Drawing from almost a decade of ethnographic research in largely Brazilian and Puerto Rican neighborhoods in Newark, New Jersey, Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas, in Street Therapists,examines how affect, emotion, and sentiment serve as waypoints for the navigation of interracial relationships among US-born Latinos, Latin American migrants, blacks, and white ethnics. Tackling a rarely studied dynamic approach to affect, Ramos-Zayas offers a thorough—and sometimes paradoxical—new articulation of race, space, and neoliberalism in US urban communities.
After looking at the historical, political, and economic contexts in which an intensified connection between affect and race has emerged in Newark, New Jersey, Street Therapists engages in detailed examinations of various community sites—including high schools, workplaces, beauty salons, and funeral homes, among others—and secondary sites in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and San Juan to uncover the ways US-born Latinos and Latin American migrants interpret and analyze everyday racial encounters through a language of psychology and emotions. As Ramos-Zayas notes, this emotive approach to race resurrects Latin American and Caribbean ideologies of “racial democracy” in an urban US context—and often leads to new psychological stereotypes and forms of social exclusion. Extensively researched and thoughtfully argued, Street Therapists theorizes the conflictive connection between race, affect, and urban neoliberalism.