Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Soul of Our City....or, The Calling

Mommy, in the center with her sister on the left
and best friend on the right. 
My maternal grandmother, known as Mommy, was born on October 3, 1904, eight years before New Mexico gained statehood and 15 years before women were given the right to vote. The eldest of her siblings, Mommy was a quiet force to be reckoned with.  She raised four daughters by herself, and after she lost her own mother, became a surrogate mother and grandmother to her siblings and nieces and nephews.  My grandma used to listen to soap operas like Guiding Light and When A Girl Marries on the radio and knew how to slaughter animals, plaster her adobe home by hand and knew every remedio for every illness. 

My grandma was also precinct chair for Santa Fe county in the late 1940's, when women were not commonly working in elections. She would travel to the state capital and was very active in politics. She was incredibly smart and witty and, had she been born in a different era, would have been an attorney or held office.  

My mom is the youngest of her sisters and also grew up on the ranch.  She was raised as much by rock-n-roll and American Bandstand as she was by my grandma, and she liked the "big city" of Albuquerque much more than she did the rancho. My mom's high school was very small (there were only 6 people in her senior class) but she was on student council, the basketball team, the school paper and also participated in Girls State, where she got to spend a week at the University of New Mexico and participate in a mock government. Later, she was on the picket line, fighting for her union and won rights for workers that are still in place today.  

I often write about my dad's love of politics and attribute my love of the game to him, but I overlook the influence my grandma and mom have had on me and the work I've chosen to do. 

I became an activist when I was just 14 years old, becoming involved with a youth organization, El Puente Raza Youth Leadership Institute, which changed my life.  From there, I went into community education and eventually found my way to organizing.  A friend once asked "so, you get paid to protest?" If it were only that simple!  Community organizing is less about protesting and more about one-on-one conversations, which lead to community conversations, which lead to creating space for communities to come together, which leads to a desire and a belief that yes, change is possible and yes, "we are the ones we've been waiting for." 

Change, inevitably, means taking on the status quo and working to create a new way of thinking, working and living. 

This year, on what would have been Mommy's 113th birthday, Albuquerque voters will decide on a new mayor, city council and whether or not to allow every worker in our city the opportunity to earn paid sick leave.


My mom, and her bobby socks, circa 1956 
Currently, there are 107,000 workers in Albuquerque who do not have access to earned sick leave. That staggering number is comprised mostly of people of color, women, young people and Immigrants. As with low wages, no healthcare and limited access to food, working while sick seems inhumane, but thousands of people are forced to do so because they can't afford to take a day to recuperate.  Worse, they send their sick kids to school or are unable to care for a loved one because their jobs don't offer earned sick leave.

Workers of all types deserve dignity and basic benefits like sick leave.  Opponents argue that earned sick leave is a job killer, and create a dystopian future that somehow only exists when the issue of workers rights comes up.  At some point, we have to realize that treating workers with dignity and allowing them to care for themselves and their families is good for business and good for all of us.

Community organizing is a calling, and in many ways, it's a privilege.  I've watched our coalition, organizers, community members, small business owners and allies pull together and run an amazing campaign. This movement thrives even in the face of lawsuits that tried to get the earned paid sick leave question kicked off the ballot; a last minute, illegal advisory question from the city council (that was later removed) and gross misconceptions spread by business coalitions who don't seem to care about small businesses until there is a movement to actually help workers and business owners.  

At times, the frustration hangs on me like a heavy stone, but then I see the volunteers and canvassers and the thousands of phone calls and doors they've knocked on, and I remember - this is bigger than my fear.  This campaign is bigger than earned sick days.  This campaign is a fight for the soul of our city - my city, our city - and I joined this fight because I was called to it. I joined this fight because I believe in it, and I believe in this city.  

To be sure, families who are faced with the choice between taking care of a sick loved one and a full paycheck make it work every day, but how much easier would it be if they didn't have to make that choice?  Both my parents worked when I was a kid, and we were lucky - my grandma would stay with us if we were sick.  So many families don't have that luxury, which should be a basic human right. 

I may have inherited my love of politics from my pop, but I inherited the calling to be active from the women who raised me; I honor them with the work I do.  I ask you to vote FOR the proposed ordinance for earned sick days for our families, our city and our souls. 

Happy birthday, Mommy. 







Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Welcome To Our Perfect, Righteous Movement

Every time the new president does something despicable (every hour or so), I am filled with rage and I lash out - specifically, at those who voted for him. Every time I think about the fact that he “won” the election, I am sickened and horrified and baffled all at the same time. With every stroke of his pen, I am filled with righteous indignation. I rage on social media.  I have imaginary conversations with his voters in my head:


“See?  He was a terrible choice.  He is going to destroy this country and it’s ALL YOUR FAULT.”


With every terrible announcement, I smugly wonder if his supporters are horrified and regretting their decision. Every tweet of his brings me a level of satisfaction as I want his supporters to gnash their teeth, tear out their hair and scream in horror. “WHAT HAVE WE DONE?” they’ll cry, and we, the progressives, will stand with open arms, ready to welcome them to our perfect, righteous movement. We will save the country -- nay, the world.   


At least, that’s how it plays out in my head.


I often wonder what things would be like had Hillary won. My relationship with Hillary - and the Democratic party in general - is complicated. I was a huge supporter of President Obama in 2008 and still felt relieved when he won in 2012, although my excitement over him waned. His message of hope rang hollow and I was pretty sure things weren’t going so well in his administration, but I was still able to lull myself into a numb denial. Healthcare was a constant battle but I wasn’t so afraid, because the president would save the day. Keystone XL pipeline? Nah, he’ll stop it. Unemployment is down! Reproductive health care is safe! Washington D.C. is far away and I have organizing to do locally, so I’ll just ignore what’s happening over there.


Unfortunately, there were things I could no longer ignore. 2.5 million deportations on President Obama’s watch are hard to ignore. Central American refugees being held in detention centers and immigration raids that separated families were not the “hope” and “change” sold during his campaign. Silencing and attempting to shame undocumented Trans* activist Jennicet Gutierrez was not the behavior of a president who so eloquently spoke of unity and compassion. Making Undocumented families wait for the executive order to expand DACA and DAPA until after the mid-term elections in 2014 was not the promise of standing with our people, nor was the “let it play out” strategy with the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) until after the election in 2016.


Sign from Rally Against the Muslim Ban, 01/29/17. Photo by the author
I can’t really be mad that President Obama* didn’t live up to my progressive standards - he was exactly who he always was - a moderate Democrat who was just left of center. I built him up to be much more progressive than he was (although, in my defense, he talked a really good game). President Obama speaks beautifully and I heard what I wanted to hear - I found a progressive message in everything he said. When my disappointment reached a boiling point of anger, I stopped listening to him speak because it would break my heart to hear such brilliance knowing full well that his policies were hurting so many people.


Still, I lived in the comfort of knowing that even if things were bad, I could ignore them, and I had the privilege of not being affected by many of his policies. Sadly, I would have done the same if Hillary had won. I would have lulled myself back into the same coma I’ve been in for the last 8 years. I would have let the Democratic party off the hook because hey, at least we won.


I voted for Hillary because I was afraid of what her opponent would do, and now my greatest fears are being realized everyday. If Hillary had won, I’m not so sure anything would have gotten worse - but would they be better? It's safe to say state violence would still be running rampant, deportations would continue without any hope of comprehensive immigration reform, and the banks and corporations would still have vast influence in every branch of government. Very little would be different, except my righteous rage would probably be a little dulled. I would go along with the status quo and organize on a local level, ignoring D.C. and Congress, as if ignoring what happens “over there” doesn’t affect us over here. The wheeling and dealing would quietly continue, and I could safely ignore it because that was a luxury I could afford. I'm reminded of an episode of 30 Rock where Liz Lemon refuses to believe her fair trade jeans are really made by Halliburton. Not only does the truth dash her liberal dreams, it means she can't wear her really great jeans anymore.


The new president (and the media circus that he creates) are making sure that each of us is acutely aware of the power and influence he has to mess with our lives and the lives of those we love. I find myself traumatized daily by Steve Bannon's policies, which is surprising, because I’m positive that he isn’t the first white supremacist to advise the president. In a country built on white supremacy and patriarchy, it’s pretty safe to say that while the current president is brash and can’t shut his fat mouth, he is in an office that was built on a foundation of slavery, genocide and colonization, and he isn't the first person to occupy it. It was unfair to expect President Obama or Bernie Sanders to magically undo that system; it’s naive to think Hillary or the sitting president would do anything beyond maintaining the power of the Oval.  


