Saturday, December 8, 2007

Latino Bodies Politic: Holding Elected Officials Accountable


March 5-6, 2008

NEA Headquarters
1201 16th Street NW
Washington, DC

The NCLR National Issue Briefing and Advocacy Day is an opportunity for you to work with other Latino community organizations in holding your elected officials accountable for and responsive to the needs of the Latino community in the United States, and for all Americans. Come to our nation’s capital to strengthen the policies concerning health care, educational opportunities, economic mobility, criminal justice, and comprehensive immigration reform. More specific issue areas will be available mid-January.

Click here for registration

* More than 250 participants from 28 states
* 90 meetings conducted with elected officials
* 21 youth groups represented

NCLR has a select number of discounted Capital Awards tickets available for Advocacy Day Participants. If you are interested in reserving your ticket please contact Christian Lozano at (202) 785-1670.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pew Foundation Statistical Portrait of Latinos

The picture of Latina/o educational attainment released by the Pew Hispanic Center points to a demographic turn with profound social and economic implications (scroll to last table below). A student recently suggested that Latina/os need a public intellectual voice to speak truth to the powers that delimit Latina/o civic participation. Another argued for a Gramscian block of organic-public intellectuals. Can the possibility for such a project even emerge under the current conditions?

Source: A Statistical Portrait of Hispanics at Mid-Decade

This statistical profile of the Latino population is based on Pew Hispanic Center tabulations of the Census Bureau's 2005 American Community Survey public use microdata file, which was released August 29, 2006. The topics covered are virtually the same as those in the long form of the decennial census. Fully implemented nationwide for the first time in 2005, the ACS became the largest household survey in the United States, with a sample of about 3 million addresses. It provides statistical resources not previously available except with data from a decennial census.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Latino TV

"Latino American TV," a redundantly named initiative from AIM TV Group, seeks to convince Nielsen Media Research to change their ratings method to reflect U.S. born Latinos and to help get more Latinos on English language TV. That non-native born Latinos don't factor into the equation as as telling as much as it's missing the point.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Death and Latino Ontology

Lázaro Trista, a Guatemalan immigrant, was beaten to death by three men in Plainfield, N.J., this past week for simply being a Latino immigrant, and the mainstream media doesn't seem interested in reporting this case. The local Latino press reports that Tista had purchased a plane ticket and planned to return to Guatemala for good this month. He missed his family and wanted to see his youngest son, whom he had never met.

Under what conditions does a body, any body, cease to signify its own humanity by virtue of its historical and political identity in a country that grants "minutemen" the impunity associated with justice through the category of "law"? How can a nation construe the very being of any of its inhabitants as an expendable and disposable commodity? My heart goes out to his family.

Guatemala's Prensa Libre covered it this afternoon.

Article selections below are from Courier News:

Police Chief Edward Santiago said the killing happened within a half-hour before police arrived at the scene Nov. 4. He said the three men singled out Tista to rob him.

"Based on the statements we received, the bias identifiers were established from their statements that they were targeting Hispanics," said Police Chief Edward Santiago.

Tista was a Guatemalan immigrant who worked as a landscaper. He was preparing to fly Nov. 29 to Guatemala, where his wife, mother and six of his children live. Tista has a 20-year-old son who lives in New Jersey.

Local activist Flor Gonzales, of the Latin American Coalition, and Elaine O'Neal, the victims and witness advocate at the Union County Prosecutor's Office, worked with Tista's family and were able to raise enough money so that Tista's remains can be flown home to Guatemala on Monday, Santiago said.

Tista has been given a wake at the Salvation Army in Plainfield, and he will have a funeral in Guatemala, Santiago said.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Capital Cannibals in Philadelphia: Frida Kahlo and the Consumption of Mexicanidad (as Viewed from the Global North)

Philadelphia Frida

The various representational afterlives of Frida Kahlo will be on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from February 20, 2008 - May 18, 2008. The show represents the first major exhibition in the United States of Kahlomania in nearly fifteen years. At a recent gathering of visual artists, the arts cognoscenti du jour tried to convince me that Kahlo would bring in the area's Latina/o community (the most under-served community in the area). I suggested that Oswald de Andrade's Manifesto Antropófago (Cannibalist Manifesto), from the founding issue of the brilliant Revista de Antropofagia, might teach us a thing or two about capital accumulation and how the new tech barbarians are as clueless about context as Frida was cognizant of it. "Tupi, or not Tupi that is the question.... I am only interested in what is not mine. Law of Man. Law of the Cannibal." The arts cognoscenti du jour are cannibals.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Your Own Personal Jesús: San Antonio and Jesus' Brown Latino Body?

Hundreds of devoted Latino church-goers in San Antonio, Texas, turned out for the unveiling of the city's first brown Jesús.

Depeche Mode's Chicanesca cultural intervention "Your Own Personal Jesus" brought Mexicaneity to post-pubescent heights of legitimation for me in high school. I loved the song for what I thought it represented as much as for its ability to conjure what passed for cool at the time. And how could I not inherit such impoverished imaginings when even our own present is still debating how best to render mythologies of religious origins in hues of brown? Freud's Moses and Monotheism (1939) still has a thing or two to say about Christianity's obsession with the literal referent as opposed to, say, Judaism's conceptual recourse to "the idea," but he's not supposed to be cool to read anymore. I'm glad I don't care as much about cool as I did when "Your Own Personal Jesus" meant more than it should have, and for all the wrong reasons. Still, though the Sergio Leone parody by David Gaham might have gone unnoticed, even by Gaham himself, it strikes me as phat today. Is it ever possible to get away from cool?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Juana María Rodríguez

Media Credit: Shannon Carroll

A student of mine, Diva Divina (stage name), decided to skip out and stay in Boston for some quality casa time and to attend the "Fifth Annual Queer Studies Scholar Lecture" at Tufts University. There she had the opportunity to witness the incomparable Juana María Rodríguez in action. She gave a talk related to her new book project, Queering Domesticity. DD, any video of the event?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

American Cultural Memory Delivered Courtesy of U.S. Postal Service

The 1947 federal court case Mendez v. Westminster School District determined that the segregation of Mexican and Mexican American students into separate "Mexican schools" was unconstitutional. Mendez v. Westminster set the groundwork for Brown v. Board of Education. Brown v. Board of Education is generally credited with desegregating schools across the nation in the landmark 1954 decision that ruled that segregation was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. A new stamp memorializes the Mendez v. Westminster case sixty years after that momentous decision. Enhorabuena would be an exaggeration.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Curricular Inclusion and the Latina/o Body Politic

