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Allena Tapia

Richard Blanco, Inaugural Poet, Reads Original Poem "One Today"

By January 21, 2013

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Perhaps, freelancers, you used the benefit of working at home to check out the Inauguration 2013 festivities on TV (or maybe even in person!).

Personally, I was excited about Richard Blanco, the inaugural poet. Blanco is a Cuban exile, and I love poetry about the Latino experience (one of my niche topic areas, and a topic that's generally dear to my heart). He was the first Latino poet to read at an inauguration, and his work, "One Today" seamlessly pulled together elements of the immigrant experience with the unity that makes such teeming diversity into one America. In fact, one of his most famous poems is "America", and it is beautiful.

I don't think the text to "One Today" is quite yet online- I'm watching for it, though, and will link it as soon as I can. Meanwhile, there's plenty of video of Blanco reciting One Today, definitely worth a look.

Interested in poetry? Be sure to check out my section on freelancing in creative writing, and About.com's poetry site.

Edited: Found the text to "One Today" here.

January 27, 2013 at 9:00 pm
(1) Mari says:

So glad you find Latino culture so interesting. Odd, considering you’re not actually a Latino. You’re simply married to one and play one online. Not to mention you stink as a writer.

But oh well, blondes have more fun and make more (undeserved) cash, I suppose.

January 31, 2013 at 4:20 pm
(2) freelancewrite says:

Mari, (that’s my daughter’s name!) (or should I perhaps call you Lynne?)

Since I write for and about so many controversial and political subjects, I’ve adopted a mentality in dealing with comments that are either passionate about my topic, or even those that are simply trolling with no contribution or constructive pieces at all. It’s based a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. ”

You may understand the part about hatred being too much of a burden to bear. I have personally found that hatred, jealousy, and so on consume me, and cause ME unrest and anxiety. I’ve found my life works a lot better when I attempt to approach from a kinder point. Plus, I don’t ingest the poison and negativity, and it works well for me.

So, I have this to say to you: I have deep respect for the Latino culture in the U.S.- not an interest. You can be assured that I don’t take my fortunes in having a voice for amplification lightly. When I’m put in a place to speak on a subject that reflects Latinos, I am quite honored and seek to use my talents in a way that best supports the community that I love. Even so, I approach my platforms with full knowledge and disclosure as to who *I* am, my history, and so on, and that is reflected in about a million photographs of me online. I never intend to play at being Latina.

That said, there is nothing simple about being married to my Latino husband (PLUS living and playing in Latino social circles PLUS raising children who self identify as being Latino PLUS functioning in a heavily Latino family space), as I assume no relations are ever “simple” and they all have their own set of pushes and pulls and issues. I’ve learned to function well in the community I have been in for decades, but that it’s simple should never be implied. It’s not. No relations are, really.

I’m sorry you don’t like my writing, but I must say that the only people who absolutely must like it are my clientele. They’re sure to tell me what they do and don’t like- don’t worry. And, yes, I’m aware that my looks or other shallow factors like my ethnicity might net me some advantages, but again, I am honored by the opportunities I do get, and I am always quite, quite careful to do them justice.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

February 11, 2013 at 7:25 pm
(3) Grace says:

Thank you Allena for showing *real* love to the Latina culture by providing education and acts of compassion.

True love always enables success and disables the poisonous effects of malice.


February 11, 2013 at 9:40 pm
(4) freelancewrite says:

Your comment is so sweet! Thank YOU. One thing I didn’t say here: My daughter identifies heavily as Latina. She got genetic Latina “looks” from her father and attends a school where her social circle is heavily Latina. Because I adore her to infinity, I will always adore and defend the culture. It’s wrapped up in my “mother” love. If that’s what she loves, and how she self-identifies (not to mention how we live), then I will do everything in my power to make the world better for that part of her.

February 11, 2013 at 7:27 pm
(5) Elizabeth says:

Nothing succeeds like a courteous response. Kudos to you, Allena.

