Monday, September 29, 2008

"Mambo Caliente" will heat up Nashville Jazz Orchestra October 9 at Vanderbilt

Guest artists Oscar Hernandez, Marc Quinones, Bobby Allende, Gordon Goodwin, Dalia Garcia, Lalo Davila, Glen Caruba, others

From the Nashville Jazz Orchestra:
The Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University will host "MAMBO CALIENTE", a night of explosive New York style Latino Jazz by the NASHVILLE JAZZ ORCHESTRA in the Martha Rivers Ingram Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2007, at 8:00 pm.

The concert will feature New York pianist and arranger OSCAR HERNANDEZ playing compositions made famous by his classic Spanish Harlem Orchestra. Mr. Hernandez and NJO will be joined by Pearl Percussion artists MARC QUINONES and BOBBY ALLENDE, who will also play Latin style arrangements by Gordon Goodwin, and others.

NJO Director Jim Williamson will also welcome special guests DALIA GARCIA, LALO DAVILA, and GLEN CARUBA on vocals and percussion. Pearl Drums USA and American Airlines are co-sponsors for this event. Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 for seniors, VU faculty & staff, seniors 65 & over, students with ID, and $5 for VU Students. Tickets will be available at the Ingram Center box office the night of the performance.


OSCAR HERNANDEZ is a major figure in Salsa and Latin Jazz music as a pianist, bandleader, composer, arranger, and producer. His current band, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra has been nominated twice for Grammies, and won for their CD "Across 110th Street". Born in Manhattan in 1954, he got his musical start in a South Bronx boys club and was captivated by the piano style of Eddie Palmieri and the salsa revolution of the 60’s. His talent quickly matured and by the early 1980's, Oscar was responsible for charting the musical course of the Rubén Blades Band, now known as Seis Del Solar. He produced such artists as Willie Colón, Daniel Ponce, Rafael Dejesus, Eddie Torres, Phil Hernandez, and Steve Kroon, etc. His recording and performing credits include world renowned artists like Latin music king Tito Puente, Salsa Music Queen Celia Cruz, Latin Pop Star Julio Iglesias, Juan Luis Guerra, Willie Colon, Ray Barreto, Johnny Pacheco, Ismael Miranda, Pete"Conde" Rodríquez, Oscar De'leon, Luis "Perico" Ortiz, jazz artists Earl Klugh and Dave Valentin, and the bands "Libre" and "Grupo Folklorico Experimental Nuevayorquino". More recently, Oscar has been Musical Director, Arranger, and Conductor for several Broadway musicals, including “The Capeman,” by pop-rock icon Paul Simon. He is currently working on a Broadway production of "The Mambo Kings". Oscar has scored several films, and as pianist/arranger/producer his commercial client list includes the hit show “Sex and the City”, Dunkin Donuts, Waldbaums, General Motors, and many others.

For the last five years his Spanish Harlem Orchestra has expressed his passion for the sound of the great Afro-Cuban jazz bands of the 1940's and 50's. Their classic sound has won awards and acclaim as one of best salsa orchestras in the world.

MARC QUINONES is currently the featured percussionist with the legendary Allman Brothers Band.

Born in The Bronx, New York, he began playing drums and congas at the age of three and was playing professionally at the age of nine. He played timbale with Latin stars like Tito Puente and was an original member of Los Rumberitos. After high school, he spent the next five years in salsa master Willie Colón's band, playing every percussion instrument and becoming musical director of the band for two years. He then spent two years playing with popular vocalist Rubén Blades as well as playing on and touring for David Byrne's Latin music Rei Momo project. In 1989 Quiñones joined the jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra for two years. In 1991, he was recruited to join The Allman Brothers Band where he plays alongside set drummers Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson. In between tours, Quinones plays with various salsa bands, including the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, and works as a session musician for albums, television soundtracks, and commercials.

BOBBY ALLENDE leads the Afro-Cuban jazz band called "Ocho Y Mas", which also features Quinones. Their latest CD is “Juega Billar”. Born and raised in New York City, Bobby's foundation in Afro-Cuban percussion began at the age of three. His performances with Buddy Rich at age 7, with Julio Iglesias at age 10, and with Tito Puente lead to the youth band Los Rumberitos that toured as Puente's opening act. Bobby moved on to work with other Latin musicians such as Hector Lavoe, Jose Alberto "El Canario", RMM All Stars and Ruben Blades among others. Later, he became the Musical Director for Willie Colon, Marc Anthony and La India. He also worked with many jazz and rock artists like David Byrne, Grover Washington, Jr., and Spyro Gyra, and was in the orchestra of Paul Simon's Broadway musical "The Capeman." He is currently the percussionist for Marc Anthony's Salsa band and Pop band, Musical Director for Tito Nieves, and a member of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra.

From Nashville, Pearl Recording Artists LALO DAVILA and GLEN CARUBA will also be featured on percussion. Davila is co-leader and vocalist of Music City's popular Latin jazz band, "Orkesta Eme Pe", Director of Percussion Studies at MTSU, and leader of the MTSU Salsa Band and Percussion Ensemble. Caruba is a percussionist and teacher, author of several books and DVDs, and has worked with Jimmy Buffet, Barry Manilow, the Mavericks, and "Orkesta Eme Pe".;

DALIA GARCIA, from Madrid, Spain, is an award-winning singer, songwriter, and actress. After being crowned Miss South Carolina, she toured for 8 years with Julio Iglesias, performing in 8 of his videos, and appeared in the movie "Lycanthrope". Her singing and songwriting has dominated several charts on, and she appears across the US with Al Delory & Salsa En Nashville, and others.


