This year’s theme for Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month is Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope. It invites Hispanic and Latinx communities to reflect on how good our tomorrow can be by holding onto resilience and hope. The following books from our catalog wouldn’t be here without our authors’ sense of hope, be it the hope of a better future embodied in the text or the hope that the book will reach the reader who needs it. In each one, you will experience stories of resilience in the face of seeking justice, of crossing borders and carving out a space for one’s self in an uninviting country, adding to the complexities and contradictions of the United States’ narrative. One of these books is for you. Happy Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month!
I wrote this book because as a scholar I want to ensure that no Latinx or Black children ever again have to be ashamed of who they are and of where they come from. Collectively speaking, African Americans and Latinx people have nothing to apologize for. Every democratic right we enjoy is an achievement that our ancestors fought, suffered, and died for.
You are returning, you are going back to where it all
began, careful to engage in the necessary oblivion of the
circumstances that took you away in the first place. You will
hold your breath and pretend enough answers have been
provided to satisfy your pride, your urge to be here, on the
threshold of what might have been home if not for upheaval,
if not for the price of sugar and oil on the world market, if
not for the assurance of safety and comfort elsewhere, if not
for revolution and exile.
Vas de regreso, vas a volver a donde empezó todo, con
cuidado de establecer le obligade olvido de les circunstancias
que te alejaron en le primer lugar. Vas a contener le
respiración y pretender que suficientes respuestas han sido
proporcionades para satisfacer tu orgullo, tu afán de estar
aquí, en le umbral de lo que podría haber sido tu hogar, de
no haber sido por le agitación, de no haber sido por le precio
de le azúcar y de le petróleo en le mercado mundial, de no
haber sido por le garantía de seguridad y de confort en otre
lugar, de no haber sido por revolución y exilio.
I begin resenting Spanish. At first, it happens in small ways. I realize I can’t tell my mother about the Pilgrims and Indians because I don’t know the Spanish word for Pilgrims. I can’t talk about my essay on school safety because I don’t know the Spanish word for safety. To share my life in English with my family means I have to give a short definition for each word that is not already a part of our lives. I try sometimes, but most of the time I grow weary and finally sigh and mutter, “Olvídate.” Forget it. This is how Spanish starts annoying me. I suppose it’s what happens when you’re young and frustrated, but you can’t be angry at the white teachers because that would get you nowhere, and you can’t be too upset with your parents because they want what they think is best for you.
Like millions, these Mexican men and women have worked diligently over the course of three decades to create networks of resistance and solidarity and keep forging ahead. They have refused to be the victims of the broken systems of both countries and have triumphed over adversity against all expectations. Thanks to this history of struggle and perseverance, on both sides of the border, they are standing up to the politicians in the United States who convey, in words and in actions, that they are not wanted here.
Como tú, I question history’s blur in my eyes
each time I face a mirror. Like a mirror, I gaze
into my palm a wrinkled map I still can’t read,
my lifeline an unnamed road I can’t find, can’t
trace back to the fork in my parents’ trek
that cradled me here. Como tú, I woke up to
this dream of a country I didn’t choose, that
didn’t choose me—trapped in the nightmare
of its hateful glares. Como tú, I’m also from
the lakes and farms, waterfalls and prairies
of another country I can’t fully claim either.
Como tú, I am either a mirage living among
these faces and streets that raised me here,
or I’m nothing, a memory forgotten by all
I was taken from and can’t return to again.
No one calls me Miguel
except those who don’t know me
or those who do.
America what do you want me to say?
There are too many of your voices in my ear;
I don’t know what you look like anymore.
America what size are you now?
How strange to be welcomed now, since I’ve lived my life here from before I can remember. My cultural references are decidedly 80s and 90s United States—Urkel, Alex P. Keaton, Tom & Jerry, Biggie—and despite my best efforts I sometimes slip into a Chicago accent, cutting my A’s short. . . . I don’t feel any different after saying “I will,” but I know there are some real changes that have just taken place, not to my body—and it’s really too soon for anything to have changed in my mind—but to the relations I have to the place in which I live, its bureaucracy, and its ability to restrict my movement.
Women Writing Resistance: Essays on Latin America and the Caribbean, ed. Jennifer Browdy
The big and the little screens have presented us with the picture of the funny Hispanic maid, mispronouncing words and cooking up a spicy storm in a shiny California kitchen. This media-engendered image of the Latina in the United States has been documented by feminist Hispanic scholars, who claim that such portrayals are partially responsible for the denial of opportunities for upward mobility among Latinas in the professions.
—Judith Ortiz Cofer, “The Myth of the Latin Woman”