Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Academy Award Goes to...

Well right now we don't know but there's a chance a Latino film and actor can grab one of the biggest awards in acting...The Academy Awards. In A Better Life, Demián Bichir portrays Carlos Galindo, an undocumented Mexican gardener fighting to create a better life for himself and his son. In the Supporting Actress category, Bérénice Bejo (Argentine/French) could take the Oscar for her supporting role in The Artist.

In all honesty, it doesn't really matter who wins. Although cheering on Latinos is always good. There's even a group on Facebook which demands more Latinos in film and TV. The description pretty much sums up how the creator feels: We have had enough! Latinos are moving up! We are tired of your images and your looks! We are more than Maids, Thugs, Janitors and Drug Dealers. We are Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers, Senators, but most important we are here and you will accept us!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Plug in of the day: NBC Latino's FB Page

Earlier today I received a message from an unknown source (LOL) to like the NBC Latino FB page. I normally don't like those type of messages but he's a good guy and like myself, he's the next generation of Latinos doing big things. Like any other media or big company, Facebook is the next step in visibility. And since Latinos are clearly online, it's just the smart thing to do. Although the official NBCLatino.com page has not officially launched, they have nice content catered to this new generation of Latinos that everyone is trying to capitalize on. Best of luck! P.S. Fan their page :)

The Felix Varela Awards

A few days ago the Al Dia Foundation announced this year's Felix Valera Award categories. The Varela Awards will recognize the best feature writing, best blogging, best documentary, and best photojournalism on Latino and Multicultural Issues in America. The VARELA Awards, offers the largest cash prize in its category, giving $10,000 per award, along with a golden medal of Father Félix Varela, an American intellectual of Latino origin who had a great impact on 19th CenturyAmerica.

This year's awards will also celebrate one of the pillars of the US Constitution, the First Amendment. This is also the first year they add best blogging as a category. This category honors the most creative, innovative, and sharp practices of writing in the latest format created by the technological evolution of the 21st century. And yes I definitely will be applying for this award. I've received a lot of great feedback and think I have a shot at it. The prize money will most certainly be used for my (hopeful) graduate school education. Best of luck to all you writers!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tacos for dinner became a reality

The Latino community in Connecticut has spoken and tacos will be served for dinner! Days ago Connecticut Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. said he was eating tacos for dinner. This was what he was doing to serve his Latino community. So what do angry activists do? They send tacos! Fox News Latino reported, "The office of East Haven's mayor was blasted with prank phone calls and a delivery of hundreds of tacos Thursday after his now-famous quip that he would address accusations of anti-Latino bias by eating tacos, a remark that left emotions raw in the town's large Hispanic community."

New Haven has roughly 29,000 residents and of course is mostly white-collar. But with a 10% of Latinos living there, the comment turned those 3000 residents into angry activists. Although Mayor Maturo will not be resigning, I'm sure he'll think twice before he says anything to a minority reporter again. Yes we know he apologized but come on...stop generalizing. These days more and more people always come up to me and start bringing up generalizations about Latinos including food and dancing. -_-.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Glee in Spanish is...Glee?

Is it me or is Glee playing more tributes this season? Anyways, according to the Huffington Post, the first crossover music celeb. hits the Glee stage as a Spanish teacher. Ricky Martin plays a night school teacher and helps the kids perform to Spanish songs. I wonder what music they'll sing to? Will it be typical music, or the obvious Ricky Martin? I'm glad to see another Latino cast member even though it's only for one episode. Although Santana is hardly Latina which is also good, she doesn't need to be your typical stank attitude Latina...wait? She is lol. We'll see how this episode goes, I expect to hear some "Sh** Latinas Say" references as well.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Change in the Latino community = Tacos for dinner

I usually don't say anything when I'm offended but this takes the cake. Wow. In East haven, CT., Mayor Joe Maturo made himself look completely ignorant in a WPIX interview. The original story was about police allegedly targeting Latinos but the story turned for the worst.

