Editor's Note: Saturday marks the 17th anniversary of the murder of the Latino superstar remembered the world over by one name: Selena. When she was shot and killed by her fan club president, the headlines spoke of a 23-year-old Mexican singer who was about to "cross-over" to American pop super stardom. The truth was, however, the woman considered the "Queen of Tejano Music," and her husband, Chris Perez, were American kids raised in Texas, speaking English - not Spanish.
"To Selena, with Love," by Chris Perez, Selena's husband, is a new book, published by Celebra. Below is an excerpt that describes how the young couple struggled with mastering Spanish.
“Mexico was the logical place to begin our international publicity blitz. We already had a fan base there, and we could easily drive to the shows from Texas. Of course, none of us fully realized just how nerve- racking it would be to go from playing relatively small venues in the U.S. to playing large amphitheaters and doing interviews in Spanish in Mexico. We were scheduled to play in Monterrey during our first trip, and there was mad press all day. We went from one interview to the next: radio, television, magazine journalists, you name it. Before the trip, Rick had helped me practice saying my name and what instrument I played.
I kept repeating this phrase to myself like a mantra: “Mi nombre es Chris Perez y toco la guitarra. Mi nombre es Chris Perez y toco la guitarra.” I knew how absurd the Mexican journalists would think it was if we sang in Spanish but couldn’t even manage to speak in basic textbook phrases. I was determined not to embarrass the band— or myself.
Editor’s Note: Juan Carlos Arciniegas is based in Hollywood, as a correspondent and Showbiz anchor for CNN Espanol. You can follow him on Twitter @JuanCarlosCNN.
By Juan Carlos Arciniegas, CNN Espanol
Hollywood, CA (CNN) – He is an international star. Tens of millions of fans in the U.S. alone follow his telenovelas, collect his magazine covers and post his picture on high school lockers. Odds are good, however, if you are not Latino, you may have never heard of him - until now.
Some people call William Levy the “Latino Brad Pitt” (lazy comparison, I know) but until last week Levy was not a familiar name for most of the American television audience.
It all changed last Monday, when Levy was introduced as one of the new contestants on season 14 of the popular TV show, “Dancing with the Stars.” Levy and Cheryl Burke, his dance partner, left that day with a score of 24 out of 30, placing him in second place behind competitors Jaleel White and Katherine Jenkins. Levy also received a standing ovation and, finally, recognition in America that extends beyond the Latino audience.
William Levy and his "Dancing with the Stars" partner, Cheryl Burke.
Editor’s note: Paromita Shah has served as Associate Director of the National Immigration Project since 2005, specializing in immigration detention and enforcement. She is a contributing author and co-presenter of the “Deportation 101” curriculum, participates in regular advocacy efforts with ICE officials, and has created an abundance of resources for communities affected by heightened immigration enforcement efforts.
By Paromita Shah, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Earlier this month, two groups that support immigrants, Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform and Respect/Respeto, jointly announced the forthcoming “eApp,” (Emergency Alert & Protection Program) a smart phone app designed to protect people’s safety and help protect them against any civil rights abuses that could occur when people are stopped in their cars for suspected immigration violations.
The app is modeled after the one created for people participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement. When activated it would notify a pre-set list of people that might include family, friends, lawyers and advocates. The app will also remind users of their rights, and have the ability to record audio and video of the incident. The groups behind “eapp” are fundraising now and hope to have it available for users this summer.
It's no surprise that the creators of this app are from Arizona, the state where SB-1070 feeds into an anti-immigrant climate leading to well-documented civil rights violations. It’s also the state where Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has openly waged a decade-long ‘war’ against people he thinks are non-citizens in the name of stopping unauthorized migration. The greatest tools in his arsenal, prior to Arizona's state law, were voluntary federal programs that allowed police to stop, arrest and detain suspected non-citizens for immigration violations. The result is that SB-1070 and Sheriff Joe's actions have been hurting everyone – not just immigrants.
Editor's note: Melinda Fredricks is vice chairwoman of the Republican Party of Texas and a member of the Texas Federation of Republican Women. In 2008, she was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. In 2003, Perry appointed her to the Texas Medical Board, which licenses and disciplines physicians.
