Eco Latino int

http://www.ecolatino.com/en/news/local-stories/2014-11-05/story/jorge-majfud 

Jorge MaJfud

  1. Jorge MaJfud
  2. by Mario Bahamón Dussán

    Who is Who?, seeks to highlight and make known the work of the hispanic residents in north Florida outstanding in activities useful to our society

    In this edition, Eco Latino wants to highlight the Uruguayan writer and educator Jorge Majfud resident of Jacksonville. Author of the novels: La reina de América (2001), La ciudad de la Luna (2009) y Crisis (2012).

    Doctor Majfud was honored with the Excellence in Research Award in Humanities and Letters. Was a finalist in the contest Casa de America and Juan Rulfo. He is one of the most important Latin American Writers from the new generation.

    Ecolatino: How did you get to the United States?

    Jorge Majfud: A professor of the University of Georgia, that had read my books, invited me to apply for a scholarship at his university. After the GRE and TOEFL, I started a graduate degree where I worked as a teaching assistant. It was an opportunity to devote completely to my first vocation.

    EL: What do you miss most about Uruguay?

    JM: My parents, my people, the value given to time as a human experience and not as financial resource, all of that doesn’t exist anymore and I can only visit it from time to time in my memory.

    How did you get involved with Jacksonville University?

    JM: After UGA, I taught for two years at Lincoln University, but my family and I aren’t made for cold weather, snow and shadows. I looked for a city in frontof the ocean and coincidentally there was a request for a Spanish and literature professor at JU. After the process of interviews, I got the offer to come here. JU has one of the most beautiful campus in the country, a team of very professional teachers and students with merits and respectful, in a city with a river, an ocean and a nature that allows outdoor life the whole year.

    What message would you give to the Hispanics that want to succeed in the United States?

    JM: I always tell my students not to believe me, I tell them to investigate by themselves. But if you ask me, I’d tell them to first reconsider what succeeding means. If it’s about a project that helps the passion for life, it’s welcome. If it’s about being rich and famous, it’s very probable that they’ll turn into poor and unknown. And if any of them gets rich and famous, perhaps he or she will end up like many of the rich and famous we know, which is very discouraging. Isn’t? In the United States there are many possibilities, a lot of good people, almost as much as the other ones. If we consider the terrible initial conditions of many immigrants, the fact that they can support their families, it’s already a bigger success than the one of any new rich. There are very few groups as hardworking and sacrificed as immigrants. Many illegal immigrants don’t even speak English, they don’t have documents, they don’t know the law and they don’t get many of the state benefits and despite all this, they find a job while others who prefer to stay home and benefit from the help of the same state complain that immigrants are taking their jobs. They are shameless. Then, the invisible immigrants expelled from their countries arrive here and are blamed for all the bad things. But the world has always been unfair, so until something is done to improve it, there is a lot that can be done to live the life that we have with as much joy as possible. That’s succeeding, according to me. In any case, the formula is very simple: acquire the sense of responsibility, sacrifice and joy of children. Without that, the rest of the skills are not as useful or are useless on the long run.

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“Novela de la crisis: sobre las raíces y los desarraigos” con Susana Baumann

Jorge Majfud’s books at Amazon>>

Las raíces son lo último que se seca

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Entrevista al escritor hispano Jorge Majfud


Susana Baumann
: ¿Cómo resumirías el tema central de tu última novela, Crisis? Por Susana Baumann, periodista, New Jersey.

Jorge Majfud: En todo texto existen diferentes niveles de lectura. Muchos más y más complejos en los textos religiosos y de ficción. Pero el ensayo, por citar sólo un género literario, es más directo, expresa y problematiza las ideas y las emociones más consientes de un autor. La ficción, si no es un mero producto de un cálculo de marketing, por ser una forma insustituible de explorar la realidad humana más profunda, posee niveles más profundos y más complejos, como los sueños, como la vida.

crisis capa

En el caso de Crisis, en un esfuerzo simplificador podría decir que los temas centrales son el drama de los inmigrantes latinoamericanos, sobre todo de los inmigrantes ilegales en Estados Unidos y, en un nivel más profundo, si se me permite el atrevimiento, el drama universal de los individuos que huyen de un lugar buscando una vida mejor pero que en el fondo es una huída de uno mismo, de la realidad que es percibida como injusta y no se resuelve con la fuga. La fuga es un perpetuo aplazamiento pero también es un permanente descubrimiento, una profunda exploración existencial que no alcanza quien permanece confortable en su propio coto de caza. La incomunicación, la violencia moral, económica y cultural son componentes inevitables de ese doble drama social y existencial. También la violencia más concreta de las leyes, cuando son funcionales a la deshumanización. Etc.

S.B. ¿Por qué esa estructura donde no existe la linealidad?

J.M. Cuando hacemos un análisis, cuando escribimos un ensayo, podemos distinguir claramente la forma del contenido. Sin embargo, en la ficción y quizás en la existencia irracional, vital, esto no es posible. Si decimos que un sueño significa algo, estamos diciendo que contiene algo que no se visualiza en primera instancia y que, como cualquier símbolo, vale por lo que no es.  Así ha sido la historia bíblica, desde José hasta la lógica de todos los análisis modernos, como el marxismo, el psicoanálisis, y la de cualquier crítica posmoderna que pretenda poner un poco de orden e inteligibilidad al caos de los estímulos y las percepciones.

Si mal no recuerdo fue Borges quien complementó o quizás refutó esta idea dominante afirmando que la imagen de una pesadilla no representa ningún miedo: son el miedo. Por otro lado sabemos que el estilo de un escritor expresa su propia concepción sobre el mundo. En el caso de una novela concreta, más allá del factor de formación consciente del escritor, que muchas veces da el oficio, existe un factor que procede del fondo, del contenido mismo del libro. Es decir, el estilo, la estructura de una novela expresan en sí mismos el tema o los temas centrales, las ideas y sobre todo las intuiciones y las percepciones que el autor pueda tener de una historia o sobre una determinada circunstancia que le resulta vital y significativa.