  • Reporter 1: What are you doing for the Latino community?
  • Mayor: I might have tacos for dinner.
-_-. <--- That's the face I would have had and then went on a rampage about why that is the most racist thing in the world. Not only because the Mayor judged that ALL Latinos eat tacos but also because he thinks eating tacos for dinner will bring change. Yes the Mayor has apologized but that's not something people are going to forget. Maybe he saw the Sh** White Girls Say to Latinas video. Maybe not. Either way, Mayor Maturo just proved to the world that racism clearly still exists. And um, it's definitely not cool to play the I'm-of-Italian-descent card. Really? Really!?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A win for Colombia in Sustainable Transportation

Medellin, Colombia (in addition to San Francisco, CA) recently received the 2012 Sustainable Transportation Award. Talk about awesome news right? I'm glad to see Colombia being recognized in sustainable transportation and beating out competition like Buenos Aires, Argentina and Cape Town, South Africa. It's time for a visit right?

Read a little about Medellin's sustainable efforts:

  • Medellin, Colombia, and its metropolitan area is being recognized for its public space improvements, and providing urban transport options to its citizens, such as its existing cable car and metro systems, and the recently inaugurated BRT project, Metroplús. The city created 1.6 million square meters of new park space through 25 parks and 11 urban promenades. Medellin also made progress with a new public bicycle program, EnCicla, that integrates universities and mass transit with popular city destinations; improved pedestrian crossings; and a ridesharing program, Comparte tu carro; as well as vehicle exhaust emissions controls and sulfur content improvements.

Your benefits of blogging

Earlier today I went to an event hosted by the Philadelphia Public Relations Association titled Benefits of Blogging for Business. Panelists included Stefan Frank, National Constitution Center; Jessica Sharp, Maven Communications; Allison Stadd, uwishunu; and Amanda Walsh, Furia Rubel Communications. A very mid-level type of event, all the speakers had great insight for non-profits, businesses, agencies and more. Key insights included keeping a strong voice, "content is king," and making sure you link all your social media properties (and then some) to promote your posts.

The audience had great questions as well including, "How long should a blog be?" as well as "How do you sustain a blog when a company doesn't have the 'person' to do it full-time?" I was actually hoping to ask if it's okay for CEO's and Executive Directors to blog but we ran out of time. Does anyone want to chime in?

So why do I blog? To be honest I started this blog (in 2008) to better my writing and to hopefully bring some positive news to the world. It started out a little small with no readership but thankfully now I have a good following. I even get pitched! Unfortunately people are more interested in gossip news and the most random things like "Dora the Explorer" and "From Prada to Nada." These two topics have been in my top read feed for the longest.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Photos of the Day: Alegria Ball

Thanks to my new fancy (work) camera I'm able to capture awesome video and photos. I attended the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's Alegria Ball last Friday evening and took some nice photos. Enjoy! You can find more at holaciudad.com

Yes I'm not a photographer but this camera is going to turn me into one. :)

Community organization wins big...again

Talk about a boost in fundraising. Today Congreso de Latinos Unidos announced the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has awarded Philadelphia non-profit Congreso $1.5 million over three years as a 21st Century Community Learning Challenge Grant awardee. Congreso was one of 119 applicants, and one of only 57 award recipients in Pennsylvania selected to receive this federal funding, established under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

The grant will help Congreso serve 420 students through existing and expanded programming at Clemente, Fairhill and Sheppard Elementary Schools as well as Edison High School. A wonderful opportunity, hopefully this funding helps keep our children out the streets and safe. I also hope there was research to back up the "existing and expanded programming" considering new initiatives always work with backed up research.

Did you also know Congreso is in the middle of building a third building on N. American Street? This new building, a 57,000 square-foot, three-story space, will house Pan American Academy Charter School and Harcum College at Congreso, educational components of the agency’s cradle to career pipeline of services. Here's to a great future for our gente!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Reaction: Losing Our Spanish Heritage

Today I read two articles about losing our Spanish-language heritage. Wow. But to be quite honest, it really is happening. Although I am a bit biased because I live in Philadelphia where the predominant population is Puerto Rican. However, if you go to these area schools, there isn't a lot of Spanish-speaking going around. The author of the Huffington Post - Latino Voices article said, "I was often invited to meet up with the other blogueras here in Los Angeles, but I denied or ignored their invites. I didn't feel Latina enough for them." Should she not feel Latina enough?