I do not credit this new president with giving our country a wake up call. There have been many voices who have warned us that unless we push for radical change, both parties would continue to be beholden to big banks and corporations, and our communities would continue to break under the weight of their greed. No longer can we afford to lull ourselves into a coma of complacency, and no longer can I rage against supporters of the new president while I was not willing to hold my party accountable.


Okay, maybe a little rage.  They still voted for the guy, and that is inexcusable.

*My disappointment in President Obama doesn’t negate the reverence I have for his historic presidency, as well as the respect I have for his family. His place in history is important, as are the places of the incredible Black women named Michelle, Malia and Sasha. The diversity within his cabinet and staff was unprecedented. He nominated a Latina for Supreme Court. His presidency was necessary, and it also exposed the United States’ big secret: we are still a hot, racist mess.

Monday, January 23, 2017

So, you marched. Now what?

I attended my first march in 1995, when California passed Proposition 187, a law that blatantly targeted Immigrant communities to keep them from accessing education, healthcare and employment.  The march, which was a solidarity march in Albuquerque, was held on a Sunday morning and I never felt more empowered or excited. Making signs with my friends, the buzz at the gathering beforehand, and the march itself made me feel like I was part of something bigger than myself.

Twenty-two years and countless marches, rallies, candlelight vigils and protests later, I can't believe I still have to protest this shit*.

Saturday, the day after the Presidential Inauguration, marked the largest protest in U.S. history. Turnout exceeded expectations nationwide, with the official count at 2.9 million (though many estimate that is a low number). Photos jammed my social media newsfeed and reports poured in from London, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and even Antarctica. I was amazed by the passion which people felt and the way in which so many people came together to show the new administration that WE WILL NOT BE MOVED.  People who are seasoned marchers joined with novices because, like me, they felt the need to be part of something so large and so much bigger than themselves. Albuquerque did a great job - official reports say 6,000 attendees but it seemed more like 10,000. I was shocked.

Women's March On Washington-Albuquerque.  Photo by the author 


I also had a little bit of a sinking feeling about the whole event, and it mirrored the feeling I had about voting for Hillary Clinton.  What felt like a monumental event for some left me feeling somewhat empty. The calls for solidarity and sisterhood gave me pause: sisterhood on whose terms? Who sets the agenda and who is expected to carry it forward?

I felt apprehensive during the celebrations of "the first woman to be nominated by a major party." The tone of her candidacy contributed to my overall feelings of being left out of mainstream feminism. When Clinton lost, the immediate analysis validated my apprehension. Pundits wondered if Clinton's campaign focused "too much on identity politics" and not enough on "mainstream America." Regardless of the analysis, the underlying sentiment was always the same: "if she hadn't wasted so much time on you people, we wouldn't be in this mess."

People of Color, particularly Women of Color (WOC), are accustomed to being an afterthought.  For so long, we have been used as props to make the photo look better. A brown face to meet a diversity quota. A voice to "keep things real." As WOC have stepped into leadership roles, we've grown in our analysis of power and community, and being a prop is no longer acceptable. We do not exist to brown up your photo.

Is that real enough for you?

As was the case post election, women of color were blamed for being divisive within the Women's March on Washington. While voicing concerns of inclusivity and intersectionality, the immediate pushback was questioning why WOC were being divisive. Different event, same ol' song. There have been some wonderful pieces about why WOC weren't willing to just show up and be "unified." Many of the points made resonated with me. Until we are having very painful and real conversations and finding ourselves stronger because of them, there is no need to speak at all.  Unless we are willing to follow the lead of WOC (and Queer and Trans* people, and those with a variety of abilities and Immigration status and age and class and educational levels and all the other intersections), there is no need to call for unity.

To be sure, the same thing has happened within our own civil rights movements. Back in the early 2000's, while at a meeting to tackle some very big problems within Chicano/a Studies at UNM, some of us brought up the issue of sexism within the program. Almost on cue, one of the men in the group said "yeah, yeah, let's get to secondary issues later.  Let's worry about the important stuff first," the important stuff being the renaming of the program, finding a director and whether or not it would be reclassified as a department.  This problem of sexism and gender-based violence being relegated to a "secondary issue" has plagued the Chicanx movement since the 1970's.

