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One failure of Hispanic Heritage Month

LatinaLista — Another Hispanic Heritage Month has come and gone. There were the usual fiestas and celebrations packed into the last 30 days with enough emphasis on promoting worthy role models that it could be considered a big success.
Yet, while it’s great to celebrate the heritage, given that the spotlight is squarely focused on the Latino community, it was also a perfect opportunity to shed light on something that needs to be talked about and addressed and is hardly ever give the proper attention — the lack of Latino diversity — in management at companies, among academicians at universities, court justices in the judicial system, the U.S. Senate…and the list goes on.
So, on this last day of Hispanic Heritage Month, let’s focus on this issue.
The lack of Latino diversity never grabs people’s attention until somebody breaks it down:
Topeka, Kansas:

The League of Women Voters is launching a two-year, statewide campaign on the importance of diversity to ensure fair and impartial courts. They’re calling it “Safeguarding U.S. Democracy: Quest for a More Diverse Judiciary.”
“As of June 2009, 46 out of 265 judges in the state of Kansas were women, and women represented only 16 out of 166 judges at the District Court level,” said National League President Mary G. Wilson. “Additionally, there are four African-American, four Latino, one Asian, and no Native-American judges out of 265 throughout the state. We can do better.”
Wilson says a lack a diversity in the judiciary can cause people to lose confidence in the system. She says it can lead to a perception that the courts are not as fair and impartial as they could be. 

Washington, D.C.

“Latino Americans may be the nation’s fastest-growing minority group, but they’re also the most underrepresented among civilian federal employees.As of last September, Hispanics accounted for about 8 percent of the total civilian federal workforce, according to the Office of Personnel Management. That’s well below the 13.2 percent of Hispanics in the national civilian labor force, according to Labor Department statistics.”
More: “Of the 25 largest government agencies, 17 saw modest increases in Hispanic hires in fiscal year 2008 over fiscal 2007, with most being made at the lower- and mid-level general schedule levels. At higher levels of government, Hispanics accounted for 3.6 percent of the Senior Executive Service during fiscal year 2008, according to OPM figures. 

California State University Long Beach

While the pool of “qualified” Latinos is relatively small, we had two highly qualified and highly ranked Latino candidates for the deanship of Health and Human Services, and for the associate vice president for academic personnel positions, although neither was offered the position.
Only two Latinos chair academic departments university-wide, one being the Department of Chicano and Latino Studies that has the same number of full-time faculty as it had when established 40 years ago.
Only one Latino is a college dean and not one is an associate dean — a critical point as chairs and associate deans are the pipeline to develop competitive candidates for executive management positions.
There are no Latinos currently on the Academic Senate Executive Committee, nor as a chair of any Academic Senate committee or council.
No Latinos were appointed to serve on leadership teams for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation visit in spring 2009 and, in fact, there were no Latinos on any of the WASC committees — a key factor as the WASC evaluation commended CSULB’s stated commitment to diversity, but noted the lack of a strategic plan and vision for making that value a reality.


Foundations are failing to recruit diverse board leadership, with Hispanics being the most under represented compared to their growing number in American society, according to a new report.
The report, by the Greenlining Institute, a public-policy advocacy group in Berkeley, Calif., that has pushed foundations to give more to minority causes, said a quarter of the board members at the 46 wealthiest foundations in America are Hispanic, black, or Asian. Thirteen of the grant makers — 28 percent — had no board members from the three racial and ethnic populations.
The percentages of people on foundation boards who are black or Asian are roughly equal to their part of the American population — roughly 12 and 4 percent, respectively.
But Greenlining said Hispanics, which are the fastest-growing minority group in the country, represent 15 percent of the population, but only 8 percent of the 46 organizations’ board members. More than half the foundations examined do not have one Hispanic board member, it added. 

While it’s reported that the Obama Administration has made more Latino appointments among its staff and Cabinet than previous administrations, the same, unfortunately, can’t be said about Congress.
Washington, D.C.

