Friday, April 29, 2011

Loraine Segovia-Paz appointed to Metro Human Relations Commission

Loraine Segovia-Paz
Loraine Segovia-Paz, publisher of La Noticia and Vice Chair of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, has been named to the Metro Human Relations Commission. The first human rights agency of its kind in Tennessee, the Human Relations Commission was created in 1965, re-established in 1994, and consists of seventeen members appointed by Mayor Karl Dean. The vision of the Commission is "One City All People."

Segovia-Paz earned her bachelor's degree in Accounting at the University Mayor of San Simon in Cochabamba, Bolivia. She founded the company Hispanic Paper in 2003, which led to the publication of La Noticia.

Segovia-Paz has been on the Board of Directors of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber since 2006.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Conexion tops band challenge with RUMBA, showcases children's art with Frist Center, provides ongoing flood relief

Conexion Americas' winning band Rumba, at ABC Music City Corporate Band Challenge. Photo by Mickey Dobo.

Conexion Americas, the premier Nashville non-profit dedicated to Hispanic families and their integration into the broader community, has been busy lately, so I thought it was worth rounding up some of their latest accomplishments. Conexion's Facebook page and Twitter feed (@conexion_tn) give an even better overview, but here is a taste.

And if you want to learn more about Conexion, check out tomorrow's "Common Grounds" event at the agency's Music Row offices, and sign up for the May 26 "Cup of Coffee" breakfast at the Loews Hotel, both of which are detailed at the bottom of this post.

Conexion Americas' RUMBA takes first place in Corporate Band Challenge
The house rocked April 10 at the third annual ABC Music City Corporate Band Challenge as eight corporate bands competed at The Wildhorse Saloon. Conexion Americas’ Rumba ultimately came out on top, with SESAC’s Desk Jockeys taking 2nd place, and Flood, Bumstead, McCready and McCarthy’s Windfall Profit$ taking third. For the Challenge, area businesses put together company bands to compete for bragging rights and a chance to perform at the CMA Music Festival and at the Arts & Business Council’s 2012 Bowtie Awards. Bands were rated by a distinguished panel of Nashville music industry judges in the areas of musicianship, appearance, originality/music choice, crowd appeal, and overall impression.

Connecting Cultures: Children's Stories from Across the World
April 15, 2011–March 27, 2012
Celebrate the work of artist Jairo Prado and students and families of Conexión Américas' Family Resource Center at Cole Elementary
In 2010, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts partnered with ten Nashville organizations that represent cultures from around the world. The goal was to create an exhibition of artworks depicting the children’s stories of different traditions. Ten artists and the Frist Center’s community outreach team led workshops in which the artworks on view in this gallery were created. Connecting Cultures: Children’s Stories from Across the World begins with the premise that the stories of children simultaneously reflect unique cultural values as well as perspectives that are shared by people worldwide. All the artworks were created by an intergenerational group of more than two hundred participants. With the guidance of the lead artists, participants acquired and developed skills relating to composition, visual storytelling, and ways of using visual art techniques as a way of reflecting and interpreting narrative stories. It was interesting to discover that even within the same culture there were often diverse interpretations of a single story, often leading to strong discussions amongst the participants. The artworks created for this exhibition are as diverse as the communities, participants, and stories themselves. Our purpose in partnering with cultural organizations in Nashville was to give voice to the city’s growing and diverse population with the strong belief that we can, through art, look at our world in new ways.
Participating Organizations:
Catholic Charities of Tennessee
Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville
Conexión Américas
Kurdish American Youth Organization
Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee
Kala Nivedanam School of South Indian Dance and Music
Nashville International Center for Empowerment
Consulate-General of Japan in Nashville
YMCA Latino Achievers
Tennessee Haitian Voice

Antioch Restore the Dream Center staff (L-R):
Claudia Valencia, Martha Silva,
Roxana Chavarria and Rebecca Andrews.
As we approach the first anniversary of the historic May flood of 2010, we are reflecting on our work this past year. The Antioch Restore the Dream Center, operated by Conexión Américas, is one of the five United Way long-term flood recovery centers that has been assisting families in Nashville since July 2010. The Antioch location alone has worked with more than 225 families, over a quarter of those Latino, to help them put their lives back together in the wake of the 2010 flood. Martha Silva, our center Director, has provided outstanding leadership to an outstanding team. We are thankful for the support of United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and The Melkus Family Foundation for making it all possible.

