LBC 2012 Day 6 – Immigration: For or Against?

American Progress by John Gast
is an allegorical representation of the modernization of the new west.

(Let me preface this whole challenge by saying that I know that I am late….but this is me catching up)

This entire immigration debate makes me laugh. Throughout the course of American History, the US has had no problem declaring how much of a melting pot this nation is. You can go to Ellis Island and see the list of names of all the people who crossed our boarders looking for a better life. One can also go back into history and realize that our entire country is basically built on the fact that people from other nations have to come to this land to claim a place to call home.

From the moment European settlers came to this land and decimated the original people who lived here, there has been this debate about people who are crossing boarders. Yet, it has been Americans who have crossed boarders and called it the Western Expansion or the Manifest Destiny. This was our country’s view of expanding or realm of freedom by driving out the Native Americans and pushing Mexicans south.

Our views of immigration become very convoluted with modern rhetoric about people who come to this country and take American Jobs. Most of time, the media puts a face behind these “immigrants” and those just happen to belong to Latinos (Mexicans to be more specific). Yet, there is very little attention paid to other types of immigrants that may be lighter in skin tone as if most immigrants who are European know exactly what they are doing.

The problem with the belief of jobs being taken is the simple fact that most of the jobs that these undocumented immigrants are mostly working are jobs that many Americans do not want anyway. Fruit Picking? House Keeping? Sure, the argument is that undocumented workers are willing to work for less thus pushing down the wages and making that job unattractive to the US Worker, but isn’t that the fault of the people who are signing the checks? They are the ones who want to make more profit. And let’s just say that these places do stop hiring these immigrants and just hire Americans for higher wages, the price of that product or service increases and then we will really complain.

My real issue with this whole idea of just pushing everyone out comes down to the issue of judgement. Many people assume that all undocumented immigrants are in this country for a negative reason. Not everyone has the same story. This need to lump everyone into one thing becomes very discriminatory and of course, in America, that is not surprising.

I am for immigration because this country was founded by immigrants. But, when history is written in a certain way that celebrates people like Columbus for “discovering” a country that was already populated then it is no surprise that the fight for immigration becomes a bloody one.

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LBC 2012 Day 5 – Romney or Obama?

(Let me preface this whole challenge by saying that I know that I am late….but this is me catching up)

This is a scary time for the United States of America. There is such a political divide that things are getting messier as we get closer to November. It is very apparent that we are in a pivotal point, like 4 years ago, as to what direction we will be going in. We have our current President that has put policies in place that his current opponent has vowed to repeal when he gets into office.

This has alway been an easy choice for me. There is no way I will ever vote for Mitt Romney. I am pretty much against anything he proposes or talks about. Here is a man who allowed universal healthcare to happen in Massachusetts (he was governor at the time) and now opposes it. Romney made himself look foolish at the Olympics with his idiotic comments and he selected a running-mate that has no foreign policy experience.

Let me also just state that Mitt believes that 47% of the country do not pay taxes. According to him, “these” people are always looking for a government handout (i.e. welfare, unemployment). But, when you examine that statement, take into consideration that as the CEO of Bane Capital, thousands of people were laid off. Wouldn’t that mean that some of that 47% were given those handouts because of him?

When I think about Barak Obama, I think about a man who has been the calming influence after the Bush years. I also see a president that has tried to do as best he could while a Republican Congress has tried to hand cuff him at every turn. I do love the fact that he was the first US President to get Universal Healthcare passed. While he has done other things like expanding Medicare, supporting gay marriage, and expanding Pell Grants, his biggest accomplishment is Universal Health Care. I am not a person who needs government assisted Health Care, but I know that there were millions of people who were uncovered before this bill was signed.

Yet, there are many Black and Latino people who felt that Obama could do more and to those people I will say that this political system is not designed for all of us to everything we want. I believe that 8 years will be better that 4.

For those that wonder what Obama had done over this term should chick this.

LBC 2012 Day 4 – Latino Blog I recommend: @TheJadedNYer

(Let me preface this whole challenge by saying that I know that I am late….but this is me catching up)

I don’t recommend blogs often and I know that I should probably get into the habit of that. I do have a long list of blogs on the left side of your screen that I already recommend, but I do feel that this blog is one of the few that really stand out.

