Friday, November 19, 2010

Educational Pledge, by Coral Caporale

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Life in Progress, Inside the Box

From the Puerto Rican/Latino Journal

By Alberto O. Cappas
I remember when poets were messengers of vision and information, not always positive, but always providing us a mirror to see clearly and get us to move forward… but now, all I see are evil spirits, rappers, and self-made entertainers passing as poets, penetrating their spells on the youth, and continuing to keep them inside the box.

But they never provide you answers to solutions or visions that will show you the light or guide you to your personal journey on this planet.

I don’t have all the answers, but I will try to remove some of the layers of bricks between us and see if I can leave you with some clues to your confinement inside the Box.

You should be happy to know that the box has no locks or chains. It is completely opened and you can walk or jump out any time your heart desires, and become the person you were born to be…the person you are supposed to be…..

You can do and be anything you want to be, just forward your dreams and aspirations into your hands and activate an action forward. Like the Congressman Adam Clayton Powell once said:

“What’s in your hands?”
"What's in your hands?”

After 60 plus years on this planet, the least you can do is listen to my crazy poems, full of people not able to get out the box, hit hard by not learning or applying the secrets of having balance in their lives, and consequently, were destroyed by self-conflict, lack of proper health, and lack of emotional control.

The following poems are about you and me, our family and friends, especially those that are in the box, manipulated into the box by invisible but strong forces, like our local community leaders, our so-called elected officials, our rapper poets, M-TV, Television, which I call the idiot box, especially when we watch too much of it…

Listen to these poetic stories:

Poetic Story #1: Borinquen
Doña Rivera, The one everybody comes to when
They run into unresolved situations
Was sold the Moon yesterday
She was very happy ‘cause the
Salesman gave her a break
Telling her she did not have to pay taxes on it
“It was tax free”
He told her
All her neighbors were surprised
That she accomplished such a big thing
So they assembled and celebrated her new fortune
They decided that Doña should
Keep it a secret or else the welfare department
Would come and take the Moon away from her
Time passed and Doña Rivera became a very proud woman
At night, especially when the
Moon was bright and in full view
Doña Rivera would stay up late and admire the beauty of her new possession
On weekend nights
She would invite her relatives and best friends over to share the experience with them….
She would tell her friends and relatives
“In this country
You have the freedom to buy anything you want”

Poetic Story #2: Doña Julia
Doña Julia Committed suicide last night cause the welfare department
Demanded too many documents she did not know existed
The utilities were removed
The landlord proudly gave her eviction papers
The friendly bodega accused her of trespassing
Holding on to hope
Doña Julia visited Puerto Rican leaders with fancy titles
Promising her things that never arrived
Doña Julia
Always made it a point to vote with the democrats,
The party of the poor, she used to say…
Doña Julia
Committed suicide last night because life was angry with her
Revealed to her by the spirits…
That is what she said…
And the people that didn’t know her
always found things to say about her….
With fancy titles
Her daughter Evelyn disappeared with this dude named Hector who promised her every thing he didn’t have
And her son Josè
Who dropped out of school at the age of 10
Always took money from Doña Julia
To pay his expenses and other things for the dead head
He too disappeared looking for his friends who were never around when he didn’t have anything
Doña Julia
Committed suicide cause life was angry with her
Her dead face had a smile that police officers did not understand
Someone that did not know how to read found a note and flushed it down the toilet thinking it had something
To do with the numbers
The note said something about
“One way or the other
I’m going back to Puerto Rico.”