I was reminded this past week about how important it is for many Latina/o students to see themselves reflected in the social mirror the academy both reflects and refracts. After a symposium on The Futures of Latina/o Studies at Bryn Mawr College, and the American Studies Association Conference here in Philly, I'm reminded about a lesson I learned from Walter Benjamin's "The Author as Producer" on how institutions can "assimilate astonishing quantities of revolutionary themes," and the various performances thereof, without calling into question "the existence of the class that owns it [...]." The ASA theme this year was "América Aquí: Transhemispheric Visions and Community Connections" and, I must say, the quality of some of the sessions I attended was superb, even as the program guide elided accent marks, and the topics themselves registered diversity in the stacatto rhythms of monolingualism. So what happens when the conditions under which inclusion is granted rests on the contingencies associated with proper form? My own students are grappling with this question as they untangle local and administrative histories of what Doris Sommer, in another context, called the democratic drive of "slaps and embraces." Larger academic institutions are providing, wittingly or not, the template from which to register Latina/o inclusion in the curriculum and into the communities the academy seeks to represent. The UNC-Chapel Hill Undergraduate Minor in Latina/o Studies provides one such template. Please send others as I compile my list for Mujeres along with related possibilities for course offerings.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Ocular Evidence: Race, Skin and the Student Body Politic

(Photo, Tierney Gearon for The New York Times)
New York Times Magazine, By DAVID LEONHARDT, "The New Affirmative Action"

Proposition 209, which outlawed "preferential" treatment based on color, race, ethnicity or national origin (The Latino Body, pg. 100), dealt a blow to what used to be known and "Affirmative Action." The UC system is fighting back.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Latina/o Literature's Futurity: A Dominican American Sci-Fi Writer?


We're reading Díaz's first novel in my Caribbean Encounters class; rarely do I find a work that's as fun to teach as it is satisfying. My cup is full. Read it? What do you think? So, Mr. Díaz, want to come to my class and talk about it?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Latina/o Literature and the "Canon Wars"

Incertus has a post on yesterday's Sunday Times Book Review essay on the "Canon Wars."

[...]"Latino/a Lit isn't doing its job if it isn't mentioning that "Latino/a people" is a set and a subset that overlaps with hundreds of other sets and subsets." [...]

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Short Life of José Antonio Gutiérrez

The Short Life of José Antonio Gutiérrez, a film by Swiss director Heidi Specogna,
premiered in Montreal this past Thursday. I saw it while at LASA.

Update: a colleague from Swarthmore told me recently that it was a terrible film. I think it's a cultural intervention, pointing the way to better popular renditions and imaginings of Latinidad. I think it's a start.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Alberto Gonzales and the (Latino) American Dream?



WACO, Tex., Aug. 27 — Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, whose tenure has been marred by controversy and accusations of perjury before Congress, announced his resignation in Washington today, declaring that he had “lived the American dream” by being able to lead the Justice Department.

Mr. Gonzales, who had rebuffed calls for his resignation for months, submitted it to President Bush by telephone on Friday, a senior administration official said. There had been rumblings over the weekend that Mr. Gonzales’s departure was imminent, although the White House sought to quell the rumors.

Mr. Gonzales appeared cheerful and composed when he announced that he was stepping down effective Sept. 17. His very worst days on the job were “better than my father’s best days,” he said, alluding to his family’s hardscrabble past.

“Thank you, and God bless America,” Mr. Gonzales said, exiting without responding to questions.

In Waco, President Bush said he had accepted the resignation reluctantly. He praised his old friend as “a man of integrity, decency and principle” and complained of the “months of unfair treatment” that preceded the resignation.

“It’s sad,” Mr. Bush said, asserting that Mr. Gonzales’s name had been “dragged through the mud for political reasons.”

The president said the solicitor general, Paul D. Clement, would serve as acting attorney general until a permanent replacement was chosen.

Mr. Bush has not yet chosen a replacement but will not leave the position open long, the senior administration official said early this morning. Among those being mentioned as a possible successor were Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security who is a former federal prosecutor, assistant attorney general and federal judge; Christopher Cox, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission; and Larry D. Thompson, a former deputy attorney general who is now senior vice president and general counsel of PepsiCo Inc.

Mr. Bush repeatedly stood by Mr. Gonzales, an old friend and colleague from Texas, even as Mr. Gonzales faced increasing scrutiny for his leadership of the Justice Department over issues including his role in the dismissals of nine United States attorneys late last year and whether he testified truthfully about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

Earlier this month, at a news conference, Mr. Bush dismissed accusations that Mr. Gonzales had stonewalled or misled a Congressional inquiry. “We’re watching a political exercise,” Mr. Bush said. “I mean, this is a man who has testified, he’s sent thousands of papers up there. There’s no proof of wrong.”

But Democrats cheered Mr. Gonzales’s departure. “Alberto Gonzales was never the right man for this job,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader. “He lacked independence, he lacked judgment, and he lacked the spine to say ‘no’ to Karl Rove.”

Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat who sits on the Judiciary Committee and has been calling for Mr. Gonzales’s resignation for months, said this morning: “It has been a long and difficult struggle, but at last the attorney general has done the right thing and stepped down. For the previous six months, the Justice Department has been virtually nonfunctional, and desperately needs new leadership.”

Senator Schumer said that “Democrats will not obstruct or impede a nominee who we are confident will put the rule of law above political considerations.”

Another Democrat on the Judiciary Committee who has been highly critical of Mr. Gonzales, Senator Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, said the next attorney general must be a person whose first loyalty is “to the law, not the president.”

But a Republican senator who has known Mr. Gonzales for years, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, paid tribute to the Harvard-educated Mr. Gonzales, the first attorney general of Hispanic heritage. “He has served in difficult times and I believe is a good, honest man who has worked hard in public service all his life,” the senator said in a statement.

Mr. Gonzales’s resignation is the latest in a series of high-level departures that has reshaped the end of Mr. Bush’s second term. Mr. Rove, the political adviser who is another of Mr. Bush’s close circle of aides from Texas, stepped down two weeks ago.

The official who disclosed the resignation in advance today said that the turmoil over Mr. Gonzales had made it difficult for him to continue as attorney general. “The unfair treatment that he’s been on the receiving end of has been a distraction for the department,” the official said.

A senior administration official said today that Mr. Gonzales, who was in Washington, had called the president in Crawford, Tex., on Friday to offer his resignation. The president rebuffed the offer, but said the two should talk face to face on Sunday.

Mr. Gonzales and his wife flew to Texas, and over lunch on Sunday the president accepted the resignation with regret, the official said.

On Saturday night Mr. Gonzales was contacted by his press spokesman to ask how the department should respond to inquiries from reporters about rumors of his resignation, and he told the spokesman to deny the reports.

White House spokesmen also insisted on Sunday that they did not believe that Mr. Gonzales was planning to resign. Aides to senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said over the weekend that they had received no suggestion from the administration that Mr. Gonzales intended to resign.

As late as Sunday afternoon, Mr. Gonzales himself was denying through his spokesman that he was quitting. The spokesman, Brian Roehrkasse, said Sunday that he telephoned the attorney general about the reports of his imminent resignation “and he said it wasn’t true — so I don’t know what more I can say.”

Steven Lee Myers reported from Waco, Texas, and Philip Shenon reported from Washington.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Latino Body and the National Archive(s)

Don Matias Romero. Envoy of the Republic of Mexico, 1863; three-quarter-length, standing. (College Park, Maryland, No. 111-B-1228.)