This October 9 concert of Latin Jazz is a follow up to the NJO’s highly successful “Cuban Fire” concert of last season. By bringing world-renowned pianist and composer Oscar Hernandez to Nashville, NJO is giving Music City audiences the chance to experience two important facets of Latin music. One is a unique style of two-handed piano playing that is heard in all Afro-Cuban music. Traditional Latin bands don’t use drumsets, so the piano, using heavy syncopated chording, sets the rhythm of a tune and drives the band, large or small. The second is the classic style of Afro-Cuban jazz created by Latino musicians living in the US in the 1940’s. The music began as a marriage of African percussion, Cuban dance rhythms, and American big band jazz arranging. In 1930 Cuban trumpeter/arranger Mario Bauza moved to New York, joined the Chick Webb Orchestra in 1933, and the Cab Calloway Orchestra in 1938, also bringing in Dizzy Gillespie. In 1941, Bauza put together a new band for his brother-in-law Machito. The concept was to combine big band swing instrumentation with Afro-Cuban percussion for a powerful unique sound that would get them work in jazz clubs as well as Latino dance rooms. With hit records like “Tanga”, and the addition of young timbalero Tito Puente, the band and the sound was a hit, creating enormous popularity for Mambo (created by Cuban bass legend Cachao) and Latin Jazz. Manhattan’s Palladium Ballroom became the center of this new scene and top Latin artists like Machito and Puente played there for years. Helped by Bauza, Gillespie added the Afro-Cuban sound to his big band in 1945, popularizing Latin music among jazz fans as well. With the addition of rock elements in the 60’s and disco in the 70’s, the style became known as SALSA, which now includes many different Latin dance rhythms. On Oct. 9, Mr. Hernandez brings this tradition to the NJO, playing several of his Spanish Harlem Orchestra arrangements, and some for a smaller group, recorded by Seis Del Solar. Contemporary Latin jazz will be represented by recent charts from Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, and

The Oct. 9 "SALSA CALIENTE” concert is the first event in the NJO's 2008/2009 concert season as "Artist in Residence" at Blair School of Music. Founded in 1996, the NJO is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to perpetuating big band jazz. With 17 of Nashville's top session and jazz players, they play clubs and jazz festivals, often with guest artists like Randy Brecker, Lou Marini, Donald Brown, Bob Kurnow, Wycliff Gordon, and David "Fathead" Newman. Later concerts in the series include Dec. 10 – "Winter Concert" with Annie Sellick, Matt Belsante, and Blair Big Band; Feb. 26 – “NJO presents Mandy Barnett”; and April 23 – NJO's “Fourth Annual Jazz Writer's Night”. Currently, the NJO is also featured one Sunday a month at Nashville's Limelight performance venue. Their current CDs are Live at B.B. King's featuring Annie Sellick, Legacy – First Annual Jazz Writers Night, and …and Points South – Second Annual Jazz Writers Night.
Photo of Nashville Jazz Orchestra courtesy of Nashville Jazz Orchestra

Friday, September 26, 2008

Race and culture exchange program for community leaders revived (again) in Davidson Group

2007 Nashville population: 61% white, 27% African-American, 7.5% Latino

Founded in 1981; reincarnation in 2003 stalled

David Lipscomb's Institute for Law, Justice & Society steps in

The Tennessean reports here that the interracial and cross-cultural exchange effort called the Davidson Group is back on, after being founded in 1981, subsequently floundering, and being revived only briefly in 2003 (story here).

From the Tennessean:
The Davidson Group, which started in 1981 to pair up black and white Nashville community leaders who didn't know each other, is reorganizing to do the same work in what has become an even more diverse city. It will restart soon with administrative support from Lipscomb University's Institute for Law, Justice & Society.
U.S. Census statistics from July 2007 show whites make up almost 61 percent of the [Nashville] population, down from 65.5 percent in 2000; while African-Americans make up 27 percent of the population and Latinos make up 7.5 percent.
Earlier this summer, the Metro Human Relations Commission, which had administered the program, decided to turn it back over to the Nashville's Agenda steering committee, which found a new partner at Lipscomb.
Photo by Kate Andrews. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Is Mexican caricature the Bible Belt's new insult?

Negative tone has been rejected by some Christians, but continues nonetheless

Less than one month after the Hispanic Nashville Notebook called for evangelicals to get it right on Hispanics and immigration (see here), Bob DeMoss and Mark Whitlock, two well-known Christian writers from the Nashville suburb of Franklin, Tennessee, are selling a product they call "Obama Waffles," in which Barack Obama appears in caricature in a Mexican sombrero, and references are made in jest to multiculturalism, foreign languages, and "illegal aliens."

Also this month, advocates of the proposed English Only foreign language ban superimposed the faces of their perceived political enemies onto a poster of the movie The Three Amigos, in which the characters are wearing Mexican mariachi uniforms (story on the Nashville Scene blog here).

Why would these caricatures be of concern for a Christian? Here's what I said last time:
In an environment in which Hispanics and/or immigrants are the subject of politically generated suspicion and scorn, it certainly isn't right for Southern Baptists and other evangelicals to gin up more suspicion and scorn.
Put another way, you don't use in a political barb the imagery of Mexicans and/or immigrants (even unvisaed immigrants), when mere association with them is the joke, if you are a Christian hell-bent on loving your neighbor as yourself. The negativity of it is wrong, and good conservatives have both warned against this kind of tone in the past (see Leslie Sanchez quotes here) and also asked for forgiveness for it in Nashville's LP Field (see Sam Brownback quote here).

At the Values Voters Summit where the Obama Waffles were sold, the organizers eventually ejected DeMoss' and Whitlock's booth and condemned their product as having improper "tone and content" and having "crosse[d] the line into coarseness and bias":
Family Research Council Action executive director David Nammo released the following statement:

"We strongly condemn the tone and content of materials that were exhibited by one of the vendors at this weekend's Values Voter Summit. The materials represent an attempt at parody that crosses the line into coarseness and bias."

"The exhibitor contacted our reviewer just days before the Summit by email and described material that sounded like it was devoted to political flip-flops on policy issues. When the content of the materials was brought to the attention of FRC Action senior officials today, they were removed and the exhibit was dismantled by the vendor at our insistence. It is our responsibility to fully vet materials that are offered at any event we cosponsor, but we are deeply dismayed that this vendor violated the spirit, message and tone of our event in such an offensive manner."

"The Values Voter Summit represents a coming together of many long-established organizations that work across denominational and ethnic lines to celebrate and promote the family and a culture of life. We reject any communications that divide and distract us and frustrate these principles. Bishop Harry Jackson's High Impact Leadership Coalition, Gary Bauer's American Values, and Alliance Defense Fund join us in rejecting this material."

Source: Christianity Today


When asked why Obama was pictured in a sombrero, DeMoss and Whitlock gave the following explanation to the American News Project (video here):
"Positions on the, the border... We're havin' th-, him, erase the line between the U.S. and Mex-"
As of September 25, neither DeMoss nor Whitlock had responded to a Tuesday, September 16 e-mail request for an interview (sent to

Apology to Lou Dobbs

DeMoss and Whitlock have repeatedly defended their Obama Waffles product as "humor." To the extent that they have apologized for anything, it has been not for the box itself but for something else: having posted a picture of Lou Dobbs on their web site without Dobbs' permission. According to the story on (here), "the caption of the [since removed] post read:
"Lou Dobbs: 'My Wife Will Love This!'"
Images of Obama Waffles box: American News Project; Image of "Three Amigos": Nashville Scene

Progressive wish list for state immigration laws cites Tennessee's past highs and lows

Will any of these ideas show up at Legislative Plaza in 2009?

