I Am Puerto Rican "The Sparrow, a novel by Mary Doria Russell, has as its protagonist Father Emilio Sandoz, a brilliant Puerto Rican linguist who is of Taino and Spanish background. The Sparrow is one of my all-time favorite books, and Emilio Sandoz is one of my favorite characters, and one with whom I identify closely. Not to take away from the novel, which I think tells an incredible story, but the fact that the portion of the novel that takes place on Earth takes place in Puerto Rico, and that the main character is Puerto Rican is part of why I love it so much. Finally, someone who looks like me."
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for changing the admissions criteria of NYC's elite high schools, arguing that relying solely on a single exam (the SHSAT) "creates a “rich-get-richer” dynamic that benefits the wealthy, who can afford expensive test prep. However, the reality is just the opposite. It’s not affluent whites, but rather the city’s burgeoning population of Asian-American immigrants — a group that, despite its successes, remains disproportionately poor and working-class — whose children have aced the exam in overwhelming numbers." [more inside]
"Now that aunt #6 was dead, we could be a hand. If we are a hand, my grandmother is the cupped palm at the center of her five remaining children. If we are a hand, my mother is the thumb, and the other fingers are her brothers and sisters.... Mamá is the thumb, and I am her fingernail."
"Fabiola has been a beloved subject for countless painters, most of them amateurs. The portrait’s format is almost always the same: Fabiola is seen in profile facing left, her head covered by a rich red veil. Mr. Alÿs, who was born in Belgium in 1959 and moved to Mexico City in 1990, began collecting Fabiola paintings — as the genre is called — about 15 years ago, buying them at thrift shops, flea markets and antiques stores primarily in Mexico and Europe. He has previously shown his collection three times, when it was much smaller; the current presentation includes more than 300 works. Photos of the exhibition
The November 6th elections saw a lot of historic decisions made in the United States -- the first black president re-elected, marijuana legalized for the first time in two states, gay marriage affirmed by the voters in four, and even the first openly gay senator. But perhaps the most underreported result yesterday came from outside the country altogether: in the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a solid majority voted to reject the island's current status and join America as the long-fabled 51st state. How the bid might fare in Congress is an open question, but both President Obama and Republican leaders have vowed support for the statehood movement if it proves successful at the ballot box (while D.C. officials ponder a two-fer gambit to grease the wheels). Though it would be the poorest state, joining the Union might bring economic benefits to both sides [PDF]. And politically, some argue the island might prove to be a reliably red state, despite the Hispanic population, although arch-conservative governor and Romney ally Luis Fortuño appears headed toward a narrow loss. But the most important question here, as always, is: how to redesign the flag? (Puerto Rican statehood discussed previously.)
American Sabor: Latinos in US Popular Music is a currently traveling Smithsonian exhibition exploring the wide range of Latino artists and influences which have shaped American pop music genres since WWII, from Alice Bag to Flaco Jimenez to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass to Joan Baez. The website is rich with maps, interviews, videos, and music samples.
"Ultimate Marvel is an imprint of comic books published by Marvel Comics, featuring reimagined and updated versions of the company's superhero characters" Today the imprint has introduced a new version of Spider-Man, Miles Morales, a half black-half latino male teenager. Fans are already talking about why this matters.
"Latino converts to radical Islam have been connected to terrorism cases in this country with increasing frequency — and officials are trying to understand why."
Using its College Results Online database, The Education Trust has released two reports examining the black-white and Hispanic-white college graduation gap. The worst offenders? Wayne State University in Detroit, where fewer than one in ten African-American students graduate in six years, and CUNY Brooklyn College, where 19% less Hispanic students graduate on-time than whites. [more inside]
José Hernández was a migrant worker when he first started to dream about becoming an astronaut. He is the first astronaut to Twitter in Spanish from space on shuttle mission STS-128. NASA wasn't happy about the controversy he caused when he advocated for the legalization of undocumented immigrants. He is not the first Hispanic-American to fly on the space shuttle. Hernández is a national hero in Mexico and has been invited to dine with President Calderon.
Rosa is a bailarina. For a couple of dollars per song, she dances with strangers in a bailarina bar. It’s a job held by many immigrant women in Spanish-speaking New York, filling a need created by many immigrant men. The man on the phone is typical of her clients. He’s in his twenties, doesn’t speak English, and immigrated to the United States by himself—no mother, no girlfriend, no wife. He works six days a week at a restaurant and sends his money back home to Ecuador. Most of all, he’s lonely.
Why do Asian-American students achieve higher grades than Latino-American students? Despite the fact that the students come from the same socioeconomic background (median annual household incomes below $50,000 in working-class Los Angeles neighborhoods), Asian-American students disproportionately get better grades, attend AP courses, and go to college than their Latino-American counterparts. Students at Lincoln High School sit down for a frank discussion of why that is.
While the first pioneering forays into atonality and free chromaticism were starting to occur in Western European music, the talents of Latin and South America were discovering the Romantic beauty of re-interpreting the past. [much, much more inside!]
Nueva Orleans Before Katrina, Hispanics accounted for 3 percent of New Orleans’ population, with just 1,900 Mexicans showing up in the 2004 Census. No one knows for certain how many new ones have arrived, but estimates put the number between 10,000 and 50,000.
Is Cinco De Mayo For Sale By the Alcohol Industry? In the 1960s, Chicano activists in Colorado promoted a boycott of Coors beer in response to employment discrimination against Latinos at Coors breweries. Coors had two problems. They had to fix their image with Latino consumers, and they had to figure out some way to get college students to drink more beer in May. The solution: start sponsoring Cinco de Mayo! Thus, even though Mexicans in Mexico celebrate their independence day on September 15th and 16th, Mexican-Americans are more likely to celebrate the May 5th anniversary of the Battle of the Puebla, which is not even commemorated with a national holiday in Mexico. In fact, the Battle of the Puebla was a skirmish in the Pastry War, a French intervention in Mexico that began because a French chef demanded several thousand pesos to compensate him for Mexican military officers looting his pastry supply.
First gay Hispanic woman elected as Dallas sheriff I thought that this was a joke when I first saw the title. I'm way verklemmt; talk amongst yerselves.
More clash from the right. Political Scientist Samuel Huntington has gone domestic with his “Clash of Civilizations” (previous MeFi links here and here). In his new article, “The Hispanic Challenge” (soon to be a book entitled “Who Are We”), he highlights the threat hispanics pose to what he has decided is "the Anglo-Protestant culture of America."
Hispanic Heritage Month began in the U.S. this past Sunday. Food, music, dance, art, language - our lives are richer for the far-reaching cultural contributions of our Hispanic neighbors. Who or what aspects of this varied culture would you join me in toasting this month? Me, I raise my glass to some of the wonderful contemporary artists who keep traditional folk themes alive.
Speedy Gonzales Censored? Cartoon Network officials have banished Speedy Gonzales from their day and prime time lineups for fear of offending Mexican Americans, but fans of the Mexican mouse hero are fighting back.