Tag: Puerto Rico

Truly, What Can You Say?

It has become a mantra here at Hispanic Fanatic worldwide headquarters: Trump is exactly who he is, and he is never going to change.

Oh, I know his approval rating edged up, ever so slightly, when his administration performed semi-competently after hurricanes devastated Texas and Louisiana.

Yes, what passes for success in the Trump Administration is performing a governmental function without fucking it up too badly. What is hailed as a mighty triumph is the mere act of avoiding catastrophe. And the sad thing is that even these pathetic “victories” are rare.

For example, the meager amount of good will that the president had accumulated vanished when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico.

What can you say about the administration’s delay in lifting the Jones Act, and for only a short time, when the island so desperetly needs help?

What can you say about Trump’s dismissal of the hurricane and its death toll as minor issues?

What can you say about Trump’s flippant remarks about Puerto Rico’s debt, which caused Wall Street to promptly freak out?

What can you say about Trump picking a fight with the mayor of San Juan, even bringing back his infamous “nasty woman” remark?

What can you say about Trump implying that Puerto Ricans “want everything done to be for them” and that the cleanup has greatly inconvenienced America?

What can you say when instead of “mourning with and for those who lost their lives, Trump is using those who lost their lives as a way to make a broader argument that the media’s criticism of him is unfair and biased”?

What can you say when the GOP’s response to hurricanes that wipe out ethnic minorities ranges from “Heck of a job Brownie” to “It’s a good news story”?

What can you say about a president who simply cannot take any criticism from a brown person and/or a woman without lashing out like a snarling pit bull?

What can you say about those damn paper towels?

What can you say except that this is the man America elected president, and we are all the sorrier for it.


Such a Princess

I hesitate to mention this, but I know way too much about Sofia the First.

You see, we have a two-year-old boy, and while we limit his TV time, he still catches the occasional Doc McStuffins or Jake and the Neverland Pirates. And Sofia is on right after Jake, so we’ve caught bits and pieces of the show (just enough to drive me mildly insane).

Now, it turns out that Sofia is going to be the launching pad for Disney’s first Latina princess, Elena of Avalor, who is inspired by “diverse Latin cultures and folklore,” according to the good people at Disney. She will receive her own TV show next year.

elena

Of course, the issue of diversity is a touchy one in Hollywood. Just ask Sean Penn about Hispanic representation in the film world… well, on second thought, don’t ask him anything.

In any case, Elena’s arrival shows that Hollywood is sensitive to its reputation as indifferent to ethnic minorities, and that the entertainment industry is trying to improve the representation of Hispanics in pop culture.

But everybody’s a critic. And those critics are saying it’s too little, too late.

First, there is the issue that Elena is going to originate as a sidekick, and worse, there are no plans for her to have her own movie, despite the fact that many Disney princesses of various ethnicities and races have received their own feature films. Hey, Mulan got a pair of movies over a decade ago, and Asians are even less represented in film than Hispanics. So, yeah — what gives?

The second irritation is that Elena’s exact nationality is being kept vague. By not being specific about her homeland, critics argue, Disney is failing to explore the diversity within Hispanic culture, and instead using one brown-eyed princess as an interchangeable stand-in for all Latinas.

This is where I can be of assistance. I can tell you that saying Elena is from Cuba or Bolivia or Puerto Rico would be more bizarre than anything. That’s because the setting for Sofia is a magical dreamland where unicorns run wild, and little kids take classes on how to cast spells, and cutesy-pie dragons burst into song for no reason. Yeah, it’s that annoying.

But while most of the characters speak in a whiny faux British accent, it’s not specifically European. It’s otherworldly. So if this princess from, say, Mexico, just shows up, the effect will be a little jarring.

I told you I knew too much about this damn show.

Regardless, Elena is a step in the right direction. And even if I hated the idea of a Latina princess, it wouldn’t matter, because I’m going to see her, one way or another.

Yes, at this point, I’m just looking forward to the day when my son is finally old enough for Phineas and Ferb.


Cogito Ergo Sum

You may remember the big news that the winner of the last month’s Powerball lottery was a resident of Puerto Rico. When I found out, I glanced at my watch and said, “Offensive tweets starting… now!”

Yes, social media got a little more absurd, and a lot more bigoted, when patriotic Americans found out that a Latino had won the huge prize. We got the usual “I thought this was America!” and outrage that “an illegal” had won the lottery and just plain racist insults directed at the winner. Many of these thoughtful individuals were incised that some swarthy person in a foreign country — who doesn’t even pay taxes! — nabbed all those randomly chosen dollars.

But of course, as we all know, Puerto Rico is part of America. Residents are American citizens, and Puerto Ricans pay federal taxes including Social Security, payroll, import/export taxes, and Medicare.

