Friday, July 30, 2010

Latina talks about gang life-style in new book

In Memory of Johnny
Teresa Carbajal Ravet, Austin Latino Neighborhoods Examiner, July 30, 2010

     I received Lady Q, The Rise and Fall of a Latin Queen to review as part of Condor Book Tours and it was a very difficult read on numerous levels. Authors Reymundo Sanchez and Sonia Rodriguez were former gang members of the Latin King/Queen Nation of the Humboldt Park area in Chicago, Illinois. It is the bloody, raw experience of gang life, a fraught life on the streets of Chicago amid drugs, violence, unprotected sex, and family dysfunction. A life in which children experience a bitter and distant, if not absent, family connection, young boys and girls yearn for personal warmth and acceptance and do not find it within their home, and the adolescent experience is that of a violation in order to belong and feel protected. The life of immature girls abused by the sexual predators among their relatives and finally giving into the sexual advances from the males in their gang families, all completely unrelated to human love or nurture. And the dysfunctional cycle goes on and on and on without hope of closure. A most difficult read indeed, almost to the point of disbelief.  MORE.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Oregon Latina publishes study, book on language gaps

OSU researcher’s study of Oregon Latino residents shows wide language gap
By: Angela Yeager, Oregon State University

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study of Oregon’s Latino residents shows that while first- and second-generation immigrants from Mexico or other Spanish-speaking countries maintain a Spanish-speaking dominance, English is dominant by the third generation.

By the fourth generation, the study shows, any traces of Spanish language are almost completely minimized.

The findings by Susana Rivera-Mills, an Oregon State University linguistics expert, contradict some of the arguments for an English-only educational structure. A ballot measure proposing such a structure was rejected by Oregon voters in 2008. The study was just published in the Southwest Journal of Linguistics.

Instead, Rivera-Mills suggests the real crisis is that fourth-generation immigrants find themselves unable to communicate in the native language of their grandparents, thus losing a cultural connection to their identity. In fact, in her own classes at OSU, she finds students of Spanish-speaking heritage enrolling to relearn Spanish so they can communicate with their parents, grandparents and other relatives.

Rivera-Mills is an associate professor of Spanish linguistics and diversity advancement at OSU and chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. She arrived at OSU in 2007 from Northern Arizona University, where she conducted similar sociolinguistics research on immigrants in Arizona.

“It is important to note that despite the shift to English, this pattern among Spanish speakers already differs from the traditional three-generational pattern than has been found in primarily European immigrants,” she said.

Unlike European immigrants who become English monolingual by the third generation, research has shown that Spanish speakers retain a strong sense of identity to their native culture well into the fourth generation, despite the struggle to maintain the native language.

According to the 2006 Census update, approximately 11 percent of the Oregon population is Latino. The Pew Hispanic Center found that in 2007, 46 percent of Oregon's Latino population was foreign-born. Of the total Oregon population defined as “Latino,” 83 percent are of Mexican origin. This growth is fairly sudden compared to states such as Texas and California, which have longer immigration and native Spanish-speaking resident histories.

From 1990 to 2000 Oregon experienced a 144 percent increase in the Latino population with an additional 31 percent increase just five years after that. This sudden growth holds many economic, educational, political and social implications for the state, Rivera-Mills pointed out.

The study surveyed 50 Oregon Latinos, in the northern and central regions of the state. Rivera-Mills said while her research provides only a snapshot of Oregon, in-depth research done in states with a longer history of Latino immigration has yielded similar results, showing the use of Spanish almost disappearing within three or four generations.

The people interviewed all resided in Oregon for a minimum of five years with many having been residents of Oregon all of their lives. Their origins/heritages are diverse, coming from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Cuba, Nicaragua, Argentina and other Latin American countries, with the predominant number being of Mexican origin.

Because Oregon’s Latino population is primarily made up of first- and second-generation immigrants, Rivera-Mills said the number of Spanish-only speakers is proportionally higher than in states such as California and Texas. Census data shows that about 78 percent of the total Latino population reported speaking Spanish at home and that most report being bilingual speakers. As could be expected, this rating decreased significantly among third- and fourth-generation participants, some of whom reported being able to understand Spanish but not being able to speak it, read it or write it.

Another interesting finding from the study looked at attitudes toward language and grammar. Earlier immigrants strongly believed that Spanish speakers should speak “correct” Spanish and know the grammar rules of the language, while third generation residents often use a mix of English and Spanish, also known as “Spanglish.”

Rivera-Mills said the long history in the Southwest of Spanish speakers shows that these conflicting perspectives between recent and more established immigrants do not fade away quickly.

“Unfortunately, once settled, many immigrants forget their own struggles in adapting to a new language and culture, and are not as supportive of new immigrants in their communities,” she said. “However, by the third generation, we find that linguistic and cultural traits that originally distinguished us fade away and we become part of the complex and diverse U.S. culture.”

