Latino USA

Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

StoryCorps Historias

Since 2003, over 50,000 people have shared life stories with family and friends through StoryCorps, a public radio oral history project. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to its broadcasts on public radio and the web. Each conversation is recorded and is preserved at the Library of Congress.

This month, StoryCorps launches a new initiative: StoryCorps Historias. Over the course of the next year, Latino USA will partner with StoryCorps to bring Historias to our public radio audience.

FAMILIA MESTAS
Dr. Gustavo Mestas and his family lived in Cuba during the early years of Fidel Castro’s regime. In 1963, however, they escaped and came to Florida.

Dr. Mestas’s daughter, Ileana Smith, was 10 years old when they came to the United States. She asked her father about his reasons for escaping Cuba.

“That is a very complex problem,” he said. Dr. Mestas describes the mixed feelings he had: an initial moment of happiness at Castro’s victory, and then the eventual realization that this was, in his own words, “not good for my children.”

So when a friend was leaving, Mestas and his family also got on the boat and headed for Florida. Upon coming to this country, Mestas struggled. He had to take classes at night so that he could practice as a doctor. In the daytime, he worked picking tomatoes and cleaning motels. He would walk to his night classes.

Mestas was an orthopedic surgeon in Cuba. But he decided to be a general practitioner in the United States — he didn’t want to wait for years before being able to practice.

Despite the difficulties, Mestas is happy with the way people have accepted him into their lives. “The way they accepted me and the way they treated me, I paid them with hard work, ” he said.

Mestas worked for 30 years as a doctor. And he still has a good relationship with his former patients. “Even today, after more than eight years retired, I go to the grocery and I see the ladies and they kiss me,” Mestas said. “I think they love me.”

Ileana sees her dad as a large influence in her life.

“I love you and I respect and admire you,” she said.

LISTEN NOW to their story.

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Hate Crimes Task Force

On Nov. 8, 2008, Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant, was murdered in the town of Patchogue, New York. Police say that several teenagers who called themselves the “Caucasian Crew” were partaking of a little sport they called “beaner jumping” when they beat Marcelo Lucero to death.

Among other things, the incident led to the formation of the Suffolk County Hate Crimes Task Force, pictured above. What the task force quickly learned was that Lucero wasn’t the only beating victim by these and other teens.

A new report released by the Southern Poverty Law Center documents the “Climate of Fear” in Suffolk County. It goes on to name names of political leaders they identify as hate “enablers.”

Mark Potok is director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project and editor of the new report. He speaks with Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa about the fears of immigrants in Suffolk County, New York.


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Jazz Harpist Edmar Castañeda

Bandleader Edmar Castañeda started playing the harp in his native Bogotá, Colombia when he was just 13 years old. In 1994, Castañeda moved to New York where he was infused in the local jazz scene.

Today, Castañeda combines his Colombian harp style of play with a New York Jazz sensibility. His unique style of play has earned him a firm place in the international jazz scene. Sometimes he’ll perform with his wife, singer and poet Andrea Tierra, but usually he can be found performing with his band The Edmar Castañeda Trio.


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The Edmar Castañeda Trio on YouTube.

Girl From Empanada

One of the many ways that workers are trying to get ahead in these tough economic times is to create their own small businesses. While there are many challenges to creating new ventures, this alternative is often best suited to the strong work ethic that many Latinos bring when they come to this country and inspire in their children.

In San Francisco, reporter Robynn Takayama found a daughter of Chilean immigrants who once owned her own business but left that behind to get her college degree. Instead of entering the shaky job market after graduation, she decided to reopen her old business. Her name is Paula Tejeda. But she’s better known as the “Girl from Empanada.”


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To listen to and watch a related slideshow produced by Robynn Takayama, click on the photo below.
chilelindo

Music & Spirituality with Santero

San Francisco Bay Area artist Santero has performed extensively throughout the United States and Latin America as an Emcee/Composer and DJ/Producer. Fusing his santería religious sensibilities with music, Santero’s desire to create music inspired him to experiment and venture abroad to explore the world of music in all it colors and flavors. He set out as an Emcee and before long became interested in production and the technical side of creation.

