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I Won't Dance

March 06, 1994

In response to Ruben Martinez's "The Dance of Nuevo L.A." (Jan. 30), I'd like to add the viewpoint of minority people who, having been brought up traditionally "American," have been made to feel inferior or ashamed because we don't relate culturally to the newly arrived or first-generation minorities. Thus, getting the short end of both sticks, we seem not to fit in anywhere.

I don't think that my being a Latina requires that I learn the quebradita. And I don't think that because I am fluent in Spanish I should speak English with an accent. (I don't.)

I'm proud to be a Latina, and I learn all I can about my heritage. But I'm also proud to be American, and I attend a local university where I hope to learn enough to succeed in the professional world and achieve the American dream.

SANDRA CANCHOLA

LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY

Westchester

Reading Martinez's article on the nuevo L.A. reminded me once again of how I must come to terms with my mixed emotions and feelings of uneasiness. You see, I don't dance la quebradita. I am a fourth-generation Mexican American on my father's side and sixth-generation on my mother's. Like the Anglo, I grit my teeth when I see the street vendors and laborers. I feel guilty at my reluctance to accept the new face of Southern California. I must not deny the new immigrants a chance of a better life, like the life my family was permitted to find more than 100 years ago in Texas. So today I (hesitatingly) extend my hand and simply say: "Bienvenidos, hermanos y hermanas. Bienvenidos."

DANIEL RODRIGUEZ

Rancho Cucamonga

After he completes his quebradita, perhaps Martinez will be forthcoming enough to tell us when Los Angeles will become another Tijuana and Southern California a de facto part of Norte Mexico. Despite the in-and-out dance moves of his article, the intended result of Latino immigration activism is obvious.

A. DANIEL ELIASON

Santa Barbara

Though elegantly crafted, Martinez's article was far too subtle and precious an account of cultural transformation and immigration politics. Indeed, even when the "guerrilla" in Martinez "explodes," it is to answer a question as he should have--neither as he did nor perhaps as he would dare, in a direct fashion. Subtlety can be a useful tool for persuasion, but it can also result in misinterpretation and misrepresentation. The realities of cultural transformation and immigration politics are too important to remain camouflaged behind the symbolism of quebradita.

MARC P. PETRACCA

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICS

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE

I appreciate L.A.'s rich ethnic diversity, and my life is much richer because of it. Yet I am alarmed at the effect recent immigration has had on our city, which is sinking like an overcrowded life raft under the weight of hordes of poorly educated, underskilled refugees, all seeking a better and easier life in America. Every day I see thousands of men on street corners, desperately seeking day labor. I fear that because they will work for lower wages they will put out of work a large segment of resident tradesmen and laborers, taxpaying U.S. citizens who are homeless or on the verge of being so. It will be interesting to see which ethnic group can devise some solutions to L.A.'s problems without adding to them. Somehow, I don't think more street vendors are going to help.

SCOTT WINNER

Malibu

Escucho Radio LAX para aprender Espanol. No tengo mucho Espanol, pero me gusta la musica mas y mas.

Being homesick for Houston, I started listening to quebradita because it reminded me so much of Tex-Mex music. Learning Spanish from the radio was an afterthought. I'm no sociologist, but your concept of musica de bandas as a force to bridge the race gap just may hold up. Anyway, it works for me.

JENIFER PALMER-LACY

Los Angeles

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