Posts Tagged ‘Hispanic’

There is a lot of misinformation out there. I actually teach this stuff and know what the facts are. You can google my points below:
1. The flow of undocumented workers has been from and not to the U.S. since 2005. Thus, building or making the border more ‘secure,’ something that is impossible anyway, would actually keep the undocumented from leaving the U.S.
2. Obama has deported more undocumented than any other president. That is why Latinos call him the “Deporter in Chief”
3. Yes undocumented get some health benefits. But this happens because of actions at the local level rather than by federal policy. See the article below.
4. Why do cities and counties provide such services? First, because it is cheaper to do preventive care than pay for undocumented using hospital emergency rooms. Second, because the undocumented provide essential cheap labor for many local industries, from restaurants to crop harvesting to house cleaning to construction. Local economies need their labor. Trump has used undocumented Polish labor at some of his construction projects. And documented labor will not do those jobs at those wages. Third, undocumented labor contribute enormous amounts of tax revenue, often using other people’s Social Security numbers, but do not collect any unemployment, housing, disability, public housing, or retirement benefits. In fact, the revenue they contribute to social security has kept that program afloat financially and makes possible the retirement of documented Americans. This is a fact. Finally, the U.S. Offers very few immigration opportunities to Latin American countries as opposed to European countries. Thus, the economic demand for cheap labor, the destruction of economies in Latin America by American companies investing there, produce pressures which result in people having to come here without papers. It is a complex process where the U.S. is just as responsible for what is happening as the people sneaking in. http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/personalfinance/illegal-immigrants-get-public-health-care-despite-federal-policy/ar-BBqT8Xo?ocid=fbmsnmoney

Trump’s victory is the end of liberalism and the rise of progressivism. Neo-liberalism, in particular, is dead. Trump has not and will not kill it. But he will help mobilize an opposition that will. He will prove to his supporters that he is not the answer.

Destroying Obamacare without a single payer system to replace it, is not the answer. Bombing ISIS families will just create more terrorism. Killing NAFTA will not bring jobs back. Lowering taxes on the rich will not reverse growing inequality. He will not build a wall across the southern border and not just because Mexico won’t pay for it. He may yet surprise us all and not even try to do any of those things. He could have been just blowing hot smoke after all. But his Republicans in Congress will push him towards those goals. And the country will suffer.

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Trump’s victory is a sign that half-measures, like Obamacare don’t work. It is a sign that we want radical solutions to our growing problems, like inequality. It is a sign that people don’t trust our political leaders. And Trump will show that his measures go in the entirely wrong direction. And that is how the country will turn back towards a truly progressive agenda. Many of his supporters will turn against him and his Republican policies. Frustration will increase. People will wonder what went wrong. It will be the responsibility of progressives to deliver the ideas and the organization to point till a true solution.

Get ready Bernie…your time will come…maybe before 4 years are up!

How much are we worth? I am not referring to monetary value. Those kinds of calculations are best left to actuaries and class action lawyers. I am referring to the impression we make on others. Do people look our way when we enter a room or just ignore us? Do people listen to us? Do people take us seriously? Are we respected?

We all have moments when we believe, correctly or not, that we are being ignored. Sometimes we just feel invisible. Some would argue that being ignored, shunned, or given the silent treatment is one of the worst things one can experience.

Sometimes we want to be invisible. But what if feeling invisible happens too often? And what if being invisible is true not just of us as individuals but as a group, as Ellison’s Invisible Man understood? Latinos often feel like we, as a community, are not often noticed. That feeling is often not easy to document. It’s almost impossible to prove the lack of something, what does not exist.

We do know, however, that the media ignores our accomplishments, culture, concerns, needs, and leadership. We know that we complain about garbage, crime, dilapidated housing, and poor schools all the time. We know that nothing happens until hipsters move into our community to ignite our displacement. We know that we are not only ignored in life…but also in death. We know this especially when others point to whom they give worth and attention… and leave us out.

On December 23, 2015, the New York Times again published a list of notable dead in 2015 and, again, barely mentioned Latinos. Out of the 34 dead featured in long and short obituaries, only one was a Latino. That was A$ap Yams, a producer/promoter of rap music. Yams’ main contribution was making the newcomer A$ap Rocky into “New York’s most exciting rapper in a generation” (NY Times, Magazine December 23, 2015). The Times admitted Asap Rockythat A$ap Yams was a “20-something nobody” who made “another 20-something nobody into a star.” So why did they include Yams in their compilation? Because, they write, he was a “cultural polyglot” who used the internet to figure out what “15-year olds were into.”