Looking for appropriate ways in which state-level laws can positively address immigrants and immigration, the Progressive States Network has published an exhaustive report called the State Immigration Project, offering a five-pronged approach:
Progressive leaders need to promote policies that will highlight that those leading the anti-immigrant charge are actually against the interests of working families of all races and immigrant status. Key progressive immigration strategies include:

  • Wage Enforcement as Immigration Policy

  • Encouraging Immigrant Integration and Naturalization

  • Immigrants and Public Benefits

  • Voting Reform versus "Voter ID" Attacks, and

  • Immigrant Outreach as Public Safety and Anti-Terror Policy
  • Tennessee's past record on positive immigration legislation is mixed. On the positive side, last year's legislative session passed an anti-racial profiling bill and rejected 65 bills that were identified as harmful (here) by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. Two other positive immigration law developments in Tennessee, cited by this Progressive States report, are a notario (lawyer impersonator) fraud prevention law passed in 2006, and an anti-trafficking law passed in 2008.

    On the other hand, this Report paints Tennessee's approach overall as punitive because of legislative moves regarding employer sanctions, ID laws, and 287(g).

    I thought that one glaring error from the public safety and anti-terror section of this report was the lack of a proposal that focuses law enforcement resources on dangerous criminals who also happen to be unvisaed. There's opportunity there, since no one opposes targeted enforcement against real threats to pubic safety. The controversies are usually over the bear traps carelessly set for not only dangerous criminals but also for ordinary unvisaed workers and sometimes even legal immigrants and citizens.

    I'd also like to see some positive, symbolic measures, like a pro-immigrant license plate.

    Hat tip: Tim Chavez, who reviewed this report and reached this conclusion.

    Wednesday, September 24, 2008

    Chile 1 - Mexico 0, was live on Telemundo Nashville

    Wed. 09/24/08, 11:59pm CT. The national soccer team of Chile defeated Mexico by a single goal scored on the second half of the match, 18 minutes before the end of the game. Telemundo Nashville viewers were able to watch the live broadcast via digital transmission on channel 4.2 and via commercial cable (Comcast, channels 89.2, 246 or 611; Charter, channel 24).

    Nashville's Mike Curb honors famed Argentina-born Hollywood composer Lalo Schifrin

    From the San Diego Union-Tribune:
    “I signed Lalo Schifrin to Verve Records,” boasted [Mike] Curb by phone from his home in Nashville, Tenn.

    “I merged my company with MGM and Verve in 1969 and became president. We continued to operate those combined labels. I had been a fan of Lalo Schifrin's scores, and we wrote 'Burning Bridges,' the theme for 'Kelly's Heroes,' together. I recorded it with my group, the Mike Curb Congregation, and I had a hit. It created a long friendship.”
    The article says that Schifrin's compositions have appeared in hundreds of movies and TV shows, including “The Cincinnati Kid,” “Dirty Harry,” “Cool Hand Luke,” “The Amityville Horror” and “Mission: Impossible.”

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    Tim Chavez: don't mangle reason for Spanish-language political ads

    Former Tennessean columnist Tim Chavez, in his blog Political Salsa, tells Bill O'Reilly here why Spanish-language political ads exist:
    The political ads are in Spanish because the voter is more comfortable in communicating in Spanish, not that he or she cannot speak English.
    Chavez goes on to say that O'Reilly's discussion of Hispanic voters should have included a Hispanic panelist.

    An interesting discussion about the linguistic diversity of the Hispanic population is this one, by the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Photo by David Goehring. Licensed under Creative Commons.

    Monday, September 22, 2008

    Owner Bar Twenty3 closing shop, planning resort in Nicaragua

    Nashville City Paper story here:
    [Austin] Ray, meanwhile, is opening a bar called The Melrose on Franklin Pike and developing a resort in Nicaragua with his father Norm Ray, formerly an industrial real estate broker in Nashville with Colliers Turley Martin Tucker.

    Sunday, September 21, 2008

    Hats off to Ginger and the Bloggers

    Thanks to Ginger for organizing last night's Nashville Blogger get-together at the Flying Saucer, and for the roomful of bloggers who showed up (even from out of town) to give us all a night of interesting conversation.

    Thanks also to Brittney Gilbert, whose work at WKRN's Nashville Is Talking turned a bunch of Nashville bloggers into a Nashville Blogger community.

    Saturday, September 20, 2008

    Fidel Castro's daughter to speak at Austin Peay October 16 amid string of Hispanic Cultural Center events

    Culture and civic engagement, Symphony conductor, and Salsa night among other events

    More information about upcoming Heritage Month events hosted by the Hispanic Cultural Center at Austin Peay State University, from the AllState student newspaper:
    The Hispanic Cultural Center (HCC) hosted Café Hispanico on Wednesday, Sept. 10 in Morgan University Center room 308. Accounting clerk Pat Treviño facilitated the open conversation about ways to preserve Hispanic culture by sharing her own genealogy research with students who attended the event, entitled "Preserving Hispanic Culture in a Multi-Cultural Society."
    The HCC will host two more Café Hispanico events this semester on Tuesday, Oct. 21 and Tuesday, Nov. 4.

    The Oct. 21 event is entitled "Hispanic Culture with Respect to Civic Engagement".
    The HCC will officially kick off Hispanic Heritage Month with a guest lecture by Nashville Symphony conductor Giancarlo Guerrero. Guerrero will speak at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 23 in the Music/Mass Communication Concert Hall. Salsa Night will be held at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 3 in the Foy Fitness Center. The HCC will close out Hispanic Heritage Month with guest speaker Alina Fernandez, daughter of former Cuban president Fidel Castro. Fernandez will speak at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 16 in the MMC Concert Hall.

    A complete list of events can be found on the HCC homepage.

    Friday, September 19, 2008

    Tennessee Democrats recognize Hispanic Heritage Month

    "We celebrate Tennessee's proud Hispanic heritage"

    A few days after the Tennessee Republican Party issued this press release marking Hispanic Heritage Month, the Tennessee Democratic Party mentioned the holiday in its "Munday Message" mailing from Wade Munday:

    This month, we celebrate Tennessee's proud Hispanic heritage from their military service to their cultural influence in our state's formation. It is time to recognize our multi-cultural influence in our nation and our state.

