Family Stories, not Census Forms, Explain Ethnic Identities

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 by Gail Lemley Burnett

“Are you Hispanic?” isn’t supposed to be a tough question. Yet every time I meet it while completing a census form or medical history, my pencil hovers between “Yes” and “No” and my eyes search for the most accurate answer, which is never there: “Sort of.”

I’m one of the millions of Americans who occasionally change their ethnic designation. It’s complicated. My mother’s father emigrated with his family from Mazatlán, Mexico, when he was in his teens. He married my grandmother — not Hispanic — in Los Angeles in the late 1920s, and they had two daughters. My grandfather’s family was big, noisy, and still firmly tied to the Mexican state of Sinaloa. When my curly-haired Aunt Gloria was a little girl, the family took her there at festival time and dressed her as an adorable señorita. My mother and Gloria grew up in southern California in the 1940s and ’50s with a Spanish surname and were sometimes told, in those racist “good old days,” that they were “not like the other Mexican girls — you’re clean.” How could that history not be a part of our heritage? read more

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Tax Cuts, Job Growth and their Mythic Relationship

by R.G. Rich

Do tax cuts for the wealthy create new jobs? In fact, the exact opposite is true, and well illustrated in recent history.

Raising tax rates for the wealthy creates new jobs.

Why? When rates are raised, the value of a tax deduction is increased in real terms. Hiring a new employee or buying a new piece of equipment is a new business expense. At higher tax rates, the wealthy, and businesses small and large, look to offset taxable profits.
When rates are low, there may be little incentive to hire or replace older equipment because taxes are not perceived as a burden. When rates are high, those same increased expenditures provide a bigger economic benefit through tax savings, thereby creating an additional incentive to spend. High tax rates provide an incentive for expansion, in order to shelter profits from taxes. Higher rates provide an added benefit for risk-taking. read more

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Undocumented Students: Illegal but not Criminal

Gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown
Gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown

by Dave Waddell

Given the nauseating, demoralizing politics that overshadow the complex family issues of illegal immigration, I was heartened to read of the Obama administration’s intentionally laissez-faire treatment of students who were brought to the United States unlawfully as children.

To me, the best way to counter the demonization of all illegal immigrants, including these students, is to put a human face to their plight. So I’d like you to meet “Alicia,” my student.

I put quotation marks around the name because it is an alias. I would prefer to use her real name, but she fears being identified, despite the fact that students like her are increasingly stepping up and speaking out. Alicia was conditioned by her family to not “rock the boat.” That’s understandable when a wrong move could result in detention and deportation. read more

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What’s In a Name?

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Chico writer Alexa Valavanis wrote the following column in response to the Aug. 4, 2010 ruling by a federal judge overturning California’s gay-marriage ban.

by Alexa Valavanis

Judge Vaughn Walker doesn’t know my name. I’ve never written him a letter or rang his smart phone. We’re not colleagues or acquaintances or even Facebook “friends.” In fact, there’s a strong possibility the judge and I would defy the theory of “six degrees of separation.”

Which is a long way of saying the chief judge of the U.S. District Court in California, nominated by George H.W. Bush, doesn’t know anything about me. He doesn’t know I value my family and faith above all else. He doesn’t know how deeply I cherish being an American and the individual rights and freedoms both of my grandfathers fought for. read more

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Dance of Passion Demands Patience, Control

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photo by Erik Aguilar

by Tania Flores

I was introduced to flamenco by a blood-letting, like a tailored and sharply-cut red dress whipping out from the back of my head. I was introduced by a woman who had my name, who called herself La Tania, who marked the end of the time when the purity of ballet was enough to contain my six years of age. I watched her dance in Chico State’s Laxson Auditorium, my head wrapped in a turban of white bandages. Wearing my ballet tights and leotard, I had cracked my head open earlier that afternoon on a cold, metallic bathtub rim. La Tania’s resounding footwork helped stem the flow of the hysteria and screams, and transform them into echoing syllables. read more

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Class of ’09: Spend Your Pennies Wisely

by Tania Flores and Oliver Wong

People inhabit the Earth. These simple, inconsequential creatures mow lawns, collect knick-knacks, walk aimlessly, climb trees (sometimes even fall out of them), and bleed. Some people throw things, such as footballs, fits, and paper airplanes. They might also read books, pick flowers, or join gangs.

People love to run around and dance, create music and harmony. But they also enjoy making bombs and destroying lives. And for some unfathomable reason, they hardly ever use public pay phones anymore. People are obsessed with discovering the unknown, they are afraid to make mistakes, foolishly think that pillars can make them strong. They drink water, blow up balloons, laugh, and learn to recycle. Some people smoosh themselves under vending machines, others contract diseases. People create cures, and support groups. Sometimes people trip and fall flat on their faces, and sometimes they catch themselves before they make that fatal downward plunge. People tend to embarrass themselves more often than not, but they learn to laugh at themselves later in life. read more

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