Friday, October 30, 2009

Author Sapphire talks about the new movie "Precious" inspired by her novel "Push"

What she said about the student who inspired the Precious character gave me chills:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Teacher, My Hero

I had so many teachers who made an impact on my life and I will always be grateful because for me they were the only role models, besides my mom that was I exposed to:

Take the opportunity to thank your teachers:

Thank the teachers who touched your life, by posting your own video message to

Anyone who does will be in good company-—joining celebrities, athletes, public officials, and business leaders who have already personally thanked their teachers in candid videos posted online in an effort to help launch the new My Teacher, My Hero initiative. Then, during National Teacher Appreciation Week May 3-7, 2010, a series of awards will be granted to the teachers acknowledged on the site, including the most viewed videos, and to the schools which tally the most teachers thanked.

To post a tribute or see others, visit the Myteachermyhero/ website.

Check out whose thanking who:
Mayor of LA, Antonio Villaraigosa
Anil Dash
Sean Paul

Chimamanda Adichie: People Like Me in Literature

"Wonderful personal narrative from novelist Adichie about the real and dire consequences of only allowing one voice to represent thousands, and makes a very beautiful argument on how the single story impoverishes our lives." via Racialicious

I love that her voice is shaky, as a shy girl myself - it completely touches my heart.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Speaking of Halloween: Pumpkin and Shrimp Soup

I was introduced to this soup at a French-Mexican fusion place near me, called Itzocan Bistro, a couple of years back. They have a very similar soup on their menu, which I tried to recreate. However,  they add a dollop of Chipotle crema fresca (creme Fraiche). Not being big on veggies and thinking this a strnage combo - I tried it anyhow only to dicover it's divine and great for fall festivities and now it's one of my favorites.

Pumpkin and Shrimp Soup

2 medium onions, sliced
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon snipped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 14-ounce can chicken broth
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 cup milk
1 8-ounce package frozen, peeled, cooked shrimp, thawed
Fresh shrimp in shells, peeled, deveined, and cooked (optional)
Plain low-fat yogurt or dairy sour cream (optional)
Snipped fresh chives (optional)

1. In a covered large saucepan cook the onions, carrots, cilantro, ginger, garlic, and allspice in hot margarine for 10 to 12 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, stirring once or twice.

2. Transfer the mixture to a blender container or food processor bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the chicken broth. Cover and blend or process until nearly smooth.

3. In the same saucepan combine pumpkin, milk, and remaining broth. Stir in the blended vegetable mixture and the 8 ounces shrimp; heat through. If desired, on small skewers thread additional cooked shrimp. Ladle soup into soup bowls. If desired, top each serving with a spoonful of yogurt, a sprinkling of chives, and a shrimp skewer. Makes 4 servings.
You can also serve inside a pumpkin:

If you are going to serve the soup in a pumpkin, boil 2 quarts of water. Cut the top off of the pumpkin and clean out carefully.Cut a notch in the top for the ladle to stick through. Pour the boiling water into the pumpkin and swish around and then pour into sink. Pour the soup into the pumpkin and serve with lemon or shrimp wedges.
You can add a dollop of fresh sour cream to yours instead of the crema fresca. Last time I made it I added sweet potato and pureed it and also 2 tablespoons of sofrito, some old bay seasoning, adobo, tons of garlic, frozen crab meat, scallions, pepper, cumin, basil, and since I didn't have allspice, I used nutmeg and ground cloves, and dried cilantro. I also used lowfat milk. Let me know if you try it. If you like thick, creamy soups - you will enjoy this one. It makes a great soup course at Thanksgiving dinner too.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ghoulish Nights in Boogie Down's Woodlawn Cemetery

Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx if offering three flashflights-required tours of sites associated with its most tragic guests.

Oct 29, 30, 31st and Nov 1st:
History and Mystery Tours – 6 pm - Jerome Avenue Gate

Spend an evening in the cemetery learning the legends of Woodlawn.  This perennial favorite takes you to the sculpture of “the Bride,” the graves of notorious figures and the monuments that share the tales of tragic events.  Flashlights required!

To make a reservation, get additional information or to volunteer your time, call (718) 920-1470 or email
Woodlawn Cemetery was founded in 1863 in The Bronx, New York, and is one of the largest in the United States. Many prominent figures in jazz, theater, literature, business, and politics are buried on the cemetery’s 400 acres.

These include Herman Armour; the Belmont family; Nellie Bly; Vernon and Irene Castle; George M. Cohan; Celia Cruz; Miles Davis; Charles Delmonico; Duke Ellington; Jay Gould; W. C. Handy; Coleman Hawkins; Victor Herbert; Milt Jackson; the Juilliard family; King Oliver; Samuel Kress; Fritz Kreisler; Fiorello LaGuardia; R. H. Macy; Herman Melville; Robert Moses; J. C. Penney; Joseph Pulitzer; Elizabeth Cady Stanton; the Straus family; Madame C. J. Walker; Bert Williams; the Whitney family; and the Woolworth family.

Isabel Allende Named to Council of Cervantes Institute

Spain’s Cabinet announced Friday the appointment of Isabel Allende, the world’s most widely read Spanish-language author, to the Council of the Cervantes Institute, whose mission is promoting the language, literature and culture of the Iberian nation.

The council is responsible for guiding the Cervantes Institute’s activities, and its members are drawn from representatives of Spanish and Latin American culture and letters, universities and other social institutions.

Besides recipients of the Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious literary honor in the Spanish-speaking world, the council includes Latin American writers such as Tomas Eloy Martinez, Juan Villoro, Federico Luppi, Angeles Mastretta and, starting Friday, Isabel Allende, replacing Peruvian poet Blanca Varela, who died in March.

Born in Lima in 1942, where her father, Tomas Allende – cousin of future Chilean President Salvador Allende – was posted as a diplomat, Isabel Allende published “La Casa de los Espiritus” (House of the Spirits), her first novel, in 1982, and with it began a literary career marked by many successful works.

Her books have been translated into more than two-dozen languages and 51 million copies of her novels have been sold.

Last month she presented in Spain her latest novel, “La Isla Bajo el Mar” (The Island Under the Sea), in which she recounts the life of a mixed-race slave in 18th-century Hispaniola.

A California resident for the last 21 years, Allende has won numerous prizes and distinctions, including France’s Grand Prix d’Evasion, the Gabriela Mistral Prize in Chile, the Italian Bancarella Prize and the Chevalier des Artes et des Lettres distinction in France.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Papers: The Movie

"Papers" is the story of undocumented youth and the challenges they face as they turn 18 without legal status.


There are approximately 2 million undocumented children who were born outside the U.S. and raised in this country. These are young people who were educated in American schools, hold American values, know only the U.S. as home and who, simply by turning 18, become "illegal" immigrants.

65,000 undocumented students graduate every year from high school without “papers” and the door to their future slams shut. It is against the law to work or drive. It is difficult, if not impossible in some states, to attend college. Currently, there is no path to citizenship for these young people.

Graham Street Productions is producing this film in partnership with Film Action Oregon. We are working in collaboration with the youth who want to tell their stories as well as community organizations around the country who are working to change immigration policy on behalf of these young people.

Graham Street Productions is producing this film in association with El Grupo Juvenil (the "Papers" Youth Crew). These youth producers are actively involved in all aspects of the production.

