« June 2005 | Main | August 2005 »

Atole con el dedo no (English & Spanish posts)

Kety Esquivel's Post Spanish (scroll down for english version):

Nosotros los Hispanos somos un pueblo diverso o tal vez mejor dicho de todos colores y sabores.

Pero en medio de toda esta diferencia, lo que nos une es nuestra descendencia Hispana y para muchos la herencia del idioma, el español. No todos los Hispanos hablamos español por supuesto, pero hay una gran mayoría que sí. Y es importante el saber que algunos de nosotros que nunca aprendimos a hablar o escribir bien (yo por ejemplo nunca estudie ortografía- solo se lo que aprendí a la brava- mil disculpas por adelantado por cualquier falta), ya que somos segunda generación, o mita-mita (mitad Hispanos y mitad otra cultura), aun así a muchos nos llama al corazón cuando oímos el idioma o una referencia cultural a nuestro pueblo hispano.

Desdichadamente no todo político a llegado a entender esto. Hay muchos que creen que nosotros los Hispanos tenemos que entender cuando nos hablan de números y programas y estáticas en ingles, punto y aparte. 

Pero desdichadamente si no nos hablan en nuestro idioma y a nuestro estilo cultural muchas veces lo de los números, los programas y las estadísticas se van de largo. Muchos políticos no quieren darse cuenta que nosotros el pueblo hispano, nos identificamos como hispanos y con la cultura y con nuestro idioma y por necios pierden la oportunidad que los oigamos. 

Ahora hay algunos políticos que si lo han entendido y ellos hablan de piñatas, y mariachi y de como les gusta el español y tiran conciertos bien chidos con estrellas latinas y pues así han llegado a conquistar a gran parte de nuestra gente latina.

El problema es que muchos de estos políticos que nos hablan en nuestro idioma y entienden nuestra cultura no tienen los programas que ayudan a nuestra comunidad. Muchos de ellos nos dan atole con el dedo. Hablan un par de palabras en español y de allí apoyan programas que le quitan los recursos necesarios para que nuestra gente llegue a triunfar y alcanzar el sueño americano.

Este ha sido un gran problema para mi. Como Hispana me choca que los políticos que creo que le harán el mas bien a nuestra gente no entienden nuestra cultura ni nos hablen en nuestro idioma.

Y sin embargo aunque  me gusta que otros políticos hablen español y entienden lo que es padre de nuestra cultura, si de allí apoyan una política que no nos ayuda lograr nuestras metas sociales o económicas pues esta mal. Así tampoco se vale.

¿Y de allí? Que vamos hacer nosotros la comunidad hispana? ¿Si ni uno ni el otro entonces quien?

Pues por eso es que yo me uní con este grupo de Latinos para América. Nosotros somos de la opinión que tenemos que ser parte de la solución. Si hay unos que solo hablan y de allí en hecho no apoyan a nuestra gente pues nosotros tenemos que gritar esta verdad. No nos podemos quedar con los brazos cruzados. Palabras nunca son suficientes si no son respaldadas por hechos.

Y para aquellos que si tienen los programas que apoyan a nuestra comunidad, pues estamos para darles un empujoncito. Y decirles que tienen que hablar con nuestra gente en su idioma y entender la cultura y celebrarla. Si no simplemente nunca nos van a llegar al corazón o a la mente. Bueno eso pienso yo.

¿Uds. que opinan de esta situación?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kety Esquivel's Post English:

We Hispanics/Latinos are a diverse people.

I often like to say, we are "de todos colores y sabores", of all colors and flavors.

Yet in the midst of all of this diversity, we share a common bond. What unites us is the shared tie of our Hispanic ancestry, and for many of us some link to the Spanish language.

Of course, it would be absurd to state that all Hispanics speak Spanish. Many do not. But there is a great many of us that do. And even though many of us have never had any formal schooling in Spanish, since we are second generation- even so, hearing Spanish on the radio or hearing cultural references that speak to our culture often calls to our heart.

Unfortunately, not all politicians have come to understand this. There are many that think that we Hispanic have to vote for them because their programs and statistics benefit our community. But the problem is that Hispanic voters do not have to do anything and these politicians have to get that if they want our vote.

It's not enough that they have programs that benefit our community, they need to connect with our community and establish trust and understanding so that we believe them. They need to speak to us in our language and they need to understand and connect with our culture. These politicians need to understand that we Hispanics, identify ourselves as Hispanic and feel a bond to our culture and heritage.