Common Grounds
Friday, April 29th, 8 am - 9 am
Conexión Américas
800 18th Ave South, Nashville, TN 37203
Stop by for a complimentary taste of our Café Rumba Roast and for casual conversation about what is brewing at Conexión Américas and in our Latino community.
April 29th Topic: Results of the 2010 Census and what the growth in the Latino population means for Conexión Américas and Middle Tennessee.
Nos vemos! We hope to see you! RSVPs appreciated.

A Cup of Coffee for Conexión Américas 2011
Annual Fundraising Cafecito & Breakfast
José Nuñez | Stephen Zralek
Date: May 26, 2011
Time: 7:15am-8:30am
Location: Loews Vanderbilt Hotel
To attend click here. For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Michelle Wilkerson: 320.5152 x232 or

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bogota Mayor, Speaking in Tongues, Noche Musical, and Nicaraguan poet on the calendar the next couple of weeks

Monthly Meeting of the Nashville Task Force on Refugees & Immigrants
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
at West End United Methodist Church
2200 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203
Room 318
Parking is Free

Lecture "Public Space in Bogotá and Citizenship Culture" by Antanas Mockus, former mayor of Bogotá
Tuesday, April 26 5pm
Wyatt Center Rotunda on the Vanderbilt University Peabody Campus. Introduction by Mayor Karl Dean.

Planning for Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee (CRIT)'s July immigration forum with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
Thursday, April 28 9 am
At Glencliff High School, Mrs. Allie Hill, CRIT’s Program Manager and the coordinator of this forum, will provide additional details of this project and your presence is requested for your valuable input. We hope you can join us to this important discussion. Please RSVP at your earliest convenience 615-333-5070 Ext.1-307

FREE Screening of "Speaking in Tongues"
April 28, Noon-2PM
TFLI will be screening the film Speaking in Tongues.
Tennesse Foreign Language Institute, 227 French Landing Drive, Heritage Place Suite 100, 37228
At a time when 31 states have passed “English Only” laws, four pioneering families put their children in public schools where, from the first day of kindergarten, their teachers speak mostly in a foreign language. Speaking in Tongues follows four diverse kids on a journey to become bilingual. This charming story will challenge you to rethink the skills that Americans need to succeed in the 21st century.
Entrance is free. Please register at

Tennessee Human Rights Commission Roundtable discussion and Listening Session
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Roundtable 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Listening Session 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
East Police Precinct located at 936 East Trinity Lane.
The purpose of the Roundtable is to provide an overview of the Commission, its work, and to discuss human rights issues in Tennessee. The Listening session is for the general public to voice its concerns related to the role of the Commission, who is responsible for enforcing the Tennessee Human Rights and the Tennessee Disability Acts which prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation based on race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, and disability and ensuring compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
RSVP to Bobbie Porter at 615-253-1608 or

Common Grounds
Friday, April 29 | 8 am - 9 am | Conexión Américas
800 18th Ave South, Nashville, TN 37203
Stop by for a complimentary taste of our Café Rumba Roast and for casual conversation about what is brewing at Conexión Américas and in our Latino community.
Our main topic of conversation will be the results of the 2010 Census and what the growth in the Latino population means for Conexión Américas and Middle Tennessee.
¡Nos vemos! We hope to see you there!
RSVPs appreciated.

Noche Musical
Saturday, April 30
Doors open at 7pm, Presentation at 8pm, Dessert and Dancing at 9pm
Wonderful Latin-themed food, music and dance, an exciting art exhibit and, best of all, the chance to show Father Joe Pat Breen and the Hispanic Family Services program of Catholic Charities
Adventure Science Museum
Register here

