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Latino vote may top 12 million in 2012
If Latinos turn out in high numbers for this presidential election, their effect could be decisive.
October 26th, 2012
09:41 AM ET

Latino vote may top 12 million in 2012

By Rose Arce, CNN

(CNN) – The voting population of Latinos has exploded to the point where Latinos will not only be a decisive force in the presidential election, but will likely affect the outcome of political contests from school boards and statehouses to Congress, according a new report by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

"Latino voter enthusiasm is up," said Arturo Vargas, executive director of NALEO. A recent poll by ImpreMedia-Latino Decisions confirms that analysis, counting three quarters of Latino voters as actively engaged in the election with 14% of all Latinos saying they are actively working on getting out the vote.

The number of registered Latinos has increased by 26% in the last four years to 12.2 million or 8.7% of all voters. A new potential Latino voter turns 18 every 30 seconds. Already, one of four U.S. citizens under the age of 18 is Latino, including 48% of the youth population of Texas, Vargas said, but low voter registration among young people and new voter ID laws could dampen turnout.

Clarissa Martinez, who works on civic engagement for the National Council of La Raza, cautioned that Latino voting power is held back by a lack of registration. "Once Latinos register they vote in nearly as high a numbers as anyone," she said. But a third of the entire community is not yet 18, another 23% are ineligible because their immigration status and just 14 million of the 24 million eligible Latino voters have actually registered, she said.

Read the full story on CNN's Political Ticker blog

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Filed under: How we live • Latino in America • Politics
October 23rd, 2012
09:32 AM ET

Election Day may reveal shift on same-sex marriage

By Rose Arce and Carol Costello, CNN

Baltimore, Maryland (CNN) - From her Baltimore kitchen, Rebecca Murphy is lobbying legislators, crafting signs and making phone calls as she wages a battle to allow gays and lesbians to marry in her state.

The married mother of two doesn't have a personal stake in the fight. Rather, Murphy represents the growing number of people nationwide who support gay rights regardless of their own sexual orientation.

"I have gay and lesbian friends and family who are raising children and creating lives, and they deserve to be treated fairly," she says.

As national polls show a shift in attitudes about same-sex marriage, Murphy's state of Maryland is one of three poised to put the issue to an up-or-down popular vote for the first time next month.

While support has grown, there are still many who oppose allowing gays to marry and are doing their part to strike the measure down. The Rev. Frank Reid and his wife, Marlaa, of Bethel AME Church in Baltimore run workshops for single African-Americans in an effort to encourage strong marriages and discourage sexual behaviors that can lead to HIV/AIDS.

"I do understand and accept that there are other patterns for families," Marlaa Reid says. "However, the basic prescription for marriage, I embrace it as a biblical prescription. A man and a woman."

Read the full story

July 28th, 2012
09:00 AM ET

Olympic boxer fights to inspire

Editor's Note: On Saturday, Soledad O’Brien introduces you to a Latina boxer about to face the fight of her life as she attempts to make her Olympic dreams a reality. CNN’s Latino in America: In Her Corner, Saturday night at 11 Eastern.

By Soledad O’Brien and Rose Arce, CNN

(CNN) - Marlen Esparza is in London, literally preparing for the fight of her life.

A working-class girl from Texas, she has been training as a boxer since she was 12. Now, at 23, she is about to be among the first women to box at the Olympic Games. Marlen is a 5-foot-3, 112-pound flyweight, a first generation American.

She never expected to become a role model.

Yet, today she is in Spanish-language advertisements for McDonald’s and Coke, representing some of the most well-known American institutions.

“My kids saw her in the McDonald’s ads and they were like ‘wow, she’s a big deal,’” said Dalila Esparza, her sister and best friend, who has four young children. “This is really big in the community.”

Marlen also has sponsorships from Cover Girl and Nike, and the notoriety of being the six-time national champion of the only Olympic sport that didn’t allow women until now.

But fame in the Latino community was a surprise.

“I never thought about it that much,” she told us when we met more than a year ago. “But as time goes on I realize how important this is.”

Marlen speaks very little Spanish and has never been to Mexico. She lives in Houston, where Latinos are nearly 40% of the estimated 2 million residents.

