Saturday, October 25, 2008

Black Bodies Politic in Paris, Texas

Texas Dragging Death May Mave Been a Racially Motivated Crime
Associated Press

In a gruesome case with powerful echoes of the dragging death of James Byrd a decade ago, a black man was killed underneath a pickup truck in East Texas and two white men have been charged with murder. Paris is the same Texas town in which a black girl was sentenced to up to seven years in a juvenile prison for shoving a teacher's aide at school. That same judge sentenced a white girl to probation for burning down her parents' house.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Latino Body at War

Paul Flores, "Brown Dream"

The Short Life of José Antonio Gutiérrez, a film by Swiss director Heidi Specogna (2007)

The Immigrant Body Politic and the Financial Meltdown

You knew it was just a matter of time before immigrants would be the likely scapegoats for the country's current financial and credit meltdown. One of the country's most conservative and reactionary bloggers, Michelle Malkin (née Maglalang), blames the current economic crisis on "the rapidly expanding illegal-alien home-loan racket."

This is not surprising given her willful distortion of the facts. See her below for her take on immigration.

And speaking of willful distortion, here she is claiming that former presidential hopeful John Kerry shot himself for the sake of getting a purple heart. "This one" throws what she can on the national wall to see what sticks. Leave it to an immigrant to attack immigrants?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Latino and Black Bodies Politic

from Who Gets to Attend College?
By Tram Nguyen

"...At UCLA, Proposition 209 resulted in a decline of Black students from 221 freshmen in 1997 to 96 admitted in 2006. University officials scrambled to come up with some creative ways around the law—appointing an alumni commission to offer scholarships to encourage admitted Blacks to choose UCLA and revamping the process of judging applications to better acknowledge students for overcoming disadvantages. By fall 2007, Black admissions had more than doubled from the year before.

But the focus on admissions numbers is still a limited one in the larger context of anti-affirmative action and systemic public school inequities. Ward Connerly, the architect of Proposition 209, has won ballot initiatives banning affirmative action in two more states—Washington and Michigan—and is close to getting it on the November ballot this year in Colorado, Arizona and Nebraska (his supporters have gotten enough signatures in the three states, but opponents are claiming voter fraud and suing)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Latino Heritage Month: La Bruja

Nikki López and the student group Mujeres of Bryn Mawr College are bringing La Bruja to campus tonight.

La Bruja says that Celina González was a formative influence on her work. For those who don't know her, there's the visual archive:

"La selva cubana"

Fandango antecedents:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Daddy Yankee Endorses John McCain?

Many of the girls at Central High School in Phoenix, Arizona, couldn't hide their excitement when John McCain introduced "Ramón," the Puerto Rican reaggaetonero "Daddy Yankee." From one daddy to another, McCain praised DY for being married fifteen years and for “making the right choices” in his youth. "Man of few words," Ramón said McCain was the right choice for president for his stance on immigration issues (mind you, not that Ramón has to worry about deportation like many other Latino homies), and for being "a fighter for the Hispanic community." McCain, a fighter for the Latino community? Not since Ricky Martin's performance at the George W. Bush's 2001 inauguration have progressive Puerto Ricans been so perplexed if not outright appalled. It was a career ender for Ricky, though he purportedly thought the performance would increase his appeal among the oxford button-down and Sperry top-siders crowd. The bread and circuses were captured in the video below. Many continue to sleepwalk though history, while others simply can not understand why "history is what hurts" when a reaggaetonero dispenses somnambulence with every repetitive beat of a soon to be worn postmodern lullaby. "Gasolina," indeed.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Corporal Punishment in Schools

Twenty-one U.S. states still permit the use of corporal punishment in schools. This past year over 200,000 children were corporally beaten as "punishment." Most of the battered children were students of color.

