Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Speak up Nashville: Vote Against #1 and Against #2

Hispanic Nashville Notebook opposes constitutional amendments

Subscribe to NashvilleforAllofUs.org

Early Voting January 2-17

Election Day January 22

From now until January 22, the Hispanic Nashville Notebook will feature the Nashville for All of Us logo above, urging its Davidson County readers to vote AGAINST RATIFICATION of the constitutional amendment imposing English Only. It is reckless, rude, and red tape. It is frivolous legislation.

For more information:

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tim Chavez: I met Christ tonight in downtown Nashville

"He just asked me if it was Christmastime"

By Tim Chavez. Originally posted at politicalsalsa.com

As I walked past Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows Catholic Church and the statue of Chet Atkins tonight, I came upon Christ standing outside a closed store on a downtown street.

He had black skin and a green bag holding all He owned in the world next to him. He was huddled to hide from the cold wind whipping through the buildings. He did not frighten me. He just asked if it was Christmastime.

I answered, "yes, Lord."

Then I asked Him to come with me to the H.G. Hill store and I would give him the rest of the $20 bill in my hand after I bought salt and pepper for a salsa I was making for the good and most kind oncology nurses at Vanderbilt Medical Center.

We walked into the store together, and so that the clerk would know, I identified my savior with these words, "you know you are Christ among us."

My Lord answered affirmatively. And we walked to get the salt and pepper. Then we went to checkout stand. The nice lady made change, and I handed that money to Our Lord.

Then He blessed me. And I took His hand with its spike wound and thanked Him for allowing me to see Him. I walked out the door. And my savior disappeared into an aisle looking for nourishment.

As I walked back, I thought of other representatives of our savior in Nashville, targeted for ouster because they've set up a tent city, or asked for help on the city streets.

Shame on us. Have we not read the Scriptures? Have we not read the stories of the saints? Have we not read Matthew 25 and the parable of the Last Judgment? Do we not remember that Our Lord was born in a manger, homeless, because there was no room in the inn?

Remember. Christ is waiting for us. To recognize Him. And treat Him with recognition and love.

Photo by Alex Chaffee. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Local roots inspire Chíchí & Flaco Latino-themed clothing for all ages

With roots in the Tennessean's newsroom, Chíchí & Flaco launched a culture-loving clothing line for "Latinos and Latinos-at-heart" of all ages:
¡Hola! Meet ChíChí&Flaco, a modern t-shirt line savoring the flavor of Latino and Hispanic culture in the United States.

Created by the founders of Los Pollitos Dicen (The Little Chicks Say), the premier line of Spanish children's gift tees, ChíChí&Flaco offers the same wonderful quality and cultural celebration for babies, big kids and adults... niños of all ages! Expect fun, bold and super-fabuloso color and designs for everyone.

Who are Chíchí & Flaco?
Ever since Cuban-American co-workers Carrie (reporter) and Oscar (artist) first met in a newsroom in Tennessee, they called each other ChíChí and Flaco. They used these common nicknames to nurture their Cuban-American heritage in a VERY different land. Thirteen years later, they're still ChíChí and Flaco spreading their love of culture with fabulous t-shirt design and onto the backs of Latinos and Latinos-at-heart.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The fool's gold of the Depression

Beck calls "the 40 years before 1965" the "golden age" of immigration

A friend of mine with Korean ancestry asked me about a speech by immigration restrictionist Roy Beck of NumbersUSA. In it, Beck promotes the seemingly objective proposition that there are too many immigrants being allowed into the U.S. My friend asked me what the response is to Beck.

I watched a video of Beck delivering his short presentation (gumballs have earned it a sticky notoriety), and one specific comment Beck makes before the 1-minute mark stood out: he calls "the 40 years before 1965" the "golden age" of immigration. When I heard that, the graphic above immediately came to mind.

By "golden age," does Beck mean that the four decades of 1925-1965 had the right numbers of immigrants, or does he mean that those decades saw "normal" levels? The answer for Beck is, both. Even though many other decades of American immigration history saw much greater numbers than were seen from 1925-1965, Beck nonetheless describes the number of immigrants during that period as a "traditional level." You can judge for yourself which decades of American immigration have been more or less typical; I doubt you will choose 1925-1965.