Being Latina was never something she’d given much thought. FULL POST

Latina moms influential in election, but want more answers
First lady Michelle Obama campaigns in Florida Tuesday.
July 11th, 2012
07:55 AM ET

Latina moms influential in election, but want more answers

By Rose Arce, CNN

(CNN) - In the battle for the soccer mamis, let’s just say Tuesday was a gooooooooooal for the Obama campaign. But perhaps not so great for the mamis.

'Soccer mamis' could affect general election

The president’s campaign offered up Michelle Obama to talk to CNN contributor Maria Cardona. It was live streamed on Mamiverse, a blog for Latinas and their families. The blog is where Cardona and I, along with others, contribute various perspectives.

Since Latinos represent 55% of overall U.S. population growth, and their children account for nearly a quarter of new births, the Latina mama is the go-to gal for influencing Latino voters. Just ask anyone in Latino marketing or politics. Or just turn on Spanish language television, where mamis are targeted relentlessly because of their influence on everything from family decisions on health care to the type of breakfast cereal to purchase.

“Latinas are the ones that drive their home economy, what gets purchased, what schools their kids go to, what churches to go to,” said Elaine de Valle, who edits a portal for English-dominant Hispanics called Voxxi. “While it may be portrayed on film as a patriarchal society, it’s a matriarchal society ... they’re looked at because of the influence they have with their family, friends and neighbors. Women share more than men, they talk about it … they share with their families.”

And Latinas vote in higher numbers than Latinos.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Immigration • Latino in America • Politics
With images of Puerto Ricans, it's one step forward, one step back
CNN Anchor Soledad O' Brien attends the 2009 Puerto Rican Day parade in Manhattan, New York.
June 10th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

With images of Puerto Ricans, it's one step forward, one step back

Editor's note: Rose Arce is a senior producer at CNN’s New York Bureau, and a contributor to Mamiverse, a website for Latinas and their families.  She was a senior producer of "Latino in America 2," which re-airs July 22 on CNN.

By Rose Arce, CNN

(CNN) - Somewhere, out there in Winter Park, Florida, a lechon is about to hit the grill. From Cleveland, a planeload of Buckeye Boricuas will fly to New York, where Mayor Mike Bloomberg has already begun showing off his emerging Spanish skills. It’s time for the National Puerto Rican Day parade which, much like Cinco de Mayo, is another annual American assessment of all things Latino.

In case you’re lost by now, a lechon is a slab of suckling pig and Boricua is slang for Puerto Rican. I knew nothing about this stuff when I was introduced to the Puerto Rican parade 25 years ago after arriving in New York for college. My parents are Peruvian immigrants.

I was fascinated by the enormity of Puerto Rican culture and the conundrum Puerto Rico created for the United States: How could a country have such an uneasy relationship with Latino immigration when it had nearly 4 million Spanish-speaking Latinos born into U.S. citizenship?

Opinion: Treat U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico fairly

The flag of the commonwealth of Puerto Rico looks a bit like an American flag knock-off with one distinct difference: The red and white stripes are joined by a big white star inside a dark blue triangle, a star too big to fit comfortably inside the American red, white and blue.

That says all you need to know about the U.S.-Puerto Rico relationship. FULL POST

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Filed under: How we look • Latino in America • What we think
Opinion: Obama's speech shows changes for same-sex parents
President Barack Obama's speech at Barnard highlighted how the conversation around gay rights has progressed on campus.
May 14th, 2012
07:08 PM ET

Opinion: Obama's speech shows changes for same-sex parents

Editor's note: Rose Arce is a senior producer at CNN and a contributor to Mamiverse, a website for Latinas and their families.

By Rose Arce, CNN

(CNN) - Monday morning, as we scrambled to get Luna off to school, there came a moment when the timeline of my life leapt into fast-forward. I was carrying around an iPad turned to CNN, checking in to see what news awaited me at work, while Luna danced around me, knowing my partner or I would turn off the TV if watching it slowed her down. Then, suddenly, something brought us to a halt.

"President Barack Obama is speaking at Barnard College today," the news reader said. Our eyes widened, and we shot each other a smile. The president was speaking at Mama's school.