In addition to this research study, Rivera-Mills also has two new books recently published. One, called “Spanish of the U.S. Southwest: A Language in Transition” is co-edited with Daniel Villa of New Mexico State University. The other, titled “Building Communities and Making Connections,” was edited by Rivera-Mills along with Juan Trujillo, assistant professor of Spanish at OSU.

About the OSU College of Liberal Arts
The College of Liberal Arts includes the fine and performing arts, humanities and social sciences, making it one of the largest and most diverse colleges at OSU.  The college's research and instructional faculty members contribute to the education of all university students and provide national and international leadership, creativity and scholarship in their academic disciplines.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Art is life for an NYC Latina

Latina entrepreneur shares insights on art, family, business
By Adrian Perez, Publisher, Vida de Oro 

    Mia Roman is a mother, daughter, sister, part-time entrepreneur and works for an investment bank.  What makes Mia unique is her love and commitment to art from a Latina’s perspective.  Born in New York to Puerto Rican parents, Mia has displayed her art throughout the east coast including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Florida.  Her work as been published in several books including: El boricua, Sofrito for your Soul, ABLA and, just to name a few.
    Vida de Oro had the wonderful opportunity to interview Mia, allowing her to comfortably share her personal story, discuss art, and share some of her favorite pieces of artwork:

Vida:  So Mia, how did you get into art?

Mia:  I was raised in a very creative environment where music and art was a daily occurrence in our home.  Growing up, I expressed my creative energy in many ways, arts & crafts, clothing, hair, makeup, jewelry making and designing items of all sorts.  I would shop in vintage shops and find items I could use for art & craft projects.  I also found clothing I could wear that would be out of the ordinary, including things I could decorate with.  And the jewelry, oh the jewelry!  I would wear at least 8-10 bracelets on each arm, big bold earrings, chunky and vintage metal necklaces, all this even before it was a fad.
    While attending Fashion Industries High School in NYC (New York City) my classmates would call me “Add-on Mia” because I would add things on without fear.  I would wear 2 skirts at once, funky tights, boots, vests and always the jewelry!  I found myself being the blank canvas to my unlimited creativity.  I was my best tool and my creativity was the instrument that put the tool to work.
    Over the years I started to experiment with many mediums, wood, fabric, metal, plastic, food, paper and paint.  I found that I could write my feelings then paint them.  I was able to become an advocate for my culture, family and history using color and form and a newfound love with paint.  I painted everything I could get my hands on, I sketched on the train, bus and silently while in my studio. 
    The one thing about art and creativity for me is that it comes from a deep loving heartfelt place that feels like rain on a hot summer day, or the sun on my face on a breezy day or the first snowfall of the winter, the first autumn leaf as it drops from the tree branch that held it for so long.
    I am deeply inspired by Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Orozco, Picasso, Tufino and so many more.  I found that I could sit and channel the energy of such wonderful artists and be inspired to work.  While traveling throughout Europe and the Caribbean I was able to see such wonders like the Mona Lisa, Michael Angelo’s David, Winged Victory, Pompeii, The Ruins in Mexico and of course Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul.  All of these prized pieces of history inspire me.
    Music feeds my soul too, it is the root of me and it is what sparks the fire to the flame of my creative spirit.  The rhythms of music were always heard in the house, like the heartbeat to ones soul.  It’s there in full beauty, feeding us, speaking to us, loving us.

Vida:  When did you get your first big break?

Mia:  Big break? Haha, well I’m not sure if I can call it a “big break” yet.  What I can say is that I have been blessed with many opportunities that have lead to many wonderful and unforgettable events, which have inspired me to become a curator, mixed media artist, businesswoman, writer and free spirit. Some of the organizations that have embraced everything about me including my madness, are the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center in NYC, The Nuyorican Poets CafĂ©, Boricuation, The Children’s Art Carnival, Carib, 100 Hispanic Women, Latino Flavored Productions, OP Art, ABLA, The Urban Individualists and so many more.  They are the village that fed me spiritually, emotionally and creatively. With the foundation being my family I can stand strong and confidently.

Vida:  Could you tell us a little bit about who is Mia Roman?