    We know the struggle as ordinary Americans hoping to grasp the American dream. America's proudest heritage are the women and men who have worked to advocate for freedom and prosperity through hard work and a responsible government.

    Join the Middle Tennessee Hispanic Democrats this month as we celebrate the work of Hispanic Democrats and our cultural heritage.

    Los Lonely Boys tonight at the Wildhorse

    "We grew up listening to rock, the blues and country, and doing songs in both Spanish and English"

    From the Nashville City Paper:
    “It was just sort of natural for the three of us to have our own band,” Garza said. “We saw our father and his brothers playing all those years and really were thrilled at the Conjunto music that they played during the ‘70s and ‘80s. But at the same time we grew up listening to rock, the blues and country, and doing songs in both Spanish and English. So it was natural that all those things wound up in our songs, especially since we decided to mainly write our own music.”
    Now Los Lonely Boys, who’ll appear tonight at the Wildhorse Saloon along with Dave Barnes, has emerged among the top bands in the rock/pop world. Their third studio release Forgiven was released in July and produced by Steve Jordan.
    Los Lonely Boys spent a lot of time in Nashville during the ‘90s, and while they never quite hit it big here, they have some fond memories of their stint in Music City.

    “There were some tough times, but it was also the place where we really learned the craft of playing and writing music,” Garza said. “It’s such a music place and has so many great musicians around that you either get better or you don’t survive. It can be a tough town as well, and there were experiences that were difficult, but overall we’re very thankful for the time we spent in Nashville and we always look forward to coming back and playing there.”

    Maestro Guerrero to discuss classical music in Latin America at Austin Peay Hispanic Heritage Month event September 23

    From Austin Peay:
    The Austin Peay State University Hispanic Cultural Center will host the newly appointed Nashville Symphony Conductor, Giancarlo Guerrero.

    This event, free and open to the public, begins at 1 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 23 in the Music/Mass Communication Building Concert Hall.

    Guerrero will speak on classical music in Latin America as part of the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration.

    During the 2007-08 season, Guerrero's guest conducting engagements included his return appearances with the Cleveland Orchestra both in Cleveland and on tour, including the orchestra's residency in Miami. He also leads the Australian premiere of Osvaldo Golijov's chamber opera, “Ainadamar” at the Adelaide Festival. Additional engagements include appearances with the symphony orchestras of Dallas, Kansas City, Milwaukee, San Antonio and San Diego, as well as his return to Nashville in May 2008 for performances of Verdi's “Requiem.”

    Also in demand in both Central and South America, Guerrero conducts regularly in Venezuela, both with the Orquesta Sinfonica Simon Bolivar and the Orquesta Sinfonica de Venezuela.

    In June 2004, Guerrero was awarded the Helen M. Thompson Award by the American Symphony Orchestra League, which recognizes outstanding achievement among young conductors nationwide.

    Guerrero holds degrees from Baylor and Northwestern universities. Prior to his tenure with the Minnesota Orchestra, he served as music director of the Tachira Symphony Orchestra in Venezuela.

    Thursday, September 18, 2008

    The name of every person who signed the English Only petition

    Sean Braisted posted the names of every Davidson County resident who signed the English Only (foreign language ban) petition. See Sean's post here, which also includes a link to the downloadable Excel file.

    Read this document on Scribd: English Only Petitioners

    Telefutura 42 recognizes Hispanic Heritage Month

    "Immense contributions of Spanish-speaking individuals to Nashville's community, culture and economy"

    Telefutura 42 issued this press release in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month:
    Nashville's premier Spanish language TV station, Telefutura 42, is proud to recognize Hispanic Heritage Month 2008. "Hispanic Heritage Month activities around town for the next few weeks remind us of the immense contributions of Spanish-speaking individuals to Nashville's community, culture and economy. Telefutura 42 will keep our viewers informed of Nashville's Hispanic Heritage Month activities through our daily news briefs, produced in partnership with NewsChannel 5."

    Hispanic Heritage Month dates back forty years to 1968 when it was initiated as National Hispanic Heritage Week to recognize the economic, cultural, and social contributions of Latinos in America. This was expanded in 1988 to include the 4 weeks between September 15 and October 15. Those dates were chosen because several countries celebrate their independence duringmthis time period: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua on September 15; Mexico on September 16 and Chile on September 18. The period also covers October 12 - Día de la Raza - a holiday celebrated throughout Latin America to observe the multicultural heritage of the Americas. President Bush proclaimed September 15 to October 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month. President Bush said "Hispanic Americans have strengthened our country and contributed to the spirit of America. National Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to honor these contributions and celebrate the rich cultural traditions of our Hispanic-American community."

    Telefutura 42 first began broadcasting in February 2004 and is the only Spanish language TV station in Nashville with local news. Telefutura 42 features first-class family entertainment programming that includes original Latin American talk shows, news briefs, variety shows, soap operas, movies, sports, and local programming. For more information about programming visit

    Wednesday, September 17, 2008

    Tennessee Republican Party recognizes Hispanic Heritage Month

    Cuban-American Raul Lopez chairs state chapter of National Hispanic Republican Assembly

    "The awesome honor and responsibility of being Hispanic Americans"

    The Tennessee Republican Party issued this press release in recognition of Hispanic Americans and Hispanic Heritage Month:
    The Tennessee Republican Party joins President Bush in marking the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month today. National Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15 through October 15, is an opportunity to celebrate the spirit and accomplishments of Hispanic Americans everywhere.

    In a Presidential proclamation, President Bush declared the month to be in honor of the many Americans of Hispanic descent who have made outstanding contributions to the United States of America.

    “The rich cultural traditions of the Hispanic-American community have made a remarkable impact on American society,” Bush said. “The diverse backgrounds of Hispanic Americans and their dedication to family have become an integral part of America. With a deep commitment to faith and a strong desire to live the American dream, these citizens are realizing the full blessings of liberty. Educational opportunities are helping a new generation work toward success, and many Hispanic Americans operate thriving small businesses.”

    The President’s proclamation also honored Hispanic Americans for their strong tradition of service in the Armed Forces in every war since the nation’s founding.

    Raul J. Lopez, chairman of Tennessee’s chapter of the National Hispanic Republican Assembly, remarked that National Hispanic Heritage Month provides an opportunity “to highlight our rich culture and our ongoing impact we have on this GREAT Nation the United States of America.”