Poetic Story #3: Maria’ Journey
She was sitting there
The lonely traffic passing by
Thinking of yesterday when Mommy
Used to cry in protest
The warm air freezing her body
Listening to broken down voices of edited confusion
Subway rides traveling to nowhere
The wino on the corner learning to read
The New York Times
The polluted smell of everything hanging around her body
Thinking of yesterday when Fernando told her
“If you love me – you have to prove it”
She was sitting there
Hating the endless hours of the night
Those that passed looked at her with inviting eyes
That wanted to come out after her
Black and Puerto Rican kids playing Cowboys and Indians
After dark in the backyard streets
Where all of them
The Rats, the Dogs, the Cats, and the Pushers
Hold their daily meetings
She was sitting there
Hating herself for accepting a defeat that loved her
The lonely traffic passing by
Bars and liquor stores on every corner conditioning the younger victims
While the drug dealers count their money of death
Thinking of yesterday
Her trip from Puerto Rico and her first introduction
To the New York cold that ravaged her body
Sitting there
Thinking of yesterday when Freddie played her wrong
Accusing her of being a Puta for no reason at all
He is now happily married to a girl
From Queens who makes love to the dog next door
Thinking of yesterday
The dances, the parties, and the James Bond movies
She loved so much
And now
Waiting for the overdose of everything to take effect…

Poetic Story #4: Letter for Iris
It was long ago yesterday
The oldies, the gangs, the wine
Trying to find definitions to everything
Everyone refusing to speak Spanish
Stupid heavy accents
Keeping our welfare secrets to ourselves
You didn’t reveal anything until years later
It was long ago yesterday
The oldies, the gangs, the wine
Going to sets during school hours
Drinking that terrible wine that you disliked so much
And the Ricans and Dominicans from downtown
Rapping to you behind my back
The Latin Knights against the Young Lovers
The Sinners against the Viceroys
The Dragons against the Assassins
Jitterbugging into oblivion
Willie a junkie on Columbus Avenue
Eddie a homo on 72nd Street
Carlos a revolutionary at Attica
Sara a community leader in Washington Heights
Jose a capitalist on Wall Street
Mimi a housewife in Puerto Rico
Carmen a Puta in the South Bronx
And Miguel
Demonstrating in front of the United Nations
With fifty buttons on his jacket
It was long ago yesterday
The oldies, the gangs, the wine
Remembering those wonderful nightmares
The playground, the backyard, the roof
The fire hydrant, the basement, and those
Silent trips to the park where we made
The plans that never came
I leave you now
The oldies, the gangs, the wine
Hoping you found your definitions without regrets
I only found new inventions of ignorance by many
Refusing to open the path to their growth and development

Poetic Story #5: Suicide of a Puerto Rican Jibaro (In Mainland Buffalo)
They didn’t understand.
They were all Americans now
He would smile sometimes
Thinking about his youth in Ponce
Carmen, Rosa, Teresa and Liza
Holding on to dreams
That helped him stay alive
The tropical music that was killed
By the new sound of “salsa”
But they didn’t understand
His children didn’t understand
A million times his body was raped
By the unfriendly cold
The farm he sacrificed
To pursue the American Dream
Trying to buy some dignity in the trade
Of the unemployment office
Shoveling the snow that invaded
His tropical existence
He would walk up Virginia Street
And down Hudson Street
For some clues of understanding
New inventions of nightmares
That wanted to destroy his dreams
The dead dreams
That helped him stay alive
Were too weak
For the American nightmare
They didn’t understand
They were
All Americans now

Poetic Story #6: Milagros – A Love Story
When she was born
Her mother named her Milagros.
Her father was never around.
The neighbors said she was beautiful
but it was sad that her hair was a little kinky.
When she was fifteen years old,
she had dreams to go after.
When she was seventeen,
she dropped out of school
’cause it was the groovy thing to do.
When she was almost eighteen
she opened her legs to Papo — who told her he loved her
The night after, he told her to get the hell away.
When she was almost eighteen
she was cool, she partied, she smoked
and got down a few times
hoping someone would tell her
‘I love you’ — and means it
but time passed (and no one ever did).
When she was nineteen
she had five abortions.
When she was nineteen
she was cool, she was beautiful
selling her wasted body on forty-second street
to buy American dreams
hating the ugly smell of polluted breath
and old men telling her:
‘I love you, you Spanish girl.’

