Friday, October 28, 2011

125th anniversary of Statue of Liberty unveiling; Chinese voice of protest echoes to 21st century

Photo by Ian Foss. Licensed via Creative Commons.

One hundred and twenty-five years ago today, on October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was unveiled to the public.

Emma Lazarus' sonnet "The New Colossus," a short poem about the Statue of Liberty that is now installed on its pedestal, was written in 1883 as a donation to one of the many private fundraisers for the construction of the Statue of Liberty.

Among those solicited for donations were Chinese-Americans.  It is quite a contradiction of history that the Statue of Liberty was brought to New York Harbor right after Congress passed a significant anti-immigrant law, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which pretty much closed the door on legal Chinese immigration, even after they contributed so much to the construction of the American West.

So you can imagine some Chinese-Americans' response at the time to the private fundraising efforts for the Statue of Liberty. The sentiment of the disenfranchised and now formally unwelcome Chinese was captured for history in a letter to the editor of the New York Sun, from a man named Saum Song Bo:
Liberty, we Chinese do love and adore thee; but let not those who deny thee to us, make of thee a graven image and invite us to bow down to it.
The poetic anthem of an American welcome in "Colossus", and the heartfelt letter of American resident Saum Song Bo who has been denied that welcome - echo forward to the modern day. In the 21st century, we have American residents living among us for years who are still denied integration and immigration status.

These two texts from over 125 years ago are as important today as they were then - they call us to be the America that really does live out its physical and spoken reverence for Liberty.  And for justice.  For all.

Both "The New Colossus" and Saum Song Bo's letter are reproduced in their entirety, below.

Saum Song Bo's letter, 1885:
SIR: A paper was presented to me yesterday for inspection, and I found it to be specially drawn up for subscription among my countrymen toward the Pedestal Fund of the Bartholdi Statue of Liberty. Seeing that the heading is an appeal to American citizens, to their love of country and liberty, I feel that my countrymen and myself are honored in being thus appealed to as citizens in the cause of liberty. But the word liberty makes me think of the fact that this country is the land of liberty for men of all nations except the Chinese. I consider it as an insult to us Chinese to call on us to contribute toward building in this land a pedestal for a statue of Liberty. That statue represents Liberty holding a torch which lights the passage of those of all nations who come Into this country. But are the Chinese allowed to come? As for the Chinese who are here, are they allowed to enjoy liberty as men of all other nationalities enjoy it? Are they allowed to go about everywhere free from the insults, abuse, assaults, wrongs and injuries from which men of other nationalities are free?

If there be a Chinaman who came to this country when a lad, who has passed through an American institution of learning of the highest grade, who has so fallen in love with American manners and ideas that he desires to make his home in this land, and who, seeing that his countrymen demand one of their own number to be their legal adviser, representative, advocate and protector, desires to study law, can he be a lawyer? By the law of this nation, he, being a Chinaman, cannot become a citizen, and consequently cannot be a lawyer.

And this statue of Liberty is a gift to a people from another people who do not love or value liberty for the Chinese. Are not the Annamese and Tonquinese Chinese, to whom liberty is as dear as to the French? What right have the French to deprive them of their liberty?

Whether this statute against the Chinese or the statue to Liberty will be the more lasting monument to tell future ages of the liberty and greatness of this country, will be known only to future generations.

Liberty, we Chinese do love and adore thee; but let not those who deny thee to us, make of thee a graven image and invite us to bow down to it.
"The New Colossus," Emma Lazarus, 1883:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cheekwood's 12th Dia de los Muertos this Saturday

Photo by Andy Castro. Licensed via Creative Commons.

Cheekwood’s 12th Annual
EL DIA DE LOS MUERTOS Fall Festival Saturday, October 29th 2011
11:00am – 5:00pm
Event parking available at The Temple, 5015 Harding Road
Shuttles will be available to transport you to Cheekwood 


Free - Cheekwood Members
$12 - Adults
$10 -  Seniors (65 +)
$5 - College Students w/ ID
Free - 17 and Under
The festivals of Mexico and Latin America are world renowned for their colorful decorations, energetic music, and cultural significance. Los Dias de los Muertos, the Days of the Dead, are no exception! The holiday is one of the most important celebrations in Latin America and demonstrates the culture’s strong sense of love and respect for one’s ancestors while celebrating the continuance of life. Join in the festivities and learn more about this unique holiday as you tour the altars, shop in the Mexican marketplace, explore traditional arts and crafts, and enjoy live music and dance.

ART & ACTIVITIES PAPEL PICADO: Take part in the Mexican art of paper cutting.

MONARCHS: Learn about the significance of the butterflies as you create your own colorful Monarch.

PAPER MARIGOLDS: Make a colorful marigold, the traditional flower of the holiday.

MEMORY TREE: Add your thoughts to the colorful tree of memories.

CALAVERAS MASK: Make a colorful skeleton mask to wear during the festival.

BARRILETES: Create a colorful kite like those flown in Guatemala on the Day of the Dead.