National Archives Celebrates Hispanic American Heritage Month

Washington, DC
The National Archives will celebrate Hispanic American Heritage Month with special films, programs, and lectures. These events are free and open to the public and will be held at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, which is located on the National Mall at Constitution Ave. and 7th Street, NW, and is fully accessible.

New Thinking on Lincoln's Legacy: Hispanic Perspectives
Tuesday, September 18, at noon, William G. McGowan Theater
Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday is in 2009. Does his legacy have resonance within Hispanic communities? Estévan Rael-Gálvez, New Mexico State Historian; Ernesto Chávez, associate professor of history at the University of Texas at El Paso; and Jerry Thompson, Regents Professor, Social Science Department, Texas A&M International University, will unearth fresh historical perspectives on Lincoln, his era, and his legacy.

Film: The Lemon Grove Incident
Friday, September 21, at noon, William G. McGowan Theater
Based on historical events, this docudrama, which blends archival photos, dramatic reenactments, and interviews with former students, portrays the efforts of the Mexican American community in Lemon Grove, CA, to challenge local school segregation practices and racial discrimination in Depression-era America. Produced by Paul Espinosa. (1985, 58 minutes.)

Playing America’s Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line
Wednesday, September 26, at noon, Jefferson Room
Latinos have emerged as baseball’s largest minority group over the last two decades, highlighted by the pitching of Pedro Martínez and the hitting exploits of Alex Rodriguez. In Playing America’s Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line, Adrian Burgos examines the long history of Latinos in U.S. professional baseball, focusing particularly on their significant presence in the Negro Leagues.

Zoot Suit Riots
Friday, October 12 at 12 noon, William G. McGowan Theater
In August 1942 the murder of a young Mexican-American man ignited a firestorm in Los Angeles, California. In no time at all, ethnic and racial tensions that had been building up over the years boiled over. Police fanned out across the city in a dragnet that netted 600 Mexican Americans. Among those accused of murder was a young "zoot-suiter" named Hank Leyvas -- the poster boy for an entire generation of rebellious Mexican kids who refused to play by the old rules. These dramatic events are chronicled in this 2001 documentary from the PBS series, American Experience. Written, produced, and directed by Joseph Tovares. (60 minutes.).
Related National Archives “Know your Records” Programs

All programs are open to the public and are free unless otherwise noted.

Hispanics in the 19th Century through Military and Census Records
Wednesday, September 26, 9:30–11:30 a.m., Jefferson Room
National Archives staff archivist Constance Potter and archives specialist John Deeben will present a workshop on Hispanics in the Southwest in the 19th century, focusing on Civil War military service, regimental, and pension records for volunteers from New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas as well as population and non-population census schedules. Reservations are required, and a fee of $20 is payable by cash or check at the door. Call 202-357-5333.

Mexican Border Crossings
Thursday, September 13, at 11 a.m., Room G-24, Research Center
National Archives staff archivist Claire Kluskens will discuss Mexican border crossing records that document the arrival of permanent and temporary immigrants to the United States at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Hispanic Volunteers in the Antebellum U.S. Army
Tuesday, September 18, at 11 a.m., Room G-24, Research Center
National Archives staff archives specialist John Deeben will discuss service records and other documentation for Hispanics who served in the U.S. Army, 1835–55. Many fought in the Second Seminole War, the Mexican War, and the Apache and Navajo wars of the 1850s. (This lecture will be repeated at the National Archives at College Park, MD, in Lecture Room B, on Thursday, September 20, at 11 a.m.)

Hispanic-Related Films from the National Archives
Friday, September 21, at 11 a.m., Room G-24, Research Center
National Archives staff present and discuss a variety of film clips illustrating Hispanic population, culture, activities, and families in the early to mid-20th century.

Documenting Community, Politics, and the Economy in Puerto Rico, 1898–1950
Tuesday, September 25, at 11 a.m., Room G-24, Research Center
National Archives branch chief Kenneth Heger will provide an overview of the records of the two Federal agencies that administered Puerto Rico—the Bureau of Insular Affairs and the Office of Territories—focusing on their value to local historians. (This lecture will be repeated at the National Archives at College Park, MD, in Lecture Room B, on Thursday, September 27, at 11 a.m.)

To verify the date and times of the programs, the public should call the Public Programs Line at: 202-357-5000, or view the Calendar of Events on the web. To contact the National Archives, please call 1-866-272-6272 or 1-86-NARA-NARA (TDD) 301-837-0482.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Dream Act and the Latino Body as War Fodder

Fernando Suárez del Solar, whose son Jesús Alberto was one of the first U.S. servicemen killed in Iraq, became an outspoken peace activist, and Founder/Director Guerrero Azteca. His recent post, "On the DREAM Act and the U.S. Military: An Open Letter to Latino and Latina students and all leaders of immigrant rights organizations" deserves a wide audience, and I reproduce it here.

by Fernando Suárez del Solar

In the wake of the failed immigration reform, passionate discussions have arisen among various organizations both for and against the DREAM Act.It gives me great joy to see students taking non-violent action to find a solution to the immigration question. Many of them came to the United States as children and have finished their high school education. Now, because they lack legal documents, they face an uncertain future that may deny them the opportunity to attend college or find a decent job. The DREAM Act offers them a light at the end of an otherwise dark and uncertain road.

I see students on fasts, in marches, lobbying elected officials, all in the name of the DREAM Act's passage. But BEWARE. Be very careful. Because our honorable youth with their dreams and wishes to serve their new country are being tricked and manipulated in an immoral and criminal way.

Why do I say this? Simply put, the DREAM Act proposes two years of college as a pathway to permanent residency but it also includes a second option linked to the so-called war on terror-"two years of military service." Our young people may not see that this is a covert draft in which thousands of youth from Latino families will be sent to Iraq or some other war torn nation where they will have to surrender their moral values and become a war criminal or perhaps return home in black bags on their way to a tomb drenched with their parents' tears.

How many of our youth can afford college? How many will be able to take the educational option? Unfortunately very few because the existing system locks out the children of working families with high tuition and inflated admissions criteria. Most will be forced to take the military option to get their green card. But what good is a green card to a dead person? What good is a green card to a young person severely wounded in mind and body?

I ask our undocumented youth to read the following passages regarding the plans of the Pentagon and the Bush administration.In his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 10, 2006, Under Secretary of Defense David Chu said:

"According to an April 2006 study from the National Immigration Law Center, there are an estimated 50,000 to 65,000 undocumented alien young adults who entered the U.S. at an early age and graduate from high school each year, many of whom are bright, energetic and potentially interested in military service...Provisions of S. 2611, such as the DREAM Act, would provide these young people the opportunity of serving the United States in uniform."

More recently, Lt. Col. Margaret Stock of the U.S. Army Reserve and a faculty member at West Point told a reporter that the DREAM Act could help recruiters meet their goals by providing a "highly qualified cohort of young people" without the unknown personal details that would accompany foreign recruits. "They are already going to come vetted by Homeland Security. They will already have graduated from high school," she said. "They are prime candidates."(Citations from research by Prof. Jorge Mariscal, UC San Diego)

As you can see, our undocumented youth are being targeted by military recruiters. And equally important is something that few people have mentioned-there is no such thing as a two year military contract. Every enlistment is a total of eight years.
Given these facts, I invite all young people who are filled with hope and dreams and energy to fight for human rights and for a fair pathway to legalization.

