Category Archives: latin@

Women of Color and Wealth – The Scope of The Problem [Part 1]

by Latoya Peterson

Yesterday, a headline in the Post-Gazette worked its way around Twitter:  Study finds median wealth for single black women at $5. Most outlets qualified the link by calling it “shocking” or mentioning the five dollar figure was not a typo.

I called up a fellow young black professional friend of mine and told her about the findings of the study.  “Is it messed up that I’m kind of glad in a way?” she asked, “I mean, all this time I’ve been wondering why I can’t get my shit together, but it turns out I’m normal.” We both laughed at her small attempt at gallows humor around a situation many of us know a little too intimately – when it comes to our white counterparts, women of color are light years behind in wealth.

The study is a new report from The Insight Center for Community Economic Development, titled “Lifting as We Climb: Women of Color, Wealth, and America’s Future.”  The report is an in-depth look at the issues in wealth accumulation particular to black women, Latinas, Asian and Native American women.  However, even as this report is one of the most comprehensive I have seen on the subject, the limited data for Asian American and Native American women means that their statistics are limited from entire sections of the report, and discussed in a subsequent section about the need for better stats.  The report’s title is should be a familiar refrain to many black women, but the author of the report, Mariko Chang, kindly includes an explanation of the origin of the phrase:

More than a century ago, the National Association for Colored Women was founded by African American women leaders in response to a vicious attack on the character of African-American women. A few decades distant from the abolition of slavery, the intensification of poverty, discrimination, and segregation impelled these women to action in defense of their race. Their motto was “Lifting as We Climb,” signaling their understanding that no individual woman of color could rise, nor did they want to rise, without the improvement of the whole race. At the top of their agenda were job training, wage equity, and child care: issues that, if addressed, would lift all women, and all people of color.

The lift as we climb refrain was implanted into some of us from birth and a lot of my earliest lessons about black empowerment focused on financial empowerment.  Yet, these adages about saving money, investing in the community, and being a conscious consumer was like propping a footstool against a fifty foot high sheer rock wall.  Continue reading

Worried About Women of Color? Thanks, But No Thanks, Anti-Choicers. We’ve Got It Covered.

By Guest Contributor Miriam Pérez, originally published at RH Reality Check

This article is part of a series appearing on RH Reality Check, written by reproductive justice advocates responding to recent efforts by the anti-choice movement to use racial and ethnic myths to limit women’s rights and health. Recent articles on this topic include those by Pamela Merrit, Gloria Feldt, Kelley Robinson, and Maame-Mensima Horne.

273At first glance, it’s nice to see the anti-choice community pretending to care about communities of color. But within a few minutes, the skepticism sets in. What’s really behind these tactics, coming from a group that is majority white, middle-class and Christian? In the end, we know this isn’t actually about women of color and their well-being. It’s a sensationalist attempt to pit women of color against the reproductive rights movement. Classic divide and conquer.

Women of color within the reproductive rights and justice movement have brought light to the policies (often perpetuated by our own government, medical providers and researchers) that serve the mission of population control within our communities. We’ve fought back against the connections and alliances with those in the environmental rights movement who blame the challenges of resource scarcity on women of color and their family size.

We’ve fought back against governmental policies like welfare family caps and limits on access to certain types of contraception over others. We’ve fought with the reproductive rights community to get them to care about these issues and how they affect our communities—and we’ve won.

We’re fighting for access to contraception, to abortion, to options for childbirth and parenting. And now we’ll fight the racist and paternalistic logic behind the eugenics arguments being made by anti-choicers.

In the Latina community, we’ve dealt with all sorts of attempts at controlling our families. In addition to welfare family caps and abusive immigration policies, we’ve also got a long history of sterilization abuse. The height of this was in the 1970s, when Dr. Helen Rodriguez-Trias and others discovered that doctors and residents at a Los Angeles hospital had sterilized hundreds of Mexican women, without their knowledge or full consent. We’re talking women being asked to sign consent forms in languages they did not speak, being lied to and told that the procedure was reversible, or being offered sterilization in the midst of labor.

The result of this was a major organizing push by CESA—Committee to End Sterilization Abuse–to enact federal informed consent laws for sterilization. They won, and in 1976 these laws were enacted, mandating processes for informed consent, waiting periods for sterilization consent, and forms that had to be in the patient’s language, among other things.

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George Lopez “Races” Late Night

By Guest Contributor Tomas, originally published at Latino Like Me

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Comedian George Lopez debuted “Lopez Tonight” on Monday, November 9.  A veteran of the stand-up stage, Lopez’s foray into late night does little to mess with the familiar format honed by Johnny Carson and tweaked by Leno and Letterman: it includes a monologue, video-taped comedy segment, celebrity interview, and musical guest.

The primary difference, as pushed by Lopez, is the “color” of the show.  “¡Oralé!” he exclaimed as he walked out on stage.  “The revolution begins right now!”

It’s an odd role for Lopez, the man who carved out his niche in prime time as a Mexican Bill Cosby.  His eponymous sitcom featured a middle (maybe even upper-middle) class family struggling with the same kinds of life issues faced by any family.  Its lack of depth and specificity relating to Latino life was deliberate.  It didn’t evade “race,” but it rarely let it mean more than we’re slightly different but still the same. Continue reading

Did CNN say “ya basta” to Lou Dobbs?

By Guest Contributor Tomas, originally published at Latino Like Me

After several months of a focused internet and social media campaign pressuring CNN to fire Lou Dobbs, the xenophobic pundit announced tonight he is leaving CNN effectively immediately.

