Wednesday, June 8, 2016

HRC



I don't want to be the downer here but for black and brown people HRC's nomination is terrifying. I come at this from the perspective of an Afro-Indigenous leader from the Caribbean.
Her policy even before being elevated to this level has lead to the sustained brutalization of women and a crisis level of hopelessness among youth. Privatization, industrialization and deregulation of international trade, incarceration and militarization are imminent.
This of course, is overshadowed by the "exciting" prospect of there being a Woman as "Leader of the Free World". While the prospect is exciting for the self esteem and ambition of those that will only have ever known Obama+Clinton, it may only benefit a select group.
As it stands now there are children in my tribe that are too young to remember, or never experienced a white man as president, but they've also been forced to flee places like Puerto Rico, Brazil and Argentina because of elevating violence, debt, drought etc.
In the next 8 years I won't be teaching them they could be president, I'll be convincing them they have the right to live. That someday the assaults of various natures will end, and that life is worth living.
With this in mind, I will indeed be casting my vote for HRC in the general election but only because the monster that waits in the wings (and will not be banished by simply losing) is a far more terrifying alternative.
I cast this vote knowing that she will stand in opposition to my work, both as an activist and an Indigenous person haunted by the ghosts of dead colonists like Monroe.
I implore you, when you teach your children that they can reach any heights, even the highest office, they do not need to step over our graves to arrive.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Flower is not a Flower

I saw some talk this morning on twitter about Indigenous Physics and decided I should write something that could give some very basic insight into how it could possibly be different from more Eurocentric schools of thought.

These are simply ways of being that I have inherited from my ancestors and themselves are not applicable to all other NDN cultures but some may share these concepts. That in itself is a part of it but we'll get into that later.

For now let us focus on a single concept that I have inherited. Think for a moment about a flower, it rests on a hill, surrounded by lush green grass and beyond it the sky stretches out far beyond where you can comprehend. A flower is a seed bearing plant consisting of corolla and calyx. This flower, is not a flower, it is a thought, it exists but not in the physical plane which you can touch and interact with it. This flower is not a flower, but yet in some world, outside of our own it is real.

Now, I would like you to go and look at a real flower, one you can touch and smell. That flower is not a flower either, or rather not "simply" a flower. That flower was grown from a seed, a seed that came from another flower. It exists in this, our physical plane and can be interacted with and for it to exist in the time and place that you've interacted with it, then it must have interacted with other forces prior to it's time with you. This flower ate, drank, was born, as it's parent was before it. This flower is unlike any flower to ever exist because of the history that has at this moment placed it in front of you.

The flower is not "a" flower, but rather "this" flower, an identity that is both generic and unique.

As I said before I only wanted to get briefly into a very bare explanation of one of the concepts that I have learned, but it's application is far more reaching. I perceive objects at a more molecular level, I see space differently from most people, and most importantly time and reality are not static concepts withing my mind.

Indigenous Physics are, at their core, a way of being in their totality. Teaching them and allowing others to find their reality and truth is certainly a goal worth pursuing.

Friday, March 4, 2016

1 Little, 2 Little, 3 Little Indians...

My name is Manuel A. Marcano, but within my tribe, I'm known as Maneco Manaque'to, or Hurakan. The tribe I'm from is called the Manaque'to and live generally in the mountains of Puerto Rico, but also have roots in Brazil, specifically areas near the city of Rio. We are generally disconnected from the greater Guarani and Taino nations to the point where we function as an independent nation. We sometimes identify as either Taino or Guarani, but in truth we speak for neither community as both, while somewhat similar have their own distinct cultures, languages and most importantly ways of being that we do not reflect. The sad truth is, it's easier to say I'm a Taino because of our shared ancestry and where I'm from. The alternative is to try to explain that I'm from a tribe most people have never heard of, and the ones who have, believe to be extinct.

A number of years ago, I was asked to lead the Manaque'to as a caci'que or chief.  Due to the small nature of our society my role is essentially to be a parental figure for all of the members of my tribe. As of this writing, I am 26 years old.

My duties as chief include providing support for members of the tribe. If they feel down, I try to cheer them up. If they can't afford rent, I try to help them figure things out. I teach martial arts, I tutor, I cook. In short, I provide support in any way that I can to keep the day to day of our lives moving. Normally, these things come naturally to me but the most notable exception is my difficulty with providing hope for the children of the tribe.