And last but not least, a poem, a pledge to help us become magical and powerful, able to become what we are supposed to become, based on what we want to do with our journey in life. If you can buy into this pledge, at least introduce it to our students, and to our young kids so they can begin to understand at an early age the concept of setting goals, and understanding the essence of an education, and finally, understanding the system of values and standards.

The Educational Pledge of Allegiance

I pledge to maintain a
Healthy Mind and Body
Staying away from the Evil of drugs
I pledge always to try my Best to understand
The importance of Knowledge and Education
I pledge to paint a Positive picture of where
I plan to be tomorrow
Not allowing obstacles to stop the growth of my Plans
I pledge to seek Answers to Questions,
With the understanding that they
Will lead to other discoveries
I pledge to work diligently
With the Awareness and Confidence
That hard work today will serve
As the seeds for my strong tree tomorrow
A tree that no one will be able to tear down
I pledge to learn proper languages,
Beginning with my Mother's
Always prepared to appreciate others
I pledge to gain a better understanding of who I am
By understanding my Cultural roots
I pledge to fully accept who I am as a spiritual and human being
A Rainbow of many cultures and colors
I pledge to overcome any Personal misfortunes
Becoming Stronger from such misfortunes
Always striving to become
A wise person.

An Education and a Plan: A note for our Youth

Try always to remember that Life is a game to learn, appreciate, and complete the journey... The setbacks you experience are actual tools that try to educate you and teach you how to play the game.

By Alberto O. Cappas:
However, if you are not aware of the game of life, you will not be able to understand the value of the setbacks and they will work against you, not for you.

Once you are born and able to think for yourself, you must understand your purpose for being here.

You should be able to find clues to your purpose by thinking of your Dreams. One has many dreams, but only one is a purpose. The right dream is the one that gives you a positive picture of where you see yourself in the space of the future.

A negative dream is a distraction to your purpose. Without an education, you may not be able to understand or defeat the distraction.

However, to make the purpose and/or the Dream a reality, you must take two very critical and important steps. These are steps that would give you all the power and magic you need to make the Dream come true, but you must take the steps!

One is Education.

And the second one is a Plan.

It is very simple! All you need to make a positive dream come true is an Education and a Plan.

Education is not what many people tell you it is. For example, you don’t go to school to get an education in order to find a job, or prepare for a job.

An Education is a journey! it is a lifetime trip you take as a human being. You meet new friends, friends who look different than you and think different than you, friends with different ideas and opinions. And some dress different and speak a different language then you.

If you keep your mind open, and if you listen to what you are hearing, and give vision to what you see, your education is on the way track! An education is a preparation for enjoying life, to open your mind to all the options available to you.

An education gives you a real vision to what you may like or not like, to prepare for a job or to prepare to have your own business or corporation; to become a consumer where you work for someone, or to become a provider where you have your own company and have people working for you. You can decide to be a worker, a supervisor, a manager, a president of your own company, and much more.

The main thing to remember is that an education introduces you to the world of possibilities and options. It gives you a realistic imagination to work with. To have an education is to have a system of values and standards, and you are not afraid to face hard and difficult challenges; as well as the ability to think and make right choices and decisions.

With an education, you should be able to have the discipline to have a plan to navigate, step by step until you reach the realization of your Dream. The plan is a roadmap of proper choices and decisions to get to your Dream.

Life is that simple, as well as magical and fun.

Life stops being magical and fun when you bypass and ignore the dream and the plan. Without the dream and a plan, you make choices and decision that has nothing to do with your purpose. You become lost in the world.

Take a look outside the window and you can see the number of misguided and unfortunate people who made wrong choices and decisions.

An Education and a Plan provides you an opportunity to appreciate and understand the spiritual value and gift of your presence on this planet.

You are a gift to this world. Make the right choices and decisions and make the marks, leave footprints for the generation following you.