If we want to create change, we have to be willing to change ourselves. We have to be willing to address our own privileges and not only create space but get the hell out of the way.  We have to be willing to have painful conversations about race, class, gender identity, and those conversations have to happen within our own families and communities.  We have to be willing to walk away from situations, communities and yes, even marches that wish to exclude us or any other group because it doesn't fit in their version of "unity."

There are many lessons to be learned from the Women's Marches and Rallies, and these are the ones at the top of my list:
  1. As a WOC, how am I contributing to creating cis-gendered, heteronormative, white supremacist spaces? How do I change that? Am I standing up as an ally? Are others standing with me?
  2. How do we rally the same amount of people, energy and resources to take a stand for DACA, Immigrant Communities, Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, Early Childhood Education, paid sick leave, Fight for $15, Trans* Liberation, closing privatized prisons, fighting the Muslim registry, saving Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the environment and all the other on-going fights that need every one of us? 
  3. How do we harness the energy and keep this fight going?  It's going to be a long two years at best, and a long four years at worst.  
While it is overwhelming, we can harness Saturday's energy for the long run.  For seasoned and new activists, there must be space beyond the marches. We must be willing to put in the work and show up for each other.  Those who are pushed furthest to the margins are ready to lead, and will do so - the question is, are you ready to follow?



*I did not make up this line.  It's widely used on signs, t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc. This is a link to one of the sources I found.

Friday, September 9, 2016

On Love, Showing Up and Peter.

When I was in kindergarten, my dad was driving me to school. Without warning, he quickly pulled in the parking lot of a gas station and when I looked at him, he was having a seizure. I was very afraid, and I'll never forget him looking over at me, reaching out for me, trying to reassure me that he was ok.

I went into the gas station and asked to use the phone. Thankfully, my mom had taught me our phone number and I was able to call for help. Needless to say, I didn't go to school that day and my dad spent the day resting at home.

That was the first time I heard the word "epilepsy." I didn't understand it, but I knew that it was what made my dad tremble and shake.  From that day forward, I always watched for another seizure, and while he had many other health issues, he never had another seizure.

My dad passed away in 2014 and while I talk about his other illnesses, I never talk about his epilepsy, mainly because it didn't interrupt his daily life very often. Epilepsy was just a part of life and while his heart attack, stroke and eventual lung cancer were life-altering, epilepsy never really stopped him.

Unfortunately, this after-thought illness skipped a generation and when she was three years old, my niece Raquel was diagnosed with epilepsy.

Raquel cried a lot as a baby, more than most babies. No one ever really knew why, and she didn't have language to explain it either.  As she got older she stopped crying so much, but it was noticeable that something was wrong.  Her diagnosis was a brief reprieve; my dad's epilepsy was easy to control with medication and everyone was sure that was all Raquel needed. Unfortunately, Raquel's epilepsy wasn't like my dad's, and for most of her life, Raquel has endured seizures daily, sometimes several times a day.

On so many levels, Raquel isn't defined by having epilepsy.  She is creative, an artist and likes movies and music.  Raquel played soccer for years and is a fierce competitor.  She is fully aware of her epilepsy, knows when seizures are coming on and is often angered by it.  She has bad days and good days and days when she's wiped out from having seizures. She's spent a lot of time in the hospital and has been studied over and over again.  It seems that no one can find the right combination of treatment for her.  At best, her epilepsy is managed.  Because other kids oftentimes suck, it's hard for Raquel to make friends. School hasn't been the best experience for her.

Baxter, UNMH Service Dog 
Raquel and I don't always have much to talk about. Sometimes, I think that I am awkward because I don't know what to say, and I don't want to upset her.  Other times, we talk about the little outfits she sews for her other dog, her art projects or her schoolwork. My awkwardness isn't Raquel's fault; I don't always know how to relate to people when they are ill. Any time my dad was in the hospital, I would stay there all day, but I would float between the waiting room, his room, the cafeteria and the gift shop. In all reality, it's a combination of helplessness and fear that make me so awkward, and I don't know how to reconcile those feelings.

What I do know how to do is organize and act.

