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Bustling botánicas ring in the new year
Justo Botánica since 1930 in New York City, is located in East Harlem, often referred to as the Spanish Harlem.
December 30th, 2011
05:44 PM ET

Bustling botánicas ring in the new year

Editor's note: Erica Y. Lopez is a freelance contributor for several publications, including Fox News Latino, ABC News and the New York Daily News.

By Erica Y. Lopez, Special to CNN

Hoping to find a new job in the new year? Some people ready to make a fresh start in 2012 turn to traditional botánicas, emporiums with deep Latino religious roots to buy herbs, amulets and potions for improved health, new romance or an end to misfortune.

“Everything sells at this time of year, but some of the more popular items are the Three Kings and Jerusalem incense and the Money Draw and Seven Seas floor cleaners,” says Jorge Vargas.

New York’s Spanish Harlem remains home to some of the oldest botánicas in the Big Apple. Located in predominately Latino neighborhoods, botánicas draw followers of Santería (the Latin American religion combining African deities and Catholicism) or the healing tradition of Curanderismo. They can also be a place for novice spiritualists to seek guidance and shed negative energy - a perfect match for New Year’s resolutions. FULL POST

Opinion: Albert Cutié: Preaching the Latino gospel in the United States
Albert Cutié says politicians -- like Florida Governor Rick Scott, center -- strategically reach out to Latinos. But do churches?
December 30th, 2011
01:52 PM ET

Opinion: Albert Cutié: Preaching the Latino gospel in the United States

Editor's note: Albert Cutié is an Episcopal priest and former Roman Catholic priest known as Padre Alberto or "Father Oprah." He is the author of the memoir, "Dilemma: A Priest's Struggle with Faith and Love" and hosted the talk show "Father Albert."

By Fr. Albert Cutié, Special to CNN

In South Florida, every time a politician at the state or federal level aspires to attract the Latino vote, they come to a famous landmark restaurant on Little Havana’s Southwest Eighth Street. It’s called Versailles, and they come to drink the infamous cafecito, a Cuban-style espresso that is served at a window counter in front of the restaurant. It’s designed for those who prefer to stand outside and talk about world news and politics, rather than sitting down in a comfortable, air-conditioned cafe.

Regardless of what party or political inclination these people represent, getting acquainted with the Miami community begins with drinking the famous miniature cup of coffee and talking to folks who have made it part of their daily routine for decades. In the world of politics, there is no doubt that reaching Latinos - the largest minority in the United States - has become a priority for most. Yet, when it comes to many churches, especially our mainstream religious communities in the United States, I often wonder if we’ve truly started to make a sincere effort at reaching out to Latinos effectively?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Latino in America • Religion • What we think
Engage: Though doubters persist, Sharpton remains on prime time
December 30th, 2011
11:47 AM ET

Engage: Though doubters persist, Sharpton remains on prime time

Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.

And still Sharpton rises - The Root

Maneuvering young love with Asperger syndrome - New York Times

Nativity scene with gay couples vandalized in California - Los Angeles Times

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Filed under: Engage
Opinion: Learning from Baba's grocery list
Susan Bodnar framed the part-English, part-Czech grocery list made by her great-grandmother, right, pictured with her husband.
December 30th, 2011
07:00 AM ET

Opinion: Learning from Baba's grocery list

Editor’s note: Susan Bodnar is a clinical psychologist who works with people from diverse backgrounds and teaches at Columbia University’s Teachers College. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, two children and all of their pets.

By Susan Bodnar, Special to CNN

Last night I went online, clicked into my bank, and began to pay bills from three separate piles: must be paid or else, can wait a bit, and we’ll pay these whenever. I never used to have to juggle, but this economy challenges even the most fastidious of savers. Everyone I know seems to hurt a little at the end of the month. During these stressful economic times, I remember stories about survival from my family’s immigrant generation.

We framed my great-grandmother’s shopping list to commemorate her attempt to write in English using foreign pronunciation; becoming American with the tools she could muster from her home country. Baba maintained an allegiance to Czechoslovakia, but her heart came of age in the new country. She spoke in that sing-song melodic cadence of her birth tongue, substituting the English words she had proudly learned. Even when I was a young adult, she summoned me using that potluck language of hers, “Přijďte to your baba and řekni me about škole.” Assimilation was simple for my Baba – embrace it all and make it work.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Economy • Ethnicity • History • What we think • Who we are
Survey says Latino voters sticking with Obama, Democrats
December 29th, 2011
02:59 PM ET

Survey says Latino voters sticking with Obama, Democrats

By Tom Cohen, CNN

Washington (CNN) - Latino voters strongly support President Barack Obama and his Democratic Party, despite dissatisfaction with the administration's deportation policies, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Pew Hispanic Center.

