Category Archives: Los Primos

Watch Junot Diaz on Moyers!

The good folks at Moyers Media sent the link to show off to all. Thanks to them! (for big screen)

The life and work of Junot Díaz contains many worlds. His books, including National Book Award finalist This Is How You Lose Her and Pulitzer Prize-winner The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, journey between the old and the new, and between the America that was and the America we’re becoming. Born in the Dominican Republic, but raised in New Jersey and American to the core, Junot Díaz is a spotter of the future, a curator of the past, a man of the here-and-now.

Díaz joins Bill to discuss the evolution of the great American story. Along the way he offers funny and perceptive insights into his own work, as well as Star Wars, Moby Dick, and America’s inevitable shift to a majority minority country.

There is an enormous gap between the way the country presents itself and imagines itself and projects itself and the reality of this country,” Díaz tells Bill. “Whether we’re talking about the Latino community in North Carolina. Whether we’re talking about a very active and I think in some ways very out queer community across the United States. Or whether we’re talking about an enormous body of young voters who are either ignored or sort of pandered to or in some ways, I think that what we’re having is a new country emerging that’s been in the making for a long time.”

Click on the link to find out about a live chat with Diaz on Thursday.

What Was Calderon Doing Here?

Well, we know exactly why he was here. To make sure our 1% and his 1% stay the 1%.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón, in Houston on Wednesday as part of his U.S. visit, emphasized the importance of the trade relationship between Mexico and Texas, saying 35 percent of Texas exports, representing more than $86 billion, went to Mexico in 2011.

Meeting with more than 160 business leaders from the Greater Houston Partnership, Calderón stressed the significance of that relationship to Mexico’s growing economy. Mexico is Houston’s largest trading partner, with the two exchanging $31.4 billion in imports and exports annually. Mexico is the largest U.S. export market after Canada, and in 2011, U.S. exports to Mexico grew by $34 billion.

I would hope that these business leaders, or at the very least, our key-to-the-city wielding Mayor Parker questioned the economic impact of all of the trade agreements on Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Mexico is still fraught with poverty and 600,000 jobs, as mentioned by Calderon, is hardly a drop in the bucket to improve Mexico. According to the CIA Factbook, 18.2% of Mexican citizens live in poverty if we go by the food-based definition. But if we go by the asset-based definition (in other words, wealth), we’re talking about almost half of Mexican citizens. Other studies are comparable, with the number of those in poverty being at around 50,000,000–which shows how “drop in the bucket” those 600,000 jobs Calderon mentioned really are. So, someone is getting rich and the people of Mexico aren’t seeing much improvement.

Since it wasn’t reported, I would like to know if the Mayor, council members present, or the so-called business leaders who charge $100+ to see the guy speak ever questioned Calderon about this. Otherwise, this all about our 1% helping their 1% continue their shopping excursions to our Galleria with dinner at the Palm or Morton’s afterward.

And the rest of the people? Well, either they’ll stay and suffer, or they will come on over to be exploited by the 1%. And that’s a whole other discussion.

Pastor’s Request Shows Right-Wing Hypocrisy

So, there’s this right-wing preacherman demanding that our Mayor Annise Parker resign because she supports same-sex marriage. Citing the Constitution, the bigoted preacherman stated that Parker is violating the Constitution by wanting same-sex marriage.

OK. Here’s the hypocrisy. This preacherman’s church is hosting the Harris County Republican Party’s convention. This is the same party that has consistently violated the Constitution by pushing a hate-based agenda that includes voter intimidation, violation of voting rights, violation of women’s rights, etc. Heck, they even want to push it so that they do away with certain amendments so that they can expand the hate–while pushing said hate.

The preacherman has a right to be a bigot under the Constitution. The fact that the Republicans are holding a convention there set off a bunch of red flags for me regarding partisan politics from the pulpit. And if it’s a rental agreement, the fact that money would be exchanged says even more about these people who use religion as a basis for bigotry–not to mention partisan agenda-setting.