The racial politics of online dating

Very interesting:

Now to another type of cyber-socializing: online dating. Love may be blind, but in the virtual world it is not colorblind. According to new data compiled by the free online dating service OKCupid, racial biases are very much part of the romantic choices we are making online, even when we insist that they are not.

The site looked at the messaging behaviors of over a million users and found that black women were the most slighted, and white men and women were the most favored when it comes to seeking out a partner in cyberspace.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Is America Really Post-Racial?:

Don't miss: what does it mean to be post-racial in the hip-hop generation?

Thursday • October 29 • 6:30 PM
Is America Really Post-Racial?: Rap Sessions

What does it mean to be post-racial in the hip-hop generation? Hip-hop, the youth culture of our time, has become synonymous with race even as it appeals to global cultures.

Join leading hip-hop activists, scholars, and artists for a town hall style discussion.

Speakers include:
MC Serch, host of the VH-1 reality series The White Rapper Show and Miss Rap Supreme;
Joan Morgan, author of When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: My Life as a Hip-Hop Feminist;
Martha Diaz, community organizer, media producer, researcher, archivist, and a social entrepreneur;
Rev. Conrad Tillard, Sr. Pastor of Nazarene Congregational Church; and Bakari Kitwana, journalist, activist and political analyst.

Free, reservations required. For reservations and information please call 917.492.3395.

The Museum of the City of New York is at 1220 Fifth Avenue, between 103rd and 104th Street.

Video from previous Rap Sessions Community Dialogue:
Is America Really Post-Racial?

Presented by Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media, Columbia College Chicago & Rap Sessions. Panelists: Jabari Asim, Lisa Fager Bediako, Timuel Black, Invincible, Dr. Tricia Rose, Jane M. Saks

Saturday, October 24, 2009

At the Movies

Two very different films - but I love John Leguizamo and Salma Hayek

Friday, October 23, 2009

2009 Forbes 400 - Where are the Latinos & African Americans?

I've been thinking about the state of Latinos in America a lot after watching CNN and also the response on the websphere. I might get flamed for saying this but I don't think that CNN did a horrible job with it. Yes, they feature enough success stories although they did show several briefly including Soledad O'Brien, U.S. Senator Mel Martinez, Chef Lorena Garcia, Edward James Olmos, the Puerto Rican female engineer from Disney, the list goes on...

The reaction on the net I noticed was extremely against the series. In fact, one prominent Latino on twitter, created a spot for all Latinos to come post their very own Latino Success Stories, a lot of people were turned off or did not watch it all. I feel rather torn. Yes, it was depressing to watch. Yes, I was brought to tears by the child imprisoned because she was here illegally. Yes, the racist, ignorant comments killed me. One guy said illegal immigrants took jobs away from Blacks, while another woman said Latin masses would be fine if they were in Latin. Where is that place called Latin, my friends?

At the same time, CNN did not distort the facts: There are Latinos doing well and education is a key factor in that and then there are MANY Latinos across the board, from many places, who are not doing so well. Dropping out, teenage pregnancy, gangs, unemployment, dealing with issues like immigration, racism, lack of language skills, huge family responsibilities that are a direct result of our Old World culture clash. I mean these are huge realities and complex issues amongst Latinos in the US.

To ignore them or to paint a rosy picture of Latinos in the US would be a huge disservice to the marginalized, invisible individuals who have no power to make their voices or their plight heard. It's only through programs like this that these issues are brought to the forefront and into mainstream society and became part of the discourse that hopefully leads to an awareness and then a solution.

If we are so successful why is it that Chef Lorena Garcia can't get a primetime food show on American TV because of accent or that Daisy Fuentes, who does have one, is slated at 9am on a Saturday, which is no-man's land for TV shows?

How come our only major success stories, with the exception of Sonia Sotomayor, are all either actors, musicians, or athletes? Where are our scientists, our leaders and thinkers, our movers and shakers, our billionaires? If you can name some and most people I polled can't... How come they aren't household names?

You want a dose of reality:

Race/History/Evolutiion Notes took the 2009 Forbes 400 and broke it down by ethnic origins

Here are the results:

His current estimate of the ethnic breakdown:

Northwestern European 52.75%
Jewish 35.25%
Italian 3.5%
East Asian 2%
Middle Eastern 1.5%
Eastern European 1.5%
Greek 1.5%
Indian 1.25%
Hispanic 0.5%
Black 0.25%

That's not a typo:

Hispanic (2/400)
277 John Arrillaga 1,400 72 Palo Alto real estate [Basque ancestry] (considers himself American)
395 Arte Moreno 970 63 Phoenix lboards [Mexican descent, born in Arizona]

Black (1/400)
141 Oprah Winfrey 2,300 55 Chicago television
His full list is staggering. Go take a look at it and then come back and tell me who is it that is so successful right now...

From the Bronx to the Bookshelves

I'm a little late to game but I think these would be two great reads, especially for men who don't read like my brothers:

Next Stop: Growing up Wild-Style in the Bronx by Ivan Sanchez

Beyond the safety of New York City's news headlines, Next Stop is a train ride into the heart of the Bronx during the late eighties and early nineties at the height of the crack epidemic, a tumultuous time when hip-hop was born and money-hungry slumlords were burning down apartment buildings with tenants still inside.

From one stop to the next, this gritty memoir follows Ivan Sanchez and his crew on their search for identity and an escape from poverty in a stark world where street wars and all-night symphonies of crime and drug-fueled mayhem were as routine as the number 4 train.

In the game, the difference between riches and ruin was either a bullet or a lucky turn away. Almost driven insane by the poverty, despair, and senseless violence, Ivan left it all behind and moved to Virginia, but the grotesque images and voices of the dead continued to haunt him. This book honors the memories of those who died. At times heartbreakingly sad and brutal, Next Stop shares with a whole new generation the insights and hard lessons Ivan learned.


It's Just Begun: The Epic Journey of DJ Disco Wiz, Hip Hop's First Latino DJ
by Ivan Sanchez, Luis "DJ Disco Wiz" Cedeno

Luis “Disco Wiz” Cedeño, the first Latino hip-hop DJ and an original member of what would later become the pioneering group the Cold Crush Brothers, isn’t in Wild Style or any of the other landmark documents that captured the still-nascent rap culture in the early 1980s.

By the time film crews and record labels caught on to Cedeño’s Bronx peers, the artist was already in prison for attempted murder. In one of the most memorable passages of his memoir, It’s Just Begun, he recalls first learning of “Rapper’s Delight” during an awkward jailhouse phone call with the Cold Crush Brothers’ Grandmaster Caz, whose routines the Sugar Hill Gang hijacked to make that pivotal song.

Still, while It’s Just Begun (written with Ivan Sanchez, author of the 2006 memoir Next Stop: Growing Up Wild Style in the Bronx) strives to cement Cedeño’s status as a founding member of hip-hop, music plays a surprisingly limited role in this hard-knocks Bronx tale.

Instead, an ever-mounting set of struggles—against an abusive, alcoholic father; rival Bronx gang members; sadistic jail guards; bleak postprison employment prospects; and more recently, two bouts with cancer—are steadily revealed in alarmingly short intervals.

