UTEP helped parents from Mexico attend our graduation, but pandemic border-crossing rules remain unfair

For the first time in more than a year my Mexican parents will able to cross the border from Ciudad Juárez using a special waiver to attend my commencement ceremony at University of Texas at El Paso. Since March 2020, crossing the border has been restricted to essential travel including crossing for work, medical or academic reasons in an attempt to stop the spread of Covid-19. Because of that, when UTEP graduating seniors got the news that in-person commencement was happening, I thought I would be alone at the ceremony, walking the stage at the Sun Bowl Stadium while my parents watched a live stream from their home in Juárez. I wrote a letter to University of Texas at El Paso President Heather Wilson in what I described as “a hopeful attempt to make my graduation a memorable one.”

In the emailed letter, I explained that my parents are both Mexican citizens living in Juárez, and because the border remains closed except for essential travel during the pandemic, they would not be able to attend my commencement ceremony. I understood, I told her, that she could not open the border to my parents, but that she did hold a position of authority and power that is unique when it comes to being the voice of UTEP students and amplifying their concerns.

How I learned to cope when my family was separated by border pandemic restrictions

Ciudad Juarez — Since March, the international border has been closed, only allowing essential travel for work, school and medical reasons during the pandemic. The virtual border shutdown has been extended by both the U.S. and Mexican governments each month through February according to the Department of Homeland Security.

The border closure meant my mother, who works in El Paso, had to move to the U.S. side of the border since she didn’t want to have to deal with long lines at the international bridge and the possibility of being turned back even though she was crossing for her job. My mother is in El Paso with my 11-year-old brother while I and my 19-year-old brother live in Juárez.

Our traditional cross-border Christmas celebration will be missed this year

“¡Ya llegué!” I wake up to the sound of Mamy’s voice early in the morning, it’s Christmas Day. I open my eyes groggily, still sleepy from Christmas Eve celebrations, I put on my holiday robe that I love and make my way to the kitchen. There are loud clanking noises and shuffling sounds coming from the kitchen, and I can already smell the deliciousness that my mom is stirring in a huge olla. I walk into the kitchen and I see my grandma who just crossed the border from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, to my house in El Paso, Texas. We meet halfway and she gives me a tight hug.

Frank Hernandez – A short story of the COVID-19 pandemic in my life

As the COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization on March 11, I knew my life would dramatically change. I just didn’t know how much.Some professors were already talking about transitioning to online learning, some of my plans were starting to fall apart, and I found myself washing my hands at every chance I had.At first, things were not that bad – Spring Break had been extended for a week and my university decided to transition to online learning for the rest of the semester. As I live on the Mexican side and study and work in the U.S., this meant that I didn’t have to cross the border every day for the next two months a half – quite a relief.For the next weeks, my life was fairly tranquil. I had the time to read more than I normally do – something I was overly happy about.I was able to cook more often than I normally do, and generally had to improvise because going to the supermarket every time something was missing wasn’t really an option.I even started planting my own chiles.Though I knew things were not alright and people all around the world were suffering the devastating effects of this pandemic, I still found some comfort in cooking with my family on a Friday morning.It was until mid-April that the pandemic started affecting me negatively – or my plans to be precise. I had submitted a paper to a conference in Oneonta, New York, which was cancelled due to the outbreak in the state.

Why a truck driver keeps rolling despite pandemic challenges

By Exodis Ward, NMIndepth

As my Dad packed his bag for his next trip, we talked about how coronavirus had affected his work. A truck driver that keeps food on tables, toilet paper in bathrooms, and medicine on shelves, he has a crucial role in an economy battered by the coronavirus. When the pandemic first hit and panic buying cleared grocery shelves, there was a moment when the value of those who drive through the night to deliver important goods across the country came into national focus. But largely, it’s an unseen role. My pandemic experience has been vastly different than his as city ordinances advised me to stay home and only go out when necessary.

How white code talkers don’t see their own racism and go unchallenged

If you’re white and live outside of the urban centers where most protests have occurred since the murders of George Floyd and Ahmad Arbury, it’s a scene you’ve likely experienced any number of times. It speaks volumes about where we are as a country a half-century after Martin Luther King Jr. laid down his life to try to solve our enduring race problem – a uniquely American bog that today somehow encompasses both reasonable progress and no progress at all. It can happen almost anywhere, anytime. Months before the current crises, I was at a local restaurant’s bar when the talk turned to politics. The owner was carrying on about how much he loved President Trump’s tough talk about solving the homelessness problem, as if that problem hasn’t bedeviled America’s leaders for the past 50 years.