Ed Stoddard writes that "[i]n 13 states in the U.S. South where corporal punishment is the most prevalent, African-American girls are twice as likely to be hit as their white counterparts, according to the 125-page report." His article is based on the Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union study, "A Violent Education: Corporal Punishment of Children in U.S. Public Schools."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Esteban Colbert Tells Stephen Colbert to Kiss Jorge Ramos on the Lips

Jorge Ramos, whose appeals for Latino immigrant inclusion don't go any further than claiming they'd make good "Americans" because they love "family" and are good "Christians," appeared on the Colbert Report last night. Colbert's alter ego, Esteban Colbert, sets the stage for the kiss with "las chicas Colbert." He was funnier on Strangers with Candy as the erstwhile closeted homosexual Chuck Noblet. So much opportunity, such limited imaginings.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Imperiled Latina Body

A pregnant woman, Juana Villegas, got pulled over for a routine traffic infraction. As an undocumented immigrant, she was jailed and forced to give labor while cuffed to the hospital bed as a sheriff's officer stood guard over her. Under Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agreement "287G," which gives immigration enforcement powers to county officers, police can exceed their authority when they act on immigration laws they are not fully trained to enforce.

See Julia Preston's story in the New York Times, "Immigrant, Pregnant, Is Jailed Under Pact"

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Students Pressure Princeton for Latino Studies Program

Hispanic Scholars, Students Pressure Princeton for Latino Studies Program

by Ibram Rogers

For more than 30 years, students have been urging the administration to bring Latino studies to Princeton University. Students have met with university officials over the years and staged a famous sit-in with Asian students in 1995, but those efforts didn’t bear much fruit.

“The university has had the opportunity since the ’70s to begin to increase the number of Latino faculty and to build Latino studies and they just haven’t,” says Dr. Raul A. Ramos, assistant professor of history at the University of Houston and 1989 Princeton graduate. “There is a huge student demand and it’s a demand that has been there a long time.”

It appears that Princeton may finally defer to the three decades of demands due to the latest efforts by Hispanic students, aided by a group of Latino alumni. A Center for Latino Studies with a certificate program modeled after Princeton’s nationally renowned Center for African American Studies could come on board as earlier as the fall of 2009, says Victoria C. Laws, who led the student movement for Latino studies and helped write the proposal for the center.

“We are dealing with a new administration, one that is open to change and a little more cognizant of the need for a Latino studies program, and also the changing demographics in this nation,” says Laws, who graduated from Princeton in the spring. “It is undeniable now that not having Latino studies would really leave Princeton students in a deficit in terms of their education.”

The adding of one or two Latino courses will not “cut it” this time, adds Dr. Aldo Lauria-Santiago, a 1981 graduate of Princeton.

“There is a pressing need to provide Latino students at Princeton with a sense of their own presence in the curriculum, which is something that was very hard to find when I was there,” says Lauria-Santiago, associate professor and chairperson of Rutgers University’s department of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies.

The most recent efforts to initiate Latino studies began in the fall of 2006 when Latino students were discussing their frustration with Hispanic Heritage Month. That discussion mushroomed into in a series of meetings in which students talked about the lack of resources, lack of knowledge about how to access resources and not having a Latino studies program, among other issues.

“These meetings would go on for hours,” Laws says. “And people would come with their laptops and take notes. We had 70 pages of notes that came out of those meetings.”

Over the summer of 2007, the students took those notes and wrote a 16-page report on the state of Hispanics at Princeton, mentioning the lack of access to mentors and the meager 1.9 percent of Hispanic full-time faculty at Princeton, Laws says. They released it during the first week of school in September 2007.

“It was really a way of getting the administration’s attention, getting faculty members attention, so that they would be more supportive of it instead of just demanding something out of nowhere,” Laws says. “It wasn’t just complaining. There was a set of clear and structured recommendations as to how the university could address the problems that were raised.”

In November, students talked about the report in a campus wide forum, and the following month Laws and Princeton sociology professor Marta Tienda began working on a proposal for the center that the university is now reviewing. Tienda and Princeton administrators did not want to comment on the issue until the discussions progress further about the center.

While student pressure intensified from the inside over the last academic year, Bob Hernandez, a Boston-based civil rights employment litigator and Princeton alum, formed a group of alumni that is now putting pressure on the university from the outside.

