In An Other's Mind you get a firsthand look at the yet unaddressed core issue that has rendered the United States a more sharply divided nation than ever. Fact is, we may all share the same longing that ours be a society that is fair, just, free, equal and democratic, but these themes, fundamental as they are, have markedly different contexts for those of us flourishing in the mainstream than for those of us struggling at the margins.
An impaired person might for example perceive that it is only fair that at the expense of the rest of us public places be rendered handicapped-accessible so that he or she might have entree to what the rest of us take as a given. Yet a post 60's populace, weaned on New Order, think tank, paradigms, seems to more and more agree that true fairness demands that we all, crippled and able-bodied alike, surmount the same flight of stairs on our own.
More so than race, class, culture, politics, language, and so forth, it is this divergence of perception that buries even the most basic and well-intended initiatives of social policy in a maelstrom of heated, discordant ambiance and which constitutes the newest frontier in the battle for social progress and a truly united nation.
Recognizing this and the urgent interest that we might yet come to understand one another and thereby reach greater accord as human beings, Luis Quiros delivers, in this unique volume, a first call to arms, by offering you a rich, vivid, personal and visionary look at the inner workings and arcs of critical thought that percolate inside an other's mind.
= -Lee Stringer, award-winning author of Grand Central Winter: Stories From the Street; Like shaking Hands With God, and
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.73(d)|
Read an Excerpt
An Other's Mind
By Luis Quiros
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Luis Quiros, MPA, MSW
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTwists of Fate
On July 2, 1997, when I was fired from a job I did well—and at which many failed—I became driven to find out why my lifelong "process of becoming" seemed to be filled with punishing consequences. I guess what I had not learned was the degree of difficulty in understanding and preventing a European mindset from defining and viewing me as Other and treated as excess population, without surrendering who I was.
So I retraced my life to find new knowledge that could help me predict when and where negative-based experiences might recur so I could avoid venting my frustration the wrong way. Without a different approach in dealing with my anger I was aware that I might find myself out on the street, alone, without resources and unable to defend Others also experiencing similar frustrations.
Strategies included reading and rereading English literature, history, philosophy, religious studies, sociology, law, and the work of community organizers, social workers, and mental health workers. Most important was speaking to Others from distant places and college students about "commonalities." As Others we often concluded that the start to our punishing consequences couldn't have been "what we did, didn't do, should, or could have done." We also agreed that our struggles caused by the barriers to equality must have some reciprocal effects upon the oppressors. Where there had been hidden culprits and false perceptions, we personally wanted to expose and hold people accountable whom had prevented us from giving tomorrow its appropriate attention and "often kept us thirsty before building our wells."
However, before I could expose and hold people accountable I had to learn to recognize and understand "power language," whose clever application upon Others distorts the truth. Without that, my aim—to expose the nation's passion for horrific social and historical myths, i.e., Western civilization is superior and Americans are European in origin— supported by billions of dollars of research on teaching methods only to arrive at suggestions that are malicious or so obvious, some even silly, attempts to compromise the fundamental right of Others' scholarship and empowerment. The lesson that became evident to me was that: "The purpose of education in class society is not to educate. It is to give 'the educated' a stake in thinking they are going to be different than [O]ther people who work all their lives."
Among those myths, the ones I despised the most were those that protected a one-size-fits-all mindset—a product of the melting-pot syndrome. The simplification of this complex modi operandi, modo de operar, or assumption that they were already aware of the many social issues being confronted by us had had its tenure with me. Though it took many years, concepts that you can produce equality while combating Otherism and propagandizing sameness became easily detectable to me as racist, stress-inducing, and traumatizing. No longer was I going to allow people to tell Others different from them to participate in a process that would reshape them to be as "civilized" and "moral" as they are.
