Tag: hispanic

A Sort of Madness

You can imagine my alarm when I first heard the term “immigrant psychosis.”

Evidently, this was a very real issue back when Ellis Island was booming, and lots of Italians and Irish people were coming off the boats and making everything in America all weird and strange and different.

Psychologists of the time identified a malady common to the recent arrivals, and these professionals dubbed it “immigrant psychosis.”

Today, we know it by a more common name: Homesickness

Yes, most of the American doctors were generations removed from their immigrant roots, and they had no experience living someplace new and exotic. As such, the concept of homesickness was unknown to them.

headmirror

So when immigrants displayed odd behaviors such as depression and anxiety — combined with the bizarre new emotion of nostalgia — the psychologists gave it a name and insisted it was confined to the Irish and Italians (and maybe those Chinese people too).

Of course, we now recognize homesickness as a common complaint of everyone from college students to people on long overseas trips. It’s hardly a psychosis.

But unfortunately, today’s immigrants often have more to deal with than a bout of sad sentimentality. A recent study found that “the stress and hardship faced by immigrants setting up in a new country could be contributing to an increased risk of psychosis” among new arrivals.

Basically, more immigrants are having issues adjusting to their new lives. And when they do encounter these problems, they have more difficulty getting the mental health assistance that they require.

The study added that “racism and discrimination are certainly one of many things that are contributing” to the increasing mental distress of immigrants.

So this is fresh proof that the whole nativist attitude is psychotic (or at least contributes to it forming).

It’s almost enough to make one yearn for a simpler time… which is ironic because excessive yearning is a sign of homesickness, which is how all this started in the first place. Damn.

 


Look Back in Horror

I am the child of an immigrant. My mom is from El Salvador, so I grew up with the tastes and influences of a typical American teenager, all mixed with a strong awareness of Latino culture and history. I’m pretty grateful for the combo.

You know who else is the child of an immigrant? Omar Mateen, the psychopath who murdered 49 people in Orlando a few nights ago.

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Mateen and I clearly had different interpretations of the dichotomies that come with being members of the first generation to be born in America. For example, I blended a love of hamburgers with an appreciation for pupusas, and I gave the music of my mother’s homeland a fair listen before popping in a Soundgarden album. It was a bit of a mezcla.

But Omar Mateen wasn’t interested in mixing cultures. He found it easier to just embrace the problems, prejudices, and anger of his parents’ country. Mateen latched onto his father’s homophobia and the religious mania that is widespread in his family’s homeland. And in so doing, he set out to be more culturally authentic than his parents ever were.

This is not an issue of assimilation or integration, as so many people believe it to be. No, it is more of a cultural mindset.

It is a mindset that provokes young men, born and raised in America, to adopt the radical politics of their parents’ homelands. It is a mindset of fear and fury.

The massacre in Orlando — and the fact that so many of the victims were Latino — got me thinking about how this cultural perception forms one of the many roots of bigotry and violence.

Let’s ask, why are there no Latino terrorists, going on shooting sprees or strapping on bombs to avenge the pain and misery that the United States government has inflicted upon El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and other Latin American countries?

Indeed, there is ample reason for Hispanics to be more than a little pissed about our treatment and standing in the United States.

And yet, survey after survey shows that Latinos are more optimistic about the future and more positive about life in general than just about any other American demographic. We are pretty much the last people to use the injustices of the past to justify abhorrent behavior.

One reason for this is so obvious that it borders on the simplistic. But here it is: Latinos tend to look forward.

We pack up and move to new countries in search of better lives. We assume our kids will do better than us. We have faith that circumstances will improve.

And this forward-thinking mindset, this cultural tendency to dismiss the woes of the past, helps us to maintain optimism in the face of economic and political tribulations. It helps us to set aside our pain and disappointment, rather than hoist them upon our backs for all to see.

In contrast, angry and hate-filled people tend to look backward, toward some vague past, and then they threaten to make America, you know, “great again.”

And other people, like Omar Mateen, not only look backward — they glare at it with a white-hot obsession and rage. They believe that their culture’s best days are long behind them, that the present holds nothing more than humiliation and despair, and that someone — maybe American society or gays or left-handed dentists or whoever — is to blame.

Omar Mateen, in addition to being a pathetic and homicidal loser, was an unimaginative, scared person who had no faith in the future. And someone taught him that mindset, inculcating him with the belief that it was reality.

As for his victims — people with names like Almodovar and Guerrero and Rios and Flores — they most likely had great hopes for tomorrow and next year and the next decade. But that optimism and those dreams were cruelly taken from them by a furious man who could do nothing better with his life than stare backward into the distant past.

