How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Q&A: Voto Latino's Maria Teresa Kumar on the voting power of U.S.-born Latinos

Photo by buschap/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A bilingual after-voting sticker, February 2008

No one is more familiar with the power of the Latino vote, considered pivotal in tomorrow's midterm election, than the organizations working to get Latino voters to the polls.

Unlike some groups that focus outreach efforts on Spanish-dependent immigrants, Voto Latino focuses on younger Latinos who are U.S-born and English-dependent, employing popular culture and social media in its outreach. The nonprofit was co-founded in 2004 by actress/activist Rosario Dawson and its executive director, Maria Teresa Kumar. Since then the organization has registered tens of thousands of voters.

Born in Colombia, Kumar has been named by PODER Magazine as one of the most notable 20 U.S. Hispanics under 40 years old. She is a political contributor to MSNBC and has also appeared on CNN’s AC 360 and American Morning, NPR, Telemundo and CNBC.

Read More...

Quote of the moment: NCLR's Martinez De Castro on what motivates Latino voters

Photo by Joe Hall/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A multilingual sign points the way to a polling place, November 2006


"Much has been made about Latino enthusiasm around voting on Tuesday, suggesting that low enthusiasm means 'not voting.' Well, here's the thing: I am voting on Tuesday, but I would hardly describe my mood as 'enthusiastic.'

"All to say that there are different factors vying for Latino attention--some could dampen participation, some could energize it--and the way that candidates define themselves on the issues makes a difference to those energy levels."

- Clarissa Martinez De Castro, director of immigration and national campaigns for the National Council of La Raza, in the Huffington Post


Martinez's opinion piece made the Twitter rounds this weekend. In it she wrote about about the varied perceptions of Latino voters as either a) a solid voting block, aligned on issues and focused chiefly on immigration (which they are not); b) no different than the rest of the electorate, without common interests (which they are also not).

Read More...

In the news this morning: The myth of the Latino vote, immigration and the GOP, SB 1070 in the 9th Circuit and more

Opinion | The myth of the monolithic 'Latino vote' - Seattle Times On Latino voters as a culturally, politically, geographically and demographically diverse group.

The GOP's immigration problem - CNN How obstructing Congress on immigration could hurt the Republican party in the midterm elections and long-term.

Democrats see Latino votes as key to winning races - The Associated Press Unlike in the 2006 midterms, some of the most competitive races this year are in states with large Hispanic populations.

Muslim Voters Face Difficult Choice in Tuesday’s Election - Feet in 2 Worlds An interesting take on New York's 13th Congressional District, where both the Democratic and Republican candidates have opposed the Park51 development, the so-called "Ground Zero mosque."

Somali-American Becomes Prime Minister of Somalia - New York Times A former community college instructor from Buffalo, NY takes the nation's top job.

Read More...

Celebrating Día de los Muertos

Photo by Jim Benning


Just as Halloween is almost here, so, too, is Día de los Muertos, the day of the dead.

It amazes me how mainstream the ancient Mexican celebration has become in Los Angeles in recent years. But then, that's the beauty of an immigrant town. The sight of sugar skulls is becoming nearly as commonplace as that of jack-o-lanterns at this time of year, and there is a degree of cultural respect that comes with that. And if one of the central themes of Día de Los Muertos comes across in the translation - that even in death, our loved ones remain a part of our lives - even better.

How to celebrate the holiday (which officially takes place Nov. 1 and 2)?

- LA Eastside has a long list of just about every public event between now and then, including the longstanding Noche de Ofrenda tradition at East L.A.'s Self Help Graphics tonight and the ever-more-enormous annual festival at the Hollywood Forever cemetery, also tonight, about which blogger El Random Hero had this to say:

Read More...

Quote of the moment: Meg Whitman on why ex-housekeeper should be deported

"Well, the answer is: It breaks my heart, but she should be deported, because she forged documents and she lied about her immigration status."

- Meg Whitman, Republican candidate for governor, regarding her former maid Nicandra Diaz Santillan in an interview last night with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren


Whitman's remark was in response to a direct question from Van Susteren while discussing her former housekeeper, Nicandra Diaz Santillan. "Should she be deported?" Van Susteren asked.

The scandal that erupted last month over Whitman's employing Diaz, an undocumented immigrant, for nine years then firing her last year after deciding to run for governor has threatened to derail her campaign against Democratic candidate and state Attorney General Jerry Brown, causing her to lose ground in particular among Latino voters.

Read More...