Moving beyond the black-white binary that has long framed racial discourse in the United States, the contributors to this collection examine how the experiences of Latinos and Asians intersect in the formation of the U.S. nation-state. They analyze the political and social processes that have racialized Latinos and Asians while highlighting the productive ways that these communities challenge and transform the identities imposed on them. Each essay addresses the sociopolitical predicaments of both Latinos and Asians, bringing their experiences to light in relation to one another.
Several contributors illuminate ways that Latinos and Asians were historically racialized: by U.S. occupiers of Puerto Rico and the Philippines at the end of the nineteenth century, by public health discourses and practices in early-twentieth-century Los Angeles, by anthropologists collecting physical data—height, weight, head measurements—from Chinese Americans to show how the American environment affected “foreign” body types in the 1930s, and by Los Angeles public officials seeking to explain the alleged criminal propensities of Mexican American youth during the 1940s. Other contributors focus on the coalitions and tensions between Latinos and Asians in the context of the fight to integrate public schools and debates over political redistricting. One addresses masculinity, race, and U.S. imperialism in the literary works of Junot Díaz and Chang-rae Lee. Another looks at the passions, identifications, and charges of betrayal aroused by the sensationalized cases of Elián González, the young Cuban boy rescued off the shore of Florida, and Wen Ho Lee, the Los Alamos physicist accused of spying on the United States. Throughout this volume contributors interrogate many of the assumptions that underlie American and ethnic studies even as they signal the need for a research agenda that expands the purview of both fields.
Contributors. Nicholas De Genova, Victor Jew, Andrea Levine, Natalia Molina, Gary Y. Okihiro, Crystal Parikh, Greg Robinson, Toni Robinson, Leland T. Saito
Alfredo Mirandé, a sociology professor, Stanford Law graduate, and part-time pro bono attorney, represents clients who are rascuache—a Spanish word for “poor” or even “wretched”—and on the margins of society. For Mirandé, however, rascuache means to be “down but not out,” an underdog who is still holding its ground. Rascuache Lawyer offers a unique perspective on providing legal services to poor, usually minority, folks who are often just one short step from jail. Not only a passionate argument for rascuache lawyering, it is also a thoughtful, practical attempt to apply and test critical race theory—particularly Latino critical race theory—in day-to-day legal practice.
Every chapter presents an actual case from Mirandé’s experience (only the names and places have been changed). His clients have been charged with everything from carrying a concealed weapon, indecent exposure, and trespassing to attempted murder, domestic violence, and child abuse. Among them are recent Mexican immigrants, drug addicts, gang members, and the homeless. All of them are destitute, and many are victims of racial profiling. Some “pay” Mirandé with bartered services such as painting, home repairs, or mechanical work on his car. And Mirandé doesn’t always win their cases. But, as he recounts, he certainly works tirelessly to pursue all legal remedies.
Each case is presented as a letter to a fascinating (fictional) “Super Chicana” named Fermina Gabriel, who we are told is an accomplished lawyer, author, and singer. This narrative device allows the author to present his cases as if he were recounting them to a friend, drawing in the reader as a friend as well.
Bookending the individual cases, Mirandé’s introductions and conclusions offer a compelling vision of progressive legal practice grounded in rascuache lawyering.
Francis-Fallon returns to the origins of the U.S. “Spanish-speaking vote” to understand the history and potential of this political bloc. He finds that individual voters affiliate more with their particular ethnic communities than with the pan-ethnic Latino identity created for them, complicating the notion of a broader Latino constituency.