    “From the classroom to the workplace we are there. From our place of worship, to the battlefield we are there. And we are there proudly. Proudly because we now live in the greatest country in the world,” said Lopez. “We live in a country where we celebrate diversity without compromising unity. We live in a country where together we celebrate Freedom, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    “This month we Hispanics are highlighted but forever we Hispanics highlight the awesome honor and responsibility of being Hispanic Americans,” Lopez said.

    About Raul Lopez
    Raul López was born in Havana, Cuba in 1962. At age 5, his family escaped Communism for a new life in the US. In 1995 he started CrossTown Courier, Inc. with two partners; later selling the company to pursue other interests.

    Very active in the Latino community, Raul has served and Chaired many boards and has always been very involved in politics; starting two PACs and serving on the Board of another. He was an alternate delegate for Bush’s 2004 campaign and served as Minority Communications Director for the Tennessee GOP. Raul currently serves in two Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, his local church, and various conservative causes. He also helped found and host 2 Hispanic TV programs: Que Pasa Nashville and Spanish TV; both dedicated to the opportunities and challenges facing the Hispanic community in Middle Tennessee. Raul now brings his talents and ideas to Chair the RNHA of TN.

    Raul lives in Nashville with his wife and six children (2 of which are adopted from Colombia). He works fulltime at a Men’s Prison Ministry and owns a very successful Real Estate Company, Rocket Realty USA.
    Hat tip: Post Politics

    Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    Festival of the Nations this Saturday, September 20

    From the Leaf Chronicle:
    Clarksville's large Latin population has a festival all its own. Festival of the Nations presents Latin Cultural Festival '08, noon-3 p.m. Saturday outside Bethel Community Church and Iglesia Cristiana, 1885 Tiny Town Road.

    "We're inviting all our American friends," said Fikri Youssef, pastor for the two churches. "The idea is for the American community to meet the Latino community, have fun with them and mingle. We want to give our American friends a taste of Latino culture."
    "The purpose of Festival of the Nations is to coordinate international community events that develop relationships with all nations," said a message about the festival from Jonathan G. Camcam, executive director of Festival of the Nations. "Our mission is to encourage unity, educate and to develop a better understanding of global community, history, culture, while preserving heritage and spiritual well being."

    Latin Cultural Festival

    Monday, September 15, 2008

    Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Kicks Off National Hispanic Heritage Month

    NAHCC invites members and friends to celebrate the official beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month on Monday, September 15th 2008 at Coco Loco Restaurant from 5:30 PM to 9 PM (*)

    Closing Hispanic Heritage Month Reception and Awards Ceremony will be held at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum on October 14th

    The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will once again this year celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month. First instituted in 1968 by the US Congress, President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed a week in September to be recognized as National Hispanic Heritage Week. The observance was expanded in 1988 to a month long celebration (Sept. 15-Oct. 15).

    To kick off the month long festivity the NAHCC will host a reception at business member Coco Loco Restaurant (4600 Nolensville Pike Nashville, TN 37211) on Monday September 15th the official day in which Hispanic Heritage Month begins.

    Public forums, festivals, lectures, art receptions, training and businesses breakout sessions are part of the NAHCC's month long Hispanic Heritage Month program.

    The NAHCC joins the nation in celebrating the culture and traditions of U.S. residents who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.

    Recent Census data released for Hispanic Heritage Month indicates that the population of Hispanics in the US has reached over 45.5 million. The number of Hispanic-owned businesses in 2002, grew up to 1.6 million that equals to 31 percent more from 1997. Their receipts were $226.5 billion, up 22 percent from 1997. A total of 199,725 such firms had paid employees, with receipts of $184 billion, or about $921,090 per firm.

    (*)NAHCC's Hispanic Heritage Month Kick Off Celebration at Coco Loco Restaurant is FREE and open to all interested in attending.


    MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2008
    5:30 PM – 9:00 PM NAHCC's 4th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Kick Off Reception
    Coco Loco Restaurant - 4600 Nolensville Pike Nashville, TN 37211

    11:00 AM – 1 PM Panel Discussion - The Business About Being a Good Neighbor: How to better contribute to the growth and development of our city.
    Downtown Public Library

    FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2008*
    7:30p.m. GRUPO FANTASMA
    Location: Langford Auditorium, Vanderbilt Campus
    If you missed them at Bonnaroo '08 catch Grupo Fantasma, the finest, funkiest, and hardest working Latin American orchestra when they bring their trademark sound to Music City with cumbia, salsa, and pyschedelia.
    Regular Admission $ 28 NAHCC members $16 - Students $10 with valid ID

    *In partnership with Vanderbilt's Great Performances

    5:30 PM – 8:30 PM Celebrating Latino Art Reception
    Artists Jorge Yances Arrieta, Orlando Camacho and Jairo Prado in attendance.
    Location: Palette Gallery - 2119 Belcourt Avenue in Hillsboro Village

    USHCC National Convention, Sacramento, CA
    The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) will be conducting its 29th Annual National Convention & Business Expo September 24-27, 2008 in Sacramento, CA. Over the span of four days, the USHCC will be host to the largest gathering of Hispanic business owners in the nation, offering a variety of workshops, chamber training and business sessions focused on: building business relationships; and, creating procurement opportunities for participants from all industries. The four-day event will be held at the Sacramento Convention Center.

    NAHCC President Yuri Cunza will be a guest speaker on the “Effective Advocacy and Grassroot Activism for Your Local Chamber” panel during the convention's National Leadership & Chamber Excellence Training Institute on September 26th.

    For more information please visit:

    7:30 AM – 9:30 AM Celebrating Latino Businesses - Networking Breakfast (TICKETED EVENT) El Manjar Mexican Restaurant

    11:00 AM – 1:00 PM Nashville Youth Entrepreneurship Training Session
    Glencliff High school

    NAHCC AT MED WEEK* – Nashville Minority Business Center
    4:00 pm - 9:00 pm Business Matchmaking for Construction
    Location: AT&T
    333 Commerce Street - Nashville, TN 37203
    Pre-registration is mandatory and includes complimentary capability statement . Refreshments served.

    *In partnership with Nashville Minority Business Center

    8:30 A.M to 10:00 A.M Breakout Session A- The Internet for Small Businesses
    Topic: Small Businesses and New Technologies
    Hispanic Media and Latinos
    Description: The Internet for Small Business will present tools for working on-line. Panelist will discuss strategies for how the Internet can be use to successfully advertise a small businesses and earn an income at almost no cost.

