“When I came here I was alone.  I was sixteen and didn’t speak…

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“When I came here I was alone.  I was sixteen and didn’t speak any English.  I remember on the first day of school, some guy was making fun of my younger brother and I punched him.  A few guys saw what was happening and ran down the hall to help.  They backed me up.  And afterward, they said: ‘We want you to join our group.’  So I started hanging out with them.  There were a lot of parties and girls.  It wasn’t bad at first.  A few times they asked me to punch someone in the mouth.  But the farther I got in, the crazier shit got.  I started using rocks and bats on people.  I just followed orders and never asked questions.  Then one day they asked me to attack a guy from our gang.  He was one of us.  And they wouldn’t even tell me why.  I realized that if they’d do it to him, they’d do it to me too.  So I left.  Whenever I see kids in the street now, I try to tell them: ‘Go back home.  Listen to your family.  Cause if anything happens— if you end up in the hospital or in jail, nobody from your gang will visit you.  And if you get killed, they won’t be the ones crying.”

Haley: Palestinians’ right of return should be ‘off the table’

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  PNN/ Washington/
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley questioned UN statistics on the number of Palestinian refugees and ruled out the right of return, in the latest move by the Trump administration to challenge how aid is given to the Palestinians.
In comments on Tuesday to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a research institute in Washington that often sympathizes with Israel, Haley agreed with a source that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was exaggerating the numbers of Palestinian refugees. She suggested that the Trump administration would consider officially rejecting the the Palestinian claim that all refugees who were displaced between 1947 and 1948 and their descendants should be allowed to return to modern day Israel after a final peace agreement.
“You’re looking at the fact that, yes, there’s an endless number of refugees that continue to get assistance,” Haley said, adding that the Trump White House would not restore its previous funding levels unless the body made dramatic changes.
“We will be a donor if [UNRWA] reforms what it does … if they actually change the number of refugees to an accurate account, we will look back at partnering them,” she said, adding that “the Palestinians continue to bash America” and yet “they have their hand out wanting UNRWA money.”

The United States earlier this year cut its aid to UNRWA to $60 million after pledging $350 million a year.
“If we actually change the number of refugees to an exact number, we will reconsider our partnership,” Haley said.
UNRWA says it provides services to some 5 million Palestinian refugees – mostly descendants of refugees who were displaced and expelled from Palestine during the 1948 war that established Israel on the ruins of the Palestinian people.
Haley said that other Arab states in the Middle East needed to pressure the Palestinians to change course if there were ever to be a final peace accord.

“We have to have them come to the table for a peace agreement,” Haley said. “That’s only going to happen if the region pushes them for that to happen.”

The Hispanic Tsunami Entering California Colleges

By Raoul Lowery Contreras

Hispanics are surging into California public colleges setting enrollment records every semester attracted by affordable quality higher education.

Concurrently, California public colleges are being flooded by applicants from all over the world despite the U.S. college-eligible population shrinking.

When the deadline for September 2018 applications for admission to San Diego State University (SDSU) closed, 96,000 applications were submitted, a record.

Unfortunately, SDSU could only accept 10,000 new students because there is no more room at the campus. The challenge is made greater by the record 3.73 grade point average of entering freshmen that limits entry of students with otherwise solid grades.

Because San Diego State University is so popular and tough to get into, it doesn’t come close to Hispanic student percentages at other California State University (CSU) campuses. For example, Cal-State Los Angeles enrolls 64 percent Hispanic students, Cal-State-San Bernardino has 62.6 percent; Cal-State Dominguez Hills 59 percent, Cal-State Stanislaus 51 percent, Cal State-Fresno 50 percent.

San Diego State with 10,000 Hispanic students has 30 percent Hispanic students, 25 percent fewer than the California State University average.

The entire 23 campus California State University enrolls 40 percent Hispanic students; the numbers are astonishing – 154,000 Mexican Americans and 39,000 other Hispanics for a grand total of 193,000. 51 percent of all California high school graduates were Hispanic in 2016. That year, 71 percent of California Hispanic high school graduates enrolled in college compared to 49 percent in 2000.

