Tag: Phoenix

Like a Burst Piñata

Say you open a small business. You run it for a few years, do pretty well, and always pay your debts (especially the rent) on time.

Then you arrive at work one morning to find a bulldozer parked in the pile of rubble that used to be your store.

pinata wreckage

You might get the impression that something was slightly amiss.

Well, recently, a piñata store in Austin was demolished, without the storeowners’ knowledge and with their possessions still inside. The storeowners, who are Latino, say that the greedy landlords bulldozed the store because they could get more money from the tech companies that are moving into the area.

The storeowners had a lease through 2017 and had just paid the rent for the upcoming month. When confronted about their reckless destruction of the store, one of the landlords (yes, a rich white guy) used the term “roaches” to describe the storeowners. Remember that the storeowners are Hispanic. Clearly, the term “roaches” was not an accident.

The incident shows how Latino neighborhoods are literally and figuratively being displaced for upscale residents. There have been numerous flare-ups in Austin over gentrification, with many Latino leaders claiming that rich newcomers are driving out long-time residents. And there have been similar disputes in New York, Los Angeles and other cities, often in Hispanic neighborhoods that are changing rapidly.

And here’s where it gets conspiratorial.

A recent study implied that Latino neighborhoods are more likely to be gentrified than African American neighborhoods.

Harvard researchers analyzed patterns across Chicago and found that gentrifying neighborhoods tended to be predominantly Latino or white working class, with fewer African Americans.

The study implied that Latino neighborhoods are more likely to be gentrified in the traditional sense (i.e., young white newcomers moving into the area). And they are also more likely to receive the theoretical benefits of gentrification (e.g., urban renewal and municipal investment). No word, however, on what happens to Hispanic residents when the bulldozers get revved up.

Keep in mind that the same study also implied that there is a tipping point, where the percentage of African Americans in a neighborhood either makes gentrification likely or unlikely.

Basically, too many black people keep the white people away.

Why are Latino neighborhoods more attractive to white gentrifiers? Well, there is no hard data on that, and it’s unlikely that a future study will include the question, “Why are you ok moving in next to brown people, but not black people?” Although the answers would be illuminating, to say the least.

The researchers said that in addition to their statistical proof, there is anecdotal evidence that Latino neighborhoods are viewed as more desirable to gentrifiers than African American areas.

For example, the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn — often pointed to as the prime example of gentrification — previously had a large Latino population. That’s not the case anymore, as the cliché of the young hipster inevitably features a white guy (usually with some bizarre nineteenth-century facial hair, but that’s another story).

In response to this dark side of gentrification, some Latino community leaders in Los Angeles launched the “gente-fication” movement (“gente” is Spanish for “people,” but you already knew that).

The idea is that upscale Latinos will stay — or in some cases, move into — Latino neighborhoods and revitalize the area themselves rather than rely on newcomers. The trend has slowly caught on in other cities, such as New York, Houston and Phoenix.

Although results are difficult to quantify, the LA neighborhood of Boyle Heights may be in the midst of a Latino renaissance, due in part to the gente-fication movement. And community activists are attempting to duplicate the neighborhood’s success in other Los Angeles areas.

But the movement has drawn fire for what some claim is an exclusionary, or even racist attitude. After all, if you’re saying that you want a specific racial or ethnic group to move in — whether it’s white, black, Latino, or other — things quickly get uncomfortable.

Where all this will lead is a mystery. Perhaps gentrification will wipe us all out. Or maybe we’ll achieve some kind of balance where newcomers enrich neighborhoods while long-time residents maintain the area’s culture.

In any case, hopefully no more piñata stores will get bulldozed.


Who You Calling a Savage?

So here’s a shot of a few exceptionally talented and rather good-looking Latinos.

The occasion is the release of the new Oliver Stone movie Savages, which features the quartet of Benecio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, Demian Bichir, and Sandra Echeverria, seen above. There’s some guy named Travolta in it too.