Reading of "The Origin of Species" by the author, Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal
Sunday, May 1 2:30pm
Father Ernesto Cardenal, an acclaimed poet and liberation theologian, visits Vanderbilt University Sunday, May 1, to give a reading of his poetry. Cardenal will recite poems from his recent collection The Origin of Species and Other Poems at 2:30 p.m. in Benton Chapel on the Vanderbilt campus. The reading is free and open to the public. Cardenal, acknowledged as one of Latin America’s greatest living poets, is the author of more than 35 books. He studied with the Trappist monk Thomas Merton and was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1965. He lives in Nicaragua, where he is vice president of Casa de los Tres Mundos, a literary and cultural organization. “Cardenal’s poetry is impure, defiantly, in that it unites political ugliness and the beauty of the imaginative vision,” poet Robert Bly has said. The reading is sponsored by Vanderbilt University Divinity School. Copies of The Origin of Species and Other Poems will be available for purchase at the event, and Cardenal will sign books after the reading.

Lecture "Solentiname and Religion" by Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal
Monday, May 2 11:15am
All Faith Chapel; Vanderbilt University School of Divinity.

Cinco de Mayo Lunch
featuring Blain Wease
also featuring The YMCA Latino Achievers Program
Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
May 5th, 2011
11:30 - 1:00 p.m.
@ The Standard Restaurant
167 Rosa L. Parks Blvd.
Nashville, TN
Please click here to RSVP
Members: $15.00 - Non-Members $ 25.00

Cinco de Mayo Networking Fiesta
Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
May 5th, 2011
5:30pm to 9:00pm
Nashville City Club
Open to non-members

2nd Annual National Hispanic Catholic Convention
May 7, 2011 8am - 4pm
Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Parish, 3112 Nolensville Pike
Featuring Salvador Gómez of El Salvador, Genry Batista of the Dominican Republic, and Worship with Demetrio Ríos of México. RSVP (615) 333-8660 or (615) 830-4133. US$35 per person. Convention will be conducted in Spanish.

Immigration law open house
Saturday, May 7th from 10am-12pm
A presentation for Spanish-speaking families about immigration law and other related laws that affect families in Tennessee. We’ll be providing breakfast as well as raffle giveaways, and it’ll be a great opportunity for people to learn more about their rights regarding immigration.
King & Ballow Law Offices
315 Union Street, Suite 1100
Nashville, TN 37201
Tel: 615.726.5466
Fax: 615.248.2860

Monday, April 25, 2011

How to report about illegal immigration: the same way you report about Magdalene, Thistle Farms, and prostitution (no one called "illegal" or "illegals")

NPR correspondent Jacki Lyden interviews Nina, Thistle Farms employee (Photo: C. Snell)

In Jacki Lyden's three-part NPR series about prostitution in Music City and the good work of Nashville's Magdalene House/Thistle Farms to help the victims of that trade, there is not one use of the words "illegal" or "illegals" to describe the people who violate the law in the context of prostitution. These words are used instead:
  • Brittany Messina
  • girl
  • prostitute
  • street walker
  • mother
  • women
  • ex-prostitute
  • former prostitute
  • Alexis
  • john
  • former offender
  • men
  • law student
  • man in a polo shirt
  • these guys
  • good-looking man
  • father
  • people
Make no mistake: the event without which this story would not exist is a crime. Still, in this NPR story covering the effects and aftermath of crime - and the people involved - we see the journalist using a wealth of ways to refer to people other than labeling them with a criminal title. Jacki Lyden doesn't shy away from the words "prostitute," "street walker," or "john," but she doesn't exclusively use such labels.

The immigration beat, in contrast, typically (and often exclusively) overlabels the people in its stories. This is not about saying "undocumented" or "illegal" - it's about sometimes saying neither.

Journalists and their readers should take note from Lyden's example of how to report on law-breaking without overlabeling. People are students, sisters, fathers, good-looking or not, with names. Don't forget to describe them that way.

What a nice story this is to make the point. Kudos to NPR and to Nashville's own Magdalene/Thistle Farms.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

This Thursday: Tennessee Hispanic Census Summit: Assessing the Needs & Planning for the Future

The Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce encourages community leaders to join the discussion on the 2010 census results at its only statewide “TENNESSEE HISPANIC SUMMIT: ASSESSING NEEDS & PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE.” This summit focuses on Tennessee’s Hispanic population growth and how organizations will adjust to the changes.

