A Merry Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year

Let's hope it's a good one -- without any tears. War is over. If you want it.


Anjelah Nicole Johnson - Latina Comic

This video is an uncut version of Anjelah Nicole Johnson's hilarious trip to the nail salon. Before the salon bit, Anjelah -- who's of Mexican and Native American heritage -- pokes fun at Latino parenting.

Originally from San Jose, California, Anjelah, 27, is a stand-up comedian, actress, model and former NFL Cheerleader. And she's very funny.

Anjelah Johnson - MySpace
Anjelah Johnson - Wikipedia
Anjelah Johnson - Comedy Central


Lenina Nadal: A Suburican Writer Searches for Home

Being a woman of color writer is a process of self-definition and a constant search for community. Though still searching, it seems to me that nothing touches my soul more than the lyrics of those who challenge the political and cultural boundaries of American society.

"Suburican" is a Boricua raised in the suburbs, in other words, me. I was socialized in a racially segregated, relatively conservative city in Long Island, Long Beach, NY. While there was always a shallow acceptance or "tolerance" of others, the school's tracking system, housing patterns, and areas of employment revealed a town that was narrowly divided around race and class.

While progressive English teachers incorporated " The House on Mango Street" and "Down These Mean Streets" into the curriculum, I only knew of Latino literature as reflecting the immigrant experience and talking about "growing up." So instead of relating to author Piri Thomas as a validator of my existence, I was mostly intrigued by the lives of Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, George Elliot, James Baldwin and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Like these authors, I felt alienated from my community because I saw past the "we are all the same" agenda pushed and crammed into our brains by every teacher that uttered the word diversity. Even after a 100 person race riot in our high school's cafeteria, we were still not allowed to have our own clubs based on ethnicity or talk about blatant divisions. It seemed that any time we spoke of race as an issue, we were encouraged to believe it was an illusion.

This frustration led to me to adopting the style and demeanor of the non-conformist, I was a woman poet, Puerto Rican Beatnik, my religion, transcendentalism, my music, alternative and classic rock. Reading Nuyorican poetry opened my eyes to a type of Latino literature where the poet was symbiotic with a social movement, living in another dimension, testing boundaries.



James F. Castro-Blanco Declares for Yonkers City Council President

Lawyer James F. Castro-Blanco, 50, has declared his intentions to run for the position of Yonkers City Council President in the '09 municipal elections.

Yonkers with 200,000 residents is tied with Upstate Rochester for third place. However, with twice as many Latinos than Rochester (28k), Yonkers (60k) has no Latino on its City Council. Castro-Blanco hopes to fill that void by presiding as the council's leader. If he wins the GOP's backing, he'll be pitted against one term incumbent Democrat Chuck Schorr Lesnick.

Yonkers is a middle-class city in New York's Westchester County abutting the northern border of the Bronx. It's a city that has had major issues with racial segregation in housing and in its public schools. Accordingly, its politics at the mayoral level has been dominated by Republicans--although the council is now under Democratic control.

Castro-Blanco is with the Wilson Elser law firm's White Plains office. He graduated from Brooklyn Law School ('91) and the State University of New York at Albany('88). And he's a member of both the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and the Hispanic National Bar Association. He also Past President of the Puerto Rican Bar Association and of the Puerto Rican Bar Association Annual Scholarship Fund.

Castro-Blanco is a member of the Board of Directors of PALS and of the Yonkers Puerto Rican/Hispanic Day Parade Foundation.

James Castro-Blanco to Launch Campaign for Yonkers City Council President
James Castro-Blanco, Esq.
James F. Castro-Blanco
Yonkers Puerto Rican/Hispanic Parade
NY city of Yonkers announces layoffs


Ricky Martín's Babies - Twins Matteo and Valentino

Not to be outdone by Jennifer and Angelina, Ricky went and had his own twins--Matteo and Valentino--via surrogacy. And they're adorable!

As per Hollywood tradition, Ricky's now 4 month old babies are introduced to the world via the cover of People, too. Jennifer and Angelina collected seven figure fees for their work; unclear what was Ricky's take. But that's not what's important, is it? It's really all about the babies--and they're really very cute.

Enrique Martín Morales (aka, Ricky) tells the magazine he's balancing his career while caring for twins himself. What? No nanny for Ricky's little hombres! Hmmmm. Either the next installment of La Vida Loca can be done very quietly from his tropical mansion or his partner--not that I'm saying he has one--is on diaper duty.

One question: What's with the Jacksonesque grasp?


Marga Gomez' Funny Life

In this clip, Marga Gomez talks about the emotional high of Barack Obama's election followed by the low of the California Gay marriage ban. She knows how to turn pain into laughter. It's a skill she honed as a young woman.

The daughter of Cuban comedian Wilfredo Gomez (aka, Willy Chevalier) and Puerto Rican dancer Margarita Estremera, Marga was raised in Manhattan and Long Island's Massapequa. (Talk about extremes!) It was her experience as a lonely and only Latina at the Massapequa High School, along with the family performance gene that she credits with turning her onto comedy.

An upcoming comedic venture is called Long Island Iced Latina. Here's the blurb:

Gomez continues to workshop this intoxicating comedic memoir of her awkward adolescence in Massapequa, Long Island, mixing equal parts cultural confusion, chronic virginity, mother-daughter instability and a splash of polyester fashion to paint a sardonic picture of her uprooted life as the new brown girl in a white high school.