I leave you with The Education Pledge which I hope you will embrace and use it as a guide in your journey. I dedicate The Educational Pledge to all the children and youth of the world:

The  Educational Pledge, An instrument to help you defeat ignorance:

Saturday, February 27, 2010


by Alberto O. Cappas

I believe that it is time to bring the “status quo” up to date, as it is now working against the growth and development of our young people, especially in communities of color.

What is the status quo? The status quo is a commonly used form of the original Latin "statu quo" - literally "the state in which" - is a Latin term meaning the current or existing state of affairs. To maintain the status quo is to keep the things the way they presently are. The related phrase status quo ante, literally "the state in which before", means "the state of affairs that existed previously" (from Wikipedia - the free encyclopedia on the internet)
During the 1950s and 1960s, the social movement served as a classic example of the status quo being challenged. The term frequently refers to the status of a large issue, such as the current culture or social climate of an entire society or nation.

Yes, it is time to bring the “status quo” up to date, and if not, we will be condemning our young people to another generation of failure and upheaval.

Case in point:

As a national policy, the status quo directs our young people that they must go to school in order to get a job; and based on this orientation, too many young people reject the notion of education, developing an anti-education mentality.

The fact is that “job opportunities” as a rationale or promotional tool for pushing young people to pursue an education has failed miserably in our urban and inner cities. Just look or study the statistics.

We need, very desperately, to change the status quo when it comes to the concept of pursuing an education. Pursuing an education is much more than just a job waiting at the end of the process. Pursuing an education is never an end, but an on-going process. The never-ending process leads to either one of two paths: conceptional awareness or conceptional ignorance -- two major roads affecting one’s journey in life.

We need to change this orientation and mindset. We need to inform and educate our young people that they should go to school, but not to prepare for a job, but to see education and school as a “essential key” that will open doors to unlimited possibilities: meeting new acquaintances, adding new friends and colleagues, other cultures, other spoken languages, and may lead to the realization that they want more than just a job, but an opportunity to become entrepreneurs, masters of their own companies, CEOs and Presidents, and much more – graduating as a provider, and not as a consumer.

Don’t misunderstand me! There is nothing wrong with being a consumer if that is what you know you are and want to be; however, it is a different story when one is conditioned, educationally and socially, into being a consumer without any direct personal awareness or knowledge.

Unfortunately, we have too many conditioned consumers creating policies for our young people. This is very dangerous. Just take a look at the makeup of our present elected officials and all the mismanagement and corruption that they are involved in.

And take a look at many of our leading community based organizations and leaders working together with these elected officials, in partnership, perpetuating the status quo in communities of color.

The insanity of all this is that, we now have a coalition of people, that created the problem in the first place, controlling the financial resources and public policies, involved in addressing how to solve the problems that they themselves continue to perpetuate.

Yes, it is time to address the obsoleteness of the status quo and save our young people from this orientation and mindset. When we seriously address this problem, the positive outcome will be:

a. Less young people walking around with their pants below their waistline;
b. Less young people walking around as human billboards (tattoos);
c. Less youth involved in youth violence;
d. More students of color graduating from higher education;
e. More students of color going into business; more creating their own corporations;
f. And a stronger economic base in communities of color.

Reference: From Wikipedia - the free encyclopedia on the internet: Clark Kerr is reported to have said, "The status quo is the only solution that cannot be vetoed," meaning that the status quo cannot simply be decided against; action must be taken if it is to change.

Quotations regarding the Status Quo:

1. John F. Kennedy: "Their political pledge is to the status quo, and today there is no status quo."

2. Clark Kerr: "The status quo is the only solution that cannot be vetoed."

3. Laurence J. Peter: "Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status."

4. Ronald Reagan: "Status quo, you know, that is the Latin phase for the mess we're in."

5. George Carlin: "The status quo sucks."

6. Richard Branson: "I love taking on the status quo, and trying to turn it upside down."

7. Barach Obama: "I will not accept the status quo as a solution."

I would appreciate your feedback and help advance the movement to defeat ignorance in our lifetime.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Time to Face Ignorance: Face to Face

Click on picture to enlarge -- Your feedback is appreciated!