Archive for 2010

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?

Tu voto es tu voz

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

With the election only twelve days away, Hispanic Americans have the opportunity to participate in the democratic process of the United States of America that they helped to create.  In key states where elections are hotly contested by an uncertain margin of a few points, Hispanics can make a difference.  In Nevada and Florida, for example, Hispanics compromise 10 to 15% of eligible voters.  The races for Governor and Senator in California will be heavily influenced by Hispanic voter turnout.  Even in Arizona, Hispanics compromise 25% of eligible voters.

Voting is one of the most important responsibilities that we have as citizens, an opportunity that was earned for us by the courage of those who founded this country.  Despite, or perhaps because of this opportunity to make a difference, we are seeing unconscionable attack ads urging Hispanics not to vote in this election.  Both Univision and Telemundo have decided not to run the ads.

Please remember  to vote, for the party of your choice.  It’s our privilege, our responsibility, and our voice to speak for ourselves and about our aspirations.


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.

Help Preserve Admiral David Farragut’s Birthplace

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

The birthplace of America’s first admiral and a great Hispanic American hero — the man who uttered those famous words, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” — is about to be turned into a private gated community.

Admiral Farragut was born at Stoney Point Farm 12 miles southwest of Knoxville, Tennessee. Until a few months ago, most people were completely unaware that this land had any historic significance. A 110-year-old monument is still on the property, and it is etched with the words “Birthplace of Admiral Farragut,” but it is on private property that is fenced off from the public and now zoned for residential development.

Stoney Point Farm was first settled by Spaniard Jorge Ferragut in 1797, four years before the future Admiral’s birth. He hacked out a clearing in the wilderness, built a 20 x 40 foot log cabin, plowed the fields, and moved there with his young family to run a ferry across the Tennessee River.

David Farragut’s father left his homeland of Minorca, Spain, and sailed to America in 1776 to fight in the Revolution. After the war was over he became a major in the territorial militia and a prominent Knox County landowner.

A preservation group is now coordinating with the Knox County Parks and Recreation and the University of Tennessee Archaeological Research Lab to study the public land that surrounds the farm and borders the waterfront. Fundraising efforts are underway to purchase the lots and dedicate them to future development of a visitors’ center and museum rather than a private residential development.

Please visit http://www.farragutbirthplace.blogspot.com for more information and to make a donation for “Farragut Birthplace” to Knox Heritage, an affiliate of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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.