SUGAR SKULLS: A Día de los Muertos tradition! Decorate a sugar skull to honor your ancestors.

EVENT QUEST: The ‘Quest’ is a fun and interactive way to discover all aspects of the event while learning more about the holiday.

POSADA PRINTS: Be inspired by legendary Mexican printmaker Jose Posada. Draw and print your own design!

What is tapeteTapete is the Spanish word for carpet. Usually made with colored sand, these “carpets” are a tradition for Día de los Muertos because, like life, they are temporary. At Cheekwood, participants will use a similar temporary medium, chalk, to create the large-scale colorful murals to honor the deceased. Experience the brilliance of these custom designs before they wash away!

Cane Ridge High School
Meigs Middle Magnet
Nashville School of the Arts
Station Camp High School
St. Bernard Academy
St. Cecilia Academy
University School of Nashville
Whites Creek High School

Colorful open air markets line the streets of Mexico during the celebration. Local merchants sell food, flowers, art, and handmade items which people buy to decorate their altars and tombs. Visit the vendors at the festival to discover the talent of local artists, shop for unique gift items, and taste traditional foods! 
FOOD LA HACIENDA                                               
Traditional Mexican Buffet                          

YAYO’S O.M.G                                              
Original Mexican Gourmet                        

MAS TACOS POR FAVOR                          
Tacos & More                                              

KARLA’S CATERING                                  
Empanadas, Charros, & More                

Catholic Charities | International Coffees

Café Rumba Roast Fair Trade Coffee 

Gourmet Mexican Popsicles 

Authentic Mexican Foods 

Bread of the Dead | Pan de Muerto 

ART & GOODS CHEEKWOOD GIFT SHOP                                              
Event T-Shirts and More                                                  

ELENA VARGAS                                                                
Local Artist | Handmade Arts & Crafts                          
TRAVELERS’ TREASURES                                              
Peruvian Gift Items
JACKIE ALMAGUER and                                                  
Local Artists | Handmade Arts & Crafts                        
JULES BURCIAGA CARPENTER                                  
Local Artist | Day of the Dead Themed Pieces
VERA’S INNOVATIONS                                                    
Local Artist | Mexican Arts and Crafts                              

Local Artist | Jewelry and More 

Handcrafted Textiles and Crafts from

Handmade Bracelets from Jalapa 

Traditional Apparel and Crafts from Peru 

Local Artist |
Day of the Dead Inspired Jewelry 

One of the most important aspects of the Days of the Dead is the creation of a memorial altar for the departed, known as an ofrenda. All across Mexico and beyond, families honor their ancestors by creating altars decorated with items that the deceased enjoyed in life. Learn more about this tradition as you tour the creative ofrendas designed by local groups and organizations!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

7th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Awards of the NAHCC

NAHCC with Brenda Davenport-Leigh, Carolina Rivas, Maria Mercedes Suarez, Alba Gonzalez Nylander, Holly Spann, Fabian Bedne, Loraine-Segovia Paz, Yuri Cunza, Mario Manuel Ramos, and Tommy Vallejos
Photographs by Mike Quinones
Article by Cindy McCain

“I have really experienced Southern hospitality here,” beamed Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Cuban artist and recipient of the Outstanding Hispanic Professional Achievement Award in the Arts.  She expressed gratitude for her award and invited the audience to her exhibition at Vanderbilt University.  Such was the theme of the 7th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Awards sponsored by the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  Hospitality and gratitude.

The reception and ceremony was held October 13, 2011 at the Nashville City Club.  Elliott Ozment, Immigration Law Office of Elliott Ozment, said upon receiving the Hispanic Community Advocate of the Year Award“My mission is to make Latinos feel welcome.”

Commander Mike Alexander
of Metro Nashville Police Department South Precinct was awarded the Building Neighborhoods AwardYuri Cunza President and CEO of NAHCC, introduced Alexander, saying, “It is our job to build bridges.”  He praised Alexander for taking the initiative in building the El Protector Program, recognized by the Vera Institute in New York as one of the six best programs in the country for bridging the language divide. Additionally the South Precinct has been designated as the first Hispanic Car Seat Safety Inspection Site in the state of Tennessee.

Alexander explained other services, such as the Hispanic Teen Academy, where officers mentor and educate young people.  He said:

When the Academy is over we have kids hugging the officers disappointed that the program is over.  We bring in families.  We believe it’s a big deal… There are grassroots efforts day in and day out…Thanks to you all for the support you give to us makes those things happen.
Fabian Bedne, the first Latino elected to the Metro Council, was awarded the Certificate of Appreciation For Outstanding Contributions & Community Service. He challenged the NAHCC to encourage people to “participate in the political process, to get elected officials to talk to the Latin community, (in order) to have a relationship, to communicate better.” 