Más concretamente, la estructura y el estilo de Crisis son lo que en artes plásticas sería un mosaico o en las ciencias sería un fractal. Cada historia puede ser leída de forma independiente, es una historia particular pero al mismo tiempo si las consideramos en su conjunto forman otra imagen (como en un mosaico), otra realidad que es menos visible al individuo y, también, forman la misma realidad a una escala mayor (como en el fractal). Por eso muchos personajes son diferentes pero comparten los mismos nombres (Guadalupe, Ernesto, etc.), porque son “personajes colectivos”. Creo, siento que a veces creemos vivir una vida única y particular sin advertir que estamos reproduciendo antiguos dramas de nuestros antepasados, y los mismos dramas de nuestros contemporáneos en diferentes espacios pero en condiciones similares. Porque somos individuos por lo que tenemos de particular y somos seres humanos por lo que compartimos con cada uno de los otros individuos de nuestra especie.

S.B. La novela se ubica en distintas geografías físicas y sociales de Estados Unidos.

J.M. Sí, en parte hay una intención de reivindicación del vasto pasado y presente hispano dentro de unos límites sociopolíticos que insisten en ignorarlos…

S.B. ¿Pero cuál es la intención de esta evidente diversidad? ¿Cómo se explican desde un punto de vista formal?

J.M. Al igual que los individuos, cada fragmento posee sus propias particularidades y rasgos comunes. Cada historia está ambientada en diversos espacios de Estados Unidos (América latina aparece en inevitablesflash-backs) que al mismo tiempo son similares. Es la idea que expresa un personaje cuando va comer a un Chili’s, un restaurante de comida tex-mex. (Cada vez que entro en alguno de estos restaurantes no puedo evitar enconarme con algún fantasma de esa novela o algún otro que quedo excluido sin querer). Si bien cada uno reproduce un ambiente entre hispano y anglosajón, lo cierto es que uno no podría deducir por sus detalles y su espacio general si la historia o el drama se desarrolla en California, en Pensilvania o en Florida.

Al mismo tiempo, para cada ciudad elegí nombres españoles. Es una forma de reivindicación de una cultura que ha estado bajo ataque durante mucho tiempo. Pero basta mirar el mapa de Estados Unidos para encontrar una enorme cantidad de espacios geográficos nombrados con palabras españolas, en algunos estados son mayoritarios. Pero son tan invisibles que la ignorancia generalizada las considera palabras inglesas, como “Escondido”, “El Cajón”, “Boca Raton” o “Colorado”, y por ende la misma historia de la cultura hispana desaparece bajo este manto de amnesia colectiva, en nombre de una tradición que no existe. El español y la cultura hispana han estado en este país un siglo antes que el inglés y nunca lo ha abandonado, por lo cual no se puede hablar del español y de la cultura hispana como “extranjeros”. La etiqueta es una violenta estrategia para un imperceptible pero terrible culturicidio.

S.B. Me llamó la atención la mención del valor del Dow Jones para iniciar cada historia…

JM: Bueno, los valores son reales y acompañan esa “caída” existencial, el proceso de “crisis”, que es social, económico y es existencial, usando un recurso frío, como son los valores principales de la bolsa de Wall Street. Nuestra cultura actual, incluida la de los países emergentes como China o cualquier otro que se presentan como “alternativas” al modelo americano, están sustentados en la ilusión de los guarismos, ya sea de las bolsas o de los porcentajes del PIB. La economía y las finanzas son el gran tema de nuestro tiempo y todo se mide según un modelo de éxito que nació en Estados Unidos en el siglo XX. La caída y cierta recuperación del Dow Jones acompañan el drama existencial y concreto de cada personaje. Así como estamos en un espacio y en un tiempo, también estamos en una realidad monetaria (sea virtual o no, pero realidad en fin, ya que es percibida y vivida como tal).

S.B. Vamos a terminar por el principio. Cuéntenos sobre su infancia y sus comienzos, su infancia en Uruguay.

J.M. Mi infancia en Uruguay, como la infancia de cualquiera, fue la etapa más importante de mi vida. Como muchos, la recuerdo como una tierra misteriosa y fantástica, llena de seres queridos que ya no están. Como pocos, tuve una infancia terriblemente marcada por los acontecimientos políticos del Cono Sur durante los años 70, con una familia dividida entre Tirios y Troyanos, entre el sufrimiento, la tortura (sobre todo la tortura psicológica y moral) y la solidaridad, entre el poder y la resistencia, entre los discursos oficiales y las verdades reprimidas, entre el universal crimen (aceptado por la cultura popular) de los que trazan una línea en el suelo y dictan: “o estás de un lado o estás del otro”. Hasta que uno dice “no estoy de ninguno de los dos lados” y se convierte en un crítico sospechoso; pero crítico al fin.

S.B. ¿De dónde procede la inquietud literaria?

J.M. Aprendí a leer los diarios antes de entrar a jardinera (kindergarten). Leí unos pocos clásicos a escondidas (lo recuerdo como un descubrimiento fantástico), asumiendo que la literatura era algo inútil y sospechoso. En mi adolescencia me dediqué a la pintura y a la escultura, como mi madre. Gracias a Leonardo da Vinci me decidí por la arquitectura, por el arte escondido detrás del prestigio de las matemáticas y los problemas prácticos. De todas formas no pude resistir la tentación de escribir ensayos y ficción mientras era un solitario y casi esquizofrénico estudiante en la Facultad de Arquitectura del Uruguay, descubriendo una gran ciudad, Montevideo, lejos de la familia y los amigos. En aquella soledad llena de gente, el mundo que procedía de la imaginación y la memoria me procuraba de un vértigo y una emoción estética muy parecida a la plenitud de la libertad, que raras veces alguien experimenta en su totalidad. La literatura no sólo curó mis conflictos psicológicos, sino que también me dio una nueva perspectiva filosófica acerca de lo que es la realidad y la ficción, lo que es importante y lo que no lo es. Luego de recibirme trabajé como arquitecto, sobre todo haciendo cálculos de estructura, pero siempre supe que lo hacía para sobrevivir, no por vocación. De esa época me viene la convicción que la realidad está más hecha de palabras que de ladrillos. En esa época ya había publicado mi primera novela, Memorias de un desaparecido, en 1996, y había reconocido un destino: cuando alguien sabe que bajo cualquier circunstancia y practicando cualquier otra profesión continuará escribiendo, que el mundo cobra un sentido superior visto desde esa actividad y que morirá considerándose un escritor, sin importar qué diga la crítica o los lectores, entonces no es que uno ha encontrado su verdadera vocación sino que su vocación lo ha encontrado finalmente a uno, rendido ante las evidencias.

