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Archive for November, 2013


My latest for NBC Latino.

NBC Latino

I am done.

Done with the engrained perception that U.S. Latinos are not “American enough,” that we are these foreign beings who all speak with accents, dance until 5 am, are loud, rambunctious and sexualized. For the record, it is safe to say that I don’t fit any of the previous stereotypes, although when I speak Spanish, my Puerto Rican accent is front and center.

This week this whole “Latinos aren’t Americans” theme happened yet again when Pitbull (of all people) was slammed by the Twitter Ignoranti for being some “Mexican” host of the American Music Awards.

Let me pause for a second and break this down.

We are talking about Pitbull, perhaps the most mainstream Latino pop star out there right now. The “Dale” guy whose music plays 24/7 at every dance club, health club and bad Top 40 station in the United States. You would think that of…

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My latest for NBC Latino

NBC Latino

Last month President Obama spoke at the White House in front of a sympathetic crowd of immigration rights groups and told the world the following: “We should pass immigration reform.  It’s good for our economy.  It’s good for our national security.  It’s good for our people.  And we should do it this year.”

He also added, “And if folks are really that consumed with the politics of fixing our broken immigration system, they should take a closer look at the polls because the American people support this. ”

The President urged all those in the room and all those pushing for reform to “keep putting the pressure on all of us to get this done.”

But this week, when asked  about the future of immigration reform, President Obama said, referring to Republicans, “If they want to chop that thing up into five pieces, as long as all five pieces…

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This.

I have been in education for over 20 years. This young man is right.

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My latest for NBC Latino

NBC Latino

A year has passed since Puerto Ricans on the island voted (yet again) in a non-binding plebiscite to determine where they stand on the issue of self-determine and political status. Like a Facebook relationship status, the conclusions from the November 6, 2012 vote were “complicated.”

Did a majority of Puerto Ricans reject its current territorial status with the United States? Yes.

Did these same Puerto Ricans also vote for statehood? Yes and no.

Yes, because those who did vote in the second part of the ballot chose statehood over the other two options: sovereign free association and independence. No, because commonwealth supporters were urged by their party to leave the second part of the ballot blank. Problem is, voting blank wasn’t an option, so who knows what blank votes represent?

One year later, nothing has happened.

Sure, the White House has weighed in, saying that we need to a…

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Yes, I am REALLY EXCITED that the Red Sox won the World Series this year, but let me say one thing to Sports Illustrated:

This…

si-cover

…is not the same as this.

sports-illustrated

I don’t know what troubled me about this week’s cover, but then one of my friends said it best: “I love it for the city but it doesn’t change what happened at the marathon or to the people who lost their loved ones or their limbs etc.”

Yes, last week was amazing in Boston, amazing. The Sox’s win did make us all feel stronger and closer. That’s what the Sox do when they win. 2004 was just as amazing, and so was 2007, and yes, I get the fact that the Sox rallied around the Marathon tragedy, but it’s just baseball, people. Sports can be transformative, but last time I checked, it’s not like Fenway Park became a shelter for victims, like the Superdome was for Katrina. Let’s not make this another manufactured New Orleans moment. THAT was real. This is too over the top.

That is what bothers me. Forced #BostonStrong. If SI really wanted to do something classy, something that spoke to THIS should have been the cover:

bm

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Yesterday morning, after my early-morning soccer game, I sat down for breakfast, eager to read my Sunday Boston Globe, a ritual of mine since 1986. Like most Sundays before, I was not disappointed. However, one section, which featured essays from notable Bostonians about the Red Sox’s World Series victory, did leave me a bit perplexed.

big-papi

So I tweeted about it:

And also posted my thoughts on my Facebook wall:

“So The Boston Globe ran several opinion pieces about the #RedSox today, about 8 of them, and it was really surprising to not see at least on Latino voice at all, especially since most iconic guy on your team is flipping Big Papi. Ugh.”

(Full disclosure: I occasionally contribute freelance opinion essays to the Globe, and the Globe was my first “real job” ever in 1989.)

A few hours later, I got the following tagged post from my friend, José Massó, a Boston radio legend.

My open letter to the Boston Globe:

It took some time before I read today’s paper…I was out last night celebrating “Steppin’ Out 2013” with Divina, dancing to the music of Manolo Mairena & Curubande and stayed up listening to “¡Con Salsa!”…and with the whole turning back the clock an hour I didn’t get to it until this evening.

I finally read it after noticing a post on Facebook from my friend Julio Ricardo Varela mentioning that eight essays and a poem had been written by New England notables on what the World Series victory by the Red Sox means to them and the region. He noted that none of the essays were written by a Latino voice even though the player that is Boston right now is David Ortiz, the pride and joy of every Dominican and Latino living in Massachusetts and beyond. Ironic, since seven of the eight essays that I read mention Big Papi in addition to the poem’s liberal use of his quote for eternity “this is our f***ing city and nobody is going to dictate our freedom”.

I read Bill Littlefield’s piece first since he is my ‘BUR colleague and we talk about baseball, sports and other matters whenever I’m at the station. At least ‘BUR was smart enough to feature the voice of our friend Héctor Piña the day after the Sox clinched the series commenting on how David Ortiz evokes Dominican pride in Boston. The closest to touching on this was the piece by Gish Jen…but I wondered what would have Junot Díaz written and was he asked to contribute his voice to the “Boston celebration” by the Globe. I’m sure that a Pulitzer Prize winner, professor at MIT and 2012 MacArthur Fellow (also known as a MacArthur genius) would have something to contribute. No need for me to mention that he’s Dominican and if he wasn’t available, as David González suggested on Julio’s Facebook page, a poem by Martín Espada would have been nice…after all he authored “The Trouble Ball” about his father’s experience in 1941 when he went to Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field as an 11 year old for a game between the Dodgers and the Cardinals hoping to see the legendary Satchel Paige pitch, only to learn that Blacks were not allowed to play major league baseball.

I would have enjoyed reading Marcela García’s take on all of this celebration…she’s done an excellent job as an op-ed writer for the Globe and as a guest along with Julio on ‘GBH radio in addition to what she has written for the Boston Business Journal.

Another friend of ours, Alberto Vasallo III, was on the field last Wednesday night and has been covering the Red Sox for several years in addition to his annual celebration of Latino Youth events at Fenway Park. He knows David very well and I would have enjoyed reading an essay by him in the Globe today. Maybe he would have mentioned that Carlos Beltrán won the coveted Roberto Clemente Award this year and that Big Papi won it in 2011. It’s an award that is given annually to a Major League player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team”.

In closing, I give you the benefit of the doubt but I could go on to name others, and suffice to say…this is our “effing city too” and maybe, just maybe, under the new ownership of the Globe it will be reflected every time we celebrate the positive.

But hey, we’re “Boston Strong”.

With warm regards,

José Massó

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My latest for NBC Latino

NBC Latino

I am now cynical enough to believe that whenever a Latino dies under suspicious actions by law enforcement, the lack of national outrage no longer surprises me. Cases such as David Sal Silva’s in-custody death or Anastasio Hernandez Rojas’ Border Patrol death raised serious issues about the excessive use of deadly force, yet how many people in this country really knew or cared about those tragedies? How many national Latino organizations shouted in front of TV cameras that justice be served? Where was the 24/7 coverage?

The latest example comes from Santa Rosa, California. On October 22, 13-year-old Andy Lopez was shot seven times in a span of about 26 seconds by Sonoma County deputy Erick Gelhaus after Gelhaus, who started shooting before his partner even got out of the patrol car, saw that Lopez was carrying what appeared to be an assault rifle. According to police, Gelhaus warned…

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