Living a white, white world...

LAST NIGHT'S Oscars sucked. And then I realized why -- it was the whitest show I'd ever seen! In a post-racial America that we are allegedly living in, the troubling news was that there were no black, Asian, or Latino nominees to root for or celebrate. (PS. Javier Bardem does not count. He may speak Spanish and English with a heavy accent, but he is from Spain, a beautiful country that is part of the European Union.)

And why is an extreme white Hollywood troubling, even dangerous? Think about it: the Hollywood machinery creates images, we absorb these images, kids included. These images tell us something about ourselves, about our world, about our place in this world. We are not in those images. We are invisible. We don't exist. We don't exist in a world of fantasy, beauty, humor, love, drama... What is the underlying message here? How much value do we have? How beautiful are we, really, according to Hollywood? How important are our stories?

Yeah, some will say, 'nothing new, next.' But no, aren't we a different America today. Isn't the nation's population more diverse than ever in its history. Isn't Barack Obama president?

Thing is, Hollywood is no Arizona, I expect better from liberal, left-leaning creative erudites.

As Bruce Baum eloquently writes: "There remains good reason to pause and consider whether Hollywood is actually helping to construct, even if indirectly or accidentally, a narrow and markedly white-dominated vision of the world."

Dayanara Torres praises my book

WHEN I MET Dayanara Torres several years ago we connected instantly. I found her incredibly brave-- she'd just written a book with her sister Jeannette Torres-Alvarez, Married to Me, in which she chronicled the pain of a public divorce and how she was able to pick up the shattered pieces of her life and start over again. Yari, as she is known to friends and family, shared her lessons to help other women. Her book was classy, honest and filled with much grace. This former Miss Universe was also blessed with unbelievable genes and lucky for her two young boys, they look just like her. 

Dayanara's commitment to her family is an inspiration as is her fierce pride in her culture. So when she wrote these beautiful words of praise about my new book, I was deeply moved:

"With her honesty, integrity, and Boricua warrior way of thinking, Sandra Guzmán has created an empowering treasure that will make us understand, embrace, love and be proud of all our differences. This treasure of a book will be my gift to every Latina friend I have!"

History belongs to the eloquent...

THAT GEM WAS one of the many wonderful little nuggets in Stacy Schiff's Pulitzer Prize winning tome, Cleopatra: A Life, which I just finished reading. Schiff was referring to female-hating gossip Cicero who eviscerated the fabulously rich, intelligent, and independent Queen of Egypt any chance he got. Cicero's rants were so witty and masterful they made him a quotable pundit during his time and beyond. He got quoted a lot and poor Cleopatra, her story was written by those nasty but eloquent female hating males who not surprisingly, stuck to the whore-archetype. It took a female writer several thousand years layer, Schiff, to have the world, or at least those who read the book, reconsider Cleopatra's story.

Schiff's stellar book was fresh on my mind when I read VIDA's study on the dismal number of female writers in magazines (New Yorker, The Atlantic, the New York Review of Books, Harper's Magazine, and The New Republic among many others) and Elissa Strauss' Jewish Sisterhood blog. Strauss actually got several magazine editors to respond to her query basically asking editors to explain themselves.  Like Shakira's hips, numbers do not lie.  And then of course, I thought, well let's take it a step further and ask, beyond the girl byline gap, what about Black writers, Hispanic writers, Asian writers on staff at these magazines?

Rosie Perez praises my book...

THIS IS SUPER sweet news because she is super cool. I am over the moon. Another amazing and gorgeous sister praises my book, The New Latina's Bible, with the most gorgeous words.

Actress Rosie Perez says: "I was so moved by Sandra’s vulnerability, honesty and wisdom. I truly saw myself in some of her heartfelt experiences. Her stories of tears, joy, laughter, triumphs, disappointments and lessons learned allows us to see how similar and connected we are, expanding the community of Latinas throughout America and the world."

This Oscar nominated actress is one is one of the funniest, smartest and most gorgeous people I know. I met her over a decade ago when I interviewed her and we connected.

I've always believed that Rosie is one of the most talented actresses of our generation. There is integrity in her work. If you've never seen her in her Oscar nominated role in Fearless you must. If you have, check it out again. Seriously. I recently went to the Film Society Lincoln Center retrospective on the extraordinary director Peter Weir and saw the movie. It was like seeing it again for the first time. Weir delivered a masterpiece that is nuanced and powerful. It is a film about hope, love, and transcendence. Rosie kills it. Jeff Bridges kills it. And Peter most definitely kills it. An all around great film.

Rosie has done many other great things after 1993 -- Broadway, directed a documentary, founded a arts program, the Urban Arts Partnership, for New York City public school kids -- she's been a breathelss activist actress using her fame for great causes. And this Rosie from the block remembers with love where she came from.