S.B. Desde entonces ha publicado mucho. ¿Cuáles considera que son sus mayores logros?

J.M. No tengo muchos logros. La vida de un escritor, como la de una persona cualquiera, se parece a su résumé: el curriculum más impresionante esconde una lista de fracasos, varias veces más extensa. Mi mayor logro es mi familia. Dudo de muchas cosas que hago a diario, muchas veces de forma obsesiva, pero nunca dudaré de haber dado vida a un ángel que espero que sea un buen hombre, no libre de conflictos y contradicciones pero un hombre honesto, tranquilo y lo más feliz posible. Eso no tiene una explicación racional. Como todas las cosas más importantes de la vida, que son muy pocas, no dependen de la razón.

S.B. ¿Cómo se llega a la posición que usted ocupa actualmente?

J.M. Si la pregunta se refiere a mi actividad literaria, ignoro la respuesta e ignoro si lo que asume la pregunta es cierto: que he alcanzado alguna posición. Si se refiere más concretamente a mi actual profesión como profesor en Jacksonville University, la respuesta no es complicada: hay un llamado de una universidad para un puesto full time publicado a nivel nacional para doctores en el área X, se envía la solicitud y documentos necesarios, el comité de búsqueda elige algunos entre cientos de otros doctores para una serie de entrevistas en una conferencia nacional. Después de un tiempo y de las correspondientes deliberaciones, se eligen tres candidatos para una visita a dicha universidad. Luego de un proceso de antevistas, pruebas y demostraciones de clase, etc., finalmente se elige uno. Claro que el proceso nunca termina, y para un extranjero es mucho más complicado y difícil.

S.B. ¿Qué les diría a los jóvenes que están empezando una carrera en la literatura?

J.M. Les diría que traten de pensar desde un punto de vista diferente al suyo propio. El mundo y hasta la realidad más humilde y pequeña es siempre más amplia y compleja de lo que uno puede percibir y pensar al principio. Si no se dedican a la política, les recomendaría que no simplifiquen, que no sean maniqueos, que sean conscientes de esta complejidad, que cuestionen sus propias convicciones. Les recomendaría que escriban con convicción. Si bien como personas debemos ser humildes antes nuestras imperfecciones, como escritores debemos ser soberbios en el sentido de que no debe importarnos más las críticas que nuestras propias convicciones literarias y filosóficas. El escritor debe saber lo que está haciendo, porque cuando escribe es como un dios y todo lo demás no importa. Finalmente, sólo por no extenderme demasiado, les sugeriría que, al mismo tiempo, se liberen de las estrechas definiciones de “éxito”, generalmente asociadas al dinero y al prestigio.  No digo que no sea legítimo buscar mejorar la economía familiar, individual, o el reconocimiento hacia lo que uno hace. Eso es humano y es un derecho. Me refiero a la simplificación que la estrechez de esos valores significa, por la cual, por ejemplo, ser un buen padre o una buena madre o un buen hijo o un buen amigo cada vez cuentan menos en nuestras nociones de “éxito”.

Crisis (novela)

Ed. baile del Sol, Tenerife

Milenio I, II, III, IV México

 

Jorge Majfud’s books at Amazon>>

Interview on Crisis

Jorge Majfud applies his fractal vision to Latino immigrants

 
 

Teacher, writer and novelist Jorge Majfud. (Photo/ Jacksonville University)

Jorge Majfud is a writer, novelist and professor of Spanish and Latin American literature at the University of Jacksonville in Florida whose books — including his fourth, Crisis, to be on the market in the U.S. in June — share a common thread: They are born from his experiences as a Latino and as an immigrant.

Uruguayan by birth, Majfud’s childhood in the 70’s was imprinted by the stream of political affairs in the Southern Hemisphere: political persecution, corruption, years of suffering and torture – real, psychological and moral — and social solidarity. “Those were years of listening at the official speeches and holding back the unofficial truth, of watching universal injustices and being unable to stop them,” Majfud told Voxxi.

“Until someone pushed you to take sides, and when you refused to do it, then  you became a ‘critic’ of the events, a suspicious one but ultimately a critic.”

Beginnings

A writer who confesses learning to read newspapers before nursery rhymes in kindergarten, Majfud, 42, describes himself as an avid devourer of the “classics” during those formidable childhood years. Perhaps as a form of escape from reality. “It was a time of fantastic discoveries, perceiving literature as something useless but fascinating,” he said.

Taking after his mother, Majfud explored the world of painting and sculpture, and ended up at the School of Architecture in the University of the Republic of Uruguay.  However, he could not resist writing essays and fiction during those years, which “not only channeled my psychological conflicts but also gave me a new philosophical perspective about reality and fiction, of what was important and not.”

During seven years working as an architect, Majfud came to realize that reality was built more from words than from bricks. Soon after, his first novel, Memorias de un desaparecido (Memories of a Missing Person), was published in 1996.

Highlight

Fast forward to 2012 and Majfud is about to give birth to his fourth novel, Crisis, which will be printed in Spain and available to the U.S. market next month. “On its surface, Crisis is the drama ofLatin-American immigrants, especially those undocumented ones, in the United States,” Majfud told Voxxi. “At a deeper level, it is the universal drama of those individuals fleeing from a geographical space, apparently looking for a better life but in reality, fleeing themselves; fleeing a reality perceived as unfair but rarely solved through the actual physical relocation.”

Missing, moving, fleeing individuals seem to be recurrent characters in Majfud’s writings, which document their paths towards permanent discovery of their own identity in different realities and situations. These characters stumble upon communication barriers and live through moral, economic and cultural violence as inevitable components of their double drama: as social and as existential beings.

Faithful to his architectural past, Majfud chose a “mosaic” format for his new novel.

“They are fractals in the sense that they may be nearly the same at different scales,” he said. “Each story can be read by itself but when read through, they form an image, such as the pieces of a mosaic, a reality that is less visible to the individual but it can be seen from afar as a collective experience.”

