Friday, October 31, 2008

U.S. citizens have right to vote regardless of English skills, say local Republican and Democrat leaders

"To say that a Latino who doesn't speak perfect English is not a citizen is simply wrong"

Raul Lopez, president of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Tennessee, and Fabian Bedne, president of the Middle Tennessee Hispanic Democrats, stubmitted a joint statement to the Tennessean about U.S. citizen voters who don't speak English.

From the statement:
To say that a Latino who doesn't speak perfect English is not a citizen is simply wrong; there are a variety of reasons why this could happen. While it is generally true that naturalization applicants must be able to read, write, speak, and understand words in ordinary usage in the English language, many individuals are specifically exempt from this requirement, including the following applicants, who on the date of filing:

>> Have been residing in the United States pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence for periods totaling 15 years or more and are over 55 years of age.

>> Have been residing in the United States pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence for periods totaling 20 years or more and are over 50 years of age.

>> Have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, where the impairment affects the applicant's ability to learn English.

Furthermore, residents who arrive here from places such as Puerto Rico, where English is not the official or dominant language, are U.S. citizens from birth. Puerto Ricans who live in the U.S. are, of course, allowed to register to vote and are not required to submit to a language test. Accordingly, they may not yet have acquired a command of the English language.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Five years of

The Hispanic Nashville Notebook celebrated its fifth year on October 21, 2008.

Some of the more notable stories from the past year:Thanks to the well-wishers of since 2003, including these:
"I just wanted to send you a brief e-mail to thank you for the Hispanic Nashville Notebook website. I recently moved to Nashville and it is your website that has given me a path to connect with Hispanics happenings in the area. I look at it every day!! ...I just wanted you to know that you are making a difference!"
Cathy Goss

"Misinformation about the Hispanic community is a relevant problem in the US, particularly in Nashville; and you’re definitely addressing this issue. I just wanted to thank you for the effort you put in this site and encourage you to keep doing it."
Aldo Garcia

"I've enjoyed Hispanic Nashville for several years - what a contribution you are making."
Janine Libbey
P & L Translations

"Thanks so much for your outstanding service to the community."
Rubén E. De Peña
Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools

"Mr. Lamb, thank you for all you are doing for the Latino community in and around Nashville."
Gabe Nieto
Touchzone Records Recording Artist

"Thanks for all you do for the Latino community. Your heart is definite in the right place."
Pastor Tommy Vallejos

"Your contribution to the Nashville community through is invaluable."
Diana Holland
Hispanic Link Consulting

"What you are doing is significant and I am grateful."
Tim Chávez
Former Tennessean columnist

"Keep up the good work with all that you do!"
Eva Melo
Latin Market Communications

"Thanks for all YOU do."
Cristina O. Allen
President, Caliente Consulting

"John Lamb is a hero of mine."
Mack, Coyote Chronicles
Photo by Leo Reynolds. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Cheekwood hosts 9th annual Day of the Dead this Saturday, November 1

"It's about celebrating your loved ones"

Cheekwood will host its 9th annual Family Fall Day - celebrating El Dia de los Muertos ("Day of the Dead") - this Saturday, November 1, from 11am to 5pm.

The Tennessean reports here that "Cheekwood decided to start hosting the event, which draws about 3,000 people, when the Hispanic population began growing in Nashville." The paper quotes Hillary Steinwinder, event coordinator, as saying, "It's about celebrating your loved ones."

"It's a beautiful time of the year to celebrate and make others aware of the Mexican culture," Steinwinder told the Tennessean.

From Cheekwood:
Come Celebrate with us at our ninth annual Fall Family Day, El Dia de los Muertos. Join us for traditional music and dance, vibrant art activities and authentic Mexican food as we recognize and celebrate this Latin American holiday. Shop in our bustling Mexican marketplace, enjoy fine cuisine from local establishments, and explore tradition through our beautiful altar displays and other traditional arts.
From the full schedule of events:


Botanic Hall

Massey Auditorium
11:00 – 11:15 Alma de Mexico Mariachis
11:15 – 12:00 Grupo Folklorico Hispanoamericano – Traditional Dance
12:00 – 1:30 Sabor Latino
1:30 – 3:00 San Rafael Trio
3:00 – 5:00 Serenatta

Potter Classroom
Ongoing Stories & History with Abuelita Irene
Ongoing Movie Screenings
Flickering Lights: Days of the Dead

Lot B
Marketplace Stage
11:15 – 11:30 Alma de Mexico Mariachis
11:30 – 12:30 La Colmena Flamenco Troupe - Traditional Dance
12:30 – 1:30 Destellos Culturales de Mexico – Traditional Dance
2:00 – 3:00 Alma de Mexico Mariachis