That Susan Taylor and now Rosie Perez have endorsed my book is for me a most lovely honor.

Watch a clip of Rosie from the movie Fearless.

Susan Taylor praises my book...

THE AMAZING Susan Taylor, the editrix of Essence magazine during its glorious years and a role model to women of color worldwide, including yours truly, has written the most beautiful words of praise for my book. I cannot lie, I choked up when I read her words. If you've met Susan in person, you will know what I mean. Susan is one of the people whose grace, insight, intellect and love is a wondrous thing to experience.

Susan's words: "The New Latina's Bible is a masterwork! Sandra Guzman pours herself into page after page of insight, passion, wisdom and love and her beautiful lyrical voice speaks to our heart. Tender and tough, it's a great gift to women of color and those who love us." 

After 37 years at Essence, Susan left to launch a beautiful effort -- the largest mentoring movement in our nation's history. She is at the helm of an organization whose philosophy affirms love as activism. If you know a young person who is at risk, why not reach out? 

If you have extra time in your hands, and want to give back, a young person can use the love.  If you are stuck, check out her site

The New Latina's Bible...

WHEN THE NEW LATINA'S BIBLE was first published eight years ago by Random House, it touched the lives of thousands of Latinas across the nation. One critic said of the original, “this is a book for all Latinas living in the U.S. Guzman writes with much sisterly love and respect, pointing out ways Hispanic women can meld the best of Latin culture with feminist-based U.S. values. She fosters a self-reliant, take-charge attitude in her readers, while encouraging healthy relationships and communication with family.”

The new edition of The New Latina’s Bible has a total of fourteen chapters that cover the gamut in our lives -- from health, to sexuality, from love to career.

When The Latina's Bible was first published eight years ago by Random House, it touched the lives of thousands of Latinas across the nation. One critic said of the original, “this is a book for all Latinas living in the U.S. Guzman writes with much sisterly love and respect, pointing out ways Hispanic women can meld the best of Latin culture with feminist-based U.S. values. She fosters a self-reliant, take-charge attitude in her readers, while encouraging healthy relationships and communication with family.”

One of the new chapters is about dating and domestic violence, a huge problem nationwide, particularly, in the Latino community. When I look all around me -- both in my circle of friends and family, and extended community of brown sisters -- I cannot fail to notice how we have forgotten how to love. How to love each other and ourselves. The physical and tragic violence is real, but the verbal violence is even more real, and too common. And not behind closed doors. We see it online. We see it on television. We hear it in music.

About the cover...

 The name of the painting which graces the cover of my new book is called Te Espero

THE COVER ART that graces my book, The New Latina's Bible, is so lovely. The image, painted by East Los Angeles native, Anna Alvarado, is subtle and infused with sacred stillness. I adore the colors that Anna used because they remind me of the tropics and the island where I was born. The flower in the woman's hair is sensual and the hoops give her a funky urban girl touch that resonates with me, a quintessential city girl. I like too that her lips are nicely lined and in red. I also adore Seal Press's treatment of the image, especially the font. It's a winner of a cover!  

But when I found out the back-story of the artist and the painting, I fell in love even more deeply. Anna, originally from East Los Angeles, lives in Hacienda Heights with her boyfriend and three children. She is one of twenty-one grandchildren raised by Mexican grandparents.

"I was pregnant and listening to Los Panchos, Buena Social Club, Vicente Fernandez and Ana Gabriel and every time I played Los Panchos, the baby would move. No lie," she laughs. "I knew I having a girl so there were all these emotions about how one is a mother to a little girl," Anna tells me.

And that is what the painting took on she explains, 'a sense of serenity and peacefulness in knowing that it was going to be ok."

A blog is born...

My niece's reaction after I told her that I was starting a blog.

AND THIS IS what you should know: I am sooooo happy. It's been a long time coming, this blog. I'm super thrilled to finally be here, to talk, to exchange. This is my first post and I already feel like I'm talking to myself and rambling.. so please forgive me.

I've worked in television (Telemundo, FOX), in newspapers (El Diario La Prensa, the New York Post) and magazines (Latina) so this journalism thing is not really new to me. I even did a stint in these Internets back in 1999 during the last tech bubble, and what a ride was. I also had a popular little blog called Tempo at the tabloid where I last worked. Hell, some of you may have even read or seen stories that I've written, produced or edited. But I digress...

This here, what you are reading, is wholly different. It is my canvas, not a corporate employer's space trying to suck the juices and life out of me. The boot of the man is not on my neck and neither is his alcohol-laden-tyrant-tinged-sexist breath anywhere near me... This blog is not brought to you secretively by an advertiser. Rather, I bring it to you. How sublime is that?

Here, I get to be more intimate and daring and yes, free. Or at least and as free as Google let's me be.