For combating this one-size-fits-all myth I often retraced the power structure's profiling strategies. For example, by putting myself at risk (and knowingly committing an irresponsible and ignorant act), I equated White-collar crimes during the mid to late 1990s as a cultural problem inherent to the race that dominated its apparent successes—crimes by the men wearing suits. As men scammed millions—and billions—I waited for branding, stereotype, and authorship of the economic collapse of this nation as being White; and equal to the same military force used when they landed on the shores of this nation; and with the same social intensity that defined Black and Brown as unsophisticated, lazy, prone to crime, and welfare dependant.
This nation's strategy of ethnic profiling became one tool of many employing the "new racism"—not a color-conscience racism that relied on strict racial segregation such as "White only" signs—but the racism with moral arguments that promoted equal opportunity while undermining the use of racial and ethnic categories. Being colorblind is an example; lasting avenues for advancement are not provided, and in fact, use "logic" to avoid addressing the need for affirmative action, reparations, and even empathy.
The power behind this new racism carried its force by preserving some of the universally accepted and clever economic justification of the old racism. As, for example, "all things being equal" (condiciones estando igual) though the "things" (aunque las cosas) referred to, (de que estan hablando), had unequal access and harder for poor people to obtain, (nunca se puede conseguir en las misma condiciones que ellos tuvieron). The more recent and extremely complex dialogue to extract its racial component included the imagery or choreography of "leveled playing fields," (el lugar del juego de competicion esta igual). Here, we often learned after years of frustration and disappointments that the pursuit of happiness for people in the middle- and lower-class meant learning to be satisfied stuck playing in vulnerable fields—clever use of a word associated with leisure time. Worse yet, the fields—such as places of work and classrooms—were applied strategies to sustain difficult access to opportunities that would lead to more of life's choices and our autonomy.
I also spent time practicing how to exist in a more alert and intellectual state. I was figuring out that street smarts required "partnering" with scholarship, and scholarship required street smarts. Once I solidified scholarship and street smarts as partners, I understood why community organizing required a commitment to civil disobedient strategies. Fifty-eight years of age, thirty years after the violence that defined 1968, and two graduate degrees were not nearly enough to have learned to defend myself against the effects of "power language" and to make better choices. Race and class were so deeply rooted definitions of this nation that a different focus was necessary in order to distinguish between forms of racism that are intentional and conscious and yet justified by nonracial arguments, and those that are unintentional using racially-based myths. The hardest to debate were the intentional racial comments hiding under nonracial logic—the racist component was easily deniable. Unsurprisingly, racial events and language were more troubling to me when directed at Other people and communities. Therefore, while in search of the right questions to defend those with less power, the people I associated with or from whom I sought advice from consisted of scholars, the well read and the poorest.
In time I learned how social and welfare policy, the law, and the reasoning behind the absence of policy made it easy to miss the detours I should have made to avoid the social traps and retardants built on myths.
My mother, a dark skinned and attractive woman, was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico; my White father was born in Caracas, Venezuela. I was born in 1945 at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. Though I was the middle child of the first set of three, I was delegated enormous responsibility and taught to be my siblings' protector because I was the oldest boy. We lived in a three-bedroom apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side, near the Juilliard School and the City College of New York.
My mother was aware before the creation of Puerto Rico as a Commonwealth, 1950–52, how this nation's focus on the accumulation of wealth created a country that demanded patriotism, exalted capitalism, but too often could not accommodate morality. She believed in God more than the US government. And in spite of the negativity toward Latinos, my parents quickly learned to navigate New York.
Contrary to the trend, it was my parents' decision to live among a community that looked and spoke like them. As children and young adults we were never told to dance around the raindrops to avoid the discrimination. If we did not succeed, it was our fault. Whether this was a form of denial or a strategy, we were not allowed to feel victimized. Ironically, my desire to be viewed differently from the Latino stereotype translated into showing support for White television family programming at my expense as well as all other communities of color. Not until my early twenties did I start recognizing that by avoiding all commonalties—including the biological blood relationships—between our community and the Black community I was contributing to this nation's legacy of racism.
In 1951, pre–Brown v. Board of Education era, my parents pulled me out of first grade in a public school because if I arrived late I would be asked to leave the building. Unable to catch up to my parents' departing car I would walk around Harlem for the day.
