Tag Archives: Latino

Hero of the Week: May 17, Pablo Pantoja

17 May
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

The Republican National Committee was very happy to have Pablo Pantoja on its payroll. Energetic, savvy, a decorated National Guardsman — what could be better? As a Latino in Florida, a state the GOP needs to win or steal to have a shot at the White House, he was well positioned to represent the hypothetical rebranding the party rolled out earlier this year. As the RNC Hispanic Outreach Director, his role was very important.

Sadly for the GOP, Pantoja also possesses a heart and a mind. Reflecting on the corrosive failure of the GOP’s fake embrace of minorities after their loss in November, he decided he’d had enough. In a powerful statement, he left his position and switched parties, becoming a vocal Democrat.

Yes, I have changed my political affiliation to the Democratic Party. It doesn’t take much to see the culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party today. I have wondered before about the seemingly harsh undertones about immigrants and others. Look no further […]

The complete disregard of those who are in disadvantage is also palpable. We are not looking at an isolated incident of rhetoric or research. … I think you get the idea. When the political discourse resorts to intolerance and hate, we all lose in what makes America great and the progress made in society.

It’s a scathing indictment of the othering done by the GOP as it attacks immigrants and minorities at every turn while callously courting their votes. Coming from an informed insider, it is particularly damning. As a nice parting shot, Pantoja also made a contribution to the ACLU for efforts to protect immigrant rights. Well done, sir, and welcome.

MLK Holiday 2013: A Conversation Around Race

21 Jan

martinlutherI’m glad that we have a National holiday honoring civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  What troubles me is how far we have yet to go in the civil rights movement.  I hear people talking now about the March on the Mall in Washington, yet they don’t know the March was organized by the openly gay Bayard Rustin.  Hearing so many people purporting to have been present during King’s I Have a Dream speech, also leaves me a bit bothered. We like to pretend that we are not a nation continuing to struggle with racism; I have even heard people use the phrase “post-racist” society as though that was something real and already achieved.  Yet we have no further to look than the numbers.

Let us start with the Senate.  Of the 100 Senators currently serving, only one of them is African-American (and he was appointed to his current office).  Moving on to the House of Representatives (note the word Representatives), of the 435 civil servants (albeit 433 right now due to current vacancies), only 41 are African-American.  Of the 50 Governors only one is African-American. Of the nearly 8300 U.S. mayors, only about 650 are African American. This disproportionality in representation and leadership clearly speaks to how far we have yet to go.

As one can see the power structure is still fundamentally white, male, Christian, and heterosexual.  Whether we want to admit it or not, most people still benefit from institutionalized racism.  I am not saying most people are racist, in fact, I would assert that most people are not racist (save for the Tea Party), yet we have a mass of people who are the beneficiaries of racism.

I am grateful for the significant strides being made for civil rights and social justice, but let us acknowledge there is still much work to be done around people that are marginalized and how we treat people that are not part of the institutional power structure.  Dr. King’s voice of advocacy for civil rights has room for many others to join the choir and push back against how we “other” people and strip populations of their dignity–now is not the time to be satisfied:

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity…–I Have a Dream, Dr. King

TSM also wants to wish a heart felt congratulations to President Obama on his second inauguration! I hope everyone gets to see the amazing Myrlie Evers deliver the Invocation.  I also want to note that the openly gay  Latino Richard Blanco is the inaugural poet–nice choice.

Oh, Mitt! You Wacky Racist, Misogynist, Elitist…

19 Sep
Courtesy of About.com

Looks like November will bring the tears of this clown.

Poor old, dear old, sad old Mitt. After a dismal party convention, the selection of a venal mini-Me as a running mate, a vicious and fact-free attack on the President’s response to a crisis, and a bumbling and alienating visit to our nation’s closest allies, it seemed like his campaign had sunk as far as it could. Surprise! Mitt had some more awful up his sleeves. Big thanks to my friends James Queale and Jennifer Carey and a host of other readers who are paying attention for helping me wade through the muck to compose this post.

Mother Jones magazine just released a full-length video of a speech that Romney gave at a private fundraiser. Cutting loose in a more off-the-cuff style while surrounded by wealthy Republicans — a safe audience for Mitt — the candidate accidentally gave the best GOP standup performance since Clint Eastwood lost an argument to a chair.

The Internet has mostly been abuzz over Romney’s simultaneous insult and dismissal of the mythical 47%:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…[M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

Two big problems, there, Mitt. (Okay, more, but let’s focus on two.) First, most of the supposed non-taxpayers DO pay into Social Security and Medicare — I guess that would end if you were President, so let’s give you a pass there — or are retirees who paid their fair share for DECADES. The “non-payer” myth is a dogwhistle to your cronies and more than ironic for a candidate who won’t bother to tell us what HE has paid. Second, your assertion that you “don’t need” that 47% because they’ll never support you is more than a little ironic. The top states for “non-payer” rates as defined by Romney include bright-red MS, AL, GA, ID, TX, AK, SC… The states with the lowest “freeloader”  rate include bright blue MA, CT, MD, WA… Irony much, Mitt?