January 8 – January 17, 2009
Marga Gomez’s
The Marsh Theatre
1062 Valencia
San Francisco, California
Two weeks of Workshop Performances
Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 8 pm
Tickets $15-$50

Marga Gomez - MySpace
Marga Gomez Videos
The Marsh's new Winter-Spring season
Marga Gomez -Wikipedia
Marga Gomez -Answers

From Miss Gomez to “jaded lesbian,” Marga Gomez grows up?

The War on Latino Immigrants Escalates: Jose Osvaldo Sucuzhañay Slain in Bushwick

Another Latino has been murdered in the glacial moraine known as Long Island.

Jose Osvaldo Sucuzhañay and his brother Romel were savagely attacked early Monday morning by a gang wielding beer bottles and bats. Jose was pronounced brain dead yesterday. The attack occurred in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn (Southwestern Long Island).

As in the killing of Marcelo Lucero a month earlier in Patchogue, Long Island, and the earlier slaying of Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, PA, the attackers were a hate-filled pack of thugs prowling the night in search of victims. In all three cases, the gangs zeroed in on Latino immigrants walking home.

Unlike the other murders, the attackers in Bushwick were Black and they escaped in an SUV. In addition to using anti-Latino slurs, the attackers used anti-gay slurs in the mistaken belief that the brothers were a gay couple.

The domestic war against Latinos escalates with Jose and the Sucuzhañay family as its latest victims. But while nativists focus like a laser beam in waging their ugly war, the larger community of decent Americans are asleep at the switch. The result is that it's literally open season on Latinos--especially on the most vulnerable working late hours and travelling on foot or bicycle.

Photo: Diego Sucuzhañay, brother of Jose, addressing the media

Attack on Ecuadorean Brothers Investigated as Hate Crime
Brooklyn victim of bias attack Jose Sucuzhanay taken off life support
Task force hunting Brooklyn thugs in hate attack on immigrant


Told You So...Nativist GOP is a Loser!

Since this December '06 post, I have been warning the GOP that nativism against Latino immigrants is a political loser -- and they would seal their own fate in '08 if they didn't change course.

Between then and the election a few weeks ago, I wrote over two dozen posts on this very issue. (See links to some below). A train wreck was coming. But the GOP turned deaf.

Of course, they wouldn't listen to a pro-immigration Latino blogger, but they tuned out their own as well. It was like they collectively covered their ears and yelled nah, nah, nah, nah...at the top of their lungs to tune out the warnings of Linda Chavez, Clint Bolick, Mel Martinez, George W. Bush, Wall Street Journal and John McCain and others.

I'm not one to say 'I told you so', but I really did warn them early and often. And I'll tell them again. Nativism may help marginal politicians in loser districts and counties. BUT IT WILL DESTROY ANY POLITICAL PARTY IN AMERICA THAT PURPORTS TO BE MAINSTREAM. Period!

Nativism is both an individual as well as a social illness. And today's GOP has an especially virulent strain. It's an illness which causes its victims to think and behave irrationally, including self-destructing. Unfortunately, the self-destruction is usually proceeded by feverish frenzy to bash those outside the tribe.

The following are a few articles since the election in support of what I've been saying for two years.

Republicans: Fenced In By ImmigrationUntil now, the conventional wisdom has been that illegal immigration is a wedge issue that works to mobilize “the base” in the Republican Party, win over swing voters frustrated with the problem, and hurt Democrats who support comprehensive immigration reform. Conventional wisdom has also held that the number of Latino voters who could hold anti-immigrant politicians accountable for their rhetoric is too small to make a difference outside of Democratic strongholds. This election stands that conventional wisdom on its head.

More Immigration Losers
Immigration wasn't a dominant issue this fall, and other factors contributed more to the GOP defeat. But the political reality is that Republicans who thought that channeling Lou Dobbs would save their seats will soon be ex-Members.

THE GOP & THE HISPANIC VOTER Full throttle on wrong track
Hispanics voted 67 percent for Barack Obama, playing a key role in flipping Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Florida to the Democratic column. Even more frightening for Republicans is the strong possibility that Latino voters could soon deliver Texas and Arizona to the Democrats. If this happens, Republicans can turn out the lights on their presidential hopes, lock the door and go on vacation for a decade or three.

Immigration: Fresh blood for reform
Immigrant rights groups are casting an eye toward five newly elected, pro-immigration-reform senators they hope will examine immigration issues in a different light. They are Mark Warner of Virginia, Mark Udall of Colorado, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Tom Udall of New Mexico.

Hispanic Panic for the GOPWhat happened? Many blame the debate over comprehensive immigration reform, which produced fierce legislative showdowns in 2006 and 2007. "It was the tone of the debate," says Diaz-Balart. "The tone of some Republicans was offensive to the vast majority of Hispanics." He believes this "had a devastating effect" on the party's standing with Latino voters.

Hispanics will make Texas Democrat-friendly, some say
A major measure that would have given illegal immigrants a path to citizenship failed last year after a revolt from conservatives, who denounced it as an amnesty for lawbreakers. "If they do that again, it's going to be catastrophic for the Republican Party," he said.

Latinos supported Obama with huge majorities
According to an analysis by the Democratic group NDN, Latinos were key to Obama's victory.

