Lessons for my daughter

I know it has been a bit since I’ve posted anything.  I have to try and get better at this and not let life get in the way.  That being said, I just read this blog post yesterday, Lindsey Mead Russell: 10 Things I Want My Daughter To Know Before She Turns 10, and it struck a chord with me especially since I have a 10 month old daughter.  I certainly agree with most of it (not sure about how #10 starts out) but as the mother of a Latina/SalvaRican baby, I think I need to add a few more.  Here are my additions to Russell’s list.

11.  Be proud of how you are and where you come from. Your maternal great-grandfather was a migrant farm worker from Puerto Rico (yes those do exist).  Your paternal parents came to this country from El Salvador without papers to give your dad the best shot at making it.  Be proud of that.  Do not let anyone tell you that you are less American because your family didn’t get here on the Mayflower.

12. Believe in your intelligence and don’t be afraid to show it.  Beauty fades much earlier than brain function.  While it is important to take care of your outside, take care of your inside and let others see that you do.  Read a lot.  Learn a lot.  And paraphrasing my friend’s favorite movie quote, don’t ever let anyone put Baby in a corner.

13.  Learn Spanish (and maybe even a third language).  Communicating with others is essential in this world.  It is especially important to communicate with your family.  I want you to be able to talk to your great grandma and grandparents in their language.  Sounds silly but you will appreciate it later on.

I’m sure I’ll add more to this list but if you have any that you want to share, please post in the comments section.



Health care as a basic human right

As I was thinking about which issue to write about first in this little series I’m attempting, I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed choosing which one to start with.  Well my daughter reminded me which I should choose: health care.  On Tuesday I got an email from my daughter’s day care saying she had vomited and wasn’t eating much.  Immediately, I left my office to go pick her up because all I could think was “here we go again.”  You see, my daughter has had a rough couple of months.  At the end of January she got a stomach virus, followed by pneumonia, followed by a second bout of pneumonia and an ear infection a month later.  Poor thing!  But then I remembered things were going to be ok.

My daughter is lucky.  She has health insurance.  Once I picked her up, I called a nurse who calmly talked me through what to do over the next 24 hours to make sure she stayed hydrated and got better.  Well it’s Thursday and she is getting better.  Turns out, she has three teeth coming in at the same time.  They seem to be doing a number on her.

Unfortunately, other parents don’t have the piece of mind I do.  There are many children who don’t have health insurance either because their parents work and can’t afford it or their job doesn’t offer it or because their parents are unemployed or because many states make it difficult to enroll or rather, stay enrolled, in Medicaid or their Child Health Insurance Program.  Their parents can’t call the doctor when their children are sick.  Instead, they ride their children’s illness out on their own until things get so bad they go to the ER.

I could put the stats out there about how important it is for children to have a regular source of care but the reality is when children don’t have regular access to health care, they suffer.  They are risk for little things like ear infections becoming bigger problems.  When they are sick, they can’t learn.  When they can’t learn, they can’t do well in school and that means they can’t provide for themselves when they get older.  You see, as much as we don’t treat health care as a basic human right, it certainly should be.  Today, I’m thankful that my husband and I are able to do that for our daughter.  I want the same for all children.

Celebrating and Protecting Children!

Today is El Día de los Niños.  Many outside of the Latino community might not know about this day but it has been celebrated in Mexico, among other Latin American countries, since the 1920s.   El Día de los Niños was first celebrated in the United States in 1997 (A short history of the U.S. history of the day can be found here).  While not an official holiday, Latino communities across the nation celebrate the day at community events and by taking the time to spend it with their children.  Since it is about celebrating children, I think it is a perfect time to reflect on the state of children in our country. 

Policymakers have made great strides in protecting children over the last century.  From outlawing (most) child labor and instituting compulsory education, the condition of children has measurably improved.  However, the reality that many of our nation’s children confront is frightening.  In honor of El Día de los Niños, I’ll explore some of the issues (poverty, education, health, etc.) that face our most vulnerable children.  At a minimum, I hope these posts will serve as reminders that there is much work to be done to protect our country’s most precious resource.  My greatest hope is that they’ll serve as a call to action to address the issue you find most dear to your heart.

Do you carry your papers?

I certainly don’t and neither does Angel Rodriguez, the Kansas State guard who was heckled by band members from the University of Southern Mississippi with chants of “where’s your green card?” during the NCAA tournament last month.  But if the state of Arizona has its way, many of us will have to carry them and be able to show “proof” of being in this country legally.  Although some argue that Arizona’s SB 1070 isn’t a big deal if you are here legally, they are wrong.

Passing laws that single out one group of people amounts to that group being viewed as suspect just by the virtue of how they look, their accent, their last name, or their perceived ancestry.  We wouldn’t accept that if it was based on religion so why it is ok to accept this because it is being done to Latinos.  While those in favor of the law state it will apply to everyone, logistically common sense dictates that won’t be the case.

