Sunday, December 31, 2006

Even when leaving home, you keep it close

A gut check before changing citizenship

Tennessean columnist Saritha Prabhu describes the soul-searching required before she and her husband became U.S. citizens. They realized that identity is not easily left behind.

"It's not for nothing that your homeland is sometimes called your motherland, and if you aren't ready, it could feel a little like trading in your mother for a richer, more glamorous one. Our emotions at the time were a mixed stew — gratitude for this country, pride in many of its values and a sense that we were about to gain something by losing something."

"In this nation of many disposable things, your identity, as many immigrants find, isn't readily disposable. And you should probably question the loyalty of someone who switches allegiance instantly. If something better than U.S. citizenship came along — a hypothetical something — would they readily jump ship then?"

Similar sentiment is featured in this op-ed contribution in today's New York Times. Titled, "No Place Like Home," the piece notes the remembrances of home that are especially powerful during the holiday season:

Sometimes I think that I remember my Decembers in a sharp manner, simply because of the very fact that I have been gone from my home country for the best part of two decades. I can hear the tick of the white radiator on Christmas morning. I can touch the moist cloth as it’s taken off the Christmas pudding. I can feel the wool of the new Dunnes Stores sweater worn tentatively the morning after, scared that my friends might bellyache over the ridiculous diamond pattern. I recall hiding the new woolly gloves in the outside hedges — they looked far too girly to be worn to a soccer match. And I can still feel the thrum of the secondhand bike tires beneath my feet. ...

Indeed, all of these times now — with my own children, my American children — are full of the times back then.

Pradhu's column is her second in a series exploring the naturalization process through her personal experience (first column here).

Friday, December 29, 2006

Raul Malo plays 3rd & Lindsley Saturday, Sunday nights

The Tennessean reports in this article that Raul Malo will perform this Saturday and Sunday nights at 3rd & Lindsley. Tickets are $25 for Saturday's show and $70 for Sunday's New Year's Eve show:

"Malo ends 2006 with two Nashville performances at 3rd & Lindsley. His year has been marked by critical acclaim (Billboard magazine's write-up claimed that 'the purity, clarity and strength of his voice is simply unmatched by any other singer out there today') and by a continuing evolution from 'Hey, isn't that the guy who fronted The Mavericks?' to the realm of 'respected solo artist.' In concert, he brings a small band and a big bag of songs, performing Mavericks songs, country classics, Latin-flavored numbers and plenty of the new album's torchy stuff."

The article also describes the making of Malo's latest solo album, "You're Only Lonely," which is available on here or on iTunes here. (The Hispanic Nashville Bookshelf features this and other music here.)

Malo is one of a small circle of Hispanic country music stars (story here). lists the following praise for You're Only Lonely:

"This intensely romantic CD showcases his haunting vocals on an eclectic mix of covers, from the Etta James standard 'At Last' to Randy Newman’s 'Feels Like Home,' on which Malo and Martina McBride make the best pair since Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt." --- Ralph Novak

“Intensely romantic.” CRITIC’S CHOICE -- People

“[An album] dedicated to resurrecting the kind of romantic pop music that Frank Sinatra long personified. This is all about setting the mood for candlelight, champagne and a cozy evening with the one you love – or wish to." -- Los Angeles Times

“Anyone in search of sophisticated make-out music should snag Malo's album, posthaste: You're Only Lonely is a perfect disc to break out (along with a bottle of red wine) once the kids are tucked into bed and fast asleep.” -- The Washington Post

“The best makeout album of the year. Music for lovers only." -- St. Petersburg Times

“This is turn down the lights music, serious baby-making stuff." -- Cincinnati City Beat

“A beautiful record, through and through. If you don’t like it, you’re a bad person.” -- MSNBC

“Easily the most romantic album of the year." -- Music Row Magazine

“A mood-setting, smooch-inducing date album." --

“Reminiscent of Frank Sinatra's classic late-night albums (think 'In the Wee Small Hours'). Glorious.” --

“A handsome set of ballad covers….for your listening and dining pleasure. Burnished and refined…verging on operatic. A-.” -- Philadelphia Daily News

Hispanic Nashville Datebook

If you know of an event that should be listed in the Datebook, please contact the editor.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Dominique Thormann, Nissan senior VP: "Working Across Cultures in a Global Company"

Vanderbilt lecture available online

Listen to a lecture by Dominique Thormann, senior vice president, administration and finance for Nissan North America Inc. (NNA). As senior vice president, Thormann oversees all finance, legal, human resources, business strategy, corporate communications, captive finance, security, corporate aviation and audit for Nissan's North American operations.

He is a member of the NNA Board of Directors; Management Committee Americas (MC-A), the key decision making body for Nissan in North, Central and South America; and the U.S. Management Committee (MC-US).

Prior to assuming his current position, he was senior vice president, administration and finance for Nissan Europe, and was responsible for all activities related to human resources, finance, corporate communications, legal and business strategy operations for Nissan Europe.

Thormann joined Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., in Tokyo in 1999 as deputy general manager, investor relations and financial strategy. In April 2002, he was named vice president, global communications and investor relations.

Prior to joining Nissan, Thormann worked for Renault, SA in its investor relations department and for Renault Credit International as treasurer. Before that, he worked for The Chase Manhattan Bank between 1979 and 1989 in various positions in New York, Rome, Milan and Paris.

Thormann holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, and a master’s degree in international relations from the university’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.

The lecture was sponsored by the Owen Graduate School of Management Japanese Business Club.

Listen to lecture: "Working Across Cultures in a Global Company" Nov. 8 at Vanderbilt University

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Nashville schools: 13% Hispanic

Six of 133 schools are majority Hispanic, says board chair

"The face of the Nashville community has changed, with a much richer diversity that should be embraced."

Marsha Warden, chairwoman of the Metropolitan Nashville Board of Education, stated in this article in the Tennessean that 13% of Metro school students are Hispanic, with six schools of 133 being majority Hispanic.

This December 5 story in the Tennessean put the representation of Hispanic students in Nashville/Davidson County schools at 12.1%, with Rutherford County at 6.4%, Sumner County at 3.1%, Williamson County at 2.8%, and Wilson County at 2.2%.

In 2004, state-wide figures from the College Board reported that 1.8% of advanced placement test-takers were Hispanic, with Hispanics representing only 1% of Tennessee students.

Excerpts from Warden's commentary:

[W]hite enrollment in MNPS is 35 percent. Hispanic enrollment has risen from zero percent in 1995 to 13 percent. In addition, students representing 83 countries and 78 languages attended our schools last year. And out of 133 schools:

• 33 are majority white.

• 65 are majority African-American.

• Six schools are majority Hispanic.

• 29 schools are balanced, with no racial group in the majority.

Warden wrote in reaction to recent arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court that Nashville's education system is segregated (story here). Warden disputed that sentiment, saying, "Metro Nashville Public Schools have moved from a majority white, bicultural, school system to a plurality, multicultural school system. The face of the Nashville community has changed, with a much richer diversity that should be embraced."

The nation's highest court is being asked to determine the constitutionality of using race as a factor in assigning students to schools, even in the name of diversity.

According to Warden, "Nashville's 1998 integration plan actually included race as one of the minor factors to consider when the zone lines for schools were drawn. The plan has not changed but, during the years, what has changed are the demographics of students going to public schools."

In 2005, the Nashville school board considered using socio-economic integration as a zoning tool, with a visit to a county in North Carolina that already uses such a system (story in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook here).

The Franklin Special School District in Williamson County, just to the south of Nashville, has also eyed diversity as an educational prize. This 2003 story in the Tennessean described a Williamson County school's efforts to attract minorities: "Poplar Grove is the [Franklin Special School District]'s only open-zoned, year-round school. It is also the least diverse school in the system. Last month the board voted to rezone its other four elementary schools in an effort to spread out the diversity but left Poplar Grove open-zoned under the stipulation that it enroll at least 50 minority students in the kindergarten class over the next two years. ... The top consideration for admission after siblings is minority status."