It's the never ending question of what does it really mean to be Latino? I was very disappointed when my mom and dad one day called my brother and I, "Gringo." It really hurt and the only reason they called me that word was because I was born in the United States. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, only 38 percent of third–generation Latinos—United States-born kids with foreign-born grandparents—are proficient in Spanish, compared to 79 percent of the second generation. I speak Spanish, not super-awesome-great Spanish, but I can survive and work with the Spanish I know. Of course it can be better, but that doesn't give you the right to put me down.

A Latina.com article stated, "But this loss of language across the generations cuts deeper than simply being unable to communicate with older relatives. It impacts Latino identity as well." And it's completely true. If you're younger and can't communicate with older relatives, your sense of pride and culture are lost. You all of a sudden don't want to order arroz y abichuelas, you don't want to listen to Grupo Niche or anything even remotely close to your culture. It's sad. It's not just our fault though. If Arizona can ban Mexican-American studies then what's next?! Let's just hope one day no one ever tells me to NOT speak Spanish, that might get a negative reaction from me :).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Colombia or bust!

Fundraiser alert! My good pal Tony Rocco has taken upon himself to teach kids something other than what they learn in school. Rocco's program Photography Without Borders is a collaboration between his students in La Florida, Colombia and those he teaches at Stetson Charter School here in Philadelphia. The students use photography and the internet to create a cross-cultural dialogue.

This summer Rocco plans on taking his Philadelphia kids to Colombia to experience something most of the kids haven't. They will meet the Colombian students and basically learn about each other. But the trip can't be made possible without your support. That's why on Friday, February 10 the kids are inviting everyone for a night of bowling (and food)! For $20 you'll get shoes, appetizers, pizza and more. Tickets are sold in advance but can also be purchased day of. See you there!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

mun2 asks, "Being black and Latino?"

Can you be Black and Latino(a)? Of course you can! A recent NY Times article stated for many Latinos, race is more about culture than color. These never ending debates about race probably won't ever get answered because the U.S. judges you by what you look like. It's probably one of the only countries that has a huge disparity of people. In China, people look the same. In Russia, people look the same. Well somewhat but you get the point.

Our friends at mun2 interviewed Latino actors, actresses, singers and more. They all asked them, "What does it mean to be black and Latino in the U.S.?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Video: Telemundo's Relaciones Peligrosas

What happens when you mix LGBT issues, teachers dating students and interracial dating? Well you get your typical high school drama... Telemundo's latest novela Relaciones Peligrosas. Telemundo has really made an effort in changing their novela programming to match the American Latino. With changing demographics, age differentiation and other Census changing numbers, novelas are gearing more towards a younger bi-lingual Latino. Enjoy! I hope to watch :).

Event: Looking like a Language, Sounding like a Race

A lot of Latinos sometimes have identity issues. Only because they are of mixed Latino races and sometimes even have cultural differences in the U.S. The people we surround ourselves also influence what we do, how we talk, what we eat and more. Well tomorrow at the University of Pennsylvania, Jonathan Rosa PhD will discuss ways that forms of language and race become linked to the creation of U.S. Latino(a) identities. Talk about a deep discussion right?

Someone on Facebook posted the other day, "No, I'm not Spanish. Are you English?" Probably something that pops up in our head from time to time. Spanish is either a language or being born in (or have ancestry from) Spain. But sometimes society turns us into Latinos, Hispanics and/or Spanish. Being first generation Latinos gives us many advantages as well as disadvantages. Hopefully the discussion tomorrow will bring up great topics and insight into why we are the way we are.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012
6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
UPENN, Terrace Room, Cohen Hall (249 S. 36th Street)
Refreshments will be served

Monday, January 16, 2012

Congrats Modern Family & Latinos

Thank you Sofia Vergara and Modern Family for representing Latino culture during the Golden Globes last night. Sure it seemed like a sketch comedy but it was a sign of respect. Considering ABC is already on the fence with their "Puerto Rican drug dealer" scandal, I'd say this helped...maybe not. Either way, enjoy!

