Deputy Secretary of Higher Ed

New Mexico deputy secretary higher education

Well, pretty close, actually…

I was stoked yesterday when I learned that New Mexico’s governor appointed Dr. Patricia Trujillo to be the new Deputy Secretary of Higher Education.

This powerhouse Chicana from Espanola has a Masters degree in English/ Creative Writing and a PhD in US Latina/o Literature. She has been tenured faculty at Northern NM College AND the Director of the school’s Office of Equity and Diversity (which she started). And she is or has been a member of the boards at, Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area, Tewa Women United, and LANL Foundation. She has published writings on cultural identity, Chicana feminism, indigeneity, and place-based identity and she was recently named the Creative Writing Editor of the “Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social,” a peer-reviewed journal out of Arizona State.

Dr.  Patricia Trujillo New Mexico deputy secretary department higher education

It feels good knowing we have a badass woman advocating for students and developing education policies. I’m super stoked for you, Patricia, and for New Mexican students.

DIY T-Shirt Mask

I came across instructions for a DIY T-Shirt Mask that was developed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, tested at Los Alamos National Laboratories, and shared by the CDC. All that’s needed is a t-shirt, marker, scissors, and ruler.

I made DIY T-Shirt Mask to share with homeless shelters and houseless people as well as folks in marginalized communities. I also have jpegs (below) in English/inches and Spanish/centimeters and the Plain Text for T-Shirt Mask, in case you want to make a prettier flyer or do one in Spanish.

Print some flyers and hand out when you venture outside your home. Or make some masks and hand those out.

Instructions for Simple Respiratory Mask


These instructions were based on guidelines shared by the Center for Disease Control. These guidelines are for “making an effective face mask if surgical masks and N95 masks are unavailable during a viral outbreak.” The original design was created by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania who tested with employees at Los Alamos National Laboratories.

Read the original instructions and research.

This mask can provide a good fit and a measurable level of protection. Testers wore the prototype mask for an hour without difficulty. Breathing through this mask is subjectively no different than breathing through an N95 mask, but persons with respiratory compromise of any type should not use this mask.


  • 1 Heavyweight T-Shirt
  • Scissors
  • Marker
  • Ruler
  • 1 Microfiber cloth (optional


It’s preferred that the T-Shirt is first boiled for 10 minutes and air-dried. This will maximize shrinkage and sterilize the fabric.

T-Shirt Mask Graphic 1

T-Shirt Mask Graphic 1 Espanol

  1. Cut piece about 28 inches X 15 inches and lay out horizontally.
  1. Mark your 4 cut lines, all 8 inches long.

– 6 inches from the bottom, on both left & right sides

– 6 inches from the top, on both left & right sides

  1. Mark placement of square layers: in center, about 2 inches from the bottom.
  1. Cut along the four 8 inch lines described in #2. Do NOT cut center square
  1. Using remaining T-Shirt to cut 8 more pieces that are about 8 inches square.

Sizes can vary slightly. Try to make 4 squares by cutting with the grain of fabric (straight grain) and 4 squares by cutting across the grain of fabric (cross grain).

Optional: Cut an 8 inch square out of Microfiber and place in first layers.

  1. Stack squares on top of larger piece, in marked area.

Layers 1 & 2: straight grain, horizontal
Layers 3 & 4: cross grain
Layers 5 & 6: straight grain, vertical
Layers 7 & 8: cross grain

T-Shirt Mask Graphic 2

T-Shirt Mask Graphic 2 Espanol

  1. The top is rolled down to make Tie A, including part of the layered pieces.
  1. In center of rolled Tie A, cut a small vertical slit (through 1 or 2 layers of fabric) so it will fit snugly over bridge of nose.

T-Shirt Mask Graphic 3

T-Shirt Mask Graphic 3 Espanol

  1. Adjust around nose to eliminate leakage. You can add extra fabric under the roll between cheeks & nose and/or push rolled fabric along bridge of nose.
  1. The center of Tie B is placed under chin. The bands go up, in front of ears, & and are tied at the top of the head. Add extra cloth to bands, as needed.
  1. Tie C is tied at the back of the head. The bands can go above or below ears, whichever provides a more complete seal.

T-Shirt Mask Researcher Prototype

Nina Simone

The High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone, was an icon with a commanding stage presence and whose rich contralto voice  powerfully wove together stories about liberation, empowerment, and love. She became a voice to power for the black American community. Nina sang from a diverse catalog – jazz, classical, folk, blues, gospel, and covers of contemporary popular artists such as Bob Dylan. She recorded more than 40 albums between 1958 and 1974.

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Wanda Sykes

Wanda Sykes is an award-winning comedian, writer, and actress with a brilliant style of stand-up comedy that she’s been doing since the late 1980s. She is the first African-American woman to star in her own prime-time sitcoms and the first to perform at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (and she was also the first out lesbian to do so). She is a strong, confident, hilarious, driven woman who has found her voice and uses it well.

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Black History Month, Boss Bitches, and Eartha Kitt

Last year during Black History Month I tried to do a post every day about an innovative black American whose name was likely not currently common knowledge, starting with Carter G. Woodson, the historian who started Black History Month, and ending with Octavia Butler, a science fiction writer. And, I tried to not focus on the “predictable” focus areas of black excellence, such as athletics and music. I wanted to hi-light how time and time again black Americans fought adversity, excelled, and changed our world, such as with Percy Julian, who was instrumental in creating birth control, or Bayard Rustin, the civil rights and gay rights activist who brought the non-violent teachings of Ghandi to MLK Jr. Continue reading

Can a community heal from a hate crime?

I was surprised when I read an April 21 article from Fox Chicago, Racist who dragged black man behind truck will be executed this week. (It looks to be a reprint used in several publications.) I expected a bland short piece giving a brief biased synopsis of the 1998 murder of James Byrd Jr. and minimal details of the impending execution of one of his murderers. Instead, the piece starts with a story of how that murder has shaped people’s view of the town by telling how a tech company questioned opening a center there specifically because of the murder that took place 21 years ago.

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DeVos illegally delayed rule to rectify racist practices in special education

Last week a federal judge ruled that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos illegally delayed a rule that would require states examine and rectify policies and practices that contributed to racial inequities in special education programs. The rule had been passed under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act in the final days of the Obama administration.

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