Immigration steered Latinos to Obama
The challenge now, he said, is that [George W. Bush and John McCain] who represented the best hope for Republicans to connect with Latino voters on issues that matter to them, particularly immigration, have been spent.

A Nativist GOP Wired to Fail in a Diverse America
A Blue Texas? Latinos Will Decide

Maria Hinojosa Speaks Spanglish with Bill Santiago

Latino USA's Maria Hinojosa speaks with comedian Bill Santiago about his new book, Pardon My Spanglish ¡Porque Because!.

Click here for the audio.

Bill Santiago - Latino Nuyorican Comic
Bill Santiago's Website
Bill Santiago - MySpace
Pardon My Spanglish


David González: Legacy of Ramon Vélez

Acknowledging Ramon Vélez' place in the history of Bronx community and political life, Falcón believes that it would be dishonest to obscure the less savory aspects of the man. He has called for a critical assessment of the man many Bronx Latinos knew as Padrino.

In A Second Look at a Bronx Baron’s Methods, NYTimes columnist David González, who hails from the Bronx and later covered Vélez at the pinnacle of power, begins that process.

González -- as does Falcón -- takes a classic progressive lens to Vélez. As such, he sees a bare knuckles politico who used the social welfare system to enrich himself and monopolize local politics. He likens Velez to Tammany Hall's George Washington Plunkitt, a City politico from a century ago who became wealthy by means of what he called "honest graft."

There's an honest graft, and I'm an example of how it works. I might sum up the whole thing by sayin': "I seen my opportunities and I took'em."
But I'm not sure that self-enrichment through "honest graft" is the only issue here. Certainly, it's still a key part of the art of politics as practiced across the City and beyond. For example, Hillary Clinton commodities futures bonanza, Al Sharpton's suits, Charlie Rangel's four rent-controlled apartments, school superintendents with half a million a year pensions, etc.

What bothers González and many others is that Vélez not only enriched himself with funds intended for the poor, but that he flaunted it. Additionally, he succeeded in institutionalizing a corrupt political culture that continues to do great harm to the people of the Bronx.

“These guys wrap themselves in the flag, and then you see even progressive people making excuses for them,” said Angelo Falcón. “But what do they leave behind for the future? I don’t think anybody can say Puerto Rican politics in the Bronx is any kind of model of anything. It’s a mess.”
Velez was a significant player/actor in the Latino history of the Bronx, but to Gonzalez and Falcón, he leaves a troubling legacy. Instead, González points to Evelina Antonetty and Antonia Pantoja as truly worthy examples of Bronx community leaders who made great contributions and built enduring institutions and legacies, but did it without enriching themselves or using tainted politics.

The death of Vélez, the infighting among Bronx Latino pols, combined with the defeat of José Rivera as Bronx Democratic Party Boss, may signal the beginning of the end to Latino 'Patrino' politics.

Photo: Ramon Vélez in his prime


Padrino, El Jefe, El Gordo, Emperor of the South Bronx, Activist or Power Broker - Ramon S. Vélez; R.I.P.

Beloved by the poor and maligned by his political enemies when he dominated South Bronx politics, Ramon Santiago Vélez Ramirez, the former South Bronx anti-poverty baron and political godfather died Sunday after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease at age 75. He is survived by his wife, Caroline Fitzpatrick; six children; six grandchildren; two sisters; and a brother.

Vélez' burial took place in his hometown of Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, where he was born and raised.

A pioneer in the rise of the Latino community and political leader, Vélez built the Hunts Point Multi-Services Center into a major medical and social service provider network serving New York City's impoverished and heavily Latino South Bronx. The write-up on Vélez in organization's website lists an amazing number of achievements, including:

    • Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center
    • Advocating for bilingual education in the New York City School System
    • Registering more than 500,000 Spanish-speaking voters following the abolition of discriminatory language requirements
    • Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College
    • Developing more than 25,000 new or renovated apartment units
    • Building 3 senior citizens' complexes
    • Hunts Point Multi-Service Center, Inc. and its network of health clinics, mental health programs, drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation services and innovative Day Care and Head Start Centers
    • National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc., which sponsors the nation's largest ethnic parade held annually in New York City
A graduate of Puerto Rico's Interamerican University with a degree in History and Political Science, he studied law at the University of Salamanca in Spain and he served a stint in the U.S. Army. Vélez has received honorary doctorates from The World University of Puerto Rico, Peoples University of the Americas, and Mercy College of Dobbs Ferry, New York. And is work has been recognized by the City of New York, the Assembly and Senate of the State of New York, and several Presidents of the United States.

Vélez started his career as a school teacher in Puerto Rico, but switched to social work when he arrived in New York City at age 28 in the early '60s. With a $50,000 grant from the Johnson administration’s war on poverty, Vélez began his accent as the undisputed master of government fundraising.

No wilting flower, Vélez fought to secure a "fair share" of federal anti-poverty funds for the people of the South Bronx -- a long neglected community that was literally left to burn. In the process he established himself as a political force in New York. National and local political candidates of both major parties trekked up to the Bronx for Vélez' blessing. His formidable political network is credited with producing leaders such as former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, Congressman Jose Serrano, State Senator Ruben Diaz, Assemblyman Ruben Diaz Jr., and former Assemblyman Roberto Ramirez.