In parochial schools I learned God loved me; I had a lot to be thankful for and I shouldn't expect more. White kids were privy to the expectation they would make great doctors or lawyers some day.
A passion for preserving our culture was a constant in our home. Romantic Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Cuban boleros played continually on our record player. My mother hardly ever missed The Liberace Show, which was famous during the 1950s for offering a range of popular and classical standards, and for its tributes to composers and musicians of various genres of music. No doubt, the most loving moments I experienced were just sitting next to her as she duplicated Liberace's show on her piano, adding her own medley of romantic boleros; our native culture flourishing side by side with that of our chosen country of residency. She collected 78-rpm records, played the piano, never smoked or consumed alcohol, and worked tirelessly to disguise the reality of our stress-filled social and economic condition. Among my most long lasting childhood memories were visiting El Barrio and La Marqueta with my mother in East Harlem's Park Avenue to buy only the freshest of produce items. There she taught me how to select fruits, vegetables, provisions, and the best meats and live poultry.
Corpus Christi was a Dominican Order nun-run parochial school on 121st Street, just east of Broadway, in a middle-income neighborhood characterized by blocks of low-rise brick apartment buildings and small, privately owned grocery, candy, and drug stores. At Corpus Christi, now six years of age, I met the White bully Otto, who for years would send me home with bruises and a prepared speech to my parents explaining how I kept bumping into things. There were times, when speaking to God, I asked for permission to shoot Otto—and others like him—and be blessed for it. And some of us did shoot people like Otto.
My residence in a Latino neighborhood while attending Corpus Christi meant a physically demanding walk against strong winds hitting my small and skinny body. Occasionally, my brother, Carlos, and I shared a monthly bus pass tucked in a heavy plastic case. Carlos would get on the bus first and throw the pass out the window for me to take the next bus home. When it got too cold I would walk through the Julliard School of Music, get warm, and ask myself why no one looked like my musically gifted mother. When the weather was sunny and I did not feel like going home, I would walk a few blocks south on Broadway and watch the students play tennis at Barnard College, across the street from historically White Columbia. I wondered why they all looked like the students at Julliard.
In contrast to the public school teachers, who tended to ignore my presence, the nuns were constantly in my face. My parents viewed nuns and priests as the highest authorities. Knowing this prevented me from telling them that I was often asked to sit in the back, forced to write with my right hand though I was left handed, and, worst of all, constantly reminded that the holidays were for the White and Irish Catholic communities. I eventually gave up writing with my right hand and compromised by imitating the manner in which the right-handed students angled the paper.
During my years in elementary school, doctoral students of the historically White Columbia University and Teachers College would often ask my mother if my brother and I would submit to timed psychological tests. These tests utilized, among other things, blocks, puzzles, different shapes of paper, number sequence computations, and multiple choice questions. My mother always complied. I never understood how they knew about me, but it did not matter. I worked my hardest to succeed. I was more curious than they were about my intellect, aptitude, and motivation. I often attempted to interpret the examiner's face. If I read an expression of disappointment or saw any sign of negativity, I asked if I could take the test over. My determination did not improve the test scores. I was defined by the evaluators as tenacious and unusually serious. I never knew what they meant by "unusually serious," but a lot of people said that about me. I was also defined as a disturbance in second grade and often sent to the principal's office to sit for long periods of time. I possibly should not have been surprised when I was required to repeat second grade. It was then when I built an intimate friendship with Tommy Mulligan, known simply as Mulligan—an Irish Catholic who lived with his grandmother.
It was not until the third grade that I felt any sort of educational support. A Maryknoll nun stepped into my life. Sister Bernadette, having recently arrived after serving many years in Africa, would put her arm around my shoulders, and I could feel that she "liked" me. My achievement soared, and I was never late for class. I lost contact with my Maryknoll relationship in the fourth grade, which may account for the decline in my academic performance. However, two notable experiences occurred. My walk to Corpus Christi was shortened as we moved closer to my grandmother on West 125th Street, and I was now living within a community of White Catholics and Orthodox Jews. This move allowed me to hang out with Mulligan. Together, and through most of elementary school, we enjoyed the ease of earning money by carrying packages for the elderly from local supermarkets and packing the food away for them, or collecting bottles from Harlem construction sites for the five cent deposit. This economic and service mindset would serve us well for years to come.