Many of its characters are different but they share the same names – Guadalupe, Ernesto, and so on – because they are collective roles. “Sometimes we believe our life is unique and particular without perceiving we are merely replicating our ancestors’ past experiences or the same dramas of our contemporaries living in different spaces but in similar conditions,” Majfud said. “We are individuals in our particularities but we are collectives in our human condition.”

Each story is set in a different U.S. location with Latin American images appearing in inevitable flash-backs. “Each time a character goes to eat at a Chili’s – a Tex-Mex chain restaurant – trying to navigate a reality between a Hispanic and an Anglo-Saxon context, it is hard to say if they are in California, Pennsylvania or Florida,” Majfud said.

Likewise, he chose Spanish names for all the cities where the stories take place. “It is a way to vindicate a culture that has been under attack for a long time. Just looking at the United States map, you can find a large amount of geographical spaces named with Spanish words, names like‘Escondido’, ‘El Cajón’, ‘Boca Ratón’ o ‘Colorado,’ especially in certain states where they are predominant.”

Novel “La ciudad de la luna” by Jorge Majfud. (The city of the moon)

“However,” he said, “they are invisible to the English speaker, who in his/her ignorance considers them as part of the daily vocabulary. The history ofHispanic culture becomes then subdued, disappears under this blanket of collective amnesia, in the name of a non-existent tradition. Spanish language and culture were in this country one century before the first English settlers arrived, and have never left. Consequently, we cannot qualify Spanish language and culture as being ‘foreign.’ This label is a violent strategy for an indiscernible but dreadful culturicide.”

Although Majfud believes all individuals share a common base – not only biological and psychological but also moral in its most primitive levels – they also differ in certain characteristics, which in our times are considered positive, with certain exceptions, such as cultural diversity.

“Such differences produce fears and conflicts, actions and reactions, discrimination and mutual rejection,” he said. “It is natural that these cultural currents, the Anglo-Saxon and the Hispanic cultures, would reproduce the universal dynamics of dialogue and conflict, and integration and rejection from one another, elements that are also present in Crisis.”

Achievements

Finally, Majfud talked about his achievements. “A writer’s life, like any other person’s, looks like his résumé: the most impressive record of achievements hides a number of failures, sometimes larger than the successes.”

Majfud believes his best achievement is his family; one with failures, because he is human, but his main achievement so far.

“I doubt my actions, sometimes obsessively; however, I never have doubts about the angel I have brought to this life, my son. I hope he will be a good man, not without conflicts or contradictions but an honest one, serene and the happiest he can be,” Majfud said.

“This desire does not have a rational explanation, it just is. As the most important things in life, which are few, it does not depend on reason.”

Shown here is Ernesto Camacho’s painting, “Christie’s World“ from his Series, “Diaries of a City”. “Christie’s World” Christie’s World is a depiction of a single mother in a big city. Although surrounded by the hard, fast paced society of New York, she never looses the quality of being a gracious woman. Even though life in the Big Apple can become disheartening at times, Christy remains alive. (Photo/ Courtesy Majfud with artist permission)

Crisis cover

http://voxxi.com/jorge-majfud-applies-his-fractal-vision-to-latino-immigrants/

 

Joe Arpaio Unfairly Targeted Latinos, Justice Department Says

English: cropped from File:Maricopa County She...

Arizona Sheriff’s Office Unfairly Targeted Latinos, Justice Department Says

By 

Published: December 15, 2011

PHOENIX — In a harshly worded critique of the country’s best-known sheriff, the Justice Department accused Joe Arpaio of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office of engaging in “unconstitutional policing” by unfairly targeting Latinos for detentions and arrests and retaliating against those who complain.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in El Mirage, Ariz., on Dec. 5.

After an investigation that lasted more than three years, the civil rights division of the Justice Department said in a 22-page report that the sheriff’s office has “a pervasive culture of discriminatory bias against Latinos” that “reaches the highest levels of the agency.” The department interfered with the inquiry, the government said, prompting a lawsuit that eventually led Mr. Arpaio and his deputies to cooperate.

“We have peeled the onion to its core,” said Thomas E. Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, noting during a conference call with reporters on Thursday morning that more than 400 inmates, deputies and others were interviewed as part of the review, including Mr. Arpaio and his command staff. Mr. Perez said the inquiry, which also included jail visits and reviews of thousands of pages of internal documents, raised the question of whether Latinos were receiving “second-class policing services” in Maricopa County.

The report stems from a civil inquiry and Mr. Perez said he hoped that Mr. Arpaio would cooperate with the federal government in turning the department around. Should he refuse, a lawsuit will be filed and his department could lose millions of dollars in federal funding, Mr. Perez said.

A separate federal grand jury investigation of Mr. Arpaio’s office is continuing, focusing on accusations of abuse of power by the department’s public corruption squad.

Mr. Arpaio was singled out for criticism in the report, which faulted him as distributing racially charged letters he had received and helping to nurture the department’s “culture of bias.”

Asked at a news conference about Mr. Arpaio’s role in the department’s problems, Mr. Perez said: “We have to do cultural change and culture change starts with people at the top.” Mr. Perez made a point of reaching out to Mr. Arpaio’s underlings. “These findings are not meant to impugn your character,” he said to the department’s deputies.

Mr. Arpaio, 79, who calls himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” did not immediately respond to the charges but he has brushed off similar accusations in the past.

Long a lightning rod for controversy, Mr. Arpaio looms large over Arizona and beyond. His turf, Maricopa County, with 3.8 million residents, is one of the country’s largest counties in terms of both area and population. Republican candidates clamor for his backing, aware that he has become a potent symbol of the antipathy many Americans feel about illegal immigration.

Before he endorsed former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas for president last month, Mr. Arpaio was courted by much of the Republican field, including Representative Michele Bachmann, former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Herman Cain, a businessman who has since suspended his campaign.

The findings, which Mr. Arpaio is sure to contest, paint a picture of a department staffed by poorly trained deputies who target Latino drivers on the roadways and detain innocent Latinos in the community in their searches for illegal immigrants. The mistreatment, the government said, extends to the jails the department oversees, where Latino inmates who do not speak English were mistreated.