The last time Raquel was in the hospital, a very friendly volunteer came to visit named Baxter. He is a white, shaggy dog who visits all the children in the hospital.  Raquel brightened up when Baxter came to visit. My brother-in-law said "watch, we're going to get her a service dog." A few months passed and he, my sister, Raquel and her older sister began looking for a dog.  After meeting a few dogs, Raquel met Peter and they were fast friends.

Peter is a Boxer mix and a rescue from the Albuquerque Animal shelter.  "Wonderful!" I thought, "they have a service dog!" What I didn't realize is that training for Peter comes with a price tag of about $2500.00.  The price is worth it; Raquel has already shown signs of improvement from having Peter around and he will also be her Epilepsy Response Dog, meaning he will stay by her side when she is having seizures and alert others if needed.

After working as a school secretary for years, my sister decided to go back to school to be a teacher. Ten years of going to school part-time and working full time, she is finally ready to student teach, which means she has taken a huge pay cut. My brother-in-law works full time as well, but, as is the case with most families in the US, there isn't extra money to train a service dog.  Going public and asking family and community to pull together isn't easy, but it's vital.

Remember I said I know how to organize and act?  It isn't a skill I developed on my own.  My family is one that knows how to pull together a party, a dinner, a wedding, a baby shower or a funeral reception with very little notice or supplies. We aren't just there for each other, we show up, so when my sister told us how much it would cost to train Peter, we began making plans. An enchilada dinner! A spaghetti dinner! A silent auction! A raffle! We decided to start with an online fundraiser.

My dad didn't always know how to show his love and affection for us, but in my darkest times, like when I didn't even have a bed frame, my dad took me to buy one. He showed up for me.

I inherited many of his personality traits, and I don't always know how to show my love for my family. When there is an opportunity to do for them, I take it.  If a service dog will make a difference in Raquel's life, why wouldn't we do everything we can to make it happen? I can't make friends for her or take away her seizures, but I can work to raise money to train Peter.

So can you.

If you keep up with me, you know that I am always writing about some sort of politics or injustice and urging readers to take action. I am now urging you to donate to Peter's training fund.  While large donations are definitely welcomed, even $5 makes a difference.

Perhaps you'll never meet Raquel or Peter, but I can guarantee that you will be a part of changing their lives.

I don't always know how to connect with Raquel, but I love her fiercely, all the time. Thankfully, Peter does as well.

Click here to donate to Peter's Training Fund. 


Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Prayer for a Broken Little City

Aye Burque, we are a broken little city existing in a broken little state. We are a tiny little light being consumed by darkness.

Too many babies, too many tiny lives have been cut short and I can't wrap my head around any of it.

Shit like this happens in other cities, but this is home, and home is supposed to be safe.  Babies are supposed to be safe. Mothers are supposed to keep their babies safe.

Mothers are supposed to keep their babies safe.

Mothers are supposed to keep their babies safe.

I don't know where we went wrong. I don't know when the darkness crept in and consumed our light.

The stewards of our city and state will use these tiny little lives to play politics, and in our anger, frustration and fear, we'll play right into their greedy hands.

Amen, I say to you:

Resist.

Calling for more death isn't justice.  Letting inmates rot on death row while their cases are appealed over and over for 40 or more years isn't justice. Playing politics with human lives is not justice.

Resist.

Victoria was not born to be a sacrifice. Nor was Ashlynne; or Lilly; or Ty; or Omaree; or Breanna; or Miranda. None of these babies were born only to die in the most brutal manners possible.

We do not honor them when we plunge into darkness, screaming for more blood.

Resist.

Their memories are at risk of being nothing more than media ratings and political speeches. We forget as quickly as we can because it is too painful and these babies faces are used to sell papers and politicians and we look away because it hurts.

Resist.

Say their names. Look their deaths in the eye and be forever altered by your grief. Let your grief spur you to action. Take care of the children of our city.  Take care of the children of our state.  Our city is broken and plunged in despair. It's tempting to give up, to ignore, to call for more death.

Resist.

We must resist the darkness.

We are light. Those babies are light.  Our city deserves the light.

Resist the darkness; embrace the light.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Shame On Sue

Last week, CHI St. Joseph's Children unveiled New Mexico Truth, a campaign that sheds light on the dismal condition of children and families in New Mexico. The site is a spoof on the state tourism department's New Mexico True campaign, which predictably led to Governor Susana Martinez's press secretary calling the ads petty.

