Sunday, November 15, 2015

CCNY: "Quítate tú pa' ponerme yo", standards and diversity

Some "intelectualoides de academia" argue that standards apply equally to all of us, and that those standards are not linked to specific peoples and social structures. Not even math, the purest of disciplines, is totally disconnected from contexts, peoples, society.

A linguist once asked me if it was true that Puerto Ricans are a very docile group of people. Had this conversation taken place in a bodega it would have been quite normal to speak off the top of your head, though it showed a limited thinking capacity when it came to human nature. But this conversation took place in a higher education institution and in a teacher education program offering courses on socio linguistics, multulturalism and bilingualism, fields of study dedicated to the critique, history, formulation and codification of concepts. Obviously, this linguist was not up to the standards required to understand how language evolves and its relationship to power structures, much less able to work with Puerto Ricans students if this was his view on that particular ethnic group. Yet, there he was in a position where he had been hired because, supustamente, he was a leader on his field, but, obviamente, unable to apply his knowledge to specific situations.

Quite often getting caught up with the standards does not let the standardizer see the details, processes, and intentions that support or modify such standards. Much less understand that the  "Pitiricans" in the USA are colonial Puerto Ricans who, "¡carajo!, tenemos que meterle el diente a las instituciones de los EUA, las heredadas de España, y cuanto pendejo anda leyendo revistas de cuarta, escribiendo oraciones chiquititas, articulillos inconsecuentes, mientras suben los escalafones de la academia.  Lo que el llanito de la academia pareció olvidar es que estaba allí porque los dóciles dejaron sus cueros y gargantas luchando para que gente como él no fuese discriminada.

"Quitate tú pa' ponerme yo" era el título de un bugalú que Joey Pastrana cantó en una club mixto (gays y straights) que quedaba en la 125 y Tercera, hace muchos pero que muchos años antes de El Barrio y ser "gay friendly" ponerse de moda (pero ese es otro cuento).


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