“The absence of clear policies and procedures to ensure effective and constitutional policing, along with the deviations from widely accepted policing and correctional practices, and the failure to implement meaningful oversight and accountability structures, have contributed to a chronic culture of disregard for basic legal and constitutional obligations,” the report said.

The report said that Latino drivers were four to nine times more likely to be stopped in the sprawling county, which includes Phoenix and its environs, than non-Latino drivers. The expert who conducted the study called it the most egregious racial profiling he has ever seen in this country, said Mr. Perez, the prosecutor.

The report said that roughly one-fifth of the traffic-related incident reports generated by the department’s human smuggling unit contained information indicating the stops may have been conducted in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable seizures.

Census data show wealth of whites is 20 times that of blacks, widest US gap in quarter-century

U.S. Census Bureau Regions, Partnership and Da...

U.S. Census Bureau Regions

 

By Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The wealth gaps between whites and minorities have grown to their widest levels in a quarter-century. The recession and uneven recovery have erased decades of minority gains, leaving whites on average with 20 times the net worth of blacks and 18 times that of Hispanics, according to an analysis of new Census data.The analysis shows the racial and ethnic impact of the economic meltdown, which ravaged housing values and sent unemployment soaring. It offers the most direct government evidence yet of the disparity between predominantly younger minorities whose main asset is their home and older whites who are more likely to have 401(k) retirement accounts or other stock holdings.

“What’s pushing the wealth of whites is the rebound in the stock market and corporate savings, while younger Hispanics and African-Americans who bought homes in the last decade — because that was the American dream — are seeing big declines,” said Timothy Smeeding, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor who specializes in income inequality.

The median wealth of white U.S. households in 2009 was $113,149, compared with $6,325 for Hispanics and $5,677 for blacks, according to the analysis released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center. Those ratios, roughly 20 to 1 for blacks and 18 to 1 for Hispanics, far exceed the low mark of 7 to 1 for both groups reached in 1995, when the nation’s economic expansion lifted many low-income groups to the middle class.

The white-black wealth gap is also the widest since the census began tracking such data in 1984, when the ratio was roughly 12 to 1.

“I am afraid that this pushes us back to what the Kerner Commission characterized as ‘two societies, separate and unequal,’” said Roderick Harrison, a former chief of racial statistics at the Census Bureau, referring to the 1960s presidential commission that examined U.S. race relations. “The great difference is that the second society has now become both black and Hispanic.”

Stock holdings play an important role in the economic well-being of white households. Stock funds, IRA and Keogh accounts as well as 401(k) and savings accounts were responsible for 28 percent of whites’ net worth, compared with 19 percent for blacks and 15 percent for Hispanics.

According to the Pew study, the housing boom of the early to mid-2000s boosted the wealth of Hispanics in particular, who were disproportionately employed in the thriving construction industry. Hispanics also were more likely to live and buy homes in states such as California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona, which were in the forefront of the real estate bubble, enjoying early gains in home values.

But those gains quickly shriveled in the housing bust. After reaching a median wealth of $18,359 in 2005, the wealth of Hispanics — who derived nearly two-thirds of their net worth from home equity — declined by 66 percent by 2009. Among blacks, who now have the highest unemployment rate at 16.2 percent, their household wealth fell 53 percent from $12,124 to $5,677.

[Source Washington Post]

Hispanic population exceeds 50 million, firmly nation’s No. 2 group

U.S. Census Bureau Regions, Partnership and Da...

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By Michael Martinez and David Ariosto, CNN
March 24, 2011 4:08 p.m. EDT

(CNN) — The growing Hispanic population in the United States has reached a new milestone, topping 50 million, or 16.3% of the nation, officially solidifying its position as the country’s second-largest group, U.S. Census Bureau officials said Thursday.

“Overall, we’ve learned that our nation’s population has become more racially and ethnically diverse over the past 10 years,” said Nicholas A. Jones, chief of the bureau’s racial statistics branch.

Several trends emerged from the 2010 census, according to Robert M. Groves, director of the Census Bureau, and Marc J. Perry, chief of the population distribution branch.

The country is growing at a smaller rate. Growth is concentrated in metropolitan areas and in the American West and South. The fastest-growing communities are suburbs such as Lincoln, California, outside Sacramento. And standard-bearer cities such as Boston, Baltimore and Milwaukee are no longer in the top 20 for population, replaced by upstarts such as El Paso, Texas, and Charlotte, North Carolina, the officials said.

The most significant trend, however, appeared to be the nation’s new count of 50.5 million Latinos, whose massive expansion accounted for more than half of the nation’s overall growth of 27.3 million people, to a new overall U.S. population of 308.7 million, officials said.

The Hispanic population grew 43% since 2000, officials said.

In stark contrast, all other populations together grew by only about 5%, officials said. The nation as a whole expanded by 9.7%.

Bureau officials declined Thursday to say how much illegal immigration has spurred growth among Latinos and other minorities, saying the sources of the growth are still being studied.

“Those are actually very excellent questions,” said Roberto Ramirez, chief of the bureau’s ethnicity and ancestry branch. “We are actually in the middle of the process of investigating that.”

D’Vera Cohn, a senior writer at the Pew Research Center in Washington, said the birth rate, rather than immigration, is the primary driving factor in the Latino boom.

Hispanics now account for nearly one-quarter of children under the age of 18, Cohn said.

“Hispanics are a younger population, and there are just more women of a child-bearing age,” she said.

Although immigration remains a major contributor to Hispanic population growth, the recent recession and high employment rates may have prompted a tapering off in the rate of foreign-born nationals seeking U.S. residence, analysts said.

Intensified border patrols may have reduced illegal immigration, but those measures “remain at the margins,” said William Frey, a demographer at The Brookings Institution.

He added that America’s overall undocumented immigrant population — estimated at between 10 million and 11 million people — may have even declined in recent years, though accurate numbers are difficult to acquire.

While the white population increased by 2.2 million to 196.8 million, its share of the total population dropped to 64% from 69%, officials said.

The Asian population also grew 43%, increasing from 10.2 million in 2000 to 14.7 million in 2010, officials said. Asians now account for about 5% of the nation’s population.

The African-American population, which grew by about 4.3 million, is now about 40 million, or 12.6% of the population, a slight increase over 12.3% in 2000, officials said.

