Team USA! (Made in China)

Controversy broke out when it was discovered that the 2012 Olympics uniforms for Team USA were made in China. (Read more on CNN.com.) There was so much outrage regarding Team USA’s uniforms that the sponsor (Ralph Lauren), has now promised that they’ll “manufacture uniforms domestically for the 2014 games.”

The timing of this story couldn’t be more perfect. Just the other day I spotted the clearance rack of Independence Day shirts at Wal-Mart. Carlos and I noticed a couple years ago that they were made in El Salvador – (for some reason this always amuses us.) So I went to check this year’s stock of American flag shirts, and sure enough – “HECHO EN EL SALVADOR.”

Celebrate U.S. Independence Day with a shirt made in El Salvador

What do you think about items with the American flag, (or American flags themselves), as well as the Team USA Olympics uniforms being made in other countries?

If our economy was running well and the jobs weren’t needed, would your opinion change? Why or why not?

Please refrain from throwing tortas at Chicharito

I didn’t think I’d be making a public service announcement today regarding the El Salvador vs. Mexico game, but a conversation with a friend this morning made me realize there are some issues that should be discussed, and if this helps change the behavior of even one person, pues, vale la pena.

Okay, guanacos, you know I love you all con todo mi corazón, right? You know I’m cheering for La Selecta in tonight’s game against Mexico, even though I also cheer for El Tri when they don’t play El Salvador. I’m aware that you guys have issues with each other and that Mexico can be equally disrespectful when El Salvador plays on their turf, (yes, I remember las abejas en la porteria), but where does it end, hermanos?

If Salvadorans are disrespectful to the Mexican team and Mexicans are disrespectful to the Salvadoran team, the cycle will continue to repeat itself. Look, I know it’s difficult. I have two sisters and when we’d get into a slap fight, we would keep slapping each other back and forth – always wanting to be the one to get the last slap in. Usually at some point I would slap my sister and run off until she forgot to slap me back later… (“Haha! Got you last!”) – But this situation is a little different. Someone has to have the maturity and self-discipline to let the other have the last slap.

Didn’t your abuela tell you, “Ojo por ojo y el mundo quedará ciego”? … Wait.. maybe that was Gandhi that said that. Gandhi would have made a good abuela. Anyway… Okay, your Nana probably told you, “Eh! Vos! Pórtate bien, cipote!… Qué bicho más malcriado, hijueputa…” – That’s not as inspirational, but good enough.

Last night Salvadorans stayed up all night making noise outside the Hotel Real Intercontinental in San Salvador where El Tri is staying. The intention was to disrupt the Mexican team’s sleep – but can I tell you something? I stayed at that hotel last summer and I can almost guarantee that the Mexican team didn’t hear a peep. The windows are really thick and I couldn’t hear anything down on the street below when we were there. Besides, even if it was loud enough to be heard, the Mexican team is already hip to this trick. Don’t you think that by now they’ve invested in some nice noise cancelling headphones? El Tri probably slept very comfortably, meanwhile, the Salvadorans down on the street missed a whole night’s sleep. Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

If these kinds of “pep rallies” were all that went on, then I would say está bien, it’s harmless, but things can get a lot more disrespectful and even violent. Apparently someone threw a torta at Chicharito. It sounds funny but come on, let’s talk about this seriously for a moment. Gente decente no se hace eso. First of all, Chicharito is a person with feelings. This was just incredibly rude. Second, this stupid act by one person reflects badly on all Salvadorans. Third, this happened when El Tri got off the bus in front of the Real Intercontinental. I have walked down that street, (Boulevard de Los Heroes) and I can promise you that there were at least three hungry people begging within a half block of that torta hitting the pavement. As my suegra would say, “Qué pecado” … Shame on you for wasting food like that.

This is a beautiful game. Use your passion to support your team in a positive way – not on negativity. Whose with me?

Chicharito image source: Ed Schipul

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?

When Pandilleros Attend Mass and Other Life Lessons

I went to ElSalvador.com to check out photos of El Salvador’s momentous win last night against the U.S., but as is my habit, I became distracted by something else.

A still image in the sidebar of a tattooed marero (gang member), taking communion, made me pause. The story title: Pandilleros piden una oportunidad. I clicked through to the video and found it too moving not to share.

I don’t consider myself religious, but something about this video touched me. Looking at those faces, behind the tattoos, I see young men who were once little boys, and for whatever reason, they made mistakes that led them to where they are. Many of them come from poverty or abusive homes. Neglected by parents or orphaned by war, they sought to “belong” and that is a big attraction to gang life – it’s the family one never had.