Even more sobering is the moral baseline Beck establishes by framing that period of time of our immigration history as "golden."

This so-called "golden age" not only coincides with the Great Depression and its aftermath, but it begins immediately after the passage of the 1924 Asian Exclusion Act, which ushered in race-based immigration quotas and (as the name suggests) largely excluded Asians - necessarily meaning that most Asians who immigrated during that time period were illegal immigrants. The timeframe of this "golden age" concludes upon the passage of the civil rights-inspired Immigration Act of 1965, the purpose of which was to dismantle race-based immigration quotas.

A response to Beck?

His own words should suffice.

"You have to have some kind of benchmark."
-Roy Beck

Edited January 8, 2009 to add this comment from Memphis attorney Greg Siskind:

There has only been one period of a closed door in this country and 1925 to 1965. That is hardly typical.

It was that restrictive policy that was behind the US turning away hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants in the Holocaust. Is there any more shameful period in American immigration history than the 1939 pictures of the SS St. Louis off the coast of Miami filled with 900 Jewish passengers? They were ultimately denied entry and the ship sailed back to Belgium. Most of the passengers died in concentration camps. My good friend Chuck Blatteis here in Memphis is the son of one of the few survivors of the St. Louis. I remember meeting Nashvillian Rosemary May a few years back. She was Dutch and ended up in a concentration camp after their US visa was ultimately delayed so long (quite deliberately, of course) that they were stuck in Amsterdam when the Nazis took over and rounded everyone up.

Definitely a “golden age” in US immigration.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Lilibeth Leon crowned Miss Tennessee Latina 2008/2009

Incoming Miss Tennessee Latina is in the Class of 2010 at UT-Chattanooga

One woman cried, “Viva Latinoamerica!” while others sang cheers for Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua and others

"It's good that there are events like this that unite us"

Photo and story courtesy of Latino News. Editing in English by Hispanic Nashville Notebook. More photos are here, and the original article in Spanish is here.

This year’s crowning of Miss Tennessee Latina was a true Latin American festival.

A Venezuelan man interviewed outside the event said, “It’s good that there are events like this that unite us among the different countries, and we can share some time with people of other nationalities.” And that is Miss Tennessee Latina, an event where all the Latin American nations cheer on the young women who highlight the personal and cultural attributes of the Hispanic heritage that they possess along with all young women of Hispanic descent.

Once again, the tenacity of organizer Marjorie Weller pulled her through at a time when it is not easy to get sponsors or resources. It was a simple and brilliantly elegant ceremony. Winners were chosen in three different categories to represent our state at nationals in Miami late next summer.

There was no lack of commentary among the cheering sections in the audience when the results were announced, possibly because Mexico swept the top spots in each of the three divisions of the competition: Miss Tennessee Latina, Miss Teen Tennessee Latina, and Miss Tennessee Latina Princesa. It might have gone unnoticed by some that the jurors had American, Mexican, and Cuban heritage, and in our opinion the decision was truly difficult but a good one for all three divisions.

The pageant was held in the comfortable venue of Salon de Fiestas El Sol in Madison on November 22, with about 300 people attending. Sponsors included the beauty product brand Rodan + Field, El Manjar Restaurant, La Ilusión Bridal Shop, El Sol bakery, beauty salon Dolce’s of Brentwood, and Latino newspaper.

Mariela Flores and Audrey Taveras, Miss Tennessee Latina 2007 and Miss Teen Tennessee Latina 2007, respectively, presented the crowns to the new reigning queens, who were as follows:

Miss Tennessee Latina 2008: Lilibeth Leon (Mexico)
First Runner-Up: Laura Gruber (Venezuela)

Miss Teen Tennessee Latina 2008: Alexia Medina (Mexico)
Miss Pre-Teen Tennessee Latina 2008: Elizabeth Lara (Mexico).

Other honors awarded:
Miss Ambassador: Gabriela Espinoza
Miss Photogenic: Michelle Muñoz
Miss Congeniality: Laura Gruber
Miss Community Service: Laura Gruber

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Putting "English Only" in context: how we got here

Yesterday, Mike Byrd at Enclave described immigrant policy politics as "a fight to which Tennessee is late in coming..." (see here).

