Your search for "vamos" resulted in 12 hits.

Monday July 24, 2006

Hey kids, the Vamos a Miami writing contest. “Prose style must be naive, as if written for some young, impressionable pansy, but the underlying satire must be saw-toothed, with cojones.” Ha! Steve might have a head start.


Friday July 7, 2006

Steve does Vamos a Miami.


Wednesday July 26, 2006

Conductor has some thoughts on the Vamos decision. “For better or for worse the Miami-Dade School Board voted to remove Vamos a Cuba from school libraries. While I personally disagree with the decision, I believe the board was well within its rights to do so. [ . . . ] So now a judge has arbitrarily ruled that the book be put back into circulation and I have a big problem with that strictly from a separation of powers standpoint. As usual the courts are overstepping their bounds and making public policy.” It’s a point, although I question the aptness of the word “arbitrarily.” I think the courts’ intervention on matters like desegregation and censorship is a good thing. And Conductor never quite explains why he doesn’t consider the school board’s decision censorship. Update: Conductor updated his post, and updated the URL, too, breaking the link above! (thanks Franklin) Here’s the new link, along with a wag of the finger to Conductor and to Blogger: Cool URIs don’t change.


Tuesday July 25, 2006

. . . and just like that, Vamos a Cuba is back in the schools for good. Damn, that was fast. (via hiddencity) Update: SDoF has a great quote from the judge: the School Board “abused its discretion in a manner that violated the transcendent imperatives of the First Amendment.’’ Also, a link to the full ruling [PDF]. Update: Oh yeah, they can appeal. Miami Gradebook explains what’s doing with each of the individual members and concludes they probably won’t.


Friday June 16, 2006

Reaction to the banning removal of Vamos a Cuba from Robert, Marc, Conductor, Rick: 1, 2, Boli-Nica, and Overtown (who’s ordering a copy of the book). Nothing yet from Val, who mentioned the vote here and wrote a good essay here. Update: Here’s the ACLU press release. NY Times story (thanks oldswish).


Tuesday July 18, 2006

Little Black Sambo vs. Vamos A Cuba

Nazi book burning

Bill’s recent comment on the ‘Vamos a Cuba’ post offers an interestingperspective. He compares the book to Little Black Sambo, and claims that both books must remain available, not despite their inaccuracies, but because of them, as they are part of our history.

While the argument is powerful, and works very well for LBS, applying it to VaC is problematic. First of all, the alleged sins of VaC are sins of omission, not sins of commission. Whereas Sambo is wrong because it encourages thinking in terms of racial stereotypes, the most we can accuse Vamos of is of overlooking unpleseant truths.

Little Black Sambo does have a place in Americas history and, as such, should be presented for what it was/is therby assuring a thourghly educated populace. I would not want the book to come up in discusion, only to have my child ignorant of its meaning and its history.

LBS has a place in the history of racist portrayals of people of color, and it needs to be perserved for that reason. But the word “history” is carrying serious weight there: the book was published originally in 1899. The same does not apply to VaC, though, which dates back to 2000 – it’s not “historical” in a real sense. It is, rather, a product of the present. That is to say, LBS’s place in history is decided not so much by its publication, but by its acceptance for most of the 20th century. We have the opportunity to deny that acceptance to ‘Vamos a Cuba.’

In some sense, that’s what this fight is about – does our society tolerate accounts of totalitarian regimes that are incomplete in this fashion? Or do we hold them on par with racial stereotypes?

It’s interesting to note that VaC is not being condemned for expressing an undesirable perspective – it’s being condemned for not expressing a sufficiently negative perspective — of Communist Cuba. One could make a comparison to a textbook banned in Saudi Arabia for not expressing a sufficiently negative perspective of life in the United States. Or something. It’s also worth noting that ‘Vamos a Cuba’ is not nearly the sunny portrait of life in Cuba some believe. While the text omits mention of politics, its depiction of poverty is unmistakable.