Here's a clip from a NYTimes write-up:

Although [Vélez] served just a single term in the Council and ran unsuccessfully for Congress twice, Vélez was the political godfather to a number of Bronx politicians — from United States Representative José E. Serrano to members of the City Council and State Senate. And, in many ways, in a city with a storied legacy of political bosses, he became the first Puerto Rican political boss. His most celebrated political triumph a hugely successful voter registration drive that produced nearly a half million new voters, most of them Puerto Rican.
Q: Remember in the '80s when it was fashionable to bash poor people of color -- e.g., Ronald Reagan's Welfare Queen? NYC's Ed Koch at the time pandered to the outer borough 'Archie Bunker' voters by blasting Velez as a "Poverty Pimp". It was a so thinly veiled racism, IMHO. But at the funeral service Koch had this to say about the smear: [It] "was based on rumor. But when we investigated him, we could find no corruption. From that point on, we were friendly with each other."

Really! So Vélez' reputation was stained for 25 years based on a lie? We learn at the man's funeral that the attacks on him were just politics?

Nonetheless, Vélez was a bigger than life character -- everyone agrees. But as with others operating between the gaps of unrelenting poverty and a tide of government money, it's easy to see where personal ambition can at times trump the public good. Some argue that that's the case with Vélez. So instead of rushing to canonize El Difunto, Angelo Falcon calls calls for a more sober assessment of the life and times of the very mortal Ramon S. Vélez. May he rest in peace.

The Legacy of Ramon Velez and the Social Amnesia of a Community
Ramon Velez, Community Organizer and Power Broker, Inspired His New York Community Velez larger than life, for good and for ill
Ramon S. Velez, the South Bronx Padrino, Dies at 75
Rinden tributo póstumo a Ramón Vélez
Anti-poverty baron Ramon Velez, 75
Mourners Remember a Bronx Political Force
In The Bronx, An Antipoverty Empire Tries To Shed A Power-Broker Past


Runover by the GOP LOCO-motive, Senator Mel Martinez Cries 'No Mas'

The Hill is reporting that Republican Senator Mel Martinez will NOT run for re-election in Florida in 2010. Caught between Republican nativism, Bush incompetence, and a changing Florida, Martinez has chosen to step aside and not seek re-election.

Actually, I'm not sure Martinez had much of a choice. At this point, he probably couldn't win back the mayor's seat in Orlando. His popularity has taken a major hit for reasons, including:

1) long-standing ties to the very unpopular Bush administration
2) support for immigration reform that made him a target of the GOP nativists
4) an unsuccessful stint last year as Bush's pick to chair the Republican National Committee
5) and Florida's continuing movement from Red to Blue state.

However, Martinez and the GOP were in trouble when Bush felt compelled to install Martinez as RNC chairmen in the aftermath of the massive defeat of the administration's pathetic efforts at immigration reform.

The goal was to reassure Latino Republicans nervous about the direction of the GOP, but it didn't work. The wingnuts led by Tom Tancredo, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity were more emboldened and smelled Latino blood. As I recall, they immediately attacked Martinez, even suggesting that a Latino immigrant should not be their party's leader. (See links to the Martinez posts below.)

Here's what I wrote after Martinez' first interview as RNC Chair (1/21/07):

Hmmm. A Latino Chairman of the Republican Party promising to create a party in which Latinos as well as African Americans are comfortable is refreshing. Certainly, Bay Buchanan and Tom Tancredo can't be lovin what they’re hearing.
And here's what I wrote just 8 months later when Martinez announced that he would be stepping down as RNC Chairman:

Clearly, Martinez does not want to be associated with a GOP presidential campaign likely to go down in flames in part due to its anti-Latino, anti-immigrant and anti-African American baggage.

There's a GOP train wreck in the making--and Martinez is leaving before it crushes him, too.
Well, the careening, belching LOCO-motive crushed him.

Sen. Martinez won’t run for re-election in 2010
Mel Martinez To Exit the GOP Train Wreck
Now We're All Responsible for Fixing Immigration
GOP Opposition Grows Against Iraq War
Republican Presidential Hopefuls Diss 1,000 Latino Leaders
Martinez to Diversify the GOP
Martinez Wins Against the Will of Bigots
RightWing Blackboots Go After Senator Martinez

National Indigenous Festival of Jayuya: Celebrating Our Taíno Heritage

Today's NYTimes includes a story on the National Indigenous Festival of Jayuya, it's pageant, and the growing importance among Puerto Ricans of our Taíno roots. Here's an excerpt of the story as well as a link to the accompanying photo series:

“It’s different,” said Félix González, president of the National Indigenous Festival of Jayuya, of which the pageant is a part. “It’s not white culture and blue eyes; it says that the part of our blood that comes from indigenous culture is just as important.”

Puerto Ricans have long considered themselves a mix of African, European and Native American influences. But since the 1960s, the Taíno — a tribe wiped from the Antilles by European conquest, disease and assimilation — has come to occupy a special place in the island’s cultural hierarchy.

The streets of Old San Juan are lined with museums and research centers dedicated to unearthing Taíno artifacts and rituals. Children are taught from a young age that “hurricane” is Taíno in origin, from the word “huracán,” while no Latin pop music concert is complete without a shout out to Boricuas — those from Borinquen, the Taíno name for Puerto Rico, which means “land of the brave noble lord.”