“Siempre han dicho que nosotros somos la escoria y lo peor del mundo. Nosotros crecimos en un época de conflicto y en ese época tapamos nuestros valores con cosas negativas, pero estamos dispuestos a cambiar, si nos ayudan.” – source

[“They’ve always said that we’re the scum and the worst of the world. We grew up in an era of conflict and in that time we covered our values ​​with negative things, but we are willing to change, if you help us.”]

“Nosotros estamos de buena fe, queremos seguir adelantes. Estamos consciente de que les hemos fallado a Dios, y a la sociedad, y aquí en nombre de toda mi pandilla, la MS13, quiero pedirle perdón, a la sociedad, y que nos dé una oportunidad de poder cambiar… nosotros también somos salvadoreños, nosotros también somos seres humanos.” – source: MS13 gang member in the video

[“We are of good faith, we want to move on. We are aware that we have failed God, and society, and here, on behalf of my gang, MS13, I apologize, I want to ask for forgiveness, from society, and ask that you give us an opportunity to change … we too are Salvadorans, we too are human beings.”]

What would happen if we always believed the best about others, rather than the worst?…Maybe people live up to expectations.

Image source: Both images are screen captures from the video by ElSalvador.com
More images worth seeing: Informador.com

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

Win or Lose, a Day to Remember

I’ve now had two days to recover from the Copa Oro games we went to on Sunday, pero todavia estoy completamente rendida.

The night before, I couldn’t sleep, half from excitement and half from anxiety about the tickets. Following the wise advice of a friend, we arrived hours early at the stadium. (Gracias to Rudy, who we actually got to meet briefly at the game.)

We went straight to the “Will Call” window and I gave them my I.D. I watched them shuffle around and come up empty-handed. I watched them check and re-check. I knew this would happen. They apologized that they didn’t have tickets for me under my name. I called the number of the on-site manager that State Farm had given me in case I ran into problems – he assured me he had the tickets on him. When we met him in the parking lot where State Farm had set up, true to his word, he had the tickets. I resisted kissing him and instead let him tell me about some of the fun things they were doing there.

I talked with someone about the sOccket ball and she showed me how it worked. I also got to check out the State Farm iPhone app, Kick4ACause which allows you to donate electricity just by playing the game. [See video of me playing]

As Carlos and I decided what to do next, a mini-Salvadoran pride parade broke out. Of course we joined in.

The parade went around the parking lot making all kinds of noise. At one point we clashed with a group of panameños, but after dancing with them for awhile, the parade continued on, much to the bewilderment of gringos trying to tailgate in peace.

When gringos tried to interact with Salvadorans though, the Salvadoran response always made me smile. When gringos shouted “U.S.A.!” – the Salvadorans didn’t feel threatened – they joined them in chants for the red, white and blue. I wonder if this made an impression on anyone in that parking lot who had expected a different reaction – to realize that it’s possible to have enough love for the place of your birth, language or culture – but feel equally proud of the country you now live in.

After the mini-parade we sought shade and a late [very expensive] lunch inside the stadium. We found our seats and waited.

Salvadorans seemed amused by my "Guanaco Pitbull" shirt, but I didn't realize how confusing it would be for non-Salvadorans, who seemed to puzzle over what it meant.

While waiting, I observed a lot of Salvadorans who came prepared to not only cheer on El Salvador, but the United States as well. Many wore La Selecta T-shirts, but carried American flags. The “U.S.A.!” chant was alive and well in sections full of Salvadorans during the U.S. vs. Jamaica game.

The game itself was great, but the sky was so cloudy that I wasn’t able to access Twitter on my phone which was frustrating.

After the United States won, we were all full of happiness and hope for El Salvador.

Hearing the crowd sing the Himno Nacional de El Salvador made me tear up a little. To look around and know that all these Salvadorans were here together even though many, like Carlos, were far from their homeland… It’s difficult for me to put in words.

Being at the actual game instead of watching it on television is a unique experience. I’ve watched a lot of Salvadoran fútbol games on T.V. but never heard the crowd whistling in unison. Salvadorans have a unique way of whistling, (I wish I had caught it on video), but when you have thousands of people doing this, it sounds sort of like a forest full of parrots.

Speaking of whistling, at one point in the game, a Salvadoran player fell on top of a Panamanian player in a position that looked somewhat compromising. This got some funny responses from the crowd which I won’t repeat, but you definitely don’t get that on T.V. either.

As for the game – La Selecta missed a lot of opportunities on the field, but they did get this penalty shot which was very exciting.

