Showing posts with label hispanics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hispanics. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pew Survey: Hispanic Catholics Are Least Informed on Religious Knowledge

These are among the key findings of the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey, a nationwide poll conducted from May 19 through June 6, 2010, among 3,412 Americans age 18 and older, on landlines and cell phones, in English and Spanish. Jews, Mormons and atheists/agnostics were oversampled to allow analysis of these relatively small groups.

Previous surveys by the Pew Research Center have shown that America is among the most religious of the world’s developed nations. Nearly six-in-ten U.S. adults say that religion is “very important” in their lives, and roughly four-in-ten say they attend worship services at least once a week. But the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey shows that large numbers of Americans are uninformed about the tenets, practices, history and leading figures of major faith traditions – including their own. Many people also think the constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools are stricter than they really are.
When education and other demographic traits are held equal, whites score better than minorities on the survey’s religious knowledge questions, men score somewhat better than women, and people outside the South score better than Southerners.

How much do you know about religion?

And how do you compare with the average American? Take the short, 15-question quiz to find out and let me know how you did?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

May Mélange
- Simon & Schuster has teamed with the Internet video company TurnHere Inc. to launch a "book-centric video channel" that will promote S&S authors and their new books. will begin in early June, and the videos will also be available at, YouTube and the authors' own Web sites. Though S&S has produced videos to promote its authors in the past, the venture with TurnHere represents a stronger and more formal commitment to using video to market authors. S&S will create videos for at least 40 authors, including Mary Higgins Clark, Kathy Reichs, Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz, Jennifer Weiner and Zane.
Read more here:

English-only Sparks Lawsuits
- U.S. companies that require employees to speak only English on the job have sparked lawsuits alleging discrimination against immigrants.
Read more here:

TV for US
- L.A.-based television networks take aim at bilingual, bicultural young Latinos. "Young Hispanics in America today are proud to be American," says Michael Schwimmer, CEO of Sí TV, "but at the same time there are very strong ties to their parents' and their grandparents' heritage."
Read more here:

HBO Yanks De La Hoya/Mayweather Fight Off Youtube
- HBO has requested that YouTube pull down footage of Saturday night's championship boxing match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya, according to a Los Angeles Times report on Tuesday. A YouTube user had uploaded the broadcast from Las Vegas, originally shown live on HBO's pay-per-view channel, in a relatively high-quality format later that weekend. That was understandably problematic for HBO, which plans to show a rebroadcast of the match this coming Saturday.The video was removed from the legally embattled YouTube around 4 p.m. PDT on Monday, replaced with a notice that it had been pulled "due to a copyright complaint from Home Box Office Inc."

Mayweather Patronizes De La Hoya's Mexican Heritage
- The Hispanic community has been eerily silent on Floyd Mayweather's patronizing sombrero act after barely defeating De La Hoya on Saturday. Has no one seen this?

Lou Dobbs: Hispanic Journalist?
- On other demeaning news: According to, Lou Dobbs, is now a lifetime member of the Hispanic Journalists Association. After you have a WTF? moment, you can read more here:

Book Swap
- 22 ways to swap your CDs, DVDs, Games, Books, Lease, Contract, and Money from StartupSquad.

- Orli from sends us: to check out! LibriVox Objective's is to make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet. When was the last time someone read YOU a book?

Broken Paradise
- And, lastly I can't remember if I mentioned this before but... A New Historical (Cuban) Novel, Broken Paradise: A Novel by Cecilia Samartin, Has Hit Bookstores
Read more here:

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Reading Rainbow: Library of Congress' Hispanic Reading Room

"In 1927, Archer M. Huntington, founder of the Hispanic Society of America established an endowment fund in his name, the first of several important donations for Hispanic studies at the Library of Congress. The second "area studies division" to be founded by the Library, in 1939 the Hispanic Division was established to acquire Luso-Hispanic materials in a systematic fashion. In that same year, the division's reading room, The "Hispanic Society Reading Room," named after the New York Hispanic Society of America, was inaugurated to service the Library's growing Luso-Hispanic collections.

Although primary emphasis has always been the acquisition of current materials and government documents the Hispanic Division has also acquired a rich collection of rare items. The Division was instrumental in acquiring significant gifts of manuscripts, music scores, and posters, photographs and films. It made efforts to develop special groups of materials such as collecting folk music from San Antonio, Texas, and pioneering the recording of Hispanic poets.

Through the generosity of countless donors, the Library of Congress has amassed the world's finest collection on the history and culture of Latin America, Iberia, and the Caribbean."

