Suffolk County: Latinos Go Home!

Long Island (NY) Latino and immigrant rights advocates have been battling County Executive Steve Levy and his allies on the Suffolk County Legislature as they push an endless stream of legislation to designed to rid the county of its Latino Day Laborers--some portion of which are undocumented.

The pols' staunchest support comes from a few unions concerned with labor competition, and a dozen or so rabidly anti-Latino residents.

(BTW: Suffolk County has some 200,000 Latino residents.)

While Levy and legislators are careful to preface their comments in favor of anti-Day Laborer legislation by insisting the intent is not anti-Latino/anti-immigrant, nativist residents at public hearings feel no need to be politically correct. It's clear that these people are animated by deep hostility towards the newcomers from South of the Border--illegal or not. To these bigots, Latinos are foreigners, interlopers, and we're trespassing on their Long Island.

The weapon of choice for the racists is the blunt force of government sanctions against Latinos--especially those most visible and vulnerable: the day laborers.

The toxic environment fomented by the nativists and their legislative partners is deeply disturbing to area Latino, immigrant and progressive communities. The fear is that racists thugs--emboldened by an acquiescent political establishment--will escalate from rhetoric to violence.

Already there has been a rash of anti-immigrant and anti-Latino crimes. For example, this spring a motorist jumped the curb and plowed into a group of day laborers and then fled. Clearly, a hate crime -- although the county police dismissed it as an accident. Immigrant women have been targeted for sexual assaults. Day laborers are repeatedly taunted, spat upon, beaten and robbed.

And a week or so ago, racists spray painted their ugly demands on a wall in Bayshore. The message was hateful and despicable, but the response of the authorities was equally disturbing. The local newspaper reported that they authorities were unsure if the perpetrators were racially motivated. I kid you not!

To his credit, Steve Levy immediately condemned the racist act. Actually, he was on the scene before anyone else. (Hmmm)

Then again, maybe Levy is beginning to understand that the political dead end that is nativism. There can't be much opportunity for a nativist Dem pol in a very Dem state, right? If he is starting to 'get it', may be he will also 'get it' that his obession with defeating Suffolk County's sole Latino state representative and immigrant advocate -- Assemblyman Phil Ramos--is also dead wrong.


Anna Maria Arias '08 Awards for Latina Entrepreneurs

Jennifer Roder, Founder and CEO of Package Express Inc., Deer Park, Long Island received the prestigious Anna Maria Arias Memorial Business Fund Award in 2007. Ms. Roder was one of ten accomplished Latinas from across the United States to be so honored.

The awards are the brainchild of Anna Maria Arias, the late founder and editor of LATINA Style Magazine, in order to recognize and further excellence in Latina entrepreneurial and civic leadership.

This year's search is underway -- and the deadline for self-nominations is August 8, 2008. Click here for an application.

BTW: Ms. Roder is first on the 2nd row.


Southampton Targets Diner's 'Hispanic Night'

Frank and Maria Vlahadamis of a Hamptons Bay Diner have filed a $55 million federal lawsuit against the Town of Southampton and its police department, alleging they tried to stop the restaurant from holding Hispanic Nights.

When they found out about Hispanic Night, town officials sought to "prevent the plaintiffs from continuing to draw Hispanics into their restaurant, and punish them for doing so in the first instance," the suit said.
Juan Crow in Southampton? Did the Town act in violation of the rights of the restaurant owners and their Latino patrons? A federal court will now decide -- and that's a good thing!

BTW: The Hampton Bays Diner has a terrific Spanish Menu. Spread the word!

Link: Diner owners: Southampton targeted 'Hispanic Night'

Juan Crow


Mexican Film Festival

The First Annual Hola Mexico Film Festival runs July 23-27 at the QUAD Cinema in Greenwich Village (34 West 13th Street, New York, NY).

A terrific venue, interesting films and fun fiestas will no doubt make this festival a major cinematic, social and cultural event.

The Films


Malos Hábitos

Bajo Juárez

Fuera del cielo

Nacido sin

Quemar las naves

Llamando a un Ángel

Niñas mal

Mejor es que Gabriela no se muera

La Zona

Stellet Licht

Familia tortuga


Napolean Barragan's Advice for Thriving In a Down Economy

HispanicBusiness.com asked 5 top Latino CEOs for their advice for thriving during a cold economy. Here's what Long Island City's Napolean Barragan, CEO, 1-800-MATTRESS, had to share:

Just because the economy is in a lull, doesn't mean one of the world's leading mattress companies is taking a rest.

Napolean Barragan, who founded 1-800-MATTRESS in 1976 as a direct marketing mattress store in Queens, New York, now has a simple strategy to keep his international business strong in the current economic climate – refocus on customer service.

That means encouraging customers to take 30-minute naps in their retail stores, so potential buyers actually fall asleep and get a true feel for the mattress they are considering purchasing.

"We are constantly introducing new ways to more efficiently present the customer with all they need to make the proper buying decision," Barragan said in an e-mail.

In the often less personal world of online sales, 1-800-MATTRESS is adding a personal touch by connecting customers with live online customer service agents.

The company has shifted its delivery hours too, taking cues from their customers.

"Most people really dislike deliveries coming between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.," Barragan said, "so we deliver when the customer wants it."


Antonio Martinez: 1st Latino on Babylon Town Board

Antonio Martinez was picked by Supervisor Steve Ballone to fill a vacancy on the Babylon Town Board. An immigrant from El Salvador and Long Island organizer for the carpenters union, Martinez is the town board's first Latino member.

Official Bio


OLA's Children's Art Project Features Hector de Cordova

Through the generosity of the town of Southampton, OLA of Eastern Long Island, a Latino advocacy group, has received a grant once again for the Children’s Art Project.

The purpose of the painting workshops is to bring children of different racial and ethnic backgrounds together in order to foster greater understanding and mutual respect for each other.

Established artist, Hector de Cordova will work with youths, ages 8 to 12 from diverse cultural backgrounds to participate in this intensive painting instruction to be held at the Veteran’s Hall in Southampton.

The project will culminate in three exhibits of the children’s work; at Veteran’s Hall and Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton and at Floyd Memorial Library in Greenport.

The Children’s Art Project is currently looking for children who can fit the profile of the workshop.

The classes will be held at the Veteran’s Hall in Southampton beginning on Monday July 21 through Friday July 25. Classes will be from 10am to one pm each day. Classes are free and enrollment is limited.

Please contact the deCordova Gallery at 631-477-0620 or e mail at decordovastudio@optonline.net.