The Latina/o/x Role in the 2016 Political Race

This week we feature Latina/o Studies scholars and writers Lisa Magaña, Christina Bejarano, and Daisy Hernández on the role of Latinas/os/x in today’s political climate and how the 2016 election will affect Latina/o/x lives.

Christina Bejarano, University of Kansas

Latinos play an increasingly important role in today’s political climate, both in terms of their increasing presence in the political environment and their growing voting power in the elections.  Latinos are a key voting bloc of swing voters that are courted by both political parties and they are forecasted to play a pivotal role in upcoming elections.  This particular election has brought a heightened sense of importance to the Latino vote.  However, this increased political attention comes with both negative and positive ramifications for Latinos. 

Word "vote" painted on fence

Photo by Flickr user H2Woah! Taken August 5, 2008. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The current political climate provides several clear issues of importance for Latino communities, which can be an additional motivator for Latinos to participate this election.  Latinos are concerned about multiple issues including their top concerns on immigration reform, improving the economy, and creating more jobs, as well as providing quality education and health care.  This election has also emphasized the need to address mounting anti-Latino and anti-immigrant discrimination in the country, as well as police violence and inner city tensions.  Many Latinos acknowledge the negative repercussions of the Trump campaign, which has created a more hostile and divided racial climate in the U.S.  This campaign has included unprecedented verbal attacks on the Latino community, including Trump’s continued racial slurs against Mexicans/Latinos and Mike Pence’s dismissal of “that Mexican thing” during the debates.  Latinos report this campaign has resulted in more people being more openly angry and hostile to them.[1]

Additional negative ramifications this election include renewed attempts to suppress Latino voting power.  Latino voters may face a wide variety of problems at the polls including long lines/wait times, lack of Spanish language assistance and information available, problems with identification required to register or vote, issues with voter registration, and voter roll file errors.[2]   The problems include structural barriers such as strict voter identification laws in many states (including Wisconsin, Ohio, Texas, and North Carolina), which disproportionately disenfranchise racial/ethnic minorities, the poor, and elderly among others. There are reported problems with the implementation of the strict voter ID laws, however many of them are still in effect for the 2016 election. In addition, Latinos may also fear possible voter intimidation at the polls, which may detract some from even attempting to vote this election. Continue reading

Attorney Susana Prieto-Terrazas, a Champion for Maquiladora Worker’s Rights

Image provided by authors of poster calling for workers to join march.

Image provided by authors. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Marlene Flores and Miguel Juárez

The maquiladora industry has long impacted the border region, especially the Ciudad Juárez-El Paso region. With the passage of NAFTA, neoliberal economic policies that have encouraged the freer movement of goods and services across the border have especially encouraged the explosion of the maquiladora industry. In a maquiladora factory workers assemble part of a product (such as a car door handle) and the product is shipped to the final country destination where multiple parts will be put together for the finished product. Maquiladora factories do not have to reside on the border but many of them do because of their proximity to another country and trade laws. Though promising stable jobs and a healthy economy, this industry has had detrimental effects on the workers themselves. Still recovering from a sluggish economy and heavily hit by the cartel violence from its peak in 2010, the region where maquiladoras flourish provides plenty of employment opportunities. There are over 300 maquiladoras in Ciudad Juárez that employ over 250,000 workers at substandard wages.

Maquiladoras (or maquilas, as they are often referred to) are famous for having large populations of women employed, though this has changed somewhat in recent years. [1] While this may provide a steady income, this has also had negative effects on the women and their families. They are not able to spend much time with their children and as a result, their children’s schoolwork and social skills suffer. The wages are low enough to barely survive but not enough for the workers to really climb any sort of reasonable socio-economic status. The obrer@s also suffer bodily injuries because of the intense repetitive motions they enact while working. Continue reading

Reports from July 2016 Latina/o Studies Association Conference

panelists pictured

Panelists Beatriz Tapia, Alexandro Gradilla, Anita Tijerina Revilla, and Magdalena L. Barrera. Photo by M. Barrera. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Latina/o Studies Association 2016: Nourishing the Mind and the Spirit

By Magdalena L. Barrera

The 2016 LSA conference was a wonderful experience, for many reasons. To situate myself: I am a faculty member of the Mexican American Studies department at San José State University. My primary area of research is analysis of textual representations of Mexican Americans in early twentieth century American cultural production; however, in recent years I have developed a secondary research area that explores the retention and mentoring of first-generation and underrepresented students in higher education. This second area was inspired in part by the learning curve I underwent as my environment changed from the R1 settings of my undergraduate through postdoctoral training to working in the California State University system. Although I have maintained my primary research area, it requires some effort to stay in touch with emerging trends in the field, as I am the only person at SJSU who does Humanities-based work in Chicanx Studies. Moreover, I had not attended a conference in a couple of years, and so I welcomed this year’s LSA as an opportunity to fully engage as both a presenter and participant, and to expand my professional network. Continue reading

Countering Hate with Knowledge, Fury, and Protest: Three Latina/o Studies Scholars Respond to Orlando Massacre

40 images of human heart

Detail from “Cortando hilos del corazón.” Mixed media, 54 x 34. ©Mortega

SIN PULSO/no pulse

By Mariana Ortega

Forty nine hearts beating in a space of defiant joy, being who they were or who they wanted to be, a being-with others in glorious, sonorous denunciation of homo-hate. Brutality and terror storm in—and pulses cede to straight lines. Many words uttered: sanctuary, prayers, peace, unity, sorrow, solidarity, safety, “love conquers all,” “we are all Orlando.”

But love does not conquer all, and we are not all Orlando. Even if love could conquer, pulses would still suddenly and cruelly stop as a ravenous hate finds its way around our schools, jobs, streets, homes—this hate being fed continuously, even by those who profess to love. We are not all Orlando. Not all of us are persecuted, undermined, mocked, bullied, beaten or killed for whom we love or desire or lust. If in the past we have followed the instant solidarity recipe, “We are all [those who have been victimized fiercely and ferociously],” today, not everyone adheres to the recipe. To say “We are all Orlando,” is to risk being thought a queer, a fag, a freak, unnatural. It is to lose the honorable shield of hetero-love.

So, no, this time not everyone is united. Not everyone mourns. The brutal massacre of Latinx bodies in the midst of pleasure has not happened here. Where is the outrage and non-stop news coverage? In social media, in the news that lives off tragedy and tears when good American citizens and children die senselessly of gun violence in middle class, white communities—in those towns where “nothing like that ever happens”?  Basketball and soccer scores, the meal at the fancy restaurant, the ubiquitous selfies, political chatter about an almost absurd but too real and sad election, day-to-day misfortunes about news that are supposedly worth our time—those remain. For many life will be as it has always been. Not for queer Latinxs, whose lives are too often questioned and disregarded even within queer spaces and within queer theory whose words still reveal absences of bodies of color. Continue reading