An Ode to My Parents

Ever since I won the Latinos in Social Media Award for “best activist blogger” — thank you, thank you, thank you for your votes! — I have received some requests for interviews.

Most recently, I was profiled for the “Block Rockers” column at the non-profit organization, Green For All. The column has this young and hip vibe, so this tired momma was flattered to be asked. :)

The first question I was asked off the bat was who inspired me to be an activist. Without hesitation I named two people: my parents. It’s true. Being the daughter of a Puerto Rican and Cuban immigrant, I didn’t grow up hearing stories about U.S. activists and heros. Instead, everything I learned about how to treat others, I learned from them.

There were two stories that I shared with Green for All that didn’t make it into the piece. The first is that I grew up in a two-bedroom house in North Miami with five other family members. Despite never remembering a time in my life when my parents could pay all of their bills, they insisted that we kids take a plate of food to an elderly woman living alone across the street. One, if not more of us, would keep her company while she ate to then take the plate back to my mother. Miss Lucy once asked my mother if she could pay for the food, but my mother refused any compensation.

The other story I shared was of my dad and us kids walking out and about in Miami. Every time homeless people came up to him, my father would open up his wallet and give them a bill, even if it was his last bill. Us kids oftentimes rolled our eyes because we didn’t believe the story the men told, or they appeared drunk. I admit, I don’t always give to homeless people — sometimes i do though — but I give generously to homeless shelters, non-profit organizations and other charities. Whenever I mail off a check that I think was too large, I immediately think if it were my parents they would have given more. Then I let it go.

My parents are the most generous people I know. They are true activists and unsung heroes in their day-to-day lives. For that, I want to recognize them. Their names are Diego and Elisanta Batista.

Okay, now it is your turn. Who has most inspired you?


Obama’s Election and the Abortion Debate

Especially now that Barack Obama has been elected president, some abortion foes are shifting their focus from banning to reducing the number of abortions in the country, according to the Washington Post.

Some of the activists are actually working with abortion rights advocates to push for legislation in Congress that would provide pregnant women with health care, child care and money for education — services that could encourage them to continue their pregnancies.

Their efforts, they said, reflect the political reality that legal challenges to abortion rights will not be successful, especially after Barack Obama’s victory this month in the presidential election and the defeat of several ballot measures that would have restricted access to abortions. Although the activists insist that they are not retreating from their belief that abortion is immoral and should be outlawed, they argue that a more practical alternative is to try to reduce abortions through other means.

A study sponsored by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good cited recent research showing that abortions among women living below the poverty line are more than four times that of women above 300 percent of the poverty level. The authors of the study found that social services like benefits for pregnant women and mothers and cash assistance to low-income families helped significantly reduce abortions in the United States the past two decades.

Still, the most virulent abortion foes say nothing less than a ban is acceptable to them. But the more practical and mixed coalition of abortion rights activists and foes have kept it together by focusing on the socioeconomic issues rather than hot-button topics like contraception and sex education.