1:30 Sing and Dance your way to Botanic Hall & the Marketplace from the Learning Center with the Alma de Mexico Mariachis

Frist Learning Center
11:30 – 1:30 Alma de Mexico Mariachis
2:00 Nashville Public Library presents Tomas & the Library Lady – en Espanol
3:00 Nashville Public Library presents Tomas & the Library – in English


Paint A Gourd
Papel Picado
Paper Marigolds
Family Journals
Calaveras Masks
Tombstone Factory
Scavenger Hunt
Spanish Bingo
*Sugar Skulls

*NEW Activities


La Hacienda
El Rocodo #2
Las Paletas
US Border Cantina

Art & Merchandise

Jacky Almaguer
Mexican Curious
Elena Vargas
Ruben Torres
Cheekwood Gift Shop


Books from Birth of Middle Tennessee
Conexion Americas
Nashville Public Library
Metro Parks & Recreation
Catholic Charities
Rape & Sexual Abuse Center
Photo by Lisa B. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Locals speak up on American uniqueness, immigrant policy, Metro's use of foreign language, and presidential candidates

The Tennessean is publishing this series with locals talking about America, including one interview with Andres Bermudez, a carpenter whose parents immigrated from Argentina. Bermudez talks about how Americans are relatively safe from their government compared to citizens of other countries, and how he believes immigrant policy should be inspired by the Statue of Liberty.

The Tennessean separately reported here that a razor-thin, within-the-margin-of-error majority of Middle Tennesseans opposes a proposed ban of foreign language use by Metro government:
Forty-seven percent of those polled said they would oppose or lean toward opposing a measure that would bar Metro government agencies from translating written materials into other languages or offering interpreters to the public. Forty-six percent of voters indicated they would support the measure, and
7 percent didn't know or declined to answer.

"This country was built by immigrants," said Arthur Ebbets, a retired naval aviation instructor who participated in the poll. " … Here we have some people who are in the early stages. And in the early stages I don't think that they should be held back."

Ebbets, who grew up in New York, said the newness of immigration to Nashville may attract some to the measure.
The Spanish-language local daily El Crucero reported in its October 24 edition that 78% of Hispanic Nashvillians favor Obama, as opposed to 13% who favor McCain.

The survey size of both the Tennessean poll and the El Crucero poll was 200.

Some local Hispanic voters are weighing in on this Post Politics entry about the support for Bush among Hispanics in 2004.

Finally, local blogger Aunt B expressed consternation in this post earlier this month when she learned that Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Yuri Cunza was seriously considering McCain.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Difference

"Keep on protecting us from the dangerous aliens."
-Agent K

What do Nashville Scene writer PJ Tobia and Tommy Lee Jones' Men in Black character Agent K have in common? (Hint: see this post by Tobia and this clip from MIB.)

Give up?

The answer is an appreciation for the difference.

Few would disagree, but few also consciously remember, that there is a difference between working without a visa and murdering without a visa.

Of course working and murdering are different; it is nearly unfathomable that anyone would not be able to tell the two apart. And yet, Tobia and the fictional Man in Black are among the few who remember this difference.

You yourself might be surprised at your capacity for flubbing the difference. For example:
  • In the middle of a political discussion about immigration, you might not think too disapprovingly of the argument (or you might yourself make the argument) that anyone without a visa is a criminal*. A Wisconsin man took this position in a letter to the editor he wrote to the Scene ("Border call-out") in response to Tobia's piece.
  • Your congressman in the 2006 U.S. House of Representatives might have cast one of the votes that passed HR 4437, which would have turned all unvisaed immigrants into felons. (Even though it was rejected by the Senate, passage of HR 4437 is what sparked the 2006 marches.)
  • In Nashville, you might unconditionally support the local-federal immigration enforcement program called 287(g). That's the one we use to tear ordinary, noncriminal families apart in the name of crime prevention, even though the program can't be counted on to prevent crime (which was Tobia's point).
Lumping work visa violators into a pot with violent criminals desensitizes us to the difference between work and murder, making us divert legislative and law enforcement resources away from specific and undeniably harmful acts of violence and toward a contested economic threat like unlicensed labor.

This diversion and diffusion of resources away from the real criminals is why the stepped-up immigration enforcement crackdowns of the last few years still seem like a drop in the bucket. While our federal and local efforts take increasingly random pot shots at the larger unvisaed population containing millions of decent people, the smaller population of violent criminals will only coincidentally be swept up here and there.