    11:30 AM to 12:30 PM Breakout Session B- Latina Entrepreneurship
    Topic: Want to be a successful LATINA Entrepreneur? How to Start a Business and succeed
    Description: Whether you have a start-up business or need to expand your current company, this session will help connect you with alternative sources of capital for your business. Join some of the most representative examples of Latina experts as they discuss the benefits of joint ventures, strategic partnerships and more.
    Location: Coleman Center
    12:30 PM – 1:30 PM Latina Leader's Luncheon (TICKETED EVENT)
    Location: Coleman Community Center.
    Food provided by La Hacienda Taqueria y Tortilleria
    1:30 PM – 3 PM Panel Discussion - The Business of Civic Engagement: The Latino Vote in 21st Century America Downtown Public Library Sponsor: Metro Human Relations Commission
    4:00 PM – 5:30 PM The Business About New Populations: Alternate Solutions to “English Only” - Panel Discussion
    Location: Coleman Community Center

    12:30 PM - 2:00 PM Chamber Leaders' Luncheon
    Location: Nashville City Club

    4 P.M to 5 PM Breakout Session C- Corporate Procurement Topic: How to do Business with Major Corporations Description: This workshop will provide important information on how to improve your chances of doing business with Corporate America and the capacity that is needed. Location: El Manjar Restautant 5560 Nolensville Pike Nashville, TN 37211
    5:30 PM to 7:00 PM Seven Deadly Sins of a Small Business Location: El Manjar Restaurant 5560 Nolensville Pike Nashville, TN 37211
    SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2008
    10:00 AM – 4 PM Fiesta de Otoño Festival*
    Volunteer State Community College Campus
    Sponsor: Hispanic Summer Alliance
    Description: A Fall Festival to Celebrate Hispanic Culture

    Soccer tournament
    Cultural dance from many countries
    Latin American food tasting and cook-off
    Live band
    Games and fun for kids
    Free food and drinks
    Hispanic storytelling
    Health check-ups and information
    Community group tables

    It’s all free and open to everyone. Bring a blanket and chairs, and spend the whole day!

    *In partnership with Volunteer State Community College and Sumner Hispanic Alliance

    TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14 ,2008
    5:00 PM – 6:00 PM Pre-Awards Reception (TICKETED EVENT)
    The Palm Restaurant

    6:00 PM – 7:00 PM Hispanic Heritage Month Awards Ceremony (TICKETED EVENT)
    Country Music Hall Of Fame - Ford Theater

    7:00 PM – 9:00 PM Hispanic Heritage Month Reception (TICKETED EVENT)
    Location: Country Music Hall Of Fame - Rotunda

    (**)Schedule as of September 24th, 2008 . Schedule subject to change.

    To nominate someone who has demonstrated commitment and leadership to the Hispanic community, contact Loraine Segovia at To RSVP please call 615-216-5737 or send an e-mail to:

    Hispanic Heritage Month starts today, runs through October 15

    For stories and announcements about events during Hispanic Heritage Month (and every other month of the year), click on the Events link to the left, and visit the Hispanic Nashville Notebook for ongoing updates. Renata Soto of Conexion Americas wrote this introduction to Hispanic Heritage Month in a recent edition of the Tennessean.

    As always, there will be (and have already been this year) a number of events around Nashville to commemorate and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

    Friday, September 12, 2008

    Tennessee Hispanic Chamber luncheon scheduled for October 16

    The Marketing Committee of the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce* announced the date for its next members and guests luncheon: October 16th at 11:15 AM @ The Bound'ry.

    how many Hispanic chambers are there in Nashville?

    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    Conexion Americas launches Young Latino Writers' Essay Contest

    My Hispanic Roots, My American Dream

    Tuesday, September 9, 2008

    Grupo Fantasma launches Vanderbilt's 34th Season of Great Performances

    From the Nashville Spanish Language Meetup Group:
    Friday, September 19 at 7:30 pm Great Performances at Vanderbilt brings Grupo Fantasma to Vanderbilt University’s newly renovatedLangford Auditorium!

    The finest, funkiest, and hardest working Latin-American orchestra brings their groove to Music City with cumbia, salsa, and pyschedelia. Grupo Fantasma’s trademark sound of 10 musicians has translated comprehensively on their new album Sonidos Gold – in an incredible and animated performance interwoven with mature and intelligent songwriting that is equally at home with the classic 1960’s Fania All-Stars sound. This band is forging a fresh new standard of excellence in Latin music.

    The band’s guitarist Adrian Quesada claims the newest album, Sonidos Gold, as “the definitive Grupo Fantasma album.” The organic, live sound of the band will have the audience instantly fall in love with this timeless classic.

    “This freight train of a Latin band could easily hold its own in a sweaty bandbox in the Bronx… they’ll knock you down with the grooves.” - The Village Voice

    “The ten members of Grupo Fanatsma represent a new generation in Latin music." -Washington Post

    Tickets for the performance on Friday, September 19 at 7:30 p.m. are on sale at the Sarratt Box Office, all Ticketmaster locations, Ticketmaster telecharge at 615.255.9600, or online at Single ticket prices are $36, $32, and $28 for individuals, $16 for VU Faculty/Staff, area students always $10 for Great Performances for students/children with a valid ID, and $5 for VU students.

    If available, tickets will be sold the night of the performance at the box office, cash, check and credit card. For more information, please call (615) 322-2471 or email or visit

    Monday, September 8, 2008

    Friday, September 5, 2008

    Guerrero debuts as Nashville's conductor Saturday

    The Nashville City Paper has the story here.

    Latin Market Communications' Hispanic Heritage Month mixer September 16

    Latin Market Communications and US Bank sent out this invitation to a Hispanic Heritage Month mixer September 16:
    Please join Latin Market Communications and US Bank for a special night of networking at the La Terraza in Franklin on Tuesday SEPT 16th from 5:30-7PM in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. Hors d'oeuvres provided and free soda. Cash bar for alcoholic drinks. There is no charge for this event. Please bring your business cards and come socialize with us.

    You can RSVP at Parking is free.

    La Terraza

    1010 Murfreesboro Road
    Franklin,TN 37064
    Tues. Sept. 16

    Sister Cities Mendoza Committee to meet September 24

    From Sister Cities:
    Dear Mendoza Committee Members and Friends,

    The Sister Cities of Nashville Mendoza Committee will hold its September,
    2008 meeting at 6:00pm on Wednesday, September 24, at Bistro 215 in Green
    Hills. Topics to be discussed will include:

    1) An update on the delegation visit to Mendoza (October 24-Nov. 2).