February 11, 2013 at 9:37 pm
(6) freelancewrite says:

Oh, thanks, Elizabeth. It was easy because it was the second or third day of my MLK-based philosophy :) It’s gotten steadily more difficult to apply in my life, but I’m still trying!

February 11, 2013 at 7:31 pm
(7) Heather McKenzie says:

Well done Allena!

February 11, 2013 at 9:36 pm
(8) freelancewrite says:

Oh, thanks!

February 11, 2013 at 7:31 pm
(9) Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing says:

Nice job on the troll…you can check out the favorite one of mine I’ve gotten here: Funnily enough, it also deals with language usage and who we think we are:


February 11, 2013 at 9:36 pm
(10) freelancewrite says:

Just popped it open in a new tab, but wanted to say thanks for the comment real quick! The thing is, yes, we’re writers. But, wow, we’re not 100% of the time editors. I’ve had some of those same comments about TWITTER! TWITTER for goodness’ sake! I have 140 characters, cut me some slack! I guess if we were, say, salon workers, we’d be raked over the coals about our hair or something. But come on, we are people first :) . And the “in which” phrasing- QUITE common usage and very “fun.”

February 11, 2013 at 9:31 pm
(11) Stacy says:

Why would someone need to be Latino or Latina to find the culture interesting? Seems to me that we live in such a globally connected world, it would do us all well to take an interest in the different cultures in our society.

February 11, 2013 at 10:45 pm
(12) bluerabbit says:

Well done. Thanks for sharing this as a great example. You are brave. I think I would have just let it speak for itself.

February 12, 2013 at 12:27 pm
(13) freelancewrite says:

And that does work, too, bluerabbit. You are right. I think I answered because the topic/area is very important to me and important to my career. So I did want to tease out my WHY of writing and my PERSPECTIVE when I write on this topic. Thanks for your comment, but I wish you had an actual avatar of a bluerabbit. :)

February 18, 2013 at 7:54 pm
(14) Bonnie E Jackson says:

Hi Allena,

Speaking of names, yours is my best friend’s name and one I’ve always been partial to. When I read the troll comment, my heart went out to you despite the fact the the writer’s intent was clear. Full marks to your turning it around and making it a teaching moment. Having taken a stand against negativity and random cruelty myself, when I encounter it I always smile and respond, “Well, enjoy your journey.” Keep up the good work–you are on the right track.

Buena suerte,


February 19, 2013 at 10:24 am
(15) freelancewrite says:

Ah, Bonnie, you don’t know how much I needed kind words today after a rough weekend. Thank you so, so much!

February 19, 2013 at 9:40 am
(16) LoneWolffe says:

Similar situation that I’ve come to appreciate, as a freelance writer ‘gringo’ married to a ‘peruana.’ There are so many differences between cultures, and some trolls really try to play it up, as if one is ‘better’ or something?

Volunteering here in the highlands of Perú with my wife and three-year-old daughter, one day one of the locals says, “Hey, Gringo!” and I responded, “Hey, Peruano!” in the middle of the market. Now, the ‘appropriate’ response “in kind” would have been “Hey, Cholo!” [equivalent to hillbilly or redneck] Easily the tallest person here, and the only americano, it took the locals a second to get the joke and laugh.

Trolls expect a response “in kind” and they get frustrated when you don’t. Excellent way to turn that negative energy into something upbuilding. Also, troll cook best over eucalyptus, which is abundant here.

B. Jerew AKA @LoneWolffe

“I think that all right-thinking people are sick and tired of being told that ordinary decent people are sick and tire of being told that they’re sick and tired. I’m certainly not, and I’m sick and tired of being told that I am.” -Monte Python

February 19, 2013 at 10:13 am
(17) freelancewrite says:

Sounds beautiful where you are- the highlands, the eucalyptus. :)

February 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm
(18) Tris DeRoma says:

Dear Mari. You should mess with someone who has a truckload full of Internets parked in her driveway. LOL

February 25, 2013 at 11:07 am
(19) freelancewrite says:

I haven’t the faintest idea what you’re trying to say here, Tris.

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