To celebrate the fact that so many Hispanics are appearing together in one film, I’m offering you fine readers the chance to win free tickets to see the movie in one of the following cities:

Chicago

Dallas

Houston

El Paso

Los Angeles

Miami

New York City

Phoenix

Sacramento

San Diego

 

The film is about a pair of California dudes who create some kick-ass marijuana, but then get in over their heads when the drug cartels want in on the action. Apparently, the film escalates into “a series of increasingly vicious ploys and maneuvers in a high-stakes, savage battle of wills.” And I’m betting that there is at least one joke about having the munchies.

All you have to do is comment on one of my posts (including this one) and you’ll be entered for the chance to win free passes to the film. Once again, your comment can be about anything. The only thing you have to include in your comment is the city in which you intend to see the movie, so I can plan accordingly.

If you win, I’ll email the passes to you. By the way, I’m the sole person who will see your email addresses (unless you specifically want to share it in the body of your comment), so don’t worry about that.

I’ll announce the contest winners in the next week or so.

So get to commenting, and good luck.

 


Into the Madness

First off, I’ve been remiss thanking people for their comments. So let me give a quick shout out to Cousin #7, David, Ankhesen Mie, Tara, and Raul for their feedback. I truly appreciate the feedback.

Second, let me tell you about my recent field trip.

I landed at Phoenix airport with more than a little trepidation. After all, we’re talking about Arizona here — the land of SB 1070, hardcore anti-Latino sentiment, general nuttiness, and a strain of social conservatism so intense that anyone to the left of John Boehner has been known to shield his eyes from the xenophobic glare.

According to several Hispanic organizations, I shouldn’t have even been there. The movement to boycott Arizona and everything related to it has been constant and loud.

But I was scheduled to be in the state for all of six hours. My latest client, a company that hired me to rewrite its web content, asked me to fly in to their Phoenix office to get a quick overview of the organization.

Considering that it was a reasonable request, and a good-paying gig, I was hard-pressed to say no. Plus, they were covering all my expenses and paying my hourly fee even while I was sitting on the plane, playing Angry Birds and running up their tab by ordering those little bottles of overpriced wine from chipper flight attendants.

In addition, while I have been ever so antagonistic toward Arizona lately, I never said I was boycotting the state. For starters, I think most such efforts are noble but doomed to failure. More important, however, I’ve always wondered if such a tactic nails innocent bystanders (e.g., Latino business owners) more than it does the powerful instigators of the conflict.

Perhaps this was just self-serving justification, however, so I resolved not to spend any money while I was in the state. This turned out to be pretty damn easy, considering I went right from the airport to the company’s offices and back again, with no chance to stop anywhere to buy anything. How’s that for preserving principles?

Regardless, I am pleased to report that everyone I interacted with in Arizona was perfectly nice to me. Granted, I spoke to only five or six people at my clients’ office and a few more at the airport. But no one in this tiny sample seemed like a fire-breathing racist to me.

As such, maybe even in a place as certifiable as Arizona, the majority of people are reasonable, friendly individuals who don’t seek to harass others just for being different. Perhaps even in this place — the sun-baked ground zero for American rage and fear — there exists a surplus of decency that gets drowned out by the sheer intensity of a self-righteous faction.

I would like to think so.

In any case, it was a bit eerie to finally see the land I had written so many words about, and upon which I had heaped so much mental energy. Yes, I had driven through Arizona twice as an adult, and I spent a couple of days in Tucson when I was a kid.

But this was my first time since all the craziness went down that I trod upon its streets and breathed in its superheated air. I was there, among the cactus and not far from Jan Brewer herself. Now that’s a creepy feeling.

And despite the fact that everything went smoothly, and even with the fresh memories of all the nice Arizonans I met that day, I have to admit that I was happy to leave and get back home.


Out of Control

As President Bush once famously asked, “Is our children learning?”

Well, in everybody’s favorite state — Arizona — the answer seems to be a resounding no… assuming of course, that we’re talking about Latino kids.