There’s no doubt the bigotry will continue. Perhaps the rest of us can just pray away the hate…and vote!

Moseley Braun: A Different Kind of Senator

I have been following the Primary campaigns of two exceptional Democrats running for U.S. Senate, Kendrick Meek for Florida and Ken Lewis for North Carolina.  There is a real opportunity to diversify the U.S. Senate, something which former Senator Carol Moseley-Braun seems to agree in this op-ed.

I don’t usually get involved in Democratic primary contests, but this race was too important to stay on the sidelines.  In North Carolina we have three candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, but one stands out above the rest.  That candidate is Ken Lewis.

I have been impressed with Ken’s ability to connect with young voters, progressives, and African Americans, the same groups that drove Barack Obama to victory in North Carolina in 2008.  In an off-year election where Democratic voters are not showing high levels of engagement, Ken is the best candidate to inspire and turn out the coalition of voters that will be necessary to defeat Senator Burr in November.

But this primary election is about more than political calculation.

Ken Lewis represents a significant opportunity for the State of North Carolina and our country: The opportunity to change the U.S. Senate by changing the kind of Senators we send there.

Ken Lewis’ background is not like that of most U.S. Senators.  He worked as a janitor, bus driver and fast food employee to put himself through Duke University and then Harvard Law School.

In this down economy he would bring a unique set of skills to the Senate, having spent two decades helping businesses create jobs in nearly every industry in North Carolina.

At a time when Americans feel forgotten by political insiders, Ken would bring a unique set of experiences, deeply rooted in the community organizations and non-profit associations he has served.

As Senator, Ken will be responsive to the needs of North Carolinians.  He’ll serve the people of North Carolina because that’s what he’s done all his life.

But there is another factor as well that many are quick to dismiss.

When I first ran for the U.S. Senate in 1991, the Senate did not include any African-Americans.  The South has not elected an African-American to the U.S. Senate since 1874.  Today, there is only one sitting African-American Senator, and he will not return to the Senate next year.

How can we reach our full promise as Americans with a Senate that only reflects a narrow slice of our country—a Senate that does not include one single African-American Senator?

If we are serious about making the Senate a deliberative body that makes well-informed policy for the 21st century, then we must strive to include in the U.S. Senate a range of experiences and backgrounds that encompass those found in our country. No one could look at the U.S. Senate today and believe these requirements to be satisfied.

Ken Lewis will bring a unique background, a vital set of skills, and a fresh and optimistic perspective to the U.S. Senate. He also offers an historic opportunity to make our U.S. Senate a more representative, well-informed, and inclusive place.

Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines.  We have a chance to make history in North Carolina just as I made history in Illinois two decades ago.  This is our time. Ken is our candidate.  He’ll be our Senator, if we all do our part.

Please show your support by making a contribution to Ken’s campaign today.

Carol Moseley Braun is the first and only African-American woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate. She served as U.S. ambassador to New Zealand from 1999-2001.

Lewis has a strong statement in support of comprehensive immigration reform, and Meek recently blasted the recent bill signed into law in Arizona. We need strong Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate who truly represent our American values as Democrats, and Lewis and Meek should be on our Democratic priority list to support.

Thoughts on Viernes…01282010

On to Cristal…

DosCentavos will be heading down to Cristal to celebrate the life of my beloved Great Uncle Pete Teran today.  I’d like to thank all my family, friends, and readers who have sent their condolences, thoughts and prayers to the Teran Family and all of the extensions of the family.


Sure, politics is that seasonal game we all play and we are deep in it at the moment with a little over a month ’til the Democratic Primaries.  There’s no doubt that we’ve seen some nastiness at some of these endorsement screenings–nothing new, really.  Some of this stuff would definitely make for some blog-based soap opera material, but ¿pa’ que?  This week’s events put a lot of things in perspective and a new commitment to simply getting the job done and winning some elections in a few weeks.

Dems to Debate!