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Emergence of Hispanic Lit. as a Genre

Professor Calls Attention to Emergence of Hispanic Literature

Expanding the Literary Canon

Hispanic literature is growing in popularity, and scholars would like to see it better incorporated into high school, college curriculms. (via Diverse Issues in Higher Education)

For most college students, literature courses began in high school and consisted almost entirely of the classics of America and Western Europe. But English professor Norma E. Cantú says the emergence of Hispanic literature and its growing popularity on college campuses around the country — and the world — is proof that American literature is expanding and making room for the diverse cultures that make up this country.“American literature has been growing since the beginning,” says Cantú, who teaches at the University of Texas at San Antonio

“[Herman] Melville and others entered the canon where traditionally there were only British writers. Then the canon expanded to include African-American writers and more.”Although Hispanic literature isn’t new, it has generally been left out of world literature courses, says Cantú. “Since the 1930s, there were writers being published, not by New York presses but by smaller presses.” she says.

Dr. Louis Mendoza, chair of the Chicano studies department at the University of Minnesota, says high schools and universities have a role to play in exposing students to diverse types of literature.“We want kids who are better writers, who are able to express themselves, and when they enter college, it shouldn’t be the first time they have been exposed to this,” he says. “I was 25 the first time I was exposed to Hispanic literature.

It changed my life and became my life’s calling. And that was very sad that it happened so late.”Cantú says American literature has evolved and will continue to evolve as writers from different ethnic groups emerge on the literary scene. But she would like to see this shift, for example, reflected on the GRE’s English exam.“There are some African-American writers represented there, but no Chicanos,” she says.

“It’s a continuous struggle to expand that canon and get equal time and equal space.”A Long Time ComingCantú says the civil rights movement helped bring new styles of literature into the mainstream, pointing to the current popularity of East Indian, Iranian and Vietnamese writers as examples. But, she says, it was Black and Hispanic writers who opened the door for the others.Mendoza agrees, adding that both groups used literature during the civil rights movement, “as a cultural weapon and as a source of affirmation and cultural celebration.”

The next big leap came with the multicultural movement of the 1980s and ’90s, which prompted colleges and universities to begin recognizing the gaps in their curriculums.In his 2003 nonfiction book, Crossing Into America, Mendoza examines the political event that he says set the stage for the multicultural movement and other social changes. In 1965, the U.S. Congress voted to repeal the immigration restrictions of the 1924 National Origins Act. The federal law had long discriminated against people from Latin America and Asia, giving immigration preference to well-educated and well-funded Europeans.

The repeal of the quotas meant Latin Americans and Asians were free to enter the United States in large numbers for the first time.“The coming of those peoples created a layer base of people to produce that body of literature,” Mendoza says.Within the growing body of Hispanic literature is also older work by Hispanic writers, which must be recovered, Mendoza says. He specifically praises the work of Arte Público Press, which has been working to restore the literary history of American Hispanics.

Scholars across the country have been helping the Press with the “Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project,” uncovering the writings of Hispanic and Latino explorers, settlers and writers since the 1500s.In 2002, the Press published En Otra Voz: Antología de Literatura Espana de Los Estados Unidos (Herencia: The Anthology of Hispanic Literature in the United States, the English-language version, was published by Oxford University Press), the first comprehensive collection of Spanish-language literature from U.S. Hispanics.

The entries encompassed plays, poems, journals, fictional excerpts and articles, ranging from contemporary work all the way back to Spanish conquistador Cabeza de Vaca’s account of his journey to the New World. In all, En Otra Voz spans more than 300 years of Hispanic literature and includes writers from all major Hispanic ethnic groups.Cantú and Mendoza both say the reclamation work plays an important role in understanding the cultural identities of Hispanic groups. The early works also add to the body of American literature, they say.

“When I was a grad student at UT-Austin in the 1990s, two important books challenged our understanding of Hispanic literature,” Mendoza says. Written in the 1930s, the books had lain dormant for more than 60 years. He says the novels “challenged our understanding of community because the authors looked at racial issues in the 1930s and the unfair treatment of the Mexican community back then.”

The novels went unpublished possibly because publishers were uninterested or unconvinced of the books’ potential financial success, Mendoza says. Today, the majority of Hispanic literature is published by independent presses, though there has been some increase in interest among the mainstream presses in recent years.But as Hispanics solidify their position as the largest minority group in the country, some wonder whether large publishing companies are increasing their Hispanic literature proportionally.“

Mainstream publishers’ priorities lie with profits,” Mendoza says. “Independent presses play a significant role for new writers and experimental work, yet they don’t benefit, because they often introduce a new writer or work, and if it becomes popular, a bigger publisher picks them up. The [mainstream] publishing industry is still very selective about who they let in, but we are seeing more works published.”