Humbly thanking friends such as Holly Spann, Board Member of the NAHCC since 2006, for encouraging him to run for office, he shared his journey from his home in Argentina to the US. When employees asked him to extend his work visa, he’s so glad he did.  He explained with affability and grace:

Twenty-two years ago I landed in New York with two suitcases…I’m just an American story…I fell in love with democracy. That probably sounds silly, but most of us who come from other places probably understand democracy better than the locals.  Civil rights, human rights, the Constitution.  That makes a lot of sense to us because we come from places where these things don’t work.  And when I came to the US and started experiencing feeling safe and feeling empowered and respected I just slowly realized that this was my place, this is where I wanted to be…

Here I am twenty-one years later a true American story, new Councilman for District 31 Nashville, Tennessee.   Something that if you had asked me 20 years ago I would have told you that you were crazy, but this is what happens in the US.  People are measured by who they are and what they do and what they give back to the community and not by who they know or how much money they have…That’s what I want to bring to you today.  This is your country.  This is America…  We can be part of the system and we should be part of the system.

Other award recipients of the evening were as follows:

Institutional Leadership Award 

Jen Cole, Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission

Outstanding Member Achievement Award – Education 

Tennessee Foreign Language Institute

Hispanic Entrepreneur Achievement Award
Angel Zuniga Martinez, Fiesta Insurance

Emerging Hispanic Business Award

Pupuseria Salvadorena

Outstanding Hispanic Media Professional Achievement Award

Cristina O. Allen, Que Pasa Nashville
 WTVF Channel 5+

Outstanding Advocacy in Education Award – USHCC Foundation (United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation)

Certificate of Recognition Outstanding Contributions in Business Advocacy

Nashville Minority Business Center's 29th Annual Nashville Minority Enterprise
Development Week - MEDWeek

Certificate of Appreciation Outstanding Contributions & Business Advocacy

David Tiller, SBA TN District Office

Journalism and Hispanic Community Award

Cindy McCain, Nashville Latin Dancing Examiner

Outstanding Leadership and Service Award
- Alba Gonzalez Nylander, AJ Media Services/NAHCC Treasurer
- William Luis, Afro Hispanic Review-Vanderbilt University/NAHCC 2nd Vice Chair
- Loraine Segovia-Paz, La Noticia Newspaper/NAHCC Vice Chair

Luci Lampe singing the National Anthem
Luis Parodi, Stacey Widelitz, Chefs Ritz,  Loraine Segovia-Paz, Heidy Browning, Don Able

William Luis, Luci Lampe, Alba Gonzalez Nylander, Loraine Sergovia Paz
Commander Mike Alexander
Juan Pablo Alonzo
Ana Miriam and Hugo Reyes, recipients of Emerging Business Award
Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons
Ainsley Diaz
Yuri Cunza
Tommy Vallejois, 14th District County Commissioner

NAHCC with Jen Cole of Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission and  recipient of the Institutional Leadership Award 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Four free tickets to El Compositor Esta Muerto readers have a unique chance to win free tickets to the Nashville Symphony performance of "The Composer Is Dead" this Saturday, either at 11:00 a.m. in English, or at 12:30 p.m. in Spanish.

All you have to do to be eligible for the drawing is comment below, or comment on the Hispanic Nashville Facebook page, or mention @muybna on Twitter. Indicate how many tickets and which performance you are interested in.

A winner will be selected at random Thursday evening.

Read more about these two performances of "The Composer Is Dead" in yesterday's story by Cindy McCain.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Nashville Symphony Presents Halloween Production in Spanish and English

By Cindy McCain

Spanish speakers, English speakers and learners of both languages will be immersed and elated as the Nashville Symphony presents a hilarious Halloween Murder Mystery, The Composer is Dead.  The family concert will be held Saturday, October 29 at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in two performances: narrated at 11 AM in English and at 12:30 PM in Spanish.

 Lemony Snicket, children’s author of the “whodunit,” has quipped that his The Composer is Dead is “the gateway drug that leads to loving classical music.”  Nashville Symphony Music Director, Giancarlo Guerrero, will narrate the performances and calls the show that entertains both children and parents “the perfect combination of great music and education.”  As he “interrogates” the orchestra in search of the culprit, the audience learns what each instrument does…and more.  Guerrero explains:

The production introduces kids to the orchestra by exploring each section. They’ll hear how sections take on personalities.  For instance, the violin, who plays the melodies, is envied by the oboe who feels he should be trusted to start the show.  Everyone had reason to kill the composer.  We’ll see if the audience can figure out who did it.

Last year Guerrero conducted Peter and the Wolf which was also offered in English and Spanish.  Born in Nicaragua and raised in Costa Rica, the Grammy-winning graduate of Baylor and Northwestern first fell in love with classical music listening to his father’s collection.  At twelve he began playing with the Youth Symphony after school.  Guerrero recalls:

My hobby became my passion.  I saw my first orchestra at the National Symphony of Costa Rica.  Seeing my teachers and coaches was inspiring and I realized classical music is a cool thing.  

Classical music is having the biggest growth in Latin America.  For years countries like  Venezuela, Mexico, Brazil and so many others have been investing in arts and classical music. There are many creative programs.