Today's MLK day of service

Today we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by devoting a whole day to service. I was happy to help out this morning at the Lighthouse by painting their kitchen and lobby. The Lighthouse is a community organization that provides educational, recreational and economic improvement programs. It serves the Kensington and North Philadelphia communities of Philadelphia. Dr. King thrived on non-violent actions and unfortunately Philadelphia has been facing horrible acts of violence. What can we do to better our community? Although, it was great to see so many people come together all over the city for community service, it needs to happen every day. Hopefully we can see change in the future.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Acts of violence must end NOW

So I must say it's unfortunate for an incident to take place for people to start getting together. However, the unfortunate murder of three Latino children in our community has erupted into a movement of astounding proportions. NBCphiladelphia reported, "Three teens are dead and another was injured after a 30-year-old stepfather opened fire on a car full of kids who allegedly came over to fistfight his three stepsons Tuesday night, according to police." Really though? A father killed his three stepsons. Completely unacceptable. The worst part was that this escalated thanks to Facebook.

Is this an act of youth violence or just violence? Both. Both because why weren't the kids at home? And why did a grown man decide to take these actions? Is there something wrong in today's society that keeps us from telling our youth to stay off the streets? Take action. Don't wait for someone to tell you to do something; do it yourself and/or with others. Speak at a high school, donate your time to mentor or just be a positive role model in every day life. I don't understand why things like these murders are happening...completely unacceptable. I pray for the family and anyone who has lost a loved one due to acts of violence. Act now, not later.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mexican-American studies banned (in America)

Photo courtesy AP
So the Tucson Unified Schools Board voted to end the Mexican-American studies program. Well then. An NBC Latino article states, "Students in the courses will now be dispersed among other classes." So now what? Students can still learn about their own (or new) culture by studying on their own...that's what I would think. But for now, schools will only be teaching American culture, which is strange because the program was called Mexican-American. If this were to happen all over the country, what would that say about our lawmakers? What would it say about education? It's amazing how some people can use the Census numbers for something good and politicians are reaching out to Hispanic voters yet they ban our own history from schools. Interesting indeed.

Should Mexican-Studies be banned? Why Arizona?

How do you say donuts in Spanish?

So how do you say donuts in Spanish? Doesn't really matter because if you can say Dunkin' Donuts then you're one step closer to film their new commercial. According to a Miami New Times article, "Dunkin' Donuts is conducting a search for the ultimate 'hispanic Dunkin' Donuts coffee fan to appear in one of the brand's Hispanic television advertisements.'" Sounds like my dad would be perfect. The casting is being conducted by a local independent franchise group based in south Florida.

I wish Philadelphia would do something cool like this. In fact, I never see any type of mainstream brand do anything even remotely Latino in Philadelphia. The trends I am noticing are, "Can you put in touch with the Latinos in Philadelphia?" Really? Put me in touch?! Then there's no investment, it's just capitalizing on what already exists. Smh. Anyways. So if you're in Miami tomorrow be sure to stop by Dunkin Donuts Kendall on 12930 SW 120th Street between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. I could sure use an old fashioned donut right about now.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Event: GPHCC's Alegria Ball - Fiesta Mexicana.

Gala season is starting, well sort of. The Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce presents their 2012 Alegria Ball: Fiesta Mexicana. For the 5th year, this GPHCC signature fundraising event recognizes the rich and vibrant cultures of Latin America. Did you during last year's gala I was awarded the Hispanic Professional of the Year!? I know crazy right. In fact it was last year this time when I felt something telling me, "Stay in Philly."

Anyways, this year's gala is bound to be bigger and better. The GPHCC will again feature the 3rd annual Excelencia Hispanic Business Awards marking the incredible growth and success of Latino business and professional markets across the Greater Philadelphia region. Come join in on the fun! Hurry because tickets are selling fast :).