The increase in publishing opportunities has also led to a rise in scholarship and teaching opportunities. At UT-San Antonio for instance, a new doctoral program is being offered in Hispanic literature.“It is pretty competitive to gain admission; there is more of a need for people trained in this area,” Cantú says. “Also, as the population of Hispanics and Latinos increase, there is more of a demand for this curriculum and this type of literature.“We are training professors for the next generation.

Many are retiring now that were teaching in the late 1960s and early ’70s. The demand for these courses was born from the activism of the Chicano movement,” she continues.But as the programs pop up on more campuses, the universities are wrestling with the question of where to place them. Do Hispanic literature programs belong in the English department or the Spanish department? So far, the answer is as diverse as Hispanic populations in America.The program at UT-San Antonio is housed in the English department, as are the programs at the University of Southern California and the University of Northern Colorado-Greeley.

New York University’s top-ranked program offers Latin American literature studies as part of its Latin studies program. And the University of Houston, the home of publisher Arte Público Press, houses its program in the Spanish department.In its early years, Mendoza says the program was often perceived as a regional study.

For example, Puerto Rican literature was seen as indigenous to New York, while Mexican literature was seen as indigenous to the Southwest. But as Hispanic groups have spread across the country, such regional designations no longer apply.

Mendoza is also quick to point out that the Hispanic community long predates the establishment of state, or in fact national, borders.Hispanic literature programs have expanded in recent years, now encompassing works by artists from the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. And Cantú says the interest isn’t limited to states with large Hispanic populations, such as California, Florida, New York and Texas. She taught the subject at the University of Nebraska.Interest doesn’t stop in the United States.

Cantú says programs have found a niche in Europe. Hispanic literature conferences have been held in Holland, Spain, Turkey and even Siberia, she says.“One of the reasons it is so interesting for them is because we represent ‘mestizaje,’ as different cultures coming together.The same thing is happening for them in the European Union,” she says.

“It’s good for writers to see us, all writers, not just Hispanics and Latinos. I do readings across the country, and I can tell you there’s a hunger for our work and our words, and not just among students of color.”A Sampler of Hispanic LiteratureHispanic American literature, unlike Latin literature, focuses on life in the United States and is typically written in English, as told from the perspective of a specific Hispanic culture.

A sampling of writers who have contributed to this canon include Chicano American writers Rudolfo Anaya (Bless Me, Ultima), Sandra Cisneros (The House on Mango Street), Tomás Rivera (And the Earth Did Not Devour Him) and poets Jimmy Santiago Baca, Loma Dee Cervantes and Leroy V. Quintana. Writers with Caribbean backgrounds include Puerto Ricans Judith Ortiz Cofer (The Line of the Sun) and Ed Vega (Casualty Report), and poets Victor Hernandez Cruz, Miguel Algarin, and Sandra Maria Estevez. Cuban-American writers include Roberto G. Fernandez (Raining Backwards), Cristina Garcia (Dreaming in Cuban) and Oscar Hijuelos (The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love).

Poets include Gustavo Perez Firmat, Ricardo Pau-Llosa, and Carolina Hospital. Julia Alvarez (How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents) writes from a Dominican-American perspective. Other writers include Colombian-American Jaime Manrique (Twilight at the Equator) and Guatemalan-American and Jewish-American Francisco Goldman (The Long Night of the White Chickens).


Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Why book industry sees the world split still by race

This blog became an idea in my head, when one day I went to a local Barnes and Noble bookstore and hit the "Hispanic" section. I was shocked to see one lonesome book there on the shelf that called itself the "Hispanic" section. In the past months I have received many a note telling me that nonwhite authors and their books are not marginalized by society, as a redress I found this article quite interesting.

Why book industry sees the world split still by race

Wednesday, December 06, 2006
By Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, The Wall Street Journal

Brandon Massey's readers tell him they know just where to find his horror
novels -- in the African-American section of bookstores. He's torn about whether
or not this is a good thing. "You face a double-edged sword," says Mr. Massey,
33 years old. "I'm black and I'm published by a black imprint, so I'm
automatically slotted in African-American fiction." That helps black readers to
find his books easily and has underpinned his career.

At the same time, he says, the placement "limits my sales."

Should fiction written by black authors be shelved in African-American departments, a move that often helps nurture writers? Or should it be presented alongside other categories, such as general literature, allowing books written by black authors to take their place in publishing's mainstream?