For an opposing view, please click here.
By Melinda Fredricks, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Despite opponents’ claims to the contrary, the real controversy concerning the newly enacted Texas Sonogram Law is that it took an act of the legislature to give women considering an abortion the information they deserve about this medical procedure.
Nonetheless, Garry Trudeau decided to make some ugly mischaracterizations of the law in his “Doonesbury” comic strip.
If it weren’t for the damage his misinformation could create, many Texans would just laugh at Trudeau’s ignorance. For one thing, he seems to think our legislature is made up of only middle-aged GOP men. The 21 women legislators who voted for the bill take issue with that, I’m certain. And while the bill was passed overwhelmingly by Republicans, without bi-partisanship the bill could not have passed the Texas Senate.
However, Trudeau’s misinformation crossed over into just plain nasty when he characterized the Texas Sonogram Law as rape. Disappointingly, a brilliant and talented woman such as former ABC news anchor Carole Simpson defended him in her recent article on this site.
Simpson’s argument is based on a statement that a vaginal sonogram is necessary in order to obtain the information required by the law to be given to the patient, and she alleges it “may even damage the reproductive organs of women who dare to seek an abortion.” This begs the questions, if a vaginal ultrasound is so dangerous, then why in the world did the FDA approve it, and why does the National Abortion Federation recommend it as a standard of care for some first-trimester medically induced abortions?
Editor's note: Carole Simpson is the leader-in-residence at Emerson College’s School of Communication in Boston, where she teaches journalism and communications classes. She is the first woman or minority to be the sole moderator of a presidential debate, and chronicled her 40 years as a broadcast journalist in her memoir, "Newslady."
For an opposing view, click here.
By Carole Simpson, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Garry Trudeau has done it again. For more than 40 years his comic strip, “Doonesbury” has been criticized for poking fun at presidents, other political figures and government decisions. But his strip is being yanked from some newspapers this week because, for the second time in his career, he has created a storyline that takes on abortion, God forbid.
What prompted Trudeau to invite the wrath of conservative pro-lifers everywhere is the new Texas law, which demeans, demoralizes, and may even damage the reproductive organs of women who dare to seek an abortion. Passed by the Republican-controlled Texas legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Perry, the law forces a woman who wants an abortion to receive information about her fetus that only can be obtained by a vaginal ultrasound.
During the procedure a doctor inserts a 10-inch sonogram wand into the vagina of a pregnant woman. Then the doctor must show her the image of her fetus and make her listen to the heartbeat. Then the woman goes home to spend 24 hours considering her decision to abort. Texas lawmakers wanted to make the procedure so invasive, so painful, and so emotionally devastating that the woman would change her mind. They hope the woman bears the baby, which may have been conceived through rape or incest, or even if the birth may endanger her life. It’s a prescription for child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment.
For this week’s “Doonesbury,” Trudeau created a story damning the Texas legislature. It begins with a Texas woman going to a clinic seeking an abortion. The nurse tells her: “The male Republicans who run Texas require that all abortion seekers be examined with a 10” shaming wand.” WOW.
Editor's note: Maria Cardona is a Democratic strategist, a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton and former communications director for the Democratic National Committee.
By Maria Cardona, CNN Contributor
(CNN) – Much has been written about the GOP’s huge hole with Latino voters and how that will prevent them from reaching the White House. In fact, a new poll of just Latino voters has no Republican presidential candidate polling above 14% against President Obama. Dios mio! As if that weren’t enough, the GOP is now busy with their shovels digging themselves another hole, this time with another incredibly important demographic – women.
We are talking about 53% of the electorate and an electorate made up of many independents who look at issues and candidates, not necessarily party identification. President Obama won women in 2008, 56% to McCain’s 42%, a big reason he is in the White House today. But even as recently as late last year, independent women were not supporting President Obama, a fact that was of great concern to the White House and a reason they kept focusing like a laser on economic issues and fixing policies they could influence like student loans, mortgage relief, and yes, implementing the Affordable Care Act regulation ensuring all women could have equal access to life saving health care services without paying out of pocket expenses.
