Conversations Across Our America

Conversations Across Our America

LOUIS G. MENDOZA
Copyright Date: 2012
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/737389
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  • Book Info
    Conversations Across Our America
    Book Description:

    In the summer of 2007, Louis G. Mendoza set off on a bicycle trip across the United States with the intention of conducting a series of interviews along the way. Wanting to move beyond the media's limited portrayal of immigration as a conflict between newcomers and "citizens," he began speaking with people from all walks of life about their views on Latino immigration. From the tremendous number of oral histories Mendoza amassed, the resulting collection offers conversations with forty-three different people who speak of how they came to be here and why they made the journey. They touch upon how Latino immigration is changing in this country, and how this country is being changed by Latinoization. Interviewees reflect upon the concerns and fears they've encountered about the transformation of the national culture, and they relate their own experiences of living and working as "other" in the United States.

    Mendoza's collection is unique in its vastness. His subjects are from big cities and small towns. They are male and female, young and old, affluent and impoverished. Many are political, striving to change the situation of Latina/os in this country, but others are "everyday people," reflecting upon their lives in this country and on the lives they left behind. Mendoza's inclusion of this broad swath of voices begins to reflect the diverse nature of Latino immigration in the United States today.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-73739-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: THE LATINOIZATION OF THE U.S. AND “OUR” NATIONAL CULTURE
    (pp. 1-8)

    In the spring of 2006, the U.S. experienced a series of unprecedented immigrant rights marches involving hundreds of thousands of people across the country as they sought to shift the rising tide of anti-immigrant discourse in the media and among the public at large. In recent years, anti-immigrant sentiments, particularly those aimed at undocumented workers and families, have given rise to hundreds of local ordinances prohibiting access to housing, education, and jobs. Amid this climate, efforts to reform outdated immigration policies stalled at the federal level as the country became polarized by competing perspectives on the benefits and liabilities of...

  5. ONE LEAVING: HOME IS NO LONGER HOME
    (pp. 9-29)

    As will become abundantly clear throughout this book, each immigrant’s experience is idiosyncratic even as his or her individual story resonates with common themes: motivations for leaving home, the emotional pain resulting from being separated from loved ones and one’s homeland, the struggle to adapt to a new society. In addition, for many immigrants there is the recognition that their primary home is now here, and home is no longer home. Obviously this recognition depends on the migrant’s expectations about returning home. Until recently, inter-American migrants to the U.S. who had served as seasonal and temporary migrant workers did not...

  6. TWO THE CRUCIBLE OF CHANGE AND ADAPTATION
    (pp. 30-84)

    The profoundness of change that immigrants experience is measured by the contrast between the past, present, and an unknown future. But for Latinos the contemporary immigration phenomenon should not be viewed in isolation from the larger historical narrative of our place in U.S. society. The intense increase in immigration from Latin America is a logical outcome of conquest, displacement, dependency, U.S. foreign policies, and free market variables. For these reasons the interviews selected for this chapter encompass a life marked by a fluid border and a binational existence, lives lived in the United States for generations, and lives beginning anew...

  7. THREE AN EMERGING SENSE OF MUTUALITY TÚ ERES MI OTRO YO [YOU ARE MY OTHER ME]
    (pp. 85-113)

    The Mayan concept ofin lak’ech, approximated in the epigraph, has its specific manifestation in Mayan culture but is in many respects a concept that has corollaries in cultures around the world. This notion of reciprocity and mutuality can be found in Western civilization in Christianity’s “golden rule,” doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. In this chapter mutuality and reciprocity assume particular importance because the interviewees each speak to their role as facilitators of change in their mid-western communities.

    Not insignificantly, while both Minnesota and Iowa have had a Latino presence since the early twentieth...

  8. FOUR CONFRONTING THREATS TO COMMUNITY
    (pp. 114-150)

    The conversations included in this chapter speak to the ways in which Latino communities have responded to persistent and intensified threats to their well-being and the process, rewards, and challenges of organizing collective action in their own defense. They are, of course, only a representative sampling of issues and responses. Taken together, though, they demonstrate how urban-rural-suburban and border-interior communities share very tangible risks to community integrity and control of their environment, be it from encroachment by developers, local ordinances premised on the view of Latinos as an economic or social threat, or the building of the border wall. In...

  9. FIVE ASSERTING RIGHTS
    (pp. 151-207)

    The Latino community’s pursuit of social justice within the U.S. can be traced back to the moment they became “foreigners” in their native lands. This endeavor has assumed numerous forms, from armed resistance in the aftermath of territorial conquest to legal advocacy to remove barriers to equal rights in the educational system and the workplace, electoral participation, and community-based advocacy for fundamental respect in their communities as it is manifested in local government services, infrastructure development, and law enforcement.

    This chapter begins with the recollection by José Ramón Sánchez of Puerto Ricans’ struggles for social justice in New York and...

  10. SIX INTERNAL MIGRATION
    (pp. 208-228)

    The Latino diaspora within the United States is a multilayered phenomenon that does not adhere to many people’s preconceived notions of immigration. For example, a common misperception is that Puerto Ricans on the U.S. mainland are international migrants. Furthermore, as was made clear by Andrea Scopia’s brief comments in the previous chapter, the racialization of the Chicano community that has accompanied the ongoing immigration debates has made every Latino vulnerable to the “charge” of being a new immigrant. The persistence of the view of Latinos as perpetual outsiders in the U.S. imaginary is played out in the lives of internal...

  11. SEVEN LIVING IN THE BORDERLANDS MEANS . . .
    (pp. 229-272)

    The fluid, multifaceted, contradictory, and rich experience of living in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands so eloquently articulated and popularized by Gloria Anzaldúa in the mid-1980s is a useful starting point for gaining insight into this unique space that at once evokes the future and the past.¹ In this place that often makes one feel outside of the U.S., the issue of Latinoization might seem moot, as the population in most cities along the border is overwhelmingly composed of people of Mexican descent. Newspapers, radio, and television, as well as billboards, are bilingual or primarily in Spanish, as is the chatter of...

  12. CONCLUSION: NUESTRA AMÉRICA AHORA: MEDITATIONS ON LATINOIZATION, CITIZENSHIP, AND BELONGING
    (pp. 273-280)

    Conversations Across Our Americais and is not my story, just as it is and is not your story, wherever you position yourself within the debates on immigration. “Latinoization” refers to the ongoing process of cultural, social change occurring in the United States as a result of the profound demographic shifts of the past forty years. Latinoization is not a phenomenon that occurs with the United States as a passive actor; rather it is a consequence of the interconnectedness of imperialism and globalization, processes in which the U.S. plays a central role and of which it is a primary beneficiary....

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 281-284)
  14. GLOSSARY
    (pp. 285-288)
  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 289-290)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 291-299)