oprah is able to do with her fame, her money and her credibility. Think about the gifts she gives away, the money she donates the power she has to make an African American Author a millionaire overnight, thus giving them the power to write more books and open the doors to other African American Authors. Think about the power she has to even assist in helping elect the first African American President… For after all, her endorsement of Obama was immeasurable in terms of the votes she helped push his way. What happens when a Latino Author needs that support? And forget about a Latino President without that kind of weight behind him…

    In regards to an Al Sharpton, when atrocities such as police brutality take place, we need an organizer who can ensure that the power of the people be represented in tangible numbers showing up to protest… That we have a voice at the table when we have to speak up for the under served who simply don’t have the education to speak up for themselves… After all it’s an issue of humanity, whether it is a poor educational system, no food in the household, gang violence in the communities… And when we have no representation at the table, we have no voice! And that’s something that will continue to plague us and keep us in the dark ages until we place Latinos in those positions of power… We are a people of color…

    I hope this shines a light on why I feel so strongly about us supporting one another in tangible ways… Not just speaking about it… But actually being about it!

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