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Esther Cepeda
Journalist and essayist focusing on issues affecting people of color in America
Interests: Latinx community, people of color, business, technology, education, health, sports, politics, culture, arts, hispanic and latino issues, Hispanic public speaker, Latino keynote speaker
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by @estherjcepeda Folx, I read a lot. A LOT. Like, my eyes hurt most of the time even though my prescription is up-to-date. I also listen a lot – audiobooks, podcasts, news. And today I had the best few hours of my week. Why? Because in the pile of reports,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2020 at Esther J. Cepeda
Esther Cepeda has shared their blog Esther J. Cepeda Voice Actor/Voice Over
Jun 2, 2020
By ESTHER J. CEPEDA MADISON, Wis. -- The first time I saw the dome of Wisconsin's capitol building, I was informed that -- way at the tippy-top -- there was a lady with a badger on her head. It wasn't a joke. The gilded bronze statue is named "Wisconsin," symbolizing the state motto "Forward." She's 15 feet, 5 inches tall, weighs over 3 tons and holds a globe with an eagle perched on it in her left hand and a badger, the state animal, on top of her helmet. She's quite beautiful. Just like the rest of Madison, which... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
By ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO -- As a matter of professional courtesy, I won't disclose any specifics about the standards and practices that have been provided to my teacher friends for grading through the pandemic. Let's just say that there'll be more than a few seniors who graduate this year as a gift. Students who, in the past, would have been dragged into summer school to make up a bare minimum of class work before getting a high school diploma will mostly skate. The paper that promises they've been adequately prepared for a career or to go on to... Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
By ESTHER J. CEPEDA LAKE GENEVA, Wis.- This quaint downtown looked unremarkable on a quiet, rainy Monday morning: Businesses were starting to open, traffic was light. Clusters of teens, elders with dogs, and people carrying bundles of mail for the post office strolled down the street -- almost none wearing protective masks over their nose and mouth. I broke quarantine to bear witness to Wisconsin's "mixed" status. Many of the state's larger metropolitan areas -- such as Madison and Milwaukee -- are retaining most of the governor's "safer-at-home" measures to combat the spread of coronavirus. Meanwhile, the rest of... Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
By ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO -- Despite the current political climate, people trust the federal courts system more than many other government institutions, according to a 2019 survey from the National Center for State Courts. But the same survey showed that people also think that courts aren't doing enough to empower regular people to navigate the system without a lawyer. Most of us -- with our fluent English skills, broadband internet access and smart phone in hand -- can't imagine dealing with anything more complex than a traffic ticket without a legal expert. So why would anyone expect an... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
By ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO -- A recent wave of COVID-19 infections and deaths has highlighted the brutal cost of being an essential Hispanic worker. Latinos are overwhelmingly overrepresented among people infected with the virus relative to their share of the population, according to Rogelio Sáenz, professor of demography at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Sáenz, who wrote recently about the issue on the Latino Decisions blog, analyzed data from the 38 states and the District of Columbia that report COVID-19 infection cases and/or deaths for Latinos. It's no surprise that Latinos have been so hard hit... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
BY ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO -- Educators, academic experts, parents and -- in their own way -even kids have been saying that public education is broken for nearly two decades. Now, as schools announce they'll be closed for the remainder of the academic year, public education has been yanked into a thousand little pieces, and no one knows what will emerge from the mess. Millions of children across the country are out of school and completely un-engaged with academics, either because they have no computer or no reliable internet access at home. Others may have those resources, but they... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
BY ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO -- Everybody drinks: Whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, old people, young people, married moms in their "wine o'clock" T-shirts and suburban dads brewing craft beer in their basements. The list is endless. So why did U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams hold a press conference at the White House last week to deliver what was, essentially, a public service announcement tailor-made for African Americans and Hispanics, asking them to "step it up"? Adams asked these two communities, which he described as "socially predisposed to coronavirus exposure," to follow social distancing guidelines. "Wash your hands more often... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
By ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO -- I was one of those children social scientists fret about: Each of my parents worked two jobs, so I was very rarely read to at bedtime. It did happen occasionally, however, and I recall someone buying me my favorite book at the local grocery store when I begged at just the right time. It was a short version of Disney's "The Rescuers." To this day, I marvel at what a great character Evinrude the dragonfly was. To preserve my mind's embodiment of the colorful critter, I've never watched the movie. I know that... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
By ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO -- After years of educators staging massive walkouts and lobbying school boards to improve their dismal working conditions, it finally took the coronavirus to succeed in proving that the humble teacher is essential to a functioning American economy. Parents across the country are at their wit's end trying to balance work, running a household and educating their children. Many have come to the conclusion that it's all too much, and they have closed virtual school and e-learning for their kids, citing a lack of resources, time or mental energy during a global pandemic. President... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
By ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO -- I bought "More Than Ready," the new book by Cecilia Muñoz, after hearing her describe what it was like to work as a Latina in the Obama White House at the height of the surge of unaccompanied children to the border. Muñoz, who served as director of the White House Domestic Policy Council under Obama, spoke with political consultant David Axelrod on his podcast "The Axe Files," which aired April 30. She told him about her background as a midwestern Latina whose family hailed from Bolivia, how she followed in her father's footsteps... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
BY ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO -- There's a term -- "white women's tears" - that is defined as tears shed, in cross-racial settings, when situations make women frustrated, angry or sad about how hard racism is on white people. Yes, you read that right. This is how the phenomenon is explained by white author Robin DiAngelo, the social-justice professor at Washington University and author of "White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism": "Expressing our heartfelt emotions -- especially as they relate to racial injustices -- is an important progressive value. To repress our... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