If you're reading this, then you likely know that I'm a programmer working on the wonderful tactical brawler Treachery in Beatdown City. It's a full time job unto itself and I often speak on my experiences as a Native-American working within the games industry. What you might not know, is how important of an outlet games were to me while growing up. It may sound like an exaggeration but to say they've helped me stay sane but considering I've lived through sexual and physical assault, substance abuse, homelessness and extreme poverty, the truth is without the media I consumed, I would have given up hope a long time ago.

According to the CDC, suicide among Native-American and First Nations peoples is at crisis levels. The suicide rates among Guarani people in Brazil is among the highest in the world. NDN kids often feel hopeless. Considering that they will statistically grow up to be the poorest, most prone to be assaulted and least represented of any group in the western hemisphere, can we really be surprised?

Art got me through. Books, movies, music and most importantly games, both analog and digital. Earthbound helped me deal with my mom being sick. Ys helped me deal with isolation and games like Final Fantasy 6 helped me accept heavy concepts like death and the worth of a life. I can't be sure that I would have been the same or even gotten though some hard times without them. An issue with all this is that almost none of the games I loved were able to understand some of the basic problems I had. Yes, I played Turok, and I enjoyed using Wolf Hawkfield, neither of these characters was truly like me.

"Indians" in video games were mostly limited to fighting games and historical games. Fantasy, Modern settings and specifically Sci-Fi tent to feature absolutely no NDN cultures or characters. Within media, NDNs hav no future, and only exist in a past shrouded in mystery. For the most part the only characters being fleshed out in any way were in Westerns and even then limited to cliches. Imagine for a moment, that you are a child. You are told that you have no place in today's world and that in the future you will not exist.

The youngest member of my tribe is Pachamac, my 3 year old nephew. Pacha plays videogames and I sometimes test out new mechanics or tutorials on him. I do my best to shield him from the poverty and violence surrounding us. Right now, Pacha is simply a child that loves Mariokart, and likes to watch as I work on games, and cheers in Japanese for Minoru Suzuki, or hum's along to John Cena's theme. Pacha doesn't know that their bibas have hospitalized people in self defense or that their yamoca'biba and gua'biba have taken lives to protect others. Pacha doesn't know that their race is the poorest, most targeted for violence, and most likely to commit suicide. At what point does that bubble get burst? Is there a way for me to make this reality, to make this world a better place. Can I, in my short time on this plane, change this hopelessness into pride?

This is where my profession can be of use, not just to my own tribe, but to all NDNs. Using my knowledge and experience I can contribute to the media that will help shape their personalities. More then that, by showing them characters like them, made by people like them, they will feel that these professions might actually be within their reach. Representation matters, for us it could even be a key to ensuring a future for our children.

http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/10261

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/native-american-youth-suicide-rates-are-at-crisis-levels_us_560c3084e4b0768127005591

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/10/19/suicide-reservations-and-need-more-studies-157417

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/the-hard-lives--and-high-suicide-rate--of-native-american-children/2014/03/09/6e0ad9b2-9f03-11e3-b8d8-94577ff66b28_story.html

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Venom.

Trigger warnings: Extreme , Sexual Violence, Child Abuse.
oh and spoiler warnings but the trigger warnings are the important thing here.

I wanted to share some of my thoughts on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but did not want to throw something with possible triggers on twitter. So I've decided to use this. These are all just thoughts on the game with no real anchor just having beaten it I feel like I want to talk about it but can't because everyone is still playing through it.

The first thing that really stood out to me about the game was the amount of sexual violence between this and Ground Zeroes. The fact that Paz was repeatedly raped and on one occasion Skullface forces Chico to watch and gives him this bizarre sex lesson that I expect a serial killer like Ted Bundy or Gary Leon Ridgeway. Both of them had a severe hatred of women, to the point that Ridgeway didn't even believe the sex workers he killed were even people. The fact that this exists and is sorta swept under the rug is terrifying, either we talk about it or we don't. Putting it in a hidden corner of the game treats it like a reward, and then going into the Phantom Pain and seeing everything that happens to Quiet made things even worse.

