Education in the New Latino Diaspora: Policy and the Politics of Identity

Education in the New Latino Diaspora: Policy and the Politics of Identity

Education in the New Latino Diaspora: Policy and the Politics of Identity

Education in the New Latino Diaspora: Policy and the Politics of Identity

Synopsis

Describes how many Latino families are settling in areas where there has been little Latino presence. This New Latino Diaspora places pressures on host communities, especially schools. The chapters describe how host community conceptions of and policies toward newcomer Latinos both contradict and sometimes harmonize with Latinos' own conceptions.

Excerpt

Bradley A.U. Levinson

Not long ago I was taking a flight to Mexico out of the Indianapolis Airport, and the gentleman checking me in—white, fiftyish, a little paunchy—asked me for my proof of citizenship. As I showed him my birth certificate and driver's license, apologizing for my expired passport, he seized the occasion to announce:

Some of these Mexicans, you know, you wouldn't believe what they show me, sometimes
an Indiana driver's license and nothing else…. There's times I want to just call immigra
tion and send them back in a U-Haul or something, the same way they came over. And you
wouldn't believe it. They're totally illiterate. Those boxes full of clothes that they take with
them "for selling down in Mexico", they can't even read the Spanish, let alone the English.
These people, I tell you, they don't care about education. They're just here for a buck.

I tried a feeble rejoinder, commenting that I knew a lot of Mexican families in Indiana that cared deeply about their children's education. As he was punching in my data, he just grunted a response. Eyeing the line behind me, I decided not to press the issue. I walked away to find some coffee before my flight.

Starbucks loomed before me. I went in wondering to myself what made this man think that I would be sympathetic to his lament. He must have seen me as white and assumed I would share a racial, perhaps a patriotic, concern. He didn't stop to think that my travel to Mexico might indicate a familiarity with, perhaps even a fondness for, Mexican people and culture. I was at the Starbucks counter now, presumably a new key symbol of corporate consumer domination. Yet Latino music was playing on the sound system, and Spanish voices were jockeying in the back. A Latina woman with a strong accent took my order, and I sat down to watch her banter with two fellow Spanish-speaking employees.

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