The group of mostly academicians, which now exceeds 20, had a series of conference calls during the last few months, the product of which was a letter sent to Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman at the end of May. Eleven alumni, including Ramos, Lauria-Santiago, Hernandez, and professors at institutions like the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Texas at Austin, signed the letter.

“That was our effort to indicate to the university that at this time it is not appropriate to not have a Latino studies program,” Hernandez says. “That’s very important because most of the best schools in the country recognize the importance of having a defined Latinos studies program. They don’t define them all the same, but they have coherence, an identity and vision. And that’s plainly lacking at the university at this time.”

The group of alumni, many of which conduct research in Latino studies, has presented itself as a resource that Princeton officials can use as they develop the center. But that development must come in the next two or three years, Ramos says.

“Princeton just needs to get started,” he says. “You want to make thoughtful hires and you want to build programs and its going to take 10 years before you have anything established. So the longer they wait, the more difficult the task is going to be.”

Friday, June 27, 2008

Junot Díaz, Courtesy of Nikki López

"Cane fields are scary. Any time you drive by them they're like triffids. They crack in the wind." Junot Díaz

Through an American Street Vernacular (ASV) unburdened by protocol there emerges a beautifully nuanced new "American" language with this guy. Why didn't Colbert rile him for more?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Is "Guantànamo" [sic] better than "Gitmo" [sic]?

Can content be trusted over form?

The acute accent mark is a diacritic used to denote pronunciation stress that deviates from standard pronunciation in many modern written languages with alphabets based on Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek scripts. In today's New York Times' Week in Review piece by Jonathan Mahler, "WAR POWERS: Why This Court Keeps Rebuking This President," "Guantànamo Bay" is not the same as Guantánamo Bay. It's disappointing to read an article as careless in content as it is in orthography. Spanish speakers shouldn't depend on the likes of El País for intelligent and clean op-ed pieces.

"The second ruling, in Rasul v. Bush, came soon after the scandal at Abu Ghraib. Though momentous, it was still limited. The court found, 6-3, that Guantànamo Bay was within United States jurisdiction and subject to its laws, meaning detainees there were entitled to some sort of due process in American courts. It didn’t specify the process, nor suggest that Congress couldn’t amend a law through which detainees could access the courts."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Latino Body at War: Camilo Mejía

Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejía became the new face of the antiwar movement in early 2004 when he applied for a discharge from the Army as a conscientious objector. After serving in the Army for nearly nine years, he was the first known Iraq veteran to refuse to fight, citing moral concerns about the war and occupation. His principled stand helped to rally the growing opposition and embolden his fellow soldiers.

Despite widespread public support and an all-star legal team, Mejía was eventually convicted of desertion by a military court and sentenced to a year in prison, prompting Amnesty International to declare him a prisoner of conscience.

Now released after serving almost nine months, the celebrated soldier-turned-pacifist tells his own story, from his upbringing in Central America and his experience as a working-class immigrant in the United States to his service in Iraq—where he witnessed prisoner abuse and was deployed in the Sunni triangle—and time in prison. Far from being an accidental activist, Mejía was raised by prominent Sandinista revolutionaries and draws inspiration from Jesuit teachings. In this stirring book, he argues passionately for human rights and the end to an unjust war.

Road from ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejía

Friday, April 11, 2008

The (Absolut) Mexican Body Politic

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The distillers of Sweden's Absolut vodka have withdrawn an advertisement run in Mexico that angered many U.S. citizens by idealizing an early 19th century map showing chunks of the United States as Mexican.

The billboard ad has the slogan "In an Absolut World" slapped over a pre-1848 map showing California, Arizona and other U.S. states as Mexican territory. Those states were carved out of what had been Mexican lands until that year.

Although it was not shown in the United States, U.S. media outlets picked up on the ad, and after a barrage of complaints, Absolut's maker said on Sunday the ad campaign would cease.

Defending the campaign last week, Absolut maker Vin & Spirit said the ad was created "with a Mexican sensibility" and was not meant for the U.S. market.