A few days later, New Mexico Voices released findings of the Kids Count report, which ranks New Mexico as first in child poverty. Again. Martinez and her ilk had the perfect opportunity to lay out a plan to pull New Mexico out of its dismal poverty and unemployment (also first in the nation). They had the opportunity to overturn corporate tax breaks, advocate for funding for Early Childhood Education and strengthen the Public Education Department. At the very least, the governor could have laid out budget priorities to alleviate poverty, given this year is a short session which is a budget session. 

Instead, Martinez laid out a "tough on crime" farce that sounded more like a campaign speech rather than a plan to pull our state out of poverty. Rather than focus on programs that will lift up our state, the Governor advocated for youth curfew and incarceration with the same tough on crime schtick that ran out of steam a long time ago. Predictably, Martinez also reintroduced her plan to go after drivers licenses for Undocumented Immigrants. 

Again. 

For the sixth year in a row. 

Martinez's tired rhetoric shows she is out of touch with the needs of New Mexicans. A new poll shows that the majority of New Mexicans support drivers licenses for undocumented people.  While Martinez should be focused on creating jobs, she is determined to bully her way to a hollow victory. 

Martinez's speech infuriated me, and apparently I wasn't the only one. For a brief, glorious moment, someone shouted "shame on you!" as Martinez spouted her typical racist, anti-Immigrant rhetoric. We later found out the shouter was Representative Christine Trujillo (D, Albuquerque) and she did what I have been itching to do  - she called the governor out, and she did it right to her face. 

Martinez was already walking into session as a punchline - her infamous pizza party is still fresh on everyone's minds. A group of Senators wore socks with pizza and cokes printed on them and a group of protestors gave away free pizza outside the Roundhouse. During her speech, however, Representative Trujillo took dissent to a new level and interrupted the governor. 

Immediately, Republicans blasted Trujillo's action as disrespectful and called for decorum. Speaker of the House Don Tripp called her action inappropriate and a spokesperson for the governor called Trujillo's action petty.  

Really?

Recycling the same tired argument over drivers licenses for political gain is petty. Using the same scare tactics to argue over licenses while our state keeps slipping further down the sinkhole of the Martinez administration's making is irresponsible and using racist, xenophobic language and scapegoating is reprehensible, Sue.  

While the Department of Homeland Security had to go so far as to write a letter to the editor of the Albuquerque Journal to clarify the Real ID Act (something our mainstream media outlets fail to do over and over again), Martinez uses fear in order to try and drum up one more sputter of support for taking away drivers licenses from Immigrants. 

Immigrant Day of Action, Santa Fe. Photo by the author 
As if that wasn't petty enough, Martinez and her cronies are pushing "tough on crime" bills which, at first glance, seem like they can reduce crime, but are really meant to catch Democrats between a rock and a hard place: while they will vote against these bills because they are ineffective, they will seem soft on crime and, come election time, they will be portrayed as such. While draconian laws don't reduce crime, Martinez uses her tried and true tactic of making speeches and pounding the podium, but won't put any type of real investment in solving New Mexico's crime problem. 

It's worth noting that the GEO Group and Corrections Corporations of America (both private prisons) have made $38,000 in donations to Martinez and other Republicans' campaigns. Locking up more people = millions of dollars in revenue for private prisons. 

I don't feel any safer, do you? 

The only pettiness I see in Santa Fe comes from the Governor's office and the Republican-controlled House. Speaker Tripp, while you allow the drivers license bill, teen curfew bill and right-to-work bills onto the floor for votes in an effort to create "election bait," please remember your call for decorum and respect and show the same to the people of this state. We are less interested in your reelection and more interested in seeing our state begin the hard work of getting out of last place.

Bravo, Representative Trujillo, and I agree whole-heartedly - shame on you, Governor Martinez. Shame on you.  

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Fun With Sue

I have been in a bad mood since 2010.

Obviously, I've had a lot of bright spots, but there has been an underlying gnawing rage that can be summed up in one name:

Susana Martinez.