Despite its riveting story, the writing in It’s Just Begun (which takes its name from a 1972 song by multicultural Harlem funk band the Jimmy Castor Bunch) is unpolished and stilted. But the rawness of it suits the bleak narrative: Cedeño’s grim tales are delivered with a bluntness that makes them feel more real than they would have been if they were polished up in pretty prose.—Jesse Serwer

Great Piece on Precious’ Lee Daniels

"Daniels’ own odyssey has been almost as remarkable as that of his lead character...

For his second directorial effort, he chose the novel Push by Sapphire. When he read the novel, he says, “It brought back a feeling I had when I was 11 years old and living in the projects in Philly. I answered the door one day, and a neighbor of ours, a light-skinned black girl who was about 5 years old, was standing there naked and bleeding. She’d been beaten with an electrical cord. I looked in my mom’s eyes, and it was the first time I ever saw fear in her eyes. When I read Sapphire’s book, those memories came back, and I felt I have to deal with this.”

As he began working on Precious, even more painful memories flooded in. As the oldest of five children, Daniels says he experienced the brunt of his father’s anger and frustration. “I was beaten quite a bit for no reason,” he says. (His father, a police officer, was killed on duty when Daniels was 13.)

“One of my earliest memories is of being put in a trash can,” he says in a quiet voice. “I was 5 years old. My dad was playing cards with some of his friends. I put on my mother’s red high heel shoes because they looked pretty to me. He saw me and he got furious. He said I was gay and would never amount to anything, and he threw me in a trash can. And I remember the only way I could deal with it was to escape to a fantasy world. That’s what gave me the idea for the fantasy scenes in the movie, which were not in the book.”

When Precious is raped by her father or beaten by her mother, she dreams of herself as a superstar in a perfect, antiseptic universe. Daniels pulls off a neat balancing act: He captures the brutal reality of his heroine’s home life, but he knows when to pull back to allow the audience some respite.

You can read the rest at

Mothers & Daughters: One Updated Book I Would Love to Read

I've been thinking a lot about the complex relationships between mothers and daughters, especially amongst Latina women, after seeing Trapped between worlds, some Latina teens consider suicide [CNN]. I spotted Mother Daughter Revolution: From Good Girls to Great Women by Elizabeth Debold

recently and it sounds really interesting:

Our culture betrays women. And mothers, to be good mothers, must betray their daughters. It is this tragic norm that Marie Wilson and Idelisse Malave, president and vice president respectively of the Ms. Foundation, and Elizabeth Debold, a member of the Harvard Project, question.

Though perhaps no longer revolutionary, their text still presents a vital and revitalizing agenda, 0ffering ways to transform the typical cycles of betrayal and to resist such unnecessary losses as those of voice, freedom, and the power to act. Debold, Wilson, and Malave turn many precious cultural biases and beliefs upside down-- "rugged individualism," for example, is scrapped in favor of interdependence.

The belief that separation from the mother is a normal developmental step is firmly cast aside. Written originally in 1993, Mother Daughter Revolution takes as its foundation the findings that came out of the Harvard Project on Women's Psychology and Girls' Development under psychologist Carol Gilligan. The core of that study could be summed up with the question: Why, at the onset of adolescence, does the self-esteem of girls plummet?

The authors expand on Gilligan's valuable and still timely "wall" theory. That is, at adolescence, young girls come up, clashingly, against how they're perceived by the dominant culture--largely in terms of their sexual and reproductive value. To get through this "wall," girls must sacrifice parts of themselves in order to be accepted and protected by society. At great cost.

Mothers, ironically, usher girls through the wall of self betrayal. And the three most loudly voiced complaints by girls about their mothers reflect that betrayal--that they're not dealt with fairly; not truly loved for being themselves; not trusted with the truth. The "authentic self" of daughters is driven underground.

These are hard and heartbreaking insights which 30 years of feminism's second wave has not changed. Interviews with adolescent girls, memoir fragments offered by the authors, and stories shared by such well-known writers as, for example, Maxine Hong Kingston illustrate the social phenomenon. Don't be fooled.

This is not a rant so much as a prescription for uncovering, defining, and nurturing the love between mothers and daughters. Paradoxically, adolescent girls find more of the world open to them, while at the same time experiencing a deep distress.

"Eating disorders and teenage pregnancy, once associated with opposite ends of the social class spectrum, are more prevalent among girls of all classes and all races than ever before." These insights and prescriptions, organized and given voice by three committed feminists, are offered with lucidity and passion, in the spirit of social transformation. * Review

Although, I am sure it is still very relevant, I would love to see a revised 2009 edition of this book!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Cuban Spy?

MEXICO'S intelligence service spied on the writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez for decades and considered him a Cuban agent, it has emerged.

The defunct DFS agency bugged the Nobel laureate's phone and monitored his movements from 1967 after he moved to Mexico with his family. The authorities suspected the Colombian author because of his leftist sympathies and friendship with Fidel Castro.

Declassified documents published by El Universal revealed the DFS kept a bulging file up until at least 1985, after which documents remain secret. It was the era of the ''dirty war'' waged by right-wing Latin American governments against suspected subversives.

In a tapped conversation with Jorge Timossi, director of Cuba's Prensa Latina news agency, Marquez mentioned he had given the publishing rights for his book Chronicle of a Death Foretold to Cuba's communist government.

"The above proves that Marquez, besides being pro-Cuban and pro-Soviet, is a propaganda agent at the service of the intelligence agency of that country," a DFS document said in 1982. The agency monitored the author's mediation between leftist movements and the French president, Francois Mitterrand. It also kept tabs on the Mexican writers Octavio Paz and Salvador Novo.

Marquez, 82, divides his time between Mexico and Cartagena, Colombia. He has kept his friendship with Castro.

Guardian News & Media


Author Connects CNN's Soledad O'Brien with Latino Voices

"Voices from the Latino Community," a series of short unscripted first-person narratives, is a featured in CNN's new documentary "Latino in America," reported by Soledad O'Brien.

The segments were created by Jody Gottlieb and Latino Media Works, an independent media company based in New York, started by Alberto Ferreras and Trina Bardusco in 2005.

O'Brien became acquainted with Ferreras when a friend recommended she read the book "B as in Beauty," a fiction novel written by Ferreras about a young Latina woman who struggles with self-esteem issues.

Ferreras and Bardusco are also the creative minds behind the HBO Latino series "Habla," which features unscripted first-person accounts of Latinos from various backgrounds, some speaking in Spanish, some in English and others in Spanglish, a mixture of both.

O'Brien was taken by the HBO series and soon realized that Ferreras was the person behind both the series and the book.

"It was serendipitous," says O'Brien of their meeting. "I had read his book and asked my assistant to reach Ferreras. At the same time he was trying to reach me to tell me about the book. It was destiny."

Soon after that meeting, CNN Productions teamed up with Latino Media Works to create "Voices of the Latino Community" for the documentary series "Latino in America."

"We want these talking portraits to show the nuances of a culture that is often misunderstood" says Bardusco.

Ferreras adds that the interviews may also help dispel media-driven stereotypes of Latinos as mostly "maids and gardeners."

"There is such a strong stereotype... that all Latinos are Mexican and Catholic and that we all look alike," says Ferreras.