"In no way was this meant to offend or disparage, nor does it advocate an altering of borders, nor does it lend support to any anti-American sentiment, nor does it reflect immigration issues," a spokeswoman wrote on Absolut's Web site.

"Instead, it hearkens to a time which the population of Mexico may feel was more ideal," she wrote.

Absolut's blog cite has received more than a thousand comments since the ad campaign was launched a few weeks ago, with many calling for boycotts of the Swedish company.

"I have poured the remainder of my Absolut bottles down the sink," one blogger wrote.

A war between Mexico and the United States from 1846 to 1848 started with Mexico's refusal to recognize the U.S. annexation of Texas and ended with the occupation of Mexico City by U.S. troops.

At the end, Mexico ceded nearly half of its territory to the United States, forming the states of California, Nevada, Utah and parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming.

Mexicans remain sensitive about the loss and the location of the border. At the same time, the United States is fortifying barriers to keep out undocumented Mexican migrants.

Some Mexicans use the term "Reconquista" (reconquest) to refer to the growing presence in California of Mexican migrants and their descendants.

France's Pernod Ricard is taking over Absolut vodka, one of the world's top-selling spirit brands, after buying Vin & Spirit from the Swedish government at the end of March.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich, editing by Philip Barbara)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Green-card Marine: The Latino Body at War

Mario Ramos-Villalta of El Salvador has served two combat tours in Iraq, but has yet to get U.S. citizenship.

'Green-card Marine' prepares for 3rd deployment

He's fought twice in Iraq and survived an attack on his Humvee in October 2005. Now, he's preparing for deployment to Afghanistan.

Yet he's not even an American. He's a citizen of El Salvador serving in the U.S. military.

"A lot of the papers I get [say], 'You're a great American,'" the 22-year-old Purple Heart recipient says. "I am not an American citizen yet, but I still fight for it."

He adds, "Sometimes, I do get depressed about still not being a U.S. citizen and going over there."

Dead Citizenship and the Latino Body

Posthumous citizenship for US Latino and other subaltern troops killed in Iraq brings conflicted feelings for families


AP Special Correspondent

A young, ambitious immigrant from Guatemala who dreamed of becoming an architect. A Nigerian medic. A soldier from China who boasted he would one day become an American general. An Indian native whose headstone displays the first Khanda, emblem of the Sikh faith, to appear in Arlington National Cemetery.

These were among more than 100 foreign-born members of the U.S. military who earned American citizenship by dying in Iraq.

Jose Gutierrez was one of the first to fall, killed by friendly fire in the dust of Umm Qasr in the opening hours of the invasion.

In death, the young Marine was showered with honors his family could only have dreamed of in life. His sister was flown in from Guatemala for his memorial service, where a Roman Catholic cardinal presided and top military officials saluted his flag-draped coffin.

And yet, his foster mother agonized as she accompanied his body back for burial in Guatemala City: Why did Jose have to die for America in order to truly belong?

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, who oversaw Gutierrez's service, put it differently.

"There is something terribly wrong with our immigration policies if it takes death on the battlefield in order to earn citizenship," Mahony wrote to President Bush in April 2003. He urged the president to grant immediate citizenship to all immigrants who sign up for military service in wartime.

"They should not have to wait until they are brought home in a casket," Mahony said.

But as the war continues, more and more immigrants are becoming citizens in death -- and more and more families are grappling with deeply conflicting feelings about exactly what the honor means.

Gutierrez's citizenship certificate -- dated to his death on March 21, 2003, -- was presented during a memorial service in Lomita, Calif., to Nora Mosquera, who took in the orphaned teen after he had trekked through Central America, hopping freight trains through Mexico before illegally sneaking into the U.S.

"On the one hand I felt that citizenship was too late for him," Mosquera said. "But I also felt grateful and very proud of him. I knew it would open doors for us as a family."

"What use is a piece of paper?" cried Fredelinda Pena after another emotional naturalization ceremony, this one in New York City where her brother's framed citizenship certificate was handed to his distraught mother. Next to her, the infant daughter he had never met dozed in his fiancée's arms.