However, those little facts are no match for ignorance, prejudice, and self-rightous rage.

Still, the idiocy displayed over the Puerto Rican Powerball winner was no match for an even more head-snapping display of stupidity, which occurred around the same time.

You see, the state of Vermont is considering adopting a Latin state motto. Plenty of states have one, and Latin flows freely through all kinds of US institutions.

oregon motto
But when the story broke, one news station was swamped with angry emails and comments from god-fearin’ Vermonters who “were mad not because of the change in motto, but because they believed that Latin was the language of Latinos.”

One truly doesn’t know where to begin.

Should we point out that Latin is not Spanish, but is actually the dead language spoken by the Romans? Or that English derives much of its vocabulary from Latin? Or that, despite their insistence, English is not our official language? Or that the motto “E pluribus unum” is…  oh, never mind, it’s all too overwhelming.

Linguistics, general knowledge, and common sense aside, the main point is that many Americans are prejudiced toward Hispanics to the point of absurdity. And they are more than willing to put that hatred and stupidity on display.

Well, I have one thing to say to this people: “Res ipsa loquitur.”

Basically, it speaks for itself.

 


This Post Is All About Porn

As you can imagine, I am always looking for ways to insert more sex into this website. But how can I do it while still focusing on racial and ethnic issues?

Fortunately, porn star Alexis Texas has presented me with an opportunity.

Alexis_Texas_AEE_2013

Recently, Ms. Texas (and I am sure that is her real name) announced that she would not have sex with any black men in her movies. Considering that her profession calls for her to have, shall we say, rather relaxed standards about what she will and will not do sexually, this comes as a surprise.

After all, she is basically saying that she will do all kinds of crazy shit, and allow people to watch it, but there’s no way she’s touching an African American.

It doesn’t get much more racist. This is especially perplexing because — and here the topic returns to Hispanic culture — the woman is part Puerto Rican. No, you really can’t tell from her blonde hair and fair skin. But as we all know, Hispanics can be of any race.

Now, I’d like to give Alexis Texas the benefit of the doubt. Of course, it is not just because of my well-documented obsession with voluptuous blondes, which she is. It’s just that… sorry, I lost my train of thought after the phrase “voluptuous blondes.”

Anyway, it seems silly to call for a boycott of Texas’ films, as I imagine that would have little impact on her fan base.

So why do I bring this sordid story up? Because, as I said in the lead paragraph, it was an opportunity to mention sex while still talking about race. Throw in the fact that I got to use the phrase “voluptuous blondes” three times, and this may have been my best post ever.

 


Now I’m Glad We Didn’t Skip It

About a year ago, I wrote about the bizarre attempt by some Latino organizations to boycott the U.S. Census. As far as I know, this baffling protest never took off.

As a result, Census numbers continue to trickle in, and they offer the occasionally intriguing, often disturbing look at the state of Hispanics in America. Yes, we have fresh proof that Latinos are the fastest growing demographic, but come on; you know that one already.

But were you aware that Latinos are the most likely group to not have any health insurance (32.4 percent of all Hispanics)? Well, in that case, it’s a damn good thing I’m here to pass along these Census statistics to you, isn’t it?

Now, some of the numbers are more official than others. A few offer only a snapshot of 2010 or even 2009. But all of them are as accurate and precise as government bureaucracies can get.

The most alarming of these figures is the fact that more than a quarter of Latinos (25.4 percent) live in poverty. This compares to an overall poverty rate of 14.5 percent, and is more than double the rate for whites and Asians. But it’s still less than blacks and Native Americans (who “win” this category with a rate of 27.7 percent).

Put another way — and Census numbers are all about putting things another way — the median household income for Latinos was just 70 percent of that for whites. The lack of take-home pay is no doubt because Latinos have an unemployment rate of 12.9 percent, far higher than whites (8.7 percent) and Asian Americans (7.3 percent).

Those grotesque figures would be even more dismal if Puerto Rico, hit hard by the recession, was included in the analysis. Because it’s not a state, the island gets its own set of numbers — including the wacky stat that “massive emigration to the United States and the reduction in birth rate have caused a drop of 2.2% in the population of Puerto Rico.” Apparently, there’s a stampede of Puerto Ricans into the mainland, but that’s a whole other post.

Of course, numbers don’t tell the whole story. The Center for American Progress breaks down these figures by saying, “racial and ethnic differences have worsened or stayed the same during the recession and recovery.” These killjoys point out that unemployment and poverty rates rose for Hispanics, while health insurance coverage, retirement savings, and homeownership rates all fell.

In fact, the Center says that “Latino homeownership rates in 2010 … were again close to their levels in 2001 even though Latino homeownership rates had risen from 2000 to 2007.” But I’m going to call my bad on that one. I contributed to the statistics by buying a house in 2004 and selling it in 2009 (no, the bank didn’t foreclose on us).