 


One for the Ladies

Well, it looks like our old friend Hillary Clinton has clinched the Democratic nomination for president. We have to wonder if she is the slightest bit worried about the general election, particularly that part about debating Donald Trump.

 

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No, I didn’t think so.

Keep in mind that Clinton is admired, even beloved in the Hispanic community — well, at least among older Hispanics. Younger Latinos are a bit more lukewarm on the former first lady /senator/ secretary of state / etc.

But again, she’s running against a guy who can’t go nine seconds without badmouthing Latinos, so she is most assuredly going to do well with us in November.

In any case, HRC is the first woman to be nominated by a major party for the presidency. This has, of course, unleashed the expected rivers of misogynistic vitriol and hatred.

One of the chief rationalizations you hear from sexists — be they male or female — is that women are too emotional to be effective leaders. You know, they cry too easily and might get pissed off and nuke somebody because it’s that time of the month, and so on and so on.

Well, I have to admit they nailed that point. After all, men are nothing but calm, cool, and levelheaded individuals who rely on pure logic and never get, you know, all emotional and stuff.

After all, men never start bar brawls, or punch out family members, or go on shooting rampages. Nope, they are too emotion-free for any of that.

And male leaders never invade foreign countries under flimsy pretexts, or seize power in bloody coups, or enslave their citizens out of some sociopathic thirst for power. It’s always the women who do that.

Yes, who knows what crazy, emotional thing Hillary Clinton might do if she wins the election.

Maybe she would go after anybody who ever made fun of her hands. Oh wait, that’s her opponent — the guy.

Hmmm… well, that’s awkward.

 

 


Quack Quack

Among the stranger aspects of this bizarre election season is the tendency of Donald Trump supporters to insist that their candidate is not racist. The hyper-defensiveness goes something like this:

When he referred to Mexicans as rapists, he didn’t specifically say, “all Mexicans,” so it’s ok. Right?

And building that wall isn’t xenophobic. It’s a practical way to keep out all those immigrants… I mean, illegal immigrants… wait, I mean, undocumented people… he’s got nothing against immigrants. And neither do I. Ha ha ha.

Banning Muslims would just be temporary. That’s key. And not bigoted at all. Nope.

OK, he wasn’t the quickest about disavowing the KKK, but we’ve all been there… I mean, he said they were bad guys… eventually… after being criticized for days… but yeah, he did it.

And all those unfortunate cracks about “the blacks”… well, he meant, um… Hey, you’re just being PC!

And so it goes. La la la la, not listening to you.

hands-on-ears

 

Oddly enough, liberals seem to have no problem identifying Trump’s many prejudiced remarks. And Latinos, Asians, and African Americans are pretty clear on the fact that the guy is a racist.

On the other end of the spectrum, white supremacists and neo-Nazis are lining up to endorse the GOP nominee. They also appear to have no illusions about where Trump stands on race relations.

Only two groups of people seem baffled about this issue. First, there are moderate conservatives who are struggling to maintain their fiction that racism is dead in America (and who are also striving to justify their votes for a blatant bigot). And there are stray ethnic minorities who explain away or ignore the obvious for reasons that I can’t quite comprehend (although I presume some self-loathing is involved).

Let’s be clear about this. The truth is that if you support Trump, you are aware on some level that the guy has tremendous hostility toward anyone who isn’t a white straight man. And as you stand in that voting booth, sweating through your rationalizations, you will be saying that you are fine with that.

Remember, if it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it’s probably a megalomaniacal billionaire pushing a racist agenda.

 


American Mystery

Is there another word that conjures such blood-pumping, swooning love and/or as much headache-inducing vitriol as “America”?

Excuse me — make that “America!!”

Regardless of your level of patriotism, you no doubt have some kind of strong association to that simple word. “America” is shorthand for freedom and power and excess and liberty and dozens of other intellectual, emotional, and political concepts.

And what is the source of this four-syllable monument to complexity? Well, as you learned in history class, our mighty nation was named after Italian explorer, navigator, and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci.

Or was it?

You see, what we have been taught for generations may not be, strictly speaking, the truth.

There is a theory that Amerigo Vespucci was an opportunist who changed his name after the New World was christened, thus earning him some level of fame and improving the hell out of his branding efforts.

This theory holds that the word “America” actually comes from the name of an Indian tribe and of a mountain range in Nicaragua called “Amerrique.”

 

amerrique-mountains

Well, consider my mind blown.

Of course, we will never know the real answer, as half a millennium has a way of distorting people’s memories. So the Vespucci angle will no doubt continue to be the dominant story that schoolchildren learn.

But we have to ask ourselves, does it matter that our nation may not have been named after a European male, but rather took its moniker from a bunch of indigenous natives (Latinos, no less)?