There's a point in the game where Quiet speaks Diné Bizaad (Navajo) to Code Talker. In a lot of ways Code talker and Quiet are similar in that they both are able to use photosynthesis, don't breathe, y'know "Parasites Son". The thing is, Quiet is naked all the damn time and Code Talker isn't. Granted, Code Talker looks like a lighter skinned version of my grandpa, and I DON'T want to see my grandpa naked, it makes the reasoning behind quiet being naked really flimsy. Still I liked her because I saw all of her struggles coming in the story and she was great to use in game, although the only unique playable-ish woman is grouped with a dog and a horse you can order to poop is not great treatment we'll get back to that.

Quiet speaks Diné Bizaad, I'm ecstatic because my favorite character thus far may actually be *gasp* a native woman! OH MY GOD A POSSIBLY NATIVE WOMAN IN A AAA RELEASE OH SHIT...then someone tries to rape her. Now I know she could have just learned the language as some Deus-Ex Machina so she wouldn't have to speak English but I wanted to believe. even so, once I saw the Russian soldiers chasing her down I erased the thought from my mind because I've seen enough "NDN" women raped and I just can't do it mentally. I just skipped the scene and found myself with a rocket launcher, whatever.

Despite being in Africa there's no black "good guy" that actually talks to you. I feel like SIGINT (Who later becomes an enemy anyway) is the only one. How hard is it to say "Hey here is this specialist on African affairs"? The game treats most black people almost as bad as it treats women (I say almost because seriously shoving a bomb into Paz's vagina is a pretty sick piece of writing) and like most of the playable women the playable black characters are recruited and have very little personality.

On a mechanics side, I hate that so many of these open world games are made to reduce narrative dissonance by making sure the "endgame" where the player can sandbox actually exists in the narrative. It ends up forcing the ending into something very anticlimactic. Just give me a real ending, show me Big Boss siting at his desk and sending new recruit solid snake to Outer Heaven. Cut 20 years into the future and actually cement that this giant organization that Venom boss has built has somehow crumbled or become Outer Heaven and he created FOXHOUND because it was his plan. Give me a real ending.

See the problem with Peace Walker, Portable Ops and now Phantom Pain is that they each rely on "the next game" to tell a part of the story. Thing is this was supposed to be "the last game" so you needed to clear up some of the confusion between this and Metal Gear 1. The thing is, Boss and Venom boss built some serious shit that can't just be written off.

At the end of MGS3, you know it's big boss, you know he's pissed and you know eventually he will be "The bad guy" you can fill that in between MGS3 and MG1 because there's nothing huge staring you in the face. Militares Sans Frontiers is a huge deal. Big Boss and Kazuhira Miller had an entire army at their disposal, complete with a base. They had nuclear capabilities, they had a damn Metal Gear. So you go ahead and destroy that, well cool, but now you build up Diamond dogs to be the same thing.

Maybe Diamond Dogs becomes outer heaven and they move to South Africa, well that is a pretty big move. That is something worth talking about. Also I remember reading in game informer or something that the base in phantom pain would be outer heaven but as far as I remember Outer heaven was in a desert and mother base in V is in the damn ocean.

Aside from that I really liked the openness of the game to just do solve problems however you want. I wish there were more indoor sections, I wish there was some keycard, gas mask, environmental puzzle type stuff to deal with but hey maybe in dlc. I actually would love to see more Metal Gear games, heck even maybe a remake of Metal Gear 1 and 2 in some form to sorta tie the family together, we'll see how all this plays out with the Kojima situation but hey a person can dream.

The main thing is I wish games could deal with some of these subjects just a bit more. Everyone is talking about Quiet's bikini when we should be talking about how disturbingly bad the entire game treats ethnic minorities. It's almost like a venom in it's own way, we want to like it and have fun but are inundated with pieces of media that are problematic and could act to poison the perception of people who don't know any better. It isn't a matter of should we talk about sexual assault, child soldiers, ethnic cleansing etc, but the way it is presented and the content itself is important. Think of an upper-class white cis-man who was raised in comfort and privilege and one day saw Roots and decided he wanted to help people. Bless him, his heart would be in the right place, but he has no real experiences with the things he may be fighting against. In a lot of ways this is what the Phantom Pain's "lessons" come off as to me.

So there I wrote a hot take, eat up, it's tasty.

