Latinos are already the largest minority group in the United States, and experts estimate that by 2050, one out of three Americans will identify as Latino. Though their population and influence are steadily rising, stereotypes and misconceptions about Latinos remain, from the assumption that they refuse to learn English to questions of just how "American" they actually are. By presenting thirteen riveting oral histories of young, first-generation college students, Mario T. Garcia counters those long-held stereotypes and expands our understanding of what he terms "the Latino Generation." By allowing these young people to share their stories and struggles, Garcia reveals that these students and children of immigrants will be critical players in the next chapter of our nation's history.
Collected over several years, the testimonios follow the history of the speakers in thought-provoking ways, reminding us that members of the Latino Generation are not merely a demographic group but, rather, real individuals, as American in their aspirations and loyalty as the members of any other ethnic group in the country.
Garc a, professor of Chicano Studies at UC Santa Barbara and co-author of Blowout! Sal Castro and the Chicano Struggle for Educational Justice, gathers the oral histories of 13 Latino college graduates. The book introduces, among others, Nayeli Reyes, who "lost Spanish" after insisting on speaking only English in pre-school; Tania Picasso, who discusses the pressures surrounding dating and marriage; and David Guerra, who plunged into theater in college and only learned he had an accent when it was pointed out by professors. Most featured graduates were born in the U.S. in the 1980s and raised in strict religious homes by parents who entered the country "without documents." In his edifying introduction, Garcia describes how "the Latino Generation" children of individuals who arrived after the 1965 immigration law reform has struggled against a pervasive "neo-nativism," yet has achieved "educational mobility," and has "been influenced by the...unprecedented growth in Latino political power." Garcia's framework for interpreting Latino immigration will undoubtedly shape scholarly and journalistic discussions of Latino communities, and his collected interviews will be useful in college classrooms. 13 illus.