Unconventional Beauty

Editorials, Everyday Musings


The great thing about art is that it evokes emotions and everyone who looks can see a different meaning. This commenter saw this photo and  immediately felt angered because to them it depicted poverty in a way that was glorifying. For me, it was something different. I was captivated by a house that should not exist. It was built with simple materials, and has obviously survived a beating that comes from existence. By all definitions, it should have been defeated and washed away. Yet it’s still standing, revealing a complexity that goes beyond the exterior.

Is being privileged a crime? #FirstWorldProblems


When I woke up this morning, I rolled over to my laptop and became upset that the internet server was down and I could not check my e-mail.  After my shower, I realized that I had not given my laundry to the housekeeper and had to rummage through my dirty pile to find a shirt that I had worn last week for a couple hours.

At work, it began pouring raining and, while looking at the window, I realized that although I had remembered to bring my umbrella today, I had worn sandals and my feet would inevitably get soaked on my walk home.  Discouraged, I went to put my earphones in my Ipod and remembered that I didn’t want to leave the comfort of my bed to find my charger, so my device was dead.

My Black is Beautiful

Black History

Derek Walcott, Nobel Prize poet, receives a sketch made in his honor in San José, Costa Rica.

Nobel Prize winner and poet Derek Walcott, now aged by life, traveled from his wheelchair and sat in front of a Costa Rican audience to share his gift of insight.  He was the featured guest of a literary festival that would lead up to the Dia de las personas Negra or Day of Black Persons.

After giving an interview where he answered questions about the effects of colonization on afro-descendents especially in the Caribbean, Walcott began to read in a profound tone not disturbed by his noticeable hand shakings his own poems of life reflections that have earned him fame.  

Has social media ruined Free Speech?


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
 United States of America Constitution, First Amendment

(From NY Daily News) Protesters in Bangladesh burn U.S. flags after a controversial film enraged Islamic nations.

These words symbolize the foundation of our nation and the core values of our people.  It guarantees rights that some people of other nations dream to have, as indicated in the case of the Pussy Riot band members in Russia.  It also, is the very reason I am allowed to freely express myself in this blog today.

Of course the freedom is not absolute, and comes with restrictions.  For example, one could not stand up in the middle of a crowded theater and yell, “fire,” just for kicks and giggles, nor could one publicly call for the assassination of a public official.   Also, one couldn’t spread false rumors about someone, ruining their character.  Well, you could, but you would face drastic repercussions.
But can one legally make a video that pokes fun of a religious prophet and leads to anti-America riots and close to twelve nations?  Recent uprisings in the Middle East and the death of an American Ambassador has people debating this same question.
For now the answer is yes.
YouTube was first to take this stance when the Google company issued this response defending anti-Islamic movie entitled Innocence of Muslims after the Obama administration asked it to review its policy:
We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions. This can be a challenge because what’s OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere. This video — which is widely available on the Web — is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube. However, we’ve restricted access to it in countries where it is illegal such as India and Indonesia as well as in Libya and Egypt given the very sensitive situations in these two countries. This approach is entirely consistent with principles we first laid out in 2007.
This set two clear messages. First, Google will not be bullied by the government, and second, it would be un-American to deny a satire on religion, regardless of who it offends.
I applaud Google for sticking to its guns.  And the company is right.  This movie is no different than any of the other widely grossing American movies such as Bruno or cartoons such as South Park that make fun of peoples beliefs in order to get laughs.  Americans just have become desensitized to such mediums and choose to disregard things that they deem distasteful, allowing them to live on.
This is something the Obama administration was forced to admit through Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s words, “our country does have a long tradition of free expression, which is enshrined in our Constitution and in our law. We do not stop individual citizens from expressing their views no matter how distasteful they may be.”
One fact that can’t be ignored, however, is the reaction this video caused.  We watched on television as mobs violently protested outside U.S. Embassies and U.S. flags were burned.   Casualties included four persons form the Embassy in Libya.
Today the violence subdues, but one question remains: Has social media ruined free speech?  Although Americans can safely enjoy this right, the internet allows these pieces to be played in places where this right is not so pleasantly received.  There is no doubt, that from now on things that are subject for publication will have to answer the question, what effect can come from this.  The answer will most likely keep some things from surfacing to public level.
As of now, free speech lives to fight another day.  But I guarantee this victory will be short lived, and the notion will be called upon to defend itself once again.  Enjoy it while you can.

Gabrielle Douglas’ Olympic Victory makes African American History

Black History, Editorials

Little girls across the United States grow up with the dreams of possessing the poise and grace of a gymnasts.  Many are enrolled in tumbling classes, practice flips, stick landings and compete in competitions.  As they grow up, some transition to cheerleading while others give up altogether. Financial reasons, size limitations and mere changes of heart tug these youth into different directions.  However, even in adulthood they still reminisce of the time they wanted to dress in a leotard, soar through the sky, smile big, feel beautiful and shine as a star.

