Keep Calma and Vote Obama

I’m not planning on getting too political here on Latinaish.com despite it being an election year, but I couldn’t resist sharing this greeting card I discovered this evening at Target.

Wow – this simple card manages to hit 3 demographics at once!

1. Spanglish speakers
2. Democrats or others voting for Obama
3. People familiar with the “Keep Calm” meme

Congratulations to the artist at Recycled Paper Greetings for hitting it out of the park. And for Republicans out there, no worries, there was a much less catchy “Keep Calm, Vote for Rom” version as well.

Latinaish.com at the White House – The Issues

On May 21st I attended the LATISM Top Bloguera Retreat in Washington, D.C. and part of that event included a White House briefing on issues affecting the Latino community. Today I want to share my experience and some of the things I learned which I think are worth passing on.

The main issues discussed were Health and Education, however, that didn’t stop Meagan Ortiz of Vivir Latino from kicking things off with a very good question regarding immigration. Of course the answer to the question was less than satisfying to anyone who has long supported comprehensive immigration reform, but perhaps that was to be expected.

(Check out Meagan’s thoughts on her experience here.)

Meagan’s question seemed to ignite others. Passionate blogueras lined up and asked very brave and difficult questions. I was proud to be in a room full of women who weren’t afraid to stand up and speak their minds.

Roxana Soto of SpanglishBaby asked about bilingual education and the possibility of more dual immersion schools – again, the answer she/we were given, didn’t satisfy me, but I still feel that our voices were heard, and that’s a start.

(Check out Roxana’s thoughts on her experience here.)

While the blogueras were given plenty of time to ask questions, the White House also had plenty of talking points and messages they wanted to get out to us and to the Latino community as well. Here is video I took, highlighting some of the parts I found most informative.

Here are some links to learn more about the programs mentioned in the video:

FNS.USDA.gov (Nutrition Assistance Programs)
La Mesa Completa
Let’s Move!
Let’s Move! – Spanish version/español
Choose My Plate
Choose My Plate/Mi Plato – Spanish version/español

_______

What information did you find most useful or surprising? What question would you have asked?

Latinaish.com at the White House

As you all know, I attended the LATISM “Top Bloguera” Retreat in Washington, D.C. Since coming back home I’ve had a lot to catch up on with work, my family, the household, and on top of that, we’ve been having some suegra drama so I haven’t had the luxury of sorting out my thoughts on the event, (let alone my videos and all my photos!)

I did write a recap for Latina Bloggers Connect though, and here is what I said, in part:

“Me personally, I’m still processing it all. I’m the type that needs a few days to think before I can say for certain what conclusion I’ve come to, but I can say with certainty that the event did the following for me:

The Top Bloguera Retreat encouraged me to re-think what I put my energy into and to consider whether I need to re-focus or re-distribute that energy in a different way for more satisfying payoffs, (emotional as well as financial.) – Now you know why I have a lot of thinking to do!”

(Read the rest at: Latina Bloggers Connect.)

The White House briefing was really informative. The Obama Administration has done a lot of things that benefit not just the Latino community, but all communities, and I’m hoping to bring you the highlights of what I learned in an upcoming post.

For now, check out the White House blog: #LatismAtTheWH – Latinos Active in Social Media Visit the White House.

Tijuana

[Today is Spanish Friday, so this post is in Spanish. For an English translation, scroll down. If you participated in Spanish Friday, please leave your link in comments.]

Sólo en años recentes aprendí a pronunciar “Tijuana” correctamente. A oidos de hispanohablantes, los gringos a veces la pronuncian como es alguien en su famila… “Tía Juana.”

Fui una vez a Tijuana – era mi primera vez en salir de los Estados Unidos – y la unica vez que yo ponia pies en México, lindo y querido.

Yo era joven – no más que 10 años. Mis abuelos estaban viviendo en San Diego y cuando fuimos a visitarlos, dijeron un día, en vez de nuestras frecuentes visitas a lugares como Disneyland y Sea World, por qué no vamos a México?

Unos años más tarde, me puse a pensar que es injusto que fuimos a México sin pasaporte, sin planes, sin miedo, sin ahorrar dinero por pagar un coyote, sin ninguna vergüenza.

Yo era una niña, un poco molesta porque no pasé el día con Mickey Mouse, mientras yo estaba rodeada de niños más joven que yo, vendiendo chicle para poder sobrevivir.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Only in recent years did I learn to pronounce “Tijuana” correctly. To the ears of native Spanish speakers, gringos sometimes pronounce it as if it is someone in their family… “Tía Juana.”