BastaDobbs.org–the virtual Latino coalition which led the campaign against CNN–is claiming victory. “We are thrilled that Dobbs no longer has this legitimate platform from which to incite fear and hate,” said Roberto Lovato. Lovato, who is an accomplished writer, is also the founder of the Latino-advocacy group Presente.org, the lead organization behind the anti-Dobbs campaign.  “The community is newly empowered and energized,” he continued, “and we are ready to fight for a respectful and civil media discourse when it comes to immigration coverage on mainstream news.”

I couldn’t be happier that Lou Dobbs’ uncritical voice of hate is off the air.  I am a firm defender of anyone’s right to free speech, but I am also fiercely opposed to the  notion that we are better as a society if we provide a platform for all speech.  Television news–and cable news in particular–has moved into an era where providing a “safe space” for the voices from the political extreme has come to substitute for critical discourse and constructive debate.  That isn’t the news and it isn’t “fair and balanced.” It’s petty, and it’s lazy, and it needs to evolve.

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Neoliberalism and Reggaeton

By Guest Contributor Marisol LeBron, originally published at post pomo nuyorican homo

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Reuters recently published a pieced entitled “Reggaeton fever shakes up Cuba’s culture” the article cites an now infamous (in reggaeton circles anyway) quote by Juventud Rebelde that calls reggaeton a “reflection of ‘neoliberal thinking’.”

I think the development and growth of reggaeton in Cuba has been fascinating (if you are interested check out Geoff Baker’s work) and illuminates much about the ways in which different musical forms/genres circulate as cultural and ideological commodities.

The idea of reggaeton being a product of neoliberalism is intriguing. Clearly the flows of neoliberal capital and its circuits facilitated the spread of technologies and people that enabled the different permutations of reggaeton within the   Caribbean, the Americas, and globally.

More than anything else, I wonder what seeing reggaeton as a neoliberal commidity says about how Cuban authorities think about the neocolonial relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico and the forces of diaspora (not only between Puerto Rico and the U.S., but broadly speaking) in forging reggaeton, essentially outside of the Cuban nation (and well any nation really). Reggaeton is largely positioned as outside of the Cuban nation, seen as an import from the yanquis via Puerto Rico, which is why Cuban Culture Minister Abel Prieto is quoted in the Reuters piece as saying that reggaeton needs to be “pushed away.” Reggaeton is agringado, a corrupting influence on Cuba’s revolutionary ideals.

While reggaeton is (often mis)understood as a Puerto Rican, or even an American phenomenon, the more authorities and cultural brokers attempt to place reggaeton within some kind of national frame the more obvious it becomes that reggaeton exist in between and outside of national boundaries.

Maybe that is what makes reggaeton so threatening, what incites all these national panics? Well, besides sex and race, but of course those things are tied up within the nation too…

Now I’m just ranting though….thoughts?

Reggaeton’s White Hope and the “Reggaeton Crash”

By Guest Contributor Marisol LeBron, originally posted at post pomo nuyorican homo

I have a lot of feelings watching this video, but not quite any thoughts yet. I have had some thoughts on Calle 13 in general recently though.

While I like Calle 13, there is something as of late that makes me completely uncomfortable with how Residente’s blanquito flow and his “art school/class clown attitude,” as Wayne Marshall aptly terms it, are being heralded by reggaeton supporters and detractors alike as shining example of where the genre should go. Calle 13 is being positioned by many as the great white hope that is going to resuscitate reggaeton from its supposed “death.” (pero no con mas gasolina, that’s for sure).

Wanye Marshalll just blogged a fantastic post entitled “Can We Talk About ‘Can We Talk About the Reggaeton Crash?’?”, responding to, among other things, Willie Colon’s assertion that reggaeton has peaked Wayne says,

i think reggaeton’s gonna be around (and popular) for some time to come. we’ll see what it sounds like, though. and whether people still call “it” reggaeton (they did, after all, used to call “it” any number of names).

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Why I Study Reggaeton

By Guest Contributor Marisol LeBron, originally published at post pomo nuyorican homo

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As I was getting myself ready to head down to the Puerto Rican Day Parade (or more accurately, its aftermath) I found myself dumbstruck by the profundity of what I was hearing and seeing.

Always the multi-tasker I was getting ready with the TV switched on to the Parade and Las Guanabanas’ new mixtape, “Regreso Al Underground” (Return to the Underground), blasting from the speakers in my bathroom. I stopped scurrying around my apartment long enough to watch the parade for a moment and paso una cosa rara (a queer thing happened). As Fox 5’s cameras cut from (post)reggaetonero Residente of Calle 13 to shots of flag waving boricuas watching the parade, the last song from “Regreso Al Underground” came on and announced to the world: “Yo soy bellaco, pa’ que tu lo sepas!” (I’m horny, just so you know!).

With the same cadence and enthusiasm that the crowds at the Puerto Rican Day Parade shout “Yo so Boricua, pa’ que tu lo sepa,” reggaetoneros Tommy Viera and Chantelly, announced and celebrated their hornyness. The theme of bellaqueo in reggaeton is not particularly surprising, however, this moment caught me completely off guard. Overlaid as they were, it seemed as if the two forces had synced and the crowd on the TV rather than announcing its Puertorriquenidad was announcing its desire to fuck. Right then and there, by pure happenstance, I had witnessed what Puerto Rican cultural nationalist must conjure in their worst fears about reggaeton – the excesses of the body and of sexuality and desire that resist the disciplining technologies of the nationalist project – and on this day of all days!

The management of sexuality – queer sexualities, racialized sexualities, and non-procreative sexualities – has always been at the center of any nationalist project. Yet, this accidental intrusion of bellaqueo into the quintessential spectacle of Puerto Rican cultural nationalism provides an interesting moment of disruption and illuminates the simultaneous absence and ubiquity of sexuality in nationalist discourse and imagery.

So I ask: what would it mean to put bellaqueo at the center of our studies of the Puerto Rican nation?

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