The half-day event will feature notable speakers and panelists to discuss how the Hispanic population growth will impact the state’s health care services, both public and private, education, and business development. How cultural issues may influence organizational planning is also a topic of discussion.

“Tennessee Hispanic Census Summit: Assessing the Needs & Planning for the Future” is set for 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 21, at Boone Business Building, Trevecca Nazarene University’s campus, 333 Murfreesboro Road. The cost to attend is $35 which includes lunch. Registration at: The event is open to the public.

Mark Lopez, Ph.D., associate director of PEW Hispanic Center in Washington, DC, will be the summit’s keynote speaker providing details and insights on Tennessee’s census data. Prior to joining the Pew Hispanic Center, Lopez was Research Director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) as well as a Research Assistant Professor at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. His areas of expertise include labor economics, civic engagement, voting behavior and the economics of education. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University.

“For more than a year, the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has been developing a program to address the impact of the growth of Tennessee’s Hispanic population once the census details were announced,” said Tera Vasquez, president of the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “This summit provides the opportunity to offer more details on the census and other population growth reports, including the American Community Survey, and let us hear from experts on the issues.”

Renata Soto, executive director of Conexion Americas in Nashville, and Katherine Donato, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Sociology at Vanderbilt University, will provide an overview of the American Community Survey (ACS), which will also add regional population growth details to the statewide discussion.

“The ACS is a very important document for communities because it is vital to economic growth and to prudent government and business decision making,” said Vasquez. “This document also has the added benefit of providing regional and county information annually instead of once a decade.”

Vasquez also added that the conference is not designed to address statewide immigration issues or related political discussions. “Our summit’s purpose is to discuss how this new census data could and will affect changes in serving the growing Hispanic populations across the state,” Vasquez said. “We expect this summit to help organizations launch positive solutions as our state’s population grows and changes.”

Initial featured panel speakers include: Claude Pressnell, president of Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association; Lisa Maples, (Memphis, TN) National Hispanic Professional Organization; Gera Summerford, (Knoxville, TN) president, Tennessee Education Association. Additional confirmations forthcoming.

Conference registration is available at For more conference information, call (615) 221-0316.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I agree with Rep. Carr and the Tea Party: make the immigration status quo more painful for Americans

Photo by m4rpk. Licensed via Creative Commons.

The Tennessean reported today on the continuing friction between business and the GOP about this year's slate of immigration bills. GOP Rep. Joe Carr was quoted earlier, by another source, as saying that he hopes that Tennessee businesses feel some pain as a result of his immigration legislation, so that they pressure their representatives in Washington to make the necessary fixes at the federal level. The Tennessee Tea Party is also in favor of amping up the pressure on businesses in the state.

I agree with Rep. Carr and the Tennessee Tea Party on this point: Tennessee businesses should feel more pain when it comes to immigration enforcement. In fact, a couple of years ago, I said it almost the exact same way that Carr did, after the business lobby neutered Tennessee immigration enforcement bills in 2008:
One would hope that American businesses feeling the sting of immigration enforcement for the first time will lobby the U.S. Congress for an overhaul of the federal immigration bureaucracy and unhinge the bear trap not just from the legs of employers, but from the legs of their employees who have been in that painful position for a much longer time.
Currently, the immigration bear trap is set to kill only the employee, not the American employer, who violates the law. If the Tennessee legislature wants to set real and consequential bear traps for Tennessee businesses, that is the only way the pain will be more fairly distributed between immigrant and American, between families and businesses, between employees and employers.

I've been saying this for more than just a couple of years. In 2006, I had similar words for the executive branches in Nashville and Washington:
Enforce the laws to the letter until we Americans feel how harsh our immigration system is. As commentator Sean Brainsted said in a different context here, "The more that rich and powerful people are held accountable to the same laws that poorer people are, the more likely we are to get rid of ridiculous laws."
But don't hold your breath. Whatever the Tennessee legislature passes, whatever pain is imposed on Tennessee businesses, it won't hold a candle to the pain felt by ordinary, working Tennessee families who are told they can't immigrate or integrate, who could be turned into a "disappeared person" at the knock of a door.

