The Strange Duality of Spanish in the American Imagination

It’s quite interesting to see how America perceives Spanish. There are two quite different ways that the Spanish language is viewed in the American imagination. Indeed, in many ways these two approaches are the exact opposite.

The first way is the one more associated with American politics. This is the nativist perspective, the one which led to the defeat of the DREAM Act today. This perspective insists that America is an English-speaking country and wishes “those people” would stop speaking Spanish. Spanish is the language of illegal invaders and ought not to be used. The official language of the United States is English, not Spanish. Signs should be in English only. People who don’t know - or don’t want to – speak English should not be in this country. Unsurprisingly the Spanish language is portrayed quite negatively here.

The existence of this portrayal of Spanish is not surprising. Any large influx of immigrants almost invariably meets backlash by the native inhabitants. Reaction against the language of said immigrants is normally part of this. The nativist perspective is merely one in a long line of many anti-immigrant backlashes in many countries throughout history.

The second approach to the Spanish language, however, is more surprising. Spanish is not the only language with this connotation; French, for instance, has it at well. This is the Casanova perspective, the one in which Spanish is viewed as a “sexy” language. It is the perspective of romantic literature, in which a dark-tanned, suave foreigner - whispering about “mi amor” -sweeps a willing women off her feet. Sometimes the man is from Spain; sometimes from Columbia; sometimes from Argentina; sometimes from Cuba. Whatever the case, Spanish is viewed as a beautiful, romantic language.

The contrast between these two perspectives could not be more striking. On the one hand Spanish is viewed as the language of invasion and illegal, border-jumping wetbacks; on the other it is viewed as the language of sexy, smooth-talking foreigners. The irony is that these two people are one and the same. The dark, handsome Columbian is also the dark, illegal Columbian.

How the latter trope came into existence is a bit of a mystery, at least to this poster. Most American women probably do not see Spanish-speaking immigrants as suave, sexy hunks. Yet somehow the perception of Spanish as a romantic language continues to coexist with the perception of Spanish as quite the opposite.

--Inoljt,http://mypolitikal.com/ 

 

Examining Turn-Out by Race in California

California constitutes one of the most diverse states in the United States. Here is how the Census estimates its population composition:

California’s Ethnic Composition :


Asian 12.7%

Black 6.6%

Hispanic 37.0%

Mixed 2.6%

Native American 1.2%

Pacific Islander 0.4%

White 41.7%

(Note that the numbers do not add up to 100, due to the way the Census tracks ethnicity.)

The people who actually vote in California, however, do not reflect this composition. California’s electorate in the 2008 presidential election is quite different from its actual ethnic composition:

2008 Electorate: Exit Polls


Asian 6%

Black 10%

Hispanic 18%

Other 3%

White 63%

These numbers were taken from exit polls – and one should be warned that exit polls are very, very inaccurate. The numbers above should not be taken for the truth, but rather as a rough approximation of it.

Nevertheless, one can take something out of the exit polls: blacks and whites punched far above their demographic weight, while Asians and Hispanics punched far below theirs. This pattern isn’t so much a racial one as much as an immigrant versus non-immigrant one.

Since blacks and whites are mainly non-immigrant communities, they vote more often than immigrant communities. Blacks and whites thus are overrepresented in the electorate. There was little racial divide between black and white turn-out, which is quite remarkable, given the lower socioeconomic status of blacks. All in all the percentage of California’s 2008 electorate was about 50% more black and white than California’s overall population.

Hispanics are the ones hurt most by this. The difference between the Hispanic portion of the electorate and the Hispanic portion of the overall population is quite striking: the electorate is just half as Hispanic as the population. Most of this is attributable to the legal status of many Hispanic immigrants, the relative youth of the Hispanic population, the lower socioeconomic status of Hispanics, and the immigrant-heavy nature Hispanic community (this is different from the first factor in that immigrants are inherently less likely to vote even if they are citizens).

It is not Hispanics, however, who are least likely to vote: it is Asians. There are several similarities and differences between the two groups. Unlike Hispanics, the Asian population is not skewed downwards, and Asians generally have a high socioeconomic status. On the other hand, Asians are much more of an immigrant community than Hispanics: a remarkable four out of five adult Asians in California constituted immigrants, according to a 2002 study. Only 59% of adult Asians were citizens (who can vote), according to the study.

The low voting rates of Hispanics and Asians naturally reduce their political power. Hispanics, at around one-fifth of the California electorate, are influential – but imagine how much more influential the Hispanic vote would be if they voted their numbers. As for Asians, their low turn-out makes their community almost a non-factor in California politics.

This will probably change, of course. A century ago one could have written the exact same words about another immigrant-heavy group that did not vote: Irish-Americans.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

 

 

Solving a Mystery in Philadelphia Voting Patterns

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

A long time ago, I posted a series of posts analyzing the swing state Pennsylvania. One section of this series focused specifically on the city of Philadelphia. This section analyzed Philadelphia’s vote by precinct results and mapped out the results of several previous elections.