I had arrived at Barnard in 1983, fresh from a school run by Jesuit priests, where gay groups were banned from the premises. A boy I'd known had been severely harassed for being gay. Barnard was a long step better, but on the first day of college, my dorm mates fell into silence when one young woman delivered this news: "I have two mothers," she said.

I remember asking whether one was her stepmother. "No. My mothers are gay," she said. "They had me together." She looked so uncomfortable, and no one was stepping up to make her feel any better.

Read the full story

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Filed under: Politics • Sexual orientation • What we think
Judge orders millions paid in NYC firefighter bias case
The lack of minorities in U.S. fire departments has been the focus of many lawsuits.
March 9th, 2012
03:08 PM ET

Judge orders millions paid in NYC firefighter bias case

By Rose Arce, CNN

(CNN) - A U.S. district judge ordered New York City to pay $128 million in to firefighters who allege the city used an entrance exam that deliberately sought to keep African-Americans and Latino Americans off the force. The judge also ordered the FDNY to hire 293 black and Latino applicants.

"It has been in the city's power to prevent or remedy the need for damages proceedings for a decade, and it has not done so," U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garufis said in his ruling on the class action lawsuit. He called it the "consequences of the city's decision to ignore clear violations of federal law."

The federal government had sued the city (United States of America and Vulcan Society Inc. vs. City of New York) alleging the city violated the U.S. Constitution and local civil rights laws by using an entrance exam intentionally designed to discriminate based on race.

Read the full story

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Filed under: Black in America • Discrimination • Ethnicity • Latino in America • Race • Social justice • Who we are
'Mama, would you please speak English!'
Bilingual parents don't always have an easy time leading their kids to be bilingual.
February 28th, 2012
10:22 AM ET

'Mama, would you please speak English!'

Editor's note: Rose Arce is a senior producer at CNN and a contributor to Mamiverse, a website for Latinas and their families.

By Rose Arce, CNN

(CNN) – I am sitting in the North Charleston Coliseum in South Carolina ensconced in a piece of pure Americana. A CNN debate between the Republican presidential candidates is unfolding beneath a sea of cardboard red, white and blue stars and stripes.

"I favor English as the official language of government and I think that creates a continuity," Newt Gingrich says, punching away at his opponent before a roaring crowd of Southern Republicans.

There was continuity weeks later at the CNN debate in Jacksonville, Florida, where nearly a quarter of the population is Hispanic. "I also believe that in our schools, we should teach kids in English," Mitt Romney says to thunderous applause.

What American - Latino or not - wouldn't applaud for teaching kids to speak English in U.S. schools? I slouch into my seat and wait for the good part, when the sparks of partisanship flare up over the details of what "English Only" means. But, when these go mano-a-mano in the language wars, these guys got nothing on the 40 inch, 35 pound adversary I fight each day.

"Mama, would you please speak English! We live in America," 6-year-old Luna yells at the breakfast table. You see, while the broad national debate is about English Only, in my 1,000 square feet of America, it's Spanish that's causing all the stir.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Family • Language • Latino in America • Politics • What we think
Sudden pressure to get 'gay married'
"Now that we can marry, we ask ourselves, 'Isn't this what every Latina wants? Marriage and kids?'"
October 25th, 2011
04:09 PM ET

Sudden pressure to get 'gay married'

Editor's note: Rose Arce is a senior producer at CNN and a contributor to Mamiverse, a website for Latinas and their families. She led the documentary "In Her Corner: Latino in America" about a Mexican-American amateur boxer, Marlen Esparza, fighting to become the first woman to box at the Olympic Games.

(CNN) - I am reminded each day I park my car that the pressure will never subside. A billboard from a storage company cries out to couples tying the knot: "IF YOU DON'T LIKE GAY MARRIAGE, DON'T GET GAY MARRIED."

It's not the political message that's killing me. It's the marital call to arms.

The pressure began on a subway platform the day our daughter Luna, 6, and her best friend, Jackie, 7, saw a newspaper with drawings of double brides and double grooms. The state of New York had saddled same-sex couples with the same stress long available to everyone else: the pressure to marry. And they were starting with our kids.

Read Rose Arce's essay