Holding On

There is a persistent myth that depression and suicide increase during the holidays.

It was even a memorable line in When Harry Met Sally (yeah, I’m a straight guy who loves that movie — deal with it). 

In any case, there is no doubt that suicide — whether related to the holidays or not — is an American crisis. In fact, “nationwide, suicides have increased nearly 30 percent since the turn of the century.”

Clearly, this is grim news.

However, a weird paradox has developed within this surge in self-harm. You see, “even though Latinos face economic disadvantages and other stress in their lives, their suicide rate is about one-third that of non-Hispanic whites.”

It’s odd that Hispanics are much less likely to take their own lives than other demographics. After all, Latinos earn less than non-Hispanic whites, and are more likely to lack health insurance coverage.”

And if that is not enough, Latino immigrants contend with the challenges of moving to a new country, sometimes after leaving violence and other traumatic conditions at home.”

So why are Latinos less likely to want to end it all?

Well, “experts attribute the relatively low suicide rate among Latinos to the culture’s strong family and community support systems, which appear to provide some degree of protection.”

Yes, the legendary Hispanic emphasis on the family seems to give us a boost when it comes to psychological health. I’ve written before about how obsessed Latinos are when it comes to blood relations. There are some negative elements to this cultural trend, but the positives overwhelm them, and to this lengthy list of benefits can be added the results of this latest study on suicide.

As for community bonds, well, I’ve always found it freaky that so many Americans don't talk to their neighbors, don’t partake in any group activities, and often maintain an aloof presence.

And I say that as an introvert (but a Latino one). Trust me — it’s good to socialize. 

Of course, there are other reasons for the Hispanic tendency to avoid suicidal actions.

For starters, there is the strong Catholic foundation that underpins so much of Latino culture. The religion’s teaching that suicide is a sin may have a preventative effect on some Hispanics.

In addition, numerous studies show that Latinos are more optimistic than other groups, which can only help. And there is a theory that Hispanics may even be more genetically predisposed to being happy.

Put it all together, and Latinos may have “relative immunity to suicide” compared to other demographics.

In any case, if you are having difficulty this holiday season, reach out for help at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or another organization.

Take care of yourself.



Greatest Hits

I know what you’re thinking.

The Hispanic Fanatic has been around for over ten years. How can I best mark this milestone?

If only there was a way to read the site’s best articles without digging through page after page of archived material.

If only I could get all the best posts in one convenient, elegant, snazzy book.

If only someone would provide a quick link to that book, which is guaranteed to be a best seller.

Well, guess what?

There is. 

You can. 

And I have.

Yes, I’m happy to announce that my latest book is now available at Amazon and other retailers. The Hispanic Fanatic: A Decade of Rants, Raves, and Uncomfortable Truthsis a collection of articles that I’ve written over the last 10 years for my site, the Huffington Post, Enclave,and other outlets. Plus, there’s some new content in there too. 

I painstakingly culled about 70 percent of this posts that I have written over the years, to come up with the top 30 percent or so of what I’ve written, and the result is this book. Along the way, I killed dozens of darlings and rediscovered some articles that look positively prescient now. 

It’s a little odd reliving 10 years of your thoughts, feelings, opinions, and experiences. But hey, it’s been a decade in the making.

You can pick up a copy in paperback or on Kindle.

And just in time for Christmas.


The Fanatic Speaks! (Yet Again)

One of the great things about being a writer is meeting your fellow scribes.

Of course, one of the bad things about being a writer is the unending quest to express your thoughts in an even semi-competent manner… and the soul-crushing drive to hit that daily word count… and the creeping feeling that we are just yelling into a void… and the futile endeavor to preserve some tiny memento of our fleeting existence… plus carpel tunnel syndrome.

OK, I guess that is actually several things. But I digress.

In any case, recently, I met up with my friend and fellow writer Hector Luis Alamo, and microphones happened to be present. 

Yes, we taped an episode of his new podcast Remember the Show, in which Hector interviews writers, politicians, US Marines, stockbrokers, and well, just about anyone he finds interesting.

Somehow, I made the cut, and we talked about — among other topics — novels, Hollywood, Trump, and whether it was more likely that angels or aliens exist (come on, it’s aliens).

In any case, you can listen to our conversation here.

And be sure to subscribe to Hector’s podcast and rate his show. Thanks.


The Wave

It took a while, but it has now become clear that the Democrats had a pretty good midterm election.

They took the House, snagged a few governors’ mansions, and made enormous inroads into red states. In essence, if this was a referendum on Trump, it is clear that most of the country is saying, “You suck, Mr. President.”

