Monday, December 28, 2009

What is the American Pupusa?

"The American Pupusa"

a) It's a repository of items i enjoy and want to share. I see this as a 'time capsule' where I would want a creature from outer space to find and check out 1,000,000 years from now to represent me and us.

b) Calling this an "American Pupusa" is an attempt to carve out my niche of Latinidad. I am framing the pupusa as cultural product beyond the confines of ES, grounding it as a staple of American and Salvadoran cuisine (culture), an eradication of the dichotomous nature of Latino and U.S. social constructs of identity, a preservation of culture and the creation of a new one. I would liken this to the development of Blues music from "Delta" to "Chicago" where new elements are introduced to the sound, subject matter, playing, and production of the music based on environmental, social, and technological differences acquired when heading up the Mississippi River.c) Finally, I would like to envision the "American Pupusa" as a category of NEW, i repeat... NEW cultural products, visions, outlooks, processes that are void of romantic grounding in 'old ways' as a means and function of establishing your identity in Latinidad (or any other identity for that matter).

There is this ongoing problem with oppressed communities to be stuck on old styles of social change and preservation. I've been to shows where the cultural products were revisitations to Gill Scott Heron slam poetry, to Black and Latino Greek strolls and step shows, to recitations of Langston Hughes and old American Indian poems from hundred of years ago. I've seen student activists and groups want to change their world by reverting to old school picket protests, bitching and complaining like babies to administration for change instead of making change themselves. I've seen young people say they are progressive by adapting the same oppressive techniques as those they criticize. And I've seen has-beens talk about how they used to be as a way of showing your validity to us today. In the end, these attempts to establish ourselves as relevant, rich in history, and legacy puts us in the role of cultural excavator and not creators. We become powerless, we look to Malcolm X and Dr. King as examples except looking to ourselves and the abilities we have to change the world in new and innovative ways.

Another consequence is that new and upfront cultural products are ridiculed, seen as beneath the older ones, and looked down upon... usually from olders within the same community. How is Reggaeton 'bad'? Ya'll had hyper-sexualized music back in the day.. .ya'll didn't have money in your pockets back in the day... and ya'll were certainly hungry back in the day. Yet its struggle, expression, identity politics, and a need to represent that your music and my music have in common.

I believe there is a legacy to be passed along, but it should be cultural functions and not cultural products. I'd like to pass along the consciousness of consciousness, reappropriation, navigating systems in innovative and deviant ways, code-switching, communalism, equity, and activism. Blues, Boogaloo, Hip Hop, and others are perfect examples of this... but we shouldn't just stick to Hip Hop, that is the product and not the function. I hope that everything I've shared on this blog has made you think differently about products from the past, and that the stuff that I share from the present, are new fresh and interesting reinterpretations of the cultural functions that have made us successful so far.

"American Pupusas" are the new products birthed by the techniques and legacies I've listed in the previous paragraph. These products are art with purpose.. with a message, with a power to shape, reshape, and advocate. We are about the new here, the cutting edge. I am here to embrace the stuff no one else gets... and I hope I can share these with you, to empower you, to make you active, to create and shape our world for the better.

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