The ties may be more than cultural. In 2003, Juan Martinez Cruzado, a geneticist at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, found that at least 61 percent of Puerto Ricans possess remnants of Taíno DNA — and nearly all seem to believe they belong in that group.

“The Indian heritage is very important because it unites the Puerto Rican community,” said Miguel Rodríguez López, an archaeologist with the Center for Advanced Studies of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, an independent graduate school in San Juan. “There is a feeling that it represents our primary roots.”

He added, “It is our symbolic identity.”


A Nativist GOP Wired to Fail in a Diverse America

Today's GOP is under the firm grip of a pack of vicious, nativistic and egotistical loudmouths. For a political party its a deathly defect. Neal Gabler call's it the GOP's McCarthy gene. He theorizes that it's this "something deep in the DNA of the Republican Party that determines how Republicans run for office". They are repelled and even angered by diversity.

"Republicans continue to push the idea that this is a center-right country and that Americans have swooned for GOP anti-government posturing all these years, but the real electoral bait has been anger, recrimination and scapegoating. That's why John McCain kept describing Barack Obama as some sort of alien and why Palin, taking a page right out of the McCarthy playbook, kept pushing Obama's relationship with onetime radical William Ayers.

There may be assorted intellectuals and ideologues in the party, maybe even a few centrists, but there is no longer an intellectual or even ideological wing. The party belongs to McCarthy and his heirs -- Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Palin. It's in the genes."

It's this part of the GOP's political DNA that accounts for the post-9/11 explosion of xenophobia, bigotry and racism. And just like McCarthy's witch hunts in the '50s gravelly wounded the once proud party of Lincoln, so again its modern day base instincts for fear mongering, intimidation, scapegoating and bluster are causing it to implode.

Nativist GOP losers are a growing list, including George Allen, Randy Graf, J. D. Hayworth, Virgil Goode, Lou Barletta, Tom Tancredo, Mitt Romney, Elizabeth Dole, John McCain and Sarah Palin.

It's why the GOP lost the once reliably red states of Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado to Barack Obama.

And it's why the GOP will likely lose Arizona, Texas and even Georgia in the not so distant future.

It's even why the Waco-Tribune -- in the heart of Red Texas -- had this to say in its post-presidential election wrap-up: The big question is if the GOP can reach beyond its far-right constituency and put aside the politics of hate and division that sank the McCain-Palin ticket. Otherwise, party hard-liners will lead it to further defeat.

Unfortunately for the party, that's not likely. As Neal Gabler observes:

And that is also why the Republican Party, despite the recent failure of McCarthyism, is likely to keep moving rightward, appeasing its more extreme elements and stoking their grievances for some time to come.
A Blue Texas? Latinos Will Decide
GOP's Racist, Anti-Latino Ad in Georgia U.S. Senate Run-off
Latinos Rising Lance a Nativist GOP?
Hispanic voters gaining strength in key states
The GOP's Bitter Harvest to Come
A Xenophobic Zeitgeist - Erasing GOP Latino Gains
WSJ -- The GOP's Anti-Latino Tone is a Loser
Linda Chavez: GOP's Self-Inflicted Wound
Republican Presidential Hopefuls Diss 1,000 Latino Leaders
The Coming Latino Voter Response to the Failure of Immigration Reform
Republicans: nativism is a proven loser
Clint Bolick: The GOP Must Now Prove Itself to Latinos
Linda Chavez' The Company You Keep: In Search of anti-Hispanic hostility
GOP Risks Losing Latino Voters

Photos (Top to Bottom): Joe McCarthy, Patrick Buchanan, Sean Hannity, Tom Tancredo, Lou Barletta)


A Blue Texas? Latinos Will Decide

As Latinos tilt Democratic, can Texas stay ‘red’?

That's the question Michael B. Farrell examines in his terrific article in today's Christian Science Monitor. While he doesn't give an answer, he lays out some of the political and demographic trends shaping the outcome. For example:

    • Texas' major cities are now controlled by Democrats
    • Texas recently joined California, New Mexico and Hawaii as a minority majority state
    • Texas Latinos comprise 36% of the population (eclipsing the Anglo pop. by 2020)
    • Texas in-migration of Anglos are typically younger, more urban and more progressive than are native Anglo Texans
    • Nationally, younger Latinos backed Obama 76% to 19% for McCain
    • Texas Anglos is an aging demographic (e.g., 70% of people older than 60 in Harris County/Houston are Anglo, while more than 75% of people younger than 30 are non-Anglo)
Of course, changes in demographics alone will not decide the fate of a political party. After all, immigrant groups have been known to migrate politically as they solidified their middle class status, and the same thing could happen with Latinos and other populations in Texas. It is, in part, how President G. W. Bush managed to get 46% of the Texas Latino vote in '04.

And there's always the possibility -- slim as it may be -- of the party exorcising itself and transforming into a competent, humane and forward thinking option more in-sync with peoples' aspirations instead of their fears.

But actions and words matter. And Republicans of late have been hell bent on scapegoating all of the nation's problems on immigrants -- Latino immigrants in particular. Some of their leading nativist propagandists--Lou Dobbs, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Tom Tancredo, Patrick Buchanan, Michael Savage, and many others--view Latinos in general as a threat.

As a result, Republicans have been steadily losing Latino support. According to Pew, Latino support for the GOP dropped 9% between '04 and '08.