Now on the other side of the spectrum are the politicians who have understood this nuance and have begun to speak our language and reference piñatas, and mariachi. They throw great concerts with big name Hispanic stars. And by doing all of this, they have wooed a good percentage of our Hispanic community.

The problem is that many of these politicians who speak to us in our language and understand our culture do not support programs that help our community.  They give us "atole con el dedo", cornflour with their finger.  Instead of programs of substance they are in effect just paying lip service to our community.

To speak a few words in Spanish is not enough. If they are sincere, these politicians need to support programs that help our people prevail and reach the American dream. 

Personally, I have found this to be a tremendous quandary for me.

As a Latina, I don't understand why the politicians that I believe in and that I know will do good for our people, don't understand or don't want to understand that to get to us they need to understand our culture and speak to us in our language.

And yet, although I am emotionally drawn in when other politicians begin to speak Spanish and get our culture, I am completely turned off when I see that they are supporting policies that do not help Latinos obtain our social and economic goals.

So, I am left asking myself if I can't go with this kind of a politician or that kind of a politician then what do I do?

The answer for me was:

Join the grassroots. That's why I joined Latinos for America (LFA). At LFA, we are of the opinion that it is our responsibility to be a part of the solution.

If there are politicians that woo our people using our language and our culture but then do not support our people or make empty promises, then we must shout this truth from the roofs of the highest buildings we can find. We can not be silent nor stay at home with crossed arms. Empty promises are never enough. Words need to be followed up with the actions that back these promises up.

And for those that do have programs that support our community but refuse to get that they need to talk to our people in our language and in our cultural terms, well, we need to give them a little nudge and help them "get it". We need to tell them time and again that they need to speak to our people specifically and speak to them at times in Spanish and acknowledge our culture and celebrate it.

Because if they do not, they will never reach our hearts or our minds.

Well, that's what I think. What do you think?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Posted by Kety Esquivel on July 25, 2005 at 08:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (20)

Free Us From Economic Fear

Quintus Jett's Post:

Last month at DemocracyFest in Austin, TX, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. talked about the need for Democrats to work their agenda and messages around a theme. As an example, Jackson talked about Voting Rights.

Later, it occured to me: Why not Economic Rights? I have doubts that political freedom and voting rights will be enough to engage a lot of Americans, when there's economic fear. Our constitution talks a lot about political rights, but, as President FDR pointed out, there's an economic side to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Rather than focusing on the mechanisms of voting and expression (e.g., The Patriot Act), should we instead be addressing as a theme Economic Security? Or a kind of Economic Populism? Health Care, Income Insurance, Global Competitiveness, Etc.

How do you think Economic Rights might work as a theme for progressives and the Democratic Party?

Posted by Charlene Johnston on July 18, 2005 at 08:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (30)

Cathy Bao Bean's post

Post by Cathy Bao Bean,

When we were young, adults asked (irrelevant) questions like “What is your favorite color?” and “Who is your best friend?” and “Who is the nicest teacher?” By the time we can vote, we have already asked the same kind of (irrelevant, even stupid) questions of others and, sigh, contributed to the fact that there is often “no wonder.”

      1.      No wonder that so many consider the act of choosing as a strictly personal or local matter. Pulitzer Prize winner, David Hackett Fischer, described in his book, Washington’s Crossing, how difficult but symptomatic of the fledgling nation it was to coordinate revolutionary soldiers who had, variously, the “collective consciousness of New England towns, and the liberty-as-hierarchy among the Fairfax ([VA] men, [and the] liberty for African Americans [and] the backsettlers [of PA who] spoke of liberty in the first person singular: ‘Don’t Tread on Me’.”

      2.      No wonder that we can hardly conceive of actually balancing powers so there is no one best or most important party or parent or branch of government or movie or right, that the (religious, constitutional, corporate, educational) worlds we occupy don’t always have to be pyramidal with room for only one at the top.

      3.      No wonder that it is so difficult to prioritize relatively rather than absolutely so that we all end up with recurring identity crises because we “have to” choose one primary justification (as opposed to mere rationalization) for how we can support policies that both limit and extend States Rights. E.g., Federal regulations like “Leave No Child Behind” ignore important differences yet allow Intelligent (and unintelligent) Creationism to be taught on a par with scientific evolution. I fear this will create a bifurcated “red v. blue” educational system that undermines Thomas Jefferson’s idea of a free public (secular) educational system.

