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Crowding Out Latinos

Marco Portales

Publication Year: 2000

In this groundbreaking analysis, Marco Portales examines the way in which education and the media act as immobilizing social forces to shape the Latino world that exists despite the best efforts of many Mexican Americans and other Latinos. The delicate relationships between what Latinos are and what they seem to be, as perceived both by the larger society and by Latinos themselves, create and craft a culture that students of American culture have not sufficiently studied or understood.

As bandidos or gigolos, drug users or unwed mothers, Latinos continue to figure in the public consciousness primarily as undesirables. Despite decades of effort by Spanish-speaking Americans to improve their image in the United States, Mexican Americans and other resident Latinos are still largely perceived by other Americans as  poverty-stricken immigrants and second-class citizens. Accordingly, the great majority of Latino citizens receive substandard educations, equipping them for substandard jobs in substandard living environments.

The lives of Mexican Americans and other Latinos, Portales contends, can best be illuminated by looking at the history of Chicanos and particularly Chicano literature, which dramatizes the impact of education and the media on Latinos. Like Irish literature, Chicano literature has sought to articulate and to establish itself as a postcolonial voice that has struggles for national attention. Through psychological and sociopolitical representations, Chicano writers have variously used anger, indifference, fear, accommodation, and other conflicting emotions and attitudes to express how it feels to be seen as an immigrant or a foreigner in one's own country.

Portales looks at four Chicano literary works -- Americo Paredes' George Washington Gomez, Anthony Quinn's The Original Sin, Sandra Cisnero's House on Mango Street, and Ana Castillo's Massacre of the Dreamers -- to focus attention on social issues that impede the progress of Latinos. By doing so, he hopes to engage both Latino and non-Latino Americans in an overdue dialogue about the power of education and the media to form perceptions that can either empower or repress Latino citizens.

Published by: Temple University Press

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pp. ix-x

The U.S. Census for the year 2000 is sure to count more than 32 million Latinos out of a total population of 273 million Americans. Although Spanish-speaking Americans comprise one out of every nine citizens...

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About the Frontispiece

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pp. xi-xii

The one extant photograph, found in a brown paper sack at the bottom of a World War II Army trunk following the death of the only American-born family member, the child standing up front, and of the author's father, circa 1923, at ten years of age, posing in Sunday clothes...

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pp. xiii-xiv

I wish to thank my colleagues in the Department of English at Texas A&M University for their unflagging support since I joined them in College Station in 1991. As a member of this highly professional team of scholars and teachers...

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pp. 1-17

Despite efforts throughout the twentieth century, especially during the last thirty years, to improve how Mexican Americans and other Spanish-speaking people are perceived in the United States, Chicanos 1 and other Latinos are not yet seen as typical American citizens...

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2. Chicano Literature and Irish Literature

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pp. 18-30

Readers might be struck by the seeming disparity between my introductory remarks and the title of this chapter. One of my objectives in this study is to highlight how different expectations can give birth to different realities...

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3. Latinos in American Culture

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pp. 31-51

Since the 19S0s, when I grew up, I have periodically observed that pictures of Hispanic people are not selected for the covers and inside pages of the national and regional mainstream magazines, advertisements, and promotional brochures in the United States...

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4. Hispanics and the American Media

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pp. 52-65

When we study the representation of Latinos in the American media up to and throughout the 1990s, we find what reluctantly has to be characterized as insistent disregard for most things Hispanic. Such neglect, as suggested in the previous chapter, psychologically damages both Latinos...

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5. Love and the Mexican American School Experience

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pp. 66-76

Chicano authors have not especially dwelled on the idea of love, and neither have the critics. The medieval writers discussed by C. S. Lewis in The Allegory of Love continue to hold the literary imagination when we consider the issue of love. Of course, writers like Cervantes...

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6. Enhancing the Visibility of Chicano Literature

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pp. 77-81

Even though Chicano literature has its followers, our books still need wider appeal throughout the United States and abroad. For Chicano literature to continue to develop in a healthy direction, we need to ask ourselves...

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7. Americo Paredes's George Washington Gomez: Educating Mexican American Students

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pp. 82-99

Americo Paredes's George Washington Gomez in many ways is the master Chicano narrative produced by a Mexican American writer so far. Finished three generations ago, in 1940, but not published until exactly half a century later...

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8. The Lives of a Chicano Film Star: Anthony Quinn's The Original Sin

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pp. 100-120

In 1995, the year he turned eighty, Anthony Quinn published One Man Tango, an account of his life among the movie stars he has known during his more than sixty years as a film star and theater actor. This second published story of Quinn's life covers his relationships...

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9. Rape and Barrio Education in Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street

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pp. 121-134

Thinking about the connection between Esperanza Cordero's education in her barrio neighborhood and her rape in Sandra Cisneros's 1984 novel The House on Mango Street can be a disturbing and enlightening experience.1...

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10. Ana Castillo's Massacre of the Dreamers: Communicating the Chicana Experience

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pp. 135-144

The title of Ana Castillo's Massacre of the Dreamers: Essays on Xicanisma (1995) is meant to inform readers that when Hernando Cortes arrived on the eastern shores of Montezuma's kingdom in 1519, Montezuma ordered that thousands of his dreamers, his diviners of the future...

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11. Chicano Writing versus Chicano life

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pp. 145-154

If some readers remain skeptical about my contentions and interpretations regarding the psychologically unhealthy connections between the educations dispensed in the schools and the nature of the relations between the American media and Latinos,...

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12. Postscripts

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pp. 155-165

Several winters ago, the streets of the central Texas area were frozen over by a cold arctic blast that usually does not sweep as far south as Austin and Bryan-College Station where we live. My wife, who was teaching fourth-grade bilingual education classes at the time, called the local television station to ask the manager to place a public...


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pp. 166-186


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pp. 187-195


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pp. 196-209

E-ISBN-13: 9781439906101

Publication Year: 2000