There is an opportunity here for our sheriffs, mayors, senators, presidential candidates and voters to recognize the difference between workers and real criminals and support enforcement measures which put the violent criminals at the front of the line.

Until those proposals are made, we can either be prone to forget (a lack of interest can be just as powerful as the Men in Black's little red light), or we can choose to remember and remind ourselves of the difference.

*For facts disproving the everyone-is-a-criminal argument, look at the Chattanooga numbers for this April 2008 roundup, in which administrative but not criminal charges were filed against 100 visaless workers.

See also: The Immigration Serenity Prayer

See also: this story on Claudia Nunez and bear-trap bureaucracy

See also: "See" (a commercial for

Monday, October 27, 2008

Solo Nashville posts local Spanish-language news on YouTube

Solo Nashville, which has been broadcasting local news in Spanish since 2004 (story here), has relaunched its website on the WordPress blog platform and is posting its video content on YouTube. This is not the only locally produced YouTube content in Spanish, last week, the Hispanic Nashville Notebook reported here on Spanish-language appeals by the a Republican group in Tennessee.

Eva Melo presents the local news for Solo Nashville (and has been doing so since January 2007 - story here), and local events are announced by Sheyla Hicks and Karina Camilo.

Friday, October 24, 2008

2008 Hispanic Pride Award winners

Conexion Americas had an extensive Hispanic Heritage Month celebration this year, including a new recognition in the form of the "Hispanic Pride Awards." Click on the image above to see individual photos of the award winners and why each was chosen.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The world's languages are no stranger to Nashville

Centennial Park speech: "...thanks to the German-American press..."

Tennessee Staatszeitung, Emigrant Und Beobachter

Reminders are everywhere that Nashville's present is not English only - see this salute from the Nashville Scene to the national media for the Belmont debate ("English only. What you'll be speaking for the duration of your stay in Nashville, though perhaps not what you'll be hearing.") and this local middle school where the students speak 37 languages.

This week's Scene (see here) also mentions in passing that linguistic diversity is in Nashville's past as well as its present - referring to a German-language newspaper which once flourished in Nashville:
His thorough research allows him to take on everything from minstrelsy to Mozart. In more than 200 vintage photographs, he showcases editorials from long-gone publications such as the German language newspaper the Tennessee Staatszeitung, pictorial renderings of historic buildings like an 1835 Christ Church Episcopal and posters from an 1873 performance by the Fisk Jubilee Singers.
According to snippets available on Google Books, the Staatszeitung wasn't the only such Tennessee paper almost a century and a half ago. Contemporaries included Emigrant Und Beobachter (also Nashville), Sudliche Post (Chattanooga), and Anzeiger des Sudens (Memphis).

At the German American Day at the Tennessee Centennial Exposition inaugurating Centennial Park in 1897, the role of German-language newspapers as an integration tool was praised in a speech that landed in the New York Times:

Image of German newspapers by Karl-Ludwig Poggemann. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Local Hispanic Republicans pitch party on YouTube

The Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Tennessee recently published some promotional videos with both Spanish and English messages, including this one:

Among the people featured in the videos are the organization's chairman Raul Lopez, Vice Chair Juan Borges, and local businesswoman Marcela Gomez, whose YouTube profile hosts the videos.

Three other videos in the series:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Alignment Nashville wants GEDs for Spanish-speaking youth; seeks allies October 22

From Alignment Nashville:

If your organization serves the Spanish-speaking population in Nashville, the 16-24 Year Old Out-of-School/Out-of-Work Committee invites you to join a network of organizations that provide information about GED and adult high school programs to Spanish-speaking youth, ages 16-24.

The initial meeting of the network will be held on Wednesday, October 22nd at 10:00 am at the Martha O'Bryan Center. During the meeting, your organization will receive copies of a brochure, developed by the Nashville Career Advancement Center in conjunction with Metro Nashville Public Schools and other GED service providers, that provides information about how to access information and services. You will also learn how being a part of the network can increase your organization's capacity to serve this population, as well as how the entire network can increase the number of Spanish-speaking youth receiving these credentials.

Please RSVP to Melissa Jaggers at or 862-5004 by Friday, October 17th. If you have questions about the project, please contact the 16-24 Committee chair, Ellen Zinkiewicz, at

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fabian Bedne addresses Clarksville Democrats at Latinos for Obama House Party

Photo Credit Bill Larson, Clarksville Online
Used with permission

Clarksville Online reported here on the recent Latinos for Obama House Party at the Montgomery County Democratic Party Headquarters in Clarksville, featuring Fabian Bedne as speaker:
The Montgomery County Democratic Party Headquarters, 534 Madison Street, served as the host site for the Latinos For Obama House Party. As a prelude to the 2nd presidential debate, the gathering was a well attended affair that drew participants from beyond just the Latino/Hispanic community.

