Biography Writing Teaching Appearances  

L.A. & Santa Barbara hears Ruiz de Burton

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Amelia Montes, the spirit of Ruiz de Burton, Chela Sandoval 

Could this be "la fantasma" of Ruiz de Burton standing between me and Chela Sandoval?  Could this wired angel be tapping into our differential consciousness?  Or maybe it is simply wires shaped into angel wings, a barbed angel body and that is all.  Ruiz de Burton is certainly in the minds of a number of people and I am meeting them this week!  Yesterday I spoke to professors and graduate students at UCSB.  They had great questions about how to teach Who Would Have Thought It? 

To begin, it is best to introduce students first to the captivity narrative and also to historical  materials regarding California and California's constitutional debate on race and rights in 1849.  The state constitutional convention in California occurred between September 1 and October 13, 1849 in Monterey.  These debates and conversations still affect us today.  It is at this convention that the question of suffrage was the focus.  Who would have the vote in this new state?  The Indians?  The Blacks?  The Mexican?  They knew the Anglo American would have the vote.  That was a given.  The Californio (spelled correctly with an "o"--the Mexican American Californians) delegates wanted the vote too and offered up this definition of "white."  Delegate Noriega de la Guerra:  " . . . what is the true significance of the word 'white.' Many citizens of California have received from nature a very dark skin; nevertheless, there are among them men who have heretofore been allowed to vote, and not only that, but to fill the highest public offices.  It would be very unjust to deprive them of the privilege of citizens merely because nature had not made them white.  But if, by the word 'white' it was intended to exclude the African race, then it was correct and satisfactory. . . "  Another delegate, Mr. Botts states:  "I have no objection to color, except so far as it indicated the inferior races of mankind."  (from The Other Californians, page 98)
Ruiz de Burton was sixteen when these conversations took place.  She and those of her generation entered into this new state and national narrative on race--that "white" apparently had nothing to do with color except when the dominant group needed to set boundaries, distinctions.  She grew up with the narrative that "white" was power and to be Spanish was definitely "distinct" from being Mexican or Indian.  
At the Berkeley archives, one can see the census reports right after the convention to note how citizens were writing down that they were Spanish white or African European--whatever the correct "distinction" was in order to get the vote, in order to be accepted into this state and national narrative.  
Times have not changed and Ruiz de Burton's "angel" still comes with these historical narratives.  We still make "distinctions," we still follow the narratives.  

This is another reason to re-evealuate/reconsider the barbed nature of Ruiz de Burton's spirit and historical past.  How to avoid following these narratives?  

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