"But here in just 30 seconds we can say, 'Hey there is a Latino that doesn't look like other Latinos, he's Jewish, or he's half-Latino, half something else.' Here are Latinos that are professors, Realtors, even a magician," Ferreras says.

Learn more about Alberto Ferreras and B AS IN BEAUTY:


Domestic violence touches the lives of Americans of all ages, leaving a devastating impact on women, men, and children of every background and circumstance. A family's home becomes a place of fear, hopelessness, and desperation when a woman is battered by her partner, a child witnesses the abuse of a loved one, or a senior is victimized by family members.

Since the 1994 passage of the landmark Violence Against Women Act, championed by then Senator Joe Biden, our Nation has strengthened its response to this crime and increased services for victims. Still, far too many women and families in this country and around the world are affected by domestic violence. During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we recommit ourselves to ending violence within our homes, our communities, and our country.

Read the full proclamation by President Obama by accessing the link here:

* An ad by the APAV - Portuguese Association for Victim Support, the copy reads “There are brands no one should wear. Domestic violence is a crime."
(Hay marcas que nadie debería llevar. La violencia domestica es un crimen)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Open Letter to the Monserrate Committee

State Senator Hiram Monserrate was very lucky to have been found guilty of only a misdemeanor for assault after slashing his girlfriend's face (he was acquitted on two felonies).

As a native born New Yorker, a woman, and a member of the Hispanic community, I find his crimes, thuggish actions, and deplorable attitude, disgusting and a disgrace to the Hispanic community, the Senate, and our state and since he refuses to resign after being formally convicted - he should be expelled.

An individual like him has no business in our government and/or representing any body of constituents.

Being a former Marine and New York City police officer, one would think that his "protect and serve" background would be a cornerstone of his ideals and actions, instead he only brings shame to all the instutions served by him by joining the 40% of police officer households who experience domestic violence (in 2001, 18,000 reported cases of spouse abuse occurred involving military personnel), only aiding in tipping the scales of justice via priviledge and patriarchy, through abuse of power, and the marginalization of women/victims.

Violence against women needs to be condemmed not condoned.

You can see a full list of those calling for him to removed here: Monserrate Must Resign

See the video:

"A this video released during the Hiram Monserrate assault trial the state senator violently dragging his girlfriend through the hallway of an apartment building after allegedly slashing her face with a broken glass.

In the video, Monserrate's girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, can be seen grabbing hold of a banister for support as he yanks her away. She then attempts to ring a neighbor's doorbell while clutching her bloody face before Monserrate again pulls her away. The gash required 20 stitches around the eye."

View more news videos at:

FTC, Bloggers, & Doctors: An Excellent Point

When we think about schwag and promotional items in regards to disclosure and transparency, here's one thought that I don't think has occurred to most of us:

As The FTC Goes After Bloggers, Doctors Making Millions Promoting Drugs With Little Oversight

The Most Annoying Things about the Internet

The Telegraph's 50 Most Annoying Things about the Internet is pretty funny!

My favorites include:

Messages alerting you to messages - getting emailed about getting a message via Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin,... The list goes on and on!

CAPTCHAs - Hate them! They are huge deterrent to engaging your users.

Frame bars
Compulsory fields on forms

Monday, October 19, 2009

From the Kitchen Table

I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We've been taught that silence would save us, but it won't.

It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.

The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.

In our work and in our living, we must recognize that difference is a reason for celebration and growth, rather than a reason for destruction.

Your silence will not protect you.

Without community, there is no liberation.

Revolution is not a onetime event.

Pain is important; how we evade it, how we succumb to it, how we deal with it, how we transcend it.

--- Audre Lorde (1934 - 1992)

What Would You Ask Caridad Piñeiro?

Grand Central Publishing and Forever invites you to a live interview with Caridad Piñeiro, author of Sins of the Flesh on Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 3:00 PM ET:

Join us as we interview Caridad Pineiro, author of SINS OF THE FLESH. We'll talk about her latest book, the first book she ever wrote, and all the great things in between. New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Caridad Piñeiro wrote her first novel in the fifth grade when her teacher assigned a project: write a book for a class lending library. Her love of writing continued through high school, college and law school. Shortly after the birth of her daughter, her passion for the written word led to a determination to publish and share the stories she loved with others.

In 1999, Caridad's first novel was released and a decade later, she is the author of more than twenty novels and novellas. Caridad hopes to continue to share her stories with readers all over the world for years to come. When not writing, Caridad is an attorney, wife and mother to an aspiring writer and fashionista.

Call-in with your questions during show time to participate in the live interview @ 646-378-0039.

Listen-in or chat on the Grand Central Publishing channel on BlogTalkRadio.

If you would like your questions to be read on air by the host or if you would like to give advanced notice of your participation during the live call, email or if you would like to receive a copy of the book, email

Visit for more information

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Roger Guenveur's Smith one-man show, FREDERICK DOUGLASS NOW

I absolutely love Roger Guenveur Smith. When he did A Huey P. Newton Story, I was floored. Now we get to see him again, this time performing for a good cause: Revolution Books' $100,000 Fund Drive

I hope you will check it out:

Wednesday - October 21, 2009 - 8:00pm


Written and performed by Roger Guenveur Smith ("A Huey P. Newton Story," "Do the Right Thing"), FREDERICK DOUGLASS NOW brings to life the pioneering abolitionist, feminist, statesman and orator, in a nationally-acclaimed solo performance. FREDERICK DOUGLASS NOW is presented by the Irish Arts Center in association with Classical Theatre of Harlem.

A play created and performed by Roger Guenveur Smith at Donaghy Theatre - Irish Arts Center

553 West 51st Street, NYC

Tickets: $50. Premium Tickets: $100 - Reception with the artist following performance.

"Roger Guenveur Smith gets it all and gets it brilliantly." -The New York Times

"If anyone could bring the legendary 19th-century runaway-slave-turned-abolitionist and author Frederick Douglass to searing life, it's Roger Guenveur Smith."- Time Out New York

"A star turn, a rapid-fire riff, darting among epochs that mix the sounds of poetry slam, hip-hop and the old-style preacher. Spoken, sung and emoted with entertaining conviction." -The New York Times

Reserve Your Tickets Now from Revolution Books
Come to a great evening of theater and help Save Revolution Books!

Revolution Books / Libros Revolución

146 W. 26th Street, between 6th and 7th Aves., NYC

Open every day 12 noon to 7 pm 212-691-3345

Join the Revolution Books fan page now on FACEBOOK

Que viva la Revolución!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Listen to an Interview with Leila Cobo, author of TELL ME SOMETHING TRUE

Renowned journalist and former concert pianist, Leila Cobo is a native of Cali, Colombia and the author of TELL ME SOMETHING TRUE, the story of a woman who discovers her dead mother's journal and her entire life is thrown into question.

The Executive Director of Latin Content and Programming for Billboard, she is a frequent contributor to NPR and has written liner notes for acts such as Ricky Martin, Shakira and Chayanne. She is also the host of the television show Estudio Billboard, which feautures in-depth interviews with artists like Juanes, Maná, Juan Luis Guerra and Los Temerarios among many others.