Fabian Bedne, an architectural engineer, was the guest speaker for the event.
Bedne stated that he is a supporter of educational achievement and economic development. In the past, the Black community and the Latino/Hispanic communities have both received the same political consideration in American politics, namely that of being ignored or taken for granted, marginalized.

During his address he noted that issues of concern to the Latino/Hispanic community are the same as with the Black community. He stated that many assume that immigration is the top concern of Latinos and Hispanics but that is incorrect. “We care about the economy, education, the war and then immigration, in that order.”
During the question and answer session that followed his address, an audience member asked, ” “How do you answer someone who tells you vote your biblical heritage?” Another individual responded saying, “I would tell them, my biblical heritage tells me to vote for someone who will help the poor, who will feed the hungry, who will shelter the homeless and clothe the naked and drive the moneychangers out of the temples. Someone who will do unto his fellowman as he or she would wish done for himself.” This response was soundly applauded.

Carlos Mencia at Ryman Auditorium October 22

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Literally scalped at work, young Chattanooga woman neither reports nor self-deports

Few aware that compensation for injury available to all workers despite immigration status

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports here on the fear among unvisaed Hispanic workers when it comes to reporting injuries on the job, even though Tennessee law requires payment of workers compensation claims regardless of immigration status.

One young Chattanooga woman is reported to have had her scalp literally ripped off on the job, but she will not report it because she is afraid of being deported out of the U.S.:
Joe Wolverton, a worker’s compensation attorney reaching out to the Hispanic community, opened his office in the Highland Park neighborhood about three months ago and says he’s heard about people who are afraid to speak out.

“We had a girl that had her hair caught in a machine and had her scalp ripped off,” he said. “This young lady was about 23, her whole life in front of her, but now she is disfigured. But she didn’t want to pursue the worker’s (compensation) case because she said she was here without papers, hadn’t used her real name and was afraid immigration would come get her.”

Mr. Wolverton said he explains to immigrants that in Tennessee the immigration status of someone injured at work doesn’t matter.

“In Tennessee, regardless of one’s immigration status, if one is injured at work, then he has every right to receive compensation during his disability,” he said.
The article states that the non-Hispanic White population makes up 72% of reported work-related injuries in Tennessee; 14% are Black non-Hispanic; 19% are Hispanic; and 3% are Asian. The number of fatal occupational injuries in Tennessee are 118 White; 17 Black; 8 Hispanic; and 3 Asian.

Photo by Annie Reid. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Conexion Americas' clients pay it forward with new parenting program at Overton High

Hispanic Council launches, leads class

The Tennessean reported here that a new class for Hispanic parents at Overton High School is teaching basics like understanding the American GPA system, college admissions, and also child advocacy like fighting for tougher coursework and positive reinforcement of children.

The class was created and is taught largely through Conexion Americas' Hispanic Council, a group of former clients of the integration-focused organization.

The participants in the class for parents are making a sacrifice to attend. According to the article, Overton parent Concepción Sanchez "works at a Mexican restaurant from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. most days but takes Thursday nights off for the program."

According to the article, 50 families are signed up to take the class.

Statistics cited by the Tennessean are that over 100 languages are spoken district-wide, and that there were 10,514 Hispanic students in Nashville's schools last year, or 14% of the overall population.

Photo of Catalina, from Morelos, Mexico, courtesy of Conexion Americas' Hispanic Council page

Nashville Hispanic Chamber holds 4th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration and Awards Ceremony October 14

The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce* will hold its 4th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration and Awards Ceremony Tuesday, October 14 at the Country Music Hall of Fame:

4th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration and Awards Ceremony

how many Hispanic chambers are there in Nashville?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

English Only special election scheduled 3 days after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Six-figure price tag

Voters will address no other issue January 22, 2009

From the Tennessean:
It's set — Metro Nashville voters will decide on Jan. 22 whether to keep city business from being done in any language but English.

But it's going to cost them. The Davidson County Election Commission, which on Friday certified petition signatures necessary for the vote, estimated the special election will cost $350,000 to $500,000.

The council must vote on taking money from the reserves or elsewhere to pay for the election, Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling said.
Commission Chairman Eddie Bryan abstained in protest.

"I am still on the money thing," Bryan said. "That's not good, and it hurts us down the road. And they are connected to a hate group. I want no part of it."
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is on January 19, 2009.