Alegria Ball: Fiesta Mexicana - Que Viva Mexico!
6 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Vie, 600 N. Broad Street

2012 Knight Arts Challenge finalists announced

They are in! The Knight Foundation has announced the finalists for the second year of the Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia. The 55 finalists - which include individual artists, artist collectives, community groups, music organizations and theater companies - offered a wide array of innovative ideas, rising above a field of 1,200+ applicants. These ideas are just a continuing message that art can create change in communities. I hope the deserving winners create outstanding programs and do bring some type of change. Sure change is sometimes a little scary, but if it's for the better, then go for it. Click here to view the 2011 winners.

Some of this year's finalists include:
  • Artists and Musicians of Latin America - To cultivate new audiences for Latin Jazz by presenting "pop-up" performances using a portable stage. <-- Um amazing much?
  • Delaware River Waterfront Corporation - To use world rhythms - from cowbells to congas, beat-boxing to Bhangra - to learn about cultures at an interactive music and dance festival <-- Because Penn's Landing always needs another festival :). 
  • Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation - To engage new audiences in the visual arts by launching With Art Philadelphia, a two-year joint marketing program that includes late-night happenings for younger audiences at local museums <--- New audiences everywhere!
  • Norris Square Neighborhood Project - To preserve local Latino culture in North Philadelphia by creating a sound booth to record stories that will be featured in podcasts <-- neighbor and great idea!
It would be amazing to see some of these projects come to life...especially in Philadelphia. The full list of finalists and ideas can be found at knightarts.org and the winners will be announced in the spring. Good luck to everyone and see you in "warmer" weather.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Americas and America

So a picture is worth a thousand words and the one above is worth too many. I find it funny because most people call those living in the United States Americans; but what do you call South Americans? Most of the time they are never, ever called American...just from their prospective country. Even my dad once said, "We're not American...we're Colombian."

The Americas are lands in our hemisphere (western), also known as the New World. In English, the plural from the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is commonly used to refer to the United States of America. Unfortunately our wonderful country we live in was given the same name as our own continents.

So how does the photo make you feel?

Friday, January 6, 2012

There's an app for the parranda

I must give it to AT&T, this 4G LTE commercial is on point. Although I'm not Puerto Rican, this just screams "yo soy boricua" lol. From the (annoying) sounds of the coqui to the parranda atmosphere, it made me want to purchase the phone. However, given the age of the actors, are they really going to use those special features? If I were to give my parents this phone they would NOT know what to do.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

This Latino is continuing his education

The Pew Research Center says, "From 2009 to 2010, the number of Hispanic young adults enrolled in college grew by 349,000, compared with an increase of 88,000 young blacks and 43,000 young Asian-Americans and a decrease of 320,000 young whites." Should this number be higher? I believe as the years go by they most certainly will. The number of Hispanics enrolled in graduate school is most certainly lower; I tried researching it but couldn't find anything. 

Which is why I'm glad to be pursuing a M.A. in Writing Studies from St. Joseph's University; that's if they accept me. A very scary transition, I haven't been in school for five years. I would obviously take classes part-time and would have to really stretch them out for 2-3 years. Financially it will be difficult but I know I can do it. Most people go to graduate school to get more money but I'm doing it for other reasons. I want to better my writing, be more educated and go against the stereotype. It will also help me get out of the "Latino" box. Not that there's anything wrong with it, I just need something different. Here's to a great future!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The end of the world (in a book)

Today I finished reading Steve Alten's Domain. Although written in 2002, it was crazy reading the story in the era it was written for. The story looks at the lives of the Gabriel family and how they were truly obsesses with the Mayan calendar and the 2500-year-old enigma that predicts the end of humanity in 2012. Dad Julius believe the sites of the ancients, placed all around the glob, represent ancient pieces of a puzzle linked to the salvation of our species...or not.