Since the balance of immigration enforcement pain is never going to be felt equally between American and immigrant, Americans who feel no relative pain from the current system are still going to have to speak up on behalf of their immigrant neighbors. Rep. Joe Carr has given us plenty of opportunities to speak up (given the annual parade of state-level YADAs*), but he not proven himself to be a role model in speaking up for everyone. For that, we'll have to aspire to the principled courage of another GOP politician named Carr - Governor Ralph Carr of Colorado, who pushed back against the federal government's treatment of people of Japanese ancestry during World War II.

*YADA: yet another deportation approach

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Moderates, status quo, fellow Christians chastised by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. from Birmingham jail - 48 years ago today

Sculpture captioned, "I Ain't Afraid of Your Jail"
Commemorating the children's protest of King's arrest in Birmingham

Photo by dcwriterdawn. Licensed via Creative Commons.

Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" 48 years ago today, April 16, 1963, after having been arrested 4 days earlier - Good Friday - for marching without a permit, even though the permit was withheld.

King's letter from behind bars was written in response to white ministers who wrote a letter critical of King's breaking of the law by marching for civil rights. This letter is one of the two best answers I have ever heard to "What part of illegal don't you understand?"

Here is part of King's answer to that question:
You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."
It is also in this letter that King wrote a sentence crucial to indivisibility in America, one that needs repeating in the panic-driven immigration debate:
Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
King was a Christian pastor, and the audience for this letter was a group of Christian pastors who sided with the "law" without question:
So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.
At the same time, King acknowledged the possibility that he might be crossing a line, but not the one his fellow clergy was worried about:
If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.
The full text of King's letter is here:

An actor's interpretive reading of the entire letter, along with images from the civil-rights-era events described in it, starts at the 4:12 mark of this video:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Jesús with a Mohawk: NaFF short film premieres Sunday and Tuesday, is a showcase of Hispanic actors, director, and main character

One of the many films at the Nashville Film Festival (going on now through next Thursday) is "Jesús with a Mohawk," the story of a teen who challenges his Catholic High School with his new haircut.

This is the first student short film for Kevin Scott Page of Watkins College of Art, Design, & Film. The short premieres during the Tennessee Film Night for Narrative Shorts: Sunday, April 17 at 7:30 p.m. and Tuesday, April 19 at 7:45 p.m.

Hispanic Nashvillians Diana Holland (the nun) and Jasmine Vaca (the "love interest") star in the film. Also, director Kevin Scott Page has some Hispanic roots himself - his grandfather is from Puerto Rico.

Page will be in attendance for both screenings, with official Q&A time to follow. asked Page why he featured a Hispanic main character in this film:
Why not. A lot of the short films I see made locally feature the same type of cast and look. I really wanted to serve the community a different look and story. Also, my story was inspired by a real event that happened to me so when it came time to create the characters I just copied the same looks and ethnicities that surrounded me.
Page tells about the professional touch he was able to incorporate into "Jesús with a Mohawk":
When it came to the crew, it had to be a mix of professionals and students. The experienced crew added a great dynamic to the student film set by sharing tricks of the trade and advice to the students. After the film shoot, some of the students had landed jobs in the industry through their new contacts. Some of the professionals' resume included Scrubs, Country Strong, 21 Grams, Crash, and The Last Castle. The Executive Producer for my short was David Deeb (VP at Encore Media).

We had 50 people on set, two cameras (Super 8 film & High Definition video) that recorded at the same time, and 12 hours for 64 shots. The day before production, our main location dropped out so St. Ann's Catholic School came to our rescue. This was my first short film made at Watkins Film School.
Page also talked about his path to the screens of the Nashville Film Festival:
I grew up in a small town of 800 people in Sardis, Tennessee with a father in the construction industry and a mother serving as a teacher assistant. My parents taught me to have a strong work ethic, and by the end of my freshmen year in Nashville, I was able to work on 20th Century Fox’s “Percy Jackson & the Olympians” as a production assistant (it's rare for a student to work on feature films). By volunteering at every film and artistic related event in Nashville, I was able to build up a network of new friends. The more I helped out others, the more opportunities came my way. At the age of 21, I have been truly blessed enough to find myself among people like Gwyneth Paltrow, Tobey Maguire, Al Gore, and Bill Clinton, to name a few.

For the past three years, I have traveled to different middle schools, high schools, and professional conferences to share my stories about goal setting and community service.

