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

A Quince for My Boys: Celebrating 15 Latina Style

photo of two boys in formal dress facing audience at banquet

The Mighty Ones. Photo by John Landry, Take5ive Photography. CC BY-NC-ND.

By Sonia BasSheva Mañjon

Growing up Latina and Catholic in a large Dominican family, in Compton, California, meant, for me, that ritual was a daily occurrence and a requirement. Attending mass on Sundays and Holy Days, Baptism, Confirmation, First Holy Communion, Quinceañera, and ultimately my Wedding, were all monumental occasions. My abuela would make the extravagant white dress, the extended family gathered for mass at the church, my abuelo would dig the hole in the backyard for the lechón asado that would accompany the feast prepared by the women at my grandparents house. And finally the pachanga complete with dancing merengue with my abuela to make sure I was authentic Dominicana. I always felt my grandmother and mother went overboard with these celebrations. At times it was embarrassing because my African American friends did not share any of these particular ritual celebrations, and often did not understand what was going on and why it was so important. But deep down inside, I expected and appreciated the “Queen for a Day” celebrations. Continue reading

Stigmatized Markets: Los Angeles Street Vending Kids Working and Restoring a Dignified Self

By Emir Estrada

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgbGSYmLgmQ

The video in the link above depicts the public humiliation of a child street vendor in Tabasco, Mexico. Three officials stand tall next to him as he inconsolably and powerlessly follows through on their command to dump on the street the merchandise he carried on a small straw basket. Once he empties the basket, the officials turn away and leave him on the floor to collect his merchandize. This incident took place in Mexico, but this also happens in our own backyard, here in the U.S.

When I watched this video, I was working on an academic article based on original research I conducted in 2009 to 2012 with street vending children and their families in Los Angeles, CA.  Street vending is a popular economic strategy for poor, undocumented and Spanish monolingual Latinos in Los Angeles. During my study, I spent two and a half years with various street vending families and conducted 66 interviews with children between the ages of 10-18 and their parents. I also accompanied several families while they sold goods on the streets. Continue reading