Associate Conductor Kelly Corcoran says:
The Pied Piper series encourages all children to get to know our Symphony in a fun environment. By offering Spanish and English versions, we hope to reach more people in our community and introduce our younger listeners to the magic of a live performance.
 In addition, the series provides children an interactive musical experience, with a hands-on instrument petting zoo before each concert, as well as crafts and other activities.

The Composer is Dead points out comically that all composers-- Bach, Beethoven, Mozart--end up dead.   So I asked Guerrero which deceased composer is his favorite. He said he doesn’t have just one because “no composer is really dead.”  And though he loves classical music, his interests don't stop there.  Of future productions Guerrero says:   
I make eclectic choices and have to narrow down.  My favorite styles change from time to time whether classical, jazz, rock and roll.  It’s such an elimination process.

Help Narrator Guerrero narrow down suspects at The Composer is Dead by going here for ticket information.  Tickets for the Spanish performance start at $10.  For more info, visit or call 615.687.6400.

Giancarlo Guerrero, Musical Director of Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Previous Pied Piper Halloween Performances

Friday, October 21, 2011

8th anniversary of

Photo by Leo Reynolds. Licensed via Creative Commons.

The first story of the "Hispanic Nashville Notebook" was published on October 21, 2003. It's been eight years.

I wrote a long post this morning. It started with a reflection on the early deaths of dear loved ones - Jess Fairbanks of Spain, and Fatima Muckway of Nicaragua - as well as of one lost Nashvillian who shared my name - Canuto Cordero ("cordero" means "lamb" in Spanish).

I mentioned in this post how my parents are updating their wills.

I mentioned how I want my two sweet Hispanic children - half Chilean - to understand where they come from. Not just from Nashville and Chile, but from New York, from the Winthrop fleet of centuries ago, and from Germany and Great Britain from just a few generations ago.

Part of this post was a note to my children, telling them that I love them, and asking them to love others, always. I reminded my daughter she was born at Baptist Hospital and raised in Primera Iglesia Bautista, with her first word being in Spanish - and that that's as Nashville a story as any other, including mine. I wrote about how my legal background and the love I received at la Primera are part of why I write so much about the immigration bureaucracy.

I told my children that my biggest impact on Hispanic Nashville - the community - has been to bring them into the world. And that my continued role in the community starts and ends with being the best father I can be to them.

For whatever reason, that long post I wrote this morning is lost. I hope the sentiment is not.

And at the end of that post, I had a list of the stories from the past year of the site that stand out the most to me. It did not disappear; it's below.

This list of 2010-2011 highlights from is for you, the readers who might have missed some of these stories along the way, and also for my children. Maybe they will read this site one day to know more about their city, about their father, and about what I cared enough to write about - even if, sometimes, it disappears.

On milestones:
On history:
On statistics:
On how we talk about immigrants:
On treatment of immigrants:
On the immigration bureaucracy:
On recognition for

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Three Nashville-Cuba connections in October: Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Elena Garcia Dance Project, and Musico a Musico trip

Nashville is getting its Cuba on lately. Marlen Santana-Perez was named a Metro Social Services Commissioner, Sheyla Paz-Hicks launched her Entertainment Circle show and threw her annual Copacubana party, and two Cuban-American artists spoke last weekend at the Southern Festival of Books. Most recently, Cuban-American artist Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons started exhibitions at Vanderbilt and the Frist, the Elena Garcia Dance Project comes to the Father Ryan High School Center for the Arts this weekend, and Musico a Musico is about to head out for a week-long worship arts workshop in Cuba starting Monday. More information about Campos-Pons, Elena Garcia Dance Project, and Musico a Musico's trip, below.

Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons
Campos-Pons is recognized for her photographs and multi-media installations that poignantly explore her personal history as well as collective ethnic, racial, national, and sexual identities. Her work symbolically follows the African diaspora from her family’s origin in Nigeria to Cuba, where they worked in the sugar industry, to present day Boston, where Campos-Pons now lives and teaches art.

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts’ Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery features the work of Campos-Pons in an exhibition entitled Journeys  now through January 8, 2012.

Now through December 8, 2011, the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery will also host an exhibition of work by Campos-Pons. María Magdalena Campos-Pons: MAMA/RECIPROCAL ENERGY will feature five large-scale, mixed-media drawings that the artist created as a means to explore themes central to her practice such as identity, exile and displacement as an Afro-Cuban artist living in America. In addition, the exhibition will feature drawings that address specific performances the artist has presented over the course of her career including a collaborative work she created with her son. Also included will be a three channel video from 2003 titled Interiority or Hill-Sided Moon.

Read more about Campos-Pons' exhibitions in Nashville in the Tennessean article, the Vanderbilt press release, and the Frist press release.