Monday, June 29, 2015

#RacistRetcons

I've always been a fan of X-COM. Games with perma-death always seem to get my attention, as Jagged Alliance and Fire Emblem filled up a vast amount of my gaming time as a kid. The newest X-COM was the first to be released during my adulthood, and like many adults I found myself lacking the time to actually play it. I dabbled here and there, but it wasn't until X-COM2 was announced that I decided to really give it some time.

X-COM: Enemy Unknown brought back almost everything I loved about the series, but added the ability to name characters. This managed to make the perma-death and unforgiving situations that are guaranteed to kill off at least a few units that much harder to deal with. It was an extra layer of possible sentimental connection that made each death more poignant.

Being the asshole I am, I decided to start naming each character after heroes I had. First came, Lautaro, then Patoruzu, followed by William Wallace, Harriet Tubman and John Horse. As I lost units like Wallace, I replaced them with people like Ambrosio Vilhalva, and Tecumseh. I found myself unconsciously using the units in similar ways they had accomplished greatness in their real lives.

Wallace served as a distraction during an escape, losing his life, but helping others to continue to fight. Tubman, with her high mobility, has been most useful in missions where the aliens are attempting to abduct humans. Horse was a driving force in being able to turn failure into success, almost single-handedly.

With each of these people doing basically what they did in history I started to really draw a parallel to the narrative that marginalized people have faced in the past. In XCOM, you play as the commander of an international special operations team charged with protecting the member nations from abduction, relocation and enslavement. Change the year and you've got a game about Shawnee leader Tecumseh.

In the early 1800s European settlers were doing what they loved to do; Pushing native people to barren land, attacking women and children, using germ warfare, and being some real pricks. Tecumseh of the Shawnee created a confederacy of nations to fight against the foreign invaders that were abducting, relocating and enslaving native people. Sound familiar?
In the recently announced sequel to XCOM, the story is built around the idea that XCOM is now a nation-less band of renegades. They act as rebels, freedom fighters, you might even call them terrorists. Again, this reminded me not only of the "terrorists" in South America who attack oil fields and situations like "The Oka Crisis" in Oka, Quebec.

As this settled in, a friend bought me Wolfenstein: The New Order. In it, the Nazis have won the war, they've created a dystopian future rife with pollution, have placed dissenters into prisons and exercise their power and privilege as a master race in all of their conquered territories. Boy, alternative history sure is wild huh? This isn't the only game to take the actual struggle many Natives face today, and co-opt it in the way Deus-Ex has co-opted Apartheid. Crysis, Homefront, Freedom Fighters, among many other popular series have used this same narrative but applied generally to the United States and by extension to light skinned (often blonde) heroes fighting for FREEDOM! This is also not specific to video games. Think of books, movies, comics, and even music about "rebels" standing up for what they believe in. Much of it has iconography and narrative concepts that harken back to Native struggles, not only in the distant path but present.

I've heard it said that we, as the disenfranchised children of this land, live in a post apocalyptic world. For us, the total destruction of infrastructure, communication, identity and self determination is very real. Each day, I wake up in a NYCHA apartment too small for a large family. The walls are breaking, bugs are breaking through them. The pipes burst routinely, bullets may hit my window, and strung out junkies might cut me for their next hit. Life truly ain't no crystal stair, and yet I have the opportunity and privilege to sit in front of a computer and take one step each day, to a different future.

Sometimes, when I look at all the white faces, or at the angry comments, or the hate groups I think about my cousins in the jungles of the Amazon, or on the beaches of the Caribbean, or the mountains of Mexico and Peru, and I cry. I think about the kids on the rez, about the kids on the roadsides in huts, about the kids who have nowhere to go, and I cry. I think about how they see no future, for themselves, they see no future for our people, they see no future for our nations and take their lives in a final act of desperation, and I cry. I think about the murder squads of weaponized whiteness that speak colonized languages who rape and murder leaders, who destroy generations of culture simply because they've been told since birth that it was the right thing to do, and I cry. I think of my own family, and the countless others torn apart as mothers and fathers find comfort in the hollow promises of addictive drugs and substance abuse, and I cry.

Being able to tell those stories, from the relative safety of my slum, is important to me. This narrative, is not simply a game, or a movie, or a book for us. We live through the stories, and focus on survival. For many of us, the stories themselves ARE survival, and being able to share them on our terms allows us a stepping stone to actually feeling like human beings again. When you take away a native person's voice, you aren't simply silencing them but contributing to the machine that has, and continues to, destroy the reality and space in which we reside.