What’s interesting about the VaC situation is that there is no reasonable compromise. Val groped around for it when he tounge-in-cheek (?) suggested placing the book in the fiction section. A more ‘reasonable’ compromise is the warning label approach (“This book presents a view of life in Communist Cuba which many find inaccurate and disagreeable . . .”), which is also so patently absurd that nobody I know of seriously advocates it. We are left with a simple leave it/remove it choice.

Blinded by passion, some folks have advocated the removal of this book. I understand their frustration. Were it up to me, I’d leave the book, but in fact it’s not up to anyone – the Schoolboard has made the decision to pull it. From a legal perspective at least, it seems pretty obvious that they fucked up royally.

Had ‘Vamos a Cuba’ stayed in our libraries, we, as a society, would have had the opportunity to condemn it as propaganda and distortion. We could have continued to discuss its failings, and let those discussions be the history of this book, not the acceptance that ‘Little Black Sambo’ enjoyed.

But there’s the rub: we still can. And we will. Despite the Schoolboard’s boneheaded move, the book is still widely availabe. And it seems pretty clear that the ACLU action will have ‘Vamos a Cuba’ back on the shelves sooner or later. Unlike the Nazis, we’re not actually burning books, and we’re not about to start.

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Thursday June 7, 2007

Glimpse from inside the Vamos a Cuba appeal. The ACLU is all like, “All a publicly elected body has to do to ban a book is utter the word inaccurate? If that’s the case every library administrator and library association in the country should be worried.” And the judges are all like, “[what about] a book about Adolf Hitler that would credit the Nazi leader with creating the Volkswagen and bringing Germany out of the depression — but not mention the Holocaust.” Also, for the sake of posterity, I’m mirroring the court documents posted at the Herald: School Board’s Complaint [PDF]. ACLU’s response [PDF].


Friday June 23, 2006


In any prospective legal challenge, the basis for the removal will be highly scrutinized to ascertain to what extent the Board made a comprehensive review and analysis of the appropriateness of this book being part of an elementary school library’s collection. The Board’s findings—as indicated by the record of the proceedings—will also be reviewed by any party challenging the Board’s decision to determine if those findings are constitutionally valid. Therefore it is exceedingly important that the Board identify with specificity the legal grounds for any Board decision, particularly any decision that deviates from the DMRC’s recommendations. Moreover, it is our opinion that even a well reasoned decision by the Board that deviates from DMRC’s recommendations will expose the Board to liability.

That’s from a memo submitted by the Miami School Board’s Attorney, re Vamos a Cuba. “Identify with specificity the legal grounds for any Board decision?” How about “There’s a passion of hate. I can’t vote my conscience without feeling threatened.” What a bunch of knuckleheads. Here’s the whole memo in stark PDF beauty. (via SotP)

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Monday November 19, 2007

Public records fee

Miami-Dade School Board members have to pay a public records fee — just like anyone else — when they request information about the school district they’re trying to run. Which would be crazy enough even if the fee sometimes didn’t run into the hundreds of dollars.

School District Chief Communications Officer John Schuster: “It’s a process. In some cases, the records are in storage, and we need to get them from a warehouse. In other cases, we need computer programmers. It can be costly and time-intensive.”

Two things: First, get your information storage in order. You know those commercials Xerox runs on TV, where you can scan all your documents (like, thousands of pages per hour) and make then text-searchable and instantly accessible from any computer? They’re talking to you, Schuster. Call ‘em up. Get a quote to ship everything to Bangalore and have it scanned there on the cheap if you have to.

And second (this one’s at a higher pay scale), STOP CHARGING THE SCHOOL BOARD FOR INFORMATION THEY NEED. Jesus Christ on a stick — are you really trying to cultivate the dumbest, least active board possible? I mean, if you’re afraid their requests will become an unreasonable burden, you can give them a budget for this and charge out of that. But you’re better off implementing the system I just described. This is the fourth largest school district in the country, and we at least deserve a shot at having it run decently. The school board can be a bunch of knuckleheads, but let’s not actually try to actively prevent them from making good decision, bokay?

