Culture

Shakin’ All Over

Last week, for the second time this month, we had a significant temblor give our house a shake. We live in Los Angeles, so this kind of thing is not unexpected. Our one-year-old son, native Californian that he is, even slept through the last one.

But I’ve noticed something more than a little off-putting about the nation’s reaction to California earthquakes. Message boards and internet commentary usually light with people proclaiming their earnest wish that all of us out here in California, well, just die horrible deaths.

Some of the comments I saw included, “Too bad it wasn’t the Big One,” and “Waiting for California to slide into the ocean. Goodbye, weirdoes!” and “If only earth would finish the job and slide that festering leftist infection into the depths of the Pacific.”

It doesn’t seem to work the other way. When tornadoes hit Missouri, I don’t see commentators wishing that the entire state be blown away. And when hurricanes hit Florida, there is often an outpouring of goodwill and wishes for those in the storm’s path.

But California? Well, I guess we deserve to get swallowed up by the Earth.

earthquake-gallery-9

Of course, a lot of the animosity is directed toward our state’s undocumented immigrants, which if you believe right-wing media, currently account for 90 percent of the population.

The rest of it seems to be a combination of petty jealousy over our good weather, disdain for Hollywood celebrities, and vitriol aimed at our state’s frequently liberal policies.

But regardless of your political viewpoint, I would add that if the thought of thousands, perhaps, millions of your fellow Americans meeting a sudden, violent death is something that fills you with glee or smug satisfaction, then there is very little difference between you and Al Quada.

In any case, we here in California are not pleading for you to stop picking on us. We would just like the haters to acknowledge their irrational anger and stop pretending to love America (while despising its largest state and wishing destruction upon all who live there).

And to be honest, we are concerned about the next big earthquake. We’re worried that all of you will drop off into the Atlantic.

 


All You Need Is…

I’ve written before about the mythical Hispanic Health Paradox. Basically, despite the fact that Latinos “are less likely to have health insurance, go to doctors less often, and receive less in the way of hospitalization or high-level care when they are sick, they have lower rates of heart disease, cancer and stroke.”

Now, a new study shows that Hispanics “throughout the U.S. outlive people of all other races.” That’s right — having a bit of Latino in you means that you will probably live almost three years longer than white Americans, “and in some states, nearly eight years longer than African-Americans. The effect is more pronounced in immigrants but also applies to Hispanics born in the U.S.”

The reason the word “paradox” is attached to this phenomenon is because Latinos face “higher rates of poverty and lower rates of education and employment,” which implies that we will die off faster, not live longer. “But after nearly 30 years and hundreds of studies looking at the health behaviors, migration patterns, and characteristics of Hispanics, scientists still haven’t found the answer” to why we stick around for years past our white and black brethren.

Well, the latest conjecture for why this happens is a little awkward, scientifically speaking. Some experts have theorized that the reason is, “in essence, love.”

hearts

Yes, the infamous Latino fixation on family apparently provides Hispanics with strong emotional support and social interaction, both of which are important in fighting off disease and recovering from illness. Other cultures in America do not have the same bedrock foundation, and this may be why they kick the bucket sooner.

The report concludes that “the importance of family is more pronounced among Hispanics,” which has to be the least shocking announcement ever. But the fact that those same families help us to keep chugging along is an insight that researchers hope “has the potential to help us all live longer.”

So once again, you’re welcome, America.

 


The Beaten Generation

Yes, I’m a proud member of Gen X, in all it’s cynical, world-weary, Nevermind glory.

nevermind

However, Gen X is being pushed off the stage by those pesky Millennials. And what do these interlopers look like (particularly the Hispanic ones)?

Well, Latinos age 18 to 34 are focusing on getting themselves educated. However, they are not so interested in setting up their own homes.

These insights come from a recent study that found Millennial Hispanics “are almost 20% more likely than non-Hispanic whites in the same age group to reside in a multigenerational household.” That means more young Latinos are stuck living with mom and dad. They’re also getting married later. About a third of “Hispanic young adults today are married — down 17% since 2008.”

But they are going to college. Almost half (49%) of Hispanics 18-24 are enrolled in college, and this is “a higher enrollment rate than non-Hispanic whites (47%).”

So if Gen X Hispanics must make way for Millennial Latinos, at least we know they will be well educated. Now if they could just get out of their parents’ basements.

 


Between the Lines

Perhaps it’s no surprise in a culture that has produced such literary geniuses as Garcia Marquez and Vargas Llosa. But the news that reading is a vital part of young Hispanics’ lives is heartening nevertheless.

lastbookstore

According to a recent study, Hispanic children read for more than an hour a day (68 minutes on average), or an average of 14 minutes more per day than white children do.

Still, it’s not all literary highlights. The study also found that Latino kids average about a half-hour a day more TV time than their white counterparts (127 minutes verses 98 minutes).

That’s over three hours a day that Hispanic kids are either glued to the tube or have their noses in books.

Apparently, we really, really like a good story.

 


Who?

Another Hispanic Heritage Month has ended. Yes, there were lots of mentions of Cesar Chavez, as well as a few other well-known Latinos. But I’m always amazed that one influential Latina is never brought up. I’m talking about La Malinche (1502–1527).