Friday, October 16, 2009

NYC: Museo Del Barrio: 40th Anniversary & Grand Re-opening Festivities 10/07

After a $35 million renovation, El Museo del Barrio now reflects the changing reality of what it means to be Hispanic in the U.S.

Saturday, October 17, 2009
11:00 am - 9:00 pm
El Museo del Barrio
Admission: Free

The all-day open house festivities celebrating its 40th anniversary year will be packed with fun events taking place throughout its whole beautifully renovated building, Latin music shows by children and adults in the brand-new courtyard and the theater, children book readings and art-making workshops at El Taller, a preview of Soledad O'Brien's upcoming documentary Latinos in America, and walking tours around el Barrio will be only part of the fun.


11:00 am: RIBBON CUTTING - The Courtyard
El Museo kicks-off its grand opening celebration with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Doors open to the public for a full day of free admission and fun activites, shopping at La Tienda, and a bite and drink at the new El Café!

11:00 am: INAUGURAL EXHIBITIONS - Las Galerias
Artist Educators will be on-hand in our galleries to provide visitors with information on our inaugural exhibitions: Nexus New York: Latin American Artists in the Modern Metrópolis, and Voces y Visiones: Four Decades Through El Museo del Barrio’s Permanent Collection. Galleries remain open until 9pm!

11:00 – 12:00pm: COLORIN COLORADO - El Teatro
Mariposa, renowned poet and writer hosts children storytelling! Estrellita Says Goodbye to Her Island, is a lovely story by Samuel Caraballo about a girl from Puerto Rico and her experience when she leaves her Isla del Encanto,

11:00 – 12:45am: STARTING WITH A BAND! - The Courtyard
To celebrate El Barrio's musical heritage, El Museo welcomes two live performances: at 11am, Zon del Barrio, playing a great variety of Latino music genres, including African Diaspora, New York urban, and more; and at 12pm, Yerbabuena, the Boricua-roots band based in New York City.

11:00am – 3:00pm: QUE BONITA BANDERA! - El Taller
Families come together in El Taller to create their own version of a flag that represents their family, barrio, culture and/or identity.

1:00 – 2:00pm: COLORIN COLORADO - El Teatro
As a continuum to the previous book reading, El Museo presents Estrellita in the Big City by Samuel Caraballo. In this story, also read by Mariposa, Estrellita narrates to her Abuelita her experiences upon arriving in NYC.

3:00 – 4:30pm: SALSA IS NUYORICAN - El Teatro
Take a musical journey with José Obando, renowned ethnomusicologist, through the History of Salsa in El Barrio. Preceded by a live performance by The Harbor Latin Youth Ensemble, comprised of the most advanced students ages 12-19 enrolled in the Harbor Conservatory's Pre-Professional Latin Music Program. A dose of laughter will be provided by Puerto Rican stand-up comic Bill Santiago, host and MC for the afternoon.

1:30 – 3:30pm and 4:00 – 6:00pm: DESTINATION EL BARRIO - El Barrio
El Barrio has been home to El Museo for 40 years. Come explore its impact on our history and development through walking tours around El Barrio! Highlights include the Graffiti Wall of Fame and local murals. All tours start in El Museo’s lobby.

6:30 – 8:30pm: LATINO IN AMERICA - El Teatro
CNN’s Soledad O’Brien and El Museo present a special preview of her upcoming documentary Latino in America, featuring the cultural diversity of Latinos, highlighting Garcias! Special offer: Calling all Garcias! El Museo offers FREE MEMBERSHIP for one year to the first 25 Garcías attending this program. for details

To learn more about Julián Zugazagoitia, the man behind the renovation, who is Mexican-born, Paris-educated and the first non-Puerto Rican to lead the Museo, read Beyond the Barrio, With Growing Pains

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bookish Meme

Hardback, trade paperback or mass market paperback?
Before I worked in publishing I loved to buy book in hardcover (you know for my collection) nowaways, I carry around whatever I can get my hands on...ARCs,etc., and the more expensive and smaller my handbags have gotten, the more I've come to appreciate smaller books.

Waterstones, Borders or Amazon?
Well, Waterstones is sort of far for me but perhaps one day. When I worked at my previous job in Midtown West, there was a Borders right below and that was my refuge - bad day at work? I would go down there and load up on books but not without printing out a coupon online first. Interestingly enough, I ran into many people right outside that Borders - an Israeli blogger I had met in San Francisco, someone from HS -it was like a corner of the world.

Bookmark or dog-ear?
I use to adore bookmarks and collect them but nowadays I use what I can find in my purse, business cards, receipts -yes, I've gotten sloppy but I will be dead before I start folding the corners of my books.

Amazon or brick-and-mortar?
I hate to admit it but I buy a lot of stuff online - perhaps too much stuff.

Alphabetize by author, or alphabetize by title, or random?
By size and color, and then special shelfs for to-read, already-read, and signed.

Keep, throw away, or sell?
Always keep! Except the Cliff Notes - those were donated.

Keep dust jacket or toss it?
Why on Earth would anyone toss those?

Read with dust jacket or remove it?
I usually keep it on but have been known to remove if white and I'm taking forever to read, especially while on vacay.

Short story or novel?
Novels...I rarely read short stories.

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?
Lemony Snicket? I did have a copy somewhere but didn't read it. I saw the movie though it was cute. I own all the Harry Potter books but I've only read the first two, I believe. I read them so long it's hard to remember.

Buy or borrow?
I used to splurge on books, I rarely borrowed books and always hated lending. LOL!

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendations, or browse?
All of the above!

Tidy ending or cliffhanger?
Don't like cliffhangers, not even in series. I need closure otherwise I feel like I'm left waiting to exhale.

Morning reading, afternoon reading, or nighttime reading?
I used to read every single night before bed, now most of my reading is done on my commute.

Stand-alone or series?
I read tons of series but after while the events, chronology, names and story lines become a mess in head.

Favorite series?
I have read so many yet I don't think I have a favorite series. When I was in college I read all the Scapertta books by Patricia Cornwell, in high school Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches series.

Favorite children’s book?
Patricia Coombs' The Lost Playground & On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier

Favorite YA book?
A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?
Kindred by Octavia Butler (1979) There are those who love Butler and then there are those who've never heard of her - shame for the latter.

Favorite books read last year?
Blindness by José Saramago

Favorite books of all time?
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Alice Walker's The Color Purple
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas

Favorite book to recommend to an 11-year-old?
The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe By C.S. Lewis

Favorite book to re-read?
Hmm, I really avoid rereading books.

Do you ever smell books?
I have but not on intentionally.

Do you ever read primary source documents like letters or diaries?
I have, especially for research projects.

What are you reading right now?
I usually have about three books going at once: I just finished all of the LJ Smith's Vampire Diaries, still going on A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore...

What are you reading next?
I want to read Dan Chaon's Await Your Reply and Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession by Julie Powell

Divinity: Thought Reigns Supreme

Love this:

“Whenever you go out of doors,
draw the chin in,
carry the crown of the head high,
and fill the lungs to the utmost;
drink in the sunshine;
greet your friends with a smile,
and put soul into every handclasp.

Do not fear being misunderstood
and do not waste a minute thinking about your enemies.

Try to fix firmly in your mind what you would like to do;
and then without veering off direction,
you will move straight to the goal.