Of all college degrees awarded in 2016 in California, 50 percent were awarded by the California State University system. It is not an exaggeration that the California State University and its 23 campuses are the keys to educational advancement for the entire California Hispanic population and California itself.

Yet, San Diego State University, the jewel of the CSU system, can’t take any more students. Every square-inch of its 238 acre campus is built out. Only a tiny number of the 400,000 Hispanic San Diego county residents can enroll despite the huge surge in state Hispanic college enrollment. There isn’t room. Even if the 18-year-old is an honor graduate with a 3.6 grade point average, there isn’t room because so many applicant students have a 3.73 grade point average.

Coming years will be worse for local San Diego and California Hispanics looking to enroll in college. While most can’t afford to leave the city for college. They can afford SDSU, they can ride the trolley to school. They don’t need a car to attend SDSU if they live close to the South Bay, East County, Southeast San Diego trolley lines. As it happens, the San Diego Hispanic community mostly surrounds those Trolley lines.

Commuting to SDSU for Hispanics is facile and not expensive. But if there is no room, that and an affordable tuition don’t matter.

There is a solution.

San Diego’s NFL Chargers left for Los Angeles leaving its home Mission Valley stadium and surrounding acres of parking lot empty.

A private out-of-town group stepped up and presented a plan to “lease” the stadium property for 99-years.

The hedge fund investors have few San Diego roots. None attended San Diego State which has over 300,000 alumni.

A proposed alliance with San Diego State ended when it became clear to San Diego State that the proposed “deal” was designed to maximize profit for the group, at the expense of San Diego State.

The out-of-town investors are trying to control hundreds of centrally located real estate acres for a hundred years during which they could make hundreds of millions of dollars with high rise hotels, another shopping mall, a soccer team (maybe) and condominiums that would not create a single new classroom for crowded San Diego State, minutes away by trolley.

On the other hand, locals – many SDSU alumni — called Friends of SDSU have come up with a proposal (SDSU WEST) that would authorize the city to sell the property to SDSU for “fair-market value,” allow San Diego State to construct a new stadium designed and built by the University itself, an expansive river park, housing for staff, faculty and students.

Additionally, using out-of-state university developed research facilities as models, a research-oriented development is being discussed. Similar development over the past 50 years by University of California San Diego (UCSD) staff and faculty has created thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in investment around the UCSD campus. Qualcomm, anyone?

It could happen again. This time with local input and development. Furthermore, the growing Hispanic college-bound population will have a place to study it doesn’t have now, nor would it have if the out-of-town Soccer City group convinces enough people to vote for its plan.

Lastly, of course, the SDSU expansion would not occur overnight but today’s third grade Hispanic child would have a university seat just a trolley-ride away when he/she enrolls in a 45,000-50,000 student body at San Diego State University.


Contreras is the author of “The Armenian Lobby & U.S. Foreign Policy” (Berkeley Press) and “The Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a Trillion Dollars in Trade” (Floricanto Press); he formerly wrote for the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate; he is a SDSU alumnus – an Aztec for life. Contreras is also a paid consultant for SDSU WEST.

Groups Calls to Boycott Paramount Films for Lack of Latino Hiring

By Marielena Castellanos

Filmmaker and writer Guillermo “Memo” Grajeda has been writing since he was 11 years old.

“I really loved reading old movie scripts that I found at the library and wanted to try it for myself,” Grajeda said.

Now in the Hollywood industry for five years, Grajeda added, “It has been significantly challenging getting opportunities in Hollywood.”

“It gets pretty soul crushing when the ideas and screenplays you’ve been mulling over for months get turned down in an instant. The worst thing from all of that is if you do get a job opportunity, it’s for a racist joke of a show that has Mexicans and immigrants as demonized villains that portray every stereotype in the book,” Grajeda explained.

Just days ago, a number of Latinos leaders and supporters protested in front of Paramount Pictures in Hollywood over the lack of hiring Latinos by the entertainment giant both on and behind the big screen.