Photo credit: tree & j hensdill

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Idyllic small-town life draws Cuban family from Miami to Williamson County

Southern hospitality shines through

The Tennessean reported in this Christmas day story about the extended Lopez family, a group with roots in Miami and Cuba, who decided together to move to Williamson County. They were drawn by its small-town character and met with Southern hospitality after their arrival.

"Amidst a traditional 'Noche Buena' celebration, which includes roasted pig, opening presents and children putting on a play, there was a family reunion and the marking of a new beginning."

"Four branches of one family tree with roots in Miami, moved to Williamson County this year. The last of this Cuban clan arrived Friday, completing a 17-hour drive. Two sisters, their brother, their spouses, children and parents (eight adults and nine children in all) all made the move after one family member saw Franklin on a magazine list of the best places in the country to live."

"Carlos was searching online and found Franklin on's 2005 list of best small cities to live in. It ranked 58th. Carlos said he clicked on a link and was directed to a Williamson County Web site. He said the description of the county, the school system, the proximity to Nashville, home values and amenities were exactly what he was looking for."

"Carlos Lopez called three Franklin real estate agents and formed an instant, over-the-phone connection with Shannon Wheeler, who ended up giving Jenny, Jetza and their brother, Javier Nunez, a tour of the town."

"It was our first encounter with Southern hospitality," Carlos said.

"Carlos said days after moving into Fieldstone Farms, neighbors began bringing goodies to welcome them. They were invited for dinner and St. Thomas threw a welcoming reception for the family."

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad

Merry Christmas from the Hispanic Nashville Notebook, and saludos navidenos to our friends across Latin America.

Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace
good will toward men

Gloria a Dios en las alturas
y en la tierra paz
buena voluntad para con los hombres

El Salvador
Photo by Calero

Photo by jremigio

Photo by Jeff Barry

Photo by blmurch

Photo by Ryan Greenberg

Photo by Montanero

Photo by Spanner Dan

Photo by Suchy

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Three-year-old Peruvian girl is one face of Children's Hospital doll donation plea

"Champ" doll accompanied young patient through surgery donated by Dr. Shelagh Cofer

Three-year-old Betsy Vilca Sucari managed to charm everyone she met when she visited the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. To Betsy, a native of Peru, the Americans-- with their strange habits, completely indecipherable language and interesting toys-- were just fun to visit with. But to those who got to know Betsy in the one-and-a-half weeks she was here, her visit was so much more. Betsy had a fast growing tumor in her neck that was beginning to hurt her ability to eat and sleep. It had to be removed and ear, nose and throat surgeon Shelagh Cofer, who met Betsy on a medical mission trip, volunteered to do the surgery for free. The surgery was a great success and throughout recovery, Betsy clung to her Champ doll, which she had named “Perrito,” (Spanish for “puppy”) and within a day or so, she was back to playing and charming once again. Betsy made a great recovery and climbed on a plane one week after surgery and was home with her mother in Peru by two days later.

The Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital is putting out an urgent plea to the community to help save Champ. The Hospital’s canine “champion” isn’t sick, but a stuffed animal made in his likeness that is given to every young in-patient (except newborns) is in critically short supply.

“Champ dolls are made overseas and then must be shipped. The only way to make that affordable is to order the dolls in bulk,” said Susan Kohari, interim Champ Program manager. “We need to place an order at a cost of more than $15,000. That will keep us supplied for maybe six months.” Currently the Champ fund stands at less than less than $4,000. Meanwhile, there are only a couple of dozen of the dolls left to give to sick and injured children who are admitted to the hospital. That means by the first of the year there will be no more Champ dolls to give to patients unless additional funding can be found.

To keep up with the greater-than-expected demand for Champ dolls, hospital officials are re-designing the Champ to be smaller; more like a “beanie Champ.” “Our patients say they love the beanie style and this will allow us to order smaller dolls in larger amounts and at lower cost,” said Kohari.

The current cost is $16.00 for each Champ. If you are interested in supporting the Champ doll program, please send your donation by check to:

Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital Champ Fund
2200 Children’s Way
Suite 2410
Nashville, TN 37203-1042

Please make checks payable to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital (put in description line: For Champ fund).

The Tennessean also published this story about the call for Champ donations and the response of four Bellevue children.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ethnic economic gaps are more pronounced in Nashville

This November story in the Tennessean reported that Hispanic households in Nashville earned $33,376 in 2005, compared to Asian household earnings of $57,678, white household incomes of $50,333, and $27,153 for African-American households in Nashville. The story cited a Census Bureau study, which found that racial disparity is worse here than for the average U.S. city.

The wage disparity must be fueled, at least in part, by low-income immigrants from Mexico. According to this article in the New York Times, "[a]t least one-third of the foreign-born in the United States come from Mexico, census figures show," and "[i]n the United States new Mexican immigrants mostly earn poverty wages by American standards, a median income of only $300 a week, the Pew Hispanic Center reported last year. But that is as much as four times what they would make for similar work at home."

Even though Hispanics have a proportionately lower household income, the Tennessean article describes what may be a path to greater income equality:

"Marilyn Robinson said the key to stemming the economic disparities is to encourage business ownership."

"'If you work hard and have access to business opportunities, then you can generate wealth,' said Robinson, who is president of the Nashville branch of the NAACP."

That's good news for Hispanics, who as of 2002 were "opening businesses at a rate three times faster than the national average." (see this column by Tony Snow). Snow and others dispel the notion that the statistics about immigrants should justify a punitive immigration policy (see commentary by Lawrence Downes and Anna Quindlen).

Other gaps experienced by Hispanics include health care (reported in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook in this March 2005 article) and mortgage rates (reported in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook in this March 2004 article).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

SunTrust Nashville recognized in Annual Diversity Awards

Tatia Cummings leads Hispanic Emerging Market Initiative to $5.8 million in new business, 700% growth in bilingual and bicultural employee base

The Nashville Region has won a 2006 SunTrust Diversity Award in the Enterprising Achievement category for their Hispanic Emerging Market Initiative.

SunTrust’s Annual Diversity Awards recognize the achievements of groups and individuals within the bank who exemplify leadership in diversity. These champions are leading SunTrust’s quest to become an inclusive organization where the diversity of our employees, clients, suppliers, and markets is respected and leveraged.

Tatia Cummings, Nashville Emerging Markets Coordinator, has led the Emerging Market Initiative since 2005. In that time she and her team, the Hispanic Affinity Group, have reached 15,000+ people of Hispanic origin. The Hispanic Affinity Group members include Sol Valarezo, Luciano Scala, Shane Merrill-Facio, Cecilia Melo Romie, Rodrigo Aguilar, Mauricio Anda, James King, Karina Beron, Richard Bishop,Alexander Rivera, Marc Ware, Daniel Fischer, Tom Lasley, Denise McBride, Ruben Murguia, Amanda Weaver, Renee Drake, Sandra Kihm, Missy Williams, Adriana Nuñez, CJ Olson, Joseph Martinez, Carlos Murgas, Darwing Martorrell, Sam Saunders, and Kevin Ryan.
The group has been responsible for growing relationships within Retail, Private Wealth Management and Mortgage. Cummings and her team have brought in $5.8 Million in new business. They have also assisted in growing the SunTrust bilingual and bicultural employee base by 700%. Cummings and the Hispanic Affinity Group have been successful in positioning SunTrust as a bank of choice for Nashville’s Hispanic community.

Winners were selected through nominations reviewed by a selection committee. The winners demonstrated the best results measured against a rich mix of evaluation criteria that included clear focus and objectives, management commitment and involvement, new business closed and leads generated, new hires and candidate referrals, employee engagement, creativity and innovation, scope of impact, and enhanced branding and reputation.