I went one time to Tijuana – it was my first time leaving the United States – and the only time I set foot in Mexico, lindo y querido.

I was young – no more than 10 years old. My grandparents were living in San Diego and when we went to visit them, they said one day, instead of our frequent visits to places like Disneyland and Sea World, why don’t we go to Mexico?

Some years later, I began to think about the injustice of it – that we went to Mexico without a passport, without plans, without fear, without saving money to pay a smuggler, without shame.

I was a girl, a girl who was a little annoyed because I didn’t get to spend the day with Mickey Mouse. Meanwhile, I was surrounded by kids even younger than myself, selling chewing gum to survive.

On This Day, We Are All Mexicans

BY TRACY LÓPEZ
(Originally published on CafeMagazine.com on June 21, 2010 as part of their World Cup coverage.)

In a world divided by borders and intolerance, there are rare moments to be savored which bring people together, and inspire an outpouring of love and unity. Often times it’s a natural disaster like an earthquake, such as the one that shook Haiti earlier this year. Other times we’re brought together by a political event, the death of someone loved around the world, or by a religious celebration – but sometimes we are unified by an amazing triumph, such as Mexico’s historic 2-0 win over France.

When East Germany erected a wall, then-President John F. Kennedy stood on the steps of the Rathaus Schöneberg in 1963 and, declaring his support for a free and united Germany, said “Ich bin ein Berliner” – or in English: “I am a Berliner.” In the shadow of the 9/11 attacks against the United States in 2001, as the entire world stood in disbelief and grief, many countries declared in solidarity, “On this day, we are all Americans.”

And on June 17, 2010, as “El Chicharito” Hernández scored the first goal and led “El Tri” to victory, it felt as if, for a brief moment as we shared in their pride and glory, that on this day, we were all Mexicans. In the words of the English singer Morrissey, “I wish I was born Mexican, but it’s too late for that now.”

From Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, South Africa, to El Ángel de la Independencia in Mexico City, fans cried tears of joy and sang “Cielito Lindo.” Mexican-Americans, Latinos of all nationalities, (and believe it or not, a few gringos too), couldn’t help but be swept up in the moment, and maybe – just maybe – we shed a tear or two as well as we watched the triumphant band of brothers, their jerseys stuck to their bodies with sweat, embrace each other as the song, “One Day” by Matisyahu echoed over the pitch.

“…All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
for the people to say
that we don’t wanna fight no more
they’ll be no more wars
and our children will play
one day…”

-One Day by Matisyahu

Mexicans vs. Salvadorans

mexico-versus-el-salvador

Last week the United States lost to Mexico in the final Gold Cup game. My husband and I were both rooting for the U.S. team. We had even bet money – which was my unfortunate idea. Carlos has Mexican co-workers who give him a hard time for being the only Salvadoran amongst them – so I thought this would be a good way to get a little revenge and make some cash at the same time… well, it would have been if our team had won – instead, it lead to us being $40 poorer and some marital discord.

You see, while I was disappointed by the loss, Carlos, a Salvadoran by birth, was more than disappointed – he was angry, and it wasn’t about the money – it was about the Mexicans teasing him, the Mexicans who had beat our team, and, apparently, the entire country of Mexico itself.

When I told him to calm down he said, “You don’t understand! You don’t know how they are! I’m going to have to put up with that shit all day!”

“Don’t let it get to you,” I advised. “They just want to see you get upset. If you pretend it doesn’t bother you, they’ll stop,” I told him, repeating the same advice my mother had given me a million times when my sister’s teasing had gotten on my nerves as a kid.

“You don’t know how it is,” Carlos said. At that moment, his cellphone buzzed with a text message. Carlos cursed then held the screen to my face. “See?!”

The text message was from a Mexican co-worker. It read:

Ey pupusa, ganó México. Mañana tienes que llevar el dinero! jajajajaja!

I tried not to smile because Carlos was obviously really upset, but even their nickname for him, (“pupusa”) – I found funny, cute, and totally harmless. It was just guys being guys – but Carlos didn’t see it that way.

