Rafael and Nina screen shot small

Black Lives Matter in the Revolution of the Heart

Literary Dialogs with Nina Serrano featuring Rafael Jesús González

Rafael reads two poems, each in English and Spanish: Wake Up U.S. America!/¡Despierta EE.UU. América! and The Moon Masks Herself/La luna se enmascara, followed by the poets conversation about Black Lives Matter in the Revolution of the Heart in the post pandemic world to come. English and Spanish subtitles are available on the video settings button.

Rafael Jesús González has always been the poet laureate of Berkeley for me, long before he was appointed in 2017. As a multimedia producer, I often called on him for poems and interviews with a spiritual take on nuclear disarmament, world peace, equal rights, Chicano history, environmentalism, and the love of Mother Earth. He always has a lot to say about the moon too, on a monthly basis, which earns him a place in the my feminist lexicon. As an activist poet he has spent time in Santa Rita jail for protesting the war machine. As a graphic artist his altars and other artistic works are exhibited in the Oakland Museum. And when he was a professor at Laney College, he struggled for and established the Mexican and Latin American studies department.

I first encountered Rafael in 1969, when we both appeared in the same poetry anthology, “Mark in Time”, published by Glide Press, which was the first time I was included in an anthology of San Francisco poets.

Rafael Jesús González, 1969. From Mark In Time published by Glide Press.
Rafael Jesús González, 1969. From Mark In Time published by Glide Press.
Nina Serrano, 1969. From Mark In Time published by Glide Press.
Nina Serrano, 1969. From Mark In Time published by Glide Press.

Rafael is still the same man who you see in this interview 51 years later, kind, friendly, full of intelligence, laughter, passion, activism, and cosmology that ties him to Mother Earth. While I studied for my Master’s Degree (class of 2002) at the Oakland campus of Naropa University, Rafael was on the Board of Directors trying to keep the University of Creation Spirituality afloat with its art based education and spiritual curriculum.

Rafael Jesús González, Screen shot from video, 2020.
Rafael Jesús González, Screen shot from video, 2020.
Nina Serrano, Screen shot from video, 2020.
Nina Serrano, Screen shot from video, 2020.

Our regular KPFA-fm radio program, La Raza Chronicles, has always turned to Rafael for the most advanced and profound thinking on events in the Latinx world. He has always promoted bilingualism demanding that any poem of his read in public or published in print be included in both Spanish and English. He is truly the product of a border town with fluid movement between the two countries and the two cultures, the twin cities: El Paso, Texas, USA and Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.

When I visited him in Berkeley I should not have been surprised that his house straddled the Oakland Berkeley border. I cannot remember if the cozy kitchen was in Berkeley and the wood lined living room in Oakland or if it was the reverse. My best memory of his home was the garden, with wild and fragrant plants. I think it is in his garden that his ideas incubate and blossom.

Universal Earth Justice Peace flag by Rafael Jesús González
Universal Earth Justice Peace flag by Rafael Jesús González

In my own home, you can find Rafael’s colorfully designed Universal Earth Justice Peace flag and buttons. I also treasure the earrings he’s made and the little Spanish scrolled sewing scissors and thimble he brought me from Toledo.

Below you will find the poems presented in both languages in the video.

¡Despierta EE.UU. América!

Cuando un jugador de pelota se hinca sobre la hierba
para protestar por la justicia cuando se toca
una canción de cantina hecha sagrada, se le denigra
y despide. Pero cuando la policía ponen la rodilla
al cuello de sus víctimas o les disparan
más veces que no se le llama
“Cumpliendo su deber.” ¿No vemos
porque dormimos o somos ciegos
como nos gusta representar a la justicia?
Quitémosle la venda de los ojos para que vea
que su báscula está fuera de balance,
que no es daltónica y si lo es
que lo corrija. En la visión del Tao
lo negro y lo blanco son equivalentes, uno no más
de valor que el otro pero su báscula
se desequilibra a favor de lo blanco, todo matiz de negro
no contando por mucho. ¿Será porque dormimos?
Si solamente es que dormimos ¡Despierta EE.UU. América!
Si es que nos negamos a ver ¡Que nos ayuden los dioses!