Sixteen year old Gabrielle “Flying Squirrel” Douglas represents that small percentage that got to live out her dream and achieve big.  As the first American to win team and all-around gold in the same Olympics and the first African-American woman to win gold in the women’s all-around, the 4-foot-11 teen with the golden small and chic moves has earned her spot as a heroin and legend.

Sikh Temple Shooting brings Question of Islamophobia


An Army Veteran turned white supremacist entered a Sikh temple in  Wisconsin Aug. 5. and went on a shooting rampage, just 16 days after the  Colorado movie theater massacre. At the hands of gunman Michael Page’s work, six worshipers were left  dead and four wounded. Of those wounded was a police officer. Page,  40, later killed himself after being wounded by another police officer.

A Walk of Faith to the Cartago Basilica

Everyday Musings, Short Story

Over a two week period, around two million people walked from their homes in Costa Rica to the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles in Cartago. Once in Cartago they went down the aisle to the alter on their knees. One lady, who came from Nicaragua, carries a picture of her daughter who has passed away.

Ouch, was all I could think as a pain surged from my knees up through my thighs.  Like thousands of Ticos, I was crawling from the entrance of the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles in Cartago, Costa Rica, to the alter.  I approximated that the journey was 100 yards total, and I myself had only inched my way a couple of feet.  The sensation from compressing my knees on the hard pavement told me to give up, but I could not disrespect the holy place in such a manner.  After all, I was surrounded by older people who had spent the entire morning walking to the basilica, and despite aches in their feet, still had the energy to finish the path. I, myself, had only taken the bus. Every time I stopped, I felt the lady dragging her baby in a stroller along with her run over my heels, urging me to move forward. Placing my agony aside, I progressed, remaining tranced in the atmosphere.

Agriculture Protest


Agriculture Protest

During an agriculture march from Central Park to the Democratic Assembly a young kid pulls an ox cart.

Costa Rican agriculture workers and farm owners from different farmer organizations came together July 31 to support a proposed law,  N° 18.070, that will exempt much of their agricultural land from taxes.  The protesters marched from Central Park to the Legislative Assembly to music and were greeted by a live band.  It was a true party with a purpose.

Hemsley remembered through his works

Black History, Editorials

Sherman Hemsley alongside co-star Isabel Sanford in television sitcom The Jeffersons.

Fish don’t fry in the kitchen, beans don’t burn on the grill! Took a whole lot of tryin’ just to get up that hill! Now we’re up in the big leagues, gettin’ our turn at bat.  As long as we livin’, it’s you and me baby, Ain’t nothing wrong with that.  We’re moving on up!

In Black America, this song represented our American dream and the Jefferson’s showed us that with hard work it would be possible to get our piece in the sky.

Sadly, main star of the Jefferson’s, Sherman Hemsley died on July 24 at age 74 of natural causes in his El Paso home.

Hemsley’s own life represented the ultimate success story.  He dropped out of his Philadelphia high school to join the air force, but later returned to Philly and worked at a post office while taking acting classes at night.  His big break came when he was performing on Broadway in New York in the production Purlie.  Television writer and producer Norman Lear was looking for a person to play a character that could stand up to Carroll O’Connor’s Archie Bunker on All in the Family, and had the hunch that Hemsley would be his guy.  After 2 years of Lear waiting, Hemsley joined the cast and George Jefferson was born.

George Jefferson captured America’s heart with his sly remarks, hunger for success, smooth dance moves, no-nonsense personality and big remarks.  Within two years, he was the star of his own sitcom The Jeffersons.  The show took on current social issues such as racism, integrated marriage, poverty and education.  Hemsley played the ignorant, money driven father who made you fall out of your chair laughing with his zingers but also made your heart melt with his underlying compassion for his family and others.  Reruns of The Jeffersons are still watched today.

After the Jefferson’s, Hemsley went to play Deacon Frye on another black casted sitcom Amen. The show was a depiction of African American values through the black church, and Frye was the deacon from everyone’s childhood who made you laugh, but worked hard to keep things running and together.

Througout his life, Hemsley’s career continued to blossom with guest appearances in other sitcoms and commercials, and music albums.

As Hemsley moves on up to that deluxe apartment in the sky, we will forever remember the feeling he gave us of anything is possible.  Rest in paradise Sherman Hemsley.


Foreign Fruit


Foreign Fruit

While browsing at the farmers market I stopped and sat behind a man with a truck selling fruits. He came over to me and handed me two Mamones Chinos. At the time I didn’t know what it was and stared at it intrigued by its funny outside and hairy texture. I peeled it and to my delight found what resembled a peeled grape. It was a delicious treat.