Victoria Almaguer – Taking coronavirus lifestyle changes day by day

During this pandemic, we have seen how businesses have been affected and the livedsof many have changed. Although there have been stressful times, this time of social distancing has helped me learn to take each day step-by-step. For me, this has been a time to adapt to unemployment, going to school online and cooking at home. Becoming a chefCooking has become such a stress reliever and it has become such a blessing for my family. Fast food was our main ritual, but now cooking at home feels more right and safe.

Surviving lockdown at home: How to avoid drama with your family

Being stuck in a house with five other people isolating together during the pandemic can be stressful. But there is a secret recipe for success. Here are six tips on how to keep harmony in your home. 1. Divide and conquer

There are six people living in my house, which means the house gets dirty every single second.

Gabriel Montellano – Thoughts on college graduation when there’s nowhere to go

Being a part of a college class graduating this spring semester is a surreal feeling. All of us who have worked so hard over the years to get to where we are today were looking forward to walking across the graduation stage with our diplomas. Then COVID-19 came. We went from being excited to walk out of our classroom building one last time knowing we didn’t have classes anymore to being at home looking at a screen and saying our goodbyes in video courses. What started as a warning to not go anywhere public and stay home to avoid the possible spread of coronavirus is now an obligation for those of us who don’t want to take the risk of getting sick and possibly spreading it to loved ones.

Growing up along with the rise of emojis and gifs

If there is one thing that I have noticed about my life, it is that language has been changing. Being part of a generation practically obsessed with social media has made me and millions of others aware that these platforms are no longer just about posting that perfect selfie or unfriending that one person because you feel petty. It has made me realize that online culture has influenced the way I, and most millennials, write. We are hooked on the screens of our computers, tablets and phones, which makes it inevitable that formal writing is just not a common thing anymore. There are new words and new meanings of old words – not to mention several ways to respond to someone online.

News media complicit in perpetuating micro aggressions that devalue Latinos, researchers say

Under this President, there has been a predictable rise in white nationalism, hate crimes, and the soul-crushing violence against Spanish-speaking immigrants and anyone who might sound or look like one. The August 3 attack on the people of our binational community of El Paso woke us up to the realization that legality or illegality was never the real issue; language and skin color was, as the black population in the U.S. has long known.  Many far more articulate and thick-skinned than I have dissected, addressed, and contextualized these sentiments and behaviors. I hope to use this space, instead, to address smaller, more hidden behaviors, invisible to most except to those who are targeted; behaviors that the media are not addressing, because they are either complacent or complicit.  These behaviors have been termed “microaggressions,” an expression first used in the 1970s by a psychiatrist, Dr. Chester Pierce, and defined by Columbia professor Deral Sue as:
“brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.” 
Some examples of racial microaggressions include such phrases as “but where are you really from?” or “funny, you don’t sound like a _______.”  More examples can be found at the following website. https://sph.umn.edu/site/docs/hewg/microaggressions.pdf.  Even better, read Claudia Rankine’s prose/poetry book, Citizen. Linguistic anthropologist Jane Hill coined another term similar to microaggression as she turned her attention to the racialized use of Spanish by Anglos in Latinx communities in the Southwest: mock Spanish.  Web sites that examine mock Spanish and its influence include the following: https://www.kibin.com/essay-examples/the-prevalence-of-mock-spanish-in-the-american-media-zbbf20N7; https://www.latinorebels.com/2016/10/20/trump-relies-on-mock-spanish-to-talk-about-immigration-opinion/; https://languagesinconflict.wordpress.com/tag/mock-spanish/. 
My understanding of the term is that privileged white speakers can say and do small things that indicate superiority to or derision of minorities without being held accountable.  This behavior can be disguised as humor or ignorance or deemed to be irrelevant by the speaker.

5 anime shows not named Dragonball you should watch

Anime is a style of film and television animation, typically aimed at adults as well as children. The Dragonball series is arguably the most popular of the genre today. The list below is for the anime novice that is interested in watching anime, but does not know where to begin. The order does not necessarily mean rank. 1.