Keep your mind on the great and splendid things you would like to do, and then, as the days go gliding by,
you will find yourself unconsciously seizing upon the opportunities that are required for the fulfilment of your desire, just as the coral insect takes from the running tide the element it needs.

Picture in your mind the able, earnest, useful person you desire to be, and the thought you hold is hourly transforming you into the particular individual…

Thought is supreme.

Preserve a right mental attitude — the attitude of courage, frankness, and good cheer.

To think right is to create.

All things come through desire & every sincere prayer is answered.

We become like that on which our hearts are fixed.

Whenever you go out of doors, draw the chin in, carry the crown of the head high.
We are god in the chrysalis.”
— Elbert Hubbard

In Our Lingo at the Museo del Barrio

In Our Lingo: Oscar Hijuelos and Esmeralda Santiago
Tuesday, October 20th from 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm,
Museo del Barrio,
1230 Fifth Avenue @ 104th Street (Free)

Highlighting the ever-growing influence of Latinos on culture and literature, don't miss this conversación with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Oscar Hijuelos (Dark Dude and Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love) and award-winning writer Esmeralda Santiago (When I Was Puerto Rican: A Memoir and Almost a Woman).

The authors will share insights into their sources of inspiration, delve into the influence of culture on their works, and discuss the evolving use of language. Moderated by New York Times reporter Mireya Navarro.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Isabel Allende Presenta La Isla Bajo El Mar

I adore and admire Chilean writer Isabel Allende - her passion and writing are just vibrant and things of beauty. Here we learn about La Isla Bajo El Mar - I can't wait for the English version to hit the US.

I wish Isabel had narrated the book trailer:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Latin Music USA Series

Last night, I caught part of The Latin Music USA Series, a 4-hour documentary film about American music, which premiered last night. It was great!

"Produced by a team led by WGBH, in co-production with the BBC, Latin Music USA invites the audience into the vibrant musical conversation between Latinos and non-Latinos that has helped shape the history of popular music in the United States. Fittingly, the series launches in Hispanic Heritage Month, a time to recognize the contributions of Latinos to the United States and to celebrate Latino heritage and culture.

The series features the stories of an extraordinary range of artists, including Salsa greats Willie Colón and Marc Anthony; the Latin-inflected sounds found in much of sixties Rock and Roll, from the Drifters to Motown to the Rolling Stones; Jazz fused with Cuban rhythms from Mario Bauzá and Chano Pozo, the genius of Texas accordion player Flaco Jiménez; Carlos Santana; Linda Ronstadt; the legendary Chicano Rock band Los Lobos; megastars Gloria and Emilio Estefan; Ricky Martin and Juanes; Miami rapper Pitbull; Reggaetón performers Daddy Yankee and Tego Calderón; and Lin-Manuel Miranda from the Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights.

The life experiences of these and many other unforgettable artists will reveal how Latinos have reinvented their music in the United States, while never losing sight of their own rich traditions.

Episode One: Traces the rise of Latin Jazz and the explosion of the Mambo and the Cha Cha Chá as they sweep the US from East to West. Latin Music infiltrates R&B and Rock and Roll through the 1960s.

Episode Two: Puerto Ricans and other Latinos in New York reinvent the Cuban Son and the Puerto Rican Plena, adding elements from Soul and Jazz to create Salsa, which becomes a defining rhythm for Latinos the world over.

Episode Three: Mexican-Americans in CA, TX and across the Southwest create their own distinct musical voices during the second half of the 20th century. Their music would play an important role in the struggle for Chicano civil rights and ultimately propel them from the barrio to the national stage.

Episode Four: Focuses on the Latin Pop explosion of the turn of the century and the success of artists like Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan and Shakira in the English-language market. As studios concentrate on star-driven Pop, Latino youth gravitate toward urban fusions – Spanish Rap and Reggaetón, as well as Rock en Español.

The Best Part - It's all available online:

Learn more about the extraordinary range of artists featured in Latin Music USA, and see video clips, photos, and more by becoming a fan on Facebook or following us on Twitter. Find Latin Music USA on Facebook at and on Twitter at @LatinMusicUSA.

Did you know Ruben Blades was a lawyer before he got in the music industry or that he wrote El Cantante, the song made famous by the late Héctor Lavoe? I learned so much I was really disappointed I only saw part of it but the website is fantastic and has tons of more material.

The endless in between

I heard a piece of this song on Vampire Diaries and fell in love with the lyrics:

Imogen Heap plays a powerful stripped-down version of "Wait It Out," from her new record, Ellipse.

Where do we go from here?
How do we carry on?
I can't get beyond these questions...

Clambering for the scraps in the shatter of us collapsed
that cuts me with every could-have-been

Pain on pain on play repeating
with the backup, makeshift life in waiting

Everybody says time heals everything
but what of the wretched hollow?
The endless in between
are we just going to wait it out?

There's nothing to see here now,
turning the sign around
We're closed to the earth 'til further notice

A stumbling cliched case,
crumpled and puffy faced
Dead in the stare of a thousand miles

All I want, only one, street level miracle
I'll be an out and out, born again, from none more

And sit here cold, we will be long gone by then
In lackluster, in dust we layer on old magazines,
fluorescent lighting sets the scene
in the one life that we've got

And sit here
Just going to wait it out
And sit here cold
Just going to sweat it out
Wait it out

Do You Dream?

I'm a dreamer - big time! Idealistically, yes but I mean literally too.
I spotted these first list about dreams and 10 More Amazing Facts About Dreams and wanted to share them since I am constantly thinking about the subject.

I dream often - I have to be physically exhausted to have a dreamless night. My dreams can be weird, like dreams were I am doing mundane things like taking the bus upstate (have no idea why) or talking with coworkers. Then there are the weirder mundane dreams were I am searching, no more like racking Google for something for hours, then there are the surreal weird dreams were roller coaster-like trains stop on bridges over an ocean... you get the drift.

I usually remember my dreams right after I wake up and then again as I go back to sleep the next night. Sometimes I have tried to fall back into a pleasant dream but it never works - the dream always goes awry somehow. I've always been fascinated by people who say they don't dream or don't recall their dreams or lores of boogie men and dying in your dreams ala A Nightmare on Elm Street.

I've also always been fascinated by the mysticism and different beliefs held in interpreting dreams. When I was little I remember the dime books my tias had where you could look up the topic of your dream, say a piece of gold, and the book would tell you what number to play that day.

I do believe that dreams are the leftover remnants of our lives that our brain is still digesting. However, I've always found the continuity of certain beliefs across time and space to be really interesting, like that dreaming of teeth falling out means death across many cultures.

What do you dream about? Do you recall your dreams, are they vivid?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sometimes You Just Want to Scream Your Head Off

I knew someone who told me once that every once in a while he would go into the subway, walk to the very end of the platform, wait for a train to approach the station and just as it loudly pulled in - he would scream at the top of his lungs. He would do this until his head cleared and his frustrations were vented.

We live in a society that teaches us to supress our emotions, however unhealthy it is... Some people go home and break dishes, some people meditate... I love scary movies - the scarier the better. I don't do rollercoasters and this is my only opportunity to scream - like a mad woman. Last week, I spotted some buzz referring to Paranormal Activity as THE SCARIEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME, now while I really do try not drink the marketing kool aid - every once in a while I get sucked in anyway.