(Also noteworthy from the article: this website, the school board’s “clearinghouse” for public records and information. Seems to be not much more then a collection of links to other spots on, which itself deserves a bit of my anti-Flash fury, but there you go.)

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Friday July 28, 2006

Jaimie Foxx and Colin Farrell snub Miami?

colin and jamie

Hi Guys! Nice work on the movie; thanks for doing it. You probably don’t know, or much care, but there’s been a little bit of grumbling around town about how both of you decided to skip the premiere. We have Tom’s post, which I linked earlier. Mostly, though, it’s just people I’ve been talking to around town. There seems to be a certain feeling that when movie premieres take place in L.A. or N.Y., the big starts are automatically there, and that your absence from our big night was because ‘it’s just Miami,’ and a certain resentment of said feeling.

During these conversations, I usually point out that if I was cool like you guys, I’d certainly not want to go where I’d be the center of the attention of large throngs of decidedly less cool people. The response to this seems to be that you’re movie stars, and it’s your job to do shit like this. And there I disagree: you guys have contracts (right?) that spell out what your job is. Doing anything beyond that is at your discretion. At that point, the conversation returns to the “but if it was LA or NY” bit, and gets dropped without a satisfying conclusion.

I’m sure it’s no big deal. Your movie seems to be well received, and I’m sure Manola will continue to be so sufficiently obsessed with you to slip references to Colin’s penis into casual conversation. And I ain’t mad at ya. Just thought you’d like to know.

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Monday June 12, 2006

What's up with 'A Visit to Cuba'?

visit to cuba book cover

Over on Net for Cuba, Agustin Blazquez argues passionately for the removal of Vamos a Cuba and its English counterpart, A Visit To Cuba, from school libraries (via 26thparallel). The two books are in the middle of a giant debate, because it’s a “unreasonably sunny portrait of life under Fidel Castro.”

Blazquez’s argument boils down to this: if you remove books offensive to other groups (as is the school board’s policy), then you must remove remove this book, because it is extremely offensive to Cuban-Americans. The problem with that argument, of course, is that it could be used to remove books about nuclear power from schools if they are deemed offensive to environmentalists, or to remove books about computers if they offend the Amish.

No, the only sensible reason to remove a book from a school is if the book could be harmful to children. That would actually be the case if it misrepresented the political situation in Cuba. I haven’t seen the book, so I can’t make up my mind for sure. According to the description on Amazon, the book covers “land, landmarks, homes, food, clothes, work, transportation, language, school, free time, celebrations, and the arts.” It’s unclear how a denunciation of the Castro regime, or even depictions of suffering, would fit into this program: the book is intended for grades 2 to 4. What’s more, it’s part of a series, and I’m guessing the rest of the volumes don’t discuss the politics of the nations they’re from.

But yes, it’s a touchy subject, and it’s certainly possible that some of the pictures in the book cross the line. I suspect that what’s happening here, though, is that we have a book that is free of politics, and that is what bothers the Cuban-Americans. Any opportunity to criticize the Castro regime should be seized, and any such opportunity missed should be condemned. And while I’m generally sympathetic to that attitude, I don’t believe it should be extended to a book intended for little children. If all the it does is make the idea of people living in Cuba more of a tangible reality for children, then it’s doing exactly what it should to prepare them to understand the situation Cuban people live under. With any luck, by the time they’re old enough to learn about the specific politics, the Castro regime will be long gone, and Cuba will be democratic and prosperous.

Update: it’s gone.

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Monday September 11, 2006

Overtown gets his copy of Vamos, and muses about Cuba. “Another woman was amazed that there was so many black people in Cuba. She asked us why there are no black Cubans in Miami. No one had an answer for that one.”