Is it true that “to question the origin of America’s name is to question the nature of not only our history lessons but our very identity as Americans”?

You tell me.

 


Zombie President

So I’m trying something different for my next novel. Instead of releasing the whole book months from now, I will serialize the story online as I write it. Each week I will post a new chapter, for you to read for free. If you like the story, spread the news to your friends, and maybe buy a copy of the book when it’s done. The chapters will all be short and easy to read online.

The novel is called Zombie President, and it’s about a defeated presidential candidate who comes back from the dead to take the White House by force and to win the country’s heart. Yes, it’s a bit crazy, but ultimately, the book is a black comedy about getting the kind of leaders that we deserve (especially relevant this year).

 

zombie_president_full_web

You can read the first chapter here, with new chapters coming every week:

Let me point out that my approach to this novel is positively Dickensian (he serialized his novels in newspapers). And that’s good enough for me.

By the way, here is a sample line from Zombie President:

“You know, I really hated my parents. But seeing my dad’s head get eaten by a zombie is a bit extreme.”

So whether you’re intrigued or repulsed, check it out. Thanks.

 


Strike Three

We’ve already pinpointed two reasons why the future looks bleak for the GOP when it comes to attracting Latinos. Basically, Hispanics are younger and becoming better educated, both of which align with liberal values.

But there is a third reason for sparse Latino attendance at future Republican conventions. And it’s an obvious one.

It’s because the GOP has treated Hispanics like shit.

Yes, it really is that simple.

rejection-free-recruiting

 

 

Now, this isn’t a perception issue or poor marketing, which is what many GOP strategists want America to believe. No, it’s the cold hard reality of the Republican Party’s offshoot of the Southern Strategy, which was to demonize blacks in order to convince white racists to vote GOP. And it worked, at least for a while.

The later version of this strategy was to paint immigrants in general, and Hispanics in particular, as an invading force and a direct threat to America. And this too worked, at least for a while.

Clearly, most Republicans aren’t racists. But their willingness to tolerate subtle bigotry — and at times, overt racial animus — has finally caught up with their party.

After all, such politically loaded ideas as Prop 187 were SB 1070 were Republican proposals, no matter how much the party wishes to distance itself from them now. And the GOP’s presumptive nominee for president couldn’t get through the announcement of his candidacy without slandering Latinos.

No, this isn’t some left-wing plot. Republicans did this to themselves, and as much as they want to complain that Democrats are the real racists and conservative values align more with Hispanics and blah blah blah, none of it matters.

Latinos see Trump and his minions clamoring to build a damn wall, and they see GOP policies of the recent past, and they see statistics like this: “56% of Republicans viewed immigrants as a burden on the country; just 17% of Democrats said the same.”

And then Latinos vote Democrat. This is despite the fact that Democrats haven’t been great for Hispanics, and that Latinos have been excluded “from leadership positions in progressive institutions and, some would argue, from involvement in the movement as a whole. “

When you have only two choices (i.e., our current political system), you go with the people who have merely disappointed you, and not with the people who actively hate you.

Interestingly, some commentators say the GOP would be better served by focusing on African Americans, which is ironic and even a little laughable. But it isn’t stupid. After all, “it is generally easier to grow market share when starting from nothing.”

It is also an acknowledgement that Latinos are a lost cause for the GOP, at least for the near future.

So what are the odds that over a decade from now, lots of thirtysomething, well-educated Latino Millennials will vote Republican?

Well, the chances are only slightly better than the odds that there will be a Republican Party at all.

 

 


Strike Two

So we’ve established that Republicans have trouble attracting younger voters, and as a highly related tangent, we’ve pointed out that a lot of those pesky Millennials are Latinos. Hence, young Hispanics are not exactly lining up to vote Republican.

But as is often the case for the GOP, things are never so bad that they cannot get worse.

You see, when Trump crowed about how much he loved the poorly educated, he was just speaking the truth. Less-educated people make up an important constituency for the Republican Party.

In fact, “highly educated adults — particularly those who have attended graduate school — are far more likely than those with less education to take predominantly liberal positions across a range of political values. And these differences have increased over the past two decades.”

Basically, the more fancy book learnin’ you get in ya, the more likely you are to start talking more of that lefty commie crap.

welleducated

And who are these well-educated liberals? Well, we all know about the education gap. White people are more likely to have advanced degrees and attend prestigious universities.

But Latinos are making tremendous progress. No doubt you know that Hispanics are the largest ethnic minority group on U.S. university campuses, and that by some measurements, Latinos are even more likely than whites to attend college.