Cpl. Juan Alcantara, 22, a native of the Dominican Republic was killed Aug. 6, 2007 by an explosive in Baqouba. He was buried by a cardinal and eulogized by a congressman but to his sister, those tributes seemed as hollow as citizenship.

"He can't take the oath from a coffin," she sobbed.

There are tens of thousands of foreign-born members in the U.S. armed forces. Many have been naturalized, but more than 20,000 are not U.S. citizens.

"Green card soldiers," they are often called, and early in the war, Bush signed an executive order making them eligible to apply for citizenship as soon as they enlist. Previously, legal residents in the military had to wait three years.

Since Bush's order, nearly 37,000 soldiers have been naturalized. And 109 who lost their lives have been granted posthumous citizenship.

They are buried with purple hearts and other decorations, and their names are engraved on tombstones in Arlington as well as in Mexico and India and Guatemala.

Among them:

- Marine Cpl. Armando Ariel Gonzalez, 25, who fled Cuba on a raft with his father and brother in 1995 and dreamed of becoming an American firefighter. He was crushed by a refueling tank in southern Iraq on April 14, 2003.

- Army Spc. Justin Onwordi, a 28-year-old Nigerian medic whose heart seemed as big as his smiling 6-foot-4 frame and who left behind a wife and baby boy. He died when his vehicle was blown up in Baghdad on Aug. 2, 2004.

- Army Pfc. Ming Sun, 20, of China who loved the U.S. military so much he planned to make a career out of it, boasting that he would rise to the rank of general. He was killed in a firefight in Ramadi on Jan. 9, 2007.

- Army Spc. Uday Singh, 21, of India, killed when his patrol was attacked in Habbaniyah on Dec.1, 2003. Singh was the first Sikh to die in battle as a U.S. soldier, and it is his headstone at Arlington that displays the Khanda.

- Marine Lance Cpl. Patrick O'Day from Scotland, buried in the California rain as bagpipes played and his 19-year-old pregnant wife told mourners how honored her 20-year-old husband had felt to fight for the country he loved.

"He left us in the most honorable way a man could," Shauna O'Day said at the March 2003 Santa Rosa service. "I'm proud to say my husband is a Marine. I'm proud to say my husband fought for our country. I'm proud to say he is a hero, my hero."

Not all surviving family members feel so sure. Some parents blame themselves for bringing their child to the U.S. in the first place. Others face confusion and resentment when they try to bury their child back home.

At Lance Cpl. Juan Lopez's July 4, 2004, funeral in the central Mexican town of San Luis de la Paz, Mexican soldiers demanded that the U.S. Marine honor guard surrender their arms, even though the rifles were ceremonial. Earlier, the Mexican Defense Department had denied the Marines' request to conduct the traditional 21-gun salute, saying foreign troops were not permitted to bear arms on Mexican soil.

And so mourners, many deeply opposed to the war, witnessed an extraordinary 45-minute standoff that disrupted the funeral even as Lopez's weeping widow was handed his posthumous citizenship by a U.S. embassy official.

The same swirl of conflicting emotions and messages often overshadows the military funerals of posthumous citizens in the U.S.

Smuggled across the Mexican border in his mother's arms when he was 2 months old, Jose Garibay was just 21 when he died in Nasiriyah. The Costa Mesa police department made him an honorary police officer, something he had hoped one day to become. America made him a citizen.

But his mother, Simona Garibay, couldn't conceal her bewilderment and pain. It seemed, she said in interviews after the funeral, that more value was being placed on her son's death than on his life.

Immigrant advocates have similar mixed feelings about military service. Non-citizens cannot become officers or serve in high-security jobs, they note, and yet the benefits of citizenship are regularly pitched by recruiters, and some recruitment programs specifically target colleges and high schools with predominantly Latino students.

"Immigrants are lured into service and then used as political pawns or cannon fodder," said Dan Kesselbrenner, executive director of the National Immigration Project, a program of the National Lawyers Guild. "It is sad thing to see people so desperate to get status in this country that they are prepared to die for it."

