Today the achievement gap is hotly debated among pundits, politicians, and educators. In particular this conversation often focuses on the two fastest-growing demographic groups in the United States: Asian Americans and Latinos. In Academic Profiling, Gilda L. Ochoa addresses this so-called gap by going directly to the source. At one California public high school where the controversy is lived every day, Ochoa turns to the students, teachers, and parents to learn about the very real disparities—in opportunity, status, treatment, and assumptions—that lead to more than just gaps in achievement.
In candid and at times heart-wrenching detail, the students tell stories of encouragement and neglect on their paths to graduation. Separated by unequal middle schools and curriculum tracking, they are divided by race, class, and gender. While those channeled into an International Baccalaureate Program boast about Socratic classes and stress-release sessions, students left out of such programs commonly describe uninspired teaching and inaccessible counseling. Students unequally labeled encounter differential policing and assumptions based on their abilities—disparities compounded by the growth in the private tutoring industry that favors the already economically privileged.
Despite the entrenched inequality in today’s schools, Academic Profiling finds hope in the many ways students and teachers are affirming identities, creating alternative spaces, and fostering critical consciousness. When Ochoa shares the results of her research with the high school, we see the new possibilities—and limits—of change.
While the selections cover centuries of Afro-Latin@ history, since the arrival of Spanish-speaking Africans in North America in the mid-sixteenth-century, most of them focus on the past fifty years. The central question of how Afro-Latin@s relate to and experience U.S. and Latin American racial ideologies is engaged throughout, in first-person accounts of growing up Afro-Latin@, a classic essay by a leader of the Young Lords, and analyses of U.S. census data on race and ethnicity, as well as in pieces on gender and sexuality, major-league baseball, and religion. The contributions that Afro-Latin@s have made to U.S. culture are highlighted in essays on the illustrious Afro-Puerto Rican bibliophile Arturo Alfonso Schomburg and music and dance genres from salsa to mambo, and from boogaloo to hip hop. Taken together, these and many more selections help to bring Afro-Latin@s in the United States into critical view.
Contributors: Afro–Puerto Rican Testimonies Project, Josefina Baéz, Ejima Baker, Luis Barrios, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Adrian Burgos Jr., Ginetta E. B. Candelario, Adrián Castro, Jesús Colón, Marta I. Cruz-Janzen, William A. Darity Jr., Milca Esdaille, Sandra María Esteves, María Teresa Fernández (Mariposa), Carlos Flores, Juan Flores, Jack D. Forbes, David F. Garcia, Ruth Glasser, Virginia Meecham Gould, Susan D. Greenbaum, Evelio Grillo, Pablo “Yoruba” Guzmán, Gabriel Haslip-Viera, Tanya K. Hernández, Victor Hernández Cruz, Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof, Lisa Hoppenjans, Vielka Cecilia Hoy, Alan J. Hughes, María Rosario Jackson, James Jennings, Miriam Jiménez Román, Angela Jorge, David Lamb, Aida Lambert, Ana M. Lara, Evelyne Laurent-Perrault, Tato Laviera, John Logan, Antonio López, Felipe Luciano, Louis Pancho McFarland, Ryan Mann-Hamilton, Wayne Marshall, Marianela Medrano, Nancy Raquel Mirabal, Yvette Modestin, Ed Morales, Jairo Moreno, Marta Moreno Vega, Willie Perdomo, Graciela Pérez Gutiérrez, Sofia Quintero, Ted Richardson, Louis Reyes Rivera, Pedro R. Rivera , Raquel Z. Rivera, Yeidy Rivero, Mark Q. Sawyer, Piri Thomas, Silvio Torres-Saillant, Nilaja Sun, Sherezada “Chiqui” Vicioso, Peter H. Wood
Recent research and the release of newly declassified U.S. government documents underscore the importance of reading Guatemala's current history through the lens of 1954. Scholars and researchers who have worked in Guatemala from the 1940s to the present articulate how the coup fits into ethnographic representations of Guatemala. Highlighting the voices of individuals with whom they have lived and worked, the contributors also offer an unmatched understanding of how the events preceding and following the coup played out on the ground.
Contributors are Abigail E. Adams, Richard N. Adams, David Carey Jr., Christa Little-Siebold, Judith M. Maxwell, Victor D. Montejo, June C. Nash, and Timothy J. Smith.