Back in 2010, I worked in the anti-violence against women movement, and Martinez was well-known in our circles from her work as a prosecutor in Las Cruces.  When I first heard she was running for governor, I foolishly assumed she was running as a Democrat and was excited at the prospect of a badass Chicana running for office. Boy, was I wrong.  Not long after announcing her candidacy as a Republican, Martinez began her attack on Mexican Immigrants and pulled no punches in attacking the Richardson administration for passing a law that allows Undocumented Immigrants the right to apply for a drivers license. Her opponent, then-Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish, had very little recourse against the attacks and Martinez breezed into office. I was disgusted to see that so many of my fellow Nuevo Mexicanos voted for Martinez based on fear mongering that played right into the internalized racism and oppression that plagues our communities and turns us against our Immigrant sisters and brothers.

Martinez immediately tried to repeal the law that allows drivers licenses for Undocumented people, which is actually a pretty benign law. There is little evidence of fraud taking place, and streets are indeed safer, given the boost of licensed and insured drivers. None of this mattered to Martinez when she took office, as much of her campaign was built upon the promise that she was going to take drivers licenses away from those people and "restore" law and order to New Mexico.

Five legislative sessions later, Undocumented Immigrants haven't been denied drivers licenses, but New Mexico has slipped to near last place in child well-being, high school graduation rates, and recovery from the 2008 recession. We are first in child-hunger, unemployment and have the widest income gap in the United States (meaning NM has the widest gap between the wealthy and the poor). Add in the corporate tax breaks she pushed in 2013 (while vetoing an increase in the minimum wage), the eroded environmental protections and failed school evaluation system and what we have is a governor who is more interested in reading to children (otherwise known as an easy photo-op) and angling for a place in national politics. The office of governor is simply a stepping stone, and when she moves on to a bigger stage, New Mexico will be worse for wear, all on Martinez's watch.

One would naturally think - wow, that governor sure is incompetent. How is is she still in office? Credit is due to the governor's right hand, Jay McCleskey, who is widely believed to be running the show and has made sure that the governor's image is tightly maintained.  Detractors are severely punished and the media seems to be controlled by the governor's office - there is little to no in-depth analysis of the failure of the Martinez administration in the mainstream media. In addition to this, the Democratic party has been mostly silent - almost as if they are waiting out her term as governor in order to get back to work.

While Martinez handily won her reelection in 2014, it should be noted that voter turn-out was less than 40% - hardly a referendum as much as it is voters who feel disengaged and apathetic. In the last five years I left my service provider career and moved on to grassroots organizing. I have stood with people who are fearless while participating in direct action against the governor (silent protests, delivering a Christmas stocking full of coal and marches, to name a few) and still, despite all the noise we made about the terrible job Martinez has done and her agenda to sell New Mexico to the highest bidder, it felt like she was untouchable.

That is, until her drunken phone calls to 9-1-1 surfaced last Friday.

Friday afternoon, as soon as the New Mexico Political Report broke the news of Martinez's drunk dials, my social media timeline lit up with gleeful posts about the governor's slurred attempts at bullying both the hotel staff and the Santa Fe police department. The memes quickly followed and the status updates featuring the hashtag #partylikesusana were in abundance. The underlying story was that of the governor showing her true colors - a bully who will stop at nothing to get her way.

Martinez is hardly the first public official to be caught in an embarrassing moment - hell, almost everyone I know (myself included) has been, ahem, to a pizza party or two, so why does this feel so good? Why are we getting such a kick out of this?

The answer is simple - this is the first time that information is sensational and damming enough to stick.

As much as I've wanted a revolt over the governor's horrible job and brutal policies, it seems that her downfall is by her own hand - or rather, the drink(s) in her hand. I am not as much concerned about her drunkenness as much as I am her blatant disregard for the people whom she sees as beneath her, which has been her modus operandi throughout her tenure as governor. It's fine that she cut loose at her Christmas party, but what isn't fine is that said party cost taxpayers roughly $8,000, according to Progress Now New Mexico (via KRQE). I'm sure the governor's office has held a Christmas party every year and tax payers have footed the bill, but like everything else associated with Martinez, no one questioned her or her decisions; she has received a free pass for the last five years.  This time, she couldn't hide, nor could the media turn a blind eye.

As we head into the 2016 legislative session (which is a short session focused on the state budget), Martinez will once again try to repeal drivers licenses. She will make no real changes that benefit New Mexicans and will continue to bully any detractors she encounters. This year, however, we are going to see her Roundhouse of cards begin to fall apart. The next two years will be a long for la Sue; perhaps we should all chip in and buy her a round, or maybe just a piiiiiza.