In response, I reviewed Tennessee's recent history using the lives of immigrants as a political weapon, with 2006 being a pivotal year here, as it was in the rest of the country:
"a fight to which Tennessee is late in coming..."

I understand your point if you are saying that Tennessee's most recent immigration comes after similar waves that came less recently to other parts of the country. Otherwise, if you are saying that Tennessee hasn't been in the thick of the immigration wars over the past few years, it is to the credit of those on the immigrants' side of the fight that you have that impression.

Things really started heating up on a national scale in 2006. One key event was that the U.S. House voted to make all illegal immigrants felons in HR 4437. That extreme measure sparked the major pro-immigrant rallies across the nation and united conservatives and liberals in opposition - the Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land shared a stage with Teddy Kennedy, for example.

Tennessee was right there with the rest of them.

In the summer of 2005, FAIR convened here with Marsha Blackburn and Phil Valentine in tow. About that same time, a Middle Tennessee judge ordered a woman to learn English or lose custody of her children. The next thing you know, the state Republicans are announcing their formation of an immigration task force. In November 2005, Steve Gill signaled that immigration would be the GOP's wedge issue against Bredesen in 2006.

If you're calling immigrant politics a "fight," the fight had been brought to Tennessee. Natives and immigrants alike took action in response.

Gatherings were held, thousands marched in solidarity, workers staged a walk-out, students trained in advocacy, and billboards went up proclaiming our state a Welcoming Tennessee.

Marsha Blackburn held a Congressional hearing in which she set up health care executives to scapegoat illegal immigrants for cost pressures in TennCare, they refused to comply, and she refused to listen.

My readers imagined political campaigns in which their views on immigration were trumpeted instead of some of the scapegoating that was popular at the time.

Avi Poster hosted one of his first educational forums on immigration, from which was born the Coalition of Education about Immigration.

Claudia Nunez was taken from her family and scheduled for deportation - and at about the same time the Nashville City Paper ran an editorial calling for a simplification of the path to legal status.

In nearby Marshall County, a trilingual librarian was defended by the library board after her bilingual storytimes came under fire.

Still, in 2006, English Only was launched during Hispanic Heritage Month, starting its successful run in the Metro Council before it was vetoed in 2007 by Mayor Bill Purcell. Also, Gustavo Reyes became the justification for Davidson County asking for 287(g). The Nation ran a cover story finding nativism in Nashville. Phil Valentine broke out the "shoot him" solution. Police responding to a call about "a couple of Mexicans" shot and killed Fermin Estrada in front of his family at a barbeque he was hosting on his own land.

We've really been in the thick of this for a while. That it's not an all-out-war in Tennessee is to the credit of advocates, immigrants, and the legislators who have stood up against the negativity.

Unfortunately, you're right about none of this being over on January 23, 2009. For example, in January 2007, one of the questions I had for Sheriff Hall before 287(g) was formally launched was, what happens next? It's no shock that the answer was open-ended:
HNN: When illegal immigrants continue to commit crimes after 287(g), what is the next power or set of powers that you could envision being requested for your department or for the police department?

Hall: That is a question for the federal government. They would be the entity that would determine whether or not they want to give local jurisdictions any further powers.
Even though others are already planning their next steps to antagonize immigrants, I am hopeful that with each passing year, history is taking Nashville further in the direction of humanity and hospitality.

We certainly have a chance to move in the direction of humanity and hospitality when the English charter change proposals come up for a vote in January - if we defeat them.

Consider the timing of when the special election will be held: the week of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The week of the inaugural.

This is Nashville's Moment. It very well may be Tennessee's year.

We should not allow our optimistic spirit to be quenched and our neighbors to be demonized as they are used as mere political pawns. We cannot let anyone advance the minute hand on the doomsday clock for immigrants - which also debuted in 2006.

Sign up with Nashville for All of Us. Join the Facebook groups in opposition to English Only. Sign up for a phone bank.

We got here through 2006. Let's define our 2009 with our history, our legacy, our grandchildren - and our neighbors - in mind.
Photo by Diego Sevilla Ruiz. Licensed under Creative Commons.
This post includes modificiations from my original comment on Enclave.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hispanic business leaders in Knoxville sit down for "roundtable" with News Sentinel

The Knoxville News Sentinel conducted a roundtable interview with local Hispanic business leaders in that city - the article is worth a read.