Looks like the Debate is on between Bill White and Farouk Shami for Feb. 8.  Considering Shami has been making all sorts of progressive pronouncements, I look forward to seeing the responses from White.  A noted pragmatic centrist, White puts a lot of thought into policies.  Ultimately, it’s not about who talks pretty on the issues we want, but about who is best able to push through policies that are good for Texans in what is a deeply divided Texas Legislature.  For me, that candidate is Bill White.  But let’s debate, anyway.

Tejano Back on the Spotlight for Los Grammys–the Real Ones!

Yes, even though the HoustonRodeo has once again ignored La Onda Chicana (Tejano music), the Grammys continues to celebrate it–probably more than the Latin Grammys, but that’s just me.   2010s nominees has an SA Cast (YouTube links to songs):  Sunny Sauceda y Todo Eso; Stefani Montiel; DC-Favorite, Los Texmaniacs; The Voice-Jay Perez; and legendary Saxman Joe Posada.  Los Texmaniacs’ Borders y Bailes is a compilation of Mexican standards produced by the good folks at the Smithsonian.

More Later…

R.I.P. Pedro G. Teran

Late last night I received word that my Uncle Pedro G. Teran, of Crystal City, TX, had ended his journey on this earth.  I’ve mentioned my Uncle Pete here several times.  In fact, he was my Great Uncle–brother of my Mom’s mom.  I grew up listening to his jokes, his singing and guitar strumming, and simply enjoying his mere existence.   He was always there for our familiy–during the good and bad times.  For that, I shall never forget him, and for that, I will always be indebted to my Tia Virginia, my primos Pete and Tony, and my primas, Alma, Norma, and Irma.

Here’s a post I did in 2007 in response to Ken Burns forgetting about Chicano/Latino vets in his WWII documentary (thanks to Carlos Guerra for providing the motivation).

Taking a page from Carlos’ stylebook, I have a WWII Tio to celebrate, as well. My Tio Pedro (Pete) Teran of Crystal City. Although this post is about Tio Pete, I must mention other WWII vets in the family, like Pete’s brothers Alfredo and Abraham, as well as my mom’s big brother, Rodolfo.

At 86, Tio Pete is still kickin’, although we’ve had a few scares these last few years. Still active and always a proud Vet, he was recognized earlier this year by Congressman Ciro Rodriguez for his many years of service as Historian for the Melecio Ortiz Post of the American Legion (photo above). He has also been one of those Vets that has been there to honor other Veteranos, either at funerals or during National holidays.

Tio Pete served in the Navy during WWII, having seen action in the Phillippines and other Pacific Islands. Being the history buff that I am, my main “failure” has been never getting him to talk about his experiences during the war. What we do know is that he was one of many who served in the Pacific Islands who was finally recognized for his service back in the 80s during the Reagan Administration. Still, war is ugly and I cannot blame him for not wanting to say much.

What we do know is that he has always been a family man. He and my Aunt Quina raised three daughters and two sons–all of them great kids who have done much to impact South Texas as long-time educators. Always a hard-worker, he retired from a local company which manufactured those huge gun and bank safes, as well as other steelworks. And he has enjoyed his retirement all these years, visiting relatives, and always hanging out with his friends at the downtown Gazebo in front of the HEB, or at a local convenience store where all the retirees enjoy the all-you-can drink coffee (and the all-you-can-say conversation/chisme).

Always the comedian, I live for every visit I make to Cristal because it never fails. Soon after arriving, Tio sits next to me and rattles off 8 to 10 jokes within a few minutes. The laughter never stops, whether it’s jokes or just remembering something funny that occured within the family.

I also remember Tio Pete for always being there for my family. In fact, he was right there with my mom at the hospital when my dad passed away, ensuring mom wasn’t by herself while she waited for our arrival from the cities in which we lived. And throughout much of the 17 years since my dad’s passing, he would visit the graves of all his relatives, ensuring they were visible and clean.

And he’s been there for so many others. Why he never ran for office is beyond me, but he would have made a great politician!