The next time you write about a group of rebels fighting off foreign invaders, or use specifically "American" tribal concepts, think about what you are contributing to our world, and what those stories mean to the people you have taken them from.

Think.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What I am.

I am the first the first droplet, that starts the rain.
I am the lunatic, who questions the sane.

I am the red devil, on the back of your jersey.
I am the children, you killed without mercy.

I am the earth, the water, the animals, the air.
I am the pain, when you cut a redskin's hair.

I am the darkest hour, in the blackest night.
I am the first rays, of morning daylight.

I am the chariot just ahead, pulling the sun.
I am here to announce, that our day has come.

I am destruction.
I am creation.
I am never alone.

I am a nation.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Five AAA Wrestlers that would have a major impact on Lucha Underground if they show up.

 Five AAA Wrestlers that would have a major impact on Lucha Underground if they show up.


5. The Apache Sisters- #GiveMexicanWomenAChance. Faby and Mary Apache are, as their name implies, Apache from northern Mexico. Their dad was one of the first people to train female wrestlers and to this day is one of the main trainers for women looking to get into wrestling. The living legend has passed on all of his knowledge to his daughters who could run circles around just about any diva or knockout, which is saying a lot because I think the current knockouts and divas are amazing athletes. They have competed in mixed matches both in tag and one on one. Faby Apache even held the mixed tag titles with Aerostar who is already in Lucha Underground. Their inclusion puts two powerful women on the roster that always put on great matches and have heat with Sexy star and chemistry with most of the wrestlers from AAA.

4. Psycho Circus- If you want a "Trios" league, you need Trios talent, and the Psycho Circus is the tops when it comes to Trios. Aside from the Hell Brothers they are one of the best when it comes to working as a unit. Each Individual wrestler is capable as a singles performer with each member holding a title outside of Trios. This team can make you a believer in the match type that "The Crew" have been working in the temple. It would only take 3 or 4 teams to cement the league as a whole, and between The Crew, Psycho Circus, and The Hell Brothers competition would be even better then good.

3. Myzteziz (Sin Cara)- Remember how Sin Cara botched a bunch? Now he never does. He's not a joke, he's a serious character that has matches where his blood stained mask is ripped from his face. Much like Alberto El Patron and Texano Jr., bringing over Myzteziz also means bringing over his rival El Hijo de Perro Aguayo; A merciless madman and the leader of Perros Del Mal, which includes maniacs like Pentagon Jr. This is a rivalry so good that you don't even need a belt to legitimize it, they just hate each other that much that every match becomes a bloody ordeal of one-upmanship.

2. Cibernetico- Some people might remember him from WWF, especially the rumble. Ciber is a bonafide star and has a working relationship with Mil Muertes that goes back a number of years. On top of a great singles performer, bringing over Ciber, also means bringing over his stable, The Hell Brothers. Another Incredible Trios team, they can feud with anyone in single, tag or trios and get the job done. Ciber, Averno and Chessman are vets that don't really have bad matches ever, and including them fills out the roster in a number of ways.Not only can they work Trios, but also standard tags and even singles as all three members have held a major heavyweight title.

1. La Parka- Seriously? Do I need to say anything other then "It's fucking La Parka"? This isn't the same La Parka we saw in WCW, but he's just as good, just as charismatic and just as fun to watch. He unmasked Cibernetico and was essentially the John Cena of AAA while it got back on it's feet in the mid 2000s. the guy can carry a company, and having him walk out, chair in hand, on Lucha Underground would make any ECW or WCW fan mark the hell out, even if it's not the same guy, it is the same idea. He has a great working relationship and familiarity with everyone in AAA, so you could throw him into any feud or even have him manage and be a recognizable face...err mask, that has an easy gimmick to understand, even for newcomers that may never have heard of him.

This is just five of many others that could have a significant impact on the roster. Before getting into who from the indys I would like to see (Spoiler ACH and Jay Lethal) I could still keep belting out names like Rey Mysterio, Taya Valkyrie, Jack Evans, and Black Mamba. Lucha Underground is a very different wrestling product and competition is always good for growth in entertainment, so lets all support it because it will make other products good if it is seen as a threat.