Elena Garcia Dance Project: Cuban Roots Saturday, October 22 – 7:30 p.m.
Father Ryan High School Center for the Arts
700 Norwood Drive

Tickets and information available at

The Elena Garcia Dance Project is an amalgamation of performers from Garcia’s Iroko Afro-Cuban Dance Company and Fuzion Dance Artists, a young Latino troupe for whom Garcia choreographs pieces merging African and Latino culture. Cuban Roots is steeped in history, culture and artistic traditions of Afro-Cuban dance and music and its influence on modern dance, with an emphasis on sharing the stories of the Afro-Latin Diaspora. This particular presentation will include an original piece called Olvido, which is based on the story of a female immigrant who came from Cuba to the U.S. in the 1950’s to become part of the Mambo scene of the Palladium in New York. Dancers will also be performing excerpts from a larger dance drama called Patakin; a dance theatre segment called La Parada; and a traditional solo piece danced by Garcia honoring Yemaya, the Yoruba deity of the ocean. Garcia will be teaching an Afro-Cuban dance workshop at 10:30 am on Saturday, October 22 at the Global Education Center. The group will also be performing at a free festival of cultures at Columbia State Community College on Friday, October 21 at 10:30 am.

Beginning of Musico a Musico from Jon Leiva on Vimeo.

Nashville's Christian worship training and education group Musico a Musico is going to Cuba from October 22-31:
Músico a Músico is making plans to join with Missionaries Roy and Dirce Cooper with Caribbean Itinerant Ministry Team, IMB and their staff of quality music teachers and worship leaders outside Havana Cuba. The MaM team will be small joining me will be Cindy Benitez who will be teaching drama and mime, Steve Krenz teaching guitar and Jamie Wigginton teaching vocals. Each year Roy and Dirce hold week long training for their country’s musicians and worship leaders. In ten years they have established some 75 schools with presently 1,000 worship leaders and musicians in training and during the week of October 24. Our guys will join with this well established ministry to present master classes. The students will be the best of the best and will assemble in a camp-like setting for intensive training that they are anxious to receive and the teachers are passionate about giving.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Money for college now available through Hispanic Scholarship Fund; "we would love to see more applications from Tennessee"

Image from, a joint effort of the Ad Council and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund is encouraging Latino/Latina Tennesseans in their senior year of high school, in undergraduate school, and in graduate school to apply for scholarships that opened up September 1 and that will close around December 15 (deadlines may vary from scholarship to scholarship).

Latinos in Tennessee have been receiving scholarship awards through HSF since 1975, with 183 students receiving a total of $502,259. Most of the colleges and universities in Tennessee have had an HSF award recipient among their students, including Aquinas, Austin Peay, Belhaven, Belmont, Bethel, Chattanooga State, Christian Brothers, Cumberland, ETSU, Fisk, Freed-Hardeman, Lee, LeMoyne-Owen, Memphis, MTSU, Rhodes, South, Southern Adventist, Strayer, TSU, Tech, Trevecca, UTK, UTM, Vanderbilt, and Watkins.

Last year, HSF helped grant scholarships to 14 students in Tennessee, for a total award amount of $38,509. That is down from $61,570 awarded for 20 Tennessee scholarships in 2009, and $65,861 awarded across 21 scholarships in 2008.

"We would love to see more applications from Tennessee," said David Precise, HSF's National Director of Development, Southeast. Precise, who operates out of Birmingham, has been visiting the Volunteer State this year to get the word out about the scholarship opportunities to students here. Nationwide, HSF supported close to 4,500 awards valued at $29.8 million in 2010. Over its 36-year history, HSF has helped connect more than 100,000 Hispanic American students to over $335 million.

Students interested in scholarships can begin the process at the HSF website - - and the recommendation is to start preparing the materials now.  Applicants who start too close to the deadline may not be able to gather everything they need in time.

Monday, October 17, 2011 in Tennessean feature story

Tennessean article about published last Saturday

This past Saturday, the final day of Hispanic Heritage Month 2011, and less then a week before this site's 8th anniversary, The Tennessean wrote a feature about me and It ran on page 1 of the Local/Business section. Thanks to Nancy DeVille for researching and writing the article and to her editors for the story idea.

The electronic edition of the piece will be online for a few weeks, and it contains quotes from me, Fabian Bedne, and Renata Soto. Here are a couple of my quotes:
“Nashville does celebrate its Hispanic residents, and I want to be part of that.”
“[The site] might be a reference for people, it might help dispel stereotypes and might be a record of what’s been going on in Nashville.”
Read the full story here.

The print edition, for those of you who didn't see it, carried the headline, "He'll keep you up with the Lopezes." The copywriters came up with that one; they have the hard job of hitting all the right notes in a headline. It's a spin on the familiar phrase "keeping up with the Joneses" - doubly so - in that it changes the original in two ways ("keeping up with" is presumably meant as just "knowing what's going on with," and then "Jones" becomes "Lopez").

Some of you read the story over the weekend and sent some nice words my way – thank you.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Six Latina and two Latino writers at Southern Festival of Books this weekend

At least eight Latino writers will be at the Southern Festival of Books at Legislative Plaza in Nashville this weekend. Among the eight are two locals, Austin Peay prof Blas Falconer and Vanderbilt prof Lorraine López, who co-edited the book The Other Latin@: Writing Against a Singular Identity. Falconer also co-edited Mentor and Muse: Essays from Poets to Poets with Cuban-American author Helena Mesa, who will be appearing Saturday at the festival, as well.