In sum, the Census numbers “show widening gaps by race and ethnicity throughout the recession and recovery.” The best we can hope for is that the 2020 Census reveals more uplifting news — unless we boycott that one.


Who Looks Legal Now?

Individuals like me who object to Arizona’s new anti-immigration law point out that it could lead to increased racial profiling.

“Nonsense,” backers of the law have responded. “All that’s covered in the law’s wording, which makes it clear that no Hispanic legal resident or citizen will ever, ever be harassed. So nyaa.”

It seems, however, that we don’t even have to look to Arizona for proof of how confusing it can be when we set out to round up the undocumented.

To continue reading this post, please click here.


The Big Five

For decades, saying that you were Hispanic was analogous to saying, “I’m Mexican.” That’s no longer true, of course (and I’m not referring to the whole “Chicanos are different from Latinos” debate). Rather, Hispanic culture, like everything else in America – except for the Deep South branch of the Republican Party – has grown and evolved.

Recently, the Pew Hispanic Center issued a report revealing where all these foot soldiers in the Brown Invasion are coming from. As you can imagine, the top two demographics – the Beatles and Stones of Latino culture – are Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans. This is hardly a surprise, nor is the third-place finisher, Cuban-Americans, a shocker. As I’ve written before, Hispanic culture in the United States has often been relegated to East LA Chicanos, Nuyoricans, or Miami-based Cuban émigrés.

I was surprised, however, that number four on the list of Latino countries of origin is none other than my family’s homeland: El Salvador. The Dominican Republic comes in at number five.

These five countries account for the vast majority of Latinos in the United States, which isn’t so shocking when one considers that Mexican Americans alone account for more than sixty percent of the Hispanics in the United States.

The Center breaks down the traits of each group and contrasts them “with the characteristics of all Hispanics and the U.S. population overall.” That’s how I found out that Latinos who claim El Salvador as their country of origin are younger than the U.S. population but older than other Hispanics. I also found out that such Latinos have less education than other Hispanics, but they’re not as likely to have out-of-wedlock births. These are categories, of course, that no one wants to be tops in.

One thing caught my eye when going over the Center’s stats, however. People who responded to the survey were free to pick their country of origin, with few guidelines. As a result, the Center points out that “a person born in Los Angeles may identify his or her country of origin as Mexico. Likewise, some people born in Mexico may identify another country as their origin depending on the place of birth of their ancestors.”

So when it comes to counting Hispanics, it’s still an imprecise science.


I’ll Have What They’re Having

Neither my wife nor I watch a lot of television. However, one of her TV vices is the show “Top Chef.” The other night, she was tuning in to see which of her favorites will make the final cook-off or bake sale or knife fight or whatever, when I overheard an especially astute comment.

Apparently, this episode was set in Puerto Rico, and the chefs’ challenge was to create an island feast. They were required to use pork in their entrees, inspiring one of the judges to say, “It’s just not a party in Puerto Rico without a pig.”

Well, I could have told you that.

The appeal of pork to Hispanics, and to Puerto Ricans in particular, is well-established. It’s like the Irish with beer, and the Filipinos with rice, and the fundamentalist nutjobs with child brides. Some things are just ingrained.

For proof, let me tell you about one of the first times I brought my girlfriend (now my wife) home for Christmas. The feast was held in the house of my cousins who are half-Puerto Rican, where they lived with their hardcore Puerto Rican father. My wife, a borderline vegetarian, was amused, then perplexed, then disconcerted as it was proudly pointed out that we had three different kinds of pig to choose from (roasted pork, glazed ham, and some fried-porcine dish that intimidated me). Her request for a veggie option, or at least a different kind of meat, was met with baffled stares. How could she not want to devour pig? And we had three different types tonight! As I recall, she ate a lot of salad that evening. What can I say, I liked the ham.

Going back even further, when I was a kid, the term “pork chop” was a derogatory term for Puerto Ricans. This short-lived and ineffective taunt subsided as more colorful words emerged – and also as pissed-off Puerto Ricans kicked the shit out of anyone who called them that. I do not recommend bringing back the insult.

In any case, I compliment the producers of “Top Chef” for recognizing the cultural allure of cooked pig to Latinos.

Of course, I’m sure there are Hispanics out there who hate pork, and probably a Latina vegan or two. Nevertheless, I have to think that if Puerto Rican producers ever get the rights to the “Babe” franchise, (so far consisting of “Babe” and “Babe 2: Pig in the City”), they will develop a sequel where Babe gets roasted, served up with plantains, and chased down with mojitos – all under the title “Babe 3: Pig in My Stomach.”


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