Pedro Pietri & The Masses Are Asses (Pages 56-79)

Intermission From Monday

A poet reflects on the heaviness of city life, scarcity, the mental health of Latinos living in poverty and the lack of representation in the publishing industry.

Have you wanted to leave the city, why?


Revising “Puerto Rican Obituary” (Pages 4-7)



The Masses Are Asses

Groups of five people will discuss the following themes and questions:


.Losing your identity (60)

Is pretending a way to lose your identity? Explain


.The Lady’s backstory (61-62)

Why do you think the Lady feels proud about her different jobs?


.We used to love to pretend (66-69)

Explain the final arguments of the Gentleman (67) and the Lady (68)


.Police intervention (70)

How is the police described?


.The Bronx is on fire (74-76)

How the fear of ridicule affects the outcome of this section?


.The return to the status quo (77-78)

What does this return mean?



From Mambo to Hip-Hop: A South Bronx Tale (Henry Chalfant, 2006)

Comments 26

  • Do you think that out of scarcity and poverty vibrant and critical art could emerge? Explain.

  • Scarcity and poverty often serve as driving forces behind incredible works of art. Scarcity forces people to make use of what they have in new and innovative ways. Poverty rids people of their rose tinted glasses earlier than other people who have never had to struggle financially. This disillusionment can become an inspiration, unfiltered and cutting.

  • I do think that critical art can come from scarcity and poverty. When people don’t have much supply of anything or money to pay for entertainment, they make the best of what they have. They’ll make something unique of what they have in order to enjoy life a little better. When many join in on this unique thing it becomes a recognized art because it has an impact on many people and not just the group of people who created it.

  • Vibrant and critical art in the form of expression of oneself could emerge from poverty and scarcity. Scarcity and poverty motivates or forces people to come up with ideas to go on with their daily lives however possible, these ideas can be portrayed into expressions too. When these expressions are unique and motivational they can be recognized as true art which inspires other people and receives recognition. As we saw in a video in class,how people wanted their voices to be heard, they graffitied the train compartment which were colorful and vibrant which is an expression of those people but also a beautiful form of art. Scarcity and poverty drove people to express themselves in such way

  • I believe through scarcity and poverty vibrant and critical art could emerge. A perfect example of this is my borough The Bronx. Growing up in The Bronx I was able to see this first hand, most of which areas were underdeveloped. I was able to do and see what others were able to achieve with such little resources. Even before I was born, The Bronx was known as an underdeveloped borough as mentioned in the video, yet Hip Hop was born and is still used today. Another example would be break dancing, back when people first started they would break dance on broken cut up cardboard boxes. Even to this day, break dancing has influenced many other forms of dances. Many Famous Artists come from the Bronx, these individuals grew up in poverty and still were able to apply themselves to the arts and make/show their work beautifully.

  • Out of scarcity and poverty often comes resourcefulness. As we have seen in “From Mambo to Hip-Hop: A South Bronx Tale”, Puerto Rican people managed to use public parks and outdoor spaces as well as some small intimate venues in order to dance and continue to express themselves. Dance, the way it blossomed in the South Bronx, provides a great deal of authenticity because of the harsh conditions under which it was created.

  • Yes, I believe that out of scarcity and poverty critical art does emerge. This happens globally. It speaks more than words. Is their voice, despite the living conditions and struggles they face in life, they manage to live life to the fullest through music. Not needing any real instruments, shows that we don’t need anything in life to get our points across
    using our own resources, and voice is what matters especially when life is trying to break us. Also, by engaging in music it makes them go into another world forgetting all struggles, problems and focuses on their inner selves, who they really are. Expressing who they are by art, music, and dancing.

  • I have witnessed scarcity and poverty emerge from critical art. Back in the day when riot gates became the best way for store owners to protect their business. A good artist would offer their services to the store owners for free. The owner makes money when the gate go up, the artist makes money when the gate goes down.

    Some of the most beautiful art in Harlem was painted on riot gates by a man called Franko the great. His work has been seen all over the world. He turned riot gates in to murals and became famous after the store closed.

  • I do believe that out of scarcity and poverty vibrant and critical art could emerge. There are numerous examples all around us of people expressing themselves with graffiti or music. Using any and all tools available to them to show the world something simple as what they are dealing with or something as complex as their thoughts and emotions.

  • I think scarcity and poverty is a trigger for art. To express or protest something in your work – you have to be out of the comfort zone.
    Unfortunately (or naturally), art that impresses harmony is not popular after the renaissance monopolistic artists.
    We have many examples of poverty in art; since folk ballads to Jack London’s interest in poverty, and to the post-modernism of painting and Hip-Hop before the 21st century.
    Art and creative expression is the best way to feel human again, “the honored part” of the society. And it is the best weapon against ignore.

  • I do think that out of scarcity and poverty vibrant and critical art could emerge. An example of this is the graffiti thats on the side of buildings and trains. Also the young lords that paved the path for Def Poetry Jam. I think people who struggle find an outlet to express their struggle. Which is expressed in art, music, dance, song, and poetry.

  • yes i believe that out of scarcity and poverty vibrant and critical art could emerge. living in poverty stricken neighborhoods myself. I was able to witness this first hand i watch all different type of musical artist become big. I feel that when a person doesn’t have much they will make the most out of what they have.

  • Based on the idea that art is expression, I do believe that vibrant and critical art can emerge out of scarcity and poverty. Artist use their imagination, personal view and opinion to express a political or social situation. As we have read in class and see in our daily life, music and writing are forms artist express their view of what a group of people go through.