Congressional staffs are so overwhelmingly white that Capitol Hill needs its own version of the NFL rule requiring teams hiring a head coach to interview at least one person of color, critics tell the Hill. Frustrated staffers, lobbyists, and aides point out that even though more minorities are being elected, just two Senate chiefs of staff aren’t white. “Given such poor numbers, let’s just acknowledge that there is something broken about this process,” said one lobbyist.
“I don’t think people are out-and-out prejudiced, but there’s a lack of effort,” said Robert Primus, one of only five black House chiefs of staff with white bosses. Something like the Rooney Rule, which forces NFL teams to interview black coaching candidates, might help. Harry Reid has created a diversity officer to help Democratic senators hire minorities, but the House hasn’t followed suit. 

Diversity is important but, obviously, half the battle is convincing those who hire or appoint that diversity is a necessity in this day and age in this country.

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  • cookie
    October 15, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Well that does it! The majority white population in this country has got to go. By the way, when is there going to be a “White Heritage Month”?

  • Jose
    October 17, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Diversity is divisive according to this article, and I agree with him.
    Diversity Is Strength! It’s Also…A Blind Eye To Mayhem At An “Asian-Interest” Fraternity
    By Joe Guzzardi
    Looking back at my twenty plus years as an educator at the Lodi Unified School District, I’m still disbelieving that California school administrators don’t see the glaring inconsistency in their diversity-crazed approach to campus life.
    On the one hand, starting in pre-school, every teacher, student, administrator, custodian and cafeteria cook is encouraged to embrace diversity.
    Teacher evaluations include being rated on how inclusive their bulletin boards are. They mustn’t forget to post a tribute to everyone, preferably at whatever season that nationality celebrates it heritage—Cinco de Mayo, Chinese and Vietnamese New Years, Eid or Kwanzaa.
    Then, when the students start high school, the formal push to celebrate diversity continues. But, paradoxically, administrators encourage membership in separatist clubs formed to promote individual cultures including Mexican, African-American and various Asian ethnicities. [ note: Whites need not apply: it made nationwide headlines in 2003 when one student wanted to start a Caucasian Club—a fifteen year old girl who had to leave school because of the resulting harassment.]
    Logically, if California schools were truly concerned about diversity, there would be no such thing as MeCHA or special Latino graduations that narrowly focus on specific demographic groups.
    Administrators would disband the organizations, cancel the events and insist that students participate more broadly in the school’s wider ranging, all encompassing programs.
    Really, how can schools justify promoting diversity at every turn yet at the same time tolerate ethnic separatism?
    But sadly, they don’t have any problem doing it.
    As high school teenagers mature into young college adults, many of them have been taught from their mentors and peers that their nationality is inherently superior to others.
    Years of ethnic indoctrination during their formative period when minds are pliable often leads to trouble, sometimes involving capital crimes.
    Last month, two UCLA students from Orange County were arrested on suspicion of trying to stab two fellow students to death at an off-campus fraternity party hosted by Lambda Phi Epsilon.
    Taken into custody on suspicion of attempted murder were UCLA undergraduates Isaiah Hee Cho, 19, of Westminster and Chris Yi, 19, of Huntington Beach.
    Another UCLA student Justin Kim, 19, of La Crescenta was also arrested on suspicion of being an accessory to attempted murder.
    According to UCLA spokesman Phil Hampton, campus police arrested four other men: Federico Fernandez, 22, Phi Quoc Le, 20, both from Huntington Beach, Don Thammavongsa, 19, of Westminster and Dan Su Pham, 19, of Covina.
    They have been arraigned on charges of attempted murder and aggravated mayhem. All four were held at the Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles in lieu of $2 million bail each. [OC Men Arrested on Suspicion of Stabbings At UCLA Frat Party, by Kimberly Edds, Orange County Register, October 1, 2009]
    Here’s the conclusion I came to when I read this unhappy story:
    Since the attempted murder involves Koreans, Vietnamese, Cambodians and Mexicans the suspects, despite years of encouragement from their primary and high school teachers, do not embrace diversity.
    Because of their given first names and ages, Cho, Yi and Kim are almost certainly American-born. And as students at the super-competitive UCLA, they must have graduated at the top of their high school classes and scored high on their SATs.
    While this would give ample reason to hope that the men would make better choices, their backgrounds also include heavy doses of anti-assimilation propaganda that they learned not only in school but also in their ethnic enclaves.
    The cities the suspects live in are heavily populated by Asians: Westminster, 43 percent; Covina, 24 percent and La Crescenta, 18 percent.
    Most significant, however, is where the attempted murder occurred.
    Founded at UCLA in 1981, Lambda Phi Epsilon describes itself as the “first and only Asian-interest” fraternity. But that “Asian-interest” seems to include several incidents of criminal behavior.
    To begin with, before the latest series of arrests, the UCLA Lambda Phi Epsilon chapter had previously been suspended for fighting.
    And nationally, the fraternity has a long history of trouble with the law:
    In 2001 at UC Riverside, a raid on the fraternity house discovered large quantities of illegal drugs including ecstasy, ketamine, valium, somacin and LSD.
    In 2003 at San Jose State, Alam Kim was killed when he was stabbed in the heart by Long Duy Tram.
    In 2005, the UC Irvine chapter was officially suspended as a result of an open investigation surrounding the death of a Cal Poly Pomona pledge.
    (Pledges attempting to establish a Lambda Phi Epsilon chapter at Cal Poly were participating in a football game against active UCI members when Kenny Luong incurred injuries that ultimately proved fatal. A witness described Luong as “significantly smaller and less physically fit than the bigger, more numerous UCI Lambdas. Players wore no helmets or pads, and were allowed access to water only at halftime.”)
    In December 2005 at the University of Texas, Phanta Phoummarath, a new Lambda Phi Epsilon member, died because of alcohol poisoning.
    One year after Phoummarath’s death a Travis County Grand Jury charged former President Benny Chan and former Pledge Captain Andrew Nguyen each with seven counts of furnishing alcohol to minors, as well as 22 and 14 counts of hazing respectively.
    Kamal Pulukari, another perpetrator, was charged with 14 counts of hazing and the fraternity with five counts of the same crime.
    On September 23, 2008, Northwestern University announced that Lambda Phi Epsilon’s chapter would be suspended for five years for breaking four university rules: “hazing, a rule prohibiting violence or threatening the safety of any person, restrictions on recruitment and failure to cooperate with the investigation and student conduct hearings.”
    In May 2009, seven Lambda Phi Epsilon members were charged with hazing and felony second-degree assault when three victims were found unconscious in a nearby home and were treated for dehydration, alcohol poisoning, blood in urine as well as severe pain, swelling and bruising to buttocks.
    Maybe, in the interests of public safety, all the Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity houses should be closed!
    Like every other university, of course, UCLA prides itself on its diversity.
    In fact, it has a special website dedicated to diversity, on which Chancellor Gene D. Block proclaims it is “…a core value at UCLA” that provides for “…the kind of broad, enriching educational experience for which the university has long been known.”
    As you would guess, the website has several touching stories about diverse students’ achievements.
    But, as you also could predict, the site doesn’t mention Cho, Yi or Kim even though their arrests were major stories in the Southern California press and broadcast widely on local television and radio stations.
    Even though diversity’s proponents are loathe to do it, eventually they must come face to face with its drawbacks.
    The question that I’d pose to Chancellor Block: is capital crime is a UCLA “core value”?
    Anticipating Block’s “no” answer, then I would recommend that in light of the recent campus arrests on murder charges of several of his diverse charges, that the university rethink its ultra-liberal multicultural policy.
    A university’s purpose is not to perpetuate myths about huge social challenges like diversity—but rather to tell the whole truth, the good with the bad, and let students figure it out for themselves.
    Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.

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