Friday, November 12, 2010

There's more than just one type of "Hispanic"

The points of view on both sides of the immigration debate have become so hardened that it is fast becoming near impossible to reach any kind of middle ground or mutual understanding. That is unfortunate because both sides have valid points worth considering.

One tactic that both sides use, to their own detriment, is to paint the entire other side with the same general brushstroke. I guess that makes sense if you are trying to defeat something and not work with it. If there is one thing I've learned over the years it is that stereotypes and perceptions are lazy and often counterproductive. Travel to Italy and compare the cuisine from region to region and than compare it our traditional definition of "Italian" and you'll know what I mean. Not all Italian's eat lasagna and not all Mexicans are law breaking criminals who are undermining the "American" way of life.

Peel back the onion a bit and you get a far more intricate and complicated picture.

That is certainly the case with both sides of the immigration debate. Peer beyond the talking points of both sides and you can start to make some real ground. Right now I want to spend a few moments talking about the many nuances of the Hispanic community living in the U.S.

The Pew Center does a good job gauging the sentiment of the Hispanic Community. Many will argue that the Center is too liberal, but I don't find it to be too bad to where I can't use their data. Their surveys are comprehensive and often times they provide the source data for any surveys or research done.

I recently reviewed one of the surveys that was conducted before the primary elections of 2008. Most of the questions are centered on political opinions and immigration policy. The link to the full report can be found here. I pulled the data-set, a sample size of just over 2,000 respondents, and played with it in SPSS. Here are a few interesting findings:

  • Over 66% of the respondents viewed their quality of life as "good" or excellent.
  • 77% were "very" or "somewhat" confident that their children growing up in the U.S. will have better jobs than they do.
  • While more Hispanics affiliated themselves with the Democratic party and considered that party more attuned to their interests, the numbers were still relatively small. 42% didn't think that either party listened to them and and 37% consider themselves independent.
  • Over 83% think that we have "too many" or just the "right" amount of immigrants in the U.S.
  • 65% believe that discrimination is a "major problem" and an additional 19% believe that it is a "minor problem".
  • 41% stated that they or loved ones have experienced discrimination in the past year.
  • 46% are fluent in English as well as Spanish.
  • 52% of respondents are employed full-time, 31% are not employed.
  • 48% earn less than $30k/year.

There isn't anything particularly groundbreaking with this study. In fact, data can be pulled by both sides to validate their positions. But if you look at the numbers more closely you see a more diverse and pluralistic Hispanic Community. About the only thing that truly galvanized them in one direction was their opposition to implied or potential discrimination.

So what is the point of all this? We can't simply place the same broad set of assumptions on the Hispanic population as a whole. I know Hispanics here legally and illegally. I know Hispanics who are Republicans and those who are Democrats. I know some who want to stay here and pursue the American dream and others who are here for lack of better options back home. I know those who look down upon illegal immigration and those who see it as the only necessary route to both earn a wage as well as serve a demand here in the U.S. I've met some who are honest, some not so much. They are just as varied and diverse as any group.

Let's be a little more careful with our generalizations and seek to understand before we draw any conclusions.

A recent survey from last month reveals once again how diverse the Hispanic population is. In many ways it is a follow up to the 2007 survey that was mentioned above. Its findings are somewhat surprising and uncover a sizable divide within the community regarding the benefits and proposed treatment of illegal immigrants. Very, very interesting. Link to summary here.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Randomizer Volume VI Series II

Because my mind only works when it is traipsing gingerly through multiple badly formed thoughts.

Point of Political Ads?: Both political parties clearly understand that the American public is ticked off at partisan politics and negativity, right? Both parties want to demonstrate that they are ready to hear the voice of the people, right? Then why the "H" were the last five months spent subjecting us to the worst, most negative attack ads ever? From both parties! It's stuff like that that inspired me to vote Libertarian across the board. It's stuff like that that make me grateful for the remote control. The Republicans win a resounding victory than their leadership immediately goes off on a diatribe against Obama. We might not agree with his policies but shut up about the attacks. That is exactly what we don't want and that is what is going to make your control of the House short lived.

The Incredible Edible dessert?
Being married to Jodi means many wonderful things. One of them is that dessert will play a large role in our culinary adventures. I recently took account of my favorite desserts and I discovered one common thread. They abound with eggs. Also, they all have a lot of vanilla....but that's for another time. Tiramisu. Custard. Bread Pudding. French Cruller Donuts. Boston Creme Pie. Flan. All very eggey and all exceptionally tasty.

Having Something to Work With:
Ben Folds is cool. And when he teams up with Nick Hornby, of 'About A Boy' fame, he becomes even cooler. This following quote from a fairly recent NPR interview they conducted got me thinking.

"I was just going to say about sending Ben the lyrics and saying, 'Well, this is what they are' — [it] works in the same way that if you tell a kid, 'Write something; write anything; you can write a story about anything you want,' they can't think of anything," says Hornby. "But if you say, 'Write a story about a crocodile, a pineapple and a stair lift in a hotel,' then it will spark something up. The same still happens to me if I'm commissioned to write anything I want for a magazine. I never want to do it. But if someone comes in with some specific ideas about something, then the limit placed on the limitless actually does spark the imagination."

That statement is so true. We need certain parameters in place- whether it be sparked by interest or assignment- before we can really succeed creatively. Otherwise indecision looms because there are simply too many options.

3/23/17- A fitting end in Venice

That'll cost you 100 Euros I guess it makes sense to spend the last chapter of our Italian journey in the town most commonly associ...