La rica tradición de requesón en Jalisco

RANCHO ESCONDIDA, JALISCO — Una de las delicias más populares y exquisitas en México son los quesos. Existen cientos de tipos de queso que varían desde su consistencia hasta su sabor. Por ejemplo, hay desde el queso Oaxaca que es usado en quesadillas hasta el queso Panela que se sirve acompañado de nopales. En mi viaje a Rancho Escondida, Jalisco, note que uno de los quesos más famosos y más pedidos por la gente es el requesón. Esto me llamó mucho la atención y quise averiguar porqué es tan popular entre la población y el proceso de cómo es hecho este queso.

How comics conventions helped me embrace my geekdom IRL

I have been a geek since I was a kid. I love comic books, I love video games, I love superhero movies and I love dressing up like my favorite characters. I love being a geek. Although this lifestyle may seem odd to some people, it brings a lot of fun and joy to geeks like me and those around them. When I was young, I was criticized by many people for being a geek, but now I am encouraged to embrace the nerd within.

Through ‘Homecoming’ Beyoncé hits chords on cultural pride and her teachings reach new learners

I am Mexican-American – more Mexican than American if I’m being honest – living in a city where we don’t really experience racism because it has a predominantly Hispanic population. My culture tends to have a lot of machismo where women are seen as less than the man. So when I started following Beyonce’s work, I was woken up with topics I was unaware of related to racism, police brutality against Blacks, white privilege, and feminism.I’ve been a Beyonce fan since 2008. Through her work I have learned what being a feminist means and the history, the struggles and the pride of African-Americans. Although I would like to talk about all the ways she has inspired me, I’m only going to focus on her most recent piece of art.Beyonce debuted as a director and producer when her film Homecoming premiered on Netflix on April 17, 2019.

Putting the ‘her’ in hero: Why Hollywood needs superheroines

After 10 years and 20 films, Marvel Studios did the apparently unthinkable: released a woman-led superhero film. In the two months since its release, “Captain Marvel” has smashed box office expectations, raking in over $1 billion worldwide and having the third largest worldwide opening weekend ever for a superhero film behind “Avengers: Endgame” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”
What has been even bigger though, is the debate the film has set off. Because apparently some people still feel that films highlighting women – especially in the superhero genre – are unnecessary. While many fans praise the much-needed representation and empowerment for young girls and women who are fans of Marvel that the film provided, some took issue with Marvel’s decision to place a woman hero at the forefront.The film was subject to a troll campaign, with some trying – and failing – to boycott the film in order to tank its box office numbers. Others organized a smear campaign on film aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, leaving negative reviews of the film before it was even released.

Adding characters of color into movies and TV shows without complexity is problematic

Today we are seeing a greater push for representation for people of color in movies and TV shows. Some like Black Panther portray dark skin black people in positive roles and others like the Charmed reboot showcase Afro-Latina women as lead characters. On the other hand, there are more shows that simply use people of color under the guise of representation, while utilizing them more like props than people. These forms of representation do more harm than good by sidelining characters or using them as comic relief. And even worse, in the case of a show like Netflix’ Siempra Bruja, the storytelling attempts to romanticize racism and slavery.

Artists Arturo Damasco painted legendary Mexican actor Carlos López Moctezuma. (Luis Hernández/Borderzine.com)

How to stay connected to your culture when far from home

As a teenager, all throughout high school I would hear people talking about is how much they want to move somewhere more exciting. I actually have to admit that I agreed with them for a long time. I couldn’t wait to go to school somewhere new and be on my own, which is exactly what I ended up doing. I had been accepted to the University of North Texas in Denton and I moved into my dorm room in August of 2013. I had decided to major in multimedia journalism with a minor in creative writing.

9 queer Latinx books you have to read before you die

Last summer I had the opportunity to work alongside filmmakers Angie Tures and Henry Alberto as a production assistant on a project that brought the work of noted poet and author Benjamin Alire Sáenz to life on film. Sáenz and I spent most of the day together talking about film, poetry, and really just about how funny life can be. He gave me a copy of his book, “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.” I opened the book and didn’t put it back down until the last page. I laughed, cried, found love, lost love.

Growing up Palestinian on the U.S.-Mexico border

In 1979 my Palestinian father immigrated to the U.S. for school. He was 18 years old, spoke no English and had no money. He graduated from UTEP with a degree in Civil Engineering and has lived in El Paso for over thirty years. He loves the Sun City with all his heart. You wouldn’t think of El Paso, Texas, and Palestine as having anything in common, but you’d be surprised how similar these two regions are.

7 things I’ve heard since working at a record store

There’s a lot of things I’ve heard from customers just from working at a local record store in El Paso for two years. Below are seven that I hear almost constantly. 1. Are records and CDs still a thing? Believe it or not, people still want physical media!