To learn more about the Diversity Awards or the Hispanic Affinity Group contact Tatia Cummings at 615-748-4847.

SunTrust Banks, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, is one of the nation's largest banking organizations, serving a broad range of consumer, commercial, corporate and institutional clients. As of June 30, 2006, SunTrust had total assets of $181.1 billion and total deposits of $124.9 billion. The Company operates an extensive branch and ATM network throughout the high-growth Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states and a full array of technology-based, 24-hour delivery channels. The Company also serves customers in selected markets nationally. Its primary businesses include deposit, credit, trust and investment services. Through various subsidiaries the Company provides credit cards, mortgage banking, insurance, brokerage, equipment leasing and capital markets services. SunTrust’s Internet address is

Photo: Tatia Cummings

Monday, December 18, 2006

Nashvillian immigrant to Nicaragua is held in murder case

Public outrage against foreigner threatens fairness of trial set for January 24


The Tennessean reports in this article that Nicaraguan authorities have charged Nashvillian Eric Volz with murder. He is being held in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua for a trial on January 27.

"A Nashville native whose father was a bassist for the once-popular Christian rock band the 77s is jailed in Nicaragua on charges that he and another man killed his former girlfriend, according to the Spanish-language newspaper El Nuevo Diario."

"Meanwhile, friends and family of Eric Volz are fighting a legal battle here, proclaiming his innocence and accusing the Nicaraguan government of falsely arresting him."

"Volz, son of musician Jan Eric Volz, is the editor of a Nicaraguan bilingual magazine, EP Magazine, according to the family's Web site,"

According to the family's site, "From a legal perspective, there is little doubt that Eric is getting disparate treatment and that there is serious prejudice against him because he is an American." The local Nicaraguan newspaper El Nuevo Diario reports that Volz was nearly lynched when being moved from place to place by the authorities. El Nuevo Diario may even have taken an intentional jab at Uncle Sam with this mention on the front page of its web site of the U.S. census report painting U.S. residents as the most overweight in the world, setting records in the time we spend eating, drinking, and watching TV.

It is not difficult to imagine that the image of the American foreigner in Nicaragua has been tarnished by anti-immigrant or anti-American rhetoric in the wake of Volz's arrest. Anti-immigrant sentiment is also a concern in the U.S. criminal justice system, as reported previously by the Tennessean (story available on Google via this search). Middle Tennessee examples of American nativism in general were most recently catalogued in this cover story in the Nashville Scene. And the Nashville City Paper has reported extensively on high-profile crimes by illegal immigrants (one story here) and the various measures and other reactions that have resulted.

Unless he is found innocent in the upcoming murder trial on January 24, it may not be possible in the end to determine whether anti-immigrant or anti-American sentiment determines his fate.

update 1/24/07: The Nashville City Paper summarized the situation before the trial in this story.

update 2/9/07: The Nashville City Paper reports here that a new trial date has been set.

update 2/19/07: The Nashville City Paper reports here that Volz has been found guilty. The San Antonio Express-News has more detail in this article.

Friday, December 15, 2006

"Best sandwich in Nashville" draws repeat crowd to Nola's

West End eatery features Cajun, Uruguayan flavor

This week's Nashville Scene has food critic Kay West returning to Nola's, the West End restaurant opened this fall by an Uruguayan chef with a cajun kitchen résumé. The chivito sandwich is a West favorite (see below), and it receives another helping of praise in this review ("such an extravagant sandwich it makes a meal"), as does the parrillada, the Milanesa Neapolitan, Crazy Victor’s hot dog, the Pampero, the cheese ravioli, and a linguine. West also gives high marks to the cajun side of the menu, including the "superb" crawfish étouffée and the oyster po’boy ("another reason to add Nola’s to your restaurant rounds").

West had previously covered Nola's opening in this review, which focused mostly on the chivito sandwich:

"Having never been to Uruguay, I can’t say that [owner Alexia] Cabrera’s chivito is a 100 percent genuine re-creation, but I can testify that it is just as deliciously decadent as the ones I had in small South American restaurants in Greenwich Village years ago, and that, had Nola’s been open one month earlier, it surely would have won the Scene Writers’ Poll for Best Sandwich, hands down."
Over on the Citysearch entry for Nola's, the first review says that Nola's has "the best steak sandwich hands down."

"Nola’s, 2912 West End Ave., 341-3693. Open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday."

Photo by H. Michael karshis

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Argentinian Eduardo Minardi assumes presidency of Bridgestone's Latin American operations

The Nashville Business Journal reports in this article that Nashville-based Bridgestone Americas announced the retirement of Jorge Gonzalez, president of Bridgestone/Firestone Latin American Tire Operations (BFLA) and an executive vice president and board member of Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc. Moving into Gonzalez's position will be Eduardo Minardi, president of Bridgestone/Firestone de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. (BFMX). In a 2002 press release issued after Minardi succeeded Gonzalez in Mexico, González described Minardi’s "broad range of experience and excellent ‘people skills’ as factors that will serve Eduardo and BFMX well in his new position, as he works to continue our strong progress in making our business in Mexico a source of sustainable pride and profits for Bridgestone/Firestone."

That press release described Minardi as a native of Argentina who graduated from the University of Buenos Aires with a degree in economics. He joined the company in 1989 and climbed the ranks in Argentina before assuming the presidency of Bridgestone's Mexican subsidiary.

Nashville-based Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc. is a subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation, the world’s largest tire and rubber company. BFAH, through its subsidiaries, develops, manufactures and markets a wide range of tires to address the needs of a broad range of customers, including consumers, automotive and commercial vehicle original equipment manufacturers and those in the agricultural, forestry and mining industries. The companies also produce Firestone air springs, roofing materials, synthetic rubber, and industrial fibers and textiles and operate the world’s largest chain of automotive tire and services centers. Bridgestone/Firestone Latin American Tire Operations is an operating unit of BFAH comprised of tire manufacturing and sales subsidiaries located in Mexico, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil and Chile.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber Holiday Party: December 20

The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce* sent out invitations for its 2006 Holiday Party, to be held Wednesday, December 20, 2006, at 5:30 p.m. See the invitation to the right for more details.

The invitation does not list the location of the event, but sponsor Las Cazuelas on Nolensville Road is the likely venue. Guests are encouraged to bring non-perishable food donations in support of Second Harvest Food Bank.

RSVP at or (615) 216-5737

*Hispanic Chamber 101: There are four Hispanic chambers of commerce in Middle Tennessee: the first three are the Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The Tennessean profiled these three chambers in this article in June 2006. A fourth chamber was incorporated this year (the Middle Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) but no activities have been announced.

Hispanic Nashville Datebook

If you know of an event that should be listed in the Datebook, please contact the editor.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tennessee Hispanic Chamber brainstorms with Cincinnati, Louisville

Plus: Christmas party this Friday December 15

The Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce* has announced an ambitious agenda of cooperation with Hispanic business groups in Cincinnati, Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky. A press release is below, and the Nashville Business Journal published this report. The groups were brought together by the law firm Frost Brown Todd.

Pledging regional collaboration to further advance their members, several key leaders of the Hispanic Chambers of Commerce in Cincinnati, Louisville and Tennessee ("Trio") met recently at a summit sponsored by the law firm of Frost Brown Todd LLC and its Hispanic Business Initiative. Representatives from the Cincinnati USA Hispanic Chamber, Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Greater Louisville’s Hispanic Latino Business Council, a GLI affiliate, planned to offer expanded business opportunities for their members in 2007 including:

* Assisting Latin American countries in business development initiatives including locating in the Mid-American region,
* Sharing resources such as a consortium on construction and hospitality enterprises,
* Business and career expos for Hispanic businesses,
* Educational seminars presented at all locations,
* Offering Scholarships to Latinos and other international employees, and
* Helping Hispanics with communication and education regarding doing business in the U.S.

