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Sabiduría: Get Your Focus On

It’s easy to get distracted. In this Sabiduría, scholar and cultural activist Dr. Marta Moreno Vega gives us a little advice about what to do when work and other life worries make you lose your focus.

marta fbMarta Moreno Vega was born in El Barrio “Spanish Harlem” of Puerto Rican parents born in Puerto Rico. Dr. Vega, an Afro Puerto Rican, has dedicated her professional life to developing culturally grounded institutions placing the history and culture of African descendants in the Diaspora in the time clock of world history. She is founder and president of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, an international not for profit organization located in New York City which she created in 1976.

Going to Rikers Island

On Rikers Island, the largest jail in the world, a new program aims at lowering juvenile recidivism by training young inmates to question their own life choices. Maria Hinojosa takes us into East River Academy, a high school–in jail–to explore how the program works.

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michael-johnson-headshot-150x150Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Michael Simon Johnson spend most of his childhood making music and groaning when his parents put on NPR in the car. So naturally he graduated from Emerson College with a degree in Sound Design, moved to New York and made his way into public radio. As an engineer, he has worked for Afropop Worldwide, WNYC’s Radio Rookies, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. He commits much of his time to working on radio and multimedia projects but can often be found playing the bass, rock climbing, and traveling.

Once You’re Out

Juan Echevarria made the most of his time on the inside. While serving fifteen years, he took classes and  started an HIV education program. He now helps men and women who are being released from prison transition back into the world. Juan shares a few thoughts on challenges former inmates face as they reenter society.

Photo courtesy of Flicker.

 Juan Echevarria served fifteen years in prison where he took classes and  started an HIV education program. He now helps men and women who are being released from prison transition back into the world.

Diplomas Behind Bars

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a school is offering high school diplomas–not GEDs–to county jail inmates. Freelance reporter Megan Kamerick tells us more.

Photo courtesy of Flicker.

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megankMegan Kamerick is a freelance journalist and radio producer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She been a journalist for 20 years, mostly in print.  As a business reporter and editor at the San Antonio Business Journal, New Orleans CityBusiness and the New Mexico Business Weekly, she covered numerous beats, including real estate, economic development, law, education,  tourism, the creative economy, philanthropy and the film/media industries. Her work has also appeared in Art Business News, New Orleans Magazine and New Mexico Journeys.

She is currently working part-time as a host and producer at New Mexico PBS for the show “Public Square” and as an independent producer at KUNM radio on the conservation beat. She also produces newscasts and interviews for the KUNM show “Women’s Focus.”

She has received awards over  the years for investigative pieces, arts coverage, environmental stories, profiles, breaking news and the portrayal of women. She was also named outstanding small business journalist in New Mexico by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s New Mexico office.

 

Paño, Art on a Square

Even though you might be living behind bars, the desire to create still lives inside you. You’ll grab whatever materials you can find and make something to pass the time, to express your fears and to make a statement about your life. In the 1990s, Chicano prisoners in San Antonio, Texas, took square pieces of cotton, called Paños, and created elaborate scenes with ballpoint pen. Some curators now recognize them as folk artist.

Maria Hinojosa went to the home of David Joralemon, a New York art collector and spoke to curator Martha Henry. Part of David’s collection is currently on tour in Venice.

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Photos courtesy of Martha Henry.

And why has paño making become illegal in Texas? Curator Martha Henry explains:

 ” Although private prisons have become profitable businesses, the governor is ultimately in control of the prison system and sets the tone for the wardens who run their facilities like private fiefdoms and enforce their own sets of rules.  However, it is the governor who encourages or forbids art programs and the flow of art supplies in jail and creates a supportive or hostile environment for paño making. 

 Texas Governor Ann Richards, whose term ran from 1991 to 1995, allowed rehabilitation programs to flourish which upset the historical culture of punishment in Texas prisons. She was defeated for re-election by George W. Bush whose war on crime re-instituted the trend toward dehumanization in prison governance.  Prisoners should suffer, so art making was not allowed. However, making paños with gang references has never been allowed and would result in confiscation and lock-down. 

 The paños I researched were made between 1989 and 1999 during the governorships of Ann Richards and George W. Bush.  In the past six years it appears that there has been a shift in prison culture:

Not since the early 1990s, when then-Gov. Ann Richards, a Democrat, shook up the historical punishment culture of Texas prisons by opening new drug-treatment prisons focusing on rehabilitation, has such a dramatic trend emerged, some experts say. Only this time, conservative Republicans are driving the reforms that began in 2007, as fiscal conservatism gained the upper hand over tough-on-crime policies.”