In addition to all eight authors' individual presentations, five of them will be together on the The Other Latin@ panel Saturday from 10:00 to 11:30 in the Old Supreme Court Room.

More about the individual authors, their books, and their appearances at the Festival, below. In chronological order:

Teresa Dovalpage
Teresa Dovalpage was born in Havana, Cuba in 1966 and presently lives in Taos, New Mexico, where she teaches Spanish and literature at UNM-Taos. Teresa has a Ph.D. in Latin American literature and is the author of five novels — three in Spanish and two in English. She also has written a collection of short stories in Spanish and is a playwright.

Panel: Friday, 2:30-4:00 pm, Old Supreme Court Room; Sign: Friday, 4:00-4:30 pm, Signing Colonnade; Presentation: Saturday, 10:00-11:30 am, Old Supreme Court Room; Sign: Saturday, 11:30-12:00 noon, Signing Colonnade
Current Book: Habanera, A Portrait of a Cuban Family

Justin Torres
Justin Torres grew up in upstate New York, where this novel is set. His work has appeared in Granta, Tin House, and Glimmer Train. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he is a recipient of the Rolón United States Artist Fellowship in Literature, and is now a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. He has worked as a farmhand, a dog-walker, a creative writing teacher, and a bookseller.

Panel: Friday, 2:30-4:00 pm, Room 16; Sign: Friday, 4:00-4:30 pm, Signing Colonnade; Panel: Saturday, 9:30-11:00 am, Library Auditorium; Sign: Saturday, 11:00-11:30 am, Signing Colonnade
Current Book: We the Animals

Marisel Vera
Marisel Vera grew up in the barrio in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood, where she was raised by Puerto Rican emigrant parents. One of six children, she was the first in her family to earn a college degree: a BA in Journalism from Northern Illinois University. She has won the Willow Review literary magazine fiction prize. In 2011, her unpublished coming-of-age novel, the Liberation of Carmela Lopez, was adapted into play form and directed by her daughter at Northwestern University.

Panel: Friday, 2:30-4:00 pm, Old Supreme Court Room; Sign: Friday, 4:00-4:30 pm, Signing Colonnade
Current Book: If I Bring You Roses

Lisa D. Chavez
Lisa D. Chavez, a poet and memoirist who lives in the mountains of New Mexico. She has two books of poetry published, In an Angry Season and Destruction Bay and has had work included in such collections as Mentor and Muse: Essays from Poets to Poets, The Other Latin@: Writing Against a Singular Identity, and Camino del Sol: Fifteen Years of Latina and Latino Writing.

Presentation: Saturday, 10:00-11:30 am, Old Supreme Court Room; Sign: Saturday, 11:30-12:00 noon, Signing Colonnade
Current Book: In an Angry Season

Blas Falconer
Blas Falconer is a poet and teacher of English at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. His work has appeared in numerous journals, including Indiana Review, Green Mountains Review, and Cimarron Review. His chapbook of poems, The Perfect Hour, was published by Pleasure Boat Studio in 2006. A Question of Gravity and Light is his first book-length collection of poems. Read more at Chapter 16. Falconer's mother was born in Salinas, Puerto Rico. He says, "the lens through which I contemplate any subject has been shaped, specifically, by my history as a Puerto Rican growing up in Virginia, living in Nashville, and in that sense, will always reflect who I am and where I've come from—wherever that may be."

Presentation: Saturday, 10:00-11:30 am, Old Supreme Court Room; Sign: Saturday, 11:30-12:00 noon, Signing Colonnade
Current Books: The Other Latin@: Against a Singular Identity and Mentor & Muse: Essays From Poets to Poets

Lorraine López
Lorraine López - her short story collection, Soy la Avon Lady and Other Stories won the inaugural Miguel Marmól prize for fiction. Her second book, Call Me Henri, was awarded the Paterson Prize for Young Adult Literature, and her novel, The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters was a Borders/Las Comadres Selection for the month of November in 2008. López's short story collection, Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories was a Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Prize in Fiction in 2010. Her most recent work is a novel, The Realm of Hungry Spirits, published by Grand Central Press in May, and a collection of essays, The Other Latin@, co-edited with Blas Falconer, which will be released fall 2011 from the University of Arizona Press.

Presentation: Saturday, 10:00-11:30 am, Old Supreme Court Room; Sign: Saturday, 11:30-12:00 noon, Signing Colonnade; Panel: Friday, 2:30-4:00 pm, Old Supreme Court Room; Sign: Friday, 4:00-4:30 pm, Signing Colonnade
Current Books: The Realm of Hungry Spirits and The Other Latin@: Against a Singular Identity

Helena Mesa
Helena Mesa, born and raised in Pittsburgh to Cuban parents. She holds an M.F.A. from the University of Maryland and a Ph.D. from the University of Houston. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Barrow Street, Bat City Review, Indiana Review, Poet Lore, and Third Coast. She is currently co-editing a collection of essays, Mentor & Muse: Essays From Poets to Poets. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan and is an assistant professor of English at Albion College.