The impact of Hispanics on local economies is great, according to Alfonso Cornejo, President of the Cincinnati USA Hispanic Chamber. Hispanics in the Cincinnati area contribute $2.3 billion per year to the local economy.

The Trio plans to meet again in early 2007 to implement some of the initiatives discussed in the summit, as well as to extend an invitation to the newly formed Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Lexington, Kentucky.

The Tennessee Hispanic Chamber is also throwing its Christmas party this Friday at Bill Heard Chevrolet:


To benefit La Voz Campanitas Navideñas 10th annual to benefit the Latino community

Live music!! Authentic Mexican Holiday food!!

Friday December 15, 2006

6 PM to 10 PM
Registration begins at 5:30 PM

Registration/Entrance fee includes bringing a new toy
(still in its original package and unwrapped)

Sponsored by

Posada Navideña

Bill Heard Chevrolet Grand Show Room
5333 Hickory Hollow Pkwy, Antioch, TN 37013


Members: $25.00 plus a new toy

Future Members: $35.00 plus a new toy

Hispanic Nashville Datebook

If you know of an event that should be listed in the Datebook, please contact the editor.

*Hispanic Chamber 101: There are four Hispanic chambers of commerce in Middle Tennessee: the first three are the Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The Tennessean profiled these three chambers in this article in June 2006. A fourth chamber was incorporated this year (the Middle Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) but no activities have been announced.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Spanish-language campaign against drunk driving launches with big-name support

MADD poster

MADD, Metro Police, State Farm among many sponsors

WKRN reports in this story on a new campaign to educate the Spanish-speaking Hispanic community about the dangers of drinking and driving. The media and word-of-mouth effort, coordinated by Nashville-based Conexion Americas, includes this print advertisement and this radio spot.

"Metro Police are partnering with Conexion Americas on the initiative. Officer Rafael Jimenez, along with Juan Borges, plan on putting their Spanish skills to good use to warn against drinking and driving."

"Sergeant William Keeter with Metro Police Traffic Analysis told News 2 that of 80 fatal car accidents this year, 12 of those were caused by Hispanic males. He also said Hispanic drivers are less likely to use their seat belts."

Other organizations sponsoring the campaign include State Farm Insurance, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Spanish-language television station Telefutura Channel 42, and ten other local Spanish-language media outlets.

More details from the press release:

Over the last few months, the Middle Tennessee area has witnessed a disproportionate number of high profile drunk-driving accidents involving members of the Latino community. These accidents have resulted in several fatalities and serious injuries. Conexión Américas, a local non profit agency and its partners are deeply concerned with these events. Campaign sponsors are announcing an educational awareness campaign against drinking and driving targeting the Hispanic community in Middle Tennessee.

This awareness campaign focuses on the Spanish speaking community. The campaign, which coincides with the beginning of the Holiday season, includes printed media, radio and television.

Update December 26, 2006: The Tennessean reported here on the campaign.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Anti-discrimination laws, rights explained in free Clarksville forum January 6

On Saturday January 6, 2007 at 3:00 pm the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Hispanic Organization for Progress and Organization (HOPE) will host a FREE Spanish-language forum at the Main Library, 350 Pageant Lane, Clarksville, TN 37040.

Officials of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the U.S. Department of Justice will explaining the laws governing discrimination in housing, employment and Public Accomodations; how an employee can get paid when their employer refuses to pay them and identify federal Community programs to stop discrimination. There will be a question and answer session at the end of the forum.

Bilingual "Que Pasa" magazine coming to Kroger

The Nashville Business Journal reports in this article that the bilingual magazine Que Pasa en Tennessee will be soon available at Kroger stores. The publication was launched in September this year and includes local news and classifieds in both Spanish and English.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Tango Nashville throws "La Gran Holiday Milonga" December 14

Live performances, open dance floor

Come out and toast to the end of a wonderful year, and to the beginning of an ever more 'Tangled Up in the Tango' year! We will feature live performances by Tango Nashville's Troupe, and connect with Tango Nashville's Members, Aficionados and Guests. Enjoy a great Holiday Tango atmosphere, while dancing to a great selection of Tango music.

'La Gran Holiday Milonga'
Thursday, December 14, 2006
7:00 to 9:00 pm

Ibiza Night Club
15128 Old Hickory Blvd., Nashville, TN 37211
(almost corner with Nolensville Pike, in the Hickory Trace Village strip mall where the Sherwin Williams store is).

Tickets are:
$12 per person for non-Tango Nashville members
$8 per person for Tango Nashville members

Tango Nashville also announced its 2007 Argentine Tango Class Schedule at three skill levels: Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced. Classes run for 6-8 weeks beginning in January. For more information, go to

Photo credit: Gisela Giardino

Hispanic Nashville Datebook

If you know of an event that should be listed in the Datebook, please contact the editor.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Nashville resists language ban for now; world is watching

The Tennessean reports here and the City Paper reports here that the Metro Council did not pass the proposed language ban on third reading last night (most recent story here). Instead, a final vote on the ordinance alternately called "English First" or "English Only" was postponed until February.

The media will spread this story far beyond Nashville: the (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union has already published this AP report, which frames Nashville's action in this area as a big city considering whether it wants to join the growing number of small towns aiming ordinances at both legal and illegal immigrants. Update: a Google news search shows that as of 10:45am, publications in Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina, as well as the International Herald Tribune, have already picked up the AP story.

The City Paper article described opponents of the ban appearing "en masse" at the Council hearing last night, while supporters were silent, if not absent.

The AP report contains this quote: "[The sponsor] deferred this because he didn't have the votes,' said Ralph Schulz, president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. 'It cruised through the first reading, passed the second and tonight it was not passable.'"

The ban's sponsor said that the measure is misunderstood and that he would attempt to educate his fellow council members in the coming months.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau calls language ban "wrong message"

December 5, 2006

TO: Members of the Metro Council

FROM: Butch Spyridon, President
Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau

RE: Opposition to English-only Ordinance (BL 2006 – 1185)

The Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau Board wanted to share its opposition to the English-only ordinance (BL 2006 – 1185) that is before the Metro Council for third and final reading tonight.

The Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau is opposed to this bill because:

• It sends the wrong message about Nashville to our visitors. Our organization markets Nashville to the world as a multi-faceted, diverse and friendly and welcoming destination – in fact, we have received accolades as the friendliest city in America numerous times.

We all know that Nashville’s brand as Music City is known throughout the world. Out of the 10 million visitors a year that visit us, it is estimated that 6 -8 % are international visitors. Passage of this legislation sends the wrong message to those visitors that we are an exclusive city and do not welcome multi-cultural constituencies to come visit, live, or work here. By harming our ability to attract the leisure traveler, the business traveler, and the conventioneer, we also negatively impact the Metro sales tax base, estimated at $82 million/year, that benefits from these visitors and helps support needed Metro services.

• It sends the wrong message to our hospitality industry multi-cultural and ethnic workforce. The hospitality industry is our second largest industry, employing 56,000 people – one in five working adults in Nashville is in a tourism-related job, generating over $1.6 billion in wages. Adoption of this bill would send a very powerful negative message to thousands of multi-cultural and ethnic individuals who currently comprise our hospitality work force or who may consider coming to Nashville to be part of our second largest industry that they are not welcome, wanted or respected.

• It sends the wrong message about Nashville as a business address. As businesses and corporations, particularly those with an international work force, look to expand and/or re-locate to Nashville, this bill may put those decisions at risk. Not only is our economic development then threatened but it also threatens our ability to host the meetings and conventions that those corporations could bring to our city.

We ask that you carefully consider the impact of this legislation upon our identity and image as an international visitor destination and business address as well as the impact upon our international workforce and vote against it.

Thank you.

