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Colombian-Americans - Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 29, 2010 03:00pm | Post a Comment

In the US, the word "Latino" is used often, regardless of accuracy, as shorthand for a region's dominant Latino population. In the southwest it usually means "Mexican," in the northeast it means "Puerto Rican" and in Florida, "Cuban." Indeed, those are the three largest populations of Latino-Americanos in the country, although it goes without saying that there are many less-recognized groups of Latinos. Each have their own distinct culture, history, and place in America. This entry is about Colombians, who at an estimated 730,510 currently living in the US, make up the seventh largest Latino population, and the largest population of South-American immigrants in the country.

The country of Colombia is home to at least 85 indigenous nations, including the Muisca, Quimbaya, Tairona, Wayuu, Arhuacos, Kuna, Paez, Tucano, Guahibo, Cauca, Guajira and Guainia. The main population of European immigrants to Colombia were from Spain. Basques, Italians, Germans, the French, Swiss, Poles and Russians also migrated in large numbers. Smaller but significant numbers of European immigrants include Belgians, Lithuanians, Dutch, British, Portugese and Croatians in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From 1825 til 1851 the Spaniards forcibly brought uncounted numbers of slaves from West Africa. Syrians and Lebanese arrived from the Levant. Today, 58% of Colombians self-identify as mestizo, 20% as white, 14% as mulatto, 4% as black, 3% as zambo, and 1% as Native.

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Guatemalan-Americans - Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 21, 2010 01:00pm | Post a Comment

Guatemalans

In the US, the word "Latino" is used often, regardless of accuracy, as shorthand for a region's dominant Latino population. In the southwest it usually means "Mexican," in the northeast it means "Puerto Rican" and in Florida, "Cuban." Indeed, those are the three largest populations of Latino-Americanos in the country, although it goes without saying that there are many less-recognized groups of Latinos. Each have their own distinct culture, history, and place in America. This entry is about Guatemaltecas, who at around 900,000 estimated to be living in the US, make up the sixth largest Latino population.


The Guatemalan flag

The Guatemalan population is the most purely indigenous in the Americas. 65% of the population identify as Native. Of them, most come from various Mayan groups including K'iche (9%), Kaqchikel (8%), Mam (8%), Q'eqchi (6%) and smaller Mayan groups (9%).

22% identify as white, although only about 5% are descended solely from Europeans. Other notable ethnicities are descended from West Africa and the Garifuna -- those of mixed African and indigenous Caribbean origins who live primarily in the country's Eastern portion. There are large numbers of Guatemalans of Chinese heritage, descendants of farm workers and railroad laborers in the early 20th century. Thousands of Guatemalans are also descended from various locations in the Middle East. After World War I, many Arabs, Lebanese, Palestinians, Syrians and Turks came to Guatemala.

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Dominican-Americans - Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 18, 2010 03:00pm | Post a Comment

In the US, what the word "Latino" connotes varies regionally -- often, regardless of accuracy. In the southwest it usually means "Mexican," in the northeast it means "Puerto Rican" and in Florida, "Cuban." Indeed, those are the three largest populations of Latino-Americanos in the country, although obviously not the only ones. Each have their own distinct culture, history, and place in America. This entry is about the fifth largest Latino population, Dominicans.

At last count, there were approximately 1.3 million people of Dominican descent in the country, the majority of whom are descended from a mixture of Spanish, West African and Taíno (the country's indigenous people). There are also large numbers of Jewish, Japanese, Korean, Lebanese and Syrians in the country, as well as immigrants from throughout the Caribbean.

Genocidal Domincan dictator Rafael "el Jefe" Trujillo was assassinated on May 30th, 1961. Due to fear of retaliation by Trujillo's allies and the ensuing political instability, many Dominicans fled the country for the US, mostly setting in New York and New Jersey. After, the Dominican Republic briefly moved to the left; in April, 1965, Lyndon Johnson sent Marines and the Army's Airborne Corps to the country to make sure they didn't become "another Cuba." Right wing Joaquín Balaguer came to power in the wake of Operation Powerpack, and unleashed twelve years of repression. As a result, more Dominicans fled the county and immigration continued into the 1980s, by then due additionally to high levels of unemployment on the island.

