April 20, 2001

The Public Forum ... El Foro Publico


Commentary Right On

Your `Commentary' concerning Bush tax cuts, (Bush Tax Cut at the Expense of Retirees and Medicare?, published March 23, 2001), is excellent, best I have seen so far.

Art Stebbing
San Diego

Why Not Committee on Abuse of Police Power

So a policeman shoots yet another innocent citizen and the Mayor of Cincinnati forms a committee on race relations???? How about a committee to oversee the ever increasing abuse of police power? Wouldn't that be more to the point?

San Diego could use such an intense analysis too, finding out how to stop the overuse of authority...by those in government uniforms...that is threatening the citizens of this great nation.

Lynn Badler
San Diego

Billboard Sign Is Gone

Muchas gracias La Prensa for your interest in my letter about the gun billboard in my neighborhood. I faxed it to different news stations and the Union Tribune, but everyone was hesitant to discuss this matter. But thank you for listening to an ordinary resident. It just goes to show you one opinion does count. The billboard company called me and they said they will remove the billboard. It was replaced today at 7 a.m. I was there to make sure it was taken down, so I want to say thank you for your help.

Bevelyn Bravo
San Diego

Editorial Inspired Me To Write

Two things inspired me to write this letter. One, some thoughts that had been incubating in the back of my brain hatched while I noticed that Tezzy mentioned that some politicos in California still see America as Black and White, i.e., Where are the Indian Chief's? And the other having to do with political clout. The latter spawned my lagging brain cells to see our position as Chicanos, as American citizens abroad. That is, what is the power of our standing as Americans and us being Chicanos abroad? I've long thought about this issue because I have had the opportunity to observe the image of Chicanos as Americans abroad.

The sight doesn't look good.

I state this from personal experience. I being a Chicano living abroad, namely in Europe, more specifically in Sweden, but being here in Europe has also given me the opportunity to travel to Spain and England, and hence my critical observations.

The first thing that strikes one is how Chicanos as a real concept is very much absent outside of our own cultural ground, that is, the USA and some parts of México. Quite boldly, people abroad don't see Americans as being brown. In fact, our image as Chicanos is not good at all. This could be best exemplified by the clownish and ultraright Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky who suggested once to then presidential candidate Pat Buchanan in 1996 that were they to be elected, they could together be rid of the `Hispanic problem', i.e., Mexican illegal immigration. And much hasn't changed since then.

Hispanics, to use a broader term, aren't seen as `Americans', they are a problem for the US administration, whichever that might be. Europeans also tend to see America in black and white terms. The fact is, white and black America comes across in Europe more easily recognizable then brown America, and this is easily shown through one of America's biggest exports: television shows. Hardly is it shown that in America brown Hispanic people are also as American as apple pie.

How is it that this has come to be? What about our many contributions to WWII? Haven't we in America fought and through the years gotten the recognition that we deserve? To give a very optimistic answer, yes.

Yet abroad our standing is far from being that which we have back at home. To prove this point, I'll tell you something that I came across as a student of English at the English Department in Stockholm University which is filled with teachers from the east coast and England, nearly all white of course. In my first year of study, that would be Winter 2000, I studied phonetics which was as strange to me as the relativity theory. At any rate, the book assigned for the reading is titled `On Pronounceable English' by David Minugh, (a New Yorker) University of Stockholm 1991 (Corrected Edition). On page 47 you'll find how to pronounce the vowel `i' as in /sit/. Along that pronounciation there is a word of caution, get aload of this, and I quote " ...But if you pronounce an accented /I/ like /i:/, as in <kid, kidnapper>, you will sound like the stereotype Mexican bandit!" Talk about a 60's flashback. You and I know that were that to have been printed in the USA it would have never even gotten anywhere close to the printing press. Yet year after year Swedish students receive this impression of us, Chicanos in the USA.

You might just wonder how this is at all relevant to your daily life and let me tell you that it makes all the difference in the world. As Hispanics grow in power, not only politically but also economically, our chances to travel the globe increase as well. Wouldn't it be nice to be respected as who we are, Chicanos as Americans instead of having to been seen as a trouble for America? How about our economic clout? Our potential as investors? There is a certain well being that comes along with having a good image, it gives a sense of respect. People treat you differently and are nicer. I believe it is time we start changing the way Hollywood and the US media transmits that image of us to the rest of the world. The homefront battle is nearly done people, let's take on the rest of the globe for a better tomorrow and a better image of us in it.

Julio César Martínez
Anneberg, Sweden

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