Persons reporting “some other race” grew by 3.7 million, to 19 million, or 5.5% of the nation, figures show.

The vast majority of Americans, 97%, reported only one race, with whites as the largest group, accounting for about seven out of 10 Americans.

The remaining 3% of the population reported multiple races, and almost all of them listed exactly two races. White and black was the leading biracial combination, figures show.

“The face of the country is changing,” said Jeffrey Passel, demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center.

Demographic data had already been released for all states except New York and Maine and for the District of Columbia.

In fast-growing states where whites and blacks dominated past growth, Hispanics are now the greatest growth engine, Frey said.

The significance of the numbers to the United States is more than just an increase of an ethnicity. Research shows that along with the changing demographics, the country has become more diverse in other ways, Passel said. For instance, there is a substantial mixing of the American population through interracial marriage, he said.

Another change is the concentration of the growing populations.

Previously, the Hispanic population was concentrated in eight or nine states; it is now spread throughout the country, Passel said.

Meanwhile, most of the data released so far show decreases in the population of white children, Frey said.

Minorities will have a greater presence among future generations, he said. For example, in Nevada, 61% of children are minorities, compared with 41% of adults.

In border states like Texas, demographers say, Hispanic populations are expected to surpass non-Hispanic populations within the next decade.

“Without question, we are becoming a Hispanic state,” said Texas state demographer Lloyd Potter.

“I live in San Antonio, and there you see Spanish advertisements, television shows and newspapers everywhere,” he said.

source: read more>>

Latinos Nix Violence

Latinos Nix Violence

Harvard Magazine

First-generation immigrants are more likely to be law-abiding than third-generation Americans of similar socioeconomic status, reports Robert Sampson, Ford professor of the social sciences. These new findings run counter to conventional wisdom, which holds that immigration creates chaos. The prevailing “social disorganization theory” first gained traction in the 1920s and ’30s, after the last big wave of European immigrants poured into the United States. Scholars have maintained that the resulting heterogeneity harmed society. “They weren’t saying that this was caused by any trait of a particular group,” Sampson explains. “Rather, they were saying that lots of mixing would make communication accross groups difficult, make it hard to achieve consensus, and create more crime.”

Yet in Sampson’s recent study, first-generation Latino immigrants offer a particularly vivid counterexample to this common assumption. “They come into the country with low resources and high poverty, so you would expect a high propensity to violence,” Sampson says. But Latinos were less prone to such actions than either blacks or whites—providing the latest evidence that Latinos do better on a range of social indicators, a phenomenon sociologists call the “Latino paradox.”

With colleagues Jeffrey Morenoff of the University of Michigan and Stephen Raudenbush, now of the University of Chicago, Sampson followed 3,000 young people in 180 Chicago neighborhoods from 1995 to 2002. They ranged in age from eight to 25, and came from a full range of income levels and from neighborhoods with varying degrees of integration. Chicago was a deliberate choice: “We felt it was representative of where the country was going,” Sampson explains. The number of Mexican immigrants in the city skyrocketed in the 1990s, and immigration from Poland and Russia also increased, creating an almost equal three-way split in Chicago’s general population among whites, blacks, and Latinos.

During the course of their study, Sampson and his colleagues periodically interviewed the young people on a range of subjects, including asking whether they had been involved in such violent acts as fighting or robbery. The researchers supplemented this data with census, crime, and poverty statistics, and with a separate survey that asked 9,000 Chicago adults about the strength of social networks in their neighborhoods. The investigators then developed mathematical models to determine the probability that a given child would engage in a violent act, and to understand which factors raised or lowered his or her likelihood of violence.

Sampson was surprised to discover that a person’s immigrant status emerged as a stronger indicator of a dispropensity to violence than any other factor, including poverty, ethnic background, and IQ. “It’s just a whopping effect,” he says. Of people born in other countries, he notes, “First-generation immigrants are 45 percent less likely to commit violence than third-generation immigrants, and second-generation immigrants are about 22 percent less likely [to do so] than the third generation.” Mexican Americans were the least violent among those studied, in large part because they were the most likely to be first-generation immigrants, Sampson adds. The study also revealed that neighborhoods matter. “Kids living in neighborhoods with a high concentration of first-generation immigrants have lower rates of violence,” he explains, “even if they aren’t immigrants themselves.”

[…]

read more >>

~Erin O ’Donnell

 

Crisis (IV)

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Crisis IV (Spanish)

Crisis (IV)

 

 

 

Saturday September 20.  Dow Jones: 11,388

San Francisco, California. 5:30 AM

 

We were feeling really laid back at Lilian’s party when he arrived with his usual two little friends, Patrick and the other guy whose name I don’t remember.  I asked Lilian if she had invited them and she just laughed, which in this case meant no, or that she had no choice but to invite them.  I had never had problems with Nacho before so don’t come at me with that stuff about animosity or predisposition, much less premeditation.

It wasn’t premeditated.  Nacho Washington Sánchez had come to the party with a gift for the young girl who was turning fifteen two days later.  Her parents had moved the celebration up so that it would fall on Saturday the 14th, and as a reward for her good grades.

Nacho Sánchez, Santa Clara, 19, had gone back to school at the age of almost twenty, after spending a time in a Georgia chicken factory.  And this time he had come back with enough maturity and motivation to carry him to the second best grades in his class.

According to his friends’ statements to the police, Nacho didn’t go to the party because of Lilian but because of Claudia Knickerbacker, the Chilean friend of the birthday girl.  And if he said goodbye to miss Wright with a hug and a kiss on the cheek, that didn’t mean anything.  Or it didn’t mean, like George Ramírez yelled at him, sexual harassment.

—The thing is that George speaks less and less Spanish all the time and he forgot or acts like he forgets that we Latinos hug and kiss more often than Yankees do.  The other stuff is inside the head of one of those repressed people who see sex everywhere and try to surgically remove it with a pair of hot tongs.  It’s true that before heading for the bus stop Nacho turned around and told him that George wasn’t a Mexican-American anymore because in Calabazas North the “Mexican” part had fallen off of him.  It wasn’t necessary, but it was after tolerating like a prince the insults that George had thrown at him since he left the Wrights’ house.

—What insults?  Do you remember any of them?