  • Definitely yes, out of scarcity and poverty vibrant art emerges. Like we saw in the video though the inhabitants of South Bronx were very poor, they found comfort in their culture which they practiced and perfected. From Mambo to Hip Hop, they all joined and supported each other as they form new bands and brought a mixture of races and percussion instruments which still exists today. From the different dance moves which we see daily in the trains and parks to the graffiti on the walls of buildings and sides of trains, poverty gives us a reason to express ourselves to our fullest with whatever resources we have, especially art in all forms.

  • I do believe so, that scarcity and poverty that are vibrant and critical can emerge art, no doubt. When I moved in the states to early/mid 80’s, there was lack of entertainment or media in our diverse cultures. Most people being immigrated to the U.S., didnt have the voice of opinion to express our own’ s culture. My father was grateful that we were able to immigrate to America, it was a blessing to us. Back in the day, when I first moved to Flushing Queens, my neighborhood would expressed their cultures by means of art. You’ll see graffiti on walls in alley ways or on trains and you’ll see people dancing into hip hop. When I go outside my apartment, I can see my neighbors singing and dancing into a retrospect I didn’t understand. As I grew older, I knew they were only displaying their art, which was their art of their culture, where they came from. And they only brought their art to bring a community together as one culture. I thought it was awesome to see so many different races that could come together in one single neighborhood. I would say, it was the good ole’ days!

  • I truly believe that out of scarcity and poverty vibrant art can emerge. Some style of musics were started just to criticize the system. It is an art to compose a music that empower the community and represents someone voice. Dancing and graffiti are also another way to express scarcity and poverty. Through different ways, people without privileges have been fighting to be looked and heard.

  • I believe that out of scarcity and poverty, vibrant and critical art can emerge for multiple reasons. Behind art there is always a meaning of the master piece itself and it usually starts with the way one is feeling or what they have experienced. The art of poverty allows many people to see and understand things that aren’t visible to us on a daily basis. In the Bronx, many people used art as a way to communicate and interact, it was more of a lifestyle for them. Mambo was almost like every Sunday church, just that one would be able to express in a different manner. There is art all over our city which makes it very unique and each piece of art tells a different story.

  • Yes, I agree that art could emerge out of scarcity and poverty since it is a frequent medium for human expression and resistance, and within that space of creation and possibility is the opportunity to find ways to fight poverty. Scarcity also appears to make people better problem solvers and make the most of what they have.

  • In my opinion, I do agree that vibrant and critical art can emerge out scarcity and poverty;because art is a new way for the community to communicate their feelings and express their ideas in a creative form. Also, art make a community unique and bring people together who visualize and understand the meaning of the art. Furthermore, some art are created with the purpose to empowered the young people and the community.

  • Everybody agreed on the idea of vibrant and critical art emerging from scarcity, and in underserved communities. Folks talked about art as a tool to express both the joys and troubles of the different groups and individuals. Art as a way to empower, communicate unique experiences and heal. To practice problem-solving skills, build community, at times promoting activism and resistance against unjust policies. Art is also a way to gain self-knowledge, to appropriate public spaces and to have a historical consciousness.

    Some examples given were music, dance, graffiti, riot gates, painting, poetry, and prose.

  • Yes, I agree that art could emerge out of scarcity and poverty because a lot of times thats all we have around us. i can relate because growing up having nothing at one point i turned to music because it was always around me and i focused my energy and pain into the music and of course great things can come from it.

  • Scarcity and poverty are some of the means to generate the alternative pathway to reach to the destinations or to live a life . So definitely, vibrant and critical art can be emerged through these character of human life. Civilization of human mankind was evolved from the zero level. Hence, the beautiful and creative mind are still alive in the scarcity situation and in the poor people to create a meaningful life.

  • Yes, I do believe that art can arise from scarcity and the majority of art generally comes from people who are in need. People who are on the bottom economic ladder have to by necessity create avenues where they can express themselves, even if those tools are so mundane. Garbage cans, kitchen items and other things. Everyday things you never thought would be used for other than their intended original purpose. This is a process where sometimes the process itself is needed for those people to connect to cultural belonging. Although, I think that is not always the case because even rich people go through a phase to focus their creative thoughts. However, I always I feel like in that case that I don’t really care too much. I do, for certain, can tell that the best art comes from people who have the most hardships or obstacles to gain inspiration from.

  • Yes, I do believe that creativity can come from a position of scarcity and poverty because the lack of something can sometimes push you to work even harder. I believe that passion feeds off strong emotions and even in stages of fasting; you can gain stronger mental clarity in this state of mind. I understand that anyone can be possess creative talent, as many wealthy notables have created masterpieces. Due to the extremes of poverty or having to do more with less, makes you more creative because you must still survive; regardless of hardships. And the intensity of pain or lacking can be quite visceral and creativity can pushed into different dimensions or bring about new styles.

  • Art helps us imagine the lives of others, including the lives of the poor, but it also helps us confess our personal forms of poverty. It may even make us receptive to the idea that our very neediness points toward the existence of that which can fill the heart—which after all is the hungriest part of us.

  • Yes, I agree that art could emerge out of scarcity and poverty this is because when I went to visit my parent country Bangladesh, there were the poorest people there but they were happy with the things they have, or made . Even the kids they play with rocks and are happy that they have something to do to pass there days. Even though they are poor they make things that keep them going.

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