       4.      No wonder that we so often forget the distinction between “power” and “authority,” between “sympathy” and “compassion, between “knowledge” or information and “wisdom.” My adult son has the power to take me out with one blow but he gives me the authority to advise him because he sympathizes, i.e., shares certain views about compassion for fellow human beings with whom we totally disagree - like not wishing President Bush would be trampled by a herd of ANWR caribou despite having no faith that, notwithstanding his recent acknowledgment that global warming may exist, he has the will or wisdom to act constructively for the long-term environment.

It is, however, wondrous that one person I know did indeed wonder about all the above and figured out how to balance activism with an active life and an active mind (echoing the subject of an earlier MVMY blog). Last September, Merrill Skaggs, the Baldwin Professor of Humanities at Drew University specializing in American Literature, decided to make as much of a political impact as she could despite her hectic schedule.

Pondering what Mark Twain said, “Morals, religions, politics, get their following from surrounding influences and atmospheres, almost entirely; not from study, not from thinking....A man's self-approval, in the large concerns of life, has its source in the approval of the people about him, and not in a searching personal examination of the matter.... broadly speaking, Self-approval is acquired mainly from the approval of other people. The result is Conformity.”

After considering many factors – personal, pedagogical, political – Professor Skaggs contrived a game plan that was, not untypical of her style, playful, provocative and somewhat perilous. That is, she made it a course requirement that students not just read about American life but that they participate in it. That is, they must enter the voting booth. That is, voting itself was not required (much less voting for a particular candidate) but registering to vote was mandatory.  In other words,  the students regarded her as "a common cause," if not an outright enemy and rallied themselves out of apathy.

In her own words, Merrill explained, “My logic was that the community Drew students cared most about was made up of other Drew students. My job was to make them talk and argue about the election enough to create a climate of opinion I trusted my colleagues on the faculty and their own propensity for debate to help them create for themselves.  I first asked the faculty to join me in requiring them to vote. The faculty desisted.  But in the ensuing faculty email debate, the TIMES got wind, the TV NETWORKS followed the breeze, and the ensuing publicity kept the students comparing notes and arguing.  The results were that 88% of the students voted.  Their consensus at the end is indicated by the fact that 78% voted for Kerry in a Republican county, in a school with a Republican ex-governor for President.”

Liberal colleagues decried her treatment of students’ “freedom” but delighted in the result. I can only cry, “Yippee!!” though, admittedly with far less enthusiasm had the result gone the other way.

Cathy Bao Bean

Posted by Charlene Johnston on July 11, 2005 at 04:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (19)

A Hispanic Supreme Court Justice

A few days ago I posted a blog in Spanish.
Due to various requests, enclosed is that posting translated into English. Also please note that by going to the Latinos for America website, www.latinosforamerica.com you can express your opinions on this topic:
Last week Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her intentions to retire.

Justice O'Connor occupies a singular position, as the first woman nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States. Before 1981, no woman had ever sat on the highest court – and her appointment was a momentous occasion.

As a Latina, I ask myself if O'Connor's resignation now provides us with the opportunity to have person of Hispanic descent on the highest court of our great nation. Will 2005 be the year in which we finally have a Hispanic in the Supreme Court?

As a Latina, the future of this seat interests me – both from a woman’s perspective and as a person of Hispanic ancestry. Ideally, we would be able to find a Latina to fill this position; and while it is true that such a task might prove difficult, I think we owe it to our country to at least try.

According to the New York Times, when President Reagan nominated Sandra Day O'Connor in 1981, the percentage of women prepared to hold a position in the Supreme Court was close to zero. But it was the fact that the president chose to nominate O’Connor, and that she was appointed, that made all the difference, as more women began to step up and became accomplished lawyers and judges.

Perhaps President Bush has the opportunity to do the same now for the Hispanic community.

O'Connor was an undeniable presence that defined the Supreme Court in the United States. Throughout her tenure, her moderate approach kept the court balanced. Moreover, her rulings had a great impact on critical social issues like a woman's right to decide what kind of health care she receives, as well as "affirmative action." As a progressive Latina, I believe it is critical that on the eve of O'Connor's retirement, we Hispanics be heard and seen, and ask for a moderate Supreme Court justice who reflects our character as a community.

I believe that the time has come for the United States to have a Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court. What do you think?

Will 2005 be the year that we decide to name a Hispanic to the Supreme Court?

Who would you want to replace to O'Connor?

Does it matter that he/she be Hispanic?

To share your thoughts on this matter please visit the Latinos for America website: www.latinosforamerica.com

Your thoughts will steer LFA toward a position on this issue, which will be communicated to partnering Latino organizations and the public at large.

“Juntos Si Podemos!”