Liz Carpenter Award for Research in the History of Women, Texas State Historical Association
The essayist Adela Sloss-Vento (1901–1998) was a powerhouse of activism in South Texas’s Lower Rio Grande Valley throughout the Mexican American civil rights movement beginning in 1920 and the subsequent Chicano movement of the 1960s and 1970s. At last presenting the full story of Sloss-Vento’s achievements, Agent of Change revives a forgotten history of a major female Latina leader.
Bringing to light the economic and political transformations that swept through South Texas in the 1920s as ranching declined and agribusiness proliferated, Cynthia E. Orozco situates Sloss-Vento’s early years within the context of the Jim Crow/Juan Crow era. Recounting Sloss-Vento’s rise to prominence as a public intellectual, Orozco highlights a partnership with Alonso S. Perales, the principal founder of the League of United Latin American Citizens. Agent of Change explores such contradictions as Sloss-Vento’s tolerance of LULAC’s gender-segregated chapters, even though the activist was an outspoken critic of male privilege in the home and a decidedly progressive wife and mother. Inspiring and illuminating, this is a complete portrait of a savvy, brazen critic who demanded reform on both sides of the US-Mexico border.
Marjorie Agosín writes of a beloved childhood nanny: "Since I was Jewish she baptized me with holy water brought forth from the fonts of nearby churches. She told me to stay very still so I wouldn't sprout horns. . . . I was somewhere between taciturn and happy gazing into the mirror as if approaching the edge of a cliff . . . and I watched myself in the deep, transparent veil of this night of all nights." Many of the themes expressed in this vignette—cultural dissonance, family, and community—are poetically intertwined throughout The Alphabet in My Hands. Agosín takes us on a personal journey of discovery that is as much internal reflection as it is an exodus across continents and decades.
Agosín's childhood and early adolescence were spent with her Jewish family in Chile. While her family raised her to regard her Jewish heritage with loving awareness, they also participated in the dominant Catholic culture—an aunt organized Easter egg hunts and her mother admired the beauty of Chile's Catholic churches. The young Agosín became keenly aware of her dual identity in her country, both as a participant and an outsider.
The second half of The Alphabet in My Hands recounts the events that forced her family to emigrate to America: the overthrow of Salvador Allende by General Augusto Pinochet. Agosín writes of her new life in Athens, Georgia, of the sudden loss of all that was familiar. Ostracized as an emigrant—a "non-white" with a strange foreign accent—her high school years were made even more painful by the news from Chile: prisoners taken and classmates disappearing or shot.
Years later, Agosín goes back to Chile and she travels there with her own children. As she stares down at her old homeland from the plane, she writes: "Why do I love this place that forced us into exile, that punished my father for being a Jew?" And in the final chapter of The Alphabet in My Hands, this award-winning poet addresses two important topics: her current residence in New England and the central role of writing and literature in her life.
As the U.S. Latino population grows rapidly, and as the LGBTQ Latino community becomes more visible and a more crucial part of our literary and artistic heritage, there is an increasing demand for literature that successfully highlights these diverse lives. Edited by Lázaro Lima and Felice Picano, Ambientes is a revolutionary collection of fiction featuring stories by established authors as well as emerging voices that present a collective portrait of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender experience in America today. With a preface by Picano and an introduction by Lima that sets the stage for understanding Latino literary and cultural history, this is the first anthology to cross cultural and regional borders by offering a wide variety of urban, rural, East Coast, West Coast, and midwestern perspectives on Latina and Latino queers from different walks of life. Stories range from sensual pieces to comical romances and from inner-city dramas fueled by street language to portraits of gay domesticity, making this a much-needed collection for many different kinds of readers. The stories in this collection reflect a vibrant and creative community and redefine received notions of “gay” and “lesbian.”
Finalist, Over the Rainbow selection, American Library Association
Finalist, LGBT Anthology, Lambda Literary Awards
Best Special Interest Books, selected by the American Association of School Librarians
Winner, 2023 Rhetoric Society of America Book Award
Winner, 2022 Marie Hochmuth Nichols Award from the National Communication Association
At a moment in US politics when racially motivated nationalism, shifting relations with Latin America, and anxiety over national futures intertwine, understanding the long history of American preoccupation with magnitude and how it underpins national identity is vitally important. In American Magnitude, Christa J. Olson tracks the visual history of US appeals to grandeur, import, and consequence (megethos), focusing on images that use the wider Americas to establish US character. Her sources—including lithographs from the US-Mexican War, pre–Civil War paintings of the Andes, photo essays of Machu Picchu, and WWII-era films promoting hemispheric unity—span from 1845 to 1950 but resonate into the present.