For that, the Administration found itself in a maelstrom for several days. The Catholic Church came down hard on the White House for believing their religious freedoms were being infringed upon by mandating they provide birth control to women who work at any of their affiliated facilities like universities or hospitals. But because the Administration was focused on doing what is right, and not what is politically expedient, they went back to the drawing board and put forth a compromise that would not violate anyone’s religious freedoms while still ensuring all women had access to critical health care services.
Editors Note: Ed Morales is a professor at Columbia University's Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race. He is also a journalist and author of "Living in Spanglish: The Search for Latino Identity in America."
By Ed Morales, Special to CNN
“When I was 8 years old, my aunt tried to register us in school,” Sylvia Méndez said, “and because she had light skin and her Mexican family had a French [-sounding] surname, they took her kids, but they said me and my brother would have to go to the Mexican school.”
At barely 5 feet tall, with deep brown skin, dark eyes, a broad, inviting smile, and thick black hair, the 76-year-old Méndez looks like she could be Mexican.
But that is only half of her story.
Editor’s Note: Lili Gil is a businesswoman with expertise in marketing to Hispanics. She is co-founder and managing partner of XL Alliance, a business strategy and marketing firm dedicated to help business leaders and corporations navigate and enter emerging multicultural markets. Gil was recently selected to be a World Economic Young Global Leader. She is on Twitter @liligil.
By Lili Gil, Special to CNN
What comes to mind when you think of Latinos? Is it exotic beauties, great dancing, loud music, big families, illegals, all or some of the above? Is it poor, disadvantaged, short and brown?
The truth is 53% of all Hispanics in the U.S. self-identify as white, but unfortunately a world of media that over- emphasizes issues of immigration and drug trafficking have often tainted the true colors and stories of those who call themselves “Latinos.”
I am a strategist and marketer who makes a living demystifying the world of Latinos for America’s CEO’s and decision makers. It is my life’s quest to understand true Latino identity.
I then take my information, and try to make advertisers and business leaders understand who we really are, and why they should take the time to get to know us. As you can imagine, this quest of mine is incredibly complex.
Editor's note: Christopher Lapinig and Katie Chamblee are law students in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School, which represents plaintiffs in the civil rights lawsuit against the East Heaven Police Department.
By Christopher Lapinig and Katie Chamblee, Special to CNN
(CNN) - On Tuesday, following the indictment of four East Haven police officers for violating the civil rights of Latinos, Mayor Joseph Maturo responded to a question about what he planned to do for the Latino community by saying he might have tacos for dinner. He deserved the vehement backlash that followed.
But the mayor’s insensitivity to the seriousness of the problem is only the tip of the iceberg. His comments epitomize a town leadership that has refused to recognize Latinos as full members of the community who are entitled to the full protection of the law.
Police Chief Leonard Gallo’s retirement announcement today is the first step toward dismantling the toxic culture that has sanctioned police misconduct for years. Town police have failed to fulfill their constitutional obligation to protect the rights of all members of the East Haven community. Indeed, they have relegated Latinos to the back of the bus.
Editor’s Note: Mike Valdés-Fauli is President of JeffreyGroup, the largest independent communications firm focusing on Latin audiences. He has been a media commentator on Hispanic issues for CNN en Español, AdWeek, PR Week, the Miami Herald. Mike was named one of PR Week magazine’s 40 Under 40. He lives in Miami with his wife and son.
Watch In America's documentary about the race to capture the Latino vote on CNN in October 2012.
By Mike Valdés-Fauli, Special to CNN
(CNN) - For months, Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio has sat atop pundits’ vice presidential lists, and the Republican primary here on January 31 once again places the Florida Hispanic population at the forefront of our political landscape. This demographic will come into even greater focus as it presents the first real test of Latino voters for candidates in a fierce battle to attract them in November.
Florida's many diverse demographics make it a microcosm of the U.S. melting pot, but politicians understand that Cuban-Americans, in particular, hold significant influence over the entire Latino community in this country, and directly impact the outcome of elections in Florida. This crucial swing state is home to the third-largest Latino population in the country – more than 4.2 million people. One-third of eligible Hispanic voters here are Cuban.
Since the first wave of arrivals in 1960, the Cuban immigrant population in the United States has become wildly successful and credited - or faulted, depending on your viewpoint - for swaying many presidential elections.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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