I mean, imagine Arizona police having to ask everyone they come into contact if they have their papers and then arresting them if they can’t show them.  Local law enforcement wouldn’t have the capacity to house everyone who doesn’t walk around with their birth certificate.  They will have to make choices about how they will enforce the law and the dirty little secret is that only those who don’t pass an officer’s “look test” will be asked to prove they are citizens.  Being judged by how you look isn’t right and it certainly doesn’t represent the America I was raised in.

As the U.S. Supreme Court begins to hear oral arguments today about SB 1070, I hope they see the inherent foolishness of the law and declare it unconstitutional so I don’t have to worry about carrying my papers.

Let them eat…NOTHING?

In case you hadn’t heard, the recession is over.  It’s been over since June 2009, according to the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research.  While the recession has ended, the devastation it left behind is still being felt.  A record number of Americans are living in poverty and in need of a strong government safety net.  Yet for the House of Representatives Agriculture and Ways and Means Committees it was more important to protect millionaires and unnecessary defense spending instead of vulnerable children and families who continue to struggle to make ends meet.

Yesterday, the Republican-controlled Agriculture Committee approved $33 billion worth of cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or what most of us refer to as food stamps.  The Food Research and Action Council predicts that the cuts will push up to 3 million people off of the program, nearly half of which will be children.  The Ways and Means Committee approved a measure that would require Social Security numbers for taxpayers claiming the Child Tax Credit.  The Center for American Progress reports that families, who earn an average of $21,000 a year, will lose an average of $1,800.  This change will affect over five million children, four million of whom are Latino.

It is highly unlikely that these cuts will ever happen given that once these bills make it out of the House, they won’t make it past the Democrat-controlled Senate and onto the President’s desk.  Nonetheless, the Committees votes are telling as it gives us a glimpse into the priorities of the Republicans in the House of Representatives.  Basically, they are saying that children do not matter.

So I ask you, do children matter to you?  They certainly matter to me.  I will call my Congresswoman and ask her to take a stand for children by rejecting these dangerous and misguided proposals when they come to a floor vote.  Join me and do the same.  Let’s show Congress we are keeping an eye on how they treat America’s children.

What do your taxes support? Our future!

(This post originally appeared on the blog of the National Council of La Raza.)

Happy Tax Day! According to the Tax Foundation, you have had to work until today, April 17, 2012, to earn enough to pay your tax obligation to the federal government for 2011. Not excited about Tax Day? Most other Americans probably aren’t either. With all due respect, I say, “so what?” Don’t get me wrong. Like most people, I do not want to pay more than my fair share of taxes, but something happened to me last year that drove home the impact of my tax dollars: in July 2011, I became a mami.

I was not an anti-tax zealot prior to becoming a mami, but I have sometimes questioned why the government needs so much of my money. Once my daughter was born, however, I stopped complaining about paying taxes and recognized the necessity of a well-funded government that meets the basic needs of its citizens. I now see things differently, and I’ve started to tie my daughter’s future to that of the more than 74 million other children in this country. What I want for my daughter is no different than what other parents want for their children: to be able to provide our kids the best education, health care, and childhood possible.

Yet the reality is that there are limits to what I and other parents can provide. I try to be the best mom I can, but I am not a trained teacher so I need there to be good schools. I am not a transportation laborer so I need these workers to ensure that my community’s roads are safe for me and my daughter to travel on. I am not a doctor so I need access to quality health care, no matter my work situation. The last nine months have shown me that even great parents can’t do everything and that our government plays a huge role in providing all children with their best possible shot at success.

Luckily, others also realized this when I was younger. If they had not, I would not have been the first in my family to graduate from college because I had access to Head Start, excellent public schools, the Pell and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, and Community Health Centers. Today, all of these programs are under attack by legislators whose chief concerns are cutting taxes and reducing spending instead of investing in our nation’s future. The American Dream is being stripped away from our children, especially low-income, Black and Hispanic children, leaving them ill prepared to compete in our global economy.

Your future—our future—is inextricably tied to how those in Washington treat our children, particularly Latinos. Some under the Capitol dome and on the airwaves would have you believe that Latino children are not important to the future of our country, but this could not be further from the truth. Here’s why:

  • More than 92% of Hispanic children are U.S. citizens, as is the majority of their parents.
  • Almost 25% of all children in the U.S. are Latino.
  • Latino children represent more than 22% of all public school students.
  • In 2050, 30% of the country’s workforce will be Hispanic.

Latino children matter because they are our future workers and taxpayers, and their taxes will buoy the increasingly graying U.S. population. However, their ability to support our future is hampered by the barriers that hinder them from reaching their potential. Overcoming these barriers requires investment in programs that help our nation’s children, not a divestment of our country’s resources.

We must invest in today’s children—our future—particularly those who are most at risk. If we do not, we are eating our proverbial seed corn. I am not willing to do that, for my sake or my daughter’s.


¡Bienvenidos!   Welcome to the launch of my new blog.  My name is Liany Elba Arroyo and I am the Political Mamí.  Through this blog, I will share my thoughts about what is happening in our country and the world using my perspective as a Latina and as a mamí.  I am hoping that Political Mamí will be a space where other mamís can feel free to share their thoughts about what is happening in our nation and ideally become a voice for our niños and niñas.