There are very few people who keep it real in the blogging diaspora. There also very few who can write in such away that you can hear their voice (I ‘ve never heard her actual voice so I just imagine what it would sound like). I will also say that written sarcasm is hard to master, but The Jaded NYer does it very well.

I am not just saying all this because she is a Mets fan (but it helped her cause), I think that Raquel has stepped up her game this year. She has a brand new website, which is awesome. Her web persona with her blog, twitter, and website is something that I admire because I want to do something similar. She has a book that I promised her I would buy (I am getting there) and knowing her writing style, I am quite sure it will be a very good read.

I would also encourage you to read her first published story: Grey Matter.

I consider her blog to be the consummate New York City journey as told through the lense of a Latina. I feel that she is on the cusp of something great and I cannot wait to read her adventures. As always, please take time to look through her writings and support her.

LBC 2012 Day 3 – Rice and Beans, Favorite Cuisine

(Let me preface this whole challenge by saying that I know that I am late….but this is me catching up)

It is no secret that I love rice and beans. I grew up with it and its something that I will eat until I am told by a doctor that I need to stop. I do know that this is a very starchy staple to my diet but, the thing is, I’m just not that meat and potatoes type of guy. I cannot imagine not eat rice and beans.

With that being said, my favorite cuisine has got to be Caribbean. To be even more specific, Puerto Rican and Dominican. The two cooking styles are very similar with few differences. I know that I can go to either type of restaurant and eat something that I am craving. Of course, much of that has to do with the aforementioned… Rice and Beans.

I suppose I never really tasted that many different cuisines. I have had Mexican, Ecuadorian, Peruvian, and Columbian which have different dishes that are awesome. I have also been fortunate enough to have each of these cuisines made from home (not my home…but people who I know).

That is not to say I am not going to crave ceviche from Ecuador or Peru. Most of the authentic foods have a taste and a flavor that are unforgettable. I just consider my favorite cuisine to be a piece of home. That is the one thing that I missed when I lived in Syracuse for the first few years. There was never a place that served my type of food until Las Delicias opened.

Now that I am back in NYC, I am looking forward to expand my palette a little but I have a good feeling I will always prefer the food I grew up with…

LBC 2012 Day 2 – Dominican Republic! (Latin American Island I been to)

(Let me preface this whole challenge by saying that I know that I am late….but this is me catching up)

It has been a while since I have traveled anywhere and my last trip was the Dominican Republic and I have to say, I miss it. The last time I was there was because of a wedding and it was one of the best trips I have taken as an adult.

The city I went to was La Romana and while it was resort that I stayed at, I will never forget how beautiful it’s beaches were. I fondly remember how green the trees were and how the island just radiated with a sense of culture and passion that you just do not see this side of Washington Heights.

With all the beauty that I did see, I am also not absent to reality of the other things that I didn’t see. Clearly, being in a resort makes my views a little biased because that means I did not get to see where the real people live. On the bus ride from the airport to the resort (45 minutes), I did see the real streets of DR and they reminded me of Puerto Rico.

Despite that numerous ads of tourism, we should never forget that the real people that live in these places are trying to survive, which makes me wonder about the numerous amounts of staff that I met. Were they truly happy to work there? While I am not entirely sure about that, what I am sure about is the people that I do meet from the Dominican Republic here in New York. There is a love of that place that is hard to match.

I am glad that I saw why it is they love that place. It is very beautiful and I cannot wait to return.

LBC 2012 Day 1 – What I love most about being Latino in America.

(Let me preface this whole challenge by saying that I know that I am late….but this is me catching up)

Being Latino in America is not easy these days. It is not just a social identity, it is also a political one. It seems that everyone wants to know how we are going to vote, but there will enough time for that in a later post. What I love the most about being Latino in this country is that we are all so different and yet we can all identify with the many of the same things regardless of country of origin.

There is a sense of community that is hard to describe. While not everything is perfect considering the treatment Afro Latinos, the sense of culture is all the same. I enjoy learning about history of Latin America because I find that each country is unique and yet there is a sense of connection when it comes to the indigenous populations and the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.