Santero is currently touring the U.S. to support the release of his second CD titled El Hijo de Obatala. And he spoke with Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa about music, religion, performing, and his inspirations.


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The ‘Clave’ of Jazzing Up Flamenco

In the last 1970s and early 1980s, classical guitarists Al Di Meola, Paco de Lucía, and John McLaughlin fused together a hybrid of jazz and flamenco guitar. They called their project simply The Guitar Trio, and released recordings that took the musical world by surprise. And while all three went on to success with solo projects and other collaborations, the flamenco fusion often defined each of these artists.

Now, a new stage show called “Jazzing Flamenco” seeks to build on the pioneering efforts of The Guitar Trio.

Independent Producer Reese Erlich saw the new show at the Montreal Jazz Festival this summer and filed this report.


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“Jazzing Flamenco” on YOUTUBE.

Latinos and Healthcare Reform

The complexity of the issue of healthcare reform when it comes to the Latino community cannot be overstated. As most people know, Latinos are not a racial group, but rather an amalgamation of cultural connectors: usually by language, cuisine, religion, and geographical commonality. Mexicans and Mexican-Americans comprise nearly two-thirds of all Latinos in the U.S. And some 11-12 million of the nation’s 48 million Latinos are undocumented immigrants.

Dr. David Hayes-Bautista

So, in truth, there cannot be just one conversation about Latinos and healthcare reform. There must be a series of conversations.

Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa begins that series with Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, Director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at UCLA’s School of Medicine.

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This extended conversation (17 minutes) with Dr. David Hayes-Bautista contains analysis of the history of healthcare in the U.S. that is not part of the radio broadcast.

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Amor Prohibido

Noami Mena, a San Francisco State student, was attracted to her British boyfriend's strong Catholic upbringing.

Assimilation into the American mainstream, say many social scientists, often takes two-to-three generations for most immigrant groups. A major part of that assimilation can usually be seen in the intermarriage of couples from differing ethnic backgrounds. It’s not unusual these days to find Americans with mixed Irish-German or Polish backgrounds, for example. But there was a time in American history that these groups would rarely intermingle.

So when children of immigrants begin dating outside of their ethnic group, the familial effects can be unexpected.

As part of our ongoing series on Immigration in the U.S., NPR’s Richard Gonzales reports on a growing trend among second-generation Americans who are choosing to date and marry with partners with whom they are “culturally comfortable.”


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Justice Sonia Sotomayor Sworn In

In ceremonies Saturday morning, Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts administered both the Constitutional and Judicial Oaths to Sonia Sotomayor, making her the first Latina to serve on the nation’s highest court. To see video of the Judicial oath, click here.

On Thursday, by a 68-31* vote, the United States Senate confirmed President Barak Obama’s choice of Sotomayor to serve as the 111th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. She is the third woman to be seated on the Supreme Court.

The voting was along party lines, with the exception of nine Republicans who joined the Democratic majority in voting for Sotomayor’s confirmation.

Latino USA’s Alex Avila reports on the politics of the confirmation.


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* Senator Kennedy (D-MA) was absent from the vote due to illness.

Eduardo Galeano Beyond Time and Space

We learned one thing: don’t call Eduardo Galeano an historian. He says he’s a lover of reality, and some of that reality happened in another time, some of it happens on another map. In what he calls a “boundless” book, Galeano sets out in Mirrors to tell universal stories from the past and the present, from here and there.

Here’s an excerpt:

LOST AND FOUND

The twentieth century, which was born proclaiming peace and justice, died bathed in blood. It passed on a world much more unjust than the one it inherited.

The twenty-first century, which also arrived heralding peace and justice, is following in its predecessor’s footsteps.

In my childhood, I was convinced that everything that went astray on earth ended up on the moon.

But the astronauts found no sign of dangerous dreams or broken promises or hopes betrayed.

If not on the moon, where might they be?

Perhaps they were never misplaced.

Perhaps they are in hiding here on earth. Waiting.

Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone by Eduardo Galeano, trans. Mark Fried. Published by Nation Books.

Maria Hinojosa sat down with Galeano in New York to talk about the new work.


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