—He said to him that Nacho was a child abuser, that Lilian was still only fourteen years old and that he was going to report him to the police and he followed him around threatening him with the telephone in his hand.  Without turning around Nacho told him, sure, call 911.  The others were coming up behind.

—How many were they?

—Five or six, I don’t remember exactly.  It was dark and I was really scared that there would be a fight and we would all get pulled in.  We were about a hundred yeards from the bus stop and the bus was waiting for the light to change a block away and George decided to yell at him that he wasn’t going to call 911, but the Migra instead.  Everybody knew that Nacho’s parents were illegals and hadn’t gotten papers for as long as Nacho could remember, which was why, even though he was a citizen, he always avoided run-ins with the police, as if they would deport him or put him in jail for being the child of illegals, which he knew perfectly well was absurd but was something that was stronger than him. When his wallet got stolen in the metro to the airport he didn’t report it and chose to go back home and he missed his flight to Atlanta.  And that’s why you could say the worst to him and Nacho always kept his cool, biting back his anger but never lifting a hand, and he was strong enough to knock out a mule if he wanted to.  Not him, of course, he wasn’t illegal and the others must have known it.  But the ones coming from farther back, including John, Lilian’s older brother, who heard the part about “the Migra” and the part about “sexual harassment,” and he caught up with George who stood out because of his size and his white shirt…

—Do you want them to bring you some water?

—I started walking faster, saying that the bus was going to leave without us and I got on it.  After that I don’t know what happened.  I just saw through the window, from a distance, that they had rushed at Nacho and Barrett was trying hopelessly to rescue him from the mob.  But Barrett is smaller than me.  Then all I saw were the streetlights on Guerrero and Cesar Chavez, and I sat in the last seat with my cell phone in my hand until I got home.  But Nacho never answered any of the messages I left him asking him to call me back.  Nacho said good-bye the way he did because he was happy.  She had invited him so he would have a chance to ask the Knickerbacker girl out, and in the kitchen while they were cutting the tres leches cake Knickerbacker hadn’t told him no.  She told him that  they could go out next Saturday and that left Nacho feeling really happy.  He had such a complex because of his prematurely thinning hair at 19 years old, which he thought was sufficient reason for any pretty girl to reject him.  It’s not like the Chilean girl was a model or anything, but Nacho was blindly in love since starting back to school.

—And you?

—I don’t think that such a warm good-bye was because he was happy.  They always come across that way, they don’t respect your personal space.  They say Latinos are like that, but if they come to this country they should behave according to the rules of this country.  Here we just shake hands.  We’re not in Russia where men go around kissing each other. Much less kiss a child like that in front of her parents and all of her friends.  You’re right, her parents didn’t complain, but they also didn’t say anything when George and his friends decided to go out and teach those intruders a lesson. The Wrights are polite and when they saw that Nacho left without causing trouble they decided not to intervene.  But I’m sure they spoke with Lilian afterward, because they looked worn out.  It was because of a moral issue. A matter of principles, of values.  We couldn’t allow some nobody to come and upset the peace at the party and abuse one of the little girls. No, I don’t regret it.  I did what I had to do to defend the morality of the family.  No, it wasn’t my home, but it sort of was.  I’ve been Johnny’s friend since middle school.  No, we didn’t want to kill him, but he was asking for it.  What worse crime is there than abusing a little girl?  He didn’t fondle her, but that’s how they all start.  Them, you know who I’m talking about.  Them!  Don’t coerce my statement, I know my rights.  They don’t know how to respect personal distance and then they lose control.  No, my partents were Mexicans but they entered the country legally and they graduated from the University of San Diego. No, no, no… I’m an American, sir, make no mistake.

(from the novel Crisis)

Jorge Majfud

Translated by Bruce Campbell

 

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Los estigmas sociales del latino

Los estigmas sociales del latino

Hace algunos meses iba en un bus de la ciudad y delante de mí iba un hombre leyendo en el periódico Eco Latino uno de mis ensayos sobre los mitos de la inmigración. En ese ensayo, simplemente daba datos y razones que contradecían los discursos repetidos en los medios de comunicación. El hombre llevaba ropa de obrero, la piel quemada por el sol y las manos embrutecidas por algún trabajo extenuante. Los gestos cansados de un intocable latinoamericano. Lo observé leer, aparentemente con atención y de cabo a rabo. Pensé entonces (o quise pensar) que ese ensayo estaba justificado; no sólo porque pretendía decir una verdad —muy a pesar de mi frecuente escepticismo—, sino porque esa verdad tenía un valor ético: era la verdad de los oprimidos, de los desheredados, la reivindicación moral de un hombre o de una mujer violentado por las relaciones de producción mundiales; pero aún más violentado por los discursos moralizantes que, en sus casos más extremos los acusan de criminales, delincuentes y poco menos que terroristas —al mismo tiempo que se sirven de ellos, claro. Finalmente, el hombre sin nombre cerró el diario, se quedó mirando por la ventana y esperó su parada. Se bajó y siguió caminando con la cabeza gacha, tal vez pensativo, y se perdió de mi vista. Intenté imaginar lo que podía estar pensando. Traté de ponerme en su lugar y comprendí que era inútil. O casi imposible.

En aquel ensayo observábamos las contradicciones del discurso que responsabiliza a los inmigrantes de afectar negativamente la economía de Europa y Estados Unidos —razón por la cual, cada tanto, se pretende legislar recortándoles derechos de salud y asistencia— con datos que indicaban precisamente lo contrario: los inmigrantes, aún aquellos trabajadores indocumentados, representan un sector importante en la producción económica y en el sustento del mismo Seguro Social. Estos hombres y mujeres invisibles, los eternos fugitivos, sustentan las economías de los países de los cuales fueron expulsados y de los países a los cuales son obligados a emigrar por el mismo sistema global que los desprecia. No volveremos sobre esos temas. Veamos otro mito social, estratégicamente construido por la ideología del miedo.