Malinche_Digital

Now, in Mexico, the story of La Malinche is a big deal. The woman’s reputation “has been altered over the years according to changing social and political perspectives,” and Mexicans think of her as everything from an “evil or scheming temptress” to “the embodiment of treachery, the quintessential victim, or simply as the symbolic mother of the new Mexican people.”

But here in America, you are to be forgiven if you’ve never heard of her. I only encountered her story a few years ago myself. So who was she?

To continue reading this post, please click here.


Scary

Our babysitter is a recent immigrant (from Africa). She was confused about the concept of Halloween, so she asked me to explain it to her.

Halfway through mentioning the various aspects — ghosts and goblins, people watching horror movies, children going door to door for candy, adults getting drunk, women dressing trashy — she asked, “I don’t understand how that is all one holiday, and what do pumpkins have to do with anything?” She’s right. This is one seriously schizophrenic party.

And I didn’t even get into the roots of the holiday, which are in the pagan celebration of Samhain. And of course, I was remiss in not mentioning the Latin American custom of Dia de los Muertos, which has established more of a presence in the United States over the last few years, largely because of the booming Hispanic population (you’re welcome).

But regardless of how you celebrate today, be sure to maintain the spirit of the holiday. You know, like the kids do.

skeleton mom


Walk the Line

Let’s be clear. Nothing is funnier than Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The combination of the surreal, the obtuse, and the plain vulgar is still hilarious decades later.

mp2

The Python comedy troupe was well-known for skewering religion, social class, and other touchy subjects. But even these brilliant Brits had an Achilles’ heel. Python’s few forays into racial humor were uninspired, coming across more as juvenile than biting.

To continue reading this post, please click here.

 


Let It Ride

The first time I ever walked up to a Las Vegas gambling table, I hit blackjack on the initial cards dealt to me and won $50. I knew immediately that it was all downhill from there.

I broke even that weekend in Vegas, but I haven’t been back much since then. However, perhaps it’s time that I made the road trip, because after all, casinos are trying “to create a more Hispanic-friendly environment” and bring in more Latinos.

Why is this? Well, no doubt the brick-and-mortar casinos are feeling the heat from online gaming sites like castlejackpot.com (which is, by the way, linked all over the web). They are tired of having customers stay home, perched in front of their laptops, when they could be in the casino, perched in front of slot machines.

slotmachine

 

But this is about more than traditional outlets fighting upstart internet rivals. It’s about the continuing quest of American businesses to tap into that fastest-growing demographic: the Latino.

After decades of being ignored, Hispanics are the new hot consumers, exemplified by the fact that “Hispanic buying power is worth $1 trillion now and is expected to grow another 50 percent to $1.5 trillion in the next five years.”

In addition, “Hispanics have the greatest purchasing power of any US ethnic group and taken together will soon represent the world’s ninth largest economy.”

And as I recently pointed out, upscale Latinos are poised to become “The most influential segment since the baby boomers,” when it comes to “lifestyle, financial…behavior, and purchasing habits.”

Basically, America has more Hispanics than ever before, and they have more money than ever before. And casinos, which are well-known for separating people from their money, see the potential.

So that’s why you will see “Hispanic-themed slot machine games and more Spanish-speaking card dealers.”

I’ll admit that I’m a bit mystified about what a Hispanic-themed slot machine would look like. But I’m guessing that lining up three spinning chupacabras hits the jackpot.


A Cynic’s Dream

I must admit that I thought, ok, surely this man will be found guilty of something. Maybe not first-degree murder, but certainly a guy who defies police orders, grabs a gun, leaves the safety of his surroundings, and accosts a total stranger who is minding his own business — ultimately gunning that stranger down — well, he clearly did something wrong.

But not in Florida.

zimmerman

I’m not saying the jurors were morons, or the prosecution botched the case, or the law is messed up. It might be all or none of those things. I’m saying that somewhere along society’s sutures, there is a fundamental flaw that allows things like this to happen.

As for Zimmerman supporters, well, it’s one thing to say that legally the guy should not have been convicted. Perhaps you can make a case.

It’s another to smugly prance around with a sign saying, “Self-defense is a basic human right,” while completely (and shockingly) ignoring the fact that this principle should apply to Trayvon Martin just as much, if not more so, than to the adult packing heat who goes out of his way to provoke confrontation.

It’s worth remembering that Zimmerman’s family intentionally played down his Hispanic roots. That’s ok. I doubt many Latinos were insulted, as few of us really want to be associated with him.

Of course, Zimmerman will get his gun back. And now he’s learned he can use it on whomever he wants (especially unarmed teenagers) without fear of legal consequences. It’s apparently his right as an American.

 


Duh

Well, I was going to post something insightful about the Heritage Foundation’s claims that Latinos are genetically destined to be low-IQ drains on society. But I’m just too dim to find fault with what is clearly rigorous, scientifically validated research free of any racial animus. Nope, can’t be done.

In fact, I won’t even point out this study, which implies that both conservatives and racists (and there may be some overlap) tend to have lower IQs themselves. I’m just not bright enough to quote that research.

So instead I’m going to give a shout out to someone I have dismissed regularly, Mr. George Lopez. He pointed out that the GOP obsession with portraying Latinos as threats to America is “fucking crazy.”

another-crazy-lady

It may not be articulate, but it is accurate.

 


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