Now it's November 2012 and a psychology student, Dominique Vazquez, intertwines her life into the Gabriel family. Somehow she's connected to the destruction and as we approach closer and closer to December 21, 2012, lives are lost, trust is broken and we faith is questioned. Is the prophecy correct? I was even questioning everything but as I got closer to the end I had to keep telling myself this is a fiction novel. Right? To be honest I haven't read a book in years but thanks to the recommendation from my brother (and purchasing a Nook), I kept going.

P.S. Domain is only one part of a three-part series -_-

Event: Latinas United for the Cure 2012

Last year I had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer at the Latinas United for the Cure event. The annual Susan G. Komen event brings together Latina women in the Philadelphia area to discuss ways to beat breast cancer. This year's theme "The Power, the Passion and the Promise to Beat Breast Cancer" sounds like a good one and will feature keynote speaker the Honorable Maria Quiñones-Sanchez, Councilwoman, City of Philadelphia.  The event will also feature other prominent speakers and workshops including free mammogram checkups. 

Philadelphia Marriott Downtown
1201 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA  19107
Saturday, March 24, 2011 • 8:30 AM - 2:00 PM

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Photography at its best

I have a strong appreciation for art...all types. Whether it's a painting, song or even a photograph, I can see how it can change communities. And the best type of art is "off the wall," meaning not your average painting on a wall. Sometimes I wish I could be an artist and fulfill a hobby but it takes a lot of time and practice.

Zoe Strauss, a Philadelphia photographer with a growing international reputation, is the subject of a major exhibition that opens on January 14 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Zoe Strauss: Ten Years is a mid-career retrospective of this acclaimed artist’s work, representing the first critical assessment of her decade-long project to exhibit annually in a public space beneath Interstate-95 (I-95) in South Philadelphia. See what I mean by off the wall? A lot of her images are very powerful and always involved a person.

The exhibition will run through April 2012 and will feature "low-cost" events and entry fees.

Men are capable of preventing rape too

Rape. It's always a touchy issue within any community. Some people lie about it and some don't take it too seriously. I was happy to come across this new campaign geared towards men because just like anyone else, men are capable of stopping rape as well. According to a ColorLines article, "MyStrength is a project of the California Department of Health Services and the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA), a statewide coalition of rape crisis centers and prevention programs founded in 1980." However, it was first introduced in 2007 by an organization in Washington, D.C. 

A few months ago something else was brought to my attention by an organization called Women Organized Against Rape (in Philadelphia). Someone told me that Mexican workers in South Philadelphia were being raped...and these are male on male cases. Unfortunately the Mexican workers are unable to say anything because of their immigration status. Super sensitive subject at hand yet somehow I think they should say something; especially because HIV cases have been submitted. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Movie: From Prada to Nada

I tell you not having cable will make you watch anything on Netflix. That's why I took the opportunity to watch From Prada to Nada which is usually not on my list to watch. However, something told me to watch it since it had the word "nada" and I assumed it was about Latino culture. Sure enough I got angry throughout some of the scenes and felt a little disgusted as well. Here you have two rich Mexican girls who are basically Americanized but yet their father is as pure Mexican as they come. He passes away and then the money goes with him...sucks right? Especially for these two girls thinking living in East L.A. is the most horrible thing in the world. One of the sisters actually embraced the Mexican culture while the other took a little longer to embrace. Mix in some horrible step-family members, gangs, lawyers and you get "nada." Okay I lied, it was okay but I just didn't like the race issues involved. One thumb up.

Movie: Maid in Manhattan

So now that Telemundo has launched Una maid en Manhattan, I decided to watch the original movie with
Jennifer Lopez. If you haven't watch the novela, Maid in Manhattan is a good start and summary to grasp your interest. I'm glad Jennifer Lopez didn't play your typical "extra" Latina. Although there were some scenes throughout the move that reference her Latina-ness, it wasn't important. And yes at the end Lopez's character sees an epiphany and doesn't want to clean homes anymore. The story is more about love and how we can find it in the strangest of places. And that we shouldn't judge ANYONE because love is blind after all :). I do wonder how the novela will drag out the movie for 8 weeks.