Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Latino Question

Which term is best to describe this ethnic or minority group that  often includes many cultures, races, and languages? "Latino" or "Hispanic?"


 Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid
Response Team, NASA/GSFC
Wikipedia has a well-annotated article that traces the origin of the word "Hispanic," which comes from the Latin "Hispanicus." This was the adjective derived from "Hispania," which meant the Iberian  Peninsula during the time of the Roman Empire.  More recently, "Hispanic" has come to mean people of Spanish-speaking descent.  Giovanni Rodriguez, whom I quote in an earlier post, has a great discussion in his column the origin and usage of "Hispanic," especially as it applies to Brazilians.

Is Latino the same as Hispanic?  As originally used by the Romans, "Hispanic" was used for anyone from the Iberian Peninsula.  This would include both Spain and Portugal. Important, since Brazil, the largest Latin American Portugal would be excluded, though, in Hispanic's more recent usage of anyone of Spanish-speaking descent or culture.

If "Latino" has as its root the word "Latin," and all romance languages are derived from Latin, not only Spanish, but also Portuguese.  If Latino is a shortened form of "Latinoamericano," that would include Brazil, which speaks Portuguese.

Confusing, since Hispanic can have more than one meaning and Latino can as well.  According to Rodriguez, though, these two terms have the same meaning to the census.  So for today's purposes, I consider them to be synonyms, although this would exclude Brazilians.  The National Center for Biotechnology Information observes that that in the 2000 census, only 7.7% of Brazilians self-identified as Hispanic.

So which do I prefer?  Of course, I named this the "Latino Review," so that must indicate something.  I like the Spanish sound to the word, and that it seems to be growing as a preferred term among other peoples of Spanish/ Latin American origin in the United States. What I do like about Hispanic, though, is that it automatically includes both genders. As is usual in Spanish custom, the masculine form is used to refer to both genders in the general sense, however, Latina is used when it clearly refers to all women or to a woman in particular. I do not like this, since I don't enjoy being included in the masculine form of the word every time I am lumped together with men.  So, like the census and the Pew Foundation reports on Latino/Hispanics, I will use the words interchangeably.

Another great resource for the History and Use of Hispanic and Latino is the New York Times post on its Usage and Style.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Drugs, Money Laundering

This is a letter I wrote to my Representative in Congress, Chris Murphy. One of the reasons I wrote it is because so many Latinos are going to prison for selling drugs, while the money side of the drug trade and the involvement of banks is only beginning to be investigated. Murphy is currently running for senate in Connecticut as a Democrat. He is also my neighbor.

175 Paul Ney Road
Cheshire, CT 06410

( (203) 272-8246

June 7, 2012

The Honorable Christopher S. Murphy
Room# 412, Christopher S. Murphy, House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Subject: Ethics and Oversight

Dear Chris,

What a great job you are doing on Ethics and Oversight in Congress. I saw on your website that your interest extends to the oversight of government in general. Recently I read about a key aspect of drug crime that affects the U.S. and that I think is huge.

According to the attached article in The Guardian, big banks are making big profits from laundering money for the drug trade. This began to receive major publicity when “it emerged that… cocaine smugglers had bought [a] plane with money they had laundered through Wachovia, now part of the giant Wells Fargo.” (“How a big US bank laundered billions from Mexico's murderous drug gangs” Ed Vulliamy, The Guardian, April 2, 2012.) Wachovia was charged with this crime yet no bank employees were “identified.” The case never came to trial. The outcome was a settlement reached with Wells Fargo, a small fine compared to the profits and damage from their crime.

The case showed that Wachovia’s actions were “only the tip of the iceberg” of bank profits from the drug trade. Vulliamy, the author, writes, “the drug trade has two products, money and suffering.” The inevitable consequence of greed for the money is the suffering of those who are addicted to drugs, victims of organized crime, and the Countries in Latin America experiencing disastrous violence. 97% of drug profits go to the banks and criminal syndicates both here and in other developed countries (described in a separate article by Vulliamy, which I can also send.)

Better oversight is critical to taking on the money laundering. So many branches of government are involved, from law enforcement to bank regulators. Others in Congress who have responsibility for these agencies should also be addressing this crime.