Of particular interest was the difference between the results of the 2008 presidential election and the 2008 Democratic primary, which illustrated a political divide not seen in presidential elections: between Democratic-leaning white Catholics in the northeast and Democratic-voting blacks in the west.

Here is Philadelphia in the 2008 Democratic primary. Take a note at the region the question mark points to, which this post will discuss:

Map of Philadelphia, 2008 Democratic Primary

(Note: Both images are taken from a website which maps historical Philadelphia election results.)

Here is Philadelphia in the 2008 presidential election:

Map of Philadelphia, 2008 Presidential Election

Most of the different voting patterns between these two elections is fairly easy to explain: blacks in west Philadelphia voted for  Barack Obama both times, while white Catholics in the northeast voted for strongly Hillary Clinton in the primary and then lukewarmly Barack Obama in the general election. There is generally a scaling relationship between the two groups: as an area gets more white and less black, its support for Mr. Obama decreases in both elections.

There was, however, a group of precincts in Philadelphia which did not follow this model. These precincts are marked by the question mark in both maps.

Rather, this group behaved quite strangely. It gave incredibly strong support to Ms. Clinton in the primary and then even stronger support to Mr. Obama in the general election. In the map of the 2008 primary, a number of these precincts cast more than 70% of their ballot to Ms. Clinton. All of them then vote for more than 90% Democratic in the general election.

This behavior was quite puzzling, and something that the model did not explain. Initially this author hypothesized that these voters were white liberals in gentrifying areas of Philadelphia and then eventually forgot about the mystery.

The answer, as it turns out, was not white liberals. Here it is:

Map of Philadelphia by Ethnicity

The mysterious precincts were Hispanic!

The above image was created using Daves Redistricting Application. Due to the tremendous efforts of David  Bradlee, one can map the ethnic composition of every state in incredibly detail.

This provides some interesting insight into the behavior of Hispanics in inner-cities. If what holds for Philadelphia also holds for other cities (which is not a 100% certainty), inner-city Hispanics strongly supported both Hillary Clinton and then Barack Obama.

It is an insight provided by Daves Application which can be extended to many other areas and groups.

--Inoljt

 

Are you voting tomorrow?

From the Restore Fairness blog-

Tomorrow is voting day, so make sure you get out there and vote. Here are some things that might motivate you to make your vote count and have your voice heard in the 2010 elections-

Our friends at Colorlines have been running a blog section on their website called ’2010 Elections’ that keeps you up to date with all news, events, and information pertaining to the mid-term elections. Their latest entry features Senator Harry Reid’s interview with Univision in which he promised Univision reporter Jorge Ramos that he would bring the DREAM Act up for a vote again, regardless of whether he won or lost tomorrow’s election. Reid’s opponent is a Tea Party supporter Sharron Angle, who’s election campaign centered around a series of racist, anti-immigrant ads. Another article on ’2010 Elections’ illustrates the hypocrisy of Republican strategist Robert de Posada, the man who created the ad that advised the Latino community not to vote in this election. Colorlines tells us that after creating this ad that told Latinos not to vote, it turns out that he himself voted by absentee ballot in Virginia earlier this month. The ad says-

Democratic leaders must pay for their broken promises and betrayals…If we go on supporting them this November, they will keep playing games with our future and keep taking our vote for granted…If they didn’t keep their promise on immigration reform then, they can’t count on our vote…Don’t vote this November. This is the only way to send them a clear message. You can no longer take us for granted. Don’t vote.

It is exactly this sort of voter suppression that we need to fight by voting tomorrow. Our friends at Presente.org told us about this and other voter suppression tactics that have been seen impacting the Latino community and their allies around the country. In Texas, a voter registration group called Houston Votes has been the victim of a systematic suppression campaign, including baseless allegations of fraud by the local registrar, and a string of threatening emails strewn with racist insults. The result: registrations have dropped from 1,000 per day to under 200. In Arizona, Senator Russel Pearce — the same man who authored SB 1070 — is accusing organizations like Mi Familia Vota of “voter fraud” in a thinly veiled effort to hamper their registration activities and scare Latino voters from the polls.

A number of radicals are resorting to fear-mongering and scare tactics to ensure that certain communities are denied a voice in this election. In addition to voting tomorrow, get involved with an important project called Video the Vote, a national network of everyday people on who watch out for problems on Election Day. The project helps people report things they see when voting and also document incidents that occur in their area. Started in 2006, Video the Vote volunteers have helped raise national awareness of voting problems by recording over 1,000 videos that have been broadcast on networks like CBS, CNN, and ABC and viewed over 1 million times online.

It’s essential that voter suppression problems get reported right away and that their full story is told by the media on Election Day. Video the Vote urgently needs more volunteers, so if you want to help protect the right to vote, join today and tell your friends about the program as well.

