Friday, April 21, 2006

Rise up, oh the people.

I've been having an interesting experience doing Eureka! Since the illegal immigration issue has been heating up. Along with various other historical characters, I play Francisca Benicia Vallejo, The wife of General Vallejo, for whom the original capitol of California was named. In the scene where the young gold miner meets the Vallejos, the General talks about how California used to be a part of Mexico, and how Yankees took his land. I sing, as Benicia a corrido (translated into Spanish by my father, Emiro) about the loss and theft of the Mexican land by whites. Now in places like Santa Ana, Fontana, Long Beach, where there is a huge immigrant, even migrant population, the kids were always delighted that I spoke "Their" language, was dressed in Mexican garb and was very dignified and noble. But NOW, since all the Publicity, and the morning DJ's talking about the situation and exhorting their listeners to march, to rebel, to wear Mexican flags, etc, kids as young as kindergarten are cheering, clapping, whooping. They get really riled up. It's awesome and a little scary. BUT as a contrast in the richer areas like Laguna and Newport, a lot of the adults narrow their eyes at us, cross their arms, and when I say, "This once was OUR land..." The tension is so thick you could cut It with a cuchillo.
Odd, odd, odd.
I'm a legal immigrant, but still, I did emigrate to this country, I remember the pride I felt when I became a citizen and I take my responsibilities as a voter very seriously. More undocumented soldiers than ever are fighting as the Army of Juan, Hispanics are poised to be the majority soon, has this wakened the sleeping tigre?
The anger is so real. And I'm afraid that one misstep is going to cause riots and hate crimes to erupt.

Dona Benicia came from a long line of strong women. Her mother was one of the first woman winemakers in Sonoma County. At the age of 17, she traveled for four weeks by mule while pregnant to reach her husband, General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo and was the mother of 16 children of which ten survived to adulthood.
After the founding of Benicia, named after her, she began to go by that name instead of Francisca and was thereafter known as Dona Benicia.

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