Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fifty Shades of Amazing

Adriana Zavala Badal first entered the United States from Mexico at the age of one. As the years passed she never imagined she would be in the race of her life in her 50's but that is exactly what she has signed up for. Adriana grew up in Bisbee, a small mining town in southeast Arizona - population less than 6,000. Today she is running for mayor of the town and if she wins, she will be the first Latina mayor ever elected in Cochise County.

I sat down with Adriana, well I emailed her. She's a bit busy these days campaigning but was kind enough to let me interview her over email. It is important that my readers know I may be a bit biased considering I'm interviewing my mother, the woman I admire most in this world.

Y.C.: What excites you about running for Mayor of Bisbee AZ?

Adriana: The challenge of leading a diverse group of people. The residents of Bisbee include people who were born here, residents who came 40 years ago after the mines closed, and many part-time residents. Many times they are on opposite sides of the issues. As the lead person on the city council, I'm looking forward to applying a no-nonsense leadership style of consensus building to address our main concerns.

Y.C.: If you are to get elected, what do you hope to accomplish for your community? 

Adriana: I must find ways to fix crumbling retaining walls, potholes and crumbling streets, and deteriorating drainage and flood control canals. In addition, Bisbee's share of federal and state revenues is down, and the City's contribution to police and fire personnel pensions continues to grow. It will be necessary to cut spending and consolidate departments where possible, increase revenue, and spur growth.

Y.C.: What do you like about the town and the people of Bisbee AZ?

Adriana: About Bisbee I like its geography, its weather, its size, and its history. About the people, I like their sense of adventure, their work ethic and desire to make Bisbee a great place to live, their international experiences, and how they come together when the going gets tough. 

Y.C.: What experience do you have that would qualify you to become Mayor?

Adriana: 20 years working in government affairs and public policy in Arizona and New Mexico. 

Y.C.: How do you deal with criticism and naysayers in life and throughout your campaign?

Adriana:  I try to understand their reasons for saying no or for criticizing me or an issue. When I do that I sometimes change my mind or realize that I need to explain something better. If neither of us has a change of heart or mind-set, then at least we've had a discussion and hopefully we've established a rapport so that we can continue to talk. 

Y.C.: What advice would you give future political hopefuls when it comes to

Adriana: Talk less, listen more.

Y.C.: How does being bilingual benefit you as a mayoral candidate? 

Adriana: There are many Spanish speakers in Bisbee. It is one more way I can identify with them. Also, I am able to explain issues and listen to their concerns in their native language. Knowing Spanish is not just about speaking the language, it is also about understanding the culture; this type of understanding can be useful when a mayor seeks constituent input and support. 

Y.C.: What do you want your constituents to know about you?

Adriana: I am grateful for their confidence in me as a public servant. Regardless of who they vote for, if I am elected, I will represent everyone with respect and dignity. I will have regular office hours at City Hall. I will use the skills I've acquired over the last 20 years to improve all aspects of city government. I will continue to learn about city issues and constituent needs. I plan on us having fun.

Y.C.: Do you think you are a positive role model for other Latinas?

Adriana:  I don’t think of myself as a role model. I don't do anything with that intent. I do things because they need to be done, and when I commit to doing them, I seek perfection. I often miss the mark.

Y.C.: Who's been your role model?

Adriana: My sister who never gives up.

Y.C.: What is your stance on immigration?

Adriana:  I like it. 

Y.C.: Do you think of yourself as American or Mexican?  

Adriana: Mexican American. For me, it is impossible to separate the two. I and my parents were born in Mexico. As a child and youth, I spent many summers and holidays in Mexico. As an adult, I have travelled there extensively. My parents were proud of being Mexican and never shied away from who they were. That gave me self-esteem and confidence.

Y.C.: What is it like to live in a border community during an election year where immigration is a hot topic? 

Adriana: Bisbee does not have border immigration problems. Individuals and families from Mexico have been coming to Bisbee since the late 1800s to work, to shop, to live - and vice versa. The border region in this part of the country is populated by people who understand and respect each other. We are fortunate to live here.

Y.C.: What is the best piece of advice you've ever received? 

Adriana: Don't be afraid to ask a question. If you ask it, you might feel dumb for a few minutes. If you don't ask it, you might be dumb for a very long time.

Y.C.: If you are elected will you run for re-election and do you have aspirations for any other elected position?

Adriana: Right now I am focused on winning the mayoral race. The primary is August 28 and the general election is November 6.  

If you know Bisbee, then you know just about anything can happen there including electing the right woman for the job.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

P Syndrome

Pobrecito syndrome is a condition running rampant in many neighborhoods and communities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging all individuals with affected family members to remain patient and calm while a cure is found. The largest group affected by this debilitating disease seems to be Hispanic fathers however the CDC is warning citizens that no one is immune once exposed to the condition.
As infectious disease specialists work around the clock to learn more about P Syndrome, below is a list of symptoms that should not go untreated. Due to the difficulty of diagnosing one’s self with P Syndrome, we recommend you sit down with a strong female family member such as your wife or daughter while she provides answers to this checklist.

Symptoms of P Syndrome

• If you call this person on the phone and the first thing they say is, “Que milagro! You never call me,” even though you just talked for two hours yesterday.

