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 Introduction: Freeing Subjugated Knowledge A D A M A R Í A I S A S I - D Í A Z A N D E D U A R D O M E N D I E TA Sitting in crowded bleachers amid a sea of Asian faces, our little group stood out like a sore thumb. Two of us were Latinas, one quite pale from a northern Spain ancestry, the other one with a dark café con leche skin that speaks of her African roots. The third in our group was tall and thin with that light copper skin hue that, together with her sari, indicated her Southern Asian roots. The circus in Shanghai was simply fascinating; we were spectators, but we also were part of the spectacle. Our different phenotypes drew the attention of all those around us, and as we watched and enjoyed the feats of the acrobats, we were watched intensely. It was toward the end of our two-week tour of China, and by then we were somewhat accustomed to the stares and murmuring of the people in the streets when they noticed us. As the lights went on, signaling intermission, we immediately saw them. Across from us, on the other side of the round, sunken stage, there were two men, obviously non-Asians, moving quickly down from the bleachers and walking in our direction. They jostled their way through the crowd, and in no time they were standing before us, greeting us with ample smiles, as if we were long-lost relatives. They were Cuban men who had been sent to work in China and had been in Shanghai for almost a year. ‘‘We could not believe it when we saw you,’’ they said in Spanish, as we effusively shook hands. When we replied also in Spanish, they burst out laughing! ‘‘What luck we have had to find people who look like us among the millions who live in this city,’’ the older one of them said. Our visit was short, for in no time the lights dimmed, and, being PAGE 1 ................. 18125$ INTR 09-19-11 07:51:26 PS 2 兩 a d a m a r ı́a i s as i - dı́ a z an d e du a r do m e nd i e ta part of a group with a tight schedule, we could not make plans to see them later. During the music that served as the introduction to the second part of the show, we translated for our friend from Pakistan what the men had said and to explain to her who they were. That night the three of us sat on our beds and talked about what had happened. Myriam helped us with her questions to debrief what it had meant for the two of us Latinas to meet the Cuban men. We reflected on the joy of being recognized, on how it provided us with an affirming sense of self. We spoke about how, for a few minutes, the fact that we were different became of paramount importance, providing us with an opportunity to make contact with others . For once we had experienced being different as good and positive, leading to recognition and appreciation. That we, as Latinas/os living in the United States, are different is most of the time ignored or considered by others to be at best a burden, at worst a threat. Our religions, languages, and cultural practices are perceived to be too different from what is considered the fundamental culture of this nation, commonly referred to as the American Way of Life. We are treated as a problem, although we have been part of the territory occupied by the United States since before the arrival of the European settlers. Today anti-immigration feelings have been fanned to such extremes that about twenty of the states are ready to pass laws that allow for open discrimination against Latinas/os and other immigrant groups. Immigrants today in the United States are seen as a threat. That the majority of us Latinas/os came to live in this country obliged by circumstances in which most of the time the U.S. government has had a hand, or were crossed by the border after the United States took one-third of northern Mexico or appropriated Puerto Rico, means nothing to the dominant group. The fact that in the twenty-first century the movement of peoples across national borders is an intrinsic element of globalization...


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MARC Record
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