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Hispanic Heritage Month - Documentaries covering Latino & Hispanic experiences in the United States

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 2, 2009 04:00pm | Post a Comment
For Hispanic Heritage Month, if you want to get an interesting and informed look at Latino issues, you could probably do worse than checking out a documentary... Most cover a handful of issues and often from different perspectives. Check the Latino/Spanish Special Interest section at Amoeba for availability.

War - 
There are several documentaries that focus on Latino and Hispanic issues in American wars. From Juan Ponce de León and Hernan de Soto sniffing around the modern day US in search of eternal youth and gold, through aggression between the US, Mexico and Spain, to the disproportionate reliance on Latinos to fight our modern wars, these DVDs cover a lot of territory.

     

Immigration - It shouldn't come as a surprise that the number one topic regarding Latino issues is the subject of immigration, primarily of the undocumented variety. What may come as more of a surprise is that one in five illegal immigrants to the US isn't Latino... something zero documentaries deal with, to my knowledge.

          

Gangs - People love them some gang documentaries. Currently, there are suprisingly few about Latino gangs, whilst every week it seems like there's some new one made about the safely-behind-us, romanticized Cosa Nostra.

  

Artists - Frida Kahlo and Salvador Dali account for nearly every documentary about Latino and Hispanic artists. I realize that neither ever became American citizens, but they worked in, interacted with, and affected the US in deeply felt ways. For example, 4 in 5 dorm residents still has some Dali poster or other, usually next to Bob Marley.

        

Hollywood -
The Latino experience in Hollywood is pretty limited, given the population make-up of the US. Perhaps that's why there are so few documentaries about the subject.
 
  

Communities - The US is still a very segregated society and established Latino communities in the US are still often separate, self-contained microcosms.

    

Cultural Observances -
These documentaries focus on holidays and commemorations... and Walter Mercado, who defies categorization in nearly every way.

    

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Hispanic Heritage Month - Latinos in American Cinema

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 26, 2009 01:51pm | Post a Comment

Aside from a brief fetish for Latin Lovers in the silent era, roles for Hispanics and Latinos in American silent film were few, far between and generally quite minor. In the sound era, images of Hispanics and Latinos in Hollywood began to increase in number, although Latino characters were at first usually portrayed by non-Latinos in brownface whilst real Latinos were frequently used as all-purpose ethnic types.

 
          Ramon Novarro and Lupe Velez (as Navaho) in Laughing Boy                                Leo Carrillo and Duncan Renaldo

1930s-
In the first decade of sound, there weren't many roles for Hispanics or Latinos aside from in popular, long-running series like Zorro, The Cisco Kid and The Mexican Spitfire series, the latter a vehicle for Lupe Velez. Pedro Armendáriz mostly starred in Mexican films; when cast in American ones, he invariably had to exaggerate his accent sufficiently. Throughout the '30s and the following decade, Arizona-born Chris Pin-Martin appeared in almost eighty films, invariably as a heavily-accented, broken English-speaking Mexican in small roles and as sidekicks, like Pancho in the Cisco Kid movies and as Gordito in the Zorro series. The Zorro franchise, begun in the 20s, continued to be popular throughout the era. The Cisco Kid series dated back to the teens. In them, unlike with Zorro, Hispanic actors like Leo Carrillo, Duncan Ronaldo and Cesar Romero were usually cast in the lead. Hispanic actress Rita Hayworth (born Margarita Cansino) was initially billed as Rita Cansino in a series of unrelated B-movies. In them, she usually played a variation on the fiery Mexican maiden in need of an honorable Anglo's protection and love.

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