Although this comes with the caveat that Hispanics are more likely to be attending community colleges or two-year institutions, it is undeniable that Latinos are making huge inroads in education. In fact, over the last twenty years, the number of Hispanics enrolled in some kind of college has surged more than 200 percent.

So we have yet another reason why Latinos are not feeling the love for the GOP. We are becoming better educated and more likely to align with liberal values.

Hispanics go off to college and discover that climate change isn’t a hoax and that the gay people in their dorm are actually pretty cool and that the wealth gap can be analyzed in Econ 101.

All that gives conservatives the heebie-jeebies. And once again, it is Latinos who are doing the heebie-jeebing.

But is there a final reason why young Hispanics are dismissing the Republican Party? Hey, it wouldn’t be much of a trilogy of posts if I didn’t have a concluding chapter.

That’s coming next week.


Strike One

Recently, I wrote about the burden of nostalgia, and that many of my fellow Gen Xers inexplicably miss the 1980s.

Well, I didn’t give enough credit to my generation in one respect, which is that we tend to be more socially and politically liberal than our elders. OK, maybe you don’t think that’s a good thing, but I certainly do. And many Gen Xers agree with me.

In fact, 36 percent of Gen Xers have mostly liberal attitudes, while just 23 percent have mostly conservative attitudes.

For the younger generation — the much-maligned Millennials — the gap is even more pronounced. Half of Millennials (50 percent) are “Democrats or lean to the Democratic Party, while just 34% affiliate with or lean to the GOP.” Furthermore, “Millennials who identify with the GOP are also less conservative than Republicans in other generations.”

The Pew Research Center breaks it down like this: “In short, not only are Millennials less likely than older generations to identify as Republicans, but even those who do express significantly less conservative values than do their elders. No such generational divide exists among Democrats.”

OK, we all know that younger people tend to be more liberal than older ones. That’s not a shocker. But the ideological gap between Millennials and Boomers is vast (in terms of percentages) and deep (in terms of actual issues).

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So the idea that Millennials will suddenly go all Tea Party on us as they age is highly unlikely. Yet many conservative commentators insist exactly that, in the same way that they’ve been shouting for decades that Latinos are really Republicans but don’t know it.

Speaking of that absurd notion — which has only become more glaringly ridiculous during this election year — let’s not forget that 22 percent of Millennials are Hispanic. Put another way, about 60 percent of all Latinos are Millennials or younger, compared to about 40 percent of whites.

So we have the combination of young and Latino poised to take over America, much to the chagrin of older white right-wingers. And those Hispanic Millennials have two overlapping demographic reasons for being liberal.

What does this mean for the future of conservatism in general and the Republican Party in particular? Well, in my next post, I will expand on the second reason the GOP should fear Latino Millennials.

And that’s what the kids call a teaser.

 


Make It Stop

A few months ago, I wrote a rebuttal to all those parenting writers and mommy bloggers who insist that Gen X had the most awesomest and totally radical upbringing ever.

My article did not exactly go viral. I think it didn’t catch on because I pointed out, via facts and statistics, that it really wasn’t that great to grow up in the 1980s.

 

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Apparently, this is not a popular position.

So you can imagine my annoyance when my social media feed was recently clogged with yet another trending article waxing nostalgic about those good old days.

You know the type of article I’m talking about. They are usually 10,000-word manifestos, written by Gen Xers, that hit the following points:

  1. Our parents ignored us or treated us like slave labor (and it was great!)
  2. We walked on freeways at midnight to go play in abandoned junkyards (and it was great!)
  3. We didn’t get coddled or get awards for participation (and it was great!)
  4. Kids today have it too soft (and that sucks!)

And so and so on, always without any data or links or any outside analysis that might support the writer’s viewpoint. These articles are huge hits on the internet, despite the fact (or perhaps because) they all pretty much read the same.

I won’t get into the myriad reasons why this overly sentimental mindset is flawed (after all, I wrote a whole article about that already).

I will just add something that I neglected to mention the first time through. All of these articles that get under my skin have the added benefit of coming from people who invariably grew up in white, middle-class suburbs. And now as adults, these writers just assume we all came from that same background and/or live under those circumstances today.

So whenever these writers gush about watching the Brady Bunch and then playing in their cul-de-sac until Dad came home from his office job, I zone out.

Let’s just say that lots of Hispanics, and presumably African Americans, didn’t have this experience. Hell, a lot of white rural and/or poor kids didn’t have this experience.

But the assumption holds that the baseline of normal is white, middle-class suburban. Yeah, that’s a bit irksome.

So do me a favor, and please stop forwarding these articles to me. I don’t buy their premise.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go listen to my old Journey and Def Leppard albums.

 


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