Nashville makes English decision with national impact tonight

Final vote on ‘English First’ bill expected tonight - Nashville City Paper

Hispanic chamber urges defeat of English-first bill - The Tennessean

Previous stories on this topic appeared here and here in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook.

Married to a foreign country: India-born Saritha Prabhu becomes a U.S. citizen

Tennessean columnist compares citizenship oath to wedding vow; had been becoming "American" for years

Consistently thoughtful Saritha Prabhu describes in her Tennessean column her oath of U.S. citizenship, which she and her husband took on the Friday before Thanksgiving this year. (A belated congratulations to Ms. Prabhu and her husband.)

"The Friday before Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 17, was a big day for us — my husband and I took the oath of U.S. citizenship. Fourteen years ago, we'd said 'I do' to each other and in this, our 15th year in the United States, we said 'I do' to this great nation."

"As a newly minted American, I guess I felt a little like one half of a cohabiting couple who, having lived together for long, decides to go and get that marriage license: It is an important step, but just a step that puts an official stamp on what you've been feeling for some time."

"In legal terms, I had become an American that day, but I'd been becoming an American in gradual, incremental ways over the years — when I stopped feeling like a tourist here, when I went back 'home' to India but was secretly relieved to be back home here; when I volunteered for the first time, when I began taking an active interest in the issues facing this country. And I could go on and on."

Prabhu also described the U.S. approach toward immigrants as allowing them time to assimilate at their own pace, favoring it over Europe's harsher approach which she says alienates and marginalizes its immigrants.

The column promises to be the first in a series that will offer "a window into the whole naturalization process — the paperwork, the boning up on U.S. history and the Constitution for the interview, the oath and, most important, the internal conversation with the self that preceded all these steps."

Monday, December 4, 2006

West Wing DVD, VeggieTales, and Schermerhorn documentary show how values make immigrants "impressive"

"Naval Intelligence reports approximately 1200 Cubans left Havana this morning. Approximately 700 turned back due to severe weather, some 350 are missing and presumed dead, 137 have been taken into custody in Miami and are seeking asylum."

"With the clothes on their backs, they came through a storm. And the ones that didn't die want a better life. And they want it here. Talk about impressive."

-from The West Wing, Season 1, Episode 1

On my family's TV Sunday afternoon:
  • the first episode of the first season of West Wing

  • various VeggieTales episodes

  • a WKRN documentary about the Schermerhorn Symphony Center
What do all three have in common? They reflect values that, if applied to the immigration debate, would put this country in a much better position to implement the mandate to love our neighbors.

The West Wing quote above is self-explanatory, and VeggieTales episodes are ripe with lessons about loving your neighbor, but how does the Schermerhorn Symphony Center documentary fit in? Because at a time when some (circularly and unbiblically) think that law and order itself should be the primary value of U.S. immigration law, our city graciously chuckles at the fact that - according to the documentary - our beloved former symphony conductor pined for music so much that, "[a]t age 14, Kenneth Schermerhorn forged a baptismal certificate so he could join a jazz band that played in nightclubs." We love the man, so mentioning the transgression is not an indictment but an indication of how passionate - how impressive - he was at that early age.

Maybe if we considered every last immigrant to be as impressive, the history of how they joined our national fellowship would be a testament to their tenacity rather than a potential source of condemnation. As I said to the friend who lent me the West Wing DVD, it may just boil down to who you consider your friends. If you are friends with someone, you appreciate them and you want to do anything you can to help them. If not, you're either indifferent, or you actively oppose them. In the case of immigration, opposing immigrants can take the form of allowing laws to stay in place even though they act as bear traps to our very own neighbors. My church just sent an e-mail asking for prayer for a couple of our missionaries who were detained at the U.S./Mexico border heading north and not allowed back in. Those missionaries are our friends, so we will pray and plead for the government to allow them to be with us. What a miracle it would be if there were e-mails going out from every church about all the immigrants our laws don't allow in, or all the immigrants who are in but not allowed.

I think plenty of Nashvillians and Americans see immigrants through the eyes of friendship and of love, and who want our laws to have those values. Maybe it's because we see the immigrants as friends. Maybe it's because of the commandment, second only to loving God, that we love our neighbor.

Maybe it's because when we invite the stranger in, we get a chance to meet Jesus (Matthew 25:37-40), or an angel (Hebrews 13:2).

After he showed me a papal message reminding Catholics that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were an immigrant family, I joked to a law partner of mine that Jesus' second coming would most likely involve an act of illegal immigration if he touches earthly soil, assuming he arrives from the clouds and doesn't land at a border crossing and have the foresight to bring a visa. Maybe it's not much of a joke - if Jesus is in the face of every immigrant, we have already excluded him and are in grave trouble. As potential messengers from God or even the Son of God himself, immigrants can be nothing less than impressive, especially in the Bible Belt.

The question we have to ask ourselves is, how do we fare when we stand next to these impressive people? With American immigration bureaucracy as it is, we don't even offer a legal method of entering or staying in this country for people who don't fit into narrow and numerically capped categories of connections to employment, family, or oppression back home. If we had federal, state, and even local laws to take Jesus seriously, to give the immigrant a real and simple chance to say "friend" when asked, "friend or foe," and then to welcome that immigrant with open arms - now that would make us impressive.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Hispanic country music fans cause head-scratching on Music Row

Country Music Association takes a closer look; west coast creates U.S. Hispanic Country Music Association

The AP reported in this story that Hispanic fans are showing up at country music concerts but remain an unknown quantity in the industry, so Music Row is asking for formal studies.

"Country-western music acts are reporting noticing more Latino fans at their concerts. As a result, Nashville's Music Row is now starting to dream of its Next Big Audience."

"[N]o one really knows if the nation's largest minority group is ready for fiddles and steel guitars. The phrase 'country music' doesn't even have a translation in Spanish."

"The Country Music Association says there are no good studies to show how many Latinos listen to country already, so the CMA formed its own task force to investigate."

"Eva Melo, of Tennessee-based Latin Market Communications, said the CMA has requested a proposal for a Latino market study, but she is skeptical her fellow Latinos will take to the genre."

"Rick Rodriguez, who manages the Latin division of Nashville-based Songs for the Planet and works as a song plugger for the same, has been trying to encourage Music Row to mix with Latino artists and music."

"'I'm a Mexican from South Texas,' he said. 'I grew up listening to people like Freddy Fender and Johnny Rodriguez. If we can get old-school country music, like back in the day what was coming from Hispanic cats, I think it would be big.'"

"Texas-based singer-songwriter John Arthur Martinez, who was the runner-up on the inaugural season of "Nashville Star" (USA Network's country music talent competition like 'American Idol'), said Latino listeners are already there."

"'Nashville has not made a conscious effort to court the Hispanic audience on a major scale, but without realizing it they've already attracted people like my sister,' he said. 'Her CD collection is 90 percent country and 10 percent tejano.'"

"Maritza Baca, a marketer who recently formed the U.S. Hispanic Country Music Association in California, is convinced Latinos are already gravitating toward country-western. She's met with the CMA twice about it."

"[Eddie Wright-Rios, a Vanderbilt University professor who specializes in the cultural history of modern Mexico,] said he can understand why Latinos are an attractive audience to the music industry."

"'I know a lot of people who don't have a lot of money, but if a good Mexican band comes along, they'll drop $150 on a pair of tickets,' he said."

"Rick Murray, the Nashville CMA's vice president of strategic marketing, says he wants to see more research before he is convinced. That research should answer questions like whether Spanish-language singers are necessary to lure listeners."

"'Is it a Hispanic artist, or is it bringing existing music into the Hispanic market?' he asked. 'Those are two very different things that might complement each other."

The Tennessean, the Nashville Scene music blog Nashville Cream, and newspapers worldwide have picked up this story.