Existe la idea de que los inmigrantes son los responsables del aumento de los índices de criminalidad. Este mito social cae con más fuerza en la cabeza de los inmigrantes latinos, y muchas veces es reproducido por los mismos latinos, así como después de siglos de deformación colonial muchas veces fueron los mismos indígenas los que oprimieron a sus hermanos, recordándoles su condición de raza inferior, olvidándose que ni Machu Pichu ni Chichen Itzá ni Teotihuacan ni Tenotchitlan hubieran podido ser jamás levantados por sociedades de retardados mentales. Lo que demuestra el poder amnésico de una “educación” al servicio de una clase de exitosos traidores. El mismo “machismo latinoamericano” no fue un invento indígena sino parte de esta misma deformación lograda por los invasores en complicidad con los caciques y las elites indígenas que aún hoy se presentan como salvadoras de los pueblos oprimidos, unas veces bajo el discurso criollo capitalista, otras bajo la demagogia neo-indigentita, sazonado de retórica revolucionaria y de anacrónica práctica caudillista.

Según los datos recogidos a finales del siglo XIX y a principios del siglo XX, la inmigración de europeos a Estados Unidos había elevado los índices de criminalidad, de violencia organizada y de comunidades desorganizadas. No obstante, diferente a la historia antes referida y contradiciendo el discurso hegemónico de hoy en día, el incremento de la inmigración —en su mayoría latina, en su mayoría indocumentada— no ha provocado un aumento en los índices de criminalidad sino todo lo contrario. Como lo demuestra el profesor Robert J. Sampson de Harvard University, el incremento de la inmigración en los últimos veinte años se corresponde con una disminución proporcional de la criminalidad. El punto de inflexión de esta tendencia es el año 2000: es a partir de aquí que la inmigración comienza a disminuir y, también proporcionalmente, comienza a aumentar el índice de delincuencia. Luego de su exhaustivo estudio, Robert J. Sampson llegó a la conclusión obvia: “si queremos bajar los índices de criminalidad, cerrar las fronteras no es la respuesta”.[1]

Los sociólogos norteamericanos han verificado que los latinos (aún en condiciones económicamente desventajosas, por no decir “extremas”) son menos propensos a la violencia que el resto de la población, por lo que han llamado a esa revelación con el nombre de “Latino paradox”. La misma expresión demuestra un prejuicio previo que asume que si alguien es latino debe ser violento, porque ese factor parecería ser intrínseco a la cultura, cuando no a la raza. Este mito probablemente está en gran parte alimentado por la violencia permanente que viven varios países latinoamericanos, especialmente azotados por el narcotráfico y por los fenómenos pandilleros como el de las maras —sin mencionar que ambos fenómenos son el resultado de un contexto global sin el cual no podrían existir—. No obstante, la violencia entre los inmigrantes latinos es la mitad que la alcanzada por las terceras generaciones de americanos.

La dramática diferencia que existe entre distintos grupos de “latinos” en diferentes contextos —políticos, sociales y económicos— demuestra que si bien nadie está determinado sólo por la infraestructura económica tampoco existe el determinismo cultural: si las maras son un fenómeno “latino” ese fenómeno no obliga a la abrumadora mayoría de miembros de esa región cultural a comportarse como pandilleros. No obstante, la publicidad y los discursos xenófobos se aferran a las excepciones y no a las reglas. ¿Por qué? Primero porque todo discurso ideológico sólo ve y muestra lo que le conviene; segundo porque nuestra cultura visual está formada y deformada por el fenómeno de las excepciones y, por lo tanto, por las criminales simplificaciones: una cámara de televisión —patético instrumento epistemológico, paradigma de la “verdad objetiva” y del control democrático— sólo puede enfocar excepciones. Una cámara de televisión no puede mostrar una verdad sinóptica general, abstracta, al menos que se refiera al estado del tiempo. Una conclusión abstracta de un conocido profesor de alguna universidad no puede entrar por los ojos ni puede ser representada de una forma divertida. Si hiciera el intento probablemente pasaría inadvertida por una población anestesiada por los “reality shows”, esas ficciones del capitalismo tardío que pretenden pasar por “hiperrealidad”. Y lo que es peor: no se puede cuestionar a una persona que está embriagada por el mito de la libertad individual y el orgullo del éxito económico. Con todo, este no es un desmérito de nuestros tiempos. Hace dos mil quinientos años ya Demócrates se lamentaba: “el que amonesta a un hombre que se cree inteligente trabaja en vano.”

Esta contradicción entre el mito social y el resto de la realidad nunca es una casualidad y podríamos pensar que posee una funcionalidad específica en el control de unos estratos sociales sobre otros en desventaja económica e ideológica. De la misma forma, observábamos que la idea del “mexicano haragán”, durmiendo la siesta debajo de un enorme sombrero, se contradice de forma dramática con los inmigrantes mexicanos (y latinos en general) que representan el grupo social más sufrido y trabajador, para los cuales hay más obligaciones que derechos. Si los radicales que desfilan armados por las fronteras fuesen un poco más coherentes, deberían dejar de comer pollo, frutas y verduras; deberían evitar caminar por aceras limpias o conducir sobre caminos donde se ha empleado mano de obra indecente; la mayoría de ellos debería cambiar sus casas por alguna carpa levantada sin ayuda extranjera y a la hora de cobrar la jubilación deberían arrojar a la hoguera un buen porcentaje del cobro, ya que no es despreciable la cuota que procede de aquellos aportes no reclamados por los hombres invisibles que escaparon a la cacería humana. Estos tristes y orgullosos personajes no solo ignoran su presente sino también su propia historia. Ignoran, o han olvidado, que incluso después de los atentados terroristas de 1919 cundió en Estados Unidos lo que se llamó “el susto rojo”, en referencia a la nueva amenaza comunista, lo que provocó una serie de razias y deportaciones de extranjeros. Desde entonces, el congreso aprobó fuertes restricciones a la inmigración en 1921, 1924 y, finalmente, en 1929. Los años ’20 fueron los años de la Ley Seca, del resurgimiento del Ku Klux Klan y del desprecio por los inmigrantes no anglosajones; fue la década de las radicalizaciones, en que John T. Scopes fue enjuiciado por enseñar la teoría de Charles Darwin; la década de la gran prosperidad que terminó en la crisis económica más dramática del mundo Occidental moderno. Olvidan o recurren a su único argumento: no les interesa —aunque debería interesarles.

© Jorge Majfud

The University of Georgia, abril 2006.

[1] The New York Times, 11 de marzo de 2006, pág. A27.