BY ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO -- During a national emergency, we have a duty to stay informed -- but this is not a duty to be overwhelmed. There's no need to keep a browser tab open of your favorite media outlet, refreshing every few minutes to see what's new. And there's no good reason to have notifications of every type dinging on your phone, escalating the sense that things are happening fast. Things are happening fast. We are bereft of national leadership. Some of our friends and family are at risk of getting sick, or are already ill. Still,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
BY ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO -- As we brace for the brunt of this fast-spreading pandemic, it's a pressing national security imperative that immigrants held in detention must be released to their families immediately. The federal government is keeping scores of people cheek by jowl in facilities that have been well-documented to be lacking in proper ventilation, food or even clean, running water. And many of these detainees already have compromised immune systems due to old age, chronic medical conditions or pregnancy. As if it weren't bad enough to put immigrants in grave danger of becoming a huge vector... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
BY ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO -- My children have known for years that, when I die, I want to be quickly cremated and split evenly among my loved ones. They know I'd prefer a film festival to a funeral, but fancy death plans give hope only to the dying, while funerals provide comfort and fellowship to those left behind. It is also established family canon that the younger son gets my exquisite playing card collection, and the older son gets my extensive tarot card collection. My husband gets my books and our daughter's ashes. He understands, though begrudgingly, that... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
By ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO -- Is it true that in some detention facilities, immigrants are in cramped quarters -- with little access to fresh food, potable running water or soap -- putting them at high risk for contracting covid-19? Yes. This has been well documented by immigrant advocacy and watchdog groups who have either witnessed such conditions or been told first-hand by immigrants fearing for their lives. Is it also possible that hundreds or thousands of miles away from our southern border, there are well-run detention centers in which immigrants have enough room to practice social distancing? And... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
By ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO -- For whoever needs to hear this: We're in the middle of a global pandemic -- it's OK to cut yourself some slack. And if that means you let your children largely ignore their distance/electronic learning, well, then so be it. That may be a shocking thing to hear from a professional educator. In the minds of some, every parent in America must move mountains to ensure their kids get online at the appointed times to do whatever work their passionate and dedicated teachers -- who probably have their own kids at home to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
By ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO -- Wisconsin went ahead with its primary on Tuesday, illustrating in the process how voting is an actual hardship during a global pandemic. Polling places were scarce in both rural and urban areas because of a shortage of poll workers, many of whom feared for their health. People who couldn't get to a polling place or who worried that they would be infected with COVID-19 by standing in long lines were disenfranchised. While the Republican legislature was wrong to proceed with in-person elections in Tuesday's primary, it was right to shut down the Democratic... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
By ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO -- In a pandemic, people turn to comfort items -- a special piece of clothing, a favorite snack or meal, the musical album that served as the soundtrack to their senior year of high school. Me? I turn to big, impenetrable books. And the sea. That means, of course, "Moby Dick." Last summer, I went to see an exhibition called "Melville: Finding America at Sea," chronicling Herman Melville's life work and how it continues to inspire artists around the world. Of all the gorgeous paintings, fun comic book covers and old newspaper clippings about... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
By ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO - It has long been known that the turnover of new teachers is high, especially among Hispanic teachers. But I've always wondered if this is because Latino teachers are likelier to teach children who are learning how to speak English. In my own experience across school districts in urban, suburban and rural communities, I've observed bilingual, dual-language and English as a second language (ESL) programs to be the absolute worst. The kids have never been the problem. The real issues have been everything from systemic racial bias in school districts to pedagogical ignorance among... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
By ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO -- Trauma from family separation knows no age. On a recent episode of the podcast "The Daily," I heard a grown woman talking about the fact she hadn't seen her 77-year-old mother ever since her coronavirus-affected nursing facility went on lockdown. The woman cried as she described the relief of being allowed to peer at her mom through an outside window. Even though they had been talking on the phone, the woman just needed to be able to see that her mom was alive, sitting up in bed and able to wave "hello." We're... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
By ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO -- As our country continues to reckon with changing norms of gender and sexual identity, it's becoming more common to find people who think that transgender men and women should be able to serve in the military. Perhaps more importantly, trans people now also have the voices of hundreds of heterosexual, lesbian, gay and bisexual service members who would welcome them into their military ranks. This is according to a first-of-its-kind study funded by the Department of Defense, which examined survey data from 486 non-trans, verified active-duty service members across the four major branches... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
BY ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO -- Public education is a study in competing inequities that parody each other while leaving the neediest behind. For every group of students at an under-resourced school that finally gets laptops, there is a group of concerned parents at a high-performing school that opts out their kids from screen-fatiguing, web-based apps in the classroom. Show me a school where the students are encouraged to pursue their own interests and design their own curriculum, and I'll show you 100 other schools where the classes are heavily scheduled and scripted down to the minute, making the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 29, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive
By ESTHER J. CEPEDA CHICAGO -- Supreme Court justices do their best to both remain apolitical in public and to get along with each other in private. Steering clear of partisanship helps maintain the independence of the court, and keeping the peace is important because their lifetime appointments effectively make them a family. This is why Justice Sonia Sotomayor's dissent in the case of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security v. Cook County, Illinois, was supposedly so exceptional. The case entails the Trump administration's so-called public charge rule, which will prohibit legal immigrants from obtaining green cards if the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 29, 2020 at Cepeda 2008-2020 column archive