The results are good news for Obama and Democrats for next year's election, as Hispanics are the fastest-growing population group in the country and comprise a major voting bloc.

According to the survey, Latino registered voters favor Obama over Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney or Texas Gov. Rick Perry by margin of more than 2-to-1.

The results are similar to the presidential election in 2008, when Obama got 67% of the Latino vote compared with 31% for Republican candidate Sen. John McCain.

Read the full story

Engage: Political activism: bred out of black-owned beauty shops
December 29th, 2011
01:46 PM ET

Engage: Political activism: bred out of black-owned beauty shops

Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.

Black-owned beauty shops groom political activism - NPR

Has Asian American studies failed? - Tympan

Analysis: Black students are suspended more than other students, reflecting a national trend - Washington Post

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Opinion: In my children, a rainbow, the water, the world
Jeannie Lee writes that her two sons "are like the rainbow because in them is the rainbow of humanity."
December 29th, 2011
08:57 AM ET

Opinion: In my children, a rainbow, the water, the world

Editor’s Note: Jeannie H. Lee is the mother of two bi-racial sons and a stay-at-home mom. She received a Masters of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School and previously worked as a community organizer with Church Women United.

By Jeannie H. Lee, Special to CNN

I struggle always to describe our boys because, unlike me, with one distinct ethnic identity – Korean – they are many: African, Native American, Korean and probably some Caucasian, too. Words to describe them are abundant – multi-ethnic, multi-racial, blendian, AmeriAsian, AfroAsian. A friend, Rasha, created a new word just for them, BlacKorean. But none really worked for me.

I don’t cry easily or readily but when I first heard Jeni Fujita perform her song, “The Color of Water,” I let the tears flow in that dark corner of the club. She spoke to my heart, the part of me that’s a mother to two beautiful boys who I gave birth to with my African-American husband. She gave me words I struggled to find for so long.

Where are you from little daughter?

What's the color of water?

"But mama why is she different than me?"

Baby this is how you were made to be.

Like a rainbow in the sky

Like the color of your eyes

Underneath our skin, we're the same little daughter

FULL POST

December 29th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Arizona ruling hits Tucson ethnic studies program

(CNN) - Public schools in Tucson, Arizona, face millions of dollars in penalties after a ruling that the district's Mexican-American studies program violates state law.

An administrative law judge found the program's curriculum was teaching Latino history and culture "in a biased, political, and emotionally charged manner," and upheld state officials' findings that it violated a state law passed in 2010. The Tucson Unified School District had appealed a decision by the law's principal backer, then-state schools superintendent Tom Horne, to shut down the program.

Horne left office at the end of 2010, but his successor, John Huppenthal, backed Horne's ruling in June. Huppenthal said Tuesday's ruling shows "that it was the right decision."

"In the end, I made a decision based on the totality of the information and facts gathered during my investigation - a decision that I felt was best for all students in the Tucson Unified School District," he said in a written statement.

Read the full story


December 28th, 2011
01:32 PM ET

Korean-American pastor seeks reunification through humanitarian aid

By Stan Wilson and Casey Wian, CNN

Los Angeles (CNN) - When Chang Soon Lee reflects on his childhood years in North Korea, his joy quickly turns to deep sadness. Like millions of Koreans caught in the middle of the Korean War in the early 1950s, Chang at the age of 15 was forced to flee his native homeland.

His father, a prominent minister who survived World War II, disappeared just days after communist-led forces invaded Pyongyang. "After the (World War II) liberation of Korea, my father often visited churches and preached but one day we waited for him and he never returned home," says Chang.

By the time an armistice halted the Korean War in 1953, nearly 37,000 U.S. troops had been killed and more than 400,000 North Koreans soldiers were dead, according to the U.S Department of Defense.

Chang eventually emigrated to the United States on a student visa and became a minister, co-founding a ministry for Korean immigrants at Wiltshire United Method Church in Los Angeles, home to the nation's largest Korean-American population.

Read the full story on CNN's Belief blog

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Filed under: Asian in America • Community • History • Immigration • Politics • Religion • Who we are
Engage: Latinos bid 'adios' to difficult 2011
December 28th, 2011
11:13 AM ET

Engage: Latinos bid 'adios' to difficult 2011

Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.

For Latinos, 2011 is a year to forget - Huffington Post

African American children in Mennonite families bridge two worlds - The Philadelphia Inquirer

A coming-of-age movie highlights an often unseen segment of black life - The Root

Comedy troupe tests people's assumptions of Islam - Washington Post

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