LatinoTrendSurvey

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Hello, my name is Annette Santos. I am a journalism student at the University of Houston currently researching Latino voting trends in Texas.

Below is a short questionnaire on voting. There is no “right” or “wrong” answer to these questions, simply your own thoughts and opinions. The information gathered here is strictly confidential.

I am trying to gain a better understanding of how my peers, you included, feel about this topic. However, if you would like to have your opinion sited as a source in my research paper, you may indicate it by writing “yes” under “Share my opinion.”

Thank you for your time.

  • Share my opinion:
  • Name:
  • Age:
  • Education level:
  • Origin & Ancestry: (Ex. Cuban on father’s side, Mexican on mother’s side, born in the US)

  • Language(s) spoken:
  • Political ideology, if any:

  1. How do you feel about voting?
  2. How do your parents feel about voting? Is it a topic discussed at home?
  3. Have you or your friends engaged in a conversation about voting? How do they feel about this topic?
  4. Did you vote in the last major presidential election in 2012? Why or why not.
  5. Do you or have you ever voted in statewide or local elections? Why or why not.
  6. Are you currently or have you ever participated in any political organization geared towards advocating voting?
  7. Do you think Hispanic voters in Texas are actively engaged in voting? Why or why not?
  8. Do you think education plays a role in voting? Why or why not?
  9. How do you feel about enforcing stricter ID laws? Redrawing district lines in Texas?
  10. According to an opinion piece on Political.com, “Latinos are a powerful and unrealized political force in the country.” What are your thoughts on this statement? Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?
  11. Any final thoughts on voting? Is there something you would like to add that I may have overlooked on this topic?
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Say “YES” to Mexican American Studies

There seems to be a lot of gaps in our US history course. Texas history in particular, skims through the important contributions of its founding countrymen… the mexicanos and their indigenous ancestors.

While I agree with many that the State’s educational system needs a complete reboot, I also believe in advocating for the implementation of Mexican American Studies.

Eighty-eight percent of the Texas Latino population are of Mexican origins. That’s 88 percent of the population that is currently underrepresented in legislative matters. Legislative matters that have all but failed to peak the interest of this large immobile electorate. Some studies have shown a correlation between education and voting turnout.

What Mexican American Studies aims to do is connect the missing pieces of the history. It aims to open children’s eyes into their rich cultural ancestry. When students at Arizona’s Tuscan Unified School District began learning about their culture, exam scores went up. They became civilly involved and active participants in their communities.

Ask the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) to vote YES for Mexican American Studies.

Voting will take place on April 9. Contact your representatives.

Connecting social dots between education and voting rates

‘Latino’s university enrollment declines’ announced the header in the City & State section of the Houston Chronicle, Saturday, October 26, 2013.

Sounds pretty alarming. Thankfully this is only a one-percent-decrease of Latino students that enrolled in Texas colleges and universities this fall, right?

Well, that’s still 3,500 less Latinos attending school this semester statewide.

That may not seem like a big deal, especially since the national average of Hispanics who are actively attending college has increased this year, but proceed with CAUTION — let just focus on Texas.

There is a lot of political unrest in the Lone Star State, and studies have shown a direct correlation between education levels and an increase in voter turnout.

So, in a time where Latino activitsts are advocating for more participation from the community –in particular young Latinos– this news story IS a cloud in our tazas de café (a cloud in our coffe cup).

Let’s bring it on home now.

Here are the stats:

According to the Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project, the “most desireable” Latino voter in Texas is between the ages of 18 and 29, a citizen by birth and has some college education. I quote most desireable because although this group is on every politician and activist’s radar, they don’t seem to activily engage in voting.

Hispanicvoters2012.com estimated that of the 4.4 million Hispanic populations that are eligible to vote in Texas, only about 2.3 million Hispanics registered in 2010, and only about 1 million actually cast their ballot.

According to a more recent study by the Pew Research Center in June 2013, Inside the 2012 Latino Electorate, “In 2012, the highest voter turnout rates were among those with a college degree (70.8%) and among Cuban-origin Latinos (67.2%). Meanwhile, the lowest were among those ages 18 to 29 (36.9%) and those with less than a high school diploma (35.5%).”

I’ll leave you with a final thought, one the Chron’s  article alluded to. Perhaps the decrease in registered students this fall is an early warning sign of a reduction in  high school graduation rates.

I’ll keep my eyes peeled and update you soon.

Education is key

Education is the key that unlocks the world around us. It is the knowledge that takes the blindfold off our eyes and allows us to reflect on our environment. It melts away social barriers that chain our abilities to succeed.

These barriers can take many forms –social discrimination, poverty, lack of self confidence or guidance, low educational skills or resources, just to name a few.

What’s important is that you understand that barriers are apart of life. Not all is lost. If you fall, as the saying goes, dust yourself off and continue on your road. Success is only a positive effort away.

To illustrate my point, I recommend the two following documentaries:

1) “The Graduates/Los Graduados”

This is a PBS series that begins today about Latino youth trying to make it to their high school graduation. It documents the hardship of six individuals through homelessness, gangs and lack of support, in order to receive the first tier of knowledge –a diploma.

2) “American Promise”

This is a documentary about social awareness. Filmmakers by trade, parents of a color boy document 14 years of their son’s life as he and his best friend (also of color) grow up attending an all white private school. The film captures the lingering social stigma of being different, as the boys face the issue of race for the first time.

These two trailers are reminders that knowledge is more than what we learn in school. It is how we view the world and how the world views us. We begin to absorb information from the moment we are born; it is these experiences that help mold us into who we ultimately decide to be.

