An Other's Mind
Dust Jacket Hardcover
In An Other’s Mind you get a firsthand look at the yet unaddressed core issue that has rendered the United States a more sharply divided nation than ever. Fact is, we may all share the same longing that ours be a society that is fair, just, free, equal and democratic, but these themes, fundamental as they are, have markedly different contexts for those of us flourishing in the mainstream than for those of us struggling at the margins. An impaired person might for example perceive that it is only fair that at the expense of the rest of us public places be rendered handicapped-accessible so that he or she might have entree to what the rest of us take as a given. Yet a post 60’s populace, weaned on New Order, think tank, paradigms, seems to more and more agree that true fairness demands that we all, crippled and able-bodied alike, surmount the same flight of stairs on our own. More so than race, class, culture, politics, language, and so forth, it is this divergence of perception that buries even the most basic and well-intended initiatives of social policy in a maelstrom of heated, discordant ambiance and which constitutes the newest frontier in the battle for social progress and a truly united nation. Recognizing this and the urgent interest that we might yet come to understand one another and thereby reach greater accord as human beings, Luis Quiros delivers, in this unique volume, a first call to arms, by offering you a rich, vivid, personal and visionary look at the inner workings and arcs of critical thought that percolate inside an other’s mind. —Lee Stringer, award-winning author of Grand Central Winter: Stories From the Street; Like Shaking Hands With God, and Sleepaway School, Stories From a Boy’s Life.
During 1964–66 I took a shot at college by attending a public community college in the Bronx, part of the City University system. Without guidance I knew of no other places to apply. I only knew of forms to complete. While a student, I discovered a true liking and respect for history, philosophy, and engagement with people who weren’t catholic. The respect gained from these two courses and engagement of “new” people with different thoughts was the first time I had ever gone out of the way to find literature that was not required reading. Sometime during 1965–67 I also came across the work Dr. John Hope Franklin and his history book Land of the Free. Immediately, I noticed this nation’s etiquette as being disturbingly different from what I had been taught. Words from this book invited a temporary satisfaction that other history books could not provide: “We do not want a government that gives favors to a select few. We agree that there should be no such thing as a second-class citizen. With a boatload of men from each of the ships, Columbus landed… in the New World.” Prior to Dr. Franklin, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “dream,” and his alignment with nonviolence against armed citizens, police, dogs, and water cannons seemed too passive for me. Malcolm X, from my Harlem neighborhood, seemed too revolutionary at a time when I was still trying to figure it all out. James Baldwin, also from Harlem, entered my life before I learned to ignore the myths attached to people with different sexual orientations. Dr. Franklin’s work, however, touched me where I needed to change. That is, I needed to start learning history so I could ask better questions, beyond those associated with liberty and equality, and more about the hows, whens, wheres, and whys the preservation of the White ruling class had become the priority and catalyst for, among other things, the manipulation and distortion of history. Too late was I able to grasp my Puerto Rican grandfather’s words, “No sabia que yo era negro hasta que llegue a este pais”—I was unaware I was Black until I arrived in this country. Too long to understand the words of James Baldwin, “I am only Black because you think you are White.” Both men taught me that the melting pot was a myth developed to delay civil disobedience. Black and Brown always meant poorer, as in opportunities; White meant richer, as in access to more important things than country clubs; Black and Brown means prisons. Being Latino or Black meant that making a move toward social and economic success would increase the risk of encountering more emotional stressors. It took the years of 1964–67 to learn that it was time to be smarter about life. I also wasn’t going to be one the guys who would allow the Army to teach me. The racial violence in this nation and in Vietnam told me that the military would keep me a stranger to myself while putting me in harm’s way. My goal was finding out who I was and what I was about at a time in this nation’s history when it was best to know. On February 21, 1965, I received confirmation about how important this thinking was. After a treatment for asthma and allergy tests, I left the Medical Center 168th Street and Broadway and witnessed chaos and felt a pinch that told me I’d better get smart even faster. I let the number four bus go by a few times after hearing, “Malcolm X is dead.” I recalled his “high risk” speech, “The Ballot or the Bullet,” two months before I graduated from high school: “I’m nonviolent with those who are nonviolent with me. But when you drop that violence on me, then you’ve made me go insane, and I’m not responsible for what I do.… Any time you know you’re within the law, within your legal rights, within your moral rights, in accord with justice, then die for what you believe in. But don’t die alone. Let your dying be reciprocal. This is what is meant by equality. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander …” The daily scores of dead and beaten Black people around me served as a reminder that I would be one to make a decision and find the role I would play. I was confident that those violating the nation, those doing the killing and the plundering were not who I would stand with.
Born of Puerto Rican blood, raised on the streets of Harlem, author Luis Quiros has striven throughout his life--as a scholar, activist, community organizer, social commentator and educator--against the pro forma marginalization of himself and others. Yet he has never forgotten his humble roots, has never strayed from those who are struggling and at risk; ever remaining a friend and tireless advocate for every person's right to his own dignity, humanity and hope for the future. An award-winning professor of sociology, Vice Chair of the Lower Hudson Valley Civil Liberties Union, four-term Board Chair of the Westchester Community Opportunity Program, Quiros holds Masters degrees in both Social Work and Public Administration as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration, all of which when combined give him a multifaceted perspective on social justice issues and the efficacy of public policy.
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