Some excerpts:

Mother unaware her daughter was in the infirmary

I do think that the state governments have certain measures to care for the community. Public schools do a great job of taking kids. They don't ask. They don't care if your parents are legal - if a kid was born here or not. If you live in the area, you come to school no matter what. So that's great. However, there are like three or four translators for the whole county. That's not enough. I've been as a mom in meetings at the school where all the parents are there and the principal of the school has asked me to translate? And he sits me in a corner with all the Hispanic parents, and me a parent, is translating the meeting. So, yes, they're taking the kids, but it doesn't stop there. A lot of these parents don't speak English. I'm just using public schools as an example because that's what I see every day. A Hispanic lady called me and said "can you please call school. They are calling me. I don't know what's happening. And they just tell me OK, OK." She didn't know what they were saying. I called. Her daughter was throwing up in the infirmary and they wanted her to pick her up. If you're going to take the kids, you need to care for that community.

FBI apologizes

I was at the Citizens Academy of the FBI and one of the agents mentioned that the Hispanic community was growing and with the growth of the Hispanic community they also brought their problems, which is gangs. So I raised my hand because I thought, well I'm part of that community. I don't think I bring my problems like a gang. So I make the correction that the problems follow all these gangsters, they follow the community because we are a target of them. Then they made the correction and apologized.
Photo by Timothy Wisniewski. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tim Chavez finds better life in "failure" after layoff

Tim Chavez, the former Tennessean columnist who now blogs at Political Salsa after a near-fatal bout with cancer, tells the recently laid off employees of his old paper that "life can still be meaningful," even in circumstances one might otherwise consider a failure.

Here is an excerpt:
But God still provides us opportunities. Yes, I'm still a failure. I make little money compared to what I did as a columnist with a long career. I feel shame and am glad my parents are not alive to see me this way. But I still believe God kept me alive for a reason.
Click here to read the entire post.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

TN Minority Supplier Development Council hosts Holiday Celebration December 5

Co-sponsored by both local Hispanic chambers of commerce

The Tennessee Minority Supplier Development Council will host, and the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce* and Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce* will co-sponsor, a Holiday Celebration on Friday, December 5, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00p.m. The event is free and offers refreshments and prizes. RSVP to 615-259-4699.

The Tennessee Minority Supplier Development Council is located at 220 Athens Way, Suite 105, Nashville, TN 37228.

how many Hispanic chambers are there in Nashville?

Martina Dreems CD release party Saturday, December 6

"A mixture of Latin, flamenco, rock, pop, with powerful and melodic vocals"

Chile, Mexico roots

Local band Martina Dreems is throwing its CD release party this Saturday, December 6, at 6:30pm in downtown Nashville. The venue is First Baptist Church, Room 370, 108 7th Ave S, 37203.

The concert is free, and the CD is 'Life Wind and Faith' - which can be previewed and purchased on CD Baby and DigStation.

From the notes on CD Baby:
A strong honest and melodic journey combining pop, rock, latin, and flamenco influences, all summed into two acoustic guitars and a deep and inspiring voice.

Cristina and Marcel O'Shee came from Chile (South America) to the United States seeking to share their music through a cross-cultural approach. In Nashville, TN, they met guitarist Ricardo Sanchez, from Mexico, who added his exceptional talent to the project. Ricardo recorded almost every guitar solo and he co-wrote along with Marcel all the guitar arrangements. The Result: A mixture of Latin, flamenco, rock, pop, with powerful and melodic vocals. Even though Martina Dreems consider themselves a Metal/Latin band, their first Album (Life Wind & Faith) has an Acoustical approach, combined with reflexive lyrics that meditate about the struggles in life and God's Love. Looking to take our heavy rock path in a near future, we strongly encourage you to check out our debut CD. You will enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Nashville for All of Us launches official website, grows coalition targeting English charter change

Lots of people have been asking about the Nashville for All of Us group. That group has just launched its web site:

The group can be contacted at contact@nashvilleforallofus.org - or, if you want to volunteer, the e-mail address is volunteer@nashvilleforallofus.org

They have a sign up page, and contributions are being accepted for a campaign.