So, while Ken Burns didn’t even try to find these stories, the bottom line is that they do exist. Always a proud American, a proud voter, and yes, a proud Mexicano, Tio Pete Teran is part of our American History. And as Carlos mentions about his uncle and other WWII Vets:

I owe them all because they are why I am where I am, and I will never forget it.

Stand with ACORN

I won’t lie to you when I tell you that I am sickened by the Glen Beck’s of the right-wing-world whenever they set out to attack organizations that work for the greater good.  ACORN is an example of an organization that organizes families and individuals, that works to stop foreclosures so that children will not be left without a roof over their head, and that promotes democracy (people-power) through voter registration and education and GOTV.  So, it is time for all of us to support ACORN.  Here’s how:

I’ve had better weeks during my years with ACORN.

Most of you have heard about the latest round of attacks being orchestrated against us by a pair of actors and their friends at purported “news” organizations on cable TV and the Internet.

The behavior of some ACORN employees has been completely indefensible, but make no mistake — the resulting sideshow is being fueled by the Right to distract all of us from the truth. And the truth is this: ACORN’s work is invaluable. We make sure the have-nots and have-lesses get some say and some political power in this country — and the people protecting the status quo have never been a big fan of that.
I’m disappointed that the efforts of a cynical, ill-intentioned group have yielded even a single bit of fodder for the ongoing, multi-year attack on ACORN. But ACORN takes the public’s trust seriously and is taking dramatic steps such as an immediate in-service training for all front-line workers and an independent review of our service programs to ensure that trust is, and will always be, well founded.

But the people working so hard to push these attacks — Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Fox “News”, etc. — don’t care about ACORN’s service delivery, protecting your tax dollars or upholding the law. And they certainly don’t care about the low- and moderate-income families and families of color that make up ACORN’s membership and constituency.

So when they raise a ruckus about undercover tapes, when they harp night and day on the results of a premeditated and manipulative effort to shut ACORN down, you know it’s not because they’re looking out for you. It’s because they want to derail the efforts of one of the strongest advocates this country has for low- and moderate-income people.

But suddenly these people and the politicians who listen to them — who don’t have the time of day for people like you and me — suddenly can’t stop talking about ACORN. And you can bet they’re not talking about the work that has made a difference in the lives of working families and communities of color across the nation. Fair? Balanced? Hardly.

Despite recent news, and despite what talking heads are so thrilled to repeat — there’s a great deal more to ACORN than what the Becks, Limbaughs, and Bachmanns of the world would have you believe. While it may be politically expedient to grab a seat on the bandwagon with the pundits and politicians wagging their fingers at the misdeeds of a handful of ACORN employees, the facts remain the same.

The vast majority of ACORN employees roll up their sleeves day-in and day-out, working long hours on behalf of the low- and moderate- income people in this country. They do good work — most of it work that the government can’t, or simply won’t, do.

And that’s why we need you to contact your members of Congress and ask that they stand with ACORN now. Join with us.

There are a lot of good reasons to continue to stand firm with ACORN. Here are just a few:

  • ACORN has helped nearly 50,000 homeowners access foreclosure prevention services since the start of our nation’s foreclosure crisis;
  • ACORN played an integral role in the passage of 6 statewide minimum wage increases in Florida, Ohio, Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, and California and the City of San Francisco — increases that set the stage for the national increase in 2007; all told over $2 billion put directly in the pocket of low-wage workers.
  • ACORN fought hard against predatory lending for a decade, winning legislation in Massachusetts, New Mexico, California, New York and New Jersey, and changes in the behavior of some corporations that led to over $6 billion of equity staying in the hands of working families.

You and I know this isn’t work that Big Business, Big Media, or Big Politics are particularly fond of. But that’s not why ACORN exists. ACORN exists to make a difference in the lives of millions of Americans — often poor, often black or brown, often immigrants — and to make sure that all of us have a seat at the table and a voice in the voting booth.

And you can bet that’s what this is REALLY about.

Stand with ACORN. And contact your member of Congress now to ask that they do the same.

In Solidarity and Strength,

Bertha Lewis, CEO & Chief Organizer