The Hispanic Nashville Notebook reported on the lack of Hispanic country music superstars in this October story published after the death of Freddy Fender.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dehumanization, vitriol against immigrants concerns Davidson County Sherriff

Targeting of immigrants is subject of comprehensive review in Nashville Scene cover story

The cover story of this week's Nashville Scene ("The Nativists Are Restless") reviews many of the past year's incidents and statements against immigrants and Hispanics in Tennessee. (Many of these stories have been covered in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook and can be found via the search box to the left, but the Scene story provides an excellent summary and new interview material.)

The justifications for the negativity are varied.

Some of the vitriol is dangerous, according to Davidson County Sherriff Daron Hall. In the Scene cover story, Hall describes the tone on Nashville talk radio and expresses grave concern: "There is an element of people out there that scares me to death."

Unfortunately, this article is not the only recent cover story linking nativism to Nashville. In August, the national magazine The Nation featured Nashville prominently in a cover series asking, "What's fueling the new nativism?" (story here).

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Outreach to Hispanics is part of ambitious Nashville MLK parade plan

"Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds." -Letter from Birmingham Jail

The Tennessean reports in this article that a plan to make Nashville's 2007 parade celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. the biggest in the country includes an outreach to Hispanics.

"About 7,000 people attended the Martin Luther King Day Parade earlier this year. The event included services at the Jefferson Street Baptist Church and an outdoor program with music and performances that was geared to younger people."

"But this latest effort to beat Atlanta — think the Schermerhorn Symphony Center and Tony Giarratana's 65-story tower, which would be the tallest building in the South — is fueled by a desire to realize King's dream of including all people."

"Organizers are reaching out to more whites and Hispanics, many of whom have participated in the past, as well as to Asian and Kurdish residents."

"Yuri Cunza, president of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said Hispanics' participation made sense even though the black quest for civil equality in the 1960s was different from the current Hispanic struggle."

"'It's only natural for a population like ours to relate and embrace and respect that history,' Cunza said. 'Ours is a different struggle, but at a human level and civil rights and human rights level we can relate to them."

"'We want to be there for them as we would want them to be there for us.'"

The Hispanic Nashville Notebook turned to Martin Luther King, Jr. and his Letter from Birmingham Jail as a voice for inspiration in 2006 (story here).

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Large Nashville law firms are among least diverse for women partners

Third-to-last in nationwide review; efforts underway "to reverse that trend"

The Tennessean reports in this article that Nashville ranked third-to-last in a recent study of diversity among female partners at large law firms in major U.S. cities.

"The study, which looked at partners of the largest law firms in 44 U.S. cities, found that 0.26 percent of Nashville firms had minority women partners. Only two cities fared worse in the study by Washington, D.C.–based Association for Legal Career Professionals, formerly the National Association for Law Placement."

"The study is stunning to some given Nashville's diverse population — nearly 27 percent African-American and almost 5 percent Hispanic — and the fact that the city has two law schools and two historically black universities, some legal experts said."

"'[S]tatistically Nashville may not fare very well, but ... some things are being done in Nashville to reverse that trend,' said Billye Sanders, a partner at the Nashville firm of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis."

Wendy Warren, chairwoman of the Nashville Bar Association's Minority Opportunities Committee, is also quoted in the story.

"'I won't say that in the past there has not been discrimination. That would be ... naive to say that that's the case,' said Warren, an associate at the Nashville firm of Bass, Berry & Sims. 'But I would say now that the Nashville market is ... aggressively trying to recruit minorities and women, from my perspective.'"

"She believes female and minority lawyers should be actively trying to socialize with people who may be very different from themselves."

"She and Sanders said they believe that diversity at law firms makes good business sense because many client companies won't hire firms that aren't diversified. Furthermore, the lawyers said, having different perspectives leads to better problem solving for clients."

The ALCP study is consistent with a similar story earlier this year (reported here in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook), in which Nashville was found to lag behind the national average in law firm diversity among male and female partners and associates.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Vanderbilt business school tops nation in Latin American case study competition

$10,000 Carnegie Mellon challenge: create supply chain for alternative fuel

A team of students from the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management won first place at the 11th annual International Case Competition Nov. 10-11 at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business.

The Tepper School’s Operations Management and Latin American Business clubs teamed up this year to host the highly regarded competition, which kicked off with a panel discussion, “Emerging in Latin America: Operational Issues and Challenges Faced by Business.” The panelists included representatives from the International Finance Corporation, Deloitte, The Innovation Circle and Honeywell.

Following the panel discussion, student teams from top business schools were asked to design an effective supply chain for raw vegetable oil and biodiesel, a clean burning alternative fuel produced from domestic, renewable resources, for a fictional agribusiness investor in Latin America. The challenge was based on a current real-world case from one of the competition’s judges.

The teams received the challenge Friday afternoon and had to prepare a presentation by 1 a.m. on Saturday. The first round of presentations began Saturday at 8 a.m. The students competed to win the top prize of $10,000. Second place winners receive $5,000 and third place takes home $2,500.

The Owen School team – first-year students Marlene Marengo and Melissa Shearer and second-year students Landon Davies, Krista Fakoory and Blair Stilwell – took the top spot with a plan that maximized production of raw vegetable oil and biodiesel and called for an aggressive construction schedule to build several raw vegetable oil and biodiesel plants to gain market advantage. The winning team also suggested forming strategic alliances with diesel engine manufacturers and special interest groups to promote the use of biodiesel and support for raw vegetable oil as a renewable energy source and a healthy alternative to the trans fats and animal fats used in cooking.

Schools in this year’s competition included the Tepper School, Yale School of Management, the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business, Columbia University Business School, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

The Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt is ranked as a top institution by Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, Financial Times and Forbes. For more news about Owen, visit

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Guitar maker Manuel Delgado brings business, family craft to Nashville

Tradition began in Mexico; instruments played by superstars

WPLN reports here on Manuel Delgado, a guitar-maker who recently moved to Nashville from East Los Angeles, bringing with him a rich family tradition.

"Third generation guitar and stringed instrument maker Manuel Delgado moved recently from East Los Angeles to East Nashville. The last time the Delgado guitar company uprooted this significantly was when Manuel's grandfather and great-uncle moved from Juarez, Mexico to the U.S. in the 1940s. He's a one-man operation, but there's something from those patriarchs in every instrument Manuel Delgado builds, as WPLN's Craig Havighurst reports."

"There in the breakdown of Los Lobos's monster hit 'La Bamba' is a Delgado requinto jarocho. The band became Delgado customers when they were still in high school, shopping and hanging out at Candelas Guitars on Cesar Chavez Avenue in Los Angeles. That's where Manuel grew up, and where his family also built instruments for classical guitar legends Andres Segovia and the Romeros, as well as folk and popular artists like Arlo Guthrie and Jose Feliciano. Today, Manuel Delgado surrounds himself with reminders of a family tradition that goes back to 1928."

The Delgado Guitars web site is here.

Update: The Nashville City Paper interviewed Delgado here on 1/14/07.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Coalition calls for strong showing at second vote on international bans

Update 11/22: Language ban passes second of three readings

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition circulated this action alert for a response to three international bans before the Metro Council tonight. This is the second reading for the proposed language ban, and the community is again asked to wear yellow as an expression of solidarity.

More information on the three international bans is available in yesterday's Hispanic Nashville Notebook, here.

Update November 22, 2006 6:00 a.m.: The language ban passed its second of three hurdles by the minimum vote necessary. The other two international bans were suspened indefinitely. Related stories below.

The Tennessean - result of vote, mentioning opposition of more than 100 people including "Japanese, Colombians, Kurds, Somalis and more"

WKRN - Result of vote, with focus on Hispanic community and Nashville Chamber position (video)

Nashville City Paper - Result of vote, mentioning "light applause in one section of the audience and dead silence in the other"

The Tennessean - story today on English-learning program in Nashville

WPLN - story before the second vote, on English-learning in Nashville

Last call for nominations for the 2006 Hispanic Nashville Noteworthy Awards

Nominations for the 2006 Hispanic Nashville Noteworthy Awards are due Thanksgiving Day, November 23. More details here.