The thing is, I know Carlos doesn’t hate Mexicans. We have Mexican friends – people he really likes very much. He listens to Mexican music right along with me, without complaint, (usually), and likes Mexican food. When I cook Salvadoran dishes he puts Valentina hot sauce on it, (authentic Salvadoran food is not traditionally spicy, but Carlos likes everything picante.) He loves Pedro Infante, Cantinflas, El Chavo del Ocho, India Maria. As a proud Salvadoran, he even confessed that he knows a few bars of the Himno Nacional Mexicano and sang it for me! (Although he only learned it so he could pass as Mexican if stopped while immigrating through Mexico on his way to the United States.)

Even while I try to convince Carlos that he really does love Mexicans after all, I know animosity between Mexicans and Salvadorans isn’t imaginary – it’s real, and there are real reasons for it. If you ask a Mexican or Salvadoran why they don’t like each other, they may give you one of the following reasons, or they may offer no compelling reason at all. Here is what I found – (The content below is quoted from various sources. Sources are included. Latinaish.com does not necessarily agree with or endorse the opinions below.)

IMMIGRATION

“El problema con los mexicanos es [que] quieren tener de menos a los salvadoreños y centroamericanos, nos subestiman… cual crees [que] es el mayor desafio para un salvadoreño o centroamericano al emigrar a USA, es el temor a ser asesinado, secuestrado, mutilado o violado por mexicanos, se aprobechan de los emigrantes centroamericanos cuando ellos tambien tienen la misma necesidad de nosotros de emigrar hacia USA…” – Salvadoreño, Yahoo Answers

“Yo vivo al norte de méxico y el otro día viendo las noticias comentabamos mi mamá y yo como era posible la discriminación de razas sobre todo al sur del país con los salvadoreños ó guatemaltecos que cruzan la frontera, siendo que el presiedente de méxico va cada rato a USA a pedir que no traten mal a sus indocumentados, yo viví en USA una temporada y ví como en USA no los tratan tan mal como dicen los de la “migra” a los mexicanos indocumentados, y me pregunto yo ¿con que cara los méxicanos tratan mal a los salvadoreños ó guatemaltecos que cruzan la frontera?, vi en una entrevista al presidente de guatemala diciendo que había ido con el presidente de mexico para pedir por sus indocumentados y le comentó este que el acababa de llegar de USA por lo mismo y cuando llegó de ahi tenía una llamada del presindente de belice para lo mismo y cuando llego a su pais el presidente de guatemala le esperaba una llamada del presidente de el salvador y era para pedirle por sus indocumentados. Imaginate dijo todos estamos abogando por lo mismo….y me dio una pena ajena con la gente del sur de mi país enterarme que los tratan tan mal y que todavía se quejen que en USA los tratan mal con que cara piden respeto si no repetan… todavía recuerdo un día que llegarona ala casa unos salvadoreños pidiendo comida eran una pareja con dos niños como llegaron hasta sonora solo dios sabe, les dimos todo lo que pudimos y les dimos la bendición cuando se fueron. No todos odian a los salvadoreños aqui hay gente que es del salvador viviendo y los tratamos muy bien saben porque? porque al norte no se vive como al sur del pais, es triste pero cierto.” – Mexicana/Yahoo Answers

HISTORY

“Shortly after Central America gained its independence from Spain in 1821, Mexico tried to swallow the region into its burgeoning empire. The fiercest opposition? El Salvador. Eventually, republic-minded Mexicans stopped their country’s ambitions and allowed El Salvador and the other Central American provinces to create the United Provinces of Central America. That lasted into the 1830s, by which time Mexico was too busy dealing with another imperial power to care much about recouping its former holdings. And if you know anything about Mexico, it’s que we don’t take thefts of our lands lightly.” – Gustavo Arellano/Ask A Mexican

GANGS

“The Mara Salvatrucha gang originated in Los Angeles, set up in the 1980s by Salvadoran immigrants in the city’s Pico-Union neighborhood who immigrated to the United States after the Central American civil wars of the 1980s…Originally, the gang’s main purpose was to protect Salvadoran immigrants from other, more established gangs of Los Angeles, who were predominantly composed of Mexicans and African-Americans.” – Wikipedia

JEALOUSY: TPS (TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS)

El Salvador became a “temporary protected status” (TPS) country in 2001, following two earthquakes that killed 1,000 people and destroyed more than 200,000 homes.

After intense lobbying by the Salvadoran government, the TPS was just extended for another 12 months. That means Salvadorans who were living in the United States in 2001 – many of them illegally – can stay and work for another year. TPS comes up for renewal or termination every 12 to 18 months.

