¡Unidos and Inclusive for a Stronger Nation!: A Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month Reading List
September 23, 2022
Talk about an affront to human life. In a bait-and-switch tactic to push the Right’s anti-immigrant message, FL Governor Ron DeSantis paid to send 50 migrants like cattle on an airplane from San Antonio, TX, to Martha’s Vineyard, MA. The migrants were told they’d land in Boston, where they could get expedited work papers. On top of that, hundreds of thousands of people across Puerto Rico are waiting for water and power to be restored after Hurricane Fiona knocked out power lines and collapsed infrastructure with massive flooding.
A rough way for Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month to start. Which makes this year’s theme, Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation, hit even harder.
The goal is to ensure that all Hispanic/Latinx voices are represented and welcomed to build stronger communities. Seeing how anti-immigrant feels, climate change TKOs, and the can’t-quit-you legacy of colonialism are flaring, this is what we’re doing by highlighting this (inexhaustive) list of titles from our catalog.
An African American and Latinx History of the United States
We must give credit to immigrants of the Global South for sharing practical visions of liberation that have reinvigorated civic culture in the United States. A basic knowledge of the battles fought by the ancestors of today’s immigrants—whether they hail from Latin America or elsewhere—is important if we are to understand contemporary US politics.
And the Category Is: Inside New York’s Vogue, House, and Ballroom Community
Built out of the human need for lineage and legacy, the house system is a clan barreling toward posterity with a common cause: freedom. And on an individual level, just like with biological families, these houses, Lanvin, Ebony, LaBeija, Pendavis, Mugler, et al., provide LGBTQ BIPOC youth an opportunity to metabolize centuries of generational trauma.
antes que isla es volcán/before island is volcano: poemas/poems
me encadenaste para liberarte
de un amo en común
y todavía piensas que
yo soy el caníbal.
you chained me to free yourself
from our common master,
and you still believe
i’m the cannibal.
—Raquel Salas Rivera, “calibán a ariel”/“caliban to ariel”
Te apoyas en mí
mientras bailamos, le suave roce
de nuestres cabezas juntes,
nuestres alientos une vapor limpie en le humo
azul, rápide, agotade.
Mezclamos margaritas porque
me gusta le nombre; es
la mujer que amas. Tú eres mayor.
Yo estoy dispuesta, borracha, desabrochada.
You lean against me
as we dance, the soft huddle
of our heads together,
our breaths clean steam in the blue
smoke, rapid, exhausted.
We mix margaritas, because
I like the name, a
woman you love. You’re older.
I’m willing, drunk, unbuttoned.
—Achy Obejas, de/from “Bailando en le paraíso”/“Dancing in Paradise”
Central America’s Forgotten History: Revolution, Violence, and the Roots of Migration
The politics of forgetting took on a new significance in the United States as more and more Central Americans fled their homes to make new lives in el norte (the North). Large-scale Central American migration to the United States dates to the civil wars of the 1980s and came primarily from El Salvador and Guatemala. Most came fleeing political violence, and their presence became politically very inconvenient for the Reagan administration, which was seeking to justify its support for these countries’ governments. Others were economic refugees. Either way, the refugees gave the lie to Reagan’s claims of the governments’ legitimacy and right to US support.
Detained and Deported: Stories of Immigrant Families Under Fire
As the numbers of detainees imprisoned in this infrastructure skyrocketed, human rights complaints likewise multiplied. Critics noted the racial dimension of the incarcerations. The vast majority of detainees were Mexican—64.4 percent in 2012—with Guatemalans coming in second at 10.6 percent, Hondurans next at 8.5 percent, and Salvadorans at 6.6 percent, for a Central American total of 25.7 percent. And organizations from the ACLU to Amnesty International have cited physical, verbal, and sexual abuse of detainees, inadequate health care and food, use of solitary confinement as punishment, prolonged detention, and even an untoward number of deaths. Arizona plays an outsized role in this human tragedy.
How Does It Feel to Be Unwanted?: Stories of Resistance and Resilience from Mexicans Living the United States
“Why doesn’t the US want us?” In my experience, this is the question that immigrants puzzle over, the question that gets under their skin, especially when they are the victims of workplace abuse or bigoted comments, when their children are victims of bullying at school, or when a politician in power insults and stigmatizes an entire community in spite of their struggle and hard work every day.
An Incomplete List of Names: Poems
I keep the photographs of my father—one behind each ear.
Like accent marks. The father behind my own ear, a man
holding light in his hand, tells me how to get home: find
a freeway; go east, away from water. Behind my borrowed
ear, my father spins the gun on his finger. Wind whistles.
He tells me, when buying the newspaper, pay for one
but make sure to take two: one for yourself;
one for who you cannot be.
—Michael Torres, from “[Mexican] America”
Mothercoin: The Stories of Immigrant Nannies
Women like Sara and her mother are part of a broad phenomenon of international migration for domestic and carework that has been growing since the end of the last century, spurred by widening global inequality and an increased demand for domestic service in the north. As cleaners and caregivers move from poorer regions into wealthier ones, they leave behind a material and emotional absence that is keenly felt by their families in the global south. North of these borders, children of wealthier regions are bathed and diapered and cared for in clean homes with folded laundry and sopa de arroz simmering on the stove, while their parents work ever longer hours and often struggle with these daily separations.
—Elizabeth Cummins Muñoz
Racial Innocence: Unmasking Latino Anti-Black Bias and the Struggle for Equality
The anti-Black slurs I heard used in the Latino community with respect to African Americans only reinforced my early impressions that Blackness was problematic, despite our assertions of Latino pride in being a mixture of races. It became evident to me that cultural mestizaje pride (race-mixture pride) aside, not all parts of the mixture were equally welcomed or celebrated.
—Tanya Katerí Hernández
For my husband in El Salvador,
separated for eighty-three days
during COVID-19, 2020
Without you, the hours I measure in my skin,
deepening to a darker brown as I write
canalside. You say I worry too much,
& it’s true, I often stay silent rather
than go off-key. Like the bufo frogs, I too,
find protection beneath a broad leaf, hidden
from the jaws of snake or iguana, invisible
to spear-beaked ibis. These days are wet sand
through my fingers, pouring out in hills & turrets.
—Alexandra Lytton Regalado, from “Bufo Lovesong”
The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart
Readers say the notion of “the vulnerable observer” put a label on something many anthropologists and other scholars had been grappling with: how to describe the practice of thinking through and laying bare one’s subjectivity and personal connection to research. They point out that the book heightened the awareness of the emotional stakes of being an observer of any social world.