By fifth grade, Otto's younger brother, a fourth grader, started bullying me. It did not work out as well for him, because I kicked his ass from one end of the block to the other, not stopping until I saw blood. Unwilling to see his younger brother humiliated by a "spic," Otto stopped the fight and continued to beat him.
In seventh grade, my friends signed up as altar boys or joined the choir. I too decided to enroll. Because my Latin was deemed inadequate, I was assigned to help the priest celebrate benediction—a ceremony where the host, the symbol of the body and blood of Jesus, was not present. Benediction was only on Friday nights—an assignment the other boys did not desire. I later wondered about my unworthiness to transact with the body and blood of Jesus in the eyes of the community in which I lived.
Not knowing exactly what my parents were in search of that could improve my brother's and my academic performance, we were transferred in the eighth grade to a catholic school in Washington Heights. The neighborhood was shared between the Irish Catholic and Jewish communities. The Good Shepherd Academy, operated by Christian Brothers, was a short walk from the subway stop on Nagle Avenue. I recalled how when the classroom windows were open I could hear beggars call and ring out, "Alms for the poor!" or knife sharpeners calling for customers.
It was around this time that I started thinking about how skin color defined class. The cowboy movies that fueled the goodness of "White" reinforced attaching "darkness" to a class. I finally took notice that the crayon color called "flesh" did not match mine. It was a good thing that I developed some street smarts as I entered this new neighborhood. Noticing that the Christian Brothers would hit harder and with more frequency than nuns, I quickly buckled down, studied, and learned what that missing piece was that my parents were in search of. I became one of the top academic achievers.
Excerpted from An Other's Mind by Luis Quiros Copyright © 2011 by Luis Quiros, MPA, MSW. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Twists of Fate....................1
Chapter 2 Reality Challenges Perceptions....................19
Chapter 3 Mount Turns Nostalgic....................33
Chapter 4 Where Was This Nation?....................51
Chapter 5 Century Framed For Civil Disobedience....................73
Chapter 6 Antidote....................89
Chapter 7 Horrific Consequences and Decisions....................107
Chapter 8 Commitment to "An Other's Mind"....................133
Chapter 9 Globalization's Conscience....................163
Chapter 10 History Written in the Present Tense....................189
Chapter 11 Delivering Social Justice....................215
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Luis Quiros has written an important book that reminds us of the very present wrongs in our society that continue to perpetuate racism and economic inequality. Speaking from his own experiences as a Puerto Rican man, he demonstrates how the personal and the political combine to both harm the individual and our neighborhoods and country. Quiros highlights some of the micro-aggressions that occur to many people on a daily basis. I am reminded of the Puerto Rican man who told me once that his car was vandalized and he was almost assaulted by a gang of youths who mistakenly thought he was an Arab after 9/11. Also, a black man with his White girlfriend entering the subway being stopped by the police to search his bag while his girlfriend was left alone. It is important for all Americans to stand up for what is right and Quiros is a good role model, helping us to recognize discrimination and then to take action. I can highly recommend this book for all of those who want to know more about the injustices in our society and one man's struggle and protest.
The brilliance that comes out in this book, 'An Other's Mind' helps people see society and communities as individuals, and yet as a whole system, that without each other would fail. The book opens the readers' eyes to the problems the macrosystems tend to oversee. This book can ideally be used in any classroom or leisure reading, speaking from the eyes of a true fighter for equality, Quiros knows the hardships and has seen both sides. A book that is not just all talk and no action, this is by far one of the best books I have read in my 4 years in school.
I have be fortunate enough to have been able to take classes with Luis Quiros. He is a brilliant man. He helps people see what others either don't want us to see or we choose not to. Inspirational book that will help you grow as a person