Sadly, that damning assertion is really only the tip of the crapberg floating in Mitt’s sea of bile. Managing to go racist, birther, and uber-patriot all in one blow, he bemoans his performance with the Latino population, saying of his father, “Had he been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot of winning this.” You’d have a better shot of winning if you weren’t a self-important ass with complete disdain for most of America, Mitt. He doubles down on this language later with the even more charm-free statement, “If the Hispanic voting bloc becomes as committed to the Democrats as the African American voting bloc has in the past, than we’re in trouble as a party, and I think, as a nation.”

Here are a few other choice moments for those of you who don’t have the stomach for the whole performance:

  • On foreign labor, Bain-style capitalism, and China policy: “When I was back in my private equity days, we went to China to buy a factory there. It employed about 20,000 people. And they were almost all young women between the ages of about 18 and 22 or 23. […] and around this factory was a fence, a huge fence with barbed wire and guard towers. And, and, we said gosh! I can’t believe that you, you know, keep these girls in! They said, no, no, no. This is to keep other people from coming in.”
  • Regarding his expert on ladyparts and women’s issues, his wife Ann: “”We’re using Ann sparingly right now because we don’t want people to get sick of her.” (NOTE TO MITT: You might try that strategy with yourself…)
  • On his ability to deal with Mideast politics, he asserts that the Palestinians have “no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish,” and then asserts that his strategy as President would be to “kick the ball down the field.”
  • On President Obama’s success with the international community: “The president’s foreign policy, in my opinion, is formed in part by a perception he has that his magnetism, and his charm, and his persuasiveness is so compelling that he can sit down with people like Putin and Chavez and Ahmadinejad and that they’ll find that we’re such wonderful people that they’ll go on with us, and they’ll stop doing bad things.” (Clearly being charming and persuasive is pretty alien to Mitt.)

The content is shocking enough on its own. What is particularly disturbing is the context. All the rest of lies, gaffes, stumbles, slights, slurs, and idiocies we’ve heard from Romney have been public, planned events. This event was a $50,000 per plate fundraiser of like-minded folks. Romney is revealing a clear, candid (for him) portrait of how he really thinks — and what he thinks of America.  Wow!  This is a portrait of a true Racist!

Celebrating LGBTQ History Month: June 25, Ricky Martin

25 Jun

Today we honor and celebrate a singer and activist who has made great personal growth. Enrique Martín Morales was born in San Juan, PR in 1971. He achieved his initial fame as part of the ever-changing line-up of Latino boy band Menudo. He released his first solo album in 1991, a Spanish disc titled Ricky Martin. After three more albums in Spanish, he released his international blockbuster, also titled Ricky Martin, in 1999. He has sold over 60 million albums over his career so far.

His early fame also brought some controversy. Martin performed at the inauguration of George W. Bush and invited the President to dance on stage with him. Over time his view of Bush evolved and he has since said, “as long as I have a voice onstage and offstage, I will always condemn war and those who promulgate it.”

Martin was also rumored to be gay since he first left Menudo. The rumors grew when he split with longtime female companion Rebecca de Alba in 2005 and again in 2008 when he fathered twin boys with a surrogate. He finally came out in 2010, stating, “I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.” He immediately began working for LGBT causes and equality, recognizing the additional difficulties faced by LGBT people in the Hispanic community. His efforts earned him the Vito Russo Award from GLAAD; at the ceremony he publicly acknowledged his partner, economist Carlos González Abella for the first time. Reflecting on his long time in the closet, Martin told Larry King, “Everything about saying that I am gay feels right… if I’d known how good it was going to feel, I would have done it ten years ago.”

Martin created the Ricky Martin Foundation, which is dedicated to the well-being of children. He also collaborates with organizations that battle human trafficking. In addition to his GLAAD award, he has received the Leadership in the Arts Award, Billboard’s Spirit of Hope Award, ALMA Award, Vanguard Award, International Humanitarian Award by the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, and the Hispanic Heritage Award.

He is a dual citizen of the United States and Spain. He obtained his Spanish citizenship (for which he was eligible through his Iberian grandmother) in 2011 to celebrate the efforts of Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero in defense of LGBT rights.

Celebrating LGBTQ History Month: June 12, Andrés Duque

12 Jun

Today we honor and celebrate Latino LGBT activist Andrés Duque. Born in Colombia, Duque moved to the U.S. with his family when he was a child. In 1996 he co-founded the Colombian Lesbian and Gay Association, or COLEGA, with Daniel Castellanos. For many years he worked at the Latino Commission on AIDS and directed Mano a Mano, a coalition of Latino and Latina lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activists; Mano a Mano is best known as an informative electronic mailing list that forwards articles that appear around the world about LGBT issues.

Recognizing that there was no real forum for the growing LGBT Latino population, Duque created Blabbeando, a blog about LGBT issues from an Hispanic perspective. He is also a founding member of the Audre Lorde Project and of the Out People of Color Political Action Club. As a New Yorker, he has also been a regular thorn in the side of rabidly anti-gay state Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., calling out his efforts to block marriage equality and other homophobic agenda.

LGBT people who are also part of communities of color struggle with intersections of oppression. It’s important to have advocates like Duque who understand this and create safe places for them to celebrate their multiple identities.

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