But they must also demand that the military option of the DREAM Act be replaced by a community service option (as appeared in earlier drafts of the legislation) so that community service or college become the two pathways to permanent residency. Only then will they avoid becoming victimized by a criminal war as my son Jesús Alberto did when he died on March 27, 2003 after stepping on an illegal U.S. cluster bomb. Through education or community service our undocumented youth can contribute to their communities and their future will be filled with peace and justice.

Fernando Suarez del Solar

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Latino Body at War: Camilo Mejía, Prisoner of Conscience

Camilo Mejía served almost nine months in a military prison for refusing to return to the Iraq war. My Road Out Of Iraq charts the experiences that led to jail.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Latino Body in Jail

Largely obscured by the rancorous debate surrounding U.S. immigration policy is the emergence of a trend that should be a cause of concern to all Latino communities: the explosion of the number of Latinos in prison.With one-in-six Latino males born today expected to spend some time in prison during their lives, the future portends devastating consequences for Latino communities.

Too many Latino men are living in prison


Racial Breakdown:
Incarceration is not an equal opportunity punishment

On December 31, 2005, there were 2,193,798 people in U.S. prisons and jails. The United States incarcerates a greater share of its population, 737 per 100,000 residents, than any other country on the planet. But when you break down the statistics you see that incarceration is not an equal opportunity punishment.

U.S. incarceration rates by race, June 30, 2006:

* Whites: 409 per 100,000
* Latinos: 1,038 per 100,000
* Blacks: 2,468 per 100,000

Gender is an important "filter" on the who goes to prison or jail, June 30, 2006:

* Females: 134 per 100,000
* Males: 1,384 per 100,000

Look at just the males by race, and the incarceration rates become even more frightening, June 30, 2006:

* White males: 736 per 100,000
* Latino males: 1,862 per 100,000
* Black males: 4,789 per 100,000

If you look at males aged 25-29 and by race, you can see what is going on even clearer, June 30, 2006:

* For White males ages 25-29: 1,685 per 100,000.
* For Latino males ages 25-29: 3,912 per 100,000.
* For Black males ages 25-29: 11,695 per 100,000. (That's 11.7% of Black men in their late 20s.)

Or you can make some international comparisons:
South Africa under Apartheid was internationally condemned as a racist society.

* South Africa under apartheid (1993), Black males: 851 per 100,000
* U.S. under George Bush (2006), Black males: 4,789 per 100,000

What does it mean that the leader of the "free world" locks up its Black males at a rate 5.8 times higher than the most openly racist country in the world?

Statistics as of June 30, 2006 from Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2006, Table 14. The "rates by race" statistics are calculated from the component parts of Table 14. South Africa figures from Marc Mauer, Americans Behind Bars: The International Use of Incarceration. All references to Blacks and Whites are for what the Bureau of Justice Statistics and U.S. Census refer to as "non-Hispanic Blacks" and "non-Hispanic Whites".)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

España, recuerdos y noticias

I can't think of anyone who's been more humane, more capable, more loving, more obstinate, more primal Eva, than Eva Lloréns. Daughter of Spanish painter Franciso Lloréns, disciple of Joaquin Sorolla, Eva loved two things: Galicia and the person who kept her in the States, in Stratford, Connecticut, for as long as she did. I miss her terribly and want to keep her memory alive. She hated the web, posting her paintings, anything that made it easier to connect without really connecting on a human level. The irony now is in this medium, the mnemonic register that gives texture to my memories of her and everything she did to keep me from being less than she imagined.

We read Garcilaso's Soneto XXIII in a survey course on Peninsular literature. That is my first memory of her and so I find it appropriate to begin this technology of memory in her name with Garcilaso's brilliant symmetry of form and topos: death as regenerative life, and writing, say, a sonnet, as mnemonic memory. Proof of life beyond the brittle seams of heart and its limited beats.

Garcilaso de la Vega (1501-1536)

Soneto XXIII

En tanto que de rosa y azucena
se muestra la color en vuestro gesto,
y que vuestro mirar ardiente, honesto,
enciende al corazón y lo refrena;

y en tanto que el cabello, que en la vena
del oro se escogió, con vuelo presto,
por el hermoso cuello blanco, enhiesto,
el viento mueve, esparce y desordena:

coged de vuestra alegre primavera
el dulce fruto, antes que el tiempo airado
cubra de nieve la hermosa cumbre;

marchitará la rosa el viento helado.
Todo lo mudará la edad ligera
por no hacer mudanza en su costumbre.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

(Im)migrant Bashing Reprieve

James M. Munley, Judge from the central Pennsylvania district of Hazeltown, struck down the local ordinances that have sought to punish undocumented (im)migrants for trying to live and work in the brain-drained town. Evidence: Mayor Louis J. Barletta (whose name evinces more border crossing than a snake's shed skin) made tax payers pay for their own ignorance while scapegoating (im)migrants. Brain drain has been rough for the rust belt.

Hazleton immigration law is rejected: A city cannot take such a national issue into its own hands, a judge rules in Pennsylvania

Hazeltown, Pa., immigration, Mexican American body

(Im)migrant Bashing Reprieve

One Master for Another?

Castro, the elder, says Cuban America is responsible for “irritating inequalities and privileges” in Cuba.

(Photo: Rodrigo Abd, NYT/Associated Press)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Latino Body Book Talk, Barcelona

I'm across the pond, in Europe the old seeing new and old friends. Internet access has not been as predictable as I thought (not as many internet cafes as a few years ago), so I'll post pictures and write with light instead.

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Mexican Body as Fuel

Conservative CNN commentator and radio host Glenn Beck read a mock ad created by subscribers to his website that announced the profitable use of Mexican bodies as fuel. What other group could be as expendable in the national imaginary? Would anyone put up with such banter if it dealt with, say, African Americans?

See Text[t] Mex's post about this.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

David Ritcheson

David Ritcheson, the Mexican American teenager who hated being known as "that kid," jumped off a ship to his death yesterday.

Ritcheson was beaten unconscious, burned with cigarettes, doused with bleach, carved with a knife, and sodomized with a plastic pole. One of his assailants shouted "White Power!" as he beat Ritcheson during the course of some five hours. The boy had tried to kiss one of the attacker's sister. My heart goes out to his family.


Court description: What Does Hate Look Like?

As the dailykos noted last year: Shades of 1955?

Sunday, July 1, 2007

"Patent Pending" Poverty Travelers?

"Legal" Poverty Travelers?

From LLS International, that is, "Latin Labor Solutions." (No, I'm not kidding.):

"Our experience and knowledge – along with our exclusive Guest Worker Services system (patent pending) and solid relationships with the Mexican and U.S. consulates – allow us to smoothly and swiftly move workers into the country and get them to their employer. We represent literally thousands of workers who are waiting to assist you. Call us. Help is on the way."