Kety Esquivel
Communications Director and LFA National Board Member

Posted by Kety Esquivel on July 8, 2005 at 03:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Una Persona Hispana en la Corte Suprema

Amigos,

La semana pasada la Jueza O'Connor de la Corte Suprema anuncio su intención

de retirarse.

Dicha mujer ocupo una posición singular como la primera mujer nominada a la

Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos. En su tiempo esto fue un gran

acontecimiento ya que hasta el año 1981 todavía no habíamos tenido ni una

mujer en la Suprema Corte.

Como Hispana me pregunto si esta vacancia será la oportunidad para que al fin

haya una persona de descendencia Hispana en la Corte Suprema de nuestra

gran nación.

¿Será el 2005 el año en cual al fin tengamos una persona Hispana nominada a la

Corte Suprema?

Como Latina el futuro de esta vacancia me interesa tanto por el lado femenino

como el lado de mi herencia Hispana. 

En lo ideal podríamos encontrar a una Latina para llenar este puesto. Es cierto

que tal vez sea difícil el encontrar una Latina calificada para llevar este rol pero

por lo menos, diría yo, hay que tratar.

Según el NY Times, en 1981 cuando el Presidente Regan encontró a Sandra

O'Connor y la propuso para el puesto de la Corte Suprema la población de

mujeres abogadas calificadas era muy pequeña también. Pero fue el hecho de

que él la escogió y que ella tomo el puesto que comenzó a cambiar este

fenómeno y causo que más mujeres se lanzaran a ser abogadas y juezas.

Tal vez hace falta que el Presidente Bush haga lo mismo ahora para la población

Hispana.

O'Connor fue una gran presencia en la Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos.

Por medio de ella se mantuvo un equilibrio en la corte y sus juicios tuvieron un

gran impacto en asuntos sociales críticos como el derecho de la mujer y

"affirmative action". Es critico que ahora que ella se va retirar de la corte que

nosotros los Hispanos no nos mantengamos callados sino que hablemos y nos

hagamos ver.

Yo creo que es hora que los Estados Unidos al fin tenga una persona Hispana

en la Corte Suprema.

¿Ustedes que opinan?

¿Será 2005 el año de nominar una Hispana o Hispano?

¿Tu quien quieres que remplazar a O'Connor?

¿Importa que sea Hispana o Hispano?

Posted by Kety Esquivel on July 5, 2005 at 09:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Divided we fall

Mainstream progressives have many core beliefs that bind us together.  Healthcare, equal rights for all, a balanced budget, building stronger communities, higher standards of education, keeping jobs in America and taking care of the elderly are among them.  These are core values that have helped bind us together, but we always have to be careful we do not allow these very same issues to divide us. 

          One reason the Democratic Party appears to many to be “no organized political party” – has to do with the very division of the party into the various caucuses, groups and organizations – each with their own specific agenda – each often unwilling to work with the others.  Our opponents work in a different manner, having created organizations for a specific purpose - rather than organization that appeared due to a particular issue.  While the Democratic way of business may give each group their own specific voice, it is often an exercise in herding cats to get them all to think or say the same thing – not to mention taking action together. 

The other side does not have this issue, as they created their institutions, groups, etc. for a particular purpose – with the same goals in place, to unburden the rich from paying their debt to society, to keep established wealth in places of power and to maintain an advantage of corporations over the worker.  They have created an entire structure with no other goal than keeping the rich and powerful in their places of power – and keeping others out.  Their “institutions”, think tanks, lobbying groups, newspapers, talk radio people, etc. use this infrastructure to promote their agenda – and echo each other on their beliefs – so the voter hears the same message from many trusted sources until it becomes the voters reality.  They say:

Liberal=Bad/Weak/indecisive/evil
Corporations have the countries best interest at heart.
Liberals want to bring this country down/hate this country/hate the flag.
Democrats=Liberal=socialists
Democrats/Liberals are un-American.
And much more…

To counter all of this, each Democratic group crafts their own separate reaction – or gives no response.  There is no coordination – as despite there being a true progressive agenda, each group is focused on THEIR issues.

What I do not understand is why we can not have one grouping.  If women are the majority in the progressive movement – and one of our main goals is to further women’s rights – is there really the need for a separate women’s caucus in the progressive movement?  Can we not be progressive first – and work toward a specific agenda rather than being many different mouths speaking about their specific issue at the same time?  All these different voices end up lost in the mix.  We would be more effective if we were all on one page.  We would be more equal if we focused on the issues we ALL want, rather than the issue/race/color/orientation that makes us different.  We need to be an army marching together, not 250 separate armies working together for the moment. 

Posted by Jessica Falker on July 1, 2005 at 03:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)