Full Film (3 minutes):

Photos from Set:
Behind the Scenes On Set:
Personal Website:
School Website:

Nashville Film Festival
April 17th @ 7:30 PM
April 19th @ 7:45 PM

April 15: "A wonderful blessing"

The late Tim Chavez wrote about his view of April 15:
I've never viewed tax day as a bad day, even though I paid my highest tax bill ever yesterday. But I had a great year financially with one-time gains I can only thank God for, not myself.

I've also view April 15 as an opportunity to say thanks for being born in the greatest nation in the world with the greatest opportunity for individual advancement and unchallenged religious liberty.

I also see it as a chance to invest in our military, and in the lives of loved ones like Marine Sgt. Zachary Ross of Nashville, my nephew Victor Chavez in the Navy and my cousin, Maj. Andrew Ferguson, in the Army.

These men along with women protect my freedom to have money on tax day to pay the government. Our debt to them can never be repaid.

Ultimately, it is nothing we really do that creates that wealth under which we live and for which we are taxed. It is all a matter of fate, or more specifically God's blessings, that one had two, great working parents as role models, or one didn't get cancer at 24 or terminal leukemia like me at 47, or there wasn't a drunken driver on the road at the same time when you were coming home tired from working all evening.

So I've always seen my ability to pay on April 15 as a wonderful blessing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Nashville Film Festival starts Thursday; don't miss Musica Campesina and other "Hispanic interest" flicks

The Nashville Film Festival runs this Thursday, April 14, through next Thursday, April 21, and there are a number of "Hispanic Interest Films In Competition," according to the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, whose president Yuri Cunza sits on the NaFF board.

One of the films, "Musica Campesina," about a Chilean man discovering Music City USA, was filmed in Nashville by Chilean author/filmmaker Alberto Fuguet.  A number of Nashvillians supported the film behind and in front of the camera. Showtimes and trailer below.

In addition to "Musica Campesina" and the other films listed below, there are even more selections from Latin American nations and picks that would be of particular "Hispanic interest" - just check out the online program guide at pages 90-93, the quick-reference schedule grid, the iPhone app, or the NaFF web site.

Edited to add this comment from Yuri Cunza:

Our Celebrating Hispanic Themed Films reception at the Liberty Party Tent is Monday, April 18 at 9 PM, and Luci is our guest performer. The following films are scheduled that day; ticket holders are invited to the party at 9 PM. (Spanish language info HERE)

Summer of Goliath 2:30 PM
The Last Summer of La Boyita 7:45 PM
My Life With Carlos 7:45 PM
Aardvark 10:00 PM

Also we have changed the award we present during the festival to "Best Hispanic Themed Film" (program guide page 18) given that great productions about Hispanic life and culture have also been created by non-Hispanics.

Hispanic Interest Films in Competition

The Last Summer Of La Boyita
Director: Julia Solomonoff / Argentina
Thu, Apr 14, 07:15 PM / Mon, Apr 18, 07:45 PM
Young Jorgelina feels estranged from her boy-crazy older sister, who has entered adolescence and doesn't want to hang around with little kids anymore. Finding refuge in their Boyita camper-van, Jorgelina travels with her father to the countryside, where her lifelong playmate Mario is undergoing some unexpected changes of his own.

Director: Abner Benain / Panama
Fri, Apr 15, 10:00 PM / Wed, Apr 20, 12:15 PM
This hilarious comedy tells the story of Toña and Paquita, the housekeepers for the aristocratic González-Dubois family. These domestic employees have been mistreated for quite some time and they are tired of their situation. So when the family plans a shopping trip to Miami, the maids have a plan of their own - to take control of the mansion. Unexpectedly, they will also discover a long-held family secret. Starring Francisco Gattorno, Rosa Isabel Lorenzo, Aida Morales and Maria Alejandra Palacios.

Director: Kitao Sakurai
USA / Argentina, 2010, 80 min.
Sun. 4/17 2:45pm / Mon. 4/18 10:00pm
In a role inspired by his own life, Larry Lewis plays a man recovering from alcoholism and working towards stability. When he joins a Jiu Jitsu academy, he finds a friend in his instructor, Darren. But, as disturbing aspects of Darren's life are revealed, Larry finds himself faced with the consequences of a horrific act of violence.