    2) A report on contacts with city officials in Mendoza and the current
    progress of the Nashville-Mendoza sister-city initiative.

    3) Important changes in the SCN Board of Directors.

    4) Other items of interest or concern regarding the Mendoza Committee.

    Please note that due to the upcoming delegation visit to Mendoza, the
    Mendoza Committee will not meet during the month of October. Current
    plans are to hold a meeting in early November.

    I look forward to seeing you at the meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 24.
    Please RSVP for planning purposes.

    Muchas gracias!

    Philip Rasico
    Mendoza Chair and
    SCN Board Member

    Ya Es Hora Tennessee: family festival and voter registration drive this Saturday, September 6

    A Hispanic-American Family Festival and Voter Education and Registration Drive will take place this Saturday:

    Eligible U.S. Citizens to Register to Vote and Learn How to Use Voting Machine

    What: Hispanic-American Family Festival - Voter Education and Registration Drive

    When: Saturday, September 6th, 2008 from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

    Where: Coleman Community Center, 384 Thompson Lane, Nashville, TN

    Why: Latino voters across the United States are expected to be a key constituency in the upcoming elections. Over nine million Latinos voted in 2004, and up to ten million are expected this year. With education and healthcare as two of the populations most pressing concerns, the Latino vote will impact the election results in November.

    Ya Es Hora Tennessee! launched its voter education campaign earlier in the summer with the goal to actively educate people about the importance of voting, when and where to vote, and how the process works.

    Thursday, September 4, 2008

    Nashville's city leaders published "Agenda" on immigration in 2007: status report, anyone?

    I'd like to know what's being done to advance the proactive immigration plank of Nashville's Agenda, a 2007 plan for Music City:

    To make Nashville the best it can be…

    Identify ways to encourage understanding of immigration issues – including the problems associated with illegal immigrants – in a broader context of valuing cultural diversity and encouraging appreciation for new Nashvillians.

    * Create more positive image of immigration in the city. Encourage corporate and political leaders to educate city on value of diversity and immigration. Find ways to increase cultural awareness in Nashville through more city-wide celebrations like the Celebration of Cultures festival. Educate public about differences between immigrants and illegal immigrants with a focus on the total immigrant population.
    * Expand diversity training to identify cultural differences provided in the workplace, school, religious institution and govt.
    * Encourage local corporations to “adopt” at-risk or immigrant neighborhoods for civic training and job placement.
    * Provide a database and services that are multi-lingual to address specific newcomer needs.
    * Convene a group of policy-makers to develop a special driver’s license for undocumented immigrants that, at a minimum, allows them to drive to and from work.
    * Create an Office of Immigrant Integration that provides education, information services and forums that encourage civil conversation
    * Hold “civics” classes at schools and libraries for new Nashvillians on local laws, government processes and services available.
    * Create a leadership academy which partners immigrant leaders with native Nashvillians to expand partnerships and create stronger leaders.
    Hat tip: Nashville Post

    Photo by Exothermic Photography. Licensed under Creative Commons.

    Wednesday, September 3, 2008

    Volunteer State's free Hispanic Fiesta coming October 11

    Vol State sent out this press release for its Hispanic fiesta, just one of many local events that will take place during Hispanic Heritage Month September 15-October 15:
    Live music, free food, dance groups and a soccer tournament are just a few of the activities planned for the second annual Hispanic Fall Fiesta at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin. Fiesta de otoño, as it is known in Spanish, will be held on Saturday, October 11. Organizers say 450 people turned out last year, and they expect an even bigger crowd this year.

    "The word of mouth about this event has been incredible," said Eric Melcher, Communications Coordinator for Vol State. "People are really excited and I think we'll have a big turnout."

    The Fiesta celebrates Hispanic culture. The Nashville band Son Latino will be performing outside on the campus plaza, along with dance groups Salsa Maniacs and the Hispano Americo Dance Troupe. There will be a soccer tournament running all day long. It will be a half-field, half-team elimination competition with prizes for the top teams. Players and teams can sign up starting at 10 a.m. People will show off their favorite family recipes during a Latin American food cook-off contest, which will feature dishes from many different countries. That contest is sponsored by the Sumner Hispanic Alliance which is also helping to organize the Fiesta itself.

    "We've had so many people tell us how much they enjoyed the Fiesta last year," said Cristina Frasier, Chairperson for the Hispanic Alliance. "We want to make sure it's even bigger and better this year. Aside from the fun of the cook-off contest we have an entire health fair planned. We'll have screenings for blood pressure and information about all sorts of health issues and resources. We'll have lots of Spanish translators available so people can feel comfortable in both languages."

    There will be Hispanic themed story telling in Spanish and English. Kids can also enjoy inflatable games, and face painting.

    "The Fiesta is an event for the whole family" said Melcher. "We're encouraging people to bring a blanket or lawn chairs, and spend the day. And it's not just for Hispanics, we hope everyone will come out and have fun."

    The Hispanic Fall Fiesta at Vol State is free. It will be held rain or shine, with the college Gym being used in case of bad weather. The Fiesta de otoño will be held on Saturday, October 11 from 10am to 4pm on the Vol State campus at 1480 Nashville Pike in Gallatin. There will be free food and drinks at noon and events scheduled throughout the day. For more information visit or in English call 615-230-3570 and in Spanish 615-230-4846.

    Monday, September 1, 2008

    Subscribing to Hispanic Nashville? Read this.

    Current RSS subscribers: see URL change

    New subscribers: sign up for free delivery

    If you currently subscribe to the RSS feed of the Hispanic Nashville Notebook, please replace your current feed URL with this shiny new Feedburner URL.

    If you are interested in subscribing to content via e-mail delivery, you can do so here, or you can sign up for RSS delivery here. Newcomers to RSS can find an explanation of the concept here - the idea is to apply the e-mail reading model to web pages, with the content delivered to you automatically instead of you having to go surf for it.

    Any problems, please let me know in the comments or by e-mail (my address is here). Thanks.

    Photo by Lisa Brewster. Licensed under Creative Commons.

    Nashville author envisions Hispanic politics of 2040 in unpolished George's Flag

    Nashville author Edward Ronny Arnold has self-published George's Flag, a fictional novel about a Hispanic political uprising that is decades in the making, culminating in the year 2040 with the election of the first Hispanic president of the United States.