Recently, during a legislative debate in Phoenix, a Republican state representative “stirred up gasps and anger” when she read a letter aloud from one of her constituents.

The letter writer, a substitute teacher named Tony Hill, claimed that he taught in a classroom where his students “were almost all Hispanic and a couple of Black children.” Hill wrote that the students boycotted the Pledge of Allegiance, called him a racist, refused to do their assignments, and even tore apart their textbooks.

Hill summarized his experience by writing that “Most of the Hispanic students do not want to be educated but rather be gang members and gangsters. They hate America and are determined to reclaim this area for Mexico.”

No, it’s not exactly Stand and Deliver.

To continue reading this post, please click here.


An Awesome Display of Force

You can’t be too careful out there. Nobody knows this better than Joe Arpaio, the self-described “toughest sheriff in America.”’ Arpaio, renowned for his obsessive focus on illegal immigration, recently sprung into action to protect his Arizona community.

Acting on a tip that dangerous criminals lurked in the Phoenix suburbs, Arpaio recently deployed a tank. Yes, he called in an armor-platted, cannon-thrusting behemoth.

He also brought in the SWAT team, got a bomb robot, and organized a convoy of armored vehicles. He then rolled this caravan of firepower into a residential neighborhood, surprising people in the sleepy enclave who no doubt had been unaware of the booming crime wave in their midst.

Was Arpaio bringing down a massive drug-running operation? Was he busting lethal gang members who murder and rape at will? Could he have been targeting a domestic terrorism plot, or arresting scores of heavily armed desperadoes?

Well, actually, he was after one guy. And that guy’s crime was… cockfighting.

Yes, “in a massive show of force [Arpaio] executed a search warrant and arrested the homeowner, Jesus Llovera, on charges of suspected cockfighting. Llovera was alone in the house at the time of the arrest, and he was unarmed.”

Now some might say that it’s a bit of overkill to conduct a militaristic operation that “cost tens of thousands of dollars” to arrest one unarmed guy. But you would be missing the point.

This is about being tough on crime, and in any case, the sheriff’s office says, they “err on the side of caution. We’re going to make sure that we have the appropriate amount of force in case we do run into anything.”

One presumes that “anything” includes several highly agitated chickens.

Many residents of the suburb were understandably alarmed to see a tank rolling down their placid streets. Their surprise must have been compounded when they discovered that washed-up action star Steven Seagal was riding in the tank. It was all part of an upcoming episode of Seagal’s new reality-television show “Lawman.” For filming purposes, Seagal has ”carte blanche to go along with the sheriff as he arrests people.”

And what an episode that will be! Arpaio and Seagal, busting down a wall with a tank, blowing out the windows on the suspect’s home, and sending in the SWAT team in full gear to bring down the cowering cockfighter. One can only imagine the scene when the cops busted in and bellowed, “Drop the chicken!”

You can’t tell me that isn’t entertainment.

As it turned out, the cops confiscated 115 chickens and euthanized them. Allow me an aside to say that I once knew a Latino guy who claimed that it was ok to raise fighting roosters because “It’s our culture.” I guess that excuses torturing animals. But that’s another post altogether.

The point is that Arpaio has once again proven that he is not to be fucked with. If he uses a tank to arrest one guy, imagine what he’ll do to undocumented immigrants… Well, maybe we don’t want to visualize that.

Anyway, let’s hope the cameras keep rolling on Arpaio. With luck, some Arizona teenager will shoplift beer from a 7-11, and Arpaio and Chuck Norris will give chase in a helicopter outfitted with rockets.

Cool!


  • Barrio Imbroglio (An Abraxas Hernandez Mystery Book 1)
  • Calendar

    December 2017
    M T W T F S S
    « Nov    
     123
    45678910
    11121314151617
    18192021222324
    25262728293031
  • Share this Blog

    Bookmark and Share
  • Copyright © 1996-2010 Hispanic Fanatic. All rights reserved.
    Theme by ACM | Powered by WordPress