Further dimming their prospects are Republican views on the environment, women's rights, gay rights, labor rights, foreign policy and economics. Harsh conservative views trouble today's younger voters of all stripes -- across the nation as well as in Texas.

Imagine a Texas-less Republican Party. Hard to imagine, right? But nevertheless, likely. Had Texas flipped this year, McCain would have lost by 399 to 137 EVs instead of 365 to 171 trouncing he received. If Texas flips in 2012 or 2016, the damage to the GOP will be even greater if, as expected, 1 or 2 electoral votes are added to its total as per reapportionment.

Barring a catastrophic failure on the part of President Barack Obama and the national Democrats, it's hard to see a scenario whereby Republicans stop Texas from going Blue. They have blown it! Nativism, warmongering and economic incompetence are just not selling points for people looking for brighter futures.

Related: Changing Face of Texas: Population Projections and Implications


Thanksgiving: The National Day of Mourning - Text of 1970 Speech by Wamsutta, an Aquinnah Wampanoag Elder

Frank James (1923 - February 20, 2001) was known to the Wampanoag people as Wamsutta. In 1970, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts invited him to speak at Plymouth's annual Thanksgiving feast. When the text of Mr. James’ speech was revealed before dinner, Massachusetts "disinvited" him.

Wamsutta refused to revise his speech and left the event. He went to the hill near the statue of the Massasoit, the Wampanoag leader during the Pilgrims' arrival in 1620. There, overlooking Plymouth Harbor and the replica of the Mayflower, Frank James recited the speech that Massachusetts Commonwealth had refused to hear:

I speak to you as a man -- a Wampanoag Man. I am a proud man, proud of my ancestry, my accomplishments won by a strict parental direction ("You must succeed - your face is a different color in this small Cape Cod community!"). I am a product of poverty and discrimination from these two social and economic diseases. I, and my brothers and sisters, have painfully overcome, and to some extent we have earned the respect of our community. We are Indians first - but we are termed "good citizens." Sometimes we are arrogant but only because society has pressured us to be so.

It is with mixed emotion that I stand here to share my thoughts. This is a time of celebration for you - celebrating an anniversary of a beginning for the white man in America. A time of looking back, of reflection. It is with a heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my People.

Even before the Pilgrims landed it was common practice for explorers to capture Indians, take them to Europe and sell them as slaves for 220 shillings apiece. The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod for four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors and stolen their corn and beans. Mourt's Relation describes a searching party of sixteen men. Mourt goes on to say that this party took as much of the Indians' winter provisions as they were able to carry.

Massasoit, the great Sachem of the Wampanoag, knew these facts, yet he and his People welcomed and befriended the settlers of the Plymouth Plantation. Perhaps he did this because his Tribe had been depleted by an epidemic. Or his knowledge of the harsh oncoming winter was the reason for his peaceful acceptance of these acts. This action by Massasoit was perhaps our biggest mistake. We, the Wampanoag, welcomed you, the white man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end; that before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a free people.

What happened in those short 50 years? What has happened in the last 300 years? History gives us facts and there were atrocities; there were broken promises - and most of these centered around land ownership. Among ourselves we understood that there were boundaries, but never before had we had to deal with fences and stone walls. But the white man had a need to prove his worth by the amount of land that he owned. Only ten years later, when the Puritans came, they treated the Wampanoag with even less kindness in converting the souls of the so-called "savages." Although the Puritans were harsh to members of their own society, the Indian was pressed between stone slabs and hanged as quickly as any other "witch."

And so down through the years there is record after record of Indian lands taken and, in token, reservations set up for him upon which to live. The Indian, having been stripped of his power, could only stand by and watch while the white man took his land and used it for his personal gain. This the Indian could not understand; for to him, land was survival, to farm, to hunt, to be enjoyed. It was not to be abused. We see incident after incident, where the white man sought to tame the "savage" and convert him to the Christian ways of life. The early Pilgrim settlers led the Indian to believe that if he did not behave, they would dig up the ground and unleash the great epidemic again.

The white man used the Indian's nautical skills and abilities. They let him be only a seaman -- but never a captain. Time and time again, in the white man's society, we Indians have been termed "low man on the totem pole.

Has the Wampanoag really disappeared? There is still an aura of mystery. We know there was an epidemic that took many Indian lives - some Wampanoags moved west and joined the Cherokee and Cheyenne. They were forced to move. Some even went north to Canada! Many Wampanoag put aside their Indian heritage and accepted the white man's way for their own survival. There are some Wampanoag who do not wish it known they are Indian for social or economic reasons.

What happened to those Wampanoags who chose to remain and live among the early settlers? What kind of existence did they live as "civilized" people? True, living was not as complex as life today, but they dealt with the confusion and the change. Honesty, trust, concern, pride, and politics wove themselves in and out of their [the Wampanoags'] daily living. Hence, he was termed crafty, cunning, rapacious, and dirty.

History wants us to believe that the Indian was a savage, illiterate, uncivilized animal. A history that was written by an organized, disciplined people, to expose us as an unorganized and undisciplined entity. Two distinctly different cultures met. One thought they must control life; the other believed life was to be enjoyed, because nature decreed it. Let us remember, the Indian is and was just as human as the white man. The Indian feels pain, gets hurt, and becomes defensive, has dreams, bears tragedy and failure, suffers from loneliness, needs to cry as well as laugh. He, too, is often misunderstood.