TPS is designed to aid countries reeling from a natural disaster, civil war or other destabilizing situation.

…Some of the seven TPS-designated countries get extensions though their disasters happened long ago. Christopher Bentley of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says “assessments” and “studies” help decide whether to extend TPS and whether holders can return safely home.

Jose Romero, a 31-year-old Charlotte construction worker [now] earns three times what he did in his native El Salvador.

He got TPS five years ago after living in the U.S. illegally for five years.

Romero told his fellow construction workers, most of them Mexican, about his TPS. They were happy for him, but jealous.

“They’re never going to give us anything,” he said the Mexicans told him.

- Article by Tim Funk and Danica Coto / McClatchy Newspapers

RESENTMENT: CULTURAL DOMINANCE AND TRYING TO FIT IN

“Juan Carlos Rivera knew that if he wanted to get a dishwashing job at the MacArthur Park hamburger stand, he would have to pretend to be Mexican. But the thought of lying made the Salvadoran anxious.

He paced outside the restaurant, worried that his melodic Spanish accent, his use of the Central American vos, instead of the Mexican tu, would give him away.

…In his best Mexican Spanish, the Salvadoran asked: ¿Tienen trabajo? (Do you have work?)

When asked where he was born, he swallowed his pride and answered: Puebla, Mexico.

The job was his. For three days, Rivera scrubbed plates in conspicuous silence. He knew the Mexican cooks were onto him. Especially the one from Puebla.

…Juan Carlos Rivera struggled to keep up his ruse even when the suspicious cook began to quiz him on popular Pueblan food, including Puebla’s specialty, the cemita.

“How do you like it?” the cook asked.

“With pineapple,” Rivera said. Little did he know that what Salvadorans knew as caramelized sweet bread, Pueblans knew as a meat and avocado sandwich.

“I knew you weren’t Mexican,” the cook said smugly before running off to tell the manager.

- Article by Esmeralda Bermudez/Los Angeles Times

__

“It’s always Mexico, Mexico, Mexico,” said Jorge Mendoza, a 42-year-old painter, one of a group of Salvadoran men who gathered recently at MacArthur Park. “I turn on the radio and all I hear is Mexican music. If I want to watch a soccer game, I have to watch a Mexican team play.”

- Article by Esmeralda Bermudez/Los Angeles Times

PRIDE

“Salvadorans don’t hate Mexicans as much as Mexicans hate Salvadorans…This isn’t a generalization of all Mexicans, but many of them do this. Mexicans are the majority in most places where Salvadorans live, like San Fran, L.A., and Houston. In Long Island and Miami Salvadorans get along with the Ricans, Dominicans, and Cubans fine. The problem is that Mexicans always usually display an arrogance that rubs all Latinos the wrong way. Not the Argentine, snotty type arrogance. The fist pumping, I’m a Mexican! arrogance. They insult us b/c of our accents, and feel they are superior. They don’t understand our history but we have to understand theirs.” – Enrique/Topix.com

FÚTBOL

“Pues supuestamente todo fue por culpa de un partido de futbol. En las eliminatorias para un mundial El Salvador le gano a México y lo descalifico para llegar al mundial. Esa es una explicacion ya que El Salvador nunca a tenido un buen equipo y a los mexicanos les dolió que un equipo como El Salvador los descalificaran…si no me equivoco fue en 1976.” – Salvadoreño/Yahoo Answers

PUPUSAS vs. GORDITAS

(Okay, not seriously, but while we’re arguing, I thought I’d throw it in there for fun.)

(Thanks to Juan for letting me use his video here to bring a little levity to a heavy topic.)

WORDS OF WISDOM

“Esto no es mas que pelear por tonterias … todos somos humanos, somos de la misma especie y los único que nos hace “diferentes” es una simple ubicación geográfica …somos humanos no somos ni mas ni menos, todos iguales … me parece bastante inmaduro pelear solo porque vivimos en distintos lugares del mundo … por cierto soy salvadoreño y ya dejen de pelear por tonterias.” – Salvadoreño/Yahoo Answers

NOTE: As always, comments are welcome below, but comments containing violent threats or hate speech will not be published. (This message is for both Salvadorans and Mexicans equally.) Please feel free to share your thoughts or experiences on the topic in a thoughtful, intelligent manner that avoids name-calling or inflaming tensions. This post is not intended to stir up resentment but rather to point out the problems so they can be put aside.

