June 5, 2014
By Blanca Ortiz
The Latino Generation (Voices of the New America) by Mario T. Garcia is made up of 13 oral history interviews with Latino college graduates. Garcia collected the stories over the course of a few years while working at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he serves as a professor of Chicano studies. Garcia was able to dig deeply into the personal and touching stories of these young men and women and share the struggles they — along with their families — face, such as coming into the United States accompanied by financial and cultural problems within their day-to-day lives.
Garcia notes in his introduction how these young Latinos are not accepted as Americans and are usually labeled as lazy right off the bat without anyone giving them a chance. The book makes it clear that the battle against the “anti-immigrant” crowd is one of the hardest challenges to overcome. Garcia mentions that Latinos are the largest minority in the United States and yet they are still the most misunderstood demographic in the country. This is unfortunate because Latinos make up 16 percent of the overall population, and “by 2050, one out of every three Americans will be Latino. … All Americans are being affected and will be affected by this demographic change.” He shares the importance of understanding the influence of Latinos in the country, as well as their history, in order to prevent ethnic tensions.
Thirteen young college students made this book possible. It is very impressive to see how open and honest they are about their stories, and that is what makes this book unique. The participants even discuss their parents’ immigration status, and in some cases their own, which was a very bold choice for them to do since their first and last names are shared in the book. While discrimination, labeling and racism against the new Latino generation continue around this country, some people choose to ignore it, but not Garcia. He shifted toward the positive within these stories, making a connection and shining a light on these young adults who represent all Latinos. With his guidance, they share their dedication, dreams, accomplishments, and struggles.
Skillfully written, The Latino Generation goes beyond any stereotypical views that many Americans may have toward Latinos. At first, I was not sure how I was going to feel about this book, but I feel it really paints a clear picture of what the word Latino means. To me, that brings to mind courage, strength, passion, dedication and intelligence. This book, published by the University of North Carolina Press, has the potential to change the way people view Latinos. It certainly helps to fade the negative stigma sometimes associated with Latinos.
Source: Santa Fe New Mexican