B2_PAÑOART_MARTHAHENRY_NOCREDITMartha Henry is a New York independent curator of exhibitions traveling to museums and university galleries throughout the U.S. and internationally.  Ms. Henry curated and organized the tour of Art from the Inside: Paño Drawings by Chicano Prisoners, a show of 120 ball point pen drawings on handkerchiefs by Texas inmates, which travelled to Wiegand Gallery, Notre Dame de Namur University, Belmont, CA: The Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, IN; Inuit – Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Chicago, IL;  The New England Center for Contemporary Art, Brooklyn, CT; and El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY between 2004 and 2012.

B2_PAÑOART_DAVIDJORALEMON_NOCREDITDavid Joralemon is an art curator living in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. His personal collection of Latin America and includes ancient art, Latin American colonial furniture and decorative arts, 19th century landscape paintings and drawing by American and French travelers to Latin America, 20th century ethnographic pieces from Panama, Surinam, Brazil and Peru, Chicano paños, and lots of finds from flea markets.

Kidnapped

It’s not just the law that can keep you caged: in Mexico, kidnappings are on the rise. One man told Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Jordana Gustafson his harrowing experience.

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JordanaGustafsonJordana Gustafson is a reporter for OPB News. She began her radio career at WBUR in Boston and has reported and produced for numerous outlets, including NPR, Marketplace and This American Life. Jordana graduated from Connecticut College. She was a member of the WUNC-Chapel Hill team that won the 2006 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Broadcast News Award for the series Understanding Poverty. In 2010, she and her colleagues were awarded the Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for their documentary series, The Arab World’s Demographic Dilemma. Jordana is a 2013 immigration reporting fellow with the Institute for Justice and Journalism. She speaks fluent Spanish, and she recently rode her bike from Slovenia to Spain. She was born and raised in Ojai, California.

Who’s Checking The Checkpoints?

In Siler City, North Carolina, two young Latinos are informing the community of police checkpoints via Facebook, to combat what they see as harassment.

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Leda-Pix1Leda Hartman is a creative and seasoned writer, reporter and editor who specializes in narrative journalism. As a reporter, Leda is committed to bringing the stories of ordinary people to life in ways that go beyond quick headlines and sound bites. Leda works online, in print and on the radio, and has been a longtime contributor to many nationally broadcast public radio programs, reporting on everything from breaking news and human-interest features to presidential campaigns. Leda’s work has aired on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, Latino USA, Living on Earth, Studio 360, The World and Voice of America, among other programs. Leda has also worked as the assignment editor for two nationally broadcast global affairs programs, Latitudes and the World Vision Report. Over the years, she has received more than a dozen national and regional awards.

Trapped In Your Own Body

Guillermo Gómez-Peña is one of the country’s leading performance artists and director of the performance art troupe “La Pocha Notra.” Maria Hinojosa speaks to Gómez-Peña about a rare disease he contracted that quickly paralyzed him and turned him into a prisoner in his own body.

Photo from “La Pocha Nostra” archives.

ggp2Guillermo Gómez-Peña was born in 1955 and raised in Mexico City. He came to the US in 1978. His work, which includes performance art, video, audio, installations, poetry, journalism, and cultural theory, explores cross-cultural issues, immigration, the politics of language, “extreme culture” and new technologies in the era of globalization. A MacArthur fellow, he is a regular contributor to the national radio news magazine All Things Considered (National Public Radio), a writer for newspapers and magazines in the U.S. and Mexico, and a contributing editor to The Drama Review (MIT).

Gómez-Peña’s performance and installation work has been presented at over seven hundred venues across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Australia, the Soviet Union, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Brazil and Argentina. Among numerous fellowships and prizes, Gómez-Peña was a recipient of the Prix de la Parole at the 1989 International Theatre of the Americas (Montreal), the 1989 New York Bessie Award, and the Los Angeles Music Center’s 1993 Viva Los Artistas Award. In 1991, Gómez-Peña became the first Chicano/Mexicano artist to receive a MacArthur Fellowship (1991-1996). In 1995, he was included in The UTNE Reader’s “List of 100 Visionaries.” In 1997 he received the American Book Award for The New World Border. In 2000, he received the Cineaste lifetime achievement award from the Taos Talking Pictures film festival. Photo from “La Pocha Nostra” archives.

To see more of Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s work check out “La Pocha Nostra” website.

Blogging from Cuba

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo is a Cuban blogger, activist, and editor of Cuba’s first digital magazine Voces. Maria Hinojosa talks to Pardo Lazo about blogging and writing in Cuba, the democratic potential of the Internet, and Pardo Lazo’s impressions during his first trip to the United States.

00570032Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo was born in Havana. He graduated with a degree in biochemistry and later became a writer, photographer and blogger. He founded the independent literary digital magazine Voces, Cuba’s first digital magazine. He is the other of numerous works of short fiction and manages the blog Lunes de Post-Revolución (in English – Post Revolution Mondays) as well as his photoblog Boring Home Utopics.

Sabiduría: Living in a Boxcar

We end the show with words of wisdom from Army veteran Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, who tells us her favorite story about looking beyond your present situation.

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