Music prodigy, deported

Yerko DiFonis / Image source: NYdailynews.com

This is Yerko DiFonis, a 17 year old piano prodigy who has perfect pitch and has followed his dreams despite the obstacles, in part thanks to his determined parents.

Yerko was born in Chile, blind and partially deaf. When his parents discovered his musical talent and grew frustrated with the lack of opportunities for their son in their native country, they sold everything and came to the United States. In New York, Yerko flourished. Fitted with special hearing aids and attending the prestigious La Guardia school of the performing arts, Yerko, an honor roll student, learned to be independent and spent his days pursuing his passion but in October of 2010, U.S. Immigration deported Yerko and his family.

Now living in Chile, Yerko continues with his music, but dreams of coming back to study in the United States some day.

To read more of Yerko’s inspiring story, or to make a donation which will go towards continuing his education, visit the Hear The World foundation.

Los Americans

I really want to watch this new web show on PIC.tv. It starts tomorrow (May 26) … Check it out:

Show description:

Los Americans is the story of a modern, affluent, suburban Mexican-American family living in the United States. The Valenzuela family is totally assimilated in U.S. American culture, and that’s the way the patriarch, Leandro Valenzuela, or “Lee” as Leandro prefers to be called, likes it. He’s moved on from speaking Spanish and the ways of the old country. As he proudly says, “We’re not Mexicans. Mexicans live in Mexico. We’re Americans.”

Lee is right in that he and his family will face many of the problems and challenges all Americans face, that all human beings face – unemployment, homelessness, alcoholism, teenage pregnancy, abortion, immigration, childhood obesity and others. But Lee will also face another problem in that he has forgotten his native language and moved away from his culture, ultimately losing part of who he is and where he comes from, and he will learn that maybe this is not such a good thing. Welcome to a story about real Americans… Los Americans.

The cast of Los Americans

What do you think?

Links:

Watch the show online and find out more at PIC.Tv/LosAmericans
Los Americans on Twitter

La Casa Blanca y La Familia López

Driving by the Washington Monument on our way to the White House. (Carlos calls this "La Aguja" - "the needle.")

The visit to La Casa Blanca was bien chivo although President Obama wasn’t around to welcome me as I had hoped. I didn’t tweet or blog until now because between waking at 4 a.m. for the White House tour and preparing for our trip to Miami, I’m just super cansada.

I wish I had a lot of photos to show you, but on White House tours, no cameras are allowed inside. And honestly, although it’s fun to say, “I’ve been to the White House” – the section they allow you into is really more of a museum than actual living quarters for the family. (I didn’t even so much as see “Bo” – the Obama family’s dog!)

When you first walk in there are photos of the Obama family on the walls of the foyer. The very first photo prominently displayed, was President Obama with mariachi. I instinctively reached for my non-existent camera before remembering – no cameras allowed so I hadn’t brought it. I did find the photo on the internet though so you can see.

(By the way, I found this photo on a website called Obama Looks Bored, which features photos of President Obama looking bored. Love it.)

There were a lot of fancy furnishings, three immense crystal chandeliers that weigh 1200 pounds each. Each chandelier takes 72 hours to clean. (And that is the extent of historical tour guide type data I retained.)

There are various rooms named for colors – The Blue Room, The Red Room (which looked hot pink to me for some reason – but I loved it), The Green Room, etc.

In the Green Room a painting caught my eye and I wanted to remember the artist so I could look it up later. Without a pen and paper I had to rely on my memory, which isn’t so good. To remember things, I usually have to play word games with myself. So, to remember the artist, Jacob Lawrence, I said to myself, “Jacob Lawrence, Jacob Lawrence, Jacob Lawrence… how can I remember his name? … Oh! Jacob Have I Loved!”

Carlos immediately turned around, “Whose Jacob?”
“The artist of that painting,” I said.
“No, the other Jacob you loved,” he said narrowing his eyes.
He didn’t believe me for several minutes that ‘Jacob Have I Loved’ is the name of a book.

The Builders - by Jacob Lawrence

The Obama family in the Green Room, (the painting I like is in the background)

(The painting turned out to be ‘The Builders’ by Jacob Lawrence, if you want to read more about it.)

Once we were outside, we were allowed to take photos, so I took a few with my cell phone camera.

White House lawn being cut.

Back outside the gates.

The future 1st Latino President and his hermanito.