the latino experience


barrios-and-borderlandsBarrios and Borderlands: Cultures of Latinos and Latinas in the United States
Denis Lynn Daly Heyck, Routledge, 1994
ISBN: 0415903955
This unique anthology highlights the diversity of Latino cultural expressions and points out the distinctive features of the three major Latino populations: Mexican, Puerto Rican and Cuban. It is organized around six central cultural issues: family, religion, community, the arts, immigration and exile, and cultural identity. Each chapter focuses on a particular theme by presenting readings from a variety of genres, including short stories, poems, essays, excerpts from novels, a play, photographs, even a few songs and recipes.

Being Latinobeing-latino1 in Christ: Finding Wholeness in Your Ethnic Identity
Orlando Crespo, InterVarsity Press, 2003
ISBN: 0830823743
Life as a Latino in America is complicated. Living between the two worlds of being Latino and American can generate great uncertainty. And the strange mixture of ethnic pride and racial prejudice creates another sort of confusion.�
- Who are you as a Latino?
- Who are you as an American?
- What has Christ to say about your dilemma?
- How can you accept who you are in Christ with joy and confidence?

Orlando Crespo has taken his own journey from Puerto Rico to an immigrant neighborhood in Springfield, Massachusetts, and back again to his Latino roots. In this book he helps you to reflect on your own voyage of self-understanding and on what it means to have a mixed heritage from the days of the original Spanish Conquest to the present. His straightforward approach also takes him to what the Bible says about ethnic identity — about a people who were often oppressed by more powerful cultures. He helps you to see how Jesus’ own humanity unfolded in the context of a people who were considered to be inferior. Thus, Crespo finds both realism and hope in the good news of Jesus.

There is more, however, than merely coming to terms with who you are. Crespo also shows how Latinos are called to step out positively in ministry to the world. You can make a positive impact on the world in racial reconciliation, in bicultural ministry and more because of who God has uniquely made you to be.

boricuasBoricuas: Influential Puerto Rican Writings – An Anthology *
Roberto Santiago, One World/ Ballantine, 1995
ISBN: 0345395026
Boricua is a Puerto Rican term of endearment for other Puerto Ricans, and this anthology represents the sentiment well. Edited by a writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, it gathers 50 selections of 19th- and 20th-century literature of all sorts: poetry, fiction, essays, screenplays, speeches, and more. Some of the works were originally written in Spanish and some in English, but they are all representative of Puerto Rican life, history, politics, and culture both in Puerto Rico and in the United States.


A Brief History of the Caribbean: From the Arawak and Carib to the Present
Jan Rogozinski, Plume Books, 2000
ISBN: 0452281938
The first complete history of the Caribbean islands — updated through the year 2000. This comprehensive volume takes the reader and student through more than five hundred years of Caribbean history, beginning with Columbus’s arrival in the Bahamas in 1492. A Brief History of the Caribbean traces the people and events that have marked this constantly shifting region, encompassing everything from economic booms and busts to epidemics, wars, and revolutions, and bringing to life such important figures as Sir Francis Drake, Blackbeard, Toussaint Louverture, Fidel Castro, the Duvaliers, and Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

oscar-waoThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Junot Diaz; Riverhead, 2007
ISBN-10: 1594489580
Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fuko – the curse that has haunted the Oscar’s family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.

Diaz immerses us in the tumultuous life of Oscar and the history of the family at large, rendering with genuine warmth and dazzling energy, humor, and insight the Dominican-American experience, and, ultimately, the endless human capacity to persevere in the face of heartbreak and loss.


Brown: The Last Discovery of America
Richard Rodriguez, Penguin Books, 2003
ISBN: 0142000795
In his dazzling new memoir, Richard Rodriguez reflects on the color brown and the meaning of Hispanics to the life of America today. Rodriguez argues that America has been brown since its inception-since the moment the African and the European met within the Indian eye. But more than simply a book about race, Brown is about America in the broadest sense-a look at what our country is, full of surprising observations by a writer who is a marvelous stylist as well as a trenchant observer and thinker.