The issue -- stirring up a broader debate between assimilation and
maintaining a distinct identity -- has come to the fore because of a recent
explosion in black fiction at a time when book sales as a whole are in decline.
For the first nine months of 2006, bookstore sales fell 1.6 percent to $12.1
billion, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Census Bureau. By
comparison, major New York publishers say black authors are flourishing.

"It's a hot area, and everyone is rushing in," says Judith Curr, publisher
of CBS Corp.'s Atria imprint, where African-American authors contribute about 25
percent of the titles published annually. African-American sections are the rule
at Borders and Waldenbooks, chains both owned by Borders Group Inc., as well as
many airports and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. outlets. Inc. and Barnes &
Noble Inc., the country's largest book retailer, don't follow the practice.

There, Mr. Massey's books, which include "Thunderland" and "Dark Corner," are
found in the horror section or in general fiction.

Organizing literature by race is one of the few open demarcations between
white and black apparent in the nation's malls and shopping centers. For other
consumer goods, the matter is less clear cut.Health and beauty products
specifically designed to address the needs of African-Americans are sometimes
grouped together. A Duane Reade store in Mamaroneck, N.Y., for example, has an
"Ethnic Shampoo" section. In the music business, by contrast, some categories
such as rhythm and blues and rap are dominated by black performers. But
retailers don't market these artists under a separate "African-American"

Black consumers spent more than $300 million on books last year, according
to Ken Smikle, publisher of Black Issues Book Review, a unit of Chicago-based
Target Market News Inc. That's more than twice as much as they spent in the
early 1990s. Bookspan, the book-club company owned by Bertelsmann AG and Time Warner Inc., says its Black Expressions Book Club boasts 460,000 members,
compared with 345,000 for its famed Book of the Month Club.

Black Expressions is expected to generate double-digit growth in both its sales and membership through the next few years, estimates Markus Wilhelm, Bookspan's CEO. "The growth has been stunning," he says.Craig Werner, chairman of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, attributes the current interest in black authors to an expanding black middle class that has both money and leisure time. "As every scholar of the novel has concluded, the novel is a
middle-class genre," he says.

For years, classics of black literature – Richard Wright's "Native Son"
(1940), Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man" (1952), James Baldwin's "Go Tell It On
the Mountain" (1953) -- appeared on bookstores shelves side by side with books
by white authors. African-American sections date to the late 1960s and early
1970s, when black culture and identity was generating regular headlines. Writers
and activists such as Eldridge Cleaver, Stokely Carmichael and Bobby Seale were
redefining the black experience, and booksellers rushed to group them together.

When Borders opened its first new book store in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1973,
it included an African-American section. "In the historical context of the Civil
Rights movement, when African-Americans were no longer being defined in terms of white culture, it made complete sense to have a separate department," says Joe
Gable, a longtime Borders executive who for many years managed that store. "It
still makes sense because race continues to be a defining issue."

The division is perpetuated up and down the publishing food chain. Romantic
Times Book Reviews, bible of the huge romance industry, divides its influential
"Top Picks" page into as many as 10 categories, ranging from inspirational to
paranormal. Getting chosen is a huge boon because libraries and stores will
likely buy the book in large numbers, says Gwynne Forster, the author of 26
novels, including the recently published "When You Dance with the Devil." But
the magazine lumps black writers of all genres into one African-American

Carol Stacy, the magazine's publisher, says the African-American label
makes it easier for readers to find those books. "We know we're walking a fine
line, but the reader wants to know if a book has African-American characters,"
she says. Publishers deliberately market books to black readers that way, she
adds. Marva Allen, one of the owners of the Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe in
Harlem, says that the term African-American refers to a culture, not a skin
color, and therefore has a special sensibility.

"A lot of African-American writers don't write for the crossover
market, they write from a cultural identity," says Ms. Allen. Moreover, she
asks, how many white readers will browse through a book when the front cover
depicts black characters and the author is black? Bennett J. Johnson, vice
president of Chicago's Third World Press and a longtime publisher of black
authors, says the practice appeals to a universal proclivity to think in terms
of race. In that sense, publishing is merely a reflection of how the world
works, he says. What publishers don't understand, Mr. Johnson suggests, is that
the practice reinforces the notion that the U.S. remains a nation of "two
separate societies."