It is that history that connects all of us as citizens of the United States. There are so many of us now that we can effectively elect a president. However, there is still so much to do in terms of immigration reform, which seems to effect us more than any other group that comes to this country looking for citizenship.

Lastly, it is that sense of connection that has allowed me to have such a great connection with the students at Syracuse University. Despite our numbers, there are still not many Latinos in the field of Higher Education which made me stand out and allow for me to help many of them through their college careers.

The 30 Day Latino Blog Challenge 2012

As you know amongst my many adventures, I helped form the Afro Latino Justice League called The Latingr@s Project. Recently we decided to reintroduce this event that I created a few years ago. I think enough time has passed to start a new.

We are happy to bring back The 30 Day Latino Blog Challenge. 30 days, 30 blogs, 1 message to celebrate Latino Heritage Month. We challenge oursleves and any Latino blogger to write everyday for the next 30 days. The rules are simple. The blog must be at least 2 paragraphs on the selected topic, although there are 2 entries for poetry. The blog can be written in anyway chosen.

Latino/Hispanic Heritage Month is from September 15 – October 15. So this challenge will begin tomorrow. Have FUN and Good Luck! Below are the topics:

Day 1 – What I love most about being Latino in America.
Day 2 – What Latin American Country/Island have I been to
Day 3 – Favorite Latin Cuisine
Day 4 – What Latino Blog I recommend
Day 5 – Romney or Obama?
Day 6 – Immigration: For or Against?
Day 7 –  Post a picture about your culture and explain its significance
Day 8 –  What Latino Stereotype do I hate the most
Day 9 –  My Feelings on Arizona
Day  10 – Afro Latinos/Latinas in the Media

Day 11 – Religion
Day 12 – Latino Politics – What affects you?
Day 13 – What Do I know about indigenous culture (i.e.Tainos)
Day 14 – Favorite Latino Musician
Day 15 – Latinos in the Film Industry
Day 16 – Latino Art
Day 17 – Si No Puede Hablar Español, No Se Pone Latino.  Verdad?
Day 18 – A Poem (original or quoted)
Day 19 – Latinos, Police, and Prisons. What Say You/Que Te Dices?
Day 20 – Latino Superheros

Day 21 – Post an Image that Represents (Afro)Latinidad and explain why
Day 22 – Blogueros y Blogeras – Are Latinos on the ‘Nets Relevant?
Day 23 – Hispanic or Latino..What do you prefer?
Day 24 – Should USA lift the embargo on Cuba?
Day 25 – Post a picture about your familia and explain its significance
Day 26 – Favorite Latino Actor or Actress
Day 27 – Favorite Latino Author
Day 28 – Are Latinos Queer?
Day 29 – Are Latinos Black?
Day 30 – What I learned in the last 30 days..

LBC Day 30 – What I learned in the last 30 days

I am very excited that the challenge is over and I made it. I know that I wasn’t always on time, but I was able to get all 30 days done. I did not think that it would be as hard as it turned out to be.  When I came up with the topics it was all from the top of my head. I really thought it would be cool to write everyday about the topics that had to with Latino culture.

What ended it up happening was each topic became harder than the last. I was good until about day 13 and then I hit a wall. I do not see many Afro Latinos every day and that bothered me. I also had to re word some of that blog post because I realized that I was making it seem that I was the only Afro Latino in Syracuse and that wasn’t what I was trying to convey.

Since that day, this challenge began to get harder to write with the different topics. When I first started this blog I thought to myself that there was no way that I would be able to write about being Latino everyday. This challenged proved me wrong. There are topics that I touched upon that I am sure I could have created a whole other blog post from. I also learned that I need to do more research on Ecuador.

I also realized two things halfway through this process. The first was that I should have considered Columbus Day as a post. I would have loved to go in on that subject. While I did touch upon it during day 16, I should have aligned my posts with the actually days of the month. Which brings me to the second thing I realized…there are 31 days in this month! I had to shake my head when I realized that, but I think a 31 day blog challenge just does not sound as sexy…lol

Well during this time..I was asked to speak at Utica College this Saturday 10/6. I am very honored to be doing this and I plan on talking about this very challenge. I am still in the middle of writing it and I plan on posting what I say as a blog post this weekend. I am hoping to also get this speech recorded, so I can do a podcast if I can.