And one last thing. Did you know that thousands of people didn’t cast in 2008 because they didn’t know where to vote? Luckily, for the first time in American history, every voter can now look up their polling place. All you have to do is enter your address to find out which polling station is yours. And make sure to share this handy tool with your friends through Facebook and Twitter.

Happy voting!

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

 

 

 

Weekly Diaspora: Will Immigration Reform Bills Bring Voters to the Polls?

by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

Riding the media blitz that followed the DREAM Act’s recent defeat, Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) unveiled their own comprehensive immigration reform bills just before Congress adjourned last week. The bills are enforcement-heavy, party-line bills that were immediately referred to committee, where they are expected to languish for some time.

Few expect much to come of either bill, given their untimely introduction and the broad failure of previous immigration reform efforts. Rather, these bills are perceived as last-ditch attempts to score political points before midterm elections. The Menendez bill could net support for Democrats from an increasingly unmotivated Latino electorate, conversely, Hatch’s bill reinforces the hard-line immigration stance so popular among Republican voters.

The Menendez Bill: Two steps forward, one step back

While the Menendez bill was introduced with the strong support of major immigration reform groups like the National Immigration Forum, others regard it as a disappointing mixed bag of talking points.

The bill has several high points, like its inclusion of AgJOBS and the DREAM Act, but is heavy on the kinds of federal immigration enforcement that immigrant rights advocates abhor. As Prerna Lal at Change.org writes:

[The bill] starts with border enforcement, followed by interior enforcement, then worksite enforcement, before actually reforming the system and moving forward with the legalization of undocumented immigrants. […] The biggest downfall of the bill is probably that it does not do much to address the ever-growing immigrant detention complex and, instead, mandates a system that criminalizes immigrants.

Likening it to the failed Schumer-Graham bill of last spring, Lal notes that the bill’s prioritization of enforcement isn’t bi-partisan so much as a slap in the face of those who have fought hardest for comprehensive reform. Nevertheless, the Menendez Bill succeeds where its Democratic predecessor—the Guttieriez bill—failed: It provides a path to citizenship for undocumented partners of LGBT citizens.

While it remains unlikely that the bill will ever become law as is, Menendez introduced it into Senate to remind Latinos which party is on their side this election season.

The Hatch Bill: Revving up the base with more of the same

Orrin Hatch admits even more frankly that he only introduced an immigration bill because he wanted to stir up his base. In his own words, the bill is “just for show.”

Accordingly—and as Elise Foley of the Washington Independent notes—his bill doesn’t do much of anything except reinforce existing immigration laws and practices:

Immigration advocacy groups were critical of the bill, calling it “dog whistle rhetoric” to gin up his base. “His bill doesn’t offer serious solutions,” Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum said in a press release. “Instead it duplicates work already being done on enforcement and won’t solve the crisis it purports to address.”

The bill does propose boosting enforcement in some areas—for instance, requiring all law enforcement agencies to deputize their officers as immigration agents—but on the whole appears to be little more than the political ploy Hatch says it is.

Where are the Latino voters?

Whether either bill will have much of an impact on voters, however, is up for debate. A new report released by the Pew Hispanic Center reveals that, while Latino voters still largely identify as Democrats, they are much less motivated to cast their ballots this year than they have been in the past two elections. The finding is a surprising one, as reform advocates have been working hard to galvanize the Latino constituency against increasing anti-immigrant sentiment.

But weak voter motivation may have less to do with politics and more to do with the pressures accompanying a bad economy. As I wrote for Campus Progress, populations that were disproportionately hurt by the recession seem to have less overall interest in voting this November.

In particular, Latino voters with close ties to undocumented workers are experiencing some of the worst voter fallout from the recession and, under the circumstances, are becoming politically disaffected despite the highly politicized immigration debate.

Rather than motivating the bulk of Latino voters, all of the controversy surrounding anti-immigrant sentiment and policies are instead fomenting an agitated conservative base. At ColorLines, Jamilah King astutely notes that, “while Democrats had hoped incendiary anti-immigrant legislation like SB 1070 would encourage voters to come out against Republicans in protest, it seems that the opposite is happening.”

Instead, controversy surrounding SB 1070 and other measures are generating strong support among conservatives. Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio, once the figurehead of immigration enforcement in the U.S., is now proclaiming himself to be the “poster boy” of immigration as he tours the country endorsing a slew of radical conservative candidates.

There they are!

Nevertheless, reform advocates are optimistic about both the power and the will of the Latino electorate.

According to Valerie Fernandez at New America Media, organizers are registering record numbers of Latinos this year. In Arizona, where voter registration closed on Monday, a coalition of ten groups claims to have registered 22,000 new voters. It’s a remarkable accomplishment. Latino voters make up only 15 percent of all registered voters in Arizona, despite the fact that Latinos comprise 30 percent of the state’s population. 22,000 new voters could effectively double the number of Latinos voting in the state, and may significantly impact the election’s outcome.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Diaries

Advertise Blogads