I have already signed up the Hispanic Nashville Notebook as a member of the Nashville for All of Us coalition. Please continue to advocate as you have been, but now there is a new, city-wide group for us to get plugged into as well.

Please also consider if your own group should join the growing number of supporters of the Nashville for All of Us coalition.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Daughter's appreciation, memories of home mark birthday for Mack of Coyote Chronicles

"My daughter wrote me a beautiful note, thanking me for pushing her to excel"

"As soon as I heated up a tortilla... I was close to tears"

Local Hispanic blogger Mack, of Coyote Chronicles, told this moving birthday story earlier this month:
Last night, the Primary Wife and the Kids and i had a nice dinner, and I even got some PJ’s I can’t wait to wear. It was terrific. My daughter wrote me a beautiful note, thanking me for pushing her to excel and basically acknowledging that I indeed, along with her mother, do my best to provide for her and her brother. It was a wonderful gift to get.

I was a little tired. But, more than that, a bit pre-occupied. See, i have been been thinking about my parents quite a bit lately. Though they are both gone, for some reason, I feel very close to them right now. Tonight I cooked a fried chicken dinner for me and the kids, and the smell of frying chickens almost made me sad. I can’t explain it. As soon as i heated up a tortilla to eat with it, I was close to tears. I could feel my mother in the room. She was standing at the stove, at 3:00 a.m., cooking me a tortilla with butter because i decided to bang on her door at 2:55 a.m. The very first question out of her mouth was “are you hungry, Mijo (Mi Hijo)?"
Read the original in its entirety here.

Photo by Joey Gannon. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fish taco faceoff at Nashville Scene

The Scene gives us dueling views of the fish taco fare at Baja Burrito and La Hacienda

Photo by Sergio Recabarren. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Before Volz do-over, Nashville jury gives unvisaed youth a fair trial, applies the law's "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard to murder charges

Nashvillian Eric Volz announces his Nicaraguan murder re-trial days later, denounces hidden motives

NewsChannel5 reports here that a Nashville jury has unanimously acquitted a young man accused of murder who is in the U.S. without a visa.

Two jurors told NewsChannel5 that they couldn't "add all of [the evidence] up together" under the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard, and they therefore could not vote to convict the defendant Jose Murillo Sosa of the tragic and brutal murders of Lori and Adrian Rountree. One of the jurors said that they "don't want a guilty man walking free" but that they also "wouldn't want to see an innocent man spend time in jail."

The fact that the jury could see an unvisaed defendant as potentially innocent at all and apply the same "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard to him as they would to any other defendant is a testament to the American justice system working out the difficult decisions of guilt or innocence with an even hand, at a time when unvisaed immigrants in the U.S. have been the target of a great deal of negativity in recent years.

The acquittal came within days of the news that Nashvillian Eric Volz announced that he is to be retried in Nicaragua for the similiarly brutal and tragic murder of his ex-girlfriend (story here), in a case in which he says the accusations against him are fueled by anti-immigrant (in this case, anti-American-immigrant) sentiment in Nicaragua (story here). Volz was originally convicted of this murder and spent over a year in jail, but his conviction overturned on appeal (story here).

In the recent acquittal, Nashville is providing an example to the world of what it means to have equal justice for all, reinforcing in at least this one case the previously expressed opinion by Davidson County District Attorney General Torry Johnson that even illegal immigrants can get a fair trial in this city.

Hat tip: Political Salsa

Friday, November 21, 2008

2008 Hispanic Achievement awards from Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber

Hispanic Nashville Notebook receives Journalism & Hispanic Community Award

Mayor Karl Dean recognizes "the thousands of Hispanics in Nashville whose love of family, hard work, and sense of community have helped unite us"

The Tennessean published this story about the recently announced Hispanic Achievement awards from the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce*. The full press release is available on the Chamber's web site. Excerpts are below:
Following a powerful rendition of the National Anthem by Hispanic-American singer Rachel Rodriguez, an eloquent Mayor Karl Dean presented to NAHCC members and guests a Proclamation recognizing "the thousands of Hispanics in Nashville whose love of family, hard work, and sense of community have helped unite us."