I encourage you to take time and reflect on the trailers. Social barriers remain painfully true today. And, although not both films are about Latinos, the overall theme of “American Promise” is true for all American minorities. Education remains the key to mend social wounds.

Land of the haters where ignorance is free

Scene: A bustling retail store, located in the cultural heartland of Houston. Customers stand shoulder-length, awaiting turns to check out.

— (Que le vaya bien, gracias.) Next in line, please.

“Your Spanish is really good. Where did you learn it?”

— I’m Mexican and Cuban.

*Silence*

latina

I don’t know what I have to do to make myself more Latina.

I can’t fake features I don’t have and I can’t flaunt my ancestry all the time.

I’m me.

I’m light-skin, accent-free, a proficient Spanish speaker, second generation Latina of Cuban and Mexican descent.

What’s wrong with that?

STOP judging me by the color of my skin!

Times are different (or so they should be).

Blood lines are intertwined. Who cares what’s on the surface; tear our tissue, we all bleed.

This “strange” ability of being bilingual… this feels quite normal to me.

Maybe others would follow, lift up their voices and speak, if judges would stay at bay.

Don’t make us question our strengths. You won’t put me on mute.

Thank you ignorance. Thank you for choosing my check-out lane.

Thank you for the compliment. Apparently, the US education system did not fail me.

I don’t speak English with an accent, so what? Would you treat me differently if I did?

Ignorance, next time you’re out shopping and you overhear the cashier providing a service in Spanish, don’t be amazed by the brightness behind the counter. Better yet, focus on the facts:

1. Rejoice! There was a bilingual attendant available to bridge the gap of communication for the consumer.

2. Dig deeper… Opening the lines of communication can actually help the consumer understand the purchasing process, thus clearing any confusions that may arise.

3. Hum… Signs of wrongdoing are easier to spot in one’s language, so the consumer can speak up and have a say during the transaction.

4. Here’s an interesting one… It feels amazing to find someone who speaks the same language. There’s an unspoken sense of unity, and chances are the consumer will become a returning customer.

All good things, right?

Why don’t you jump on board with the times and use your linguistic ability to assist others, not taunt them.

Thanks for the stereotype. I hope you learned something new today.

Latina empowerment or acceptable stereotypes?

There’s a new show on Lifetime. Glamorous, provocative, suspenseful, and racist?

Image

Devious Maids, a new prime time show featuring five Latina actresses cast as maids, Ana Ortiz “Ugly Betty”, Dania Ramirez “Entourage”, Roselyn Sánchez “Without a Trace”, Edy Ganem “Livin’ Loud” and Judy Reyes “Scrubs”, dish drama from Beverly Hill’s rich and famous while working towards personal ambitions.

Right off the bat, episode one sets the stereotype stage. The scene commences at a Mc Mansion; cue the rich Caucasian woman, scalding her brown-skin maid for disobedience (sleeping with her husband).

“I think what you people do is heroic. You wash clothes you can’t afford. You polish silver you will never dine with. You mop floors for people who don’t bother to learn your last name, and still, you dare to dream of a better life. I am at aw at your determination to succeed in this great country of ours. That said, if you don’t stop screwing my husband I am going to have you deported, comprende?”

Youtube video: http://youtu.be/_LAmeOVCKlQ

The maid, Flora, never speaks during the scene and soon thereafter is mysteriously murdered, so the audience doesn’t get the chance to know si comprendió or not. She leaves a note behind, interesting enough though, it was written in plain English.

Well one scene doesn’t mean the whole series is pushing back the Latino movement, right?

More about each character:

We meet Ortiz’s character, Marisol Durante, during an interview conducted by a white, prosperous couple that is going sour. Marisol must prove her domestic abilities to her prospective employer who is discouraged because Marisol, “sounds like you went to college.” Marisol is articulate, persuasive and determined. (All signs of a well rounded education are in place.)

Rosie Falta, Ramirez’s character, has a sad story to tell. She is a mother, a widow and desperately trying to reunite with the son she left back in Mexico. She works for a couple, both famous actors, as a maid and nanny. Episode one isn’t very clear about Rosie’s documentation status, but one heart wrenching scene shows Rosie calling her son long distance giving the audience a glimpse into her pain, increased by the daily reminder of caring for the boy not her own. (OK, the immigration theme has built its foundation.)

Ambition is a re-occurring theme among the characters, both Carmen Luna (Sánchez), and Valentina Diaz (Ganem) seem to break the “i’m just a maid” mentality portrayed by some of other characters, especially extruding from Zolia Diaz, played by Reyes.  Carmen finds herself purposely employed by a pop star hoping to kick start her singing career, while Valentina falls in forbidden love, something her mother, Zolia, tries to prevent reminding her she is just the hired help.  Zolia seems to be acting from personal experience. (Interesting, where have I seen this storyline before? Everywhere.)

Other interesting quirks:

-The sound track is Latin lively. Guitar strokes seductively string episodes along.

-Devious Maids plays like a novela. It’s full of ridiculous, over the top drama and dancing with the notion of rich vs poor.

-The Lifetime show is based off of a 2009 Mexican novela, “Ellas son…la Alegría del Hogar.” Youtube video: http://youtu.be/yRvgVHAbi1g

-The cast features well recognized actors: Devious Maids info, http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/devious-maids/about

So, the question remains… is this multilingual targeted show groundbreaking in English entertainment or borderline racist?

You decide.