Others question whether non-citizens should even be permitted to serve. Mark Krikorian of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, argues that defending America should be the job of Americans, not non-citizens whose loyalty might be suspect. In granting special benefits, including fast-track citizenship, Krikorian says, there is a danger that soldiering will eventually become yet another job that Americans won't do.

And yet, immigrants have always fought -- and died -- in America's wars.

During the Cvil War, the Union army recruited Irish and German immigrants off the boat. Alfred Rascon, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, received the Medal of Honor for acts of bravery during the Vietnam war. In the 1990s, Gen. John Shalikashvili, born in Poland after his family fled the occupied Republic of Georgia, became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

After the Iraq invasion, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico fielded hundreds of requests from Mexicans offering to fight in exchange for citizenship. They mistakenly believed that Bush's order also applied to nonresidents.

The right to become an American is not automatic for those who die in combat. Families must formally apply for citizenship within two years of the soldier's death, and not all choose to do so.

"He's Italian, better to leave it like that," Saveria Romeo says of her 23-year-old son, Army Staff Sgt. Vincenzo Romeo who was born in Calabria, died in Iraq and is buried in New Jersey. A miniature Italian flag marks his grave, next to an American one.

"What good would it do?" she says. "It won't bring back my son."

But it would allow her to apply for citizenship for herself, a benefit only recently offered to surviving parents and spouses. Until 2003 posthumous citizenship was granted only through an act of Congress and was purely symbolic. There were no benefits for next of kin.

Romeo says she has no desire to apply. She couldn't bear to benefit in any way from her son's death, she says. And besides, she feels Italian, not American.

Fernando Suarez del Solar just feels angry -- angry at what he considers the futility of a war that claimed his only son, angry at the military recruiters he says courted young Jesus relentlessly even when the family still lived in Tijuana.

His son was just 13, Suarez del Solar said, when he was first dazzled by Marine recruiters in a California mall. For the next two years Jesus begged the family to emigrate and eventually they did, settling in Escondido, Calif., where the teen signed up for the Marines before he left high school.

Lance Cpl. Jesus Suarez Del Solar was 20 when he was killed by a bomb in the first week of the war. He left behind a wife and baby and parents so bitter about his death that they eventually divorced.

Today, his 52-year-old father has become an outspoken peace activist who travels the country organizing anti-war marches, giving speeches and working with counter-recruitment groups to dissuade young Latinos from joining the U.S. military.

"There is nothing in my life now but saving these young people," he says. "It is just something I feel have to do."

But first he had to journey to Iraq. He had to see for himself the dusty stretch of wasteland where his son became an American. In tears, he planted a small wooden cross. And he prayed for his son -- and for all the other immigrants who became citizens in death.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Lou Dobbs vs Murguia


Lou Dobbs attributes pseudo-rise in leprosy (Hansen's Disease) to immigration. His "source," Madeline Cosman, can be seen below.

Lou Dobbs "source" on health source and immigration said, as quoted on Lou Dobbs' show:

This is Madeline Cosman, Dobbs' source. Yes, source, Did you get that?:

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Puerto Rican Body Politic

U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite speaks during a debate in the House Chambers in Washington in this file photo. (ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO / March 20, 2005)

In a stunning collapse of historical, cultural and intellectual memory Ginny Brown-Waite calls residents of Puerto Rico "foreign citizens."

". . . The bill sends hundreds of millions of dollars to people who do not pay federal income taxes, including residents of Puerto Rico and territories like Guam. I do not believe American taxpayer funds should be sent to foreign citizens who do not pay taxes. Americans want an economic stimulus for Dunnellon, Brooksville and Clermont, not for San Juan or Hagatna. As the legislation moves forward, it must be changed to ensure that only federal taxpaying American citizens receive rebate checks."

Dead Citizenship: Guam residents received citizenship in 1950. Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens since 1917 when the U.S. needed additional "bodies" at the end of WWI.