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.
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