It's almost halloween and I do need to let a few wails and shrills fly (I've been close to emotional exhaustion lately) so I'm looking forward to seeing this

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Achy Obejas: Ruins

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Achy Obejas discusses her new book Ruins, which tells the story of Usnavy, a young man who eagerly signed on for all the promises when the Cuban Revolution triumphed in 1959. But as the years have passed, the sacrifices have outweighed the glories and he has become increasingly isolated in his revolutionary zeal. His friends openly mock him, his wife dreams of owning a car totally outside their reach, and his beloved 14-year-old daughter haunts the coast of Havana, staring north.

In the summer of 1994, a few years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the government allows Cubans to leave at will and on whatever will float. More than 100,000 flee, including his best friend. Things seem to brighten when Usnavy stumbles across what may or may not be a priceless Tiffany lamp that reveals a lost family secret and fuels his long repressed feelings . But now Usnavy is faced with a choice between love for his family and the Revolution that has shaped his entire life.

This event was co-sponsered by the MIT Women and Gender Studies Department and the Center for New Words.

Achy Obejas worked for more than 10 years for The Chicago Tribune, writing and reporting about arts and culture. Among literally thousands of stories, she helped cover Pope John Paul II's historic 1998 visit to Cuba, the arrival of Al-Queda prisoners in Guantanamo, the Versace murder, and the AIDS epidemic.

UK National Poetry Day: From The Projects to Freedom

I wrote this when I was a teenager:

From The Projects to Freedom

It was a under a heavy sky,
That he looked up
With endless brown eyes
And from his mouth spilt forth
Poetic worlds full of hopeful promises.

And, it was there under that sheltering sky
That I found
Solace and comfort,
Knew no pain.
There within the glow
That exuded off
The brownness of his skin,
Magnified by the heat
In the air
And tripled by the warmth
Of his scent;
Of coconuts and blue oceans,
Of Caribbean, warm island breezes
Fused with incense and musk.

There within the magnitude
Of his intellectual expressions
I stood mute.
Taken aback by
The impossibleness
Of his righteous beauty.

And, it was then that I knew.

Freedom lay past him,
Just yonder
In that endless, heavy, blue sky.
All that he was;
Was lust multiplied,
Tying me down,
Claiming me his property,
With promises of his name
And his progeny.

But I knew that the only guarantee
Was one of poverty
And so spreading my metaphorical wings
Like some ethereal, kamikaze butterfly,
I soared.

Off rooftops,
Past projects,
Leaving my tormentors behind.
Bounding off structures
Like a superhero,
Superwoman in disguise.
I tasted freedom
And was inclined never to be victimized.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

What Does Latino Mean? Via MyLatinoVoice

Monday, October 05, 2009

Mercedes Sosa - Como un pájaro libre

Haydée Mercedes Sosa "La Negra" - Rest in Peace

Como un pájaro libre, asi te queremos! Thank you for giving a voice to so many!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Free Event: "The Great Children's Read" NYC: 10/04

The New York Times announced the third annual New York Times Great Read to be held rain or shine on Sunday, Oct. 14. Via www.nytimes/greatread

The day-long celebration will feature two distinct events: The Great Children's Read, a free celebration of reading featuring live entertainment for children and families, presented by Target and held at Columbia University; and The Great Literary Brunch, featuring several best-selling authors and held at TheTimesCenter, a new performance space and cultural center located in The New York Times Building.

A list of New York's Top 20 All-Time Favorite Children's Books was specially selected this year by children's librarians from the three public library systems of New York City: Brooklyn Public Library, The New York Public Library and Queens Library. Celebrities from film, TV and Broadway will read from the 20 books on the list at The Great Children's Read.

Featured entertainment at the Target Children's Stage this year will include performances by They Might Be Giants, Justin Roberts & the Not Ready for Naptime Players, Playhouse Disney's "Johnny and the Sprites" and "Choo-Choo Soul," Laughing Pizza!, Peter Himmelman and T Squad.

There also will be readings and signings by many favorite children's book authors and illustrators, including Academy Award-winning actress Julie Andrews Edwards and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton, Cheech Marin and Michelle Knudsen.

The Target Children's Stage is part of Target's national initiative, Ready. Sit. Read!, a program that fosters a love for reading at an early age. Admission to The Great Children's Read at Columbia University is free and open to the public. Columbia University is located in Manhattan at Broadway & 116th Street.


Sunday, October 4, 2009 @ 10:00 am

Columbia University in the City of New York
2960 Broadway New York, NY
10027 212-854-1754 phone>
visit website> map it! · view my map> MTA: NYC transit

Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage

Maria P. P. Root resides in Seattle, Washington where she is an independent scholar and clinical psychologist. She is a trainer, educator, and public speaker on the topics of multiracial families, multiracial identity, cultural competence, trauma, work place harassment, and disordered eating.

I found these at her site:

Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage:

Not to justify my existence in this world.
Not to keep the races separate within me.
Not to justify my ethnic legitimacy.
Not to be responsible for people’s discomfort with
my physical or ethnic ambiguity.

To identify myself differently than strangers
expect me to identify.
To identify myself differently than how my parents
identify me.
To identify myself differently than my brothers and
To identify myself differently in different

To create a vocabulary to communicate about
being multiracial or multi-ethnic.
To change my identity over my lifetime--and more
than once.
To have loyalties and identification with more
than one group of people.
To freely choose whom I befriend and love.

© Maria P. P. Root, PhD

Multiracial Oath of Social Responsibility:

I want to make a difference in this world. Therefore:
I strive to improve race relations.
I know that race and ethnicity are not solely defined by one’s genetic heritage;
I refuse to confine my choices in love or loyalty to a single race;
I make efforts to increase my knowledge of U.S. racial history;
I know that race and ethnicity can be used as political, economic, and social tools of
I recognize the people who have made it possible for me to affirm my multiracial identity.
They are my relatives, friends, and mentors;
They are people who have crossed color lines to fight discrimination;
They are people who identified as multiracial before this choice was recognized;
They are people who have exposed and explained the suppression of multiraciality.
I must fight all forms of oppression as the oppression of one is the oppression of all.
I recognize that oppression thrives on fear and ignorance;
I seek to recognize my prejudices and change them;
I know that it is neither helpful nor productive to argue over who is more oppressed;
I recognize that my life interconnects with all other lives.
I will make a difference!

© Maria P. P. Root, PhD

50 Experiences of Racially Mixed People:

The 50 questions or comments and experiences evolved from a questionnaire I developed for a study on biracial siblings I conducted from 1996 to 1997. These questions and comments provide an introduction to the way in which race consciousness is brought up directly, sideways, and from all sides for people of mixed heritage.

These comments and questions, though not an exhaustive list, provide a window into how this country internalizes assumption about race, belonging, and identity. They socialize the mixed race person to understand as well as question race American style.

It is a monoracial system; one race per person. Not everyone experiences these questions or comments the similarly. One person might enjoy being asked, “What are you?” whereas their sibling might dread and resent the question. This list provides a launching point for sharing, discussing, laughing, debriefing, and educating.