The program continued with the invocation by Pastor Tommy Vallejos, Director of H.O.P.E (Hispanic Organization for Progress and Education) and a message by Fabian Bedne, Raúl Lopez and Santos Gonzales with "Ya Es Hora Tennessee" a grass root Hispanic voter registration and civic awareness group launched earlier this year.

Below is the list of recipients of the 2008 NAHCC Hispanic Heritage Month Awards:

~ Hispanic Business Advocate Award ~
* Santos Gonzalez, Coco Loco Restaurant

~ Hispanic Entrepreneur Achievement Award ~
* Mario Ramos, Attorney

~ Hispanic Community Advocate of the Year Award ~
* Gregg Ramos
* Tom Negri
* Elliott Ozment

~ Outstanding Arts & Culture Achievement Award ~
* Nashville Symphony Conductor: Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero

~ Outstanding Advocacy in Education Award ~
* COPLA - Committee of Latino Parents

~ Outstanding Business Achievement Award ~
* Palette Gallery

~ Journalism & Hispanic Community Award ~
* Hispanic Nashville Notebook (hispanicnashville.com)

~ Diversity in Journalism Award ~
* P.J.Tobia, Investigative Journalist

~ NAHCC Chair's Award ~
* State Water Heaters

~ Outstanding Leadership and Service Award ~
* Loraine Segovia Paz

~ Appreciation Award ~
* Yuri Cunza, NAHCC President

NAHCC Special Recognitions
* Marilyn Robinson (Nashville Minority Business Center)
* Cheri Henderson Tennessee Suppliers Development Council (TNSDC)
* David Tiller, Small Business Administration (SBA)

NAHCC Award Announcements
* Latino Arts & Hispanic Filmmaker Award
* COPLA Scholarship Award

For additional information please contact the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce by phone: 615-216-5737 or via email: info@nashvillehispanicchamber.com

The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce was founded in 2001 and actively promotes the economic growth and development of Hispanic entrepreneurs while representing the interests of more than 200 businesses in the greater Nashville area. Please visit www.nashvillehispanicchamber.com
Photo courtesy of Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

how many Hispanic chambers are there in Nashville?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nashvillians are already opposing English charter change, with or without campaign

Hundreds write letters, blog posts, join new Facebook groups

Nashville residents are increasingly urging an "Against" vote on January 22, in opposition to the proposed English charter change (also described as English Only, English First, or a language ban).

With the ballot box little more than two months away (and early voting starting even sooner), the grassroots opposition has been simmering for months on blogs and in letters to the editors of local newspapers, and it has now spread to Facebook groups and a number of organizations around town.

There is still no public campaign being waged by the group called "Nashville for All of Us," which has filed with the Election Commission for the purpose of opposing the measure (story here). The lack of any public movement by the group has been lamented by the Nashville City Paper in this editorial.

But ordinary Nashvillians are speaking up, with or without a formal campaign.

Four new groups on Facebook, for example, are only days old but have drawn hundreds of members:


On local blogs, there are a number of comments advocating defeat of the measure, for various reasons excerpted below.

Aunt B.:
Pushing an anti-immigrant agenda–with your “English-only” nonsense and your 287(g) programs and your raids–makes employers, especially international employers leery of locating here. It’s not just a matter of whether they want to hire “illegal” immigrants. It’s that we look hostile to people who are different than us. If an employer in, say, Japan wants to set up a technology-based industry in the U.S. (perhaps to save on shipping), he’s going to want to send a core group of people over here to set up the business and run it, at least for a while. If you’re going to send your best and brightest, most trusted employees half-way around the world, you’re not going to keep those employees if you send them to a place that openly hates them.

...makes employers, especially international employers, leery of locating here.

Jay Voorhees:
The only want that we can overcome this movement is to make sure that the turnout to vote against his legislation is so overwhelming that they dare not bring it for consideration again.

So Nashvillians, it’s time to get the network moving. Contact all of your friends, your family members, anyone who thinks that this election is a waste of time and money and that that this legislation is inhospitable, and get them to vote against this proposal.

Contact all of your friends, your family members, anyone who thinks that this election is a waste of time and money and that that this legislation is inhospitable...

Rosanne Ferreri-Feski:
Nationwide negative press has also followed Nashville in the wake of its desire to spread "English only" throughout metro government offices. USA Today, among others, has written negative reviews about our city, a city which touted itself on being inclusive and diversity-forward in its marketing. The nation is watching Nashville and we are giving them plenty to discuss.