A$ap Yams, born Steven Rodriguez, was an interesting young man. He had great creative potential. He would have certainly made a bigger splash in the music business had he lived beyond his 26 years. But his insertion in this Times compilation happened because a white audience was impressed by his ability to get young people to like the violent and explicit lyrics of the music he produced. He titillated white music listeners.

A$ap was Dominican and Puerto Rican. But he did not get into this Times death issue because he represented Latino culture.  Nor was his presence in this issue likely to encourage others to pay more attention to Latino culture and music. Latinos have been involved in Hip Hop music from the very beginning and continue to make contributions to this music style. But it is not perceived to be a significant part of Latino culture.

Yes, the Times had to make choices. They only published 34 death stories in the magazine. Thus, who they left out is as important as who they included. There was limited space, after all. Their choices reflected priorities and vision. But it is absurd to think that there were few notable Latino deaths in 2015 that compared to those the Times included.

Just looking at the 2015 deaths in January alone, I found several significant Latino deaths in that one month. This included the radical Chicano preacher Reies Lopez Tijerina who helped lead a group that tried to take over a small New Mexico courthouse in 1967. This Chicano raiding party tried to liberate Chicano prisoners who had been arrested in a land grant dispute as well as to place the district attorney under citizen’s arrest. The land had been taken from their ancestors by Spain and Mexico, then legalized by the U.S. after acquiring the territory.

Tijerina became known as one of the “Four Horsemen of the Chicano rights movement, along with Cesar Chavez,, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales and Jose Angel Gutierrez.” Tijerina died on January 19, 2015. Certainly his story is worth reporting and remembering?

Nipón Sevilla, the Cuban born, but Mexican based, movie actress and dancer died on January 1, 2015. Sevilla, whose real name was Emelia Pérez Castellans, had a long and stellar career performing in scores of Mexican movies from the 1940s till the 1990s. She was highly regarded and received the “Silver Goddess Award “Dolores del Río” in 2009, for her film career, and in 2014 she received a homage by the MeNinon Sevillaxican Academy of Art and Cinema-tographic Sciences and the National Film Archives, for her career and influence in cinema.”

 

Mexican movies made vital cultural contributions to almost every Latin American country during a time, from the 1930s to 1960s, when Hollywood provided little that resonated with Latino culture and history. This Golden Age of Mexican cinema brought Latino sensibilities to the screen. Latinos from Bogota to Buenos Aires to the South Bronx and Brooklyn sat in dark theaters watching Mexican films starring Cantinflas as well as Sevilla and others. A vezes una de mi tias me llevaba a ver peliculas Mexicana en un teatro en el Bronx cuando yo era un nino. So, Sevilla definitely had a lasting impact on Latinos from all over the world.

Corrupt politicians in Mexico must have also been pleased to see that journalist Julio Scherer García died on January 7, 2015. García helped to expose some of the most important scandals in Mexican history. This included

probing a secret army unit set up to combat guerrillas, a multimillion-dollar Swiss bank account of a president’s brother, and official involvement in the assassination of a journalist.”

Scherer Garcia riled corrupt presidents, wrote more than 20 books about Mexican politics, won Columbia University’s prestigious Maria Moors Cabot in 1971, and was so respected by most Mexicans that, in 1994, “the Zapatista rebels invited Mr. Scherer to participate with a Catholic bishop and the Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchu as intermediaries in a dialogue with the Mexican government.” Certainly the paper that prints the news that is “fit to print” should have recognized the importance of the journalistic work done by Julio Sherer Garcia.

The reason we should be concerned about the Times omitting worthy Latino deaths is not just that we may want to satisfy our own vanity or cultural and nationalistic pride. The Times sends out messages by these lists and who is in it. They devote an entire issue of their Magazine because they think it is important for their audience to know who these people were.  They are, thus, telling their readers who they consider worthy.

There are many more notable Latino deaths in 2015. The three individuals above were only a few of the hundreds of notable Latinos who died in 2015. The Times is also not the only paper that ignores Latinos in life and death. Both analog and digital media and news sources have done a very poor job of reporting on the Latino and minority communities of the U.S. The Times, however, possesses a special prestige, top recognition, and authority in the U.S.