Another highlight for me was seeing a guy run across the field with the Salvadoran flag. I know that’s frowned upon but it amused me, (and he was really fast. Maybe La Selecta should draft him?)

An unidentified man carries an El Salvador flag as he runs on the field during the second half of a CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Panama and El Salvador. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

(You can’t see on my video, but you can see in others that the Panamanian goalie threw the U.S. flag out of the goal. That’s what the booing was about at the end of the video.)

El Salvador was ready to win… and then Panama scored a goal in the last minute… at least they say they scored a goal. I’ve watched the replay two dozen times and can’t decide if it was good or not. If only there was video of it from the other side – pero ni modo, what’s done is done. There’s no use being bitter about it.

Okay…maybe a little.

Cover of El Diario de Hoy / Deportes

Here are some of my favorite photos I took during the game:

As you see, some guys had a banner that proclaimed Zelaya to be better than Chicharito. While I was there to support La Selecta with all my heart, I’m not so sure I agree. My Pitbull didn’t do much better. The game was full of excitement, tense moments, joy, disappointment – the poor Salvadorans around me went from elated to crushed over and over again. One guy often took his frustration out on the empty stadium seat in front of him. By the end of the game I was kind of surprised he hadn’t managed to rip it out as he repeatedly pounded on it screaming “P*TA! P*TA! P*TA! HIJUEP*TA!”

Carlos was calmer than that though I heard him say a few choice words under his breath after the final penalty shot shoot-out decided our fate.

Win or lose, it was an amazing experience. I know it was particularly special for Carlos. I asked him what it felt like being in the stadium surrounded by so many Salvadorans. He said it reminded him of home and the games he used to go to with his friends. The good thing about Salvadorans is that even though Carlos didn’t have his old friends with him, the guys seated around us were more than willing to fill-in for the day. I know Carlos to be a mostly quiet guy, but when he’s with other salvadoreños he opens up and is actually quite talkative. I love to see him uninhibited like that. [ Read Carlos’s post about the day here.]

The game came to an end, but the brotherly love was far from over. On the way out of the stadium I was nearly crushed, (this panicked me for a minute but I knew Carlos would throw people left and right if I were in any danger.) … Then we missed the first Metro train because it was impossible to fit anymore people on it. We waited twenty more minutes for the pleasure of being crushed on the next train. Besides myself, I think there was only one other woman on the train – it was packed with young men wearing blue, and all of us, (myself included), were in serious need of some deodorant after a long day in the sun.

Despite the heat, lack of personal space, exhaustion and loss of the game, the group on the train remained in good spirits.

“Yo soy salvadoreño!” shouted one man still full of pride and warrior spirit, “Soy guerilla!”
A man from the other side of the train answered him back,
“Guerilla mi c*lo!”

(Don’t ask me to translate it to English. Somehow, it’s not as funny like that.)

Disclosure: I attended the Gold Cup games at the invitation of State Farm. All opinions are my own.

El Más Chingón!

Via a press release yesterday, mun2, (Telemundo’s bilingual cable broadcast network aimed at young Latinos) – announced several awesome things – among them, an upcoming show that I’m really excited about. Chécalo!

From the press release:

“El Más Ching*n” [is] a competition reality series set to discover the next big Regional Mexican artist. It’s a talent search with a twist. Selecting contestants through an interactive online campaign, the road to regional stardom is filled with lifestyle challenges that include writing and performing, as well as horseback riding, media pressure tests and other identifiers of regional respect. Judged by celebrity personalities, the contestants will also be documented through behind-the-scenes rehearsals, back-story segments and confessionals, and tensions between the contestants, competing for one prize. Quién es el más chign*n?

I’m envisioning cute chicos vaqueros, some good Regional Mexican music, (and probably some bad Regional Mexican music from those who are NOT el más chingón), maybe some botas picudas… and… espera un momento! … They said “judged by celebrity personalities” … I wonder who? My fingers are crossed for a guest appearance by Espinoza Paz! Vamos a ver!

More about mun2, (because I like them and I identify with the term “culture connectors” that they use):

“…mun2 (moon-dos) is the lifestyle cable network for today’s culture connectors (C2s) – bicultural Latinos 18-34. As the bilingual network that amplifies the Latinos experience, mun2 is culturally-grounded and reflects the best of both worlds – mun2 is uniquely American. From reality to music, on-air to digital, mun2 creates original content across a multi-screen platform. As the only nationally measured bilingual cable network by Nielsen NTI, mun2 has an increased distribution to over 36 million households, and is a part of the Telemundo Communications Group, a division of NBCUniversal.”