Anyone who lives
inside the United States
can never be considered an outsider
anywhere within its bounds."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tennessee Hispanic Chamber mixer October 16

From the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce*:

The Tennessee Hispanic
Chamber of Commerce
State Farm Insurance
Invites you and a guest
to the
All Members & Friends Luncheon
October 16, 2008
11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
@ The Bound'ry
911 20th Ave S, Nashville, TN
Tel: (615) 321-3043

Lunch and Valet Parking
are complimentary.

R.S.V.P via e-mail to: Tatia Cummings before October 13, 2008

how many Hispanic chambers are there in Nashville?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Charlemos Spanish tonight at Bistro 215

Speaker: Paulo Boero, Argentina-born Spanish professor at Belmont

From Charlemos Spanish:
This week's Charlemos Spanish meeting will be located at Bistro 215, the same location used by the Sister Cities’ Mendoza Committee. The Bistro’s address is 3821 Green Hills Village Drive, next door to the Green Hills Regal Theaters.

Paulo Boero, a Spanish professor at Belmont University, will be presenting at the Thursday, October 9 meeting of Charlemos Spanish. The meeting is from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Mr. Boero is originally from Argentina, although he moved to Nashville at the age of twelve. Argentine film is the subject of Mr. Boero’s presentation.

When you arrive at Bistro 215, tell the hostess that you are with Charlemos and you will be directed to the private meeting/dining room located at the end of the bar. The Bistro has plenty of parking and great food and drink—including wines from Argentina, Chile, and Spain..

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

Nashvillians with roots outside U.S. contemplate identity in America

Carrie Ferguson-Weir

Carrie Ferguson-Weir was born in Miami and now resides in a Nashville suburb. David Park was born in Dallas, spent a number of years in Nashville, and now lives in Atlanta.

Both have parents born outside the U.S., both maintain blogs, and both recently commented on losing or maintaining their inherited cultural identity in America.

Carrie was interviewed here on the Voices en Español podcast. Here are a few excerpts, translated from the original Spanish interview:
Even though we grew up with Cuban traditions, my parents have always told us that we are Americans first because we were born here, and there is a lot of pride in being American. But certainly we weren't supposed to "recoger gringadas" ... it was something that they told us a lot.
When I realized I was the two things [both American and Cuban], I was 11 years old.
I can be very Latina and I can be very American.
Even though it can be somewhat tiring, that is the story of our country - there is always someone navigating two cultures.
Carrie also wrote this recent post on her blog Bilingual in the Boonies. An excerpt:
It wasn't until I moved to New Jersey from Miami that I met children of other immigrants -- Italians, Russians, Japanese, and others -- whose parents didn't teach them to speak the language of their ancestors, or the very grandma who lived at home with them. That blew me away.

In Miami, among the Cubans, as you know, there used to be no choice. So, I carry that attitude forward. But, given I do know Latinos who aren't teaching their children to speak Spanish, is my attitude in the minority?
From David, who self-describes as having been disenchanted, broken, redeemed, restored, and reformed in Nashville, this post on his blog Next Gener.Asian Church:
I think I hate the fact that I sold my ethnic heritage so quickly. Unlike my Black brothers and sisters who perhaps had their freedom and identity taken from them, I’m disappointed that I gave mine away. I sold my inheritance for a bowl of soup. I’m angry that no one told me that who I am is valuable, where I came from is beautiful and proud, and that I have something to offer even before my grades come back or resume is read or my paycheck stub is necessary. And if it’s true that God created race and wants to bring the glory of the nations into heaven, I want to know that race matters and that I’m fighting a good and worthy fight so that my child will have a sense of who they are to go along with the content of their character and the color of their skin.

How great to be an American
and something else as well.

Schoolhouse Rock
"Great American Melting Pot"

Bolivia, Mexico on display at Celebration of Cultures

From The Tennessean:
As a recording played traditional Andean music of flutes and recorders, Juan Canedo pointed out different cities and regions with Bolivia. "We want to show the diversity within our own country but also the diversity within our communities in Nashville," he said. "We are reaching out to our own Hispanic community in Nashville because of its diversity."

A performance by Danza Azteca La Guadalupe highlighted the afternoon. The dancers recreated a Mexican tradition of using Aztec costumes and steps to commemorate the Dec. 12 day of the Lady of Guadalupe, which celebrates the appearance of the Virgin Mary in 1531 near what is now Mexico City.

Through an interpreter, dancer Sergio Salazar said performing reminds him of his culture and his ancestors.
Photo by Kyle Jones. Licensed under Creative Commons.
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