Presentation: Saturday, 10:00-11:30 am, Old Supreme Court Room; Sign: Saturday, 11:30-12:00 noon, Signing Colonnade
Current Books: The Other Latin@: Writing Against a Singular Identity and Mentor & Muse: Essays From Poets to Poets

Sandra Gutierrez
Sandra Gutierrez grew up in the United States and Guatemala, is a journalist, food writer, culinary instructor, and recipe developer. She lives in Cary, North Carolina with her husband and their daughters. Her new book The New Southern-Latino Table merges Southern and Latin cooking.

Panel: Sunday, 12:00-1:30 pm, Room 30; Sign: Sunday, 1:30-2:00 pm, Signing Colonnade
Current Book: The New Southern-Latino Table

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Diana Holland in Terminator the Second this weekend

Diana Holland
Argentina-born Nashville actor Diana Holland is back on stage this weekend with what she calls "a minor (but impactful!)" role in the original play "William Shakespeare presents Terminator the Second," by Husky Jackal Theater.

The original script of WS:T2 was composed exclusively from lines from Shakespeare plays from 1685 and before, pieced together to match the story of the 1991 James Cameron blockbuster "Terminator 2: Judgment Day."

Holland describes it this way:
The play is the Terminator story, in Shakespeare's words. There is action (and reaction) in this 5-act play that spans 2.5+ hours (with an intermission, of course). It is "teenage-and-up" friendly, so if you want your kids to get a glimpse of Shakespeare in a "video-game-on-stage" kinda thang, then bring them along!
I play Janelle, the foster Mom, and I have a couple of scenes in acts 1 and 2. 
The cast and crew of this play is not just dedicated to 'the cause', but highly motivated and passionate.
The play's web site is, and the Nashville Scene wrote this write-up in their Fall Guide.

Here are the details:
Event: William Shakespeare presents 'Terminator the Second' 
Dates/Times: 6 4 shows (Update 10/13: the matinees have been cancelled)
Friday, 10/14/11, 8 pm
Saturday, 10/15/11: 2 pm AND 8 pm
Sunday, 10/16/11: 2 pm AND 8 pm
Monday, 10/17/11: 8 pm

Tickets: $15 p/person: cash or credit card at the door or at

Location: Nashville School of the Arts, 1250 Foster Ave., Nashville, TN 37210
(Venue is located in the main building of the campus. Enter on Foster Avenue and follow the signs to parking. Free parking is available).
The trailer is below:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NAHCC awards ceremony Thursday follows lunch by TNHCC, or rather, TLACC

Like I said yesterday when I wrote about their lunch event, the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce* is great for networking, but did you know there are two Hispanic chambers of commerce in Nashville?

The other one is the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and they're having their annual Hispanic Heritage Month awards ceremony tomorrow, Thursday, October 13, at the Nashville City Club. There will be Latin-inspired hors d'oeuvres and cocktails, live music, and door prizes, and of course the awards. The Tennessean and also Cindy McCain have already ran stories about the event, and the invitation is below:

The Board of Directors Of
The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Cordially Invites You To

7th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month
Business & Community Awards
Thursday, October 13, 2010
5:30 PM to 8 PM
Nashville City Club
Winner of the 2011 Toast of Music City
'Best View of the City' Award!

Please call 615-216-5737
or email us

There is a lot more to Hispanic Nashville than chambers of commerce - the chambers are not spokespersons for anyone but their members, and they shouldn't automatically be your first call about a Hispanic issue in town. But each chamber's board is more engaged than it has ever been, and each chamber's approach is unique. It's not just that the Tennessee chamber is statewide in name and the Nashville chamber is city-oriented. The chambers have different personalities, different relationships in the community, and different missions. Events like yesterday's lunch at the Sheraton and tomorrow's awards ceremony at the City Club are good ways to learn about the two groups.

*At its lunch yesterday, the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce announced that it has changed its name to the Tennessee Latin American Chamber of Commerce.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chamber lunch sparks conversation, new Nashvillian Ralph Noyes describes Spain's "unspoken acceptance"

Photo of walkway and restaurant sign in Spain by Ralph Noyes. Used with permission.

Today is the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's networking lunch at the Downtown Sheraton. Throughout this chamber's existence of more than a decade, its strength has always been networking events like this. If you go to just one, you will meet some interesting people, and if you go to more than one, you will start seeing some of the same faces and feeling like you are part of a community.

At a TNHCC lunch this past summer, I sat next to Ralph Noyes, who planned to move here from Austin and was just back from a year teaching English in Spain.

