On writing (about) Oscar Lopez Rivera

Thus far, reflections on writing Oscar have been published in Latino Rebels and Black Girl Dangerous.  I have read Between Torture and Resistance, and I will be reading Cartas a Karina, as soon as I recover from my first semester of teaching. Writing any more than I have is emotionally difficult because writing about Oscar is an incredibly vulnerable endeavor.

He’s my Jiminy Cricket. With National Boricua Human Rights leaders, I say he’s my Yoda, leadership being Obi Wan, entre otros.

Failed attempts at writing an analysis also means I have to write about what it means to write Oscar. That’s where my work will start. In that project, I will answer the following questions: what does it mean to be a queer, femme, mixed-class scholar who write Oscar to defend the commitment to staying in graduate school and higher education? what does it mean to say that, for the past decade, he’s been my most consistent support throughout the journey? I didn’t want to answer that question. The failed attempts require me to answer those questions. This is not just a prison studies project; not just a criminal justice project.

Answering those questions will pull from work I had done thanks to a year of working the Chicago-based oral historian for the Center for Puerto Rican Studies as well as from a grant I received from the same institution. It starts with what I explained in my scavenger scholar page. My historic failed practice at passive-aggressive respectability politics informs the fear I have to overcome to write this. I am working to have a peer-reviewed academic article on it out by 2018.


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