Changing Race: Latinos, the Census and the History of Ethnicity in the United States
Clara Rodriguez, New York University Press, 2000
ISBN: 0814775470
Through strikingly original historical analysis, extensive personal interviews and a careful examination of census data, Clara E. Rodriguez shows that Latino identity is surprisingly fluid, situation-dependent, and constantly changing. She illustrates how the way Latinos are defining themselves, and refusing to define themselves, represents a powerful challenge to America’s system of racial classification and American racism.

dictionaryDictionary of Latino Civil Rights History
F Arturo Rosales, Arte Público Press, 2006
ISBN: 1558853472
From the Alianza Hispano-Americana, a mutual aid society founded in Tucson, Arizona in 1894, to the Zoot Suit Riots in Los Angeles in 1943, this first-ever dictionary of important issues in the U.S. Latino struggle for civil rights defines a wide-ranging list of key terms. With over 922 entries on significant events, figures, laws, and other historical items, this ground-breaking reference work covers the fight for equality from the mid-nineteenth century to the present by the various Hispanic groups in the U.S.

Rosales chronicles such landmark events as the development of farm worker unions and immigrant rights groups to the forces behind bilingual-bicultural education, feminist activities, and protests over discrimination, segregation, and police brutality. In this volume, he provides a comprehensive look at the history of the Latino civil rights movement. In addition to covering all of the major events in labor, politics, land reclamation, and education, this pioneering work includes never-before-published biographies of the major players in the history of America’s largest minority group.

An array of historical photos and entries outline the activities of all Hispanic populations in the United States, including citizens and immigrants, men and women. A complete subject index, timeline, and bibliographic documentation complement this definitive reference work compiled by the most respected authority on Latino civil rights.

divided-bordersDivided Borders
Juan Flores, Arte Público Press, 1993
ISBN: 1558850465
A collection of the essays on history, literature and culture by the most celebrated commentator on Puerto Rican and Caribbean culture in the United States.


down-meanDown These Mean Streets *
Piri Thomas, Vintage Books, 1997
ISBN: 0679781420
Thirty years ago Piri Thomas made literary history with this lacerating, lyrical memoir of his coming of age on the streets of Spanish Harlem. Here was the testament of a born outsider: a Puerto Rican in English-speaking America; a dark-skinned morenito in a family that refused to acknowledge its African blood. Here was an unsparing document of Thomas’s plunge into the deadly consolations of drugs, street fighting, and armed robbery — a descent that ended when the twenty-two-year-old Piri was sent to prison for shooting a cop. As he recounts the journey that took him from adolescence in El Barrio to a lock-up in Sing Sing to the freedom that comes of self-acceptance, faith, and inner confidence, Piri Thomas gives us a book that is as exultant as it is harrowing and whose every page bears the irrepressible rhythm of its author’s voice. Thirty years after its first appearance, this classic of manhood, marginalization, survival, and transcendence is available in an anniversary edition with a new Introduction by the author.

harvestHarvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America
Juan Gonzalez, Penguin Books, 2001
ISBN: 0140255397
Gonzalez, a Puerto Rican journalist, brings passion and research to this recounting of the fascinating history of Latinos in America. He notes the Latinization of the U.S. with rising immigration from Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America to projections that Latinos will constitute the largest minority in the nation by 2010. Gonzalez explores why Spanish and British colonization experiences were so different, particularly the divergence in attitudes on slavery and race. The book is organized to explore what Gonzalez calls “Roots,” the historical relationship between Latin America and the U.S., “Branches,” the six major Latino groups in the nation, and “Harvest,” issues facing Latinos in the U.S. today. He dissects the U.S. exploitation and occupation of Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Panama, Nicaragua, and Cuba and examines the U.S. policy of supporting dictators friendly to U.S. interest that has destabilized Latin America and provoked massive immigration to the U.S. This is an important book for understanding a major American ethnic group.