Before the 1990s, many black writers who wrote about black characters
produced ambitious epic stories in the manner of Toni Morrison's "Song of
Solomon." There was little room for black authors who wanted to write popular
genre fiction such as romance novels, horror stories or erotica. Leticia Peoples
says she found the attitude of white publishers so frustrating that in the late
1980s she decided to publish her own line of black romance novels. "I called a
couple of romance companies to find out why they weren't accepting black
manuscripts and I heard things like, 'We don't have to do it because black women
will read what's on the market' or 'Black women can't write, so where would we
get our writers?'" says Ms. Peoples.

She launched her own line in 1989 called Odyssey Books. Three years later
came a landmark: the publication of Terry McMillan's third book, "Waiting to
Exhale," which ignited the market for books aimed at black audiences. The novel,
a breezy look at the daily lives of four black women, perched on The Wall Street
Journal's best-seller list for 36 weeks. Says Ms. McMillan: "It was contemporary
-- which was important -- and it was written in a voice that a lot of black
women could identify with." The author says she doesn't tailor her novels for
any audience and opposes putting books in black sections -- where hers are found
-- a practice she calls a "disservice" and "racist."

At the same time, Ms. McMillan says she understands the sales incentive for
booksellers. Her solution: Put books by African-Americans in both places. As a
practical matter, segregating books by race and culture makes it less likely
that black writers will hit the national best-seller lists -- whites make up a
majority of book buyers -- limiting their chances of earning bigger paychecks.
Nadine Aldred, who writes as Millenia Black, says that writer Jennifer Weiner
might not have become a best-selling author if her books had been sold
exclusively in a Jewish-American section.

Ms. Weiner, whose books include "Good in Bed" and "Little Earthquakes,"
agrees. "If my books were perceived as Jewish 'chick lit,' there would be a
narrower appeal," she says. In October, Ms. Aldred filed a lawsuit against her
publisher, the American arm of Pearson PLC's Penguin Group, in U.S. District
Court for the Southern District of New York. In the suit, she alleges that her
editor asked her to change the characters in her newly published second novel,
"The Great Betrayal," from white to black or race-neutral.

In an attempt to lure black readers, the proposed cover art featured an
African-American couple, the suit adds. Ms. Aldred says she objected because she
thought the suggestions would deprive her of the opportunity to attract white
readers. In her filing, Ms. Aldred says the publisher eventually backed down --
the final cover features an unmade bed -- but she still sued, alleging racial
discrimination. "In commercial fiction I'm finding that there is a huge
expectation that because you are black, you should know the climate and the
boundaries, and adhere to them," says Ms. Aldred.

Penguin says it is contesting the allegations, saying in a written
statement that "our commitment to writers from all backgrounds is evident in the
quality and diversity of our (publishing) list." The company declines to make
further comment. Barnes & Noble is bucking the rest of the industry. The
chain offers an African-American studies department, but its black fiction is
shelved alphabetically by author within various genres. Mary Ellen Keating, a
spokeswoman for the retailer, says it wants to expose "all titles to all

The only exceptions are stores in Atlanta and Oakland, which offer
stand-alone displays of African-American authors because of the substantial
black populations in those cities. At Borders, whose superstores carry an
average of 90,000 titles, executives say the African-American sections are a
convenience for readers. Merchants and publishers say such sections also
brighten the chances for new, undiscovered writers.

There are no publicly available sales numbers to determine which approach works best. Tananarive Due, who writes supernatural suspense tales, says that when she started out in 1995, she was embraced by black booksellers. Her book tour was almost exclusively in black stores. "There is nothing worse than the release of a book without an audience," she says. "Frankly I'm glad my books were launched as they were.

The African-American readership has been my rock and given me the
opportunity to expand." That support has been crucial for writers such as the
recently married Mr. Massey, who lives in Union City, Ga., a 25-minute drive
south of downtown Atlanta. From writing books "I made close to six figures in
2005, which was my best year so far," he says.

This year he expects to generate roughly the same amount. He has sold the film rights to his second novel to a film unit affiliated with his publisher, Kensington Publishing Corp. in New York. Mr. Massey nonetheless worries he's being shortchanged by being shelved in African-American departments. "Most nonblack readers aren't going to the African-American section," he says. His goal, he says, is to compete with Dean Koontz and Stephen King.

Judging a Book

Books written by black authors are often designed to appeal specifically to
black consumers.

Top five best-selling fiction titles by black authors in November:

I Say a Little Prayer, By E. Lynn Harris

When Somebody Loves You Back, by Mary B. Morrison

What They Want, by Omar Tyree

Satin Nights, by Karen E. Quinones Miller

God Don't Play, by Mary Monroe

Source: Essence Magazine
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