Not having visited the Iberian peninsula myself, I asked Noyes why he went to Spain and what it was like; his answer is below. Describing his experience abroad, Noyes inadvertently highlights a commonality that Chamber lunches have with Spain itself - they're both a great catalyst for conversation:
Ralph Noyes
I chose Spain for the coffee. The tradition of sitting, or more often standing, next to someone else and beginning the day with a conversation. It could be out on a sidewalk, inside a cafe, or at the bar, but wherever it occurs it is done consciously and leisurely. There are no to go cups, drive thru's, venti sized monstrosities, or refills. One cup, one huge bag of sugar, and no clock in sight. Of course people have obligations, but as I discovered on my first day of work, time is elastic and no one arrives exactly when they say they will.

Just about everything else is late too. You can't get lunch before 2, which is followed by a nap, or 'siesta'. People go back to work in the afternoon and dinner begins around 10. Perhaps it's the coffee consumption, the siesta, or the mass amounts of carbohydrates from the bread taken in at every meal that allows them to sustain their nocturnal schedule. The restaurants stay open till midnight, the bars till 4. When the bars close, the clubs open, and everyone drinks and dances till dawn, when breakfast is served to the groggy holdouts still singing Rihanna's latest club hit. On the weekend hundreds, sometimes thousands of young Spaniards ages 16-30 gather in designated "Botellon" sites where they drink, dance, and listen to music. Despite the horrendous mess it leaves behind, there usually isn't a single violent incident,

This type of behavior is normal in a public, social culture. People live their lives outside the house, on the squares and benches and playgrounds found on nearly every block. They need places to sit because they walk everywhere. Sitting promotes face to face socializing, which means less texting and calling, less boundaries. Even in the relatively conservative school environment I worked in, people are much less guarded. They carpool to work, stand closer when they speak to eachother, touch more often, and curse without thinking twice about who may be listening. Their lack of 'awkwardness' (which doesn't even translate into Castellano) and political correctness was refreshing to my restrained ears. My co-workers were similarly unapologetic in their actions. While aware that they may run into a student while out carousing, I never saw them worry, become embarrassed, or avoid anyone. The unspoken acceptance makes it ok for everyone to enjoy themselves regardless of age or station.

While I realize that not all visitors will share my rosy vision of Spain, these are the things that drew me in and won me over. These are the things that I latched onto in an alien environment. Maybe it's the adversity, the sudden lack of familiarity that triggers the endearment. Maybe it's just the coffee.
Noyes has since moved to Nashville and has found work at a doctor's office with "lots of Hispanic patients, lots of Spanish."

Monday, October 10, 2011

W.O.M.E.N. hosts HIV testing for National Latino AIDS Awareness Day

All this week, Nashville's W.O.M.E.N. (Women On Maintaining Education and Nutrition) is promoting National Latino AIDS Awareness Day and HIV testing. W.O.M.E.N. has Spanish-speaking staff and also a food pantry. The agency is located at 417 Welshwood Dr., Suite 303, Nashville, TN, 37211.

There is also a Spanish-language announcement on the W.O.M.E.N. web site.

October 15th was established in 2003 as National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD) in response to the devastating impact HIV/AIDS has on Hispanic/Latino communities across the country. It was established to draw attention to the critical role HIV testing and prevention education plays in stemming the spread of HIV/AIDS among Hispanics/Latinos. It is a day during Hispanic Heritage Month that organizations around the country use to promote and sponsor activities that respond to the state of HIV/AIDS among Hispanics/Latinos in their specific communities.

According to NLAAD, Hispanics/Latinos progress to AIDS faster than any other racial or ethnic group with 42% being diagnosed with AIDS within 12 months after learning of their positive HIV status compared to 34% late diagnosis among white non-Hispanic and 35% among blacks. Hispanics/Latinos represent 16% of the population but account for an estimated 18% of people living with HIV and 18% of new infections.

Improvements in health status are attributed to raising awareness, promoting HIV testing, disseminating prevention strategies, and connecting Hispanics/Latinos to health care.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

An "honorary visa" would recognize achievement in America by prospective Americans

John McCarthy, receiving an honorary degree at Harvard University
Photo by Ken Schwarz. Licensed via Creative Commons.

Yesterday, I proposed a new immigration visa; I'm proposing yet another one today (my fifth). It's called the "honorary visa."

An honorary degree is an academic degree for which a university has waived the usual requirements, such as matriculation, residence, study, and the passing of examinations. The degree is typically a doctorate or, less commonly, a master's degree, and may be awarded to someone who has no prior connection with the academic institution. Usually the degree is conferred as a way of honoring a distinguished visitor's contributions to a specific field, or to society in general. The university often derives benefits by association with the person in question, and the recipient may (contrary to popular opinion) receive the full benefit and privilege of the titled degree.

You see where I am going with this: there are people in the U.S. who by their conduct have demonstrated themselves worthy of the American name, even though they have not followed along with the crowd of people who have gone through the processes typically required to carry that title.

Congress could create an "honorary visa" to recognize these achievements and contributions, because we currently have nothing like this for applicants already in the United States. Government, famous for inefficiency, could take advantage of 20/20 hindsight and grant this visa to the people we would have wanted to admit in the first place but didn't.

I call this new process the "honorary visa," and I can't wait to see the first ceremony.

Some text about honorary degrees licensed from Wikipedia.

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