    George’s Flag and its author Mr. Arnold were listed at the 2007 Southern Festival of Books, and Ron Wynn of the Nashville City Paper described the work here as “very intriguing” and an “entertaining, exciting tale.”

    What I found in George's Flag, however, was a first draft instead of a finished product. As may be a hazard inherent to self-publishing, this work of fiction needs improvement in plot and character development, subject matter research, spelling and grammar. Despite the accolades of the Southern Festival of Books and the City Paper, I don't think the 548 pages of this book are ready for prime time.

    The problem isn't so much that the plot is wildly nonsensical, which it is - from the central idea that six children would launch and sustain a 40-year presidential campaign, to the surprise transformation of a central character from a mild-mannered young woman into an Israeli-trained killing machine - with many similar twists and turns in between. There are just too many rough edges in the book to sustain any suspension of disbelief.

    For starters, the characters do and say unnatural things - a drinking game could be based solely on the frequency of the various characters' fits of laughing for no apparent reason. The Catholic characters repeatedly confuse the Bible with Ben Franklin in the same grammatically awkward way ("God helps those that help themselves.”) Many of the diverse members of the book's cast make bold pronouncements about the future ("They will fail!") Some people may talk like that in real life (an apparent example is here), but I don't think it's as much of the population that George's Flag would have us believe.

    The spelling errors are also too numerous for a final published work. References are made to “Chicago, Illinois Mayor Richard Daily” (his name is “Daley”), an immigration proposal to “wave” instead of waive fees, measurements made with a “gage” and not a gauge, students from “Berkley” as opposed to Berkeley, a “mute” and not a moot point, “loosing” as opposed to losing, and the government being not liable but “libel” for its abuses.

    Even putting aside the plot, characters, spelling, and grammar, the greatest challenge for any future revision of this book is the author's recognition that he does not have an intimate understanding of his subject, Hispanic people. Arnold openly admitted to me by e-mail, “My experience with the Hispanic community is limited.”

    This lack of experience explains Arnold's rookie mistake of translating portions of the dialogue into Spanish using only computer translation software. The easier and better alternative, if native speakers were not available to assist with translation, would be to eliminate the Spanish text altogether, and indicate through italics or some other device that Spanish was being spoken. Letting a computer mangle the language, and leaving the subject matter of the book largely unresearched, has the effect of making George's Flag unreadable from the point of view of a Hispanic or Spanish-speaking audience.

    Given Arnold's admitted unfamiliarity with the subject matter of the novel, the question arises, what compelled this author to write George's Flag? Arnold answers by describing his personal affection for Hispanic Americans:
    I have observed for many years the kindness, gentleness and strength of the Hispanic men and women as they shop at Kroger. There is an old saying; you can tell a "real" man easily, he is the one holding the baby. He is so strong he can be gentle. I see many Hispanic men holding babies. I have observed the interaction of the families and it is one of respect. My wife is from the Philippines and there are similarities.

    I have often watched Hispanic men work, they work their butts off. Also, I have been to Mexico and been to the poor areas on three occasions. My friend, [name deleted], also has been to Mexico many times. He tells so many wonderful stories of the people. The inspiration for the book came from observing a large group of Hispanic men, women and children at my daughter's closing ceremonies for Pre-K at Fall-Hamilton Elementary school in 2006. They proudly recited the Pledge of Allegiance and clapped loudly for "every" child that received a certificate. It occurred to me that there is a new generation of Americans. These Hispanics have not abandoned their language and culture but embraced America and its ideals.
    In light of Arnold's apparently positive opinions, his inclusion of starkly negative dialogue throughout the book can be shocking:
    • “taco heads” and “illegal taco heads”
    • “perra” (multiple times)
    • “stupid Mexicans” (multiple times)
    • “stupids”
    • “bastards”
    • “Mexican slut whore”
    • “blood thirsty, drug crazed killers”
    • “They are like sheep”
    • “You slept in a bed that a Mexican slept in .. Did you get sick?”
    • “Father Sinclair laughed. 'You really think you can get a wealthy American man or woman to vote for a Hispanic?'”
    • “He stated that he was afraid he would get taco stains on her suit from her loud mouth.”
    The reader gets no indication that this kind of vocabulary or dialogue is uncommon in the fictional America of George’s Flag. For instance, the "taco stains" quote is attributed to a presidential candidate, who suffers no apparent political fallout as a result. We don’t know whether the author thinks the U.S. is already at that level of negativity or, if we are not, how he thinks we will get there.

    What the book does offer in the way of insight into Hispanic identity comes across as alien to me. For example, there is little mention of the way I understand most Hispanics and Latinos identify themselves, which is by national origin - my friends describe themselves or their families as being from Mexico or Honduras, for example. The characters in George’s Flag, on the other hand, see themselves through Mayan, Aztec, and other such lenses. That may be how some people identify themselves (and it may be useful for a plot point late in the book), but not any of the many Hispanic Nashvillians I know identify themselves that way, from community leaders to former clients to my fellow believers at a local Spanish-speaking church.

    What this book could use the most are the themes, ideas, movements, strategies, and the kind of people and perspectives that would come with greater familiarity with Hispanic people and Hispanic politics. What about a nod to the differing opinions on immigration within the various Hispanic communities and how they might change as we move toward 2040? There are substantive issues other than immigration that will draw Hispanic voters to the polls between now and then; explore how the political landscape will or will not change as those issues mature. Various existing and interesting statistics about long-time American Hispanic families and new Hispanic immigrants could be extrapolated into the future, as well. The Hispanic Americans whose families have been in the country since long before the 21st century could certainly get more attention in a book supposedly about the future of Hispanic politics in America. A growing number of Hispanic Nashvillians are readily available for an author to interview on these various topics, and input from them would be invaluable to any future rewrite of this novel (and also to local, state, and national politics, for that matter).

    In its current form, George’s Flag is in some ways memorable, from the computer-giddy nuns on page 97, to the souped-up Ferrari with the Lincoln Town car body (funded by and blessed at the Vatican) on pages 141-151, to the Hispanic politician described on page 426 as a “great lawyer” because “he is very blunt and screams a lot,” to the convenient summary of the plot on page 451, in which a character says, “Sounds like a good book.”

    Despite my interest in Hispanic themes and politics, and my appreciation for the fact that a local author wrote over 500 pages combining those subjects, George's Flag is not polished, researched, or readable enough to stay on my bookshelf. Like the book's heroine who was born in 2000 and groomed to be president in 2040, the 2008 version just isn't ready yet.
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