H-2B Visa aspirants, Ojo.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Immigration Dention Center, Tapachula, Mexico

A reader recently noted that Mexico is not doing anything to stem immigration and that the "U.S. is the only country to treat these immigrants as human beings." Like many populist renditions of the immigration issue, lore takes over common sense, and basic public information becomes misinformation. For poverty travelers, the "border" really begins in Guatemala, and extends across the Rio Grande and into Arizona, Texas, or New Mexico. The Instituto Nacional de Migración in Tapachula, Mexico (below), is a detention center for poverty travelers. Comparisons can be freely made with other detention centers closer to home.

Below, Cuban detainees

Below, 8 year old detainee

(Im)migration Bill Advances

Washington Post: Senate Revisits Immigration Bill, Foes Vow to Kill Measure Within Days

Friday, June 22, 2007

Latina Rock

Jenn Alva, Phanie, and Nina Díaz from San Antonio are Girl In a Coma. If anyone remembers the amazing Debora Iyall's voice from Romeo Void you'll certainly find echos here in lead singer Nina Díaz's formidable range.

"Clumsy Sky"

For Amanda "pore-less" Lepore fans, "Road to Home" will redefine der unheimlich.

See Latina Lista Marisa Treviño's blurb.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Vincent Cianni and the Latino Body

(left, Vincent Cianni's "Nelson," Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1998)

The Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library at Duke University will house Vincent Cianni's photographic archives beginning with his impressive photographic collection of Latino youth in NYC published in We Skate Hardcore: Photographs from Brooklyn's Southside (NYU Press, 2004), as well as his more recent documentary work. The artist and cultural provocateur Slava Mogutin has called Cianni "one of the greatest living documentary photographers" in the tradition of "Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Weegee, and Bruce Davidson." I trust that one day that the abundant and transnational border-crossing work of Los Hermanos Mayo will receive their due along with Evans and his generation of documentary photographers on this side of the border.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pedro Guzman's Forced Exile

See Man Eegee's posts.

Subaltern Citizenship: Mexican American U.S. Citizen Illegally Deported to Mexico

A Mexican American man who is a U.S. citizen illegally deported to Mexico? Yes, it's true and the story speaks to subaltern forms of citizenship that make its conferral seemingly meaningless for the ethnically marked Chicano body. The LA Times call this a case of "mistaken deportation." Surreal.

From ACLU site

U.S. Citizen Illegally Deported From Jail Is Missing in Mexico
ACLU and Law Firm Seek Federal Help to Find Developmentally Disabled Man

Monday, June 11, 2007 printer version

LOS ANGELES — Federal immigration officers and the L.A. County Sheriff's Department illegally deported a U.S. citizen last month, the ACLU/SC has learned. He is missing in Mexico, and today the ACLU/SC and the law firm of Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeking his safe return.

Pedro Guzman, 29, was born in Los Angeles and raised in Lancaster, California. He was serving time at Men’s Central Jail for trespassing, a misdemeanor offense, when he was deported to Tijuana May 10 or 11. Mr. Guzman is developmentally disabled, does not read or write English well, and knows no one in Tijuana. He declared at his booking that he was born in California.

He spoke to his sister-in-law by telephone from a shelter in Tijuana within a day of his deportation, but the call was interrupted. Family members traveled to the city in an attempt to find him and have remained there, searching shelters, jails, churches, hospitals, and morgues.

There are no circumstances under which government officials may deport a U.S. citizen. Federal officials have refused requests by family members and a private lawyer to assist in the search for Mr. Guzman.

"This is a recurring nightmare for every person of color of immigrant roots," said ACLU/SC legal director Mark Rosenbaum. "Local jail officials and federal immigration officers deported the undeportable, a United States citizen, based on appearance, prejudice, and reckless failure to apply fair legal procedures."

"What has happened to Pedro Guzman is a tragedy," said Stacy Tolchin of Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale. "His life may be in danger, and the government must act immediately to locate him and return him to the United States."

Jail and Department of Homeland Security officials failed to identify Mr. Guzman’s disability and improperly obtained his signature for deportation from the United States. "The procedures for determination of legal status implemented by Los Angeles County deputy sheriffs … fail even minimal criteria for constitutional due process," the lawsuit states.

Sheriff's deputies trained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement conduct immigration checks at L.A. County jails. The ACLU and immigrant-rights groups warned that involving local law enforcement in immigration policing would lead to mistaken deportations and violate the due-process rights of inmates.

Anyone with information about Mr. Guzman can call the ACLU/SC at (213) 977-9500.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Brown Bodies Politic

Politicos of all stripes are increasingly, if belatedly, aware of just how brown the country is, and just how much more brown it will be. The question involves the degree to which institutions are willing to respond, or not, to this reality. Hillary Clinton has received an important endorsement from Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey. The immigration bill frenzy (or fallout depending on your politics) will likely not abate anytime soon, creating a window of opportunity for politicians capable of bringing the right Latina and Latino strategists aboard.

Raymond Hernández, "Menendez Is Set to Endorse Clinton for President, Aides Say"

Monday, June 11, 2007

BBC's Take on Maywood, Ca., 97% Latino

Felipe Aguirre is deputy mayor of Maywood, California. The town, which is 97% Hispanic, is a self-declared sanctuary for 'undocumented' immigrants.

The town of Maywood has declared itself a "sanctuary" for illegal immigrants
We believe that no human being can be described as illegal.

These are people who work hard, pay taxes, buy houses and keep on the right side of the law for fear of being deported - they are part of the fabric of America.

Many have families and have been contributing members of community for years. But the debate is now affecting family units. Many people who do not have the right documents have children who are US citizens. These families need to stay united.

That is why we have seen so many young people taking part in the demonstrations, fighting for the rights of their parents.

These are people pay their taxes through the payroll system, but do not qualify to receive any benefits at the end of the work week. And, while they pay sales taxes and property taxes, they do not qualify for any of the benefits that are associated with this, such as healthcare.

There is a tremendous amount of hypocrisy surrounding the debate. So many businesses are doing well on the back of undocumented workers - from the oranges that are picked in Florida to the tomatoes harvested in Illinois.

Yet, their basic rights, such as the right to a safe workplace and fair treatment, are not protected. Undocumented workers never file complaints for injuries sustained at work for fear of being sacked.

Rich families in Los Angeles employ undocumented nannies to look after their children. They also employ undocumented housekeepers, cleaners and gardeners - many of whom have keys to their houses.

How can we be called criminals when we hold the keys to the houses of some of the richest people in the state?

BBC link

Friday, June 8, 2007

Bodies Politic: Immigration Bill Stalls by 15 Votes

I'd like to be able to count more Mexican, Mexican American, and Latino reporters in the group surrounding Harry Reid other than the Argentine Telemundo reporter in the black suit left of center. As is known to those who follow Telemundo news, his position in the photograph does not speak to his politics.

"Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, said the bill had become 'more punitive and more onerous' because of amendments adopted in the last few days. Mr. Menendez pointed, for example, to one that denied the earned-income tax credit to illegal immigrants who gain legal status under the bill.