Update 1/15/07: The winners have been announced.

Race, Hispanic Ethnicity, and Immigrant Differences in Asthma During Childhood

Vanderbilt lecture available online

Katherine Donato, Professor of Sociology at Vanderbilt University, discussed the differences in childhood asthma among ethnically and geographically diverse populations. The event was sponsored by the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society as part of their fall seminar series. Katharine Donato studies immigration between Mexico and the United States, immigants in the U.S. economy, and the social determinants of health.

Listen to lecture: "Race, Hispanic Ethnicity, and Immigrant Differences in Asthma During Childhood" Nov. 15 at Vanderbilt University

Monday, November 20, 2006

Nashville Chamber: latest voice questioning Metro Council's international bans

City's reputation at risk

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce has joined the chorus of voices questioning the wisdom of three bans that are currently pending before the Metro Council - a language ban, a landlord ban, and an employer ban - all relating to internationals living in Nashville (column published by The Tennessean here). The three pieces of legislation are up for a vote Tuesday night. The three bans are the latest in a series of legislative proposals from the Council that would have an adverse effect on internationals. The previous bans considered by the Council were a sidewalk ban and a taco ban.

Michael A. Carter, vice chairman of small business for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, is quoted as saying that the new bans "will damage Nashville's international reputation as an open, inclusive and increasingly diverse community." Carter further points out that "[t]he Nashville region is increasingly competing for economic recruitment in the international arena, and, collectively, the proposed ordinances send a negative and unwelcoming message to relocating companies, particularly international companies that employ large numbers of foreign-born populations."

A lot of newsprint has been spent on the language ban. Various letter writers expressed their opposition to the language ban in this article and also in this article. Yuri Cunza, president of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (not the same as the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce), penned this column opposing the language ban. An editorial earlier this year in support of language respect was written by Virginia Scott and is here. Translation for internationals in transition has been applauded by both the Nashville City Paper and The Tennessean. (The Tennessean's editorial on the wisdom of the landlord ban is here.)

English-learning is thriving in Tennessee, as are efforts to reach out to non-English speakers, as indicated by this article in September 2006 about Volunteer State Community College's efforts to assist non-English speakers with their transitions; this article in September 2006 about the Marshall County Library's refusal to impose a language ban on its collection; this report in June 2006 about Nashville public schools' success in converting English learners to English-speakers; this story in May 2006 about legal rights forums directed at Spanish-speaking immigrants, sponsored by the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Tennessee Human Rights Commission; this story in March 2006 about Metro Schools Director Pedro Garcia's reaching out in Spanish to Hispanic parents; this article in December 2005 about the efforts of Middle Tennessee YMCA and Girl Scout programs to integrate Hispanic and bilingual students; this story in October 2005 about Senator Lamar Alexander's proposal to offer a $500 credit and other incentives for prospective citizens to learn English;
the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary's discipline of a Middle Tennessee judge in September 2005 for improperly conditioning a mother's custory rights on her ability to speak English (story here); this story in July 2005 about Metro Police's use of volunteer interpreters; and this story in June 2005 about Cracker Barrel's English-learning programs for employees.

More background on the status of the language ban is available in this previous article on the Hispanic Nashville Notebook.

Nashville ranks 47th nationwide in linguistic diversity (story here).

Brentwood's Orchid acquires manufacturing plant in Monterrey, Mexico

The Nashville Business Journal reports in this article that Brentwood-based Orchid International has acquired a die-cast manufacturing facility in Monterrey, Mexico.

"The facility was formerly owned and operated by Hawk Motors. Now named Orchid Monterrey, the plant will continue to make die cast electric motor components. The operation will be expanded later to include metal stamping processes for the electric motor industry as well as the automotive and consumer products industries, according to a release."

"The company is also in the design stage of a new general metal stamping and assembly plant in the Brownsville, Texas/Matamoros, Mexico region. The company plans to build multiple facilities throughout Mexico."

The following excerpts are from the company's press release:

Richard Quinlan, President of Orchid International states, “The addition of Orchid Monterrey is a significant step in the planned growth of our lamination stamping and die casting business. Coupled with our existing U.S.-based operations in Texas and Wisconsin, this acquisition will further enable Orchid to service our existing customers throughout North America, and better position us to capitalize on future growth in the electric motor and transformer markets.”

Lamination stamping involves processing special grades of steel into thin stampings that are utilized in the manufacture of electric motor and transformer components. Certain electric motor components are then die cast in aluminum before the motors are constructed and subsequently installed in various electric powered devices.

"Headquartered in Brentwood, Orchid operates six manufacturing facilities in the United States, Canada and Mexico."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Juan Gabriel in concert at Nashville's Municipal Auditorium December 2

"The most successful popular musician in the history of Mexican music"

Mexican superstar Juan Gabriel will appear for the first time in concert at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville on Saturday, December 2 at 8:00 p.m. Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

With a show lasting more than three hours, the artist famous for "Querida" will land on Nashville soil and deliver a performance that has drawn steady crowds numbering more than 10,000 per night.

More than sixty band members will support Gabriel in scenic musical presentations of hits like "No Tengo Dinero" and "Abrazame Muy Fuerte." Traditional Mexican dance, flamenco, and mariachi music arranged in impeccable choruses - along with an orchestra, guitar, piano, trumpet, and the rhythm of dancers - combine for a crowd-pleasing treat for the senses.

Tickets are available at the Municipal Auditorium box office, Ticketmaster online, or Ticketmaster outlets at Kroger stores and elsewhere. For more information call toll-free 877-385-7734.

Having sold over thirty million albums in his career, Juan Gabriel is a six-time Grammy nominee and an inductee in the Billboard Latin Music Hall Of Fame. He has been described as "the most successful popular musician in the history of Mexican music." An extended biography is available here.

Hispanic Nashville Datebook

If you know of an event that should be listed in the Datebook, or if you are computer-savvy and want to help keep the Datebook current, pleas contact the editor.

Colombian students to participate in Cool Springs Model U.N.

The Tennessean reports in this article that a YMCA program is hosting a Model U.N. in Cool Springs beginning today. The article states that 1,200 teenage students are expected to attend, including a delegation of students from Colombia, South America.

Tennessee YMCA Youth in Government hosts and runs the event.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Nashville Chamber Orchestra performs with Wynonna, Donna Summer in Thanksgiving celebration of Community and Unity

Schermerhorn performance will also include NCO Gospel Choir, Mt. Zion Baptist Church youth choir

The Nashville Chamber Orchestra is presenting two evenings of 'Thanksgiving Celebration' featuring Wynonna, Donna Summer, the NCO Gospel Choir and Mt. Zion Baptist Church’s youth choir, Judah Generation. The performances are Friday, November 24, & Saturday, November 25, 2006, at 8:00 pm at the beautiful Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

The concert theme is ‘Celebrating Community …Embracing Unity.’

Tickets are availabe here.


Thanks to those of you who let me know that this site was down on Tuesday. As much as I profess to be computer-savvy, I let the domain name expire. One credit card charge and several hours later, we are back online.

I apologize for the interruption.

Photo by iluvcocacola (cc)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fatal shooting leaves unanswered questions for family and birth country of Shelbyville resident Fermin Estrada

"It's a couple of Mexicans" ... missing audio on police tape ... officer who pulled the trigger is back on duty ... DA says no wrongdoing

NewsChannel5 reports here and here that the fatal shooting of Shelbyville resident Fermin Estrada by local law enforcement has been investigated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, but Estrada's family and the Mexican consulate have not been able to obtain the report. Estrada's death was one of three violent killings of Hispanic men that made headlines in Middle Tennessee this past March (story here).

"During a family barbeque, Fermin Estrada walked two friends around his own property. ... A neighbor saw the three men and called 911."

