Too often the news media are pegged with focusing on the negative – stories of crime and poverty, violence and inequity. And while there is a steady stream of such news, it shouldn’t overshadow recent stories in the Journal that inspire, encourage, and set the record straight on the many good things and people in our communities.
There’s Caroline Fraser of Santa Fe, who won the Pulitzer Prize. The Pulitzer committee describes Fraser’s “Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder,” as “a deeply researched and elegantly written portrait of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House on the Prairie series, that describes how Wilder transformed her family’s story of poverty, failure and struggle into an uplifting tale of self-reliance, familial love and perseverance.”
There’s 22-year-old Philip Hall, who smelled smoke and heard screams, then climbed over two fences and kicked down a third to pull 2-year-old Kierre Caldwell from a flaming tent. Both were severely burned and airlifted to out-of-state hospitals, and both face numerous surgeries and long recoveries.
There’s the Daniels Fund and United Way of Central New Mexico, committed to helping central New Mexico produce 60,000 new graduates with college degrees and certificates by 2020. The Daniels Fund recently gave United Way a $230,000 grant toward its Mission: Graduate initiative. The Daniels Fund has awarded more than $96.7 million to New Mexico nonprofits and students. The scholarships it provides have benefited hundreds of young New Mexicans. And Mission: Graduate has recorded an increase in the number of degrees despite declining enrollment.
There also are the many hard-working, successful business owners who are defying the stereotypes often slapped on the immigrant community in these build-a-wall times.
Cuban-born Cecilia Portal came to the United States in 1981 and Albuquerque in 1991. Her Mexico nursing certification doesn’t allow her to practice here, so her Valley Community Interpreters trains bilingual individuals for professional Spanish-English oral interpretation in the medical, education and social service fields.
Mexican immigrants José and Mayanín Veléz recently registered their home-based construction business with the state so they can access commercial property jobs.
Carmen Baca’s Carmen’s Cuts in the International District has been an incubator for other hair professionals – two stylists have started their own salons nearby. Baca’s family came to the U.S. 18 years ago from Mexico, “looking for a better life.” She saved for years until she could pay for her lease and equipment in cash.
Ghana native Jesse Dompreh went from an internship in Illinois to graduate studies to 30 years in New Mexico, raising a family and opening his own insurance agency. His first client was a Mexican immigrant, and Dompreh says both seemed to take comfort in the fact they spoke English with an accent.
And Uyen Nguyen, born in international waters as her parents fled Vietnam in 1977, co-owns and operates Coda Bakery with her mother and father. The Vietnamese deli and tofu house features authentic flavors “balanced for American customers.”
Yes, often the news is dominated by a tragic story of things gone horribly wrong. But it is also filled with stories like these, stories of hard work and curiosity, self-sacrifice and success, of people going above and beyond to make their lives and the lives of their fellow New Mexicans better.
And there is nothing fake about that.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.