Mia:  I am a “Nuyorican” born and raised in Brooklyn, New York to Puerto Rican parents.  I say, “I AM BROOKLYN, BROOKLYN I AM” but with my heart belonging to the island of Puerto Rico.  I attended the local public school and middle schools and was the unforgettable bright red headed hippie child that ran faster than the boys and played with dolls - a tomboy with a feminine streak.
    In high school, I majored in Window Display and Fashion Merchandising where I learned all about the fashion industry and retail field.  I took a job at Macy’s as a salesperson and became a merchandising apprentice and was given creative freedom to design displays throughout the store in Herald Square.  I was bitten by the creative bug once again and took it all the way.  Nothing was safe in my hands!  I cut it, sewed it, glued it, shaped it and molded it into things that even astonished me.
    I went on to college to study Business Management and Administration with the hopes of one day having my own business. That dream and hope never left and is just becoming a reality.  I am most inspired by my Mother, who showed me that you can use your creativity, intelligence and determination to achieve anything and everything in life. As a Latina businesswoman herself, she has overcome obstacles and proven that adversity can be overcome.  With that said I take and run with her advice.  My direction is forward and my suit of armor is a smile and open mind, all else will fall into place with hard work and diligence.
    It was my ultimate goal and dream to be a Mommy to a Daughter and I did it, all else is extra.  Ever since I was a small girl I wanted a daughter. I played with dolls into my teens.  I would dress them up, play with them, have parties for them, shop for them and just got crazy for dolls.  Things have not changed I have an extensive collection of all sorts of dolls from around the world.  My Daughter is my rock and everything I live and breath for.  She is my flight and air, my new day, the future and the light.  My life is a "Sabroso Sancocho" con sabor!  I would not trade it for the world.

Vida:  What are you doing while you launch your business?

Mia:  Today, I work fulltime at a small financial boutique firm in NYC where I work in Mergers & Acquisitions for Investment Banking.  I have my own small business of Wearable Art.  I am also a curator, educator, painter, creative writer and proud mother to a College student.
    I teach part time at the Children’s Art Carnival in NYC and the students are young, fresh and eager to soak up everything I have to offer.  They are all me as I am them.  I am a giver with so much to offer and should life give me more than I have today I am eternally grateful.  All I have to say is, stay close, keep posted and check in from time to time, because you never know what I will come up with next.

Vida:  How do you balance your business and personal life?

Mia:  I am very fortunate to be able to utilize both sides of my brain while learning and growing. You ask how I balance my art life and my personal life?  I don’t see it that way.  I see it as one life, one person, my life with different days, different directions and sometimes it balances out and sometimes it doesn’t. But with the support of my family, I can see it through and overcome anything no matter what I am given or presented.  I hold my head high y Palante voy yo!
    There have been many obstacles and what I call “life adventures” and “adversities” that could have derailed my growth at any point.  There were people that I trusted and loved that were nothing but “solid brick buildings” standing in my way, waiting for me to fail.  But, it was my Mother who taught me how to fight the battles and win the wars.  She showed me my strength and how to use it, dig deep and find it, and never to be afraid to show it.  I have a strong bond with my younger brother and sister, and Mom taught us to live, love and celebrate life everyday despite of what may get in our way.  And, those nameless “buildings” have become lost and empty souls.

Vida:  Tell us about your art.

Mia:  I love to paint women.  Not any woman in particular, but the women that I see in my heart, and they are all me in one-way or another.  My most prized pieces are “The Mona Mia” which is from the Hermana Series and has gained lots of attention and for which I am also known, and, “La Borinquena” from my Cultural Woman Series.
    The colors of “The Mona Mia” are soft, warm and welcoming, with her two braids hanging long over her bust, her face slightly tilted to the side, her eyes looking at you softly, and her blouse off her shoulders.  She’s sensually simple.
    My other proud piece, “La Borinquena,” sits upright, proud, with the banana leaves and her flag in the background, telling a story with her eyes and facial expression.  Donning a headscarf she is culture, pride and confidence.  She is me, check her out you’ll see that, if you know me. 
    The pieces are all inspired by the women in my family, the women I meet in my travels, women I read about and women I admire, powerful, confident, empowered, independent fighter, advocate, lover, friend and mother.
    The pieces that get most of the attention from my collection of paintings are the cultural folk art ones. The ones of the Women sitting stoically with a stare, people say that the eyes in my paintings are unique, that they look as if the painting is looking right at you, as if the eyes are the story.  I say that “the eyes are the souls and if you look into them you feel the story”.  I love folk art and folk art is what inspires me.  I love the cultural history about folk art and I think this is why my work reflects this.

Vida:  Where can people get more information about your artwork?

Mia:  Some of my original paintings can be viewed on line at where you will be able to view and purchase originals and prints. I am easily accessible via email for any inquires at  I am currently working on a few shows for the fall to take place in and out of the NYC area. Should anyone want to be added to my mailing list they can email me the request or join my “Mia in The NEWZ Letter” on my website.

Vida:  Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers?

Mia:  I would like to close the interview by saying thank you Adrian and thank you to all those who support me and love me. It is with your support, love and energy that I am able to continue forward with my passion. Life is Art and Art is Life.  Amor Siempre!

TOP Ten new Arizona state motto ideas

TOP Ten new Arizona State Motto ideas
By Al Carlos,

10. Where the brave run free and really fast.
9. Hijole! there is a BP sized leak in the fence.
8. Papers before people.
7. A Wonderful place, if you are the right race.
6. Mexico at first, Mexican once again.
5. Bring us your courageous and poor, we will exploit them, then deport them.
4. A huge disappointment to those who thought they snuck into California.
3. We came, we saw, we got carded.
2. Un Documented, Un Deterred.
1. God enriches, politics erode.