I want to thank all those who contributed to this challenge and all those who followed me through this. I did receive a lot of compliments and words of encouragement. I am not sure if I will do this again, but I am grateful for the experience…

LBC Day 29 – Latino Politics: What affects you?

One thing I do not like to get into is politics. The best candidate does not always win and the worst candidate does not always lose.  What really gets me about what we consider to be democracy is that the issues that have the most lobbyists are the ones that seems to be handled better. One would think that in this day and age that a law such as SB 1070 in Arizona would never be passed, but because of the federal government’s lack of policy on immigration, we are stuck in a situation of mistrust and racial profiling in one of the states of the union.

Unfortunately, there are so many issues to deal with that is hard to focus on any one thing outside of immigration. Many Latinos have become successful enough that they may not see the same issues as the rest of do. However,  there was a point in the past where Latinos were very much into political movements within this country.

When I spoke about the Latino Identity over the last few weeks, I purposely neglected to mention that the term Latino is also a political identity that many sub origins identify with. Chicanos may be used more by those Mexican Americans who refuse to be racialized by the vast majority. They deal with many issues of assimilation and immigration. Militant Puerto Ricans choose to use their origin as a political identity when dealing with issues of colonization of Puerto Rico by the United States. Political organizations like the Young Lords popped up in New York City in the late 1960’s during same time as the Black Power movement.

It is shame that no one seems to be shutting down college campus anymore because these issues are just as important now as they ever were. I will just talk about Syracuse and how this community cannot seem to come together over basic issues such as education, healthcare, and unemployment.

I remember being in a meeting that was called by the Spanish Action League (La Liga) that had members of Governor Patterson’s administration to talk about what they can do to help Latinos in Syracuse. This was when he first came into power and needed support to get some legislation across. What I witnessed we various Latino leaders all at the same table talk about issues that each sector had. Education was an issue because there were not enough ESL classes for adults and children seem to be forced to be the caretakers at times thus sparking minimal school attendance. Healthcare was an issue because Spanish speaking families did not want to go to hospitals that did not have translators (La Liga does train and provide them) or doctors that spoke Spanish. Employment was an issue because there is not enough work to go around and most Latinos that move here from other countries cannot see to correctly adjust the different ways of job searching.

I am sitting there listening to this and I asked all of them bluntly…”Why do you not all realize that all these issues are connected? You are all fighting for a piece of a pie and not helping each other because you all feel that your one issue is more important than the rest. If we could get more funding to educate people then they will be able to get a job with benefits that will then allow them to have healthcare. The problem is cyclical”

You know what I got when I said this? A blank stare. This is why I do not do politics and why people are not ready for me.

LBC Day 28 – Family Ancestry

One of the things that had sparked this whole idea of this challenge has been thought of me looking into my family tree. During one of my trips to NYC, my aunt had brought this idea that perhaps I should look into our ancestry and see what I find. I think we all reach a certain point in our lives in which we should stop and look at where we are in this world.

Mi tia, from my dad’s side, had informed me that there are several family members who live in NYC and in Puerto Rico I have never met before. These would be family members related to my late abuela. She rolled out names that I have never heard before and yet she hasn’t heard from these same family members in years. Then she pulled out an old picture of a man that kind of looked like me. It turns out to be my great grandfather.

When comparing the picture of my dad and my great grandfather, I could not help but look at the resemblance and just be in awe. This grandfather was from the paternal side of the family, which I even know less about. I came to the conclusion that at some point soon I need to start this quest to learn about my own personal past. I can spew out knowledge about different countries and talk about Tainos, but I have no clue about where my family has been. This quest is becoming more important to me since I am really not sure I will ever have kids of my own.

My mother’s side of the family has already started a tree of sorts. I did happen to glance at it during the holiday season last year. Many of my aunts tell stories of my grandparents and their lives in Brooklyn from a long time ago along the family they came with. However, there is no official record that I can see that ties all this together. So, I can only imagine the type of road map to the past I can create with all the people in my past that connect.