Of course, one reason for this welcome development is that Latinos — finally and at long last — expressed their anger at the Republican Party the only way that really counts: by voting.

Yes, voting info from several areas with high Latino populations “indicate record participation compared to previous elections, with hopes of building on that success in 2020.” 

Furthermore, early indications are that Hispanic voters came out in historic numbers, and… this made a difference for Democratic candidates.” In addition, “voting data showed tremendous energy among Latino voters; there was an estimated 174 percent increase in Hispanic early voting.” 

And if you require more proof that Hispanics were fired up for the midterms, consider that “polling showed that Latino interest in this midterm election matched Presidential year election levels.”

Now, keep in mind that “a large majority of Latinos disapprove of the way President Donald Trump is handling his job, far more than the general public.” In fact, just 22 percent of Latinos approve of the small-fingered commander in chief, compared with his overall approval rating of 38 percent with the general public.

With numbers like that, it shouldn’t be surprising that many experts say Latino voters, especially young ones, are a key reason that Democrats did so well.

Wow, it’s almost as if Republicans were unwise to have the standard-bearer for their party lacerate, insult, and demean an entire ethnic group — repeatedly — and then expect that group to vote for you. 

I mean, who knew?

Another aspect of increased Latino turnout is increased Hispanic representation. In fact, “the new Congress will have a record number of Latino members.”

Of course, it’s worth noting that for Hispanic representation in Congress to truly be proportional, the number of representatives would have to double, and the number of senators would have to quadruple.

So clearly, there is still work to be done.



Good news — the most dangerous hostile force that America ever faced has now been defeated.

That’s right. The infamous immigrant caravan — a bigger threat than the Nazis, the Communists, and Al Qaeda put together — has been destroyed.

I know this is true because the Fox & Friendsmorning show “used the word ‘caravan’ an average 21 times per episode in the six days prior” to the midterms. Yet that same show “only mentioned the topic once on the day after the election.” 

The only logical conclusion is that the immigrant caravan has been turned back… or destroyed… or vanished into thin air — who knows?

The important thing is that we are safe. After all, we’re talking about an invading army here.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: How could a group of impoverished people on foot, presumably unarmed, with absolutely no element of surprise, be a threat to the most powerful nation on Earth, which has built the largest military force in the history of the galaxy? And did we mention that a huge portion of the caravan consists of malnourished children? It’s not exactly an elite killing force that we’re talking about. 

Well, that doesn’t matter. Because in the weeks leading to the midterms, many conservatives insisted that these immigrants were a Soros-funded plot to sway the midterms… although it has never been explained exactly how a group of refugees slowly walking toward the border could be remotely beneficial to the Democrats. If anything, the whole story has been a blessing for the Republican Party, which was briefly able to recapture that old xenophobic spirit of 2016 again.

In any case, these refugees — who apparently are going to reintroduce polio while providing cover for Isis agents — have so alarmed our nation’s right-wing overlords that they are spending taxpayer money to send U.S. troops to guard against bedraggled people fleeing for their lives from drug cartels. So we may soon have “up to 15,000 members of the world’s greatest fighting force, sitting in the desert, watching for poor refugees approaching on foot.”

But you see, it has to be this way. Trump supporters have to believe that the immigrant caravan is an invading army. That’s the only way to justify using military force to threaten people who are following U.S. and international law regarding asylum. Otherwise, these right-wingers might be the kind of people who advocate gunning down thousands of unarmed refugees, including children. 

And that might make it difficult to sleep at night.

Fortunately for Trumpists, they already have a unique worldview that allows them to believe all kinds of factually inaccurate, conspiratorial, logic-defying propositions, including the following: 

“The MAGA bombs were fake (they weren’t). There’s going to be a middle-class tax cut by the end of the year (there isn’t). US steel has opened seven new plants in the US (it hasn’t). The trade tariffs are working (they aren’t). The US is the only country with birthright citizenship (it isn’t).”

To be honest, it must be exhausting to come up with preposterous scenario after preposterous scenario, all designed to reinforce the delusion that Trump knows what he is doing, liberals hate America, scientists are making everything up, and that there is nothing racial about locking Latino kids in cages

Yes, I have to admit that up until now, I have been empathizing with my fellow progressives, who are weary from the almost daily outrages that cascade from the White House. 

But Trump supporters must be even more fatigued, coming up strained explanations, convoluted theories, and secret coded messages that, in the end, add up to no wall on the Mexican border, no locked-up Hillary, and no decrease in the number of pesky minorities in America.

Really, it’s got to be fucking exhausting.