Ana Arellano

P.S. It’s great being your neighbor and…Red Sox rule!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

"Espanglish is Accepted and Dissed at the Same Time by the Royal Spanish Academy

NPR has just reported that The very conservative Royal Spanish Academy, that determines what words are allowed into Spanish, has added "espanglish." So I consulted Diccionario de la Lengua Española, (2nd Ed.) and here is the definition:

1. m. Modalidad del habla de algunos grupos hispanos de   los Estados Unidos, en la que se mezclan, deformándolos, elementos léxicos y gramaticales del español y del inglés.

My rough translation: Mode of speaking of certain Hispanic groups in the United States in which meanings and gramatical elements of Spanish and English are mixed in a deformed manner.

One of the commentators in the NPR article objects to the characterization of "Espanglish" as "deformed."Let's compare to English. Here is James Nicoll in Wikipedia

"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle their pockets for new vocabulary." 

 And what of it? There are twenty-six winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature from English speaking countries. Eleven from Spanish speaking countries. And since five of these are from Latin America, we might guess that they do not consult the Academy's "Diccionario" when they write (and perhaps even those from Spain don't consult it either). 

Is it unthinkable that someday the Nobel Prize in Literature will be awarded to someone using "Espanglish" in their work, recognizing its creativity and power?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Other Latino Review

I cannot in good conscience pass myself off as the "Latino Review" ( without paying homenaje at el otro "Latino Review," ( which subtitles itself as "The Latin Perspective on Movies and Pop Culture." I visited various pages on the site and asked myself, ¿what? I found very little evidence of Latin Perspective (which I did wish was Latino Perspective, rather than "Ancient Rome" Latin Perspective). The interviews were not with Latino actors. There wasn't any coverage of movies in Spanish or of movies with a Hispanic theme.  No articles about the lack of Latino Presence in the film industry.

However, the majority of  writers did have Spanish last names. And let me tell you, can they write!

This picture, accompanying their review of the film, "The Possession," best captures how I feel about their writing. It grabs you. Because it is superb. I mean, just how much NewYorkerMagazinese could you desire when you can read something like this:

"Usually when we get horror from big budget studios, money is poured into visual effect which no matter how realistic they are, can never function as a substitute for a good story." (Ron Henriques)

Or this question to the writer of the screenplay for "Prime Rush" from writer Dana Gardner: (Please. We cannot prove that he is not Latino.)

"Except for the 1986 Kevin Bacon movie, Quicksilver, the bike messenger community and the world of brakeless, fixed-gear bikes have never really been explored before in mainstream film. David, how did you become interested in this community and what made you want to write a screenplay about it?"

I shall make a habit of visiting this site often. Sharpen my chops as escritora. Their writing is colorful, knowledgeable, and, my favorite, cómico.

Perhaps when this, my own Latino Review, becomes famous, I can ask them to review a cine de chick, and they will do so in a sensitive and delicate manner.  They do review "Ruby Sparks," and that may have cine de chick potential, or perhaps the cine about the woman who finds out her friend is a phone sex operator?

Regresaré, Latino Review.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Really Good Post About #hashtaging

Latinos in #Twitterlandia is an excellent post on how and why Latinaos (hybrid of "Latina" & "Latino") use Twitter.  Having looked at it a second or third time now, I notice it may be aged--from the early 2011s. A comment on the post noted how "hashtags are so 90s." For me it was fun to read.  Kudos to ClickZ for publishing it, and especially to Giovanni Rodriguez for writing it.  Love your photo, too, Giovanni (right.)    

I did attach #beinglatino and #latism to a couple of my tweets, and gained some (3?) followers.   I also had one true conversation--someone @me with a comment and I clarified.

ClickZ and Rodriguez both have an air of #corporatemarketingbrandingstrategy, which is not my thing, although it could be if you offered me enough money. Fun is fun, however, and I especially like these three observations by Rodriguez:  1. It's not just about tagging; it's about belonging.  2. It's not about "Twitter storms"; it's about persistent conversation.  3. It's not just about conversation; it's about organization, too.