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9 queer Latinx books you have to read before you die

Borderzine - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 10:42am

Last summer I had the opportunity to work alongside filmmakers Angie Tures and Henry Alberto as a production assistant on a project that brought the work of noted poet and author Benjamin Alire Sáenz to life on film.

Sáenz and I spent most of the day together talking about film, poetry, and really just about how funny life can be. He gave me a copy of his book, “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.” I opened the book and didn’t put it back down until the last page. I laughed, cried, found love, lost love. I had never experienced reading a book whose story was so similar to my own.

Knowing that there were books like this, I set out on a quest to find other books written about the queer Latinx experience. Knowing there must be others looking for similar books, I’m going to make life a little easier for you. Here’s my list of essential reading of queer Latinx books you have to read before you die.

1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

At the top of any queer reading list, you’ll find “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe”. One of the many reasons it’s at the top of mine is the book is written by El Pasoan and award-winning author Benjamin Alire Sáenz. The coming-of-age story is set in El Paso and follows the lives of two Mexican-American boys and their unique friendship. The book is currently being adapted for the screen and being directed by Latinx filmmaker Henry Alberto.

2. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria E. Anzaldúa

Gloria E. Anzaldúa is one of the most prolific and influential theorists in Chicano Studies. Redefining the Chicanx experience by giving a voice to its women, she spent her life documenting the Chicana experience. In her semi-autobiographic book, she writes about her experience growing up brown, queer and a woman in Texas. The book is written in both Spanish and English – many times living in the in-between of both languages.

3. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

If finding representation of the queer identity in literature is difficult, finding a character like Juliet is as close to a miracle as it gets. Juliet is getting ready to leave the Bronx and head to Oregon to pursue an internship with her favorite writer. Afraid of how her family might react to her being queer, she decides that because she’s leaving it’s the perfect time to come out to her family. One of the biggest takeaways is how the book tackles white feminism and the need for women of color to have a voice.

4. We the Animals by Justin Torres

There are few books that can capture what it’s like to grow up in an abusive home. Three brothers form a formidable bond as they navigate through their childhood. The narrator must follow a different path as he discovers his queerness. The dark and fragile story was recently released as a film last year and directed by Jeremiah Zagar.

5. America Vol. 1: The Life and Times of America Chavez by Gabby Rivera

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s an openly queer superhero! This is the “book” for people who don’t like to read. Gabby Rivera does it again but this time partnering with Illustrator Joe Quinones and bringing America Chavez to life. America Chavez is the latest superhero to join the Marvel Universe. She’s not your average superhero and this isn’t your average comic.

6. Chulito by Carlos Rico-Gonzalez


Chulito is a 16-year-old boy growing up in the South Bronx who starts realizing he might have more than just friendly feelings towards his best friend Carlos. When Carlos is ostracized by the neighborhood for being gay, Chulito has to decide between his community and his best friend. “Chulito” is a work that challenges the idea of gender norms and what it means to be a “man.”

7. The Rain God by Arturo Islas


Another author El Paso can be proud to claim as their own is Arturo Islas. He was one of the first Chicanos to be signed by a major publishing house. The Rain God is one of only two books completed by the author before he died in 1999, due to complications brought on by AIDS. The book tells the story of a Mexican family struggling to adapt to the “American” and the immigrant experience.

8. More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera


Aaron Soto, a 16-year-old Puerto Rican kid from the Bronx struggles to find happiness. Aaron hears of the Leteo Institute – a company that promises to erase painful memories so people can move forward – and decides it would be best if he could forget he’s gay. What follows is an honest portrayal of struggling with depression and mental illness.

9. Gulf Dreams by Emma Perez


Published in 1996, “Gulf Dreams” is considered one of the first Chicana lesbian pieces of literature to be print. It tells the story of a young girl growing up in a rural and racist town in Texas. The narrator telling a gripping and heartbreaking story of her childhood and of the first girl she ever loved.

 

Click hear to read 9 queer Latinx books you have to read before you die

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Texas open meetings

ElPasoSpeak - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 5:00am

The Times published an editorial the other day that I agreed with.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals evidently invalidated the portion of the Texas Open Meetings Act that specified criminal penalties for members of government boards that arrange meetings with less than a quorum in order to avoid the requirement to make the meeting open to the public.

The Times editorial told us that our Texas Governor has written a letter to state board appointees and state agency chiefs telling them to “continue to follow the spirit” of the Texas Open Meetings Act without regard to the appeals court ruling.

Unfortunately our local governments are now free to meet in private and discuss public business as long as they do not have a quorum present.

We hope that our Texas legislature will take action soon to shore up the Open Meetings Act.

We deserve better

Brutus

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Border Mic – Episode 8 – I Am a Legal Immigrant and I Fear ICE

EPN - Border Analysis - Sun, 03/10/2019 - 10:00pm
I am a legal immigrant and I fear ICE. In today’s episode I discuss why abolishing ICE is […]
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A simple solution?