Cecilia Muñoz, a vice president of the National Council of La Raza, the Hispanic rights group, said she had similar concerns. Changes approved by the Senate this week make the bill 'not only more punitive, but also less workable,' Ms. Muñoz said."

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Black and Latino Bodies Politic at War in Lynwood, Los Angeles

The long awaited LA Times article on the state of affairs between Latinos and Blacks in Los Angeles is out and it confirms what many have known all along. Racial enmity is tearing at the city’s seams. The limited distribution of resources has made the two groups fight each other while leaving structural inequalities for both intact.

Blogger coverage: “L.A. is going to blow again, and its not going to be pretty, a race riot that will make the ones of the 60s look like a day in Disneyland Park.”


Population: 61,945

Latino: 69%

Black: 22%

Other: 9%



Population: 72,426

Latino: 87%

Black: 9%

Other: 4%

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Immigrant, Migrant, or Refugee Bodies?: Point System Misses the Point

The proposed "point system" leaves Mexicans, the largest number of (im)migrants to the U.S., in limbo again. The system seeks to "award" points for better educated, higher skilled immigrants, and would remain in place for the next 14 years. But the point system isn't so much a compromise between Democrats and Republicans as it is a failed system from its conception. It does not address the most pressing issues affecting Mexican immigration to this country, the economies these immigrants help to keep afloat through their labor, nor the working conditions that make their bodies expendable commodities in this economy. Locking the point system into law for the next 14 years neither addresses the U.S.'s changing economy, nor its ability to compete in a "new world order" of its own creation.

"Ekaterina D. Atanasova, a civil engineer from Bulgaria who lives in southern Maine, wants to bring her husband to the United States. Under the Senate immigration bill, he would get high marks — at least 74 points — because he too is a civil engineer, has a master’s degree and is fluent in English.

But Herminia Licona Sandoval, a cleaning woman from Honduras, would have no hope of bringing her 30-year-old son to the United States. He works as a driver at an oil refinery, lacks a high school diploma, speaks little English and would fare poorly under the Senate bill, earning fewer than 15 of a possible 100 points." (Robert Pear, A Point System for Immigrants Incites Passions)

Monday, June 4, 2007

Immigration and the U.S. Body Politic

"The glue that is keeping this process going is the absolute agreement by all the disparate groups that the current system is absolutely dysfunctional," Bruce Josten, chief lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Jonathan Weisman, Washington Post)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Ken Burns, PBS and the Latino Body at War

Professor Maggie Rivas-Rodríguez "is credited with igniting a grass-roots effort to pressure famed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns to include Latinos" in his upcoming documentary The War. See Guillermo Contreras' article, "UT Professor Has a Way of Getting Nation's Ear."

Prof. Rivas-Rodríguez has also been involved in the "US Latinos and Latinas and World War II" project at UT, Austin. This important project seeks to document the stories of Latina and Latino participation in the armed services.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

"El paso del norte" and the Mexicana Body

"El paso del norte": from the XIX c., to Juan Rulfo, to Ninón Sevilla in Aventurera, and on to Alicia Gaspar de Alba's Dessert Blood and our own present, the spaces between Ciudad Juárez, México, and El Paso, Texas, are more spectral and more deadly than what representation can conjure.

Life Along 'La Linea'
A portrait of the complexities of life along the U.S.-Mexico border

Monday, May 21, 2007

Legislating the Mexican Body

(Photo from The Washington Post online by Melina Mara)
Congress Continues to Grapple with Immigration Reform Today

Racism seems clearly and conveniently tangled with immigration and the very fiber of "American" nationalism. Ironically, some cultural theoreticians have announced that the demise of race as a critical object of study is not something to be feared. It would be disingenuous, however, to assume that, because race is not a biological category, Americans do not continue to think, feel, and act as if it were a biological truth. As Congress grapples with immigration reform today, protesters cry "No amnesty!," recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and sing "God Bless America." Many of the 400 protesters were apparently flown in from California and Arizona (get a load of the guy's T-shirt!), which begs a series of questions even the article below can't begin to fathom. In this myopic narrative of nationalism even the right's "man of reason," John McCain, is just too far left of right supremacy.

'No Amnesty' Is Cry at D.C. Immigration Protest

Black Bodies and Unequel Justice in Jena, LA.

"The tree was on the side of the campus that, by long-standing tradition, had always been claimed by white students, who make up more than 80 percent of the 460 students. But a few of the school's 85 black students had decided to challenge the accepted state of things and asked school administrators whether they, too, could sit in the tree's shade."

That "black students" have to ask where they can sit for shade is disturbingly reminiscent of Jim Crow era racist practices and laws meant to deprive Blacks of their civil rights through institutional and quotidian obeisance to whites. Is deep south Louisiana still in the murky waters of uncivilized race-hatred? Yes.

" 'Sit wherever you want,' school officials told them. The next day, the nooses were hanging from the branches."

And then a past of ignorance and racism emerged untouched by reason or state protection...

See Howard Witt's story "Racial demons rear heads" in Chicago Tribune.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Latino Body Politic: Chicana Civil Rights Leader Dolores Huerta Endorses Hillary Clinton

From Nuestra Voice:

May 18, 2007
Washington, DC- Hillary Clinton received today the endorsement of human rights leader and community activist Dolores Huerta, the co-founder and President Emeritus of the United Farm Workers of America. Huerta will serve as co-chair of the campaign’s Hispanic outreach efforts.

“Throughout her life Hillary has been a strong leader, working for issues that make a difference in every family’s life, like education, health care and good paying jobs,” said Huerta. “I believe she is the best qualified candidate and the one that’s ready to put our country back on track.”

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Latino Bodies in Question: The LAPD and the May Day Police Riot

While most of the rallies held around the country in defense of immigrant rights were peaceful, the march in Los Angeles ended with police firing rubber bullets and using their batons against marchers. See previous post here.


LAPD Chief Reassigns Two Officials Over May Day Violence
By Duke Helfand and Andrew Blankstein
Los Angeles Times

Tuesday 08 May 2007
The pair directed the violent police response in MacArthur Park. An inquiry suggests tactical errors created problems.

Two high-ranking Los Angeles Police Department commanders were reassigned Monday for their role in overseeing the violent police response to last week's MacArthur Park immigration rally.

Deputy Chief Cayler "Lee" Carter Jr., commanding officer of Operations Central Bureau, and Cmdr. Louis Gray, the No. 2 official in the bureau, were shifted from their command posts.

At the same time, a preliminary inquiry suggested that police had made a series of tactical errors in the incident, which injured at least 10 protesters and journalists, as well as seven police officers. Carter and Gray were the senior commanders in charge of policing the protest.

"We're not going to shift responsibility down the chain of command," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said at a City Hall news conference that included LAPD Chief William J. Bratton and Police Commission President John Mack. "Accountability begins at the top. What happened on May 1st was wrong. We're taking immediate action to address it."

The action comes as officials attempt to quell outrage over videotaped images of LAPD officers swinging batons and firing nearly 150 "less-than-lethal" rounds at reporters and largely peaceful protesters last Tuesday.