Olson demonstrates how those crafting the appeals that feed the US national imaginary—artists, scientists, journalists, diplomats, and others—have invited US audiences to view Latin America as a foil for the greatness of their own nation and encouraged white US publics in particular to see themselves as especially American among Americans. She reveals how each instance of visual rhetoric relies upon the eyes of others to instantiate its magnitude—and falters as some viewers look askance instead. The result is the possibility of a post-magnitude United States: neither great nor failed, but modest, partial, and imperfect.
2014 Choice Outstanding Academic Title
Amigas y Amantes (Friends and Lovers) explores the experiences of sexually nonconforming Latinas in the creation and maintenance of families. It is based on forty-two in-depth ethnographic interviews with women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, or queer (LBQ). Additionally, it draws from fourteen months of participant observation at LBQ Latina events that Katie L. Acosta conducted in 2007 and 2008 in a major northeast city. With this data, Acosta examines how LBQ Latinas manage loving relationships with the families who raised them, and with their partners, their children, and their friends.
Acosta investigates how sexually nonconforming Latinas negotiate cultural expectations, combat compulsory heterosexuality, and reconcile tensions with their families. She offers a new way of thinking about the emotion work involved in everyday lives, which highlights the informal, sometimes invisible, labor required in preserving family ties. Acosta contends that the work LBQ Latinas take on to preserve connections with biological families, lovers, and children results in a unique way of doing family.
Paying particular attention to the negotiations that LBQ Latinas undertake in an effort to maintain familial order, Amigas y Amantes explores how they understand femininity, how they negotiate their religious faiths, how they face the unique challenges of being in interracial/interethnic relationships, and how they raise their children while integrating their families of origin.
Several biographies of Américo Paredes have been published over the last decade, yet they generally overlook the paradoxical nature of his life’s work. Embarking on an in-depth, critical exploration of the significant body of work produced by Paredes, José E. Limón (one of Paredes’s students and now himself one of the world’s leading scholars in Mexican American studies) puts the spotlight on Paredes as a scholar/citizen who bridged multiple arenas of Mexican American cultural life during a time of intense social change and cultural renaissance.
Serving as a counterpoint to hagiographic commentaries, Américo Paredes challenges and corrects prevailing readings by contemporary critics of Paredes’s Asian period and of such works as the novel George Washington Gómez, illuminating new facets in Paredes’s role as a folklorist and public intellectual. Limón also explores how the field of cultural studies has drifted away from folklore, or “the poetics of everyday life,” while he examines the traits of Mexican American expressive culture. He also investigates the scholarly paradigm of ethnography itself, a stimulating inquiry that enhances readings of Paredes’s best-known study, “With His Pistol in His Hand,” and other works. Underscoring Paredes’s place in folklore and Mexican American literary production, the book questions the shifting reception of Paredes throughout his academic career, ultimately providing a deep hermeneutics of widely varied work. Offering new conceptions, interpretations, and perspectives, Américo Paredes gives this pivotal literary figure and his legacy the critical analysis they deserve.
2021 Finalist Raul Yzaguirre Best Political/Current Affairs Book, International Latino Book Awards
Winner of the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education Inaugural Book Award
Unraveling the intertwined histories of Latino radicalism and religion in urban America, this book examines how Latino activists transformed churches into staging grounds for protest against urban renewal and displacement.
In the late 1960s, the American city found itself in steep decline. An urban crisis fueled by federal policy wreaked destruction and displacement on poor and working-class families. The urban drama included religious institutions, themselves undergoing fundamental change, that debated whether to stay in the city or move to the suburbs. Against the backdrop of the Black and Brown Power movements, which challenged economic inequality and white supremacy, young Latino radicals began occupying churches and disrupting services to compel church communities to join their protests against urban renewal, poverty, police brutality, and racism.
Apostles of Change tells the story of these occupations and establishes their context within the urban crisis; relates the tensions they created; and articulates the activists' bold, new vision for the church and the world. Through case studies from Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and Houston, Felipe Hinojosa reveals how Latino freedom movements frequently crossed boundaries between faith and politics and argues that understanding the history of these radical politics is essential to understanding the dynamic changes in Latino religious groups from the late 1960s to the early 1980s.
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