"Caller: It's a couple of Mexicans walking on the back of my property, and one of them has a gun shoved in his side.
Dispatcher: And was he on your property?
Caller: He was right on the property line."

"NewsChannel 5 Investigates obtained in-car police video from the scene. You can hear officers arrive on scene and speak to the neighbor. Police reports show Officer James Wilkerson then grabs his assault rifle and heads to the woods."

"Shelbyville Officer James Wilkerson shot and killed Fermin Estrada in front of his family in his backyard ... [t]he family and witnesses maintain police never identified themselves."

"Police said they did and they added Fermin fired towards the officers -- and that's why they shot."

"[T]he one piece of evidence that would clear things up and determine whether the officers identified themselves is missing."

"On the tape released by police, the audio goes silent right before the shooting."

"Eight months later, the the Shelbyville officer who pulled the trigger is back on full duty."

"Lawyers filed a wrongful death lawsuit ... late Thursday."

"Now, the Mexican Consulate is getting involved. It wants the FBI to investigate. Since Fermin Estrada was a Mexican national as well as a U.S. citizen, the consulate feels it has a duty to see that justice is carried out."

"The [Tennessee Bureau of Investigation] conducted the only official report into the officers' actions. Under state law, the TBI can't release it. The district attorney who has seen the report won't comment. The police chief hasn't seen it, but said the DA assured him his officer did nothing wrong."

Monday, November 13, 2006

FBI frees Mexican child from forced prostitution in Nashville

Sex traffickers used border lure

The Tennessean reports in this story and the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports in this story that the FBI and other federal agencies have freed a Mexican child from forced prostitution in Nashville, an ordeal that began when sex traffickers promised her passage across the U.S. border to a "restaurant" job in Nashville. The investigation brought charges against 10 men for running brothels full of Latin American women and girls who were forced into prostitution after they were promised legitimate jobs in the U.S. Two of the people charged with luring these ordinary immigrants into prostitution were living in the Nashville.

"Once in Nashville, she met Mendez and was taken to an apartment at 5099 Linbar Drive."

"There, court documents allege, Mendez raped her and threatened to kill her family if she did not work as a prostitute. She was 14 at the time."

"The girl told investigators that she was a virgin when she arrived in Nashville and described the rape as very painful."

"Two weeks later, court documents say, Mendez took her to a Kentucky brothel and forced her to have sex with 14 people on the first day. Afterward she was sick with a headache and severe pelvic inflammation and had to be hospitalized for several days."

The Tennessean article says that federal officials claimed that this was "the first case to their knowledge involving children smuggled into the country to be forced into the sex trade" - which would be at odds with this statistic from Johns Hopkins University that sex slave traffickers bring 15,000 women into the United States every year, many of them young girls from Mexico; or this CIA report (found here) that the number is closer to 50,000.

A similar arrest was made in Nashville in 2005 (story here), after authorities arrested a woman in Nashville for forcing Honduran women and children into slavery in New Jersey.

One international relief organization has recently opened an office in Nashville to combat sex trafficking and will train Metro Police next year, according to the Tennessean.

"'It's very new for us to have on our radar in Tennessee, but' sex trafficking is 'not a new thing,' said Amber Beckham, coordinator for World Relief's Network of Emergency Trafficking Services."

Other stories on the same subject: New York Times, 2004, San Francisco Examiner, 1997

Update 11/14/2006: WKRN-Channel 2 filed this report and also interviewed residents of the apartment complex in this follow-up story.

Update 11/17/2006: Five indicted

Friday, November 10, 2006

Tennessee State University hires Spanish-speaking recruiter

Hispanic outreach seeks diversity, growth

According to this story in USA Today, historically black colleges are reaching out to Hispanics, and Tennessee State University (TSU) is one of those schools. The desired result is twofold: to grow the schools, while at the same time offering opportunities to groups who are underserved in higher education.

"Recruiting Hispanics is an extension of the mission to educate 'underserved' groups, says Lezli Baskerville, president of [the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education]. 'Disproportionate numbers of Hispanic families are low-income. Disproportionate numbers are first-generation. We've got a model that works.'""Tennessee State University also wants to grow. In June, the 9,000-student school hired Jose Vazquez to recruit adults and Hispanics."

"Vazquez meets with local Hispanic leaders and recently attended a gathering for Day of the Dead, an annual Mexican celebration."

"'They need to know that we're here, and I'm here if they have any questions,' he says."

"The university advertises in Spanish-language newspapers and yellow pages. 'We see strength in diversity,' associate vice president Evelyn Nettles says."

TSU is also part of a Latino health coalition in Nashville, in partnership with the Hispanic Community Group of Tennessee (story here).

TSU's web site describes the school as "a comprehensive urban coeducational land-grant university founded in 1912 in Nashville, Tenn. The 450-acre main campus, with more than 65 buildings, is located in a residential setting; the Avon Williams Campus is located downtown, near the center of the Nashville business and government district. Through successive stages, TSU has developed from a normal school for Negroes to its current status as a national university with students from 42 states and 52 countries."

Health coalition “Community Readiness Assessment Report” set for November 16

Collaboration of Hispanic Community Group of Tennessee (HCGT) and Tennessee State University-Center for Health Research

The Hispanic Community Group of Tennessee invites the community to attend a workshop: “Community Readiness Assessment Report” on Thursday, November 16, 2006, from 12:30pm-1:30pm, at the HCGT office (2720 Nolensville Pike, Suite 210).

Please RSVP to help plan for light refreshments ( or 587-0365).

The Hispanic Community Group of Tennessee (HCGT) has been collaborating with Tennessee State University-Center for Health Research on a project to assess and improve the Nashville Hispanic community’s readiness to participate in community-based, collaborative initiatives in the area of Hispanic health. The first part of the project involved conducting a Community Readiness Assessment. Sixteen organizations and 32 members of the Hispanic community have responded to the assessment questionnaire.

The second part of the project is a series of capacity-building workshops. The Nashville Latino Health Coalition is also participating as a co-organizer of the workshop series. The first workshop for Hispanic community members was held on Saturday, Oct 28 (“Construyamos Puentes para la Salud: Bridges to Care” / “Let’s Build Bridges for Health: Bridges to Care”).

The second workshop will be held on November 16, in which we will present the Community Readiness Model and report the assessment results. The subsequent workshops are scheduled for Saturday, Nov 18, and Saturday, Dec 2.

Contact information:
Juan Canedo, Hispanic Community Group of Tennessee (587-0365,
Pamela Hull, Ph.D., TSU Center for Health Research (320-3005,

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Metro Schools' Hispanic parent group elects officers

11% of students in Metro are Hispanic

This story on News 2-WKRN and this story in the Tennessean report that COPLA, the Hispanic parents' group created by Metro School Board director Pedro Garcia, has elected officers. Cesar Muedas is the new chairman of the group, Adelina Winston is vice chair, and Sandra Mendoz is secretary. COPLA stands for Comite de Padres Latinos, or Committee of Latino Parents.

"Director of Schools Pedro Garcia organized COPLA earlier this year to help build relationships with the parents of Latino students, who constitute more than 11 percent of the district's student population."

"Ruben De Pena, Metro's language translation specialist, was asked to help organize COPLA."

"'We are mirroring the Parents Advisory Council, but our purpose is for our parents to be informed and involved with the children,' De Pena said. 'We want to help make parents aware of the tools that exist. There is a lot of excitement. This is a good venue for them to interact with the system.'"

"There are three concerns Muedas sees as significant for Latinos in the school district —- the issue of gangs, the number of schools that don't have parent-teacher organizations and graduation rates. But, while working on concerns, Muedas said the group also wants to work on the positives."

"'I am not speaking for all Hispanics who have children in the system, though,' Muedas said. 'I am just starting to learn the concerns.'"

Photo: Cesar Muedas
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