ElPasoSpeak - Sun, 03/10/2019 - 5:00am

I heard an idea that I liked the other evening.

The smart phone manufactures should change their phones so that if it is moving faster than a set speed (5 miles per hour?) the keyboard should be disabled.

How many lives would that save?

We deserve better

Brutus

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?An Angel From God,? and Border Agents Took Her

US Immigration Reform Forum - Sun, 03/10/2019 - 12:14am
?An Angel From God,? and Border Agents Took Her

Trump?s cruel separation of immigrant families continued after he declared he was ending the practice.
Source: [url=https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/09/opinion/sunday/family-separation-...
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Readers: Join a Conversation About Immigration

US Immigration Reform Forum - Sun, 03/10/2019 - 12:14am
Readers: Join a Conversation About Immigration

Our policymakers have been at an impasse. Can you do better?
Source: Readers: Join a Conversation About Immigrati...
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RumpToons No: 123

EPN - Border Analysis - Sat, 03/09/2019 - 11:00pm
I hope you enjoy RumpToons No: 123!
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Open forum

ElPasoSpeak - Sat, 03/09/2019 - 8:14am

It’s Saturday so let us know what you are thinking about.

We deserve better

Brutus

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Kirstjen Nielsen and John Kelly Keep Lying About 'Zero Tolerance' and Child Snatching, While Donald Trump Tells the Truth

US Immigration Reform Forum - Sat, 03/09/2019 - 12:03am
Kirstjen Nielsen and John Kelly Keep Lying About 'Zero Tolerance' and Child Snatching, While Donald Trump Tells the Truth

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The H-2B Visa and Markets

US Immigration Reform Forum - Fri, 03/08/2019 - 12:10pm
The H-2B Visa and Markets

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Another Reason to Not Grant TPS to Venezuelans

US Immigration Reform Forum - Fri, 03/08/2019 - 12:10pm
Another Reason to Not Grant TPS to Venezuelans

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Successful revolutions are rarely pulled off by people who are not there.



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Maps: Sanctuary Cities, Counties, and States

US Immigration Reform Forum - Fri, 03/08/2019 - 12:10pm
Maps: Sanctuary Cities, Counties, and States

Bryan Griffith
March 7, 2019 - 3:20pm
Source: Maps: Sanctuar...
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Welcome to El Paso

ElPasoSpeak - Fri, 03/08/2019 - 5:00am

It seems that Las Palmas hospital and the residents of the Rim road area have come to a settlement.

The city issued building permits that allowed Las Palmas to build a $67 million dollar facility.

After the facility was built the city refused to issue certificates of occupancy because of a parking capacity problem.

The permits should not have been issued but they were.

Many prominent residents of the Rim road area objected to allowing the building to be opened without additional parking being provided.

The hospital was stuck with a brand new expensive building that it could not open.

The paragraph below comes from a document proposing a settlement between the hospital and the neighborhood association.

Word on the street is that Las Palmas had to cough up some part of the $653,500 in order to get the residents to drop their objections.

At that point parking capacity was evidently no longer a problem.

The issue sailed through city council without mention of the financial settlement.  If granting a parking variance made sense it should have been granted without city council helping the neighborhood association to extract the extra money.

The way I see it city council helped the neighborhood to extort the money from Las Palmas.  Shame on them.

Word will get around.  Companies thinking about coming to El Paso will wonder what the city will do to them.

We deserve better

Brutus

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Why Twitter Made My Book Possible

EPN - Border Analysis - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 11:00pm
I could not put my life on hold for three months to attend the Chapo trial. I also […]
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Feds Used a Secret Database to Track Journalists Covering the Migrant Caravan: Reason Roundup

US Immigration Reform Forum - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 6:04pm
Feds Used a Secret Database to Track Journalists Covering the Migrant Caravan: Reason Roundup

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Democrats, the SPLC, and CAIR Argue Against Collecting Data on Alien Prisoners in Georgia

US Immigration Reform Forum - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 6:04pm
Democrats, the SPLC, and CAIR Argue Against Collecting Data on Alien Prisoners in Georgia

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If politics makes for strange bedfellows, then h...

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White House's New Budget Gimmick: Include Immigration Enforcement Spending in the Uncapped Budget for Foreign Wars

US Immigration Reform Forum - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 12:02pm
White House's New Budget Gimmick: Include Immigration Enforcement Spending in the Uncapped Budget for Foreign Wars

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Feds Used a Secret Database to Track Journalists Covering the Migrant Caravan: Reason Roundup

US Immigration Reform Forum - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 12:02pm
Feds Used a Secret Database to Track Journalists Covering the Migrant Caravan: Reason Roundup

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'Making Federalism Great Again'?My Forthcoming Texas Law Review Article on the Litigation Generated by Trump's Assault on Sanctuary Cities

US Immigration Reform Forum - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 12:02pm
'Making Federalism Great Again'?My Forthcoming Texas Law Review Article on the Litigation Generated by Trump's Assault on Sanctuary Cities

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Highway safety agency with dubious record in public information lawsuits ramps up denials

Borderzine - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 10:58am

By , FairWarning

After a Florida driver was killed in a crash in 2016 while his Tesla was in “Autopilot” mode,  regulators assured the public that Tesla’s autonomous driving system was safe. An investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that after a key component called Autosteer was added, crash rates in Tesla cars had dropped.

