Latino USA

Archive for October, 2009

An Unexpected Detour

Most travelers know that even joking about something can be considered inappropriate in an airport situation. Understandably, similar rules apply to border crossings. The wrong sort of statement could find one in the grasp of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). That’s what happened to Mexican civil rights attorney Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson.

Because of the drug war in Mexico, De la Rosa has been a busy civil rights attorney in Mexico. That nature of his clientele made him fearful for his life. So much so that he started making it a habit to spend the night in El Paso, just across the border from Juarez. But when U.S. border officials heard this, they decided to act.

We have two stories, beginning with El Paso based reporter Monica Ortiz Uribe.


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Jesse Katz: The Opposite Field

Baseball has long been recognized as America’s pastime. And in recent years, the diversity of baseball has greatly reflected that of this country. Little League is no exception. Organized baseball can be found in all kinds of neighborhoods in all kinds of communities across the country.

Los Angeles-based writer Jesse Katz grew up playing ball. When it came time for his son to play, he volunteered to coach, but ended up as the Little League commissioner of a park located within one of the most Asian neighborhoods in the country, itself next to one of the most Latino neighborhoods in the country.

The cultural mix served as the backdrop for Katz’s new memoir titled The Opposite Field. Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa speaks with two-time Pulitzer winner Jesse Katz about the book.


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Watch a short film featuring Jesse Katz at La Loma in VIMEO:

The Opposite Field Trailer from Jesse Katz on Vimeo.

Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson

Mexican civil rights attorney Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson had the proper permits to cross the border and was doing so legally at the designated port of entry. But when asked by U.S. border officials why he was crossing so much, De la Rosa mentioned that he was fearful because of the work he did.

Based on his expression of fear for his life, De la Rosa was taken into protective custody by ICE officials. But they did not put him in a comfortable safe house or hotel but rather kept him handcuffed in a prison facility as they awaited a bureaucratic decision over whether to give him political asylum. The fact that De la Rosa, a Mexican citizen, neither requested nor wanted asylum fell on deaf ears.

De la Rosa tells his story now to Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa.


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Story Corps Historias: Before they Were Politicos…

The family of U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and his brother U.S. Rep. John Salazar, in fact, had humble beginnings in their native Colorado. And it wasn’t simply a matter of no toys for Christmas. They recall walking to school in shoes that didn’t match because that’s all they had. But they now credit those experiences with helping them become the adults they are today.

Congressman Raúl Grijalva grew up in Tucson, Arizona. He recalls a story to his daughter Marisa of an important life lesson imparted on him when he was a child going to school. When he was given an award, he didn’t mention it to his mother, who couldn’t speak English. Months later, when it became clear that she knew that there was an awards ceremony that she didn’t go to, she taught him to never be ashamed of who he was.

The family of U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and his brother U.S. Rep. John Salazar, in fact, had humble beginnings in their native Colorado. And it wasn’t simply a matter of no toys for Christmas. They recall walking to school in shoes that didn’t match because that’s all they had. But they now credit those experiences with helping them become the adults they are today.


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Diaz Family and the Great Depression

In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Jones Act, which granted American citizenship to the people of Puerto Rico. The territory had come under U.S. jurisdiction after the Spanish-American War of 1898. Between 1898 and 1917 any Puerto Rican who lived on the U.S. mainland was considered a “resident alien.”

As Puerto Rican citizens, however, the people on the island could not serve in the U.S. military. By making them American citizens, the Jones Act enabled some 20,000 Puerto Ricans to serve in active duty during World War I.

During the 1920s, thousands of Puerto Ricans took advantage of their new American citizenship and came “stateside.” It was a time of economic boom and large cities welcomed the influx of cheap labor.

In 1927, Manny Diaz moved with his family from Puerto Rico to New York. The family had hardly settled in when suddenly the country was in the throes of The Great Depression.

As part of our partnership series Story Corp Historias, here is Manny Diaz’s story.


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B as in Beauty

Alberto Ferreras is probably not content with sitting still or doing any one thing for too long. Born in Madrid, Spain and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Ferreras has been New York based since the 1990s. He has adapted plays based on classic Latin American novels in Spanish. He designs and promotes film and documentary projects for cable outlets like MTV and HBO. He even has written music that has been performed by such artists as Madonna.

All of those elements, music, books, movies, and pop culture are incorporated into his first novel titled B as in Beauty. Well received by critics and audiences alike, Ferrera’s “B” is a large girl who is miserable as she struggles with her looks in a thin-crazed society. It’s not until she embraces her large size that she finally begins to live life more fully. Okay, so she becomes a “comfort provider” for men who love large women. But it’s a fun story told with lots of comedy.


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Happy Halloween! and ¡Feliz Día de los Muertos!

The good thing about being Latino is the bicultural approach families often employ when it comes to the holidays, food, self-expression, or just about anything. But not everyone can have it both ways, as Maria Hinojosa observes.


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Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet

Three-time Grammy nominee Wayne Wallace is known for the use of traditional forms and styles in combination with contemporary music. An accomplished arranger, educator, and composer with compositions for film and television, Wallace has performed, recorded and studied with acknowledged masters of the Afro-Latin and Jazz idioms such as Aretha Franklin, Bobby Hutcherson, Earth Wind and Fire, Pete Escovedo, Santana, Conjunto Libre, Whitney Houston, Tito Puente, Steve Turre, John Lee Hooker, Con-funk-shun, Manny Oquendo and Libre, Max Roach, Orestes Vilató, and others.

Born and raised in San Francisco, California, Wayne was exposed to Blues, Country and Western, and Jazz at an early age. His studies of Afro-Latin music and Jazz have included several trips to Cuba, New York, and Puerto Rico.

Wayne teaches at San Jose State University, Stanford University and the Jazz School in Berkeley. He is also the head of his own record label, Patois Records. His latest CD is simply titled ¡Bien Bien!


Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quartet on YOU TUBE.

‘Grand Café’ – Empowerment Through Popular Media

Throughout Latin America the telenovela is an extremely popular form of entertainment. While they are often described as a Spanish-language TV “soap opera,” the biggest difference between telenovelas and American soap operas is the Spanish-language version actually has a planned episodic ending. It’s rare for a Spanish-language telenovela to last more than two-years. But the audience is well aware of this. And some telenovelas have had famed remakes or re-airings.

Spanish-language television networks in this country have kept the telenovela popular in the U.S. The most popular ones come from Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil. And the tradition of watching telenovelas has spanned generations as well as diverse nationalities and ethnicities.

Now, CEO Women, an Oakland based advocacy group, is taking advantage of the telenovela format to train Latinas in the intricacies of starting a small business. Producer Lonny Shavelson tells us about this unique project.


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Web Extra – Latino Farmers v. USDA

In the landmark Pigford v. Glickman class action lawsuit, some 15,000 Black farmers sued the federal government for systematic discrimination when it game to allocating USDA farm loans vital to seasonal farmers. The government settled that suit for $1 Billion and are now looking for another $1.25 Billion to cover additional claimants.

But despite the fact that Latino farmers, especially in South Texas, faced very similar discrimination in the same loan program, a federal judge has ruled that the Latino farmers cannot be given class action status, severely complicating the case.

Reporter Wade Goodwyn reported this story recently for NPR.


Right-click here to download an .mp3 of this segment.

Here is a link to his original story.

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