The nation is watching Nashville and we are giving them plenty to discuss.

Mike Byrd has an entire series of posts on the topic, including this one:
[The] English Only charter referendum, coming for a vote in January, will live or die on the votes of the African American community, just like California's Proposition 8 resolution did last week. It will be ironic if Eric Crafton wins his fight against Nashville's immigrant community the same week we commemorate the contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr. to the American civil rights struggle.

...the same week we commemorate the contributions of Martin Luther King, Jr. to the American civil rights struggle.

Erica Well:
As it stands, the amendment removes instead of clarifies, and diminishes Metro instead of strengthens it. If enacted as is, it means Metro government will not allow itself to translate any of its government business paperwork into any other language. So (just for starters) DMV forms, car registration forms etc., -- all that ancillary government paperwork translated out of courtesy to new immigrants so they can conduct their proper business as they learn English -- will no longer be in other languages other than English.

So what's wrong with that, you say? They have to learn English, you say. It makes no sense, I say. English is not absorbed by osmosis, it is learned. (And on a larger scale, anyone remember being taught about the Rosetta stone back in High School?)

It then makes no sense that Metro should cut back on its authority over its new immigrant citizens by not providing translations for certain services. Why would we cut back on our authority? Metro has to make this basic paperwork available in other languages so people can do the right and legal thing when they get here.

It then makes no sense that Metro should cut back on its authority...

Nathan Moore:
No rationale for pushing for this charter amendment, either substantively (which I have discussed before) or procedurally, can be taken from a conservative political philosophy. It is too late to pull back now - the signatures are in. But we can take a lesson about this before January, and realize that just because this snipe is on the ballot, it doesn’t mean we have to pass the Metropolitan government equivalent of the Third Amendment.

No rationale for pushing for this charter amendment, either substantively ... or procedurally, can be taken from a conservative political philosophy.

Rob Robinson:
Surely there is a better way to serve the public than preying upon people who already have uphill climbs ahead of them.

...preying upon people who already have uphill climbs...

Nathan Day Wilson:
My family and I lived outside the United States for a short period of time. The country where we lived does not have English as a primary language.

For us, going to the grocery store or sending a letter back home or helping our children meet and play with other children at the park or finding our way to church the first time were all challenges. Many times our saviors were people patient with our very limited abilities in their language and people who were willing to try their little bit of English to help us understand. Their generosity allowed us to survive.

And now a part of my country -- a part of the country that I, in fact, used to enjoy -- is not going to return the favor. I'm ashamed of those in Nashville who pushed this effort, and I hope and pray it is soundly defeated in November.

Many times our saviors were people patient with our very limited abilities in their language...

Letters to the editor

The Tennessean and Nashville City Paper have also published letters to the editor against the English charter change, including these:

Johnny Ellis:
[P]our money into primary education services that will teach all children to read and write in English and to love Tennessee.

It will be cheaper, easier and does not slap the face of your neighbors and future citizens.

...neighbors and future citizens.

Bill Wright:
I agree if someone chooses to live in a country and is not fluent in the language, they should make every reasonable effort to learn the language but that doesn’t mean we should expect them to be proficient in it from day one, or not provide any assistance to help them along the way.

I have to believe the people pushing these agendas have never traveled outside our own country and would have a different attitude if they “walked a mile in their shoes.”

...they should make every reasonable effort to learn the language but that doesn’t mean we should expect them to be proficient in it from day one...

Todd M. Liebergen:
[T]ake the time and money that you’d like to use for the petition campaign and actually help those wanting to learn English. Encourage all those that mention it to you to also step forward with their time and/or money.

In many cases, it’s not the motivation to learn English that is lacking, it’s the resources of having classes available at the times the learners need (some people actually work), at the levels that the learners need (some know no English and others know some and others are mostly fluent), in the format the learners need (some need individual tutoring while others can use a lecture hall size class).

Take the time and money ... and actually help those wanting to learn English

Brent Andrews:
It is only good service and good manners to speak to people in their own language when possible.

...good service and good manners...

Photo by Josh Hunter. Licensed under Creative Commons.
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