• No matter how many trips you make to visit this person, they swear it's been forever since they last saw you.

• You send this person a card and follow up with a phone call a few days later and their response for not calling to thank you for the card is, “I didn’t want to bother you.”

• When you seem frustrated or upset by something personal in your life, they ask you, “Why are you mad at me?”

P Syndrome should not be taken lightly. It is recommended that individuals demonstrating any of the above symptoms be treated with extra doses of love and patience. Scientists are studying potential causes of this new disease and believe it can be brought on by factors such as drinking too much tequila, listening to corridos and or watching too many John Wayne movies.
Rest assured. There is hope. I will be collecting money from now until the end of time to fund future blog posts on the condition so inbox me if you wish to contribute.

Join the fight, one pariente at a time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It's okay to be Chingon!

Once upon a time in a not so far away land called the Southwest, a man married a woman. The man was from Mexico and the woman, well her story has been taken off shelves. She could have been Native American, Anglo, or maybe even a beautiful African goddess. She bore this man many children and raised them to be muy chingon.

Today, the children of those children thirst for knowledge of her life, her history, her being. Some of these children live in Tucson Arizona and in true Chicano fashion; they are raising hell to be heard and to be counted. They are muy chingon.

You may have heard of the ban on ethnic studies by the Tucson Unified School District. With budget cuts affecting school districts all over the country, one might say the ban on Mexican American studies is not personal. If only it were that simple. Books have been banned and literally removed from library shelves in an effort to eradicate anything related to race, ethnicity or oppression, according to an article by the New York Daily News. TUSD’s decision to suppress books on oppression has not gone unnoticed. A group of individuals from Texas calling themselves the librotraficantes have made it their mission to smuggle contraband books back into Arizona making them available again.

Why would anyone want to study Mexican American studies in high school? There are many reasons but the most obvious is to feel empowered and important. According to the Pew Research Center, being Hispanic doesn’t come easy. A large percent of our young people drop out of high school more frequently than Blacks, Whites or Asians. An even larger amount of us live in poverty and even a greater percentage become mothers by age 19. It’s no wonder young Latinos seek an escape from the difficulties of life. For many that escape is learning and celebrating their history.

When I first heard about Chicano Studies in college, something clicked for me. After just a few courses, I felt whole. Now I could add the brave tales of Reyes Lopez Tijerina to my knowledge of American History. Some proponents of the ban feel that the Mexican American Studies curriculum breeds hatred for white people. The point of ethnic studies is to highlight multiculturalism and celebrate it. Many Chicanos, me included, have Anglo family members that we love dearly and they love us. Despite what the opposition says, most of us have no intent on taking over the country by force. We are a people, not a religion.

Maybe one day there will be a Mexican American President in the White House. Until then, we just want to celebrate our chingon-ness. Don’t worry. We’ll try to keep the music down.

Chingon is an urban term that means, “real bad-ass.”

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fake It Until You Make It

If you were hoping for a salacious tutorial on how to get a guy in 10 days, that’ll have to be another post. If you’ve started your own business recently or are thinking about becoming a business owner, you could consider this your mantra. Fake it until you make it. Forbes magazine has featured two articles in the last few weeks about more layoffs expected on Wall Street and another 2,000 jobs to be eliminated at Bank of America. reported in 2010 that 7.9 million jobs were lost during the great recession, some of which may never return.

Since the beginning of the recession we’ve all noticed an increase in self employment among our friends and family. And if you haven’t noticed it, I myself invested in a rather risky yet exciting endeavor just as more than ten banks were being shut down according to the FDIC’s failed bank list for February 2011. Corporations have let us down making the modern day employee an employer. Before I ever became a statistic of the recession by being laid off in 2008, fake it until you make it has been a survival technique in my family for generations. There’s something unique about growing up too Latino for Americans and too American for Latinos that has made these six simple words a way of life for a Yuppie Chicana.

When my grandmother was a young woman applying for a job as a telephone operator, one of the questions she was asked was if she had a command of the English language. She said yes and was hired. Truth be told, she was not fluent in English but she took a chance and it paid off. Risk taking doesn't have to come with sweaty palms if we remind ourselves that failure is the mother of all success.

If it’s an unfavorable hand you’ve been dealt these last few years, rest assured many people have decided to take matters into their own hands and have become successful entrepreneurs as demonstrated by the recent increase in online businesses. That doesn’t make it easy, but it is possible even if you don’t feel 100% prepared. It is easy to doubt ourselves on the merit that we may not have experience in other industries, or perhaps lack a college degree.

One of my favorite TV shows is Shark Tank on Friday nights. It embodies the American entrepreneurial spirit. Anytime I travel outside the country, inevitably there is always one person that says the United States has no culture. I just smile and ask if they are enjoying their Iphone. It may be made in China, but the technology is as American as apple pie, or should I say Taco Bell? Yikes!

The point is we are a resilient culture. When the pilgrims left England for The New World, someone must have put their hands up and said I hope this is a good idea. Turns out, it was a great idea. When we brought our baby home from the hospital my husband and I asked ourselves, who signed off on this? So next time you feel stuck on the sidelines of life, remember these six simple words and fake it until you make it.


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