Musica Campesina
Director: Alberto Fuguet, Chile / USA
Sun, Apr 17, 05:00 PM
Alejandro Tazo, a 30-something Chilean, arrives at Nashville on a Greyhound bus from the West Coast. Why is he here? How did he get here? What will he do in Music City?

Summer of Goliath
Director: Nicolas Pereda - Mexico/Canada
Sun, Apr 17, 05:30 PM / Mon, Apr 18, 02:30 PM
Shocked by her husband's sudden departure, Teresa embarks on a mission to find out what happened. Instead of finding answers, her mission becomes a journey through the streets and homes of the people she meets. Blending fiction and documentary, her wanderings portray the town and its inhabitants. Constructed through characters and the village's corporeal landscape, we drift with Teresa through spaces and people suffering the effects of lost loved ones, broken promises, disconnection and eternal longing.

The Last Circus
Director: Alex de la Iglesia / Spain
Wed, Apr 20, 10:00 PM
Not since Todd Browning's "Freaks" has the circus been home to this much horror! Winner of Best Director and Best Screenplay at the 2010 Venice Film Festival, de la Iglecia has crafted a violent cabaret where two clowns fight over love of the same woman - and over the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. When his father is imprisoned by Franco, Javier is charged with avenging him. Cut to Madrid, 1973 and Javier has taken his father's place in the circus and has fallen in love with Sergio, a violent man's girlfriend - and the revenge begins. Starring Santiago Segura, Antonio de la Torre and Raul Arevalo.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Every April 11, Costa Rica celebrates victory over Nashville man

Photo by Ruth.  Statue of Juan Santamaria in upper left.

Costa Ricans are celebrating a national holiday today - and a three-day weekend - all because of the country's famous eviction of a Nashville man.

On April 11, 1856 (155 years ago!) a young Nashvillian named William Walker was in the middle of his various attempted conquests of Latin American nations. This day would end up being one of many days of defeat for Walker, and this time it was at the hands of a Costa Rican soldier even younger than Walker, a drummer boy named Juan Santamaria. Walker is remembered as a pirate, a foreign invader, even a mercenary, and Santamaria is remembered as the martyr who burned down the hostel where Walker was staying, forcing Walker's escape.

Santamaria remains a Costa Rican national hero, with not just a holiday but a prominent statue and park, a museum, and the country's main airport named after him (if you've ever been to Costa Rica, you've been in the Juan Santamaria airport).

Parades will be held in Santamaria's honor today all across Costa Rica.

The phrase "I'm from Nashville" will surely elicit friendly overtures from modern-day Costa Ricans, but be forewarned that it might conjure up a little history, as well.

Happy Juan Santamaria Day.

For a pretty darn good (if I do say so myself) background on this holiday and on Walker and his prominent role in history, read my 2009 report, here.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

National blog publishes my La Espiga piece about Jesus and lawbreaking

Click here to read my "La Espiga" piece about Jesus and lawbreaking, published this week in the national blog, a project of World Vision.

I wrote it after visiting a Hispanic bakery in Nashville by the same name.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Feds order Tennessee employer to cough up $36,000 for illegal treatment of guest workers, also "willful" immigration violations

Hilario Razura, former employee of Vanderbilt Landscaping
Photo Copyright Used with permission.

The U.S. Department of Labor has ordered Tennessee company Vanderbilt Landscaping (no relation to the university) to pay over $36,000 for illegal treatment of guest workers. Some of that conduct was "willful," according to the DOL:
including the placement of workers outside the area of their intended employment, not conducting required recruitment of U.S. citizens and misrepresenting the reason for its temporary need for H-2B workers.
More general labor violations included failing to pay minimum wage and overtime.

Read the DOL press release, including its summary of the H-2B guest worker rules at issue, here.

NewsChannel5 tried to get a quote out of Vanderbilt Landscaping but was unsuccessful. Their story is here and has some of the background.

James Nix of the Nashville City Paper had a cover story this week on the workers and their lawsuit for various labor conditions at Vanderbilt Landscaping. Read that story here.