The white man in the presence of the Indian is still mystified by his uncanny ability to make him feel uncomfortable. This may be the image the white man has created of the Indian; his "savageness" has boomeranged and isn't a mystery; it is fear; fear of the Indian's temperament!

High on a hill, overlooking the famed Plymouth Rock, stands the statue of our great Sachem, Massasoit. Massasoit has stood there many years in silence. We the descendants of this great Sachem have been a silent people. The necessity of making a living in this materialistic society of the white man caused us to be silent. Today, I and many of my people are choosing to face the truth. We ARE Indians!

Although time has drained our culture, and our language is almost extinct, we the Wampanoags still walk the lands of Massachusetts. We may be fragmented, we may be confused. Many years have passed since we have been a people together. Our lands were invaded. We fought as hard to keep our land as you the whites did to take our land away from us. We were conquered, we became the American prisoners of war in many cases, and wards of the United States Government, until only recently.

Our spirit refuses to die. Yesterday we walked the woodland paths and sandy trails. Today we must walk the macadam highways and roads. We are uniting We're standing not in our wigwams but in your concrete tent. We stand tall and proud, and before too many moons pass we'll right the wrongs we have allowed to happen to us.

We forfeited our country. Our lands have fallen into the hands of the aggressor. We have allowed the white man to keep us on our knees. What has happened cannot be changed, but today we must work towards a more humane America, a more Indian America, where men and nature once again are important; where the Indian values of honor, truth, and brotherhood prevail.

You the white man are celebrating an anniversary. We the Wampanoags will help you celebrate in the concept of a beginning. It was the beginning of a new life for the Pilgrims. Now, 350 years later it is a beginning of a new determination for the original American: the American Indian.

There are some factors concerning the Wampanoags and other Indians across this vast nation. We now have 350 years of experience living amongst the white man. We can now speak his language. We can now think as a white man thinks. We can now compete with him for the top jobs. We're being heard; we are now being listened to. The important point is that along with these necessities of everyday living, we still have the spirit, we still have the unique culture, we still have the will and, most important of all, the determination to remain as Indians. We are determined, and our presence here this evening is living testimony that this is only the beginning of the American Indian, particularly the Wampanoag, to regain the position in this country that is rightfully ours.

The 1st 'Official' Thanksgiving Proclaimed June 29, 1676 Following Massacre of Pequot Indians

The 1621 feast between the Pilgrims and the Indians was not the first official Thanksgiving. On June 20, 1676, following the massacre of 700-800 Pequot Indians in Connecticut, the council of Charlestown, Massachusetts unanimously voted to proclaim June 29, 1676, as a day of celebration and Thanksgiving. The following statement was read:

"The Holy God having by a long and Continual Series of his Afflictive dispensations in and by the present Warr with the Heathen Natives of this land, written and brought to pass bitter things against his own Covenant people in this wilderness, yet so that we evidently discern that in the midst of his judgments he hath remembered mercy, having remembered his Footstool in the day of his sore displeasure against us for our sins, with many singular Intimations of his Fatherly Compassion, and regard; reserving many of our Towns from Desolation Threatened, and attempted by the Enemy, and giving us especially of late with many of our Confederates many signal Advantages against them, without such Disadvantage to ourselves as formerly we have been sensible of, if it be the Lord's mercy that we are not consumed, It certainly bespeaks our positive Thankfulness, when our Enemies are in any measure disappointed or destroyed; and fearing the Lord should take notice under so many Intimations of his returning mercy, we should be found an Insensible people, as not standing before Him with Thanksgiving, as well as lading him with our Complaints in the time of pressing Afflictions."
Source: Native Village

THE MASHANTUCKET PEQUOT MUSEUM: The engraving above depicts a stylized view of the assault on the Pequot fort at Mystic. More than 700 Pequot Indians were believed to have been killed during the massacre led by Capt. John Mason in 1637. This engraving was made in 1638.

A Seneca Thanksgiving Prayer

Thanksgiving Prayer from the Seneca (Iroquois), translated by Chuck Larsen, Seneca

You said that we should always be thankful
For our earth and for each other
So it is that we are gathered here
We are your children, Lord of the Sky.
Now again the smoke rises
And again we offer prayers

You said that food should be placed beside us
And it should be ours in exchange for our labor.
You thought that ours should be a world
where green grass of many kinds should grow

You said that some should be medicines
And that one should be Ona'o the sacred food, our sister corn
You gave to her two clinging sisters
beautiful Oa'geta, our sister beans
and bountiful Nyo'sowane, our sister squash
The three sacred sisters; they who sustain us.
This is what you thought, Lord of the Sky.

Thus did you think to provide for us
And you ordered that when the warm season comes,
That we should see the return of life
And remember you, and be thankful,
and gather here by the sacred fire.

So now again the smoke arises
We the people offer our prayers
We speak to you through the rising smoke
We are thankful, Lord of the Sky.

Source: Native Village


¡Feliz Día de Acción de Gracias!

Actually, site of America's first settlement of undocumented immigrants is Caparra, Borikén (aka. Puerto Rico) in 1508 -- 112 years before Pilgrims staggered onto Plymouth.

(BTW: There were at least three established European settlements on the Eastern coast of North American before the arrival of the English refugees at Plymouth.)