When a skeptical researcher filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the data behind the claim, NHTSA balked. He successfully sued the agency — extending NHTSA’s poor record in defending FOIA cases. NHTSA, a branch of the Department of Transportation, did not respond to interview requests nor answer written questions for this story.

FOIA litigation is time-consuming and often fruitless. While the law provides that the public is entitled to most government documents, federal agencies can employ broad exemptions to justify withholding records, such as the need to protect its deliberative process or a company’s trade secrets.

The government “typically wins a lot more than it loses, especially with FOIA,” said Anne Weismann, chief FOIA counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, an advocacy group.

But NHTSA, which collects data as part of its mission to reduce traffic deaths, appears to be an exception.

Since 2007, there have been 12 lawsuits seeking records from NHTSA, according to a review of records from the Justice Department and the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which collects federal data. Three cases are pending, but the other nine ended in court rulings or settlements requiring NHTSA to produce records for plaintiffs. None of the lawsuits ended in a judgment in NHTSA’s favor.

“They just plow forward with these cases for reasons that I don’t fully understand,” said David Sobel, an attorney with the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation who has represented plaintiffs in most of the cases.

Two people, in particular, have been thorns in NHTSA’s side — Randy Whitfield, a statistician with Quality Control Systems Corp., who filed the Tesla case; and Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies, Inc.

A federal agency might reduce its workload when it digs in its heels and denies FOIA requests. Most requesters will give up, lacking the money, time or enough incentive to bring a lawsuit.

But Whitfield and Kane, who between them filed seven of the successful lawsuits, have personal and professional reasons to battle NHTSA in court. Both are safety consultants who have done work for plaintiff attorneys, although they told FairWarning that none of the lawsuits were funded by clients.

“As researchers and advocates we’re innately curious,” Kane wrote in an email. “We strongly believe that our government should be held accountable for the enforcement and policy decisions it makes.”

NHTSA suffered its latest setback last September, when a federal judge said she was not persuaded by its argument for denying Whitfield’s request for the Tesla data. Once he got the records, Whitfield challenged the agency’s findings, saying NHTSA had reviewed only a limited set of data. According to Whitfield, the comprehensive data indicated that the crash rate for Tesla vehicles was actually higher after they were equipped with Autosteer.

Federal agencies generally have limited staff to handle the large volume of FOIA requests that pour in, leading to long delays even when records are ultimately produced. Critics say that is especially troubling in NHTSA’s case because of its critical mission to reduce roadway deaths.

“It’s really outrageous because an agency like NHTSA is collecting data about things like unsafe, defective cars,” said Katherine Meyer, a FOIA specialist at the law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Eubanks.

Kane said NHTSA’s recalcitrance is contributing to an unjustifiable drain of time and money, both for requesters and the government, because successful plaintiffs can make the government pay their legal fees. According to the Justice Department’s FOIA litigation and compliance reports, over the last decade Kane’s organization has collected $49,493.10 in attorney’s fees and costs in NHTSA cases.

“Not only are they short-changing the public on documents that need to be public,” Kane said, they’re also “spending money on Department of Justice lawyers to defend cases that are indefensible.”

The vast majority of NHTSA’s FOIA expenses go not for litigation but toward processing FOIA requests, according to Department of Transportation records. This has grown more challenging thanks to an uptick in requests and stagnant staffing. In the 2012 fiscal year, NHTSA had the equivalent of about five full-time staff available to work on 231 new FOIA requests as well as backlogged cases, according to DOT statistics. In fiscal 2017, the last year for which figures were available, it had six FOIA staff, but 337 new requests. The agency is also taking more time to process the backlog of so-called ”complex” requests. In 2012, such pending requests were 58 days old on average. In 2017, the average complex request was 440 days old.

As of the most recent data, NHTSA is also denying more requests than before. In 2012, NHTSA fully denied about 36 percent of requests and fully granted about 35 percent, according to DOT records. In 2017, NHTSA fully denied about 51 percent of FOIAs and fully granted 28 percent.

Sobel, who represented Whitfield in the Tesla case, said NHTSA’s lack of success in court raises questions about why the agency is withholding information.

“It puts more of a negative spin on the whole episode than if they had just initially released the information,” Sobel said. “I don’t see in that instance where they gain anything from the resistance and the delay.”

This story was produced by FairWarning (www.fairwarning.org), a nonprofit news organization based in Southern California that focuses on public health, consumer and environmental issues.

Click hear to read Highway safety agency with dubious record in public information lawsuits ramps up denials

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