How About That?

If you’re anything like me (and let’s face it, who isn’t?), then you are starved for the tiniest semblance of good news from the White House of Horrors.

Well, in what can only be called a Christmas miracle, or just a fluke happenstance that statistically was bound to happen, we have our first significant positive political development in the two years since Trump began wrenching America from its moral moorings and started flaying the Constitution.

Yes, it looks like criminal justice reform is finally coming, not because Trump endorsed it or even understands it, but because for once he got out of the way of social progress and decided to not do the worst possible thing just because he could.

The legislation was championed by an oddball mix of social justice warriors, surly libertarians, religious types on both the right and left, and basically anyone who believes pot dealers shouldn’t get longer prison terms than rapists.

Of course, the impact of this on ethnic minorities cannot be overemphasized. After all, it is primarily Latinos and African Americans who have been the victims of the misbegotten war on drugs and idiotic mandatory-minimum-sentencing laws. And all it took was a couple of decades of ruined lives, destroyed communities, and gruesome injustices to convince America to be a little more civilized and get in line with just about every other industrialized nation in the world.

Hey, forgive us — sometimes we’re not the brightest. 

In any case, I am happy to report this sliver of good news at this most joyous time of the year.

So never let it be said that I am just a seething cauldron of cynicism, misanthropy, and bitter rage who focuses all his energy on the dark devastation that has befallen America.

Well, at least that’s not me all of the time, and that’s something.

Oh, in other news, the president’s moronic idea of building a wall on the Mexican border appears to finally be dead, dead, dead.

Merry Christmas.


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.