The staffing shift was announced as LAPD officials were preparing a preliminary investigation into what went wrong at MacArthur Park. Sources close to the probe, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because it was an ongoing case, said investigators had broken down the incident into three distinct phases that occurred between 5:15 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Investigators now believe that LAPD commanders made significant errors at all stages of the MacArthur Park action that served to inflame tensions rather than ease them.

About 5:15 p.m., LAPD officers came under attack from a relatively small group of protesters just outside the park who threw plastic bottles and other objects in their direction.

LAPD policies call on officers to isolate troublemakers and get them away from the larger crowd.

But for reasons investigators still don't understand, officers actually pushed the 30 to 40 agitators into the park, allowing them to mix with hundreds of marchers who were behaving peacefully, the sources said.

By about 6 p.m., commanders had decided to clear the park and surrounding area. The job was given to about 60 Metro Division officers, many of whom wore riot gear and were armed with shotguns that fired "less-than-lethal" rounds. Commanders directed an LAPD helicopter to issue a command in English - but not Spanish - for people to leave the area.

But investigators found major flaws in how the order was carried out. For one thing, the helicopter appeared to be hovering above the intersection of 7th and Alvarado streets at a relatively high altitude, the sources said. It was two blocks from the park, making it difficult for some in the crowd to hear the order, they said.

LAPD officials say commanders are told that crowd clearance orders should be given from the ground whenever possible - because helicopters can drown out the sounds and can confuse people on the ground. The LAPD had at least one sound truck that could have been used for such an order next to the park, the sources said. But for some reason, they said, the truck was not used.

The Metro officers then moved in a "V" formation from the southeast corner of the park. There too, errors reportedly occurred. LAPD sources said the preliminary investigation found that supervisors were too far away from the officers' "skirmish line" and lost control of the operation, with some officers wandering off on their own.

Bratton downgraded Carter to the rank of commander and placed him on home assignment. The chief said he would announce Carter's replacement at today's Police Commission meeting.

Bratton also targeted Gray, who was the second in command at MacArthur Park and, according to a source, responsible for tactical decisions made at the scene. The 39-year department veteran was reassigned to the Office of Operations, but his new job had not been determined.

Bratton described the changes as "personnel actions" rather than disciplinary in nature. His actions drew praise from Mack and at least one march organizer.

Carter did not return phone calls seeking comment. Gray declined to comment when reached at his office.

Angelica Salas of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles called the swift reassignment of the two ranking command officers a good start but added that further reforms were needed to change the department's culture.

"These quick, concrete steps are appreciated," Salas said. "But the department also needs to look at its internal structure, its training, and how officers view and treat immigrants."

But reassigning Carter and Gray rankled some of the LAPD's 9,500 rank-and-file officers and the unions that represent them. Union officials have said that they believe that there has been a rush to judge officers before the facts are in. L.A. Police Protective League President Bob Baker questioned whether the officers involved had adequate training in the last year.

Both Villaraigosa and Mack sought to soften the blow by underscoring their support for officers on the street.

"This is not an indictment of the entire Police Department," Mack said. "The overwhelming majority of the men and women within the department are dedicated, decent public servants who are out there every day. However, sometimes some of them don't get it."

The sources said that many questions remain unanswered as the preliminary investigation moves forward. For example, investigators are still trying to determine exactly how the decision to authorize officers to fire the "less-than-lethal" rounds was made. Moreover, they are trying to figure out why the LAPD seemed to ignore many of the rules for crowd control established after the 2000 Democratic National Convention, particularly regarding creating a "safe area" where the media could operate.

As LAPD investigators work to answer those questions, civil rights groups and political leaders are stepping up pressure to rein in the LAPD.

City Council President Eric Garcetti announced Monday that he was forming a special task force to monitor the progress of the investigation and provide an extra layer of oversight.

The task force will hear reports on the investigations pursued concurrently by the Police Department and the Office of the Inspector General.

It also will provide a forum at which members of the public can express their views and concerns on the confrontation and the investigations, and it will provide policy recommendations for future encounters involving the police, protesters and news media.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Lou Dobbs on the "Infirm" Latino Body

Lou Dobbs' source on Mexican immigration issues and the politics of scientific rigor (mortis).

From Southern Poverty Law Center:

Dobbs said he stands "100 percent behind" his show's claim that there had been 7,000 new cases of leprosy in the United States over a recent three-year period, and he further suggested that an increase in leprosy was due in part to "unscreened illegal immigrants coming into this country."

Dobbs' endorsement of the claim came after CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl challenged the leprosy figure during a profile of Dobbs on "60 Minutes" this past Sunday. Stahl cited a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services document that reported 7,029 cases over the past 30 years — not three.

The dispute highlights the SPLC's concern that Dobbs and some others in the media are regularly using discredited and inaccurate information about immigrants — material that often originates with far-right ideologues and organizations dominated by white supremacists and nativists.

Dobbs and CNN reporter Christine Romans said they had gotten the information from the late Madeleine Cosman, who was described by Romans as "a respected medical lawyer" – but who, in fact, was a woman who repeatedly ranted about Latino men raping boys, girls and nuns.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Latino Bodies Are Again the Targets of the KKK

"[M]ore Latinos were lynched in California than were persons of any other race or ethnicity." -Ken Gonzales-Day, Lynching in the West: 1850-1935 (Duke, 2006)

Welcome to the past... As Ken Gonzales-Day's important new book Lynching in the West: 1850-1935 makes clear, in California and many western states the majority of lynching victims were Latino. This is a history still being told in ever varying shades of black, brown, and the white sheets and hoods that must be wrested from derelict political bodies in order to demand a literal and symbolic accounting of the corpus delicti.

KKK growing, with a new target

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Latino Body in Question: Police Brutality

August 29, 1970? No, LA on May 1, 2007. I'll risk an incendiary question because the circumstances demand it: Would police brutality of this magnitude be tolerated if the ethnic, racial, or minority group in question were anything other than Latino? Rhetorical questions are sometimes the necessary, if not egregiously overdue, starting points for more pointed engagements with "American" cultural history.

I'd never thought I'd be saying this, but to their credit, FOX actually aired this story.


Monday, April 30, 2007

The Latino Body in Question

Mexicans Americans have found it difficult to imagine state power in the US to be anything but arbitrary since the "Mexican Repatriation" of 1930 to 1934. Occasioned by the Great Depression, the forced deportation of over 500,000 Mexican Americans to Mexico made the idea of state protection for nationals of Mexican ancestry in the US a failed legal promise with limited dividends (over 60% were US citizens, many others were legal residents). So as the nation contemplates immigration "reform" what is surprising is that in the convoluted history of Mexican American rights initiatives and immigration battles there have been so few attempts at mass rallies and demonstrations on the national scene. Tonight, on the eve of the May Day rallies across the US, it is also surprising that we are already being given a narrative about how it will likely pale in comparison to last year's national rallies and demonstrations.

Immigration rallies likely smaller

By Martin Kasindorf, USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES — Marchers demanding a path to U.S. citizenship for as many as 12 million undocumented immigrants will take to the streets in many cities Tuesday, but organizers say crowds will fall far short of last year's giant rallies on May 1.