The Times’ “The Lives They Lived” issue sends subtle but devastating messages to teachers, journalists, researchers, students, politicians, and especially to our Latino community about who to admire and respect. The Times’ omissions will have a negative impact on the Latino public image. Their exclusion from the list of notables reinforces discriminatory beliefs and practices, weakens social mobility, limits economic opportunities as well as political participation, and, ultimately, dampens Latino social and political power.

Is the Times aware of the negative impact of their choices? Can’t tell from their short intro. They wrote only about “Remembering some of the artists, innovators and thinkers we lost in the past year“. There is no discussion of how they deliberated and made their choices. It likely that the omission of Latinos reflects the linguistic and cultural limits of current Times management and reporting.

The Times is simply not connected to Latino leaders, institutions, and community.  Latinos do not appear in their existing corporate leadership, networks, college alumni groups, or neighborhoods. And that reflects the extremely limited presence of Latinos on the Times editorial, reporting, and governing boards. There are no Latinos, for instance, among their ten top executives. Out of the 14 members on their Board of Directors, only one is Latino, an Argentinian corporate mogul, Raul E. Cesar, who has directed U.S. corporations since 1977.

The news staff at the Times is also lacking.  They were sued in 2015 for racial discrimination. That lawsuit, claiming that over 30 minority journalists were fired because of their race and age, is not yet settled. However, the overall numbers do not look good. As of 2015, only 19% of their newsroom employees are minority. This compares unfavorably to other newspapers like The Washington Post which has 31% and Newsday which has 26.5%.

The reality is that even these numbers are suspect since they do not address the lack of support, opportunities, and respect that minority journalists often experience on the job. Diversity programs, like the one the Times has, are often used to mask discrimination and a real lack of diversity.

Why do Latinos get ignored? Much of it is due to class, race, policy decisions, as well as the segregation of Latinos from the mainstreams of American life. The New York Times takes note of A$ap Jams because he appeared on their radar. He produced Hip Hop and not Latin Music.  He was interviewed in English-dominant journals, newspapers, and media. The Times actually wrote an obituary of Yams when he died in January 2015. He was in their networks and memory banks.

Interestingly, even A$apYams thought he and his crew had been ignored and dismissed by the music business. In a 2014 interview, he stated “We still don’t get the props that we deserve as a legitimate record label, despite us releasing two debut albums from two new artists in a six months time span that were both top five albums on Billboard, which is a crying shame.” The shame continues for Latinos in general…the shame that we continue to accept being ignored, shunned, and disrespected… in life and in death.

Here are some thoughts on racism and how it plays out for Blacks and Latinos in the U.S. after hearing about, but not yet reading Coates much celebrated book on being Black in this country.  I think the experience of racism is a little different for Latinos.

It was the first time that Coates, who writes for The Atlantic, had held a copy of his latest book, Between the World and Me.

This book is personal, written as a letter to his teenage son Samori. In it, we see glimpses of the hard West Baltimore streets where Coates grew up, his curiosity at work on the campus of Howard University and his early struggles as a journalist.

Coates also reflects on what it meant, and what it means, to inhabit a black body in America. He gets at the physical consequences of slavery and racial discrimination, and he brings to bear his big fear that his life and the lives of his loved ones might end unnaturally.

This is exactly what it felt like growing up in Harlem and East New York…you walk around the streets with a fear that goes to your bones, a fear of others around you who were also traumatized. They and I walked around posturing tough, with a little jive, to hide our fear, walking among zombies, ready for battle, ready for death…and knowing deep inside that the world outside not only did not care, but wanted you dead…and yet we found comfort in the grace, beauty, and support of the people you lived with and who, at bottom, loved you…

The experience of racism is different for Blacks and for Latinos. For Blacks, it is about their bodies… those desired and despised bodies. For Latinos, it is about their space, their land…and the desire and demand that they move off that land. Blacks get adored in sports and destroyed by police in the streets. Latinos get in the way of American profit making machines in Latin America and in U.S. cities.  People build physical and imaginary walls built to keep them out of the U.S. or displace them from desired neighborhoods.

Power is like progress.  We know it when we see it and most of the time it is created by processes that go unnoticed and are hard to document.  I’ve long argued that power gets created by numerous processes, some are obvious like voting. Others are far less obvious like getting public recognition.  Latino scholars and performers have long criticized the dearth of Latino actors in movies, television, and theater.  Though Latinos are now the largest minority group in the U.S., this scarcity of Latino actors has not improved.  One recent and unusual complaint on this issue came from playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis.  He complained about the casting of his play, “The ______ With the Hat.”