Of course, every American child knows that Juan Ponce de Leon entered the American mainland, too -- again, without papers -- near present day Saint Augustine, Florida.

Ponce de Leon's band of brazen border hoppers opened the floodgates to millions of undocumented foreign peasants to sneak into America in search of jobs. America has never recovered.

Happy Thanksgiving!


The Burial of Martyred Immigrant Marcelo Lucero

Video-Journalist Ana P. Gutierrez captures the Lucero and Gualaceo's deep sorrow of the retrieval and funeral of the martyred Marcelo.

The arrival of the body of Marcelo Lucero in Ecuador.

Marcelo's funeral in his hometown of Gualaceo.

Aljazeera on the Murder of Marcelo Lucero


Rosario Lucero Grieves for her son Marcelo

Speaking from her home in Gualaceo, Ecuador, Rosario Lucero -- the grieving mother of the Long Island hate murder victim Marcelo Lucero -- spoke to video-journalist Ana P. Gutierrez.

Ms. Gutierrez captures the dignity, faith and sorrow of the people of Gualaceo in mourning.


Marcello Lucero - A Latino Immigrant Awakening?

I joined 1,000 or so of mourners at last night's outdoor vigil for Marcello Lucero in Patchogue, Long Island.

It was a diverse crowd, young and old, Latino and nonLatino. They came from the Latino precincts of the Patchogue area, as well as from communities across the length of Long Island, including Astoria, Jackson Heights, Sunset Park, Corona, Elmont, Hempstead, Long Beach, Glen Cove, Freeport, Amityville, Huntington, Brentwood, Central Islip, Southampton, Montauk. Some travelled from New Jersey and points further west.

The bulk of those assembled though were Latino immigrants -- most Ecuadorianos.

The vigil was held at the very site of Marcello's murder, on a street along side the Patchogue commuter rail station. It's the back and poorly lit side of the rail station, so one can easily see why the thugs would chose to do their evil work there.

Under a steady drizzle one mourner called 'tears from heaven', the vigil included prayers, chants, speeches and songs offered in Spanish, English and sometimes in both. Many in the audience held flickering candles. Many held home-made signs protesting Marcello's murder or demanding an end to hate. A lit shrine with a large photo of Marcello, religious artifacts, messages and flowers drew a wall of bereaved a hundred deep.

Especially touching was that a two other vigils were held simultaneously last night: One in Marcello's hometown in Ecuador and another in Nanuet, New York. The proceedings in Patchogue were heard by Marcello's mother via cellphone.

People speaking from the podium included a number of politicians:

- State Senator (and Majority Leader to be) Malcolm Smith of Queens who promised to use the full weight of the state to protect New York's immigrant communities.

- Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri who spoke about his family's own immigrant origins in a small town in Italy and how the death of Marcello has wounded the community he loves and has lived in all of his life.

- Assemblyman Phil Ramos condemned the murder of Marcello and the pattern of anti-Latino immigrant violence that has been a shameful part of Suffolk life. He spoke about his experience as a former Suffolk police officer in which he responded to several horrific acts of racist violence against Latino Immigrants.

There were labor leaders who rallied the crowd with chants of 'Justicia', 'Yes, We Can!' and 'Un Pueblo Unido No Puede Ser Vencido!'.

A number of Latin American nations sent their representatives, including Ecuador's Ambassador to the United Nations, embassy officials from Venezuela, El Salvador and others.

There were religious leaders including the Imam of Long Island's Muslim community who offered prayers and solidarity.

Marcello's younger brother spoke again about the need to stop the violence against immigrants who he described as good people, hardworking people.

Latino and immigrant leaders addressed the mourners, including Dr. Luis Valenzuela who called for Suffolk County politicians to stop bashing immigrants. Another noted that Lucero means 'bright star' in Spanish and that Marcello was shining a light towards a better place from his perch in heaven.

Finally, one very animated speaker--whose name and role I didn't get--opened his comments with 'good morning' even though it was night. It wasn't a mistake. His point was that Long Island's Latino community has been asleep for too long, reluctant to stand up for itself. But that last night's large turn out was a sign to him that the community has awakened.

Video: Newsday
Photos: Gerry Vazquez


Hudson Valley Latinos: Franky Perez

The Poughkeepsie Journal's series, What life is like for valley Hispanics, gives its Hudson Valley readers a glimpse into the region's expanding Latino community.

This week they feature a piece on Franky Perez, 40, a guidance counselor in the local high school whose of Dominican heritage.

Very nice.
Poughkeepsie High School guidance counselor Franky Perez was born in Brooklyn to parents who had emigrated from the Dominican Republic and never spoke English at home while he was growing up.

Perez, 40, is the youngest of nine children - the only one not born in the Dominican Republic - and is married to a woman of Irish descent. Like two of his siblings, he attended college. However, he is the only one in his family to receive a master's degree. Actually, he has two of them.

Perez, of New Paltz, maintains strong connections to his heritage.

"Knowing that my parents were immigrants, knowing that they came here for a better life, it helped in shaping me," he said. "I needed to do the best I could in school and make sure I was getting ready for my life in America, understanding what my parents had come from."

Related: What life is like for Hudson Valley Hispanics: Francisco Del Moral and Reyna Garcia, store owners
Latinos' local presence expanding