I can safely say I have been politically aware since at least age 9. I recall trick o’treating in the city of Paramount in ’72, while older boys were reminding folks to vote for Nixon. I can’t tell you what compelled me to chime in other than my mother, a hairdresser, who was on public assistance off and on throughout my childhood must have expressed concerns about the Presidential race. It became a shouting match between myself and these boys, with me telling people Nixon would cut welfare and food stamps.
Fast forward to 1979, living in Pico Rivera at age 16 (we moved – a lot). when my mom twisted her ankle and gave me her tickets to Zoot Suit playing at the Aquarius Theatre. It wasn’t Edward James Olmos (El Pachuco), or even Linda Ronstadt’s autograph I made my date go get, I wanted Governor Jerry Brown’s autograph on my Playbill.
I have understood the impact politics has on the average person’s life for decades, and I take it very seriously. That’s why when Anamarie Avila-Farias approached me three years ago and badgered me to run for School Board I wondered what she was angling for. Sure my children finished off school at Alhambra, but I was never a PTA mom, never attended a school board meeting and my children were adults. Why, I wondered to myself, why would anyone believe I had anything of value to add to a topic I did not follow? The short answer was I didn’t but at 5’11” I did make a pretty attractive lightening rod. That’s called self-awareness.
So I’ve heard, and read, my last letter has hurt a few folks whiddle feewings. In my household we’d say sana sana colita de rana, trust me, the translation is a much softer version of what I’d like to say in response. Because I have, and do, take politics very seriously I find it personally offensive when someone wakes up one day and says, hmm I’d like to be a politician. I really don’t know why, or what I can offer, or what I really stand for, but yeah, I wanna do that. And I really find it offensive when someone who makes that decision, then changes their mind and flips from one seat to another. As if a School Board Trustee, and Mayor of Martinez were simply interchangeable roles.
However, because I was approached by Ms Farais to run for School Board, and because another member of my household was approached by one of her surrogates to run for Mayor, I can reasonably deduce how this all unfolded. My “take down” “hit piece” etc., ad nausea, did not single out the sole Hispanic running for political office but wondered aloud, and on paper, how she chose to run for one office and on the very last day, changed her mind and decided to run for an entirely different one. I also started looking at who was vocally backing her, namely key voices from the “1,000 Friends” cabal. And I had/have questions.
Now for those of my detractors who have lived their entire political lives under some sort’ve Obama spell, I can understand how Trump’s nomination was a terrible wake up call for you. I get how this has somehow managed to galvanize you into action, well at least into forming Facebook Groups, and like Pinky and the Brain you’ve decided to take back your world. Great, get on that will you? But instead of sharing my mean ole opinion piece at least 72 times, how about starting by trying to understand how things got to where they are now, first. Try reengaging your critical minds when hearing or reading. And start asking questions, a lot more questions.
Here’s a few; why do you want to run for political office, what do you bring to the table, how have you demonstrated leadership skills in the past, and for god’s sake, what do you believe in and why? Just because you can, as we’re made painfully aware of on a daily basis, doesn’t mean you should.
And yes, Virginia, I’m mad. The Anamafia (love this term) has taken something from me that I’ve held sacred for over 40 years, and they twisted and perverted it for their political gain. They conspired to use my cultural heritage, something someone who has never lived outside of the bubble that is Martinez does not understand, to diminish and deny me my vote, my voice, and now my time honored tradition of going out to the polls with my neighbors and casting my ballot. I hurt a few feelings? I did it for your own good, you’ll thank me later, believe me . . .
– Linda Meza