The protest was organized by the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) and the National Latino Media Council (NLMC).

The groups are asking the public to boycott upcoming Paramount Pictures films, and also to sign a petition on NHMC’s website asking Paramount Pictures’ to hire more for Latinos.

The campaign is part of NHMC’s ongoing efforts to increase positive media portrayals of Latinos and increase Latino employment in media. The protest is said to be the first of a series of demonstrations against film studios that have a poor record of Latino employment.

Upcoming films by Paramount Pictures and release dates include, Nobody’s Fool on Nov. 2, Overlord on Nov. 9, Bumblebee on Dec. 21, and several 2019 titles.

Alex Nogales, the president and Chief Executive Officer of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, explained the reason for the protest, “Not a day goes by without an attack on our Latino community by the President and his minions. They don’t know us and see little, if anything, of us in film and television, film in particular.”

“We’re absent, invisible, and because Trump talks about Latinos and immigrants in the worst of terms, branding us criminals, rapists, polluters of American culture – his supporters believe him and act on his words,” Nogales added.

“Until Latinos are given the opportunity to tell our own stories, to write, direct, and act in all film, television, and streaming media produced by Hollywood, we will continue to be stereotyped, talked about, and treated in the worst of ways as we are being treated presently,” Nogales also said.

NHMC, with the help and cooperation of UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report and NHMC entertainment advocacy fellow Alejandra Salazar, compiled film studio research from 2012 through 2017, which it said found that Paramount had the worst numbers when it came to hiring Latino actors, writers and directors.

The UCLA report also said Latinos only appeared in 2.7 percent of the speaking roles and writers and directors were practically non-existent.

“There is no question that longstanding exclusion of Latinos from movies has contributed to the current precarious situation for Latino civil rights. Paramount Pictures’ refusal to partner in addressing their deplorable performance on Latino inclusion is utterly inexplicable,” said Thomas A. Saenz, Chair of the National Latino Media Council and President and General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

NHMC also said it looked at the top 100 grossing films of last year, of which Paramount Pictures produced eight. The non-profit claims none of the eight films featured any Latino writers or a lead actor. One film featured a Spanish director. Only two films out of the eight included Latino actors billed within the top eight acting credits, per IMDbPro data. This totals out to just three actors of the 64 researched, and of these three, 1 is Chilean, 1 is Brazilian, and only 1 is a U.S.-born and/or immigrant Latino.

In a statement to top entertainment website Deadline Hollywood, Paramount Pictures said, “We recently met with NHMC in a good faith effort to see how we could partner as we further drive Paramount’s culture of diversity, inclusion and belonging. Under our new leadership team, we continue to make progress — including ensuring representation in front of and behind the camera in upcoming films such as Dora the Explorer, Instant Family, and Limited Partners — and welcome the opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with the Latinx creative community further.”

Grajeda who said his writing style is usually dark comedy with surreal themes also said, “I pride myself on being as original and creative as I possibly can, but studios rarely take risks. Especially with Latinos,” Grajeda said.

In spite of the data and the challenges he’s experienced he hasn’t given up.

“I’m still hoping that a studio more open to original ideas will hear my pitches, like Netflix or Hulu. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing my scripts that are what I love. Funny, weird, and creative.”

Natasha Galano, a Cuban-American Afro-Latina actress originally from Miami, has also found challenges in Hollywood, not in the movies, but in commercials and of all places in the Spanish market.

“I can tell you that from personal experience my heart breaks a little when I see a commercial breakdown for the Spanish market asking for “standard Spanish speaking” Latina from Mexico.

She said for her it means someone, “that has a Caucasian look or that speaks standard Spanish,” she said.

Galano started acting again last year after battling cancer for four years. She believes the Spanish market could itself to more to help open up doors to the mainstream hiring people from all cultures that make up the Latin-American community.

“We all have different looks and accents. All the “Aspirational” Latina women in commercials all look the same,” Galano adds.

“We have to open the American media’s eyes as to what other Latinos look like, too. I am a Cuban-American Afro-Latina, and I want to be represented because that means they’re thinking of me too.”