How to make a career change into the tech industry before leaving college

College is the time to figure out what you’re good at and who you are as an individual, at least in my experience. I changed my major twice in four years and finally ended up with a career path I found to be enjoyable. I found a passion for web development and design during the summer of 2017 when I was studying for a degree in multimedia journalism. I was taking a digital audio and video class and our professor had us create a basic website for the content we created in the classroom. While I already had a WordPress site, I was trying to make my web page look interesting and less like a generic template.

Seeing El Paso for the first time through the windows of the El Paso Streetcar

I’ve lived in El Paso all 21 years of my life. I’ve been to almost every part of town that I can think of. As I’ve gotten older, I grown to love El Paso and appreciate the city’s history and where it’s going. But after riding the El Paso Streetcar for the very first time, I felt like I was seeing the city for the very first time. After what seemed like a never-ending construction headache followed by traffic nightmares, the $97 million El Paso Streetcar Project was officially launched in early November.

Cinco ‘Expectativas’ cumplidas por Enrique Bunbury en su último disco

En noviembre, mi cantautor preferido Enrique Bunbury se hizo acreedor a un Grammy Latino en la categoría Mejor Álbum de Rock con “Expectativas”, disco que publicó en octubre de 2017. Como este espacio es reducido, describiré en cinco puntos por que creo que este disco es justo ganador de dicho reconocimiento. Lleno de romanticismo español puro

La música de Bunbury ha sido para mí un reflejo de varias épocas de la literatura. La letra de sus canciones está llena de metáforas con significados abiertos a la interpretación de la audiencia, algo muy característico del romanticismo literario. Él hace uso de ésto para mandar diferentes mensajes al mundo, desde dedicarle palabras a un amor, hasta criticar a la política y a los aspectos débiles de la sociedad.

Borderzine turns 10, and the beat goes on

This year is marked by a major NewsMatch fundraising campaign to expand student journalist training, launch of a cross-border community engagement project; and expanded reporting about the borderlands. A 10th anniversary celebration showcase of student photography Nov. 19, 5:30-7 p.m. at UTEP’s Centennial Museum. Please join us. Dear friends, queridos amigos,
As this year of polarizing, fear-mongering political discourse about the border comes to a close, I bring you good news about Borderzine, the online magazine we launched a decade ago to prepare new generations of bicultural news professionals and ramp up coverage of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.

Double identity: Beauty apps make it too easy to change your reality online

Bigger eyes, smaller nose and even a breast enhancement are available through several beauty apps South Koreans are routinely using to modify their virtual appearance. I tried it myself when I was living in Seoul, South Korea, while studying abroad and got hooked. To this day, I still use the apps. Editing your digital image is so easy to do through the apps that many in the younger generation in South Korea expect everyone to tweak their looks. “Editing is so common that you seem to be a rebel without any edit done your looks,” said one app fan, SeungHae Ro.

Common visual aids found in a Dual Language classroom. (Lucía Murguía/Borderzine.com)

Being monolingual in a multilingual society limits opportunities, but don’t give up

Noam Chomsky, an American linguist once said, “I’m about as monolingual as you come, but nevertheless, I have a variety of different languages at my command, different styles, different ways of talking, which do involve different parameter settings.” Though powerful, this quote only speaks to me on a visual level. Growing up living in El Paso all my life, I’ve learned that being monolingual comes with many issues down the road. In El Paso, it’s not mandatory to know Spanish to get a job or be included but it’s highly recommended. Hispanic students at UTEP make up 77 percent of the school’s population.

A drug war on both sides of the border

“Abajo! Rapido!” My dance teacher shouted on a Wednesday afternoon. I was 14. “Hide! Fast!” In the middle of warm-up, a firework-like-sound brought everyone in Ms. Rosa’s hiphop
class to a standstill.

Presentation by UTEP Prof. Dino Chiecchi to NAHJ Board of Directors on national Latino journalists survey

Dino Chiecchi’s remarks to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists during the NAHJ convention July 2018 regarding results of the national survey on job satisfaction among Latino journalists. Among the most startling news gleamed from this survey is that nearly one quarter of the respondents – many of them NAHJ members – said they are considering leaving journalism within five years. And another 32 percent said they were not sure if they’d remain journalists. Let that sink in – 54 percent of respondents are at the very least unsure if they will remain journalists or they will be gone in five years. These numbers are staggering and should be a wake-up call for this board, and for recruiters and media leaders.