hispanicsHispanics/Latinos in the United States: Ethnicity, Race, and Rights
Jorge J E Gracia, Routledge, 2000
ISBN: 041592619X
Already the largest minority group in the United States, by the middle of the next century Hispanics/Latinos will outnumber all other minority groups combined. As such an increasingly important presence in American society, their values, views, and rights must be taken into account by the American population at large. But Hispanics/Latinos, far from being homogenous, differ greatly in terms of origin, race, language, religion, political affiliation, customs, physical appearance, economic status, education, and taste, among other things. This diversity raises important questions about their identity and their rights. Is there a single Hispanic/Latino identity, or are there many identities based on such specifics as class and origin? Do Hispanics/Latinos as such have rights, or are their rights based only on their particular origin or situation? Does affirmative action apply to all Hispanics/Latinos, or just to some?

mangoThe House on Mango Street *
Sandra Cisneros, Vintage Books, 1991
ISBN: 0679734775
Told in a series of vignettes stunning for their eloquence, The House on Mango Street is Sandra Cisneros’s greatly admired novel of a young girl growing up in the Latino section of Chicago. Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous, The House on Mango Street tells the story of Esperanza Cordero, whose neighborhood is one of harsh realities and harsh beauty. Esperanza doesn’t want to belong — not to her rundown neighborhood, and not to the low expectations the world has for her. Esperanza’s story is that of a young girl coming into her power and inventing for herself what she will become.

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents *
Julia Alvarez, Plume Books, 1992
ISBN: 0452268060
This sensitive story of four sisters who must adjust to life in America after having to flee from the Dominican Republic is told through a series of episodes beginning in adulthood, when their lives have been shaped by U. S. mores, and moving backwards to their wealthy childhood on the island. Adapting to American life is difficult and causes embarrassment when friends meet their parents, anger as they are bullied and called “spics,” and identity confusion following summer trips to the family compound in the Dominican Republic. These interconnected vignettes of family life, resilience, and love are skillfully intertwined and offer young adults a perspective on immigration and families as well as a look at America through Hispanic eyes.

Latinos: A Biography of the People *
Earl Shorris, W. W. Norton & Company, 2012
ISBN: 0393321908
They are sometimes called the people who died twice, once at the hands of the Spaniards and their brutal process of civilization, then at the hands of Anglos, practicing a subtler exploitation. They are Latinos, the fastest-growing minority in the United States. Earl Shorris’ deeply moving narrative-enlivened by biographical sketches of Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, Puerto Ricans, and many others struggling with the burden of a rich and terrible history-illuminates every aspect of the Latino experience in America, from language to education to social and political organization.

Latino success: insights from America’s most powerful Latino business executives
Augusto Failde, Fireside, 1997
ISBN: 0684833425
…contends that the entrepreneurship of the nation’s Hispanic population goes largely unnoticed by the general public, which prefers a derogatory stereotype. To spur Latinos – the largest minority population in the U.S.- to still greater efforts and counteract stereotypes, the authors interviewed 100 successful Latinos. We learn that Jellybean Benitez dropped out of high school in the South Bronx because he wanted an education and knew he’d never get one there. He went to college anyway and became a record producer. Antonio Rodriguez graduated from Princeton because his father, a longshoreman, worked hard to send him there. Ten years later, as vice president of finance for Seagram Europe, he bought his dad a car with his bonus check. As a whole, the inspiring first-person narratives reveal dogged determination, originality, courage and forbearance.

Modern Latin America
Thomas E. Skidmore, Peter H. Smith, Oxford University Press, 2004
ISBN: 019517013X
Now in its sixth edition, Modern Latin America is a lively interpretive history and the leading text in the field. Thoroughly updated and revised, the book includes a new chapter on the history of Colombia from the wars of independence to the violent conflicts of the present day. It also examines such topics as: * the impact of 9/11 on U.S.-Latin American relations * globalization * drug trafficking * women’s roles in society and politics * the fragility and uncertainty of democracy in Latin America The book features socio-cultural sections and boxes in nearly every chapter, covering such diverse areas as the psychology of exile, Santeria in Cuba, baseball in the Dominican Republic, and the popularity of Latin music in the U.S. All political and economic information has been updated. As in earlier editions, the authors use an in-depth case study approach that guides readers through the major countries of Latin America, highlighting central themes including European-New World interaction, racial mixtures, military takeovers, and United States intervention in the area.

Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
Eduardo H. Galeano, Monthly Review Press, 1998
ISBN: 0853459916  Text: English (translation), Original Language: Spanish
Eduardo Galeano’s classic work serves as a testament to the world. His words resonate with all of us who have seen and felt the pillaging of Latin America first hand. The book writen in “90 nights,” when Galeano was 31 years old meticulously illustrates how Europe and North America have exploited Latin America in their continued crusade for wealth. Galeano displays how the genocide of the Indigenous Americans and the enslavement of Africans created ‘the foundation stone upon which the giant industrial capital of modern times was built’.


Jose Villareal, Anchor, 1970
ISBN: 0385061188
Villarreal illuminates here the world of “pochos,” Americans whose parents come to the United States from Mexico. Set in Depression-era California, the novel focuses on Richard, a young pocho who experiences the intense conflict between loyalty to the traditions of his family’s past and attraction to new ideas. Richard’s struggle to achieve adulthood as a young man influenced by two worlds reveals both the uniqueness of the Mexican-American experiences and its common ties with the struggles of all Americans — whatever their past.

The Puerto Rican Nation on the Move: Identities on the Island and in the United States
Jorge Duany, University of North Carolina Press, 2002
ISBN: 0807853720
Puerto Ricans maintain a vibrant identity that bridges two very different places — the island of Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland. Whether they live on the island, in the States, or divide time between the two, most imagine Puerto Rico as a separate nation and view themselves primarily as Puerto Rican. At the same time, Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens since 1917, and Puerto Rico has been a U.S. commonwealth since 1952.

Jorge Duany uses previously untapped primary sources to bring new insights to questions of Puerto Rican identity, nationalism, and migration. Drawing a distinction between political and cultural nationalism, Duany argues that the Puerto Rican “nation” must be understood as a new kind of translocal entity with deep cultural continuities. He documents a strong sharing of culture between island and mainland, with diasporic communities tightly linked to island life by a steady circular migration. Duany explores the Puerto Rican sense of nationhood by looking at cultural representations produced by Puerto Ricans and considering how others — American anthropologists, photographers, and museum curators, for example–have represented the nation. His sources of information include ethnographic fieldwork, archival research, interviews, surveys, censuses, newspaper articles, personal documents, and literary texts.

Strangers Among Us: Latino Lives in a Changing America
Roberto Suro, Vintage Books, 1999
ISBN: 0679744568
Strangers Among Us is a lucid, informed, and cliché-shattering examination of Latino immigration to the United States — its history, the vast transformations it is fast producing in American society, and the challenges it will present for decades to come. In making vivid an array of people, places, and events that are little known to most Americans, the author — an American journalist who is himself the son of Latino immigrants — makes an often bewildering phenomenon vastly more understandable.

The Tainos : Rise and Decline of the People Who Greeted Columbus
Irving Rouse, Yale University Press, 1993
ISBN: 0300056966
Tells the story of the Taino people from their ancestral days in South America through their migration to the northern Caribbean islands where they were the first natives to interact with Columbus, to their rapid and immediate decline under the European gifts of forced labor, malnutrition, disease, and dispersal.

When I Was Puerto Rican *
Esmeralda Santiago, Vintage Books, 1994
ISBN: 0679756760
“Santiago’s autobiographical account cinematically recaptures her past and her island culture. What is particularly appealing about Santiago’s story is the insight it offers to readers unaware of the double bind Puerto Rican Americans find themselves in: the identity in conflict. Is [she] black or white? Is she rural or urban? Even more importantly, is she Puerto Rican or is she American? [One] can only be grateful that Esmeralda Santiago has chosen to explore her culture and share what she has found.”

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