A year ago, police estimated that more than 1 million people rallied for rights for illegal immigrants and against a short-lived proposal in Congress that would have made illegal entry to the USA a felony.

Crowds were estimated at 400,000 in Los Angeles, 400,000 in Chicago, 30,000 in Houston and 20,000 in New York City. In economic boycotts billed as "a day without immigrants," hundreds of thousands of Hispanic workers and their supporters didn't punch the clock. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach shut down, and 72,000 students walked out of classes in Los Angeles.

In contrast, a march here Tuesday is likely to attract no more than "tens of thousands," says Javier Rodriguez of the March 25 Coalition, a group named for a rally of 500,000 here in 2006.

In Tucson, where 18,000 marched last year, 10,000 are expected to turn out, says Frida Espinosa of the Tucson May 1 Coalition. There's comparatively little talk of boycotts.

Event planners attribute part of the difference to nationally syndicated Spanish-language radio disc jockeys. They whipped up crowds last year but have shifted political tactics.

The popular Eduardo Sotelo, known as Piolín or "Tweetybird," is asking listeners to write a million letters in support of immigration changes. He says he'll deliver those letters to Congress. Renán Almendárez Coello, the DJ known as El Cucuy ("the boogeyman"), says persuading legal residents to become citizens and vote is more effective than marching.

"It was very nice to see everybody walking around and being supportive and not making a big mess, but it is more important to register and vote," he says.

Demonstration organizers also attribute lowered expectations to fragmented leadership, discouragement that Congress approved no immigration bill last year and a more punitive climate.

"The situation has changed drastically for us," says Armando Navarro, coordinator of the National Alliance for Human Rights. "Last year, there was a sense of passion and determination, inspired by fear of criminalization and rising expectations for legalization. The political climate is becoming more restrictionist right now, and our capacity to respond is not there."

As cities such as Hazleton, Pa., pass laws cracking down on illegal immigrants, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stages raids on workplaces to detain undocumented workers.

By displaying such toughness in protecting borders, President Bush could soften opposition to the kind of immigration bill he wants: one that would combine stepped-up law enforcement with a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

House Republicans blocked such a bill last year after the Senate passed it. Democrats now control Congress and side with Bush on the issue, but Republican votes are needed.

Immigrant rights groups are split over the latest proposal in Congress, sponsored by Reps. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. The bill would provide a way to earn citizenship that "could take up to 20 years," the skeptical Navarro says.

Navarro says activists did little to keep immigrant communities mobilized after last year's rallies and find it hard to "rekindle that spirit." Jorge-Mario Cabrera, a spokesman for the Central American Resource Center here, cites one reason it's so hard: "There is a real disappointment in the community that last year we became so engaged, and nothing happened."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

PBS and the Latino Body at War, Yet Again

Mario Solis Marich's populist rendition of the PBS/Ken Burns debacle gets to the point (see below).

Hispanic Caucus Raises Stakes in PBS Fight

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Written on the Latino Body: Of Tattoos and Discrimination in the Military

The New Mexico National Guard is overwhelmingly comprised of Chicanos. After they arrived in Kuwait recently, a soldier from Wisconsin told superiors that he believed the Chicano servicemen were "gang-members." After an Army specialist was flown in to investigate and examine their bodies, they were stripped and searched for tattoos. Few tattoos were found, and none with gang-related markings.

While Gov. Bill Lopez [sic] Richardson of New Mexico praises the Minute Men gangs along that state's border with Mexico, he seems unable or unwilling to decry the racialized profiling of Mexican American National Guard soldiers in Kuwait under the Army's leadership. (See a video of the alleged "gang-members" prior to deployment above. For original source see here.)

N.M. Guard unit alleges racial discrimination

April 23, 2007

Task force says Army searched soldiers for tattoos because they’re Hispanic

ALBUQUERQUE — At a base in Kuwait last May, nearly 60 members of a New Mexico National Guard unit were told to remove their shoes, socks and shirts so that military investigators could check them for gang tattoos.

Several members of the Rio Rancho-based Task Force Cobra alleged racial discrimination, saying the unit was targeted because of its large number of Hispanics.

Army investigators, however, found that the tattoo search was lawful and not racially motivated, the Albuquerque Journal reported in a copyright story published Sunday.
“I’m embarrassed to say that’s how the Army is,” said Adjutant Gen. Kenny Montoya, who commands the Army and Air National Guard in New Mexico. “They don’t want to admit mistakes.”

Within days of the search, Montoya wrote to a senior Army officer in Kuwait, requesting an apology be made to Task Force Cobra. None was given.

Montoya was more pointed in a letter the following month to Gen. Peter Schoomaker, then-chief of staff of the Army. “Let me know how I can help our Army to end their discriminatory practices, both now and in the future,” Montoya wrote.

Schoomaker didn’t respond.

The tattoo search was based on an uncorroborated allegation made by a Wisconsin soldier that Task Force Cobra was rife with gang members.

Members of the military are prohibited from taking part in gang-related activity if the gang is an extremist organization — for example, it advocates discrimination, hate crimes or violent acts. A soldier can face disciplinary action, including discharge for having a tattoo of an extremist group.

On May 25, 2006, agent Paul McGuire with the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command arrived at the Ali Al Salem base in Kuwait to conduct the tattoo check and immediately was confronted about his expertise in identifying gang tattoos.

A lieutenant with Task Force Cobra told the agent that all of his platoon sergeants had backgrounds in law enforcement and would know if gang activities were occurring.

Nevertheless, the soldiers were ordered to strip down to their athletic shorts.

Six of the 58 soldiers initially refused to be searched but complied after being threatened with arrest and charges by the investigating agent.

One New Mexico soldier complained “that he didn’t feel like an American today,” according to Army documents. Another reportedly cried, saying it reminded him of a similar incident that occurred when he was younger because he was Hispanic.
Another soldier said the “Gestapo-like” tattoo check was the lowest point of his military career.

“During the viewing, there was high tension among the troops who related they felt as though they were being picked on ... because they were Hispanic and National Guard,” McGuire later said.

Task Force Cobra is made up of nearly 190 soldiers from various National Guard units around New Mexico. It was deployed in November 2005 to provide security for military convoys in Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar, and returned last November.

Additional members of the group were scheduled to be searched, but unit leaders and senior Army officers blocked that plan.

Capt. Ivan Forrest Salkin, the commander of the unit who had been visiting another base, ordered that there would be no more checks until the investigating agent produced a search warrant, Army documents state.

He said he had no idea that the tattoo check was an issue with his soldiers. He also objected to his soldiers being threatened with arrest for refusing to comply.

As word of the tattoo search worked its way up the chain of command, a top Army lawyer also expressed concern.

“It is too easy for this to be viewed as a witch hunt, where all of the unit members are presumed guilty until proven innocent,” Col. Ralph M.C. Sabatino, a judge advocate, wrote in an e-mail to McGuire a day after the search.

“The fact that all of this is being done on the uncorroborated vague and nonspecific accusations of a soldier ... only exacerbates the problem,” Sabatino said.