© Rafael Jesús González 2020

Wake Up U.S. America!

When a ball player kneels upon the turf
to protest for justice when a bar-room song
made sacred is played, he is vilified
& fired. But when police take their knees
to the necks of their victims or shoot them
more often than not it is called
“In the line of duty.” Do we not see
because we sleep or are we blind
like we like to portray justice?
Unbind her eyes that she may see
that her scales are out of balance,
that she is not color-blind & if she is
to correct it. In the vision of the Tao
black & white are equal, one no more
of value than the other but her scales
are weighted to the white, all shades of black
not counting for much. Is it because we sleep?
If it is only sleep, Wake up U.S. America!
If it is that we refuse to see, may the gods help us.

© Rafael Jesús González 2020

La luna se enmascara

Prepárense, un amigo astrólogo nos dice, a que la luna esta noche se enmascare con
a sombra de la tierra. El primer eclipse lunar del año pronto siguió la conjunción de
Saturno (padre de dioses, del tiempo, de la generación, disolución, renovación,
liberación) y Pluto (acumulador de riqueza, rey del inframundo), ocurrencia de una vez
cada treinta y ocho años.

En ese momento escribió: Sí, estamos comprometidos. Grandes cambios están sobre
nosotros. Ha llegado el tiempo para la trasformación . . . Los eclipses son presagio de
la revelación cuando el contenido de las sombras se hace más visible. Esto anuncia un
momento de gran cambio donde el mundo se sacude, se sacude para que despierte.
Tres eclipses seguidos en vez de dos en este ciclo de eclipses, nota. Y despertamos.
Aislados en nuestras casas por la pandemia, la amenaza de la otra pestilencia del
fascismo nos saca a muchos de nuestros refugios a riesgo de contagio. ¿Cual es peor?
Cercado en una gran casa blanca el jefe demagogo plutocrático 45 exige toques de
queda y amenaza llamar al ejército para aplastar toda protesta. Pero, advierte Naomi,
“Cuando dicen que no tenemos el derecho a protestar, ese es el momento de inundar
las calles” Y muchos sabemos que así es. Nuestras vidas están a riesgo y no
solamente por un virus coronado.

Venus, la Serpiente Emplumada se prepara a sacrificarse en la fogata del sol para
surgir de nuevo siete días después como Señor del Amanecer; comienza un ciclo de
584 días. ¿En 584 días hasta donde llevaremos nuestra revolución, nuestra revolución

© Rafael Jesús González 2020

The Moon Masks Herself

Prepare, an astrologer friend tells us, for the moon tonight to mask herself in the
Earth’s shadow. The first lunar eclipse of the year followed fast upon the conjunction of
Saturn (father of gods, of time, of generation, dissolution, renewal, liberation) and Pluto
(hoarder of wealth, king of the underworld), a once every thirty-eight years occurrence.
At that time he wrote: Yes, we’re in for it. Great changes are upon us. The time for
transformation has arrived. . . Eclipses are harbingers of exposure, when shadow
contents become more visible. This heralds a time of great change, where our world is
shaken up, shaken in order to awaken.

Black Lives Matter in the Cosmos

Three eclipses in a row rather than two in this eclipse cycle, he notes. And we awaken.
Sequestered in our houses by the pandemic, the threat of the other pestilence of
fascism draws many of us from our shelters at the risk of contagion. Which is the worst?
Fenced in a big white house, chief plutocratic demagogue 45 demands curfews and
threatens to call the army to squelch all protest. But, says Naomi, “When they say we
don’t have the right to protest, that is the moment to flood the streets.” And many
of us know it to be so. Our lives are at stake and not only from a crowned virus.

Venus, the Plumed Serpent prepares to immolate himself in the bonfire of the sun to
rise again seven days later as Lord of the Dawn; a 584-day cycle begins. How far in 584
days will we take our revolution, our healing revolution?

© Rafael Jesús González 2020

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