Guirgis, who is American Irish and Egyptian, criticized the casting director for not choosing Puerto Ricans to play the lead actors as he had written into the play.   Guirgis saw no excuse for this omission.  He argued, “But this play was cast in New York City and in Hartford, and you can’t tell me that there weren’t qualified Latino actors to play characters who are Puerto Rican.”  The problem is not just that Latinos don’t get these prized acting jobs or that viewers don’t get to view a more “diverse” cast.  The absence of Latinos on U. S. small and large screens as well as on stages ultimately has an impact on the political, cultural, and economic power of the Latino community.

Power is the capacity to influence the way other people think, feel, and act.  We gain that capacity when others believe that we have something of value that they want, need, or desire.  Our bosses can get us to come to work though we prefer to sit in the park because they can deny us the money and job that we need to maintain our lifestyle and lives.  President Obama is the president.  But, for a variety of reasons, the enormous, formal powers of the position does not permit him to move a Republican controlled House to enact his policies.  A major reason is that Republicans don’t think he has anything of value that he can offer them or take from them.  Unlike so many Republicans of the past, this new Republican cadre see nothing good coming out of government spending or programs.  Obama, thus lacks, both a carrot and a stick to move the GOP off of their recalcitrant back sides.

What does this have to do with acting?  A great deal of why people value some things and not others really has to do with perception and that perception is shaped by both rational and irrational forces.  Are Republicans correct about government inefficiency and worthlessness?  Perhaps.  Some government programs and policies are probably inefficient and harmful to the economy.  Some are not.  But it does not matter.  For a variety of political, economic, religious, and cultural (Tea Party) reasons the GOP has come to devalue all government in general.  Moving them off that right side fixation would require changing their perception that “government is the problem.”  That perception began with President Reagan as a campaign slogan and has simply become sunk deeper and become entrenched in the conservative subconscious since the 1980s.  Changing that perception is not easy.  It will require shifts in the kind of subconscious fears, hopes, images that frame how we all register and process the political world.  This is right brain stuff rather than left brain analytic reasoning.

Latinos are the largest racial/ethnic group in America, but they still fly under the radar for so many others in this country.  Latinos are ignored, forgotten, marginalized, and discounted in life and in death.  Part of this has to do with the diversity of Latinos.  We come in many different colors and national flavors. Part of this has to do with a lack of attention or appreciation for the kind of cultural style and contribution that Latinos have and can make to American life.  African-Americans have a cultural role in this country that Latinos lack.  African-Americans are often seen as villains, primitives, raw, lazy, and dumb.  But they are also seen often as strong, musical, athletic, creative, stylish, and funny.  In short, African Americans may often be vilified but they are also often imitated by white Americans.  The extreme versions of that imitation even has a name – Wiggers!  Latinos mostly face neither of these extremes.  They are mostly ignored.

Actors help to change what Daniel Kahneman has called the intuitive, automatic, and largely subconscious part of people’s brains.  Actors access that subconscious by offering associations and metaphors that can indirectly confirm or reject existing prejudices.   A Latino performer can inform a viewer that Latinos can have talent, be entertaining, offer happiness, engage in intelligent conversation, have distinctive styles, have profound insights, and be human. All of these provide the material for the quick intuitive and non-rational reactions that originate in the right brain and that calls the shots in so much of our actions.

Ironically, if Latinos are going to gain the social power that our numbers would suggest, we need to have more Latinos performing in front of the entire spectrum of audiences in this country.  We need Latinos actors playing numerous kinds of roles while still reminding audiences that they are Latinos playing those roles.  Latino actors have to express the full range of Latino experiences with all of its complexity, glories, and problems.  Anything less will simply perpetuate political and economic disappointment and frustration for Latinos.

The New York Times has again found what I’ve been saying for some time.  Power does not come from numbers alone.  Thus, in a recent article, the Times discovered that

Hispanics’ representation on influential political boards has not kept pace with their increase in numbers

This was the main argument in my book Boricua Power.  It would interesting to see how this plays itself out as the numbers of Latinos in the United States continues to climb.  Can Latinos make themselves more attractive to others in this society as workers, thinkers, and performers?  Only by doing so can Latinos gain more influence.  At this point, the challenge looms very large.  The current political economy has decreased everyone’s value.  We’ll see if Latinos can reverse this trend.