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.
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