1. You have been told, “You have to choose; you can’t be both.”
2. Your ethnicity was mistakenly identified.
3. People assumed your race to be different by phone than in person.
4. You are accused of not acting or wanting to be Latino, Asian, Black…
5. You have been told, “Mixed race people are so beautiful or handsome.”
6. Strangers looked between you and your parent(s) to figure out if you were related.
7. You have been told, “You don’t look Native, Black, Latino…”
8. You have been asked, “What are you?”
9. People say things they might not otherwise say if they knew how you identified racially.
10. You have been asked, “Where are you from?”
11. You have repeatedly been the recipient of stares or longer than passing glances from strangers.
12. You have been told, “You look exotic.”
13. Your choice of friends has been interpreted as your “selling out” or not being authentic.
14. You have been accused of “acting or wanting to be white.”
15. Judgments of your racial authenticity have been based upon your boyfriend/s or girlfriend’s (partner’s) race.
16. Comments are made about your hair or hairstyle, skin color, eye shape etc.
17. You have been subjected to jokes about mixed race people.
18. You have been told, “You think you’re too good for your own kind.”
19. Grandparent(s) or relatives don’t accept you because of your parents’ interracial relationship.
20. Your parents or relatives compete to “claim” you for their own racial or ethnic group.
21. You have been told, “You have the best of both worlds.”
22. You have been asked about your racial or ethnic heritage as an object of curiosity.
23. Upon meeting you, people seem confused by your last name. They do not think it “matches” you.
24. People assume you are confused about your racial identity or have had a hard time figuring it out.
25. People speak to you in foreign languages because of how they interpret your physical appearance.
26. You have been told, “Society doesn’t recognize mixed race.”
27. You have been told, “You aren’t really Black, Latino, Asian…”
28. You have been mistaken for another person of mixed heritage who does not resemble you.
29. You have been told you must be full of self-loathing or hatred because of how you racially identify yourself.
30. You have been told, “You are a mistake.”
31. Different people perceive your race differently based upon the company you keep.
32. The race people assign you varies in different parts of the U.S.A.
33. You have difficulty filling out forms asking for a single race.
34. You identify your race differently than others identify you.
35. You are told, “You aren’t like other Indians, Asians, Latinos…”
36. Your siblings identify their race differently than you do yours.
37. You have been called racial slurs of groups with which you do not share heritage.
38. Friends suggest that you date someone based upon the race or ethnicity with which they think you should identify.
39. Your parents identify your race differently than you identify.
40. You are told, “You aren’t Black, Latino, Asian…enough”
41. Your mother was assumed to be your nanny or babysitter.
42. A stranger assumes that your father is your “older boyfriend” or your mother is the “older woman.”
43. You were treated differently by relatives or your parents than a sibling on the basis of racial features.
44. You were well liked by peers but were not asked for dates.
45. You wish you were darker and try to get as much sun as possible.
46. People assume your father was in the military.
47. You have enrolled in Spanish language classes in order to develop the ability to say “Yes” to the question, “Do you speak the language?” and remove one of the blocks to authenticity.
48. Your otherwise friends become more distant when they think associating with you will make their racial authenticity or popularity questionable.
49. You have been knowingly approached and asked, “Your mother’s white (black, Asian), huh?”
50. You have tried to hide one or both parents from view of people who know you but are not your closest friends because you anticipate they will treat you differently.

© Maria P. P. Root, PhD

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Ladies Love Cool...Fidel?

There's a new book that delves into El Commandante's profilic womanising and reveals that he fathered 11 children by seven women - and counting.

Without Fidel: A Death Foretold in Miami, Havana, and Washington by Ann Louise Bardach, chronicles the lives of Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul.

You can read mas aqui.

Meanwhile "Juanita Castro, the exiled sister of Cuban leaders Fidel and Raul Castro, is set to release her own book, a first-person memoir in which she talks at length about her brothers.

The more than 400-page book titled: My Brothers, Fidel and Raul. The Secret Story is set for release Oct. 26. It is co-written by Spanish-language journalist Maria Antoineta Collins and will be published by Santillana USA.

Juanita Castro left the island in 1964. A longtime Miami resident, she has kept a low profile and for years could be found behind the counter of the small pharmacy she owned. She retired in 2007.

According to a Santillana news release, Castro dictated the story to Collins a decade ago but refused to publish until now."

Irene Vilar's Impossible Motherhood

For the last month, I've carrying around my ARC of Impossible Motherhood: Testimony of an Abortion Addict, I haven't had a chance to finish it but I wanted to post this because I feel this is a book that should be read by every one regardless of what your stance is on abortion. As I've been reading, it's staggering how complex the issue at hand is. I find it both familiar and disturbing and upsetting yet eye-opening. offers a lot of insight into Irene's story and background:

" Her story is a reminder that more needs to be done to educate women about the proper use of birth control and providing better access, according to Dr. Lauren Streicher, clinical assistant professor at the Northwestern University School of Medicine.

"This book really isn't about using abortion as birth control," she told "She is unconsciously sabotaging contraception for self-mutilation. It's a way of escaping feeling empty."

"It's an interesting book and she writes beautifully," said Streicher, who hosts the nationally syndicated radio show for medical professionals, Reach MD. "But by her very admission, she is a psychologically disturbed woman.""

As a Puerto Rican Latina and as a woman, I applaud Irene Vilar for coming forward with her story. I think it took tremendous courage to share her experience and her battle with issues familiar to many.

For those of you in NYC, you can attend a panel and reception for Impossible Motherhood: Testimony of an Abortion Addict by Irene Vilar at The Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, CUNY with Tamera Gugelmeyer and Robin Morgan.
Thursday, October 8, 6:00 pm
Centro Library East Bldg. 3rd Floor or call (212) 772-5714.
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What people are saying:

"Irene Vilar is a writer of extraordinary passion, erudition, and intelligence"---Tobias Wolff

"Stunning. A Lyrical and visionary memoir of depression, Puerto Rican identity, and young womanhood"--- Kirkus Review on "The Ladies' Gallery (starred)

"Startling, raw, and affecting, a painful exercise in which memoir as therapy becomes memoir as art"--- Philadelphia Inquirer Notable Book of the Year (by Carlin Romano)

"Impossible Motherhood tells why [Irene Vilar] had 15 abortions in 16 years…How is that humanly possible in either sense of the word—the moral or the physical? In the telling, however, it seems as inevitable as sunrise...Vilar, who eventually escaped this horrid cycle to have two children, writes not to excuse, but to explain herself." —Elle Magazine

"Vilar does not mean to advocate on either side of the abortion debate; ranging far beyond the politics of abortion, her book is a controversial and intense tale of generational and national trauma…[Vilar is] a writer of brutal honesty and profound intelligence." —ForeWord Magazine

"Impossible Motherhood is like a journey into a harrowing underworld but guided by Vilar's gifts and her light we emerge in the end transformed, enlightened, and oh so alive." –JUNOT DIAZ, AUTHOR OF THE BRIEF WONDROUS LI FE OF OSCAR WAO

"I have never read a book like Impossible Motherhood, Irene Vilar's disturbing, heart-wrenching, and ultimately triumphant memoir, for the simple and understandable reason that no one of her gender has ever summoned the brutally raw, transcendent courage to write such a book–and yes, confess to such a troubling story." –BOB SHACOCHIS, AUTHOR OF EASY IN THE IS LANDS

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