Last August, I interviewed one of the workers about his life and family in Mexico, and how he was recruited to Tennessee. That interview with Hilario Razura is here.

Is it me, or do Americans and employers get off pretty easily for immigration violations, while foreigners and employees suffer much more severe consequences for their immigration violations?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Toby Keith's Wild Shot mezcal, Cuestion tequila, and Chago's Cantina: three Nashville gringos and their new Latin flavors

Chago's Cantina on Belmont Blvd.

Cuestión Tequila, imported from Mexico by Nashvillian Jason Fandrich and matured in Lynchburg barrels

Toby Keith's mezcal drink Wild Shot, with worm
"I have always been fascinated with Mexico and the drink Mezcal. It is a part of my life. Mexico is a theme that runs through many of my songs, including my recent single 'Bullets In The Gun.' The tradition and history of Mezcal is magical to me, and dates back to 16th century warriors celebrating the defeat of their enemies."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Indivisible" motto embraced by US Soccer and its fans; Nashville was second debut city

When the U.S. Soccer team played Paraguay at LP Field last week, it was only the second game ever for the new one-word motto appearing on the sleeves of the team uniform:
The winning motto "Indivisible" was chosen from more than 6,000 after fans submitted ideas via Twitter, according to the U.S. Soccer web site.

I'm particularly giddy about this evidence that so many fellow Americans, soccer fans, and U.S. Soccer passionately embrace the promise of unity enshrined in our Pledge of Allegiance.

A couple of years ago, when I asked myself what I am "for" in the immigration discussion - what it is I promote when I talk about immigrants - I came to the conclusion that the core value underneath it all is indivisibility. I wrote a piece calling indivisibility our American superpower, in September of last year, and I encourage you to read it:

The new U.S. Soccer motto is evidence to me that we Americans value our indivisibility. Don't ever think you're alone in cherishing, protecting and defending this precious American principle.

Monday, April 4, 2011

CP asks if Hispanic Nashvillians are a viable, voting constituency

The Nashville City Paper quotes me a couple of times today in a story about Hispanic Nashvillians as a political constituency.

I mentioned to reporter William Williams a couple of statistics that didn't make it into the story, namely: 37% of Hispanic Tennessean U.S. citizens are registered voters, and 90% of those voted in the 2008 elections.

The story does report these 2010 Census numbers: there are 61,000 Hispanic Nashvillians, out of 626,000 total Nashvillians, and 290,000 Hispanic Tennesseans, out of 6.35 million total Tennesseans.

Read the full story at

Editor's note about sources: I tried to connect Williams to a few other sources, none of which made it into the piece. The Nashville-centric Tennessee Hispanic Chamber has plenty of politically engaged leaders, but they never get quoted in these stories. And Williams has previously reported on Hispanics in Nashville politics, so he knows the current and former leaders of local Hispanic political groups, like the Middle Tennessee Hispanic Democrats and the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Tennessee; did they not return his calls?

Admittedly, neither the MTNHD nor the RNHA of TN appears to have a currently functioning web site, but maybe that could have been a tidbit for Williams' story. Ask them: what is the status of your group, given that your web site is down, as well as the web site of your political
contraparte? The answer might have served as a decent metaphor for the overall dynamics of the Hispanic constituency in town. Or not.

But it would have been an interesting line of questioning, don't you think?

Friday, April 1, 2011

When the enemy is a race or an ethnicity, it is no joke, but there is a fool - April 1 instructions to "all persons of Japanese ancestry"

"Evacuation" orders issued 69 years ago today

From A Principled Politician: The Ralph Carr Story:
The concept of physically detaining any Japanese was first brought to the public by Mississippi congressman John Rankin, who, from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives just eight days after Pearl Harbor, said, "I'm for catching every Japanese in America, Alaska, and Hawaii now and putting them in concentration camps and shipping them back to Asia as soon as possible. ... This is a race war, as far as the Pacific side of the conflict is concerned." Rankin shouted from the well of the House floor, "The white man's civilization has come into conflict with Japanese barbarism. ... One of them must be destroyed. ... Damn them! Let's get rid of them now!"
Thank God for men like Republican Governor of Colorado Ralph Carr, who pushed back. I highly recommend this book about him.

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