How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

It's official: Zumba is not 'Latin dance'

Photo by Cimm/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Zumbistas in Leuven, Belgium, June 2009

Okay, so it appears that some salsa instructors are not happy that some Zumba enthusiasts are conflating the two. At least this is what a couple of them had to say in an NPR piece titled "Zumba Is A Hit, But Is It Latin?" Case in point, from the story:

Jose Maldonado is one of the skeptics. He teaches Latin dance...and says that students who think Zumba dance is legitimate Latin dance are "misinformed."

"One of my students said, 'I took Zumba. I think I know how to salsa dance.' I said, 'Fine, strut your stuff. Let's see what you have.' They couldn't salsa," Maldonado says.

Another dance instructor's lament:
"The salseros will tell you that Zumba is not Latin dancing," Martino-Giosa says. "But anybody who takes Zumba does feel that it's part of Latin dancing."

That there's confusion about it in the first place is a little baffling, and the reactions to the story have been amusing. But I'm going to make it official: No, Zumba is not Latin (a term that conjures up Gregorian chants, by the way) dance. For those unfamiliar, Zumba is a popular and profitable style of aerobics with origins in Colombia set to the rhythms of Latin America, especially the Caribbean. As I've described it to my Cuban mother,


NewsHour Connect: Democrats tighten DREAM Act, hoping to appeal to GOP

Yesterday's PBS NewsHour Connect featured a segment on the retooled version of the DREAM Act, which federal lawmakers are expected to vote on next week, the student activism surrounding the bill and its chances in Congress. I provided some analysis as a guest.

The segment is posted on The Rundown, the PBS NewsHour blog. NewsHour Connect recently interviewed two of my fellow NPR Argo Network correspondents, Heather Goldstone of the Climatide blog covering Cape Cod, and Cassandra Profita of the Ecotrope blog in Oregon, for a segment on ocean acidification.


Quotes of the moment: Muslims on NPR's Williams incident as a teachable moment

Photo by HORIZON/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The interior of a mosque in Ishafan, Iran, May 2006

"We need to use this moment as a catalyst to open a national debate about the grievous misconceptions, fear and suspicion about Islam and Muslims. This discussion needs to be elevated to ethical discourse beyond biases and prejudices."

- Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles, on NPR's dismissal of Juan Williams

The reaction from Muslim civil rights groups to the network's firing of veteran journalist and news analyst Williams last week - and his comment about Muslims that led up to it - has been varied, with some taking a more forgiving attitude than others.

Williams remarked last week during an appearance on Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor" that getting on a plane and seeing people in "Muslim garb" made him nervous. In reaction, the national Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement calling on called on Muslim Americans and the general public to contact NPR and "take appropriate action."