Visiting Bolivia

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Cochabamba is a lovely city. When I started this project, traveling to Bolivia as part of the process was far from my imagination.

Nuestra Noche Historica

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Sorry, this entry is only available in Español.

Hispanic Culture Applauded by Beluga Whale

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Apparently, there are some places in the United States where Hispanic culture is greeted with appreciation and ‘applause’ .  This particular place is under water, but still counts:


“Anything but shoot them”?

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Congressman  Brooks has taken the anti-immigrant rhetoric to a new low — or is new height of inflammatory speech?  “Anything but shoot them”?  Really? Perhaps the Congressman needs a history lesson — if the Native American nations had done everything but shoot his ancestors, he may not be here either.  Time for a new march on Selma!

Casey Anthony and the New American Bogeyman

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Sociologists and psychologists will be arguing over the national obsession with the Casey Anthony trial for months to come.  But few seem to have noticed what the case reveals about our attitudes towards the New American Bogeyman, or in this case, New American Bogeywoman:  Hispanic Women.

Casey Anthony quickly pointed to her “Hispanic babysitter”, named “Zenaida Gonzales”.  As we are now aware, Casey Anthony never met Ms. Gonzales.  One of the over 400 women named Zenaida Gonzales in the state of Florida had the bad luck to view an apartment nearby, and this  innocent woman’s world has become hell.

Casey Anthony is not the only one.  Remember Jennifer Wilbanks of Atlanta, the runaway bride?  Ms. Wilbanks was supposedly kidnapped in 2005 by a “Hispanic woman” with a white male accomplice?

In our recent past, the American Bogeyman was an African-American male in a knit cap.  At least that’s what Andrea Yates assured us in 2001, after she killed her five young children.  Ms. Yates initial statement blamed the then current American Bogeyman.  Police even released a sketch of the fictional young African-American male, complete with knit cap.

For the next few days, as a Hispanic American woman, I’ll be pondering how I became the New American Bogeyman.  There are the obvious explanations of the increase in the Hispanic population, an undercurrent of racism given that many Hispanics are biracial (Native Americans who have been here for over 30,000 years).  Why we have collectively chosen Hispanic women — far too many of whom meet the profile of Zenaida Gonzales, a powerless,  impoverished single mother struggling to support her six children — requires more introspective thinking on my part.  Please check back!

435 Hispanic-American Interns for Congress

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

As Congress debates how to manage future security for its members, we recommend hiring 435 Hispanic-Americans interns, in view of Daniel Hernandez’s heroic and decisive actions to assist Representative Giffords.  The chance of another tragic incident is fortunately low, but Congress needs dedicated, quick-thinking staff to administer proposed measures to liaise with local law enforcement for future Congressional appearances.  Given tight budgets, high quality interns are an excellent choice.  And with the caliber of people such as Daniel Hernandez available, let’s make room for more Hispanics on the Hill.

A DREAM Deferred?

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

Citizens with college education or military service?  Citizens with high school diplomas and good moral character?   Apparently, these requirements were not sufficient for a handful of US Senators who voted down the DREAM Act today.  The DREAM Act would have allowed a path to citizenship for some immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children under the age of 16 and met strict criteria for residency, public service and education.

A dream has ended for vulnerable children and young adults who have already had many challenges and setbacks in life.  This decision leaves them in an undocumented netherworld, instead of allowing them an opportunity to earn a place in the American dream.  Perhaps these Senators are hoping that these young people will leave their childhood homes and return to the very circumstances of poverty and prejudice that forced their initial flight.  While some may, many will not.

We are risking another “lost generation”, another group of minority young people without a chance for an education or work to better themselves, their dreams dried up.  Certainly by now, with our painful history of the civil rights movement, we should have learned what happens to a dream deferred?

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month (Yes, really!)

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

September 15 through October 15 is Hispanic Heritage, and a time to celebrate the long and important presence of Hispanic Americans in our country.  And it is our country, and our history.

A map of late 18th century North America shows this extent of this presence, from the small outpost of San Francisco founded in the desolate wilderness of Alta California in 1776, through the Spanish province of Texas with its vaqueros (cowboys), to the fortress of St. Augustine, Florida — the first continuous European settlement in North America founded in 1565, decades before Jamestown, Virginia.

Spanish explorers traveled further north along the Pacific Coast to Canada in 1774 and by the late 1700s had established a military post on Vancouver Island, 350 miles north of Seattle. The Spanish sailed up the Atlantic Coast through the Chesapeake Bay in 1526, then called the Bahía de Santa María, about 80 years before the romanticized English encounter with Pocahontas. In the 1520’s Spanish navigators also explored as far north as Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and the present site of Bangor, Maine. The Spanish settled the southwest of North America in the 16th century and officially founded Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1610.

As part of the Treaty of Paris (1763) peace settlement of the French and Indian War, the territories west of the Mississippi River, including Louisiana and New Orleans, were ceded to the Spanish. Nearly all of the surviving 18th century architecture of the famed Vieux Carré French Quarter dates from this Spanish period.

At this point in our turbulent times, I think that looking to the past is the most profound way to view the present.

Paying Back Nueva Granda

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

On April 19, the Suffolk County jury handed a manslaughter verdict for the hate crime against Marcelo Lucero, a native of Ecuador. His killers were “beaner jumping” and searching for local Mexicans to physically assault, presumably to punish the former group of people for the effrontery of vegetarian diets in our land of obesity and the latter group for being Mexican, the majority of whom are working minimum wage service  jobs on Long Island. Few things are more irritating than a guy who wants to spend long hours washing dishes or mowing lawns for $7.25 an hour. Unable to locate a Mexican, and since all of us Hispanics look alike (where, oh where, have we heard that one before?), the killers stabbed Marcelo Lucero to death.

In an interview on NPR, Mr. Lucero’s brother stated that “we have to change the stereotype of Latinos”. To add our historical perspective, 18th century Ecuador was part of the Spanish province of Nueva Granada. Ecuadorians supported the